All Consuming

I found a website today that just makes me giddy with its niftyness. That’s because it’s all about two of my favorite activities, blogging and reading. That’s because I’m a real dork sometimes. OK, most of the time. Precision is not the issue here, so let’s move on, shall we?

The site is It makes it easy to list books on your blog and also tracks what books are most frequently mentioned throughout the blogosphere.

Check out the “Currently Reading” section on my sidebar to see the improvements made by All Consuming. It used to be just plain text; it was either use that or include gaudy ads from Amazon. Now the cover, title, and author all appear pretty much automatically — I just input the book at the All Consuming website (easier than rebuilding my index template in Movable Type) and voila, there they are.

The site allows comments to be included, but I’m not currently using that feature. You can also document an entire collection of books or a list of favorites.

Clicking on the links doesn’t just take you to the Amazon item page anymore. Instead you get a page with a purchase link (incorporating the Amazon Associates ID of your choice), additional info, mentions from other blogs, and related pages from Google, among other things.

The last features I’ll mention are a listing on the main page of the most talked about books and an option to track books mentioned on other blogs of your choosing (either people you know or who may have similar taste).

So there you have it. If you have a blog and would like to list books on it, this site makes it very easy to do.


Will on DC vouchers

George F. Will has an excellent piece on the DC voucher proposal in today’s Washington Post. Legislation to fund the school choice program here in the District narrowly passed the House and is headed to the Senate. Will handily dismisses the criticisms usually applied to voucher programs; this study by Cato’s David Salisbury (whom I’m now interning for) shows that the students fortunate enough to receive them will find affordable private schools to which they can apply them.


Thanks, Zhubin

On his blog today, Zhubin describes me as “a terrible libertarian, with heinous views on the morality and sustainability of capitalism” and this site as a place where “Jacob chronicles his hard work funneling wealth to the upper-classes.” If you know Zhubin, you realize what a compliment this is coming from him.


Those glamorous libertarians

When your movement’s most famous celebrity spokesmen are Drew Carey and Penn Jillette, “glamorous” and “radical chic” are not words you expect to hear describing it. Yet those are the words chosen by The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum in her new column about how young globalization protesters are turning towards free trade.

Applebaum cites Sweden’s Johan Norberg and France’s Sabine Herold (picture) as the fashionable new faces of the pro-capitalism crowd. Norberg (who was a faculty member at the IHS seminar I attended this summer and is a really nice guy) modestly claims he is “not sure about the specific flattering remarks” (even though his first question from the IHS audience was “are you single and looking?”). I’ll leave that judgment to you, but will note that his new book In Defense of Global Capitalism is a good read– straightforward, direct, and supported with lots of evidence.

All of which leaves two questions. 1) Should, I too, grow my hair long and acquire a Swedish accent? 2) Is the possibility of someday meeting Sabine Herold worth the pain of taking a 5 hour French course when I return to Vandy?


Vandy media update

There’s a new Slant out today and it’s a really good issue. No articles from me this time around. (Please don’t infer any relationship between those two sentences.)

Orbis, The Torch’s left-wing rival, also published their first issue today. The first Torch under new EiC Dave Maynard is in production and will be out soon. Vanderbilt, get your lighters ready!


Cafe-philo D. C.

In Nashville cafe-philo is still going on, but I am here in D. C. and missing out. So, this Thursday night there’s a new cafe-philo meeting for the first time in Arlington. Looks to be a good group and I love the coffee house we’ll be at.

It starts Thursday at 8:00 pm at Common Grounds in Arlington, 3211 Wilson Blvd., just a block from the Clarendon Metro. To be added to the e-mail list click here.


I’m not a car guy…

… but lately I’ve had to pay attention to the things, since I came home from Vandy to find out I needed a new one. My first choice was the Mini Cooper, but that was too small for the cross country moving I needed to do. I liked the Jetta Wagon, but it was out of my price range. What did I end up with? The Pontiac Aztek. Hey, at least it’s not the Element.

Like most people, when I first saw the Aztek I thought it was a monstrosity. But unlike most people, I also felt deep down that someday I would own one. Now I do, and I like it a lot, despite its rhinoceros-like body and weird angles. I’m willing to believe that ugly = innovation. This guy, however, isn’t quite so forgiving.

The second car aspect of this post is this ad for Honda (“Cog,” third link from the top). This 2 minute ad was aired in April and is a wonder to behold; it required 606 takes to get it right (read a “making of” article here).

Bonus link 1: race a Mini Cooper!

Bonus link 2: Canine infedility and the importance of having good tires.

This concludes the car talk portion of


Organization Man

Iíd decided in advance that I was going to write a blog entry describing my first day at Cato. As it happens, a description of my first day would be pretty damn boring. Both of my department heads were too busy to discuss work today (one had a last minute call to be on CNN), so I only had about twenty minutes of actual duty. Even my desk was occupied, so I couldnít so much as set up my voice mail. (I do have an official e-mail account though:

Nevertheless, I think I think I’m going to like it here. The intern director is giving us the freedom to set our own schedules and in the brief time I met the departments I’ll be working with the people seemed very pleasant.

I’ll simply note the irony of a libertarian think-tank having assigned seats and bring this entry to a close.



Added Zhubin Parang’s blog to the links at left tonight, mainly because I like putting Zhubin’s and Dan Eberhart’s pages in the same list (inside joke for you Vandy political types).

Surprising as it is, this site broke the 500 unique visitors in a month mark today, and that’s with about eight days of downtime. The 1,000 mark will definitely be cause for a celebration taco.


Now Nietzsche!

So Scientific American didn’t mention Nietzsche in their parallel universes article, but they did in this piece entitled “Nietzsche’s Toxicology.” But as much as I love Nietzsche, that is not why I bring this up — the article is about hormesis, the phenomenon of toxins having beneficial effects in small doses.

Dante Arciero wrote about this very subject in the December issue of The Torch. At the time a few people expressed skepticism, but it’s good vindication when a left-leaning magazine like SciAm prints an article on hormetic effects (even noting their implications for environmental laws).

Now if only they’d print a study proving the superiority of sugar cane Dr Pepper over the normal variety…


First Slant of the year

The first issue of The Slant under new EiC Meredith Gray is online and in print. My contribution is Dining Director Frank Gladu’s welcome letter to incoming freshmen. I have to admit I hate picking on the guy so much (this is my third piece that satirizes him and Vandy Dining). He seems like a really nice guy. But, as the visible head of the dining monopoly that inflicts itself on all freshmen, all Pub-goers, and anyone on campus who just wants a fresh slice of pizza, he’s the guy to be targeted.


What, no Nietzsche?

This is old news, but given the title of my blog I feel obliged to link to the May Scientific American article about the existence of parallel universes and, therefore, eternal recurrence (the article Gerald T. was referencing in his strange and funny guestbook entry). The article outlines four different levels of parallel universes, with the Level I multiverse being the one that could most directly keep Zarathustra up nights. No Nietzsche in the article, but it’s great anyway if you like cosmology.


Econ prof forgets her debts

This is from my friend Josh Keltner, describing a conversation he had with his economic history professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX:

JTKeltner1017: say.. have I got a story for you!!
JaRoGrier: I’m listening
JTKeltner1017: I told my economic history teacher this summer that I really wanted to get into theoretical econ and econ history so I was going to read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
JTKeltner1017: she said “Oh really, I’ve never really read any of that, I don’t think its terribly important.”
JTKeltner1017: then I say..”Well do you have any suggestions on how I can spend my reading time better?
JaRoGrier: haha, that’s great
JTKeltner1017: and she says..
JTKeltner1017: or actually she shows up the next day with a copy of When Corporations Rule the World, foreword by Danny Glover
JTKeltner1017: UGGGHGHG


A big, virtual cocktail party

Here are a few new websites worth taking a look at if you thought BuddyZoo was a fun way to kill time on the Web: Friendster,, and Ryze. Theyíre all social networking sites that allow you to explore your network in various ways. Now that Iím back home to Houston and a high speed Internet connection, Iíve spent the past couple nights trying them out. Here’s how they stack up based on my early impressions:
Continue reading “A big, virtual cocktail party”