Huckabee Sinks to a New Low (Yes, It’s Possible)

March 6, 2015

Shameless Huckabee

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Over on Hang Together, I declare shenanigans. Everybody grab a broom!


Parental Choice Reporting in Refuto-Vision! (TM)

February 18, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So a few years ago Jay was in downtown Austin with an evening to kill. He called me and asked me what he should do. I of course said “Go to the Alamo Drafthouse!!!”

So he looked up what was playing at the Alamo that night and told me “Hmmm, it says ‘Indiana Jones 4 in Heckle-vision.’ What is ‘hecklevision?’

I said “I don’t know but it doesn’t matter, just GO!”

So he went. Hecklevision turned out to be a system whereby you could text messages on the screen while you watched an awful movie (Indy 4 certainly qualifies). Jay reported that the experience was hilarious.

So in the same spirit of fun, we decided to create something called Refuto-Vision! (TM) here at the Jayblog.  A few introductory comments-one of the ongoing challenges of the school choice debate is the ongoing practice of having choice opponents simply fear things, regardless of whether those fears have any empirical basis, and have them printed as grave concerns. “School choice is going to make kids grow a radioactive third eye” doesn’t (quite) get printed (yet) but many things just below that in plausibility routinely find their way into print. Reporters work on tight deadlines and (on a good day) attempt to present a balanced story, balanced in the sense that they have spoken to both sides and have their point of view presented in the story.

Jason Bedrick and Greg Forster volunteered to serve as Refuto-Vision (TM) reviewers on just such a conventionally balanced story-the recent Politico article on ESA programs. We could have chosen any number of straight up opinion-piece screeds to try this out (stay tuned!) but a news story seemed like a better place to start. For the record we have all seen (bad day) news stories far less balanced than this.

Due to the technical limitations of this almost-free blog and the even greater limitations of its user, this Refuto-Vision comes in the form of a pdf file, downloadable in the below link. Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you Refuto-Vision (TM) 1 in magnificent 2D:

Refuto-Vision 1

 


NEA “Cognitive Linguistic Analysis” Conducted by Wile E. Coyote

February 9, 2015

35eb9-wile2be-2bcoyote2bfalling

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

ALELR draws our attention to Conor Williams’ reporting on a rich, rich vein of hilarious tomfoolery at NEA. Williams has a leaked memo in which the NEA uses “cognitive linguistic analysis” to change reality by using magic words. As ALELR points out, some items in Lily Eskelsen’s “cloven hoofed minions” speech appear to have been driven by this magical thinking.

But wait, it gets better. One of the union’s magic words is “the right ZIP code.” Apparently people aren’t much moved by complaints about “inequality” so the unions will seek to advance the redistributionist agenda by saying that a quality education should not depend on living “in the right ZIP code.”

How long do you think it will take the NEA’s soooooooper geniuses to figure out the problem with that approach?


The 123s of the ABCs

February 3, 2015

Print

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

We are now up to an astonishing 51 school choice programs in 24 states plus DC. We are one state short of having private school choice in half the states. Who wants to put us over the top?

Check out all the latest stats on all these programs in the 2015 edition of The ABCs of School Choice, just released from Friedman.


How to Nail the Pats with Stats

January 23, 2015

pic_corner_012315_fumbles

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It may not be Super Chart! or Son of Super Chart! but this graph of fumble rates sure doesn’t make the Patriots look good. Jack Fowler breaks it down in The Corner:

Over the last five seasons, the average NFL team fumble-to-play ratio is 1 in every 50. The Patriots record is 1 in every 73. Why such a disparity? The obvious argument: Under-inflated balls are much easier for running backs to protect, and therefore less likely to be fumbled.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh.


Choice for Foster Kids

January 13, 2015

2013-10-Circle-of-Choice

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The new issue of OCPA’s Perspective carries my article on school choice for the 12,000 foster children in Oklahoma. The state is now adopting massive fixes to address its broken, abusive foster care system:

If Oklahoma is going to adopt sweeping reforms to serve these children better, it shouldn’t just think about homes. It should think about schools. Having failed to care for these 12,000 children when they needed it most, Oklahoma owes them something.

The state wouldn’t have to create a new program:

Oklahoma already has two school choice programs: a special needs voucher modeled on McKay, and a tax-credit scholarship program serving low-income students. Either or both of these programs could accommodate foster children with a slight modification – just write a line into the law saying foster children are eligible regardless of disability status or family income.

Other states have already adopted this practice. Foster children are automatically eligible for two school choice programs in Arizona. “Lexie’s Law,” which is Arizona’s answer to McKay, includes foster children alongside special education students. So does Arizona’s innovative new education savings account law, which gives parents control of their children’s education funding to direct to a school of their choice. Meanwhile, in Florida, foster children of any income level are eligible for the state’s tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students.

And since choice saves money, it wouldn’t cost a dime – an important consideration given that Oklahoma is on the hook for $150 million to clean up its foster care mess.

Of course, only universal choice will get us where we need to go. But it’s not a perfect world, and few people know that better than foster kids in Oklahoma. One line in a new law could give 12,000 kids access to choice on better terms than the ones that prevail in some other programs already.


Pass the Popcorn: How Bad Will Hollywood Get?

December 19, 2014

wws-harris-birdman1

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Check out this excellent essay on the way franchises have transformed Hollywood. It is not, I promise, just another long lament that there are too many comic book movies, too many sequels, etc. The author, Mark Harris, is thinking seriously about Hollywood’s business model, and there are lots of data and interesting quotes I haven’t seen elsewhere. Seeing the list of franchise movies already announced from the major studios really was an eye-opener. And he makes an insightful point about how Hollywood is now so skilled at creating anticipation that it’s forgetting to provide the payoff. What used to be payoff is now only a calculated part of a larger plan to keep building anticipation for the next product.

Now! That having been said, I think Harris is too pessimistic, for two reasons.

1) While Harris acknowledges that not all franchise movies are bad, and some are very good, he nonetheless seems to assume as a basis of his case that artsy movies – that is, movies intended to be serious rather than mere ephemeral entertainment – are, on the whole, more likely to be very good than franchise movies. This has not been my experience. Even if we discount the value of entertainment and judge strictly on “artistic merit,” I think franchise movies are about as likely to be very good as artsy movies. Not because franchise movies are necessarily good, but because artsy movies generally fail to have much more artistic merit than franchise movies. My wife and I were avid moviegoers during the very height of the independent movie era, and we saw a lot of them. Most of them had “entertainment value” rather than “artistic value.” They were witty or exciting or whatever, and we enjoyed them while we were watching them. But most of them were not great art.

Harris estimates that about 150 franchise movies will open in the next six years. At the end of the article he concedes that some of them – “more than two and fewer than twenty” – will be “very good.” Let’s say “more than two and fewer than twenty” is ten movies. That’s less than two very good movies per year, so it’s a conservative estimate. If so, by his own showing one out of every fifteen franchise movies is “very good.” I’d put up that track record against the arthouse any day.

2) Harris assumes consumer tastes will not revolt against the rise of the franchise. Franchises rule because they are financially rewarded. Must this remain so, even after franchises have squeezed everything else off the studio slate? I see no reason to think so, and every indication that consumers are already clamoring for something else. The idiots who run Hollywood just haven’t figured out how to give them anything else. But someone will, and when they do, the bubble will pop. (Barriers to entry in the entertainment sector are rapidly approaching zero.)

On both points, Harris’ argument fatally rests on the assumption that movies made for the purpose of having artistic merit rather than for the purpose of pleasing general audiences are more likely to have artistic merit. Yet there is little empirical evidence this is the case.


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