Monthly Archives: February 2017


A little sledding and skiing yesterday. Conditions went from bright sun to heavy snow! As usual, no photos of Cadie!

The Dignity Deficit

Robert likes the article “The Dignity Deficit” in the latest Foreign Policy magazine (free registration required). Arthur C. Brooks (forewarning: yes, the AEI President) suggests that government needs to align around a “neededness agenda” in which it asks whether policies are making people (i.e., white working class people) feel more needed, rather than like freeloaders.

Favorite paragraph is the last one about sharing “secrets.”

“Today, the top and the bottom of American society live in separate worlds. They do not attend school together, socialize together, or work together. They hardly know each other. As a result, few people in either of these two Americas even recognize the social trends that are widening the cultural gulf between them. Some differences are trivial, such as regional accents or entertainment preferences. Other differences, however, are more consequential: for example, the birthrate among unmarried mothers. Whereas less than ten percent of births to college-educated women occur out of wedlock, the comparable figure for women with only a high school degree or less is more than 50 percent. Children born out of wedlock are more likely to grow up without a father, and those brought up in such circumstances are less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to suffer from mental health problems, and less likely to work later in life. In other words, class-based cultural differences are more than a matter of curiosity. They are a major factor in producing the misery that so many Americans experience.

Of course, the United States does not need a cabinet-level secretary of middle-class morals. But legislators and officials should try to ensure that any social policy passes a simple test: Does it weaken family integrity or social cohesion—for example, by encouraging single parenthood, fragmenting communities, erecting barriers to religious expression, or rewarding idleness?

Moral suasion can be even more powerful than policy. Before elites on the left and the right do battle over policy fixes, they need to ask themselves, “What am I personally doing to share the secrets of my success with those outside my social class?” According to the best social science available, those secrets are not refundable tax credits or auto-shop classes, as important as those things might be. Rather, the keys to fulfillment are building a stable family life, belonging to a strong community, and working hard. Elites have an ethical duty to reveal how they have achieved and sustained success. Readers can decide for themselves whether this suggestion reflects hopeless paternalism, Good Samaritanism, or perhaps both.”

Burgers with the Lasalas

The second stop yesterday while on the Rory birthday party train was In-n-Out.  And who should we run into but the Lasalas. Seems they favor the Costco in Novato and the adjoining fast food.

They all look good. Tomas is BIG! There must be a recessive height gene in there somewhere.


Snuggies Are Blankets, Not Priestly Robes, Rules Trade Court

Snuggies, the sleeved fleece coverings, should be classified as blankets for tariff purposes, not like robes or priestly vestments, a federal trade court ruled Feb. 10 ( Allstar Mktg. Grp., LLC v. United States , Ct. Int’l Trade, 13-00395, 2/10/17 ).

The court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that Snuggies are apparel and so should be subject to higher duties than blankets. The judge found it important that Snuggies open in the back and don’t have closures.
‘The Blanket With Sleeves!’

Snuggies are polyester fleece knits with sleeves that the manufacturer says keeps users warm while letting them use their hands freely. Beginning in late 2008, the product, and its infomercials, became a pop culture phenomenon, and the Snuggie was featured on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Oprah,

Judge Mark Barnett of the Court of International Trade held that Customs and Border Protection was wrong to classify Snuggies as garments. The judge noted in his opinion that the product is marketed as a blanket, rather than as clothing. For example, the packaging describes the Snuggie as “The Blanket With Sleeves!,” he said, and depicts consumers “in the types of situations one might use a blanket; for example, while seated or reclining on a couch or bed, or outside cheering a sports team.”

The addition of sleeves was not enough to turn the Snuggie into clothing, Barnett said. They simply allow the Snuggie “to remain in place and keep the user warm while allowing the user to engage in certain activities requiring the use of their hands,” he said.
Not Like Priests’ Robes

The judge rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to compare the Snuggie to priestly vestments or scholastic robes, which also have wide-armed sleeves and flow loosely around the body. Barnett said that unlike robes, the Snuggie opens in the back, and unlike ecclesiastical garments, it don’t have closures.

How Do Things Work?

Golden Books genius. Robert thinks that Robert’s last thought as he lay dying will not be the day John Ashcroft picked him out of a crowd and shook his hand, it will likely be the car image from this book.

Husbands are Deadlier than Terrorists

And so are toddlers.

From the NYT

With the President Trump Reality Show, it’s easy to be distracted by ANGRY ALL-CAPITAL TWEETS or Oval Office tantrums. But resist, and stay focused on matters of life and death.

Consider two critical issues: refugees and guns. Trump is going berserk over the former, but wants to ease rules on the latter. So let’s look at the relative risks.

In the four decades between 1975 and 2015, terrorists born in the seven nations in Trump’s travel ban killed zero people in America, according to the Cato Institute. Zero.

In that same period, guns claimed 1.34 million lives in America, including murders, suicides and accidents. That’s about as many people as live in Boston and Seattle combined.