What Makes America Different

April 28, 2008

During his introductory remarks, AEI president Christopher DeMuth said that no effort to understand the meaning of American exceptionalism had been “more ambitious and far-reaching” than this book. Not only does it describe the ways—both good and bad—in which Americans differ from people in other nations, DeMuth said, it also considers whether American exceptionalism is likely to continue, and how it matters to the world. DeMuth noted that Americans are more individualistic, self-reliant, anti-state, and pro-immigration than people in many other countries. They work harder, are more philanthropic, and participate more in civic activities. On the negative side, America also has a higher murder rate than some other countries.

That is from the summary of a new book out, Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation.

I think it is easy to forget how different we are. Our cultural attitudes mean that what works for us will not necessarily work for others (see failed nation building), and what works for us is likely to continue working for us (see continued growth and innovation).


Schools and Creativity

April 7, 2008

Here are a post a day about TED Videos. I’d seen this one elsewhere and it’s worth passing along. A very entertaining speaker.

Get Along

March 12, 2008

Long and winding, this article caught my fancy. You know it’s good when two of your bloggers recommend it. I don’t know who David Mamet is, but read his election essay. Today.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

Adventure Indeed

March 8, 2008

My favorite line from the story:

He has now disassembled the engine into little piles of metal pieces.

One of my favorite parts about reading blogs is the diversity. I can get topics and personalities from across the board. I will here catagorize my favorite blogs:


  • Megan McArdle: Former writer for The Economist.
  • Marginal Revolution: Two economics professors from George Mason. Economics mixed with moderate libertarianism.
  • Cafe Hayek: Two more economics professors from George Mason. Intelligent defense of more extreme libertarianism.
  • Greg Mankiw: Harvard professor, former member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. More links than commentary, but a long time proponent of Carbon Taxes, and the blog that got me started down this trend.


  • Tynan has three blogs:
    1. Life Nomadic: is him and his friend spending a year on the road. Pretty incredible stuff. The link at the start of the story.
    2. Tynan is… Better Than Your Boyfriend: His personal blog. Some people might be offended by the title alone, but if you want an opinion you haven’t heard before, he’s got it. A lot of what he talks about how he goes about achieving his goals. I promise he’s not the A-hole that the title makes him sound.
    3. Best in the Land: He makes a convincing argument that everything on there is far superior to secondary choices.
  • Mark Cuban: Whatever a smart billionaire wants to talk about. Basketball, HDTV, Technology more generally, the Internet, Entrepreneurship…
  • Violent Acres: Offensive, vulgar language, sometimes self-centered. I always find her interesting, except when she gets in spats with other bloggers. Frequently I find her right.
  • Dilbert Blog: Random thought from the creator of Dilbert. One post per day. Can be exceptional at times.


  • Coding Horror: Excellent blog for people in software. (also a recent addition)
  • Joel on Software: More infrequent posts. A legend in software blogging. He sometimes talks about his very innovative company in NYC.
  • Paul Graham: Most infrequent posts. He writes essays not blog posts. He’s a venture capitalist who made his money developing what would be bought by Yahoo to make Yahoo Stores.

Question for the readers: Should this have been two posts? Would you have preferred the title, “A Few of My Favorite Things?”

My Hope

March 3, 2008

Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s Republican governor, is doing very innovative things. To a conservative, it’s often easy to be depressed about the direction of government. Sometimes, the government gets better.

Government is “the last monopoly,” [Daniels] said, and it “lacks accountability.” The only way to make it effective is to “implant” a system of accountability to measure and count results as businesses do, because “what gets measured gets done.” For example, Daniels said, a visit to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles—the kind of trip most Americans dread—now has an average wait time of eight minutes and ten seconds, down from over 40 minutes. Customer satisfaction has surged to 97 percent. The fact that Daniels refers to patrons of the bureau as “customers” speaks volumes about his corporate mentality.

My Reminder

March 3, 2008

Until I get a better phone, my current system of remembering things uses Kwiry. I text a reminder to 59479 and it emails me whatever I sent. I suppose I might be able to email directly from my phone. But for right now this is working.

Who needs GPS when you’ve got Google

March 3, 2008

Seriously cool. Google’s new Maps beta uses tower signal strength to infer your location.