Monday, 7 February 2005

The Mardi Gras plague

Glenn Reynolds notes a decline in class attendance at UT-Knoxville:

My classes are notably empty, and many of the students who are there are hacking, coughing and looking miserable.

I’ve noticed the same thing. Glenn blames the flu. I blame New Orleans.

Incidentally, the only tourist experience that I think possibly could be worse than Bourbon Street (in general) is Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. But, if someone figures out a way to have Mardi Gras without the accompanying crowd of drunk teenagers I’m there.

Tupelo lawmaker supports teen pregnancy

More evidence that Mississippi has too many lawmakers and, apparently, too long a legislative session:

A practice of some teenage girls — getting birth control from neighborhood health clinics without their parents’ consent — would end under a bill pending in the Mississippi Senate.

Public Health and Welfare Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, said he’s filed the bill for about eight years without the legislation ever getting out of committee. Nunnelee’s chairmanship guarantees that the bill will at least get a Senate vote this year.

A particular highlight of the piece is Nunnelee’s apparent belief that sexually active teenagers are “little girls.” And, since the AP can’t be bothered to include the bill number in the article (a pet peeve of mine), here’s a link to all the information.

Who's your daddy?

Dan Drezner has the scoop on the hubaloo surrounding’s Super Bowl ad, which featured a pneumatic model in a tight top testifying before a bogus government committee. I thought it was a pretty funny ad and a spot-on parody of self-important lawmakers—which, no doubt, will be a major reason why you’ll hear whining from the usual suspects on Capitol Hill about the ad.

The rest of the ads were pretty so-so (though I liked the skydiving ad and the FedEx-Kinko’s ad with Burt Reynolds), I could take or leave Paul McCartney, and the game was entertaining but sloppy. Now the long off-season begins, just in time for me to start pretending to enjoy televised college basketball.

Trek going back to the fans

Former Star Trek producer Ron Moore has posted his thoughts on where Trek goes next in the post-Enterprise era to his blog.

HOPE = grade inflation

Alex Tabarrok notes recent research suggesting that Georgia’s expensive HOPE scholarship program has done little to improve access for disadvantaged students to the state’s higher ed system, at the expense of producing rampant high school grade inflation and encouraging students to avoid challenging courses in college so they can keep their scholarships.

The best that can be said for the program is that it keeps talented students in-state, which may reduce the mobility of smart people away from Georgia; whether that’s sufficient to justify a massive middle class entitlement program (financed off the stupidity of the poor, in the form of lottery ticket sales) I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Redistricting Roundup

Today’s New York Times has a somewhat lengthy piece on efforts in various states to reform their redistricting processes. As far as I know, aside from various efforts to create majority-minority Supreme Court districts, there are no serious efforts to fix redistricting in Mississippi—an oversight that surely ought to be corrected.

And, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters says plans for a redistricting initiative in California may potentially be hijacked by partisan interests, although Walters doesn’t do a very good job of explaining how—he just alleges that requiring the redistricting commission to create competitive districts might somehow favor Republicans. (þ: Rick Hasen).

Update: More on this theme from John Fund at

Memory holed

I’ve been futzing with some posting stuff to make Robert happy; the jumps in entryids are not because we have something to cover up… just test posts (and, in some cases, non-posts) that disappeared into the ether.