"Forty Years Later, ‘Annie Hall’ Is Still a Work of Genius"

I haven't rewatched it, but I really enjoyed it the first time.

If you’ve ever taken a course on screenwriting, Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece, is an example of what not to do. Screenwriting experts tell you: Show, don’t tell. Don’t break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. Maintain the tone without wild shifts—especially something as outlandish as adding a cartoon. Make the protagonist likable. Keep the timeline and story arc straight, and stay away from religion.

Annie Hall smashed all of these conventions, giving the world not only an Oscar-Winning picture, but a movie that only seems to get richer and bolder with each passing year as new films get more conservative and conventional.


"An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life"

In this story in the New York Times the last sentence of the second paragraph is "The analysis found that as little as five minutes of daily running was associated with prolonged life spans". And I thought, it's obvious the causality for that fact runs from health to running. Way down in the story, second paragraph from the end, there's this:

Of course, the findings in this new review are associational, meaning that they prove that people who run tend also to be people who live longer, but not that running directly causes the increases in longevity. Runners typically also lead healthy lives, Dr. Lee says, and their lifestyles may be playing an outsize role in mortality.

This should have appeared much earlier in the piece, but if it had the reporter and the editor probably would have decided that they didn't actually have a story.  So I give the Times an A for (finally) stating that but an F for putting it in the next-to-last paragraph. The average is a C, which is probably pretty good for the Times these days.


"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies"

Yet another very nice piece by Megan McArdle.

Oh, come on, isn’t this just that old right-wing cliché that markets always produce the best outcome? People acting in their own personal self-interest can often make everyone worse off, including themselves.

Collective action problems certainly exist, and that’s one reason we have government. But a collective action problem is not just “something that makes a minority unhappy”; no system makes every single person better off. A true collective action problem is one in which collectively restraining destructive individual instincts can make everyone -- or at least, a substantial majority of people -- better off.

In the airline market, I see no evidence that there is even a large minority of customers who are willing to bear substantially higher costs for the sake of substantially better service.


"The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price"

John Tamny reviews a recent book on the rise and fall of Aliquippa, PA and the Jones & Laughlin steel mill that was a vital part of the town. In this time of laments from some quarters about the "loss of manufacturing jobs" I was glad to see this bit as it is something I've long thought:

As Price writes toward book’s end about the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company’s (J&L Steel) Aliquippa-based mills that used to employ thousands, “Nobody grew up with the dream to work such jobs.  They were filthy, boring, exhausting grinds, a drain on health, a daily assault on the senses.” Getting right to the point, parents worked in the mills so that their children wouldn’t have to


"The reason government spending is a disaster"

Short piece by John Crudele illustrates why it is so difficult to control government spending. If you try to micromanage--don't spend money on X--the bureaucrats will tend, as here, to redefine X

If, on the other hand, you just take a meat ax to the overall budget of an agency, the agency will respond by cutting the one or two most popular activities it undertakes, sometimes known as the "Washington Monument" strategy. (If you cut money going to the national parks, the Park Service threatens to close the Monument.)

Lesson #1: don't spend the money in the first place.

Lesson #2: if you did, you have to have a lot of guts, guile, and patience to cut.


"Harvard’s nondiscrimination hypocrisy"

A former dean of Harvard College and current computer science professor at Harvard blasts the University:

Using “nondiscrimination” as a cudgel against students’ private associations is odiously patronizing. No similar policy applies to Harvard faculty or staff. Even worse, Harvard will compel students seeking scholarships and leadership positions to affirm their compliance with the policy — to respond to a McCarthyesque “Are you or have you ever been a member” question, under the threat of punishment for perjury.

Harvard prohibits such questions in job interviews. . . .


"How the feds are letting germs run wild in hospitals"

If you lack things to worry about, try this.

Alarming new research shows one of the deadliest bugs, nicknamed CRE, is actually striking three times more patients than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us. One lesson from the war against AIDS: level with the public about the enormity of a problem if you want to start defeating it.

Yet government authorities are doing the opposite, helping hospitals conceal superbug outbreaks from the public and deliberately leaving infections off death certificates.

Or this: "Could North Korea Destroy the US?" (Not directly, but they could quite possibly destroy our electrical grid.)


"California high court sets stage for major pension ruling"

Nice piece to catch you up to date on the potential changes to government pensions in California.

Battle lines are drawn. The unions claim that state and local agencies may not reduce any pension benefits. Pension reformers – and the courts, in recent decisions – say that while a reasonable pension remains a right, that doesn’t stop localities from reducing some things. These cases deal with pension-spiking enhancements and the purchase of airtime – controversial and somewhat limited practices. But the future of pension reform is on the line.