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Up and Down.  Opposites?  Or Not? Normally, you would think that up and down are opposites.  The Up direction is the opposite of the Down direction, most of the time.  But when you add just one modifier word to Up or Down, you can get something entirely different, or close to the same.  It depends.  […]

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In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, St. Pope John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic Letter on reserving priestly ordination to men alone, the Holy Father wrote: Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the […]

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America’s Elite Communities Are Leaving the Rest of the Country Behind. Now What?

 

America’s elite communities are leaving the rest of the country behind. That’s the core conclusion of a new report from the Economic Innovation Group. Researchers there found that the nearly 7 million jobs added between 2000 and 2015 “overwhelmingly flowed” into the nation’s most prosperous communities. (The metrics here involve income, housing, educational attainment, startups, unemployment, and job flows.) Employment in the top fifth of zip codes rose by 6.5 million, three times as many jobs as in the second-best group and ten times as many as in “mid-tier” ones.

And for some communities — mostly located in Appalachia, the Southeast, and sparsely populated parts of the Southwest — the Great Recession never really ended.  Take Texas, for example. There are really two Lone Star States, with “a small number of extremely fast-growing, prosperous zip codes on the one hand, and relatively muted losses among its most distressed zip codes on the other.”

SCOTUS Gets Arbitration Right

 

In Epic Systems v. Lewis, the United States Supreme Court held by a five-four vote last week that the individual contracts of non-union workers, which called for the arbitration of work-related disputes, were fully enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925. In a variety of class actions, the Seventh Circuit had held that Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act overrode the FAA by explicitly guaranteeing—in addition to full-scale collective bargaining—the right to both union and non-union workers “to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.” The contention allowed workers who had signed individual arbitration agreements nonetheless to bring nationwide class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, seeking overtime from employers who had misclassified their jobs.

The harsh outcry in response to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s restrained and meticulous opinion makes it appear as if a retrograde Supreme Court has returned us to the harsh pre-New Deal days when avaricious employers routinely trampled on worker rights. In her bitter dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denounced the majority opinion as “egregiously wrong” because it overlooked “the extreme imbalance once prevalent in our Nation’s workplaces” before the passage of the NLRA in 1935. As an illustration of this imbalance, she referred to the so-called “yellow-dog” contract, whereby an employee agreed not to join a union so long as he continued to work for his employer. A nasty New York Times editorial quoted Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman to insist that only “if you lived on the moon” would you “imagine workers and employers negotiating under Marquess of Queensberry rules, engaged in a fair and equal face-off over working conditions.”

Justice Gorsuch is right on the law. Justice Ginsburg is wrong on both the law and the economics of these agreements.

Quote of the Day: Alexander Hamilton and the Dangers of Dissent

 

“There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism.” — Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, one of our great Founders, intended to speak to his contemporaries about the disruption that could happen in his times. But he clearly was warning all of us about the dangers of dissent and rebellion when they disparage the values of this country.

We live in times when Progressivism has poisoned the ideas of liberty, respect for personal freedom and acceptance of free speech. The louder people protest and cry for action, drumming up fear and hate, the more attention they get. They care nothing about this country but only about power and government control. And many of us are beginning to feel helpless against the onslaught, condemning their actions but no longer knowing what to do against their agenda. These are sad and frightening times.

Engineering Failures: St. Francis Dam

 

St. Francis Dam nearly full.

I’ve been fascinated by the St. Francis Dam failure since I first found out about it. For those who are unaware of or who’ve forgotten about it, the St Francis Dam failure, which occurred in 1928, was the greatest civil engineering failure in the United States in the 20th century (the Johnstown Flood killed many more people, but it took place in 1889), and except for the San Francisco Earthquake, caused more deaths than any other event in California history. Until recently, however, it was relatively hard to find much information on the topic. There was a book about the disaster by a local retired rancher, Charles Outland, who had been a high school senior in Santa Paula at the time the St Francis flood waters raged through town, which was published in the early 1960’s, but that was about it. Since then a couple more books have been published and an engineering professor who has extensively studied the failure and developed a detailed analysis thereof has written and given talks on the subject so that it’s now possible to flesh out the subject in great detail (I’ll provide links to the books at the end of this article; all other links will be in the text). The most interesting aspect of the story to me, however, is the way in which this event touches on and impacts so many other stories.

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I’m trying to figure out what to make of this news from North Korea (via Japan’s Asahi Shimbun): Video footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un venting tears of frustration over the slow pace of economic reform in his backward country is making the rounds of the corridors of power in Pyongyang…. Preview Open

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Ideological Blindness In Real Life

 

I was speaking with a co-worker the other day, and we got into a discussion about men and women in sports. He almost took offense to my statement that men are generally stronger than women. He claimed I was trying to say men were better than women by citing examples of men beating top-ranked women, like when the 203rd ranked men’s tennis player beat both Venus and Serena Williams after they declared they could beat any man outside the top 200.

It was a strange experience because I didn’t think people could really be so blinded by ideology. I thought these sorts of people existed only in the dark recesses of college campuses for the sole purpose of being reported upon by The Daily Wire. Yet here I was, speaking with someone who was aghast at my simple statement of fact. “I have a degree in anthropology!”

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This was the crap pro life Catholics found in Ireland’s biggest Sunday newspaper – The Sunday Independent, last weekend a day after we legalised killing – I mean abortion. For those unaware this kind of stuff is typical of Irelands monolithic anti Catholic anti conservative media. These disgraceful satanic allies of death have never been […]

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Veterans’ Suicides Are Increasing

 

Our veterans are dying in increasing numbers—at their own hands. I was moved to explore this topic thanks to Nicole Fisher of The Federalist’s recent article. She quoted a Department of Veteran Affairs study published in September 2017:

More than 20 veterans commit suicide each day, a number, on average, 22 times greater than the civilian population. In fact, veterans’ suicides account for 18-20 percent of suicide deaths in the country, while they make up only about 8.5 percent of the adult population.

In spite of the staggering numbers and efforts to deal with the situation, the totals continue to rise.

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One of my favorite time-wasting activities is a word game in which you take a grid of letters and spell as many words as you can within a certain period of time. See that H-O-R-N there? Ooh! That spells “horn”! And if you add that S next to the H, you have “shorn”. And if you leave […]

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Ovine Psychology: Sheeplock Holmes Cracks the Case!

 

Well, cross that off the list. Chez She’s Sheep Shearing (good grief, try saying that five times fast after a few glasses of Laphroaig) is done for another year.

Almost thirty years ago, I attended my first sheep-shearing class, a three-day lollapalooza thrown by the County Extension Office at the local fairgrounds. Paid good money for it. Brought my new shears with me; the victims sheep were supplied by a local farm. I came home with the 24×36-inch “How to Shear Sheep” poster covered in useful illustrations, and with a whole bunch of newly-learned techniques, “It’s not a matter of strength, it’s a matter of balance!” “Control them with your knees–your knees!” “Bend at the hips, not from your back!” And, most important, “Keep your fingers out of the way of the blades!” (I’ve only violated this rule in a meaningful way once in the intervening three decades).

When we weren’t learning how to position ourselves at precisely the right balance point so that the slightest wobble on the part of the sheep would result in the two of us ending up on the ground with the electric cord wrapped tightly around us both while the three-inch cutters on the shears whirred madly back and forth at about 3000 strokes a minute a few inches from my eyes, we were learning all the things that we could possibly do wrong: “Don’t shear off the pizzle hair!!” “If it doesn’t appear to have a full set of the family jewels, make sure it’s a ewe, not a wether, before you start shearing off the belly wool!!” Watch out for the dingleberries!!” “Shear across the wrinkles, not parallel to them!!” And so on.

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If the Disney/ABC executives actually knew what they were doing in business decision-making terms, then no doubt they obtained quotes from a handful of “Specialty Lines” leaders in the Property & Casualty Insurance industry even as the ink was still fresh on the contract with Roseanne Barr, and then selected one of those insurers to […]

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The Battle Over Medicaid Work Requirements

 

Over at City Journal, I argue that we should pay more attention to the new wave of Medicaid reforms bubbling up from the states, especially the so-called work requirements. Back in January, Kentucky became the first state to announce “work requirements” as a condition for Medicaid eligibility. Well actually, it is a “community engagement” requirement which can be satisfied by working, looking for work, taking a class, going to rehab, and other productive activities. And it applies only to childless, able-bodied adults.

But still, the Kentucky program was blessed by the Trump Health and Human Services Department, so the Resistance is out in full force to halt the community engagement requirement. Within days of the Kentucky announcement, a coalition of liberal activist groups, including the dubious Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a class action lawsuit to block Bevin’s Medicaid reforms. While that lawsuit has been dragging on, Bevin has filed a counter-suit, and ten more states have sought to implement their own community engagement program.

What on Earth is Rubio Talking About?

 

Senator Rubio seems to have taken a decidedly anti-Trump turn on various issues, from taxes to foreign policy. Let’s let that slide for a moment because reasonable people can disagree about those issues. I’m not going to speculate about his motives. For now, I’ll take a fellow neocon at his word that his concerns are heartfelt. To be honest, I tend to agree with his criticism of the lifting of sanctions on Chinese telecom company ZTE and his general skepticism of engagement with North Korea. He is entitled to his opinions, but he is not entitled to his own basic facts. From the Orlando Sentinel:

“As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of that predate the presidential campaign of 2015, 2016,” Rubio told Martha Raddatz.

Group Writing: Small Beer

 

Words. I enjoy words, I enjoy writing, I enjoy wordplay, nicknames, puns, and a well-told story; what I do not enjoy is the formal English language. And anyone like me who has formally studied foreign languages realizes just how much they don’t know about their own language and, upon further examination, just how hard English really is.

Years ago, I took an English class and wondered if I was in the right class as they started talking about present past participles — clearly this is a physics or chemistry term. Later followed by a discussion on gerunds which, as we all know, are in the same family as gerbils. It was only a matter of time until the nightmares began, being caught in a blackened forest of subordinate clauses and chased by infinitives and sentence fragments as I slowly sink into the primordial ooze of objective, subjective, and possessive cases.