On Posts On Roissy’s Disappearance

roissy.wordpress.com has disappeared, but the blog seems to be at heartiste.wordpress.com now.

This change has prompted bloggers in the “man-o-sphere” or whatever to report it like news.

Hawaiian Libertarian

Alpha Game

Half Sigma

Only Half Sigma asks interesting questions about the changeover.

… maybe the original Roissy no longer runs the blog, and the guys currently running the blog got sick and tired of people thinking they were Roissy, so they got rid of the old domain name which was roissy.wordpress.com? Or maybe Roissy just wants the world to think he’s no longer running the blog?

Maybe the real question should be, “Who gives a shit?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not merely being dismissive of the contributions that Roissy has made. I’m simply observing that there’s a difference between the artist and the art. The only salient question is the impact the writing has on your life. If people care who the current authors are or whether Roissy is continuing other another name, the understandable reason would have to do with the reputation he’s developed and the attendant expectations about his writing being reliable when applied.

Right now, it’s all just speculation about fact; speculation which will bear no fruit. Instead, wait to see if the future writing, assuming there is any, is as good as it was. Why care who writes it?

You need Pollock to explain his art? Too bad, he’s dead. Time to walk on your own.





w/r/t Khan Academy: Teachers must put students first.

So I was on my Google Reader earlier today, when I came across this item on CATO@Liberty (HT: Radley Balko), which referenced a Wired article about Khan Academy. For those who are unfamiliar, Khan Academy is a website that features a huge number of video-podcast-style lessons about all manner of academic topics, including (but certainly not limited to) Mathematics and Science. In the article, Ben Kamens, programmer for Khan Institute, claims to have spoken with teachers who are excited about the idea of Khan Academy, but are concerned that it will cause students to become “too advanced.” Let’s set aside the possibility that this is made up. Let’s just suppose it’s true.

This is clearly a case of teachers not putting their students first. Something is severely wrong with a teacher that believes it’s appropriate for an effective learning tool to be modified to be less effective in helping students to learn. It’s even more objectionable that a teacher would make a case that this sort of prevention in academic development would be beneficial to the student. Indeed I can understand possible arguments about social development and peer relations, but until teachers are willing to develop legitimate curricula for students’ social development, I’m unwilling to entertain the idea that students’ social well-being could somehow be promoted by making sure distinguishing academic achievement is suppressed.

In the high school where I teach, students aren’t prevented from moving forward at their own pace. Courses within discipline are available to students independent of the number of years they’ve been in school. Instead (and I suspect this is the case in most high schools), students are placed into the courses that are appropriate for the demonstration of understanding they’ve already exhibited. Simply put, if a student is capable of learning Trigonometry (and has familiarity with the requisite mathematics to do so), he or she can enroll in the course.

This approach is also the case at almost every university of which I am aware. A student’s eligibility for new material is largely based on his or her prerequisite achievement. Of course, the difference in the university is that the achievement mostly has to be documented, so learning outside the classroom isn’t as easily translated into a demonstration of readiness such as a transcript might be. Nevertheless, these barriers aside, the question is, “Is the student capable?”

An educational system which is incapable or unwilling (the two are often related) to accommodate students who are learning outside the classroom is totally unacceptable. While there is necessarily a corporate approach to the education of large numbers of students, this corporate approach needn’t actively prevent students from moving at their own pace. It’s a lack of innovation and imagination that would cause a teacher not to embrace a resource like Khan Academy.*

*Of course, this all assumes Khan does what we suppose it does. No comment on that yet.

The value of being wrong

I like this TED talk given by Mike Rowe.

The Mike Rowe talk appeals to me because I believe there is value in humility. The possibility of being wrong, Rowe describes in vivid detail. Usually, I think the TED conference is masturbatory. In this case, though, Rowe challenges, perhaps indirectly, the prevailing certainty that we are correct. There is a method to scientific discovery that is applicable in a social arena, but the process for observable change is far softer. The research methods are statistical where they can be, but are often anecdotal. As a result, the development of theory is much slower, and the possibility for the refutation of established theory is greater. The concern I have is that laws, new laws especially, seem rooted in the anecdotal reporting that often features very small sample sizes and is hugely susceptible to refutation. This is a problem because laws are very difficult to change, and are nearly impossible to undo. The core question, as ever, for me: Why are we so eager to entrust so much power to a structure that is demonstrably wrong so frequently, yet is bereft of the humility to recognize or do anything about it?

What’s so special about copying?

Julian Sanchez:

… there’s nothing morally special about copying. It’s a method we regulated to solve an incentive problem, because given the available technology in 1909—when statutes first sought to control “copying” rather than “publication” and “sale”—that was the most efficient point at which to regulate in order to solve that problem. If technology had evolved in order to make mass loaning, rather than copying, instantaneous and frictionless and easy, the underlying problem wouldn’t be any different. Any moral baggage “copying” has picked up is a pure artifact of the chance fact that “copying” is what it seemed to make sense to restrict given early 20th century tech.

Read the whole thing here.


This Freakonomics article has an interesting take on trains vs. cars.

Not long after the Van Wyck Expressway opened in 1950, when air travel was much less widespread than today, the airport traffic alone exceeded 10,000 vehicles per hour– the official peak capacity of the whole highway. Anyone who lives in New York City will confirm that the situation has only gotten worse in the intervening decades. An original train line would have made the journey faster and more pleasant for so many New York residents and visitors.

Usually I come down on the “trains are dumb” side of this, but clearly, where there is already adequate traffic that justifies its construction and the expectation of economic sustainability is in place, a train is a vastly superior form of transportation.

Something about the marginal cost of public transportation, how to get to, where to leave your car, etc.

Cigar Review #1 – CAO La Traviata Radiante

CAO La Traviata Radiante

Wrapper: Colorado-brown Ecuadoran
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Long-filler Nicaraguan/Dominican
Size: 6×52 (Toro)
Price: $4.30

I’m sitting in my truck, at about 9:30 pm on Saturday, July 2nd. I’m listening to my local all-classical, all the time radio station, Classical 101 WOSU. I often like to listen to sports here in Columbus, but tonight, I don’t want to be distracted by talk, so I find classical is a safe, non-intrusive background for an enjoyable hour of tobacco. It’s a hot night… it’s close to eighty degrees outside, and because of a rainstorm earlier in the day, it’s very humid. I’m tempted to turn the truck on and get some A/C to cool off. In Columbus, during the Fourth of July celebration, we have the Red, White, and Boom fireworks display. That was last night, and the pyrotechnic kickoff to the weekend has left my neighbors indulging themselves. While I might otherwise be concerned that the pops and cracks are gunfire (I live in the South Orchard here in Columbus), but the proximity to the patriotic holiday puts my mind at ease.

My experience with CAO products has been almost exclusively positive. From the first CAO I tried, the MX2 dagger (I was a very inexperienced smoker two years ago) to the box of Brazilia Sambas I bought in North Carolina this past April, the draw and general construction has been mostly spot-on (with slight variations in the ten or so Sambas I’ve had). So it was with this expectation that I walked into my favorite humidor, at The Party Source in Newport, Kentucky. I immediately headed for the CAOs. Mike, the gentleman who spends most of his waking hours in the humidor, (I overheard him telling another customer, “This is my life,”) upon my inquiry about CAOs, suggested I give tonight’s cigar, the CAO La Traviata Radiante, a try. He suggested that it was a superior cigar to many of the CAO products, and at a very attractive price. Mike mentioned that it was among the best-selling cigars in his humidor. It’s a couple nights after the conclusion of a father-son trip to Virginia and Kentucky, and finally through Newport and Cincinnati, on which I picked up this stick that I head out to the truck to give it a go. I have high hopes given the auspicious recommendation, my experience, and the price tag.

I don’t really care much about the appearance of cigars at this point. I don’t put much consideration into how a cigar looks. While there’s perhaps some aesthetic considerations for some smokers, for me (unless there’s some subconscious things going on), I don’t much care. This is something that’s always baffled me about many cigar reviews I’ve read – that their final verdicts often weight things like appearance as heavily as construction and flavor. That seems like a rubbish approach to me. In any case, this cigar looks great. It’s a somewhat dark cigar, and at 6×52, it’s very attractive-looking, and insofar as these things heighten my anticipation, my excitement is not suppressed.

Unlit, the aroma is intoxicating. Since I’m not experienced enough to attempt to give notes on the aroma, I’ll just say that the tobacco doesn’t smell cheap. The cigar is definitely soft; there is a great deal of give when it’s tested. I nip the cap, and test the draw. It’s a little tight, but that seems to be the case for the CAO products I’ve tried. Nothing unexpected.

Upon lighting, I get the familiar billows of smoke, but despite turning it over the flame, I need two matches to get an even burn. The first puffs aren’t giving me anything distinct – it actually seems a little light on flavor – but I can definitely taste the burn at the back and on the roof of my mouth. This might be a function of construction, though, as after about five minutes, the burn is uneven, and it’s actually burning fairly quickly.

I tend to hold the cigar in the front of my mouth as I’m typing, sometimes holding it with my top teeth and my lower lip, and sometimes holding it in my teeth, both top and bottom. The give in the cigar is really pronounced. I almost want to hold the cigar in my fingers rather than in my teeth (using both upper and lower lip is uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to breathe, type, and smoke at the same time).

The unevenness seems to correct itself at about ten minutes, and the burn is less apparent, but the flavor isn’t picking up. It’s still fairly one-dimensional. It seems relatively medium-bodied, but this isn’t a flavor that I’m very excited about. The tobacco definitely isn’t cheap, but there really isn’t much complexity to it either. On the plus side, the ash is solid and isn’t looking like it wants to fall off in my lap. I’ve got a good inch of ash – this cigar is definitely not toothy, though, and I’m sure I’ll have to ash in a moment. It’s still a bit uneven.

After twenty minutes, I’m close to about half through the stick. I’m definitely starting to feel the cigar intensify. I wouldn’t say I’m aggressively smoking this, either. This is certainly not going to knock an experienced smoker over, but for someone accustomed to smoking a lighter cigar, or someone who smokes very rarely, this would be a bit of a risk. The cigar is still a little uneven, but nothing that requires my attention. The flavor is definitely pleasant, a little rich, but again, not complex. The ash is again hanging on for quite a long time; I’m only going ash a second time and the stick is half gone. Time to remove the ring.

In my experience, it’s a good idea to wait to remove the ring until the smoke is half-over (or later), because the gum that is used to affix the ring can sometimes adhere to the cigar, and removing it can damage the wrapper, which in turn can cause the draw to be disrupted, requiring repair or an otherwise distracting maintenance. Waiting until the cigar heats up can soften the adhesive, and removing the ring later will reduce the likelihood of damage. Even in the unlikely event of a wrapper’s compromise, the first half of the experience has been spared the disruption. In this case, the ring is easy to remove, and it comes off without incident.

At this point, the flavor is becoming more intense and is entirely pleasant. There are faint notes of pepper, and a medium tobacco experience (I lack the words in the youth of my cigar writing!), but there isn’t a great deal more going on, even as I near the three-quarters mark.

In the final quarter, the smoke is everywhere and it’s quite hot. I have to puff and then remove the stub from my mouth to avoid blinding myself. I really want to take it down, but I have to chuck it with about an inch remaining.

I’ve read that scared money can’t win at Poker. So it seems that scared money doesn’t result in a good smoke. If you’re on a tight budget (as so many are these days), La Traviata Radiante won’t break the bank. While it’s not as good a cigar as the other CAO products, it’s also less expensive. For a twice-a-week smoker like I am, this is a tidy smoke that isn’t disappointing, and doesn’t make me feel like I’ve wasted my occasional indulgence on something subpar. My impression is that the cigar is priced appropriately. I think it’s quite a good cigar for just over four dollars, but I’ll still be on the lookout for something else at this price point, and for my money, I’d be happy to spend another dollar to go up to an Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 or something else in that price range. Nevertheless, if you’re like me, you can buy this La Traviata Radiante with confidence that while it won’t blow you away, you’ll be satisfied with the experience.

Microsoft was not a monopoly.

From betanews:

Just as Microsoft suggested in the trial, the inevitable happened. People got better ideas, ideas that they turned into products that people actually wanted to buy. Maybe it started with the iPhone, or maybe just with applications moving to the web, but control started to move away from Microsoft–  and court oversight had nothing whatsoever to do with it.


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