The Sunday Scaries

I think I’ve figured it out: “The Sunday Scaries” is merely running away from reality. The alternative is to run towards reality.

Sprint at it, even, like Mel Gibson did in Braveheart, knowing life is made in scary moments:

You, sprinting at the Sunday Scaries

And my goodness if you haven’t seen Braveheart enjoy yourself a three-hour treat tonight:

Why students party too much, a hypothesis

Students party too much because they don’t have to work.

They don’t have to work because they take out loans to go to school.

They take out loans to go to school because the government lets them, even gives them out.

The government gives them out because in the 1960s politicians wanted the votes of eighteen-year-olds, who could newly vote.

With debt capital now in the higher ed market, colleges raised prices.

Raising prices led to a “Keeping up with the Joneses” effect. Colleges competed to get the best stuff, which led to bloat, which led to higher prices still.

Students now need loans to go to college since prices are so high, disincentivizing work (why bother for a drop in the bucket?). Loans created the need for loans.

The result is a trillion-dollar debt crisis for four years of binge drinking.

Caring about the success of others

I once interviewed with a college coach.

He said he wasn’t resentful that his school’s basketball team got more resources that his, because the basketball team’s success increased brand awareness for his own. He cared about the basketball team’s success insomuch as it helped his.

The coach was fired a few years later. Something about repeated recruiting violations.

Political correctness

Political correctness is a good idea when it protects people who can’t protect themselves. The world needs to be made safer for these people.

Political correctness is not a good idea when it’s used to protect people who can protect themselves. The world is already too safe for these people, as they insist on making it yet safer.

More.

Should drugs be outlawed?

Prohibition failed spectacularly in the 1920’s for the same reason the War on Drugs has failed for the past fifty years. Namely: people really like drugs and alcohol.

When a government bans drugs it changes the supply in the “wrong” direction, and it hardly changes the demand:

The predictable effect of a ban: Drug prices increase due to the risk of supplying them; higher prices lead more sellers into the market, wanting to take advantage of increased revenue (red area); and even if the ban decreases drug use by a bit, the enormous enforcement cost to taxpayers hardly seems worth it (blue area).

Almost everyone avoids heroin, not because it’s illegal, but because they know it would ruin their lives.

My Interview With Jeremy Bentham On The Coronavirus Pandemic, Twitter, Instagram, And His Severed Head

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham died in 1832. I interviewed him on the morning of July 28, 2020 in the deep recesses of my frontal lobes.

Upon his death Bentham was known as the greatest political philosopher in England. He founded utilitarianism, the idea that morality amounts to what causes the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.

We spoke about the United States’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic; I introduced him to modern forms of communication and photography; and we ended with his reaction to news that his head has been severed and put on public display. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity:

Ryan Maloney: Mr. Bentham, tell me, in as few words as possible given your long-winded nature, how you’re thinking about the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps you can give us an outsiders’ perspective from you perch in England.

Jeremy Bentham: It must be said, by someone with courage, that the Americans should be commended for their handling in all things related to this tragic outbreak of viral infection, and to read of the extremes of the nation’s reactionary nature, of the American public, and for several members of that nation to engage in this, this outrageous debate, if you will, is to. . .

Maloney: Your long-winded nature, Mr. Bentham, please.

Bentham: I was not long-winded!

Maloney: You were, sir. Modern Americans can only think in 280 characters at a time.

Bentham: (Long pause).

Maloney: Twitter, sir.

Bentham: Twit-. . . ter?

Maloney: Yes, sir. Americans no longer stand for reading long passages of text. 280 characters is our new limit.

Bentham: (Breath quickening) Goodness, my lad. How does one come to know anything?

Maloney: It’s a good question, sir. But if it’s some solace Twitter allows us to tweet 2,400 times per day, and many of us do. If we can get back to your response, quickly this time please.

Bentham: The United States has resumed their activity much faster than other developed nations.

Maloney: But our infection rate and death toll are much higher than those nations.

Bentham: This is of no consequence, excepting those unenlightened by reason.

Maloney: It’s worth pointing out to our readers that you do not think there is anything sacred about human life. You’re commonly reported to have said that natural rights are “nonsense upon stilts.”

Bentham: That’s correct.

Maloney: So much so that you had your body turned into an ‘auto-icon’ so that you could be wheeled out at parties in case your friends missed you. That’s really weird.

Bentham: My dear, there is nothing sacred at all about my body–if it may have recourse to the medical establishment, or indeed to my dear friends who miss me, it is of better use than decaying in the earth for no human to enjoy.

Maloney: So you contend that human death does not matter?

Bentham: Only in as much as it creates suffering for others, for those that miss them. The loss of human life is of itself no consequence.

Maloney: Why do you put importance on nations resuming their activities, what we now call “opening the economy,” rather than loss of life?

Bentham: Resuming such activity is the means by which humans pursue their happiness. More activity indicates more happiness.

Maloney: But Mr. Bentham, that activity is creating suffering for others, because as you know the virus spreads by human contact. Today’s economists call this a negative externality, which wasn’t articulated until after you died.

Bentham: Mm, I see. Indeed that is of concern. In such case, if it suits them, a free press would report the truth about the dangers of such an externality, as you say. If such reporting persuades members of the public to avoid activity then so be it, as those members will attempt to reduce their own suffering by helping others. If it does not persuade certain individuals, then those individuals should be trusted to know what will make them most happy.

Maloney: So we are all self-interested, you think? Where is there room for compassion? For the betterment of a community?

Bentham: What is a community but the sum of the individuals in it? And what is compassion but a higher state of happiness for that individual?

Maloney: This is really quite dark. What are you getting at?

Bentham: In sum, we must add up all the happiness gained by individuals wishing to resume their activity, subtracting the suffering those individuals receive by knowing the effect of their actions. The result is the best society.

Maloney: If I may, Mr. Bentham, switch gears: In 2017 The Telegraph reported that your severed head would go on display to the public. Here is a photo of the reputed icon:

Bentham: Ah! What such a thing is that!

Maloney: Photographic technology has come a long way in the 200 years since your death.

Bentham: Such an invasion of privacy! The immodesty! I would not think to show such skin, let alone what’s underneath my skin!

Maloney: Sir, many people today like showing as much of their skin as possible on Instagram.

Bentham: Insta– . . .

Maloney: Don’t get me started.

Bentham: That picture looks nothing like me!

Maloney: Well, Instagram users often post pictures that look nothing like them.

Bentham: Why?

Maloney: It maximizes their happiness, I guess.

The state of hiring in college athletics

Data is Truth, but you may spin data to represent what you’d like people to believe is Truth. My spin wonders what the current state of hiring in college athletics has to do with how the pandemic is reshaping departments.

This is a snapshot of hiring in college athletics for time period 6/27/20 – 7/27/20 as of 4:30 p.m. EST, from Higheredjobs.com. It treats head coaches, assistant coaches, graduate assistants, and professional interns as (x1):

Athletic training (x30)
Men’s basketball (x16)
Softball (x15)
Athletics director (x14)
Women’s basketball (x13)
Men’s and/or women’s golf (x11)
Football (x10)
Volleyball (x10)
Baseball (x9)
Strength and conditioning (x9)
Women’s soccer (x9)
Women’s lacrosse (x7)
Track and field/Cross Country (x7)
Sports Information (x6)
Men’s and/or Women’s Swimming (x5)
Men’s lacrosse (x5)
Wrestling (x4)
Equipment (x3)
Women’s tennis (x3)
Esports (x3)
Men’s soccer (x2)
Women’s rowing (x2)
Bowling (x2)
Men’s ice hockey (x2)
Women’s ice hockey (x2)
Cheerleading (x2)
Academic advising (x2)
Men’s lacrosse (x1)
Men’s tennis (x1)
Shooting (x1)
Men’s crew (x1)
Field hockey (x1)

*Does not include club sports, recreation, student positions, and outliers like “ticket sales.”