Sunday assorted links and stuff


1. Lookism in sentencing decisions.

2. An autonomous vehicle was set on fire by a crowd in San Francisco.  In some alternate universe, a small drone would emerge from the burning vehicle and strike them all down.

3. Have you noticed that Michelle Obama was, less than 24 hours ago, up to #3 in the betting markets for likelihood of being the next U.S. President?  She was at about 7%.  Now it is Gavin Newsom who is #3 at about ten percent.  At the same time, the NYT Editorial page, other MSM sources, and Hillary Clinton all seem to be turning on Biden, on the issue of age of course.  I would not place too much emphasis on that seven percent number, or that ten percent number, as I suspect there is private information at work here — either private information that Biden is toast, or private information that he isn’t toast.  The problem is I don’t know which.  Still, this is a live issue.

It is also a good test of public intellectuals.  Obviously, the issue is not just about Biden’s current competency (which I cannot judge — articulateness is overrated!), but also a) how the public perceives him, b) how his staff and other countries perceive him, and c) how matters will be four to five years from now, when he is still President, if he is still President.  (Start by reading Shakespeare on political leadership.)  If you’re defending Biden, for reasons related to your expected value calculations, I hope at least you are being honest with yourself about your Straussianism here.  But please do add to your calculations the notion that the American public is pretty fed up with this kind of response from our mainstream political institutions.

One possible lesson here is that our political establishment really cannot coordinate on making needed changes.  The other possible lesson is that they can.  I am prepared for Bayesian updates, as my status quo assessments by necessity will be disturbed.

4. Susie Essman is a comic genius (NYT).

5. A three-minute clip on how various top chess players walk into a tournament entrance.  Can you guess who shows up last?

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