Obama in China

Obama’s epoch-making and still inadequate carbon deal with China.

The CW on Obama’s climate deal with China has it about right: it is
(a) a huge diplomatic breakthrough, removing the main roadblock to an agreement in Paris to cut carbon emissions and get the world on a path to sustainability in a liveable climate;
(b) completely inadequate, as the actual emissions targets for 2030 to which the two committed – peaking by then “or earlier” for China, a 26% reduction from 2005 for the USA – fall far short of what is required. The EU has signed up to 40% cuts, and even that is too low for safety.

Obama has neatly snookered the GOP. They have been using the “what about China?” talking-point as an excuse for inaction. A dangerous one, as it concedes the principle that action is needed. Now they will have to switch to “China isn’t doing enough”. Which implies that there is some Chinese policy which would trigger US action, and we are in negotiation mode on overflight rights for the black helicopters. The target looks achievable on current policy, defined to include the coal regulations, so the cost argument doesn’t hold up either. It remains true that the next legislative heave will have to await 2016, and depends on a very unlikely Democratic sweep or (dream on) Damascene conversion by the GOP.

The Chinese side is more interesting. Continue reading “Obama in China”


I despise the institution of tipping for service.  There’s no practical way to escape it (obviously no decent person will stiff a waiter in the service of a principle), it’s degrading to people who are no more “servants” to me in a restaurant than I am to my students, the “expected” tip has been increasing as a percentage of the tab for no reason (because its a percentage, inflation is automatically covered already), and in some contexts (like New York garages and apartment houses) it’s only slightly above extortion, with a soupçon of positional arms race.  Furthermore, it’s an invitation to tax evasion.

Here’s the beginning of a worthy trend: some high-end restaurants here are just putting a stop to it, and apparently to everyone’s approval.  Now we just need to increase the menu prices 20% and have done with the whole mess.  I like charging extra for checked bags on an airplane; why should people without bags pay to schlep mine across the country?  But having dinner put on your table is not an optional part of dining in a sit-down restaurant.  Roll it all up together and have done with it; let management manage things like salaries, training, and working hours.

[rev 24/X] from the linked (paywall) article:

Citing both pragmatic and philosophical reasons, a small collection of Bay Area restaurateurs are eliminating tipping. Instead of expecting diners to leave a tip, the restaurants will automatically add a 20 percent service charge to all bills — and not accept any additional gratuity beyond the service charge….Rather than relying on tips, the restaurants will compensate staff on merit-based hourly wages and revenue-sharing. It’s a system common abroad….So far, the restaurants’ respective staffs have been largely supportive, according to owners. Camino’s Hopelain estimates that cooks stand to receive an hourly increase of 50 cents to $1, while servers’ pay will remain steady, or perhaps decrease 50 to 75 cents an hour….One major shift will be in reporting tips for tax purposes. Generally speaking, cash tips have a tendency to go unreported among restaurant servers. Once the service charge becomes an official line item on a receipt, people will be accountable. Hoffman [co-owner] said employees at Comal will not see a change in their income if they have been declaring all of their tips.

Bureaucrats who can’t be trusted around children

In the annals of amazing young musicians, Avery Gagliano is making herself quite the niche.

In the annals of timid, heartless school administrators who think the purpose of students is to be abused with idiotic rules, and preen about “zero-tolerance” policies that take plastic knives away from eight-year-olds and suspend first-graders, this is some kind of new low, and deserves note.  Jemea Goso, are you are just personally clueless and heartless? More likely the cowards you report to, who won’t take responsibility for this, have nailed your feet to the floor so you can’t do your job.

You would all be merely ludicrous, if you weren’t dangerous to kids.

Update 9/IX:  DCPS has quite a different version of events. My instinct (no more than that at present) is that they are having an elevator-video moment of reflection and damage control since the Dvorak story was published, but it’s possible Dvorak just pooched the story and the family didn’t tell tell her the truth. These versions cannot both be true.

Update 10/IX: Dvorak replies.