Black Conservative Disinvited to Speak at Virginia Tech

Jason Riley, who is quoted below, has published Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

(p. A13) Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall. Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests. Profiles in campus courage.
. . .
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been approached by conservative students after a lecture to a mostly liberal audience and thanked, almost surreptitiously, for coming to speak. They often offer an explanation for their relative silence during question periods when liberal students and faculty are firing away. “Being too outspoken would just make it more difficult,” a Wellesley student once told me. “You get to leave when you’re done. We have to live with these people until we graduate.”
In April [2016], I spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where the college Republicans who invited me took the precaution of clearing my name with liberal student groups “to make sure they wouldn’t be upset.”
We’ve reached a point where conservatives must have their campus speakers preapproved by left-wing pressure groups. If progressives aren’t already in absolute control of academia, they’re pretty close.

For the full commentary, see:

JASON L. RILEY. “I Was Disinvited on Campus; The anti-free speech takeover is so complete that now the fear of stirring a protest can determine what ideas students will hear.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., May 4, 2016): A13.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 3, 2016.)

The Riley book that I mentioned at the top, is:
Riley, Jason L. Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. New York: Encounter Books, 2014.

Global Warming Is Producing More Pleasant Weather in United States

(p. 9) CHRISTMAS in New York was lovely this year — especially for those who prefer to spend the day working on their tans. It was the city’s warmest ever, with temperatures peaking at 66 degrees.
Record-breaking temperatures are occurring with alarming frequency in the United States, but Americans are reacting with a collective shrug. In a poll taken in January, after the country’s warmest December on record, the Pew Research Center found that climate change ranked close to last on a list of the public’s policy priorities. Why?
In a paper published on Wednesday [April 20, 2016] in the journal Nature, we provide one possible explanation: For a vast majority of Americans, the weather is simply becoming more pleasant. Over the past four decades, winter temperatures have risen substantially throughout the United States, but summers have not become markedly more uncomfortable.
Of course, people’s preferences about weather vary widely. Some want a snowfall every winter, while others would rather wear sandals year-round. So we sought to develop a measure of the average American’s weather preferences. To do this, we made use of research by economists who study local population growth in the United States. They have found that Americans have been moving to places with warm winters and cool, less humid summers. We made the inference (not true in every case, but reasonable to assume in general) that Americans prefer such conditions.
Then we evaluated the changes in weather conditions that Americans have experienced over the past four decades (i.e., roughly since climate change emerged as an issue in the public sphere). Climatologists customarily report weather changes averaged over the land surface — an approach that counts changes in sparse Montana just as heavily as shifts in populous California. But because we were interested in the typical American’s exposure to weather, we took a different tack, calculating changes over time on a county-by-county basis, weighted by population.
Our findings are striking: 80 percent of Americans now find themselves living in counties where the weather is more pleasant than it was four decades ago.

For the full commentary, see:
PATRICK J. EGAN and MEGAN MULLIN. “Gray Matter; Global Warming Feels Quite Pleasant.” The New York Times (Sun., APRIL 24, 2016): 9.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date APRIL 21, 2016.)

The Nature article mentioned above, is:
Egan, Patrick J., and Megan Mullin. “Recent Improvement and Projected Worsening of Weather in the United States.” Nature 532, no. 7599 (April 21, 2016): 357-60.

Amazon Experiments with Brick-and-Mortar

(p. A11) This week, Amazon revealed the location of its second brick-and-mortar bookstore, which will open in a few months in Southern California, at a mall near the University of California, San Diego. The online retailer seems to have big ambitions for its physical stores.
On Wednesday [March 9, 2016], Nick Wingfield, who covers Amazon for The New York Times, visited the only Amazon bookstore in existence, in the University Village mall in Seattle. From inside the store, he had an online chat with Alexandra Alter, who writes about publishing for The Times. They discussed Amazon’s strategy and how the retailer’s stores differ from other bookstores. Here’s what they had to say
:
ALEXANDRA ALTER: Hi Nick! You’re reporting live from the mother ship! What’s it like?
NICK WINGFIELD: The best part is, I just tested the free Wi-Fi and it’s 114 Mbps, easily the fastest I’ve ever gotten. Thank you, Jeff Bezos!
ALEXANDRA: Great, so you can just buy stuff from the Amazon website while you’re sitting in the store. Unlike Barnes & Noble, I bet Amazon doesn’t mind if people browse in its store then go buy it online.
NICK: Exactly. Here’s the deal: At first glance, it looks like an ordinary but nice Barnes & Noble store. It’s clean and well-lit and corporate. It doesn’t have the charm of a funky used-bookstore. Once you start poking around the shelves, you notice the differences.
ALEXANDRA: How is the selection different? How are the sections organized?
NICK: They have 5,000 to 6,000 book titles, fewer than what you would find at a big Barnes & Noble. All of the books are arranged cover out, rather than spine out, in the belief that it makes browsing more friendly. I am so buying that “Boho Crochet” book.
. . .
ALEXANDRA: . . .
So, some Amazon skeptics have suggested that books are just going to be window-dressing and what Amazon really wants is a place to showcase its digital devices. Is there a prominent area for Amazon devices?
NICK: Electronics, most of them made by Amazon, like Echo and Fire TV, are the nucleus of the store. They’re spread out on tables and stands so you can fiddle with them just like you can fiddle with iPads at the Apple Store a short hop from here.
Knowledgeable people tell me that Amazon views its physical stores as an important way to introduce the public to new, unfamiliar devices. Techies might be comfortable buying a device like the Echo online — a speaker and virtual assistant for the home — but a lot of people will want to see it in the flesh first. That said, I don’t think Amazon stores would have saved the Fire Phone, the Amazon smartphone that belly-flopped. I should also say that books are not necessarily going to be the focus of all of the stores it opens in the future. Amazon intends to experiment.

For the full dialogue, see:
ALEXANDRA ALTER and NICK WINGFIELD. “Amazon, in the Material World.” The New York Times (Sat., MARCH 12, 2016): B1 & B5.
(Note: bold and italics in original print version; ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the dialogue has the date MARCH 10, 2016, and has the title “A Trip Through Amazon’s First Physical Store.”)

Arctic Sea Ice Rebuilds “a Significant Amount”

(p. A9) Using new satellite data, researchers at University College London reported in Nature Geoscience on Monday [July 20, 2015] that the total volume of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere was well above average in the autumn of 2013, traditionally the end of the annual melt season, after an unusually cool summer when temperatures dropped to levels not seen since the 1990s.
“We now know it can recover by a significant amount if the melting season is cut short,” said the study’s lead author Rachel Tilling, a researcher who studies satellite observations of the Arctic. “The sea ice might be a little more resilient than we thought.”

For the full story, see:
ROBERT LEE HOTZ. “Arctic Ice Is Able to Rebuild, Study Says.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., July 21, 2015): A9.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 20, 2015, and has the title “Sea Ice Might Be More Resilient Than Thought.”)

Which Moment of Flux Do the Environmentalists Want to Preserve?

At the APEE meetings in early April, I heard a lecture by Shawn Regan in which he praised a book by Daniel Botkin. The point that Regan was making was that a key difficult issue in environmentalism is to decide, when you want to preserve and protect the environment, which moment of the environment’s constantly changing flux, do you want to preserve? With, or without, us, the natural state of the environment is constant change, not stasis.

A recent book by Botkin that makes this point, is:
Botkin, Daniel B. The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Some Entrepreneurs Support Big Government, Except When They Are the Ones Regulated

(p. A11) In October [2015], author Steven Hill will publish a book called “Raw Deal: How the ‘Uber Economy’ and Naked Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers.” At the political conventions next summer, which party’s attendees will be most likely to have read that book?
The ironies run deep. The Uber driver who ferried Jeb Bush around San Francisco said the former Florida governor was a nice chap but added that he still planned to vote for Mrs. Clinton–the candidate who regards the innovations that has led to the creation of his job as a problem that government needs to solve.
But is Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick any different? Even as he struggles with regulators taking aim at his business model, Mr. Kalanick has spoken up in favor of ObamaCare. During a visit to New York last November, he enthused that ObamaCare was “huge” for companies like his, on the grounds that the individual market has democratized benefits such as health care.
That’s true insofar as it means he doesn’t have to provide it for his drivers. But the reality is that ObamaCare is to health what taxi commissions are to transportation. And if Uber’s co-founder can’t see the difference, maybe he deserves the Bill de Blasios and Hillary Clintons coming after him.

For the full commentary, see:
WILLIAM MCGURN. “MAIN STREET; Uber Crashes the Democratic Party; The ride-share app is bringing out the inner Elizabeth Warren.” The New York Times (Tues., July 21, 2015): A11.
(Note: bracketed year added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 20, 2015.)

Were Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Copyright Trolls?

Sometimes all those who own patents as investments are derisively chastised as “patent trolls.” I have argued that some of those so-labelled are productively increasing the funding for invention. If Nathan Myhrvold is a patent troll then we should similarly view Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson as copyright trolls. Why do McCartney and Jackson get a pass, while Myhrvold is chastised?

(p. B3) It is one of the twice-told tales of the music business: Decades ago, Michael Jackson received some sound investment advice from Paul McCartney.

Back in the early 1980s, Mr. McCartney showed his friend a notebook full of songs he owned, by artists like Buddy Holly. The real money, Mr. McCartney suggested, was in music publishing, the side of the business that deals with the songwriting rights for big catalogs of songs. As Mr. McCartney himself has told it, Jackson perked up and said, “I’m gonna buy your songs.”
He did. And it was the smartest deal Jackson ever made.
In 1985, Jackson bought the ATV catalog, which included 251 Beatles songs, along with a few thousand others, for $47.5 million. It proved to be Jackson’s most valuable asset, helping to finance a lavish lifestyle even as Jackson’s own musical career reached a low point in the years before his death in 2009.

For the full story, see:
BEN SISARIO. “McCartney’s Tip Pays Off for Jackson’s Legacy.” The New York Times (Weds., MARCH 16, 2016): B3.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 15, 2016, and has the title “Paul McCartney’s Tip to Michael Jackson Pays Off.”)

My paper on patents, is:
Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. “Seeking the Patent Truth: Patents Can Provide Justice and Funding for Inventors.” The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy 19, no. 3 (2015): 325-55.