Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ripped from the Headlines

Stinky Lawsuits
     From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A Republican state senator is proposing a bill to exempt animal rendering plants from lawsuits. Apparently, in the unending insanity that is Atlanta's sprawl, developers are now building nice houses next to - let just call them what they are, shall we? - factories that turn pieces of chicken guts and horse hooves into dog food. Now those new residents are suing the rendering plants for being too smelly.
     Look, I'm all for regulation of industry when it's a public nuisance. Maybe the rendering plants are polluting the air or groundwater. But it's my belief that you can't move in to an existing condition and then complain about it. People always do this - they buy a house next to the airport and then complain about jet noise. They buy a condo across the street from 20 nightclubs in Buckhead and call the cops because they can hear the music late at night. They marry a man and then complain when he doesn't do the dishes. Well, tough - it's one thing if you had the house before things got bad. But if you knowingly put yourself in the situation? I have no sympathy.
     Still, because I'm contrary, I dislike the bill. Why should rendering plants get blanket immunity from lawsuits. Just grant them immunity from lawsuits from new neighbors. We still need a way to keep them from infringing on the rights of their old neighbors.

Cobb vs Douglas
     There's an interesting (but rambling) article in Slate about how Harvard is "an incubator for an American ruling class". It talks about privilege in education and how middle class parents now give up current consumption to provide for the future of their children. They do this by springing for private schools and by moving to districts with better public schools, even if it means higher taxes. Apparently there's a utility function in mathematics that describes this. It's called the Cobb-Douglas Utility Function. (see page 3 if you're really interested.)
     It's named after some economist and Senator named Douglas and I presume some other guy named Cobb. But my initial assumption was that it was named after Cobb and Douglas counties in Georgia. Cobb has some of the snobbiest public and private schools in the state and they really think they're top notch (even though they're too dumb to teach evolution). I'm sure that a lot of parents of smart kids in neighboring rural Douglas County move across the border so their kids will have a presumed advantage in life.

Playing Pool
     The NCAA Basketball tournament is starting on Thursday (well, technically tonight, but who cares about Oakland or Alabama A&M?). Once again my Yellow Jackets are poised to play spoiler and assuming Will Bynum learns how to hit the '3' again, all will be right with the world.

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