Friday, August 29, 2008
"I'm a woman who blogs about male topics in a female way," explains McArdle.
"Me too," chimed in Althouse.
"That sort of cognitive dissonance makes it seem sort of unserious."
"That's a really important point. That shows we should do that even more. If that's what fires people up we should go there," said Althouse, who goes there every time she can think of a sexual-themed insult to heap on the Clintons.
"Women tend to see things through a personal lens more than men do," said McArdle.
Let's unpack the implied assumptions in those statements. Megan is saying that there are male and female topics. Men blog about politics, women blog about knitting, for instance. And men blog about politics in the male way, which is impersonal and analytical. Women, on the other hand, blog about personal things in an emotional way, through a personal lens, which I suppose means blogging about one's life and how issues affect it. So when Megan talks about her veganism or buying a car or waiting for a dress to go on sale, she's merely discussing economics and politics in the female way.
The problem with this explanation for the behavior of her critics is that it's a bunch of nonsense, based on wrong assumptions. There probably are people who think politics is just for the menfolks, but they sure as hell wouldn't read McArdle or Althouse. There probably are people who think women are all emotion and no reason, but they wouldn't read these female writers either. And the women's main complaints are against liberal critics, who generally would not hold these views. These critics do say that the women's writings are unserious, an accusation that is based on the unserious approach the women take to their work.
Which brings us to McArdle's second explanation for criticism of her work. McArdle's second theory is "women are only allowed to be smart in certain ways." They can study harder but "they're not allowed to be smart through sheer analytical" ability. 'What you're not allowed to do is like, "I thought about it and this is why you're right or wrong."' Regrettably, McArdle is making excuses for her lack of diligence in her work. She seldom does any analysis, shows charts infrequently and does not understand them, and does not provide statistics to back up her statements. Her posts are filled with unproven statements often based merely on personal bias. Her critics demand evidence, so she calls her lack of effort "sheer analytical" ability. We must take her word for it that her opinions are based on verifiable facts. It is an excuse.
"We're squishy," McArdle says. Liberals believe women should be liberal and everyone should pick a side, so they dislike or hate McArdle and Althouse. And liberals are afraid the women will lure centrists over to the dark side. Liberals feel betrayed if a woman is not on the left. Althouse actually blames sexism as the reason she is criticized, ignoring female critics, as does McArdle. Althouse and McArdle say liberals are silly to worry about the effect of their work, but if a person doesn't write to influence people and change opinions, why bother to write at all? For the attention?
Blogs attached to a major magazine have a wider audience and purpose than discussing one's life, or even the effect of economics on one's life. Their readers should expect a high quality of discussion and analysis. In an on-line blog attached to a major magazine, the readers should demand it since they have the venue to do so. As an adult and citizen I am loathe to sit and say nothing when I see so much wrong in the world. I feel we are capable of extraordinary achievements as a people and as individuals, and we have a responsibility to become rational, caring people. To me, that's the ultimate goal in life.
The criticism of McArdle and Althouse is based on the shoddy quality of their work, their personal bias that affects everything they write, and the wide audience they have to listen to their work. They are not analytical or serious, and their work is tinged with a callous disregard for anyone but themselves and a select few. Their work is not a betrayal of liberal women, it is a waste of space that could be put to infinitely better use by better women writers than McArdle, and attention that could be paid to better women than Althouse.
I read a lot of Mark Twain when I was a kid. His brilliant mind struck a chord in me, one that is angry at injustice, amused and horrified by what people do, and furious with God. That he could be replaced by one such as Megan McArdle is a crime against American letters and a damn shame.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Since most people vote with their wallet, the right is in trouble. If they win, the results will be utterly fatal for the Republican party, which will be permanently fixed in people's minds as the party that destroyed the economy. The louder they scream about God and gays, the more people realize that those issue have no relationship to their real world, where the stores should be filled with shoppers getting ready for school--but are not.
Sometimes I feel a surge of hope for our country and for American democracy. I think about the smart, good people I know and how much they want our country to live up to its ideals. Then I read Silber and I remember to stop looking for the pony among the stable muck.
It's the rich versus the poor, something voters can't face because it crushes the hope we have that our nation will magically do the right thing without us doing anything to stop it. The people who spend as much time monitoring and pressuring their own candidate as they do trying to defeat the "enemy" are the real Americans, protecting those who are utterly vulnerable to the crushing machine created by money, power and authoritarianism.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The US and Iraq have apparently agreed to a deal to withdraw combat troops by 2011. This is good news for us; let's hope it's also good news for Iraq.
And then Megan McArdle dusted Iraq off her hands and went shopping. No problem, though, I can always read the news and other bloggers if I want to hear about the Iraq government's request that we leave, the military bases we leave behind, the Iraq elections, and the internal struggles of a country bombed back into the pre-Industrial Age. (Remember when Megan said the infrastructure was just fine? Those were fun times.)
The election being nigh, of course, thoughts immediately turn to who this is
good for in the presidential election. Kevin Drum is very
sure that the answer is Obama. My first instinct was the
That's our Megan. Go with the instinct, even when history usually proves you wrong.
McCain gets to claim that the Surge worked, the war issue is off the table,
and McCain gets the credit for steely resolve without people fearing their sons
will end up in Iraq.
Aren't you paid enough to edit your work? You have an English degree; use it.
Some people do want the war issue to be off the table; those who enthusiastically supported the invasion. The rest of us would rather keep Iraq on the table so we don't end up adding Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or anyone else to our list of Countries to Help. And oopsie! A draft might possibly happen with McCain, something that will cause so much public anger and fear that even my love of drama will be satisfied.
I'm puzzled by war opponents who think that voters will suddenly love Obama
for having been "right all along". Assuming arguendo that this is true,
the psychological logic is off. Most Americans supported the war. Do
you become more endeared of your spouse when it turns out that you really should
have taken that left fork thirty miles ago? Most people prefer folie à
Latin and French, no less. Megan should work on her English before she tries to branch out and look all Continental and Frenchified. Now, did most people support the war? Oddly enough, if you google for this information you can actually find evidence if it's true or not. In fact, within two or three seconds I found an article called "Public Attitudes Towards the War in Iraq:2003-2008" by the Pew Research Center.
Five years after the start of the conflict in Iraq, many public evaluations
of the situation in Iraq have turned more positive. But there has been no
turnaround in the public's opinion about the original decision to take military
action in Iraq. While ratings of how things are going in Iraq have improved over
the past year and more Americans now say the United States should keep troops
there, the proportion saying the initial decision to go to war was wrong has
increased since the spring of 2007.
Obviously people are conflicted about our invasion of Iraq; they are slightly more supportive when we appear to be successful but are not as supportive as they used to be in the full flush of our exciting explosions and statue destruction.
I don't think we'll have a draft because even if McCain is stupid enough to try to implement one, he will be stopped by someone who doesn't want his career in Washington to end immediately. People will tolerate almost anything that doesn't affect them personally. The second Ezra Klein or Rich Lowry or Kathryn Jean Lopez* is drafted, opinions will change. And Megan? You are eligible for the draft too. The age limit was raised to 42.
*Heh. It could happen.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Megan says government stifles invention.
I know this is going to sound crazy controversial, but the reason that healthcare companies innovate is to make a profit. And those profits are the first thing that politicians target when they aim to keep costs down. Sadly, so far there's little recorded success with things like drug and medical equipment development outside of the private sector.
The record of governments at inventing consumer goods is, she said with characteristic understatement, somewhat spotty.
Hey, Megan! Ever heard of NASA?
Every day, in a variety of ways, American lives are touched by space
technology. Since 1976, about 1,400 documented NASA inventions have benefited
U.S. industry, improved the quality of life and created jobs for Americans. The
Apollo program has helped change the way of life in America, especially in
health care. Here are some of the inventions contributed by the Apollo program.
: Kidney dialysis machines were developed as a result of a NASA
developed chemical process that could remove toxic waste from used dialysis
: As a medical CAT scanner searches the human body for tumors
or other abnormalities, the industrial version, or advanced computed tomography
inspection system, finds imperfections in aerospace structures and components,
such as castings, rocket motors and nozzles.
: A cardiovascular conditioner developed for astronauts in
space led to the development of a physical therapy and athletic development
machine used by football teams, sports clinics and medical rehabilitation
: A hospital food service system employs a cook/chill
concept for serving food. The system allows staff to prepare food well in
advance, maintain heat, visual appeal and nutritional value while reducing
: Athletic shoe design and manufacture also benefited from Apollo.
Space suit technology is incorporated into a shoe's external shell. A stress
free "blow molding" process adapted from NASA space suit design is also used in
the shoe's manufacture.
: Freeze-dried food solved the problem of what to feed an
astronaut on the long-duration Apollo missions.
: Insulation barriers made of aluminum foil laid over a core
of propylene or mylar, which protected astronauts and their spacecraft's
delicate instruments from radiation, is used to protect cars and trucks and
dampen engine and exhaust noise.
: Water purification technology used on the Apollo
spacecraft is now employed in several spinoff applications to kill bacteria,
viruses and algae in community water supply systems and cooling towers. Filters
mounted on faucets can reduce lead in water supplies.
Dear Heaven, she's ignorant. And she's being rude to commenters who tell her the simnple truth: She has no idea what she's talking about.
The religion thread, predictably, has brought out people who seem convinced
that the opinion that life begins at conception is definitionally illegitimate
because many of the people who hold it are religious. This seems flatly
ridiculous to me.
I'd have to read the comments to see if that's true. No thanks.
The question of personhood is not definitionally religious, even if the only
people interested in expanding society's definition of personhood are
I don't know about "only," and neither does Megan. Cite?
Blacks are people, and those of us without any particular religious
convictions are able to apprehend this, even if 150 years ago the only people
much interested in prosecuting their claim to personhood were ministers and
A very tacky thing to say. And, cite for her statement that only the religious cared about ending slavery?
It is certainly possible to believe that life begins at conception without
reference to God. And once a question is legitimately in the political
sphere--in a way that, I would argue, the divinity of Christ or the Mohammedan
succession is not--it's not really particularly reasonable to declare that
people may not have reference to their own faith in deciding what they
Who is doing this? Your commenters? Who cares?
Few people on the left seem worried by the fact that the
anti-death-penalty movement gets much of its energy from left-wing churches, nor
that those same churches have organized substantial opposition to the Iraq
True, although churches didn't commit "substantial" opposition. The opposition had no effect at all, and some people said that it would be funny and predictable if the oppostion was hit in the head with 2x4s for protesting.
Indeed, though I myself am pro-choice and mostly irreligious, it
seems more likely to me that the main effect of faith is to spur people to
embrace causes that are personally and socially inconvenient.
Do you have a cite for this besides your gut feeling?
Slaveowners didn't need religion to motivate them to defend slavery; they
had a powerful financial interest in doing so. Similarly, the pro-choice
movement, at least in my experience, gets most of its activist energy from
reproductive-aged women who have a strong interest in being able to terminate an
unwanted pregnancy. By contrast, what self-interest was served by the
abolitionist movement then, or the pro-life movement now?
What self-interest is served by the pro-life movement? Political power, which is why Republicans have been doing a fan dance for the religious right for over a decade now. Unfulfilled promises to install Christionist ideals in government are traded for donations and votes. Where the hell has Megan been for the last two decade, and how does she dare discuss politics or religion?
There's a legend among many pro-choicers that everyone in the pro-life movement
is a patriarchal, selfish man who wants to force women to have babies in order
to control them. In fact, women and men are roughly equally likely to be
Prove it. Cite?
The best that pro-lifers get out of their movement is--having to carry
their own unwanted pregnancies to term.
Unless they don't. You see, sometimes people are h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e-s.
Absent self-interest, you need some other motive, and Christianity provides
a good one; the New Testament doesn't have much sympathy for the notion that
you're too busy or too embarrassed to follow your convictions.
Heaven. Hell. Remember those rewards and punishments promised to Christians for obeying God?
Obviously, there's also the social
clustering of belief--Quakers tend to be environmentalists not necessarily
because Jesus said so, but because the kind of people who are attracted to
Quakerism are also attracted to left-wing causes.
Cite? And are there even many Quaker converts?
Likewise, Southern Baptists tend to vote Republicans for a number of
reasons, of which religion may be the least.
Bull. I live surrounded by Southern Baptists and religion is number 1. Cite?
I presume that no one, not even religion's most dogmatic opponents,
believes that encouraging people to do what they think is right is a pernicious
aspect of religion.
I do, since I don't trust Christians to do the Christian thing. Plenty of them persecute gays for religious reasons. And what about those religious guys in the Middle East--they are doing what they think is right. See, thinking something is right isn't the same as doing the right thing. Even if you back up your thoughts with what you think God is telling you to do.
Since observationally, almost none of them seem to think so when the
religious person in question agrees with them, this seems like just another
disingenuous way to attempt to shut down debate.Now, that doesn't mean that
religious arguments have a place in the public square. Opponents of gay
marriage need a better reason than "God said no" to appeal to those of us who
are skeptical that this God exists, or those who think that God said something
else entirely. But it's not possible to remove religious motivations from
politics, and it's far from clear to me that the country would be a better place
if we had.
So people who take their religious beliefs into account when make decisions should be allowed to do so. Great. So what about Andrew Sullivan's point that decisions regarding government should be based on secular laws? This post is a waste of electrons; it avoids the debate because Megan is incapable of understanding the Founding Fathers' desire for secular government. Her thinking is too ignorant, unformed and immature to examine the issue.
I need to find a new hobby. Megan's a waste of brain cells.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Moral obligations are not the same thing as national obligations. And fulfilling one's moral obligations by invading other countries can lead to unintended consequences. What's that? You don't know what "unintended consequences" are? Okay, here you go.
Unintended consequences are outcomes that are not (or not limited to) what the actor intended in a particular situation. The unintended results may be foreseen or unforeseen, but they should be the logical or likely results of the action. For example, students of history often conjecture that if the Treaty of Versailles had not imposed such harsh conditions on Germany, World War II would not have occurred. From this perspective, one might consider the war an unintended consequence of the treaty.
You see, when you campaign for ideas like "taxes are bad" or "poor people are too fat anyway," sometimes there are consequences, like people suffering or infrastructure crumbling. Or you vote for Bush and our country is at war, in debt, and--now this is the important part--considered immoral for creating so much death and destruction.
We can also see the basis for Megan's moral foundation; God tells you what's right or wrong, because nobody could actually figure out what is good and what isn't without His Glorious Morality.
I can't see how you can have any sort of meaningful faith and divorce it from
your voting decisions. Religious faith is supposed to tell you, among
other things, what is right and wrong. How are you supposed to vote
without reference to your notions of goodness?
Well, let's think. Stealing and murder and lying hurt people, so they're wrong. Wow, that was easy! And I didn't need to drag a single archaic deity into it.
[Heavily edited after posting.]
I've obviously seen the tightening national polls, and what I'm starting to hear is that among likelies and battlegrounds,McCain's gaining a commanding lead. Since I'm hearing that from McCain supporters, however, I've been a little sceptical. Less so after this weekend's performance.
If Megan says McCain has a good chance we know Obama will win. She's never beeen right yet.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Say, wouldn't it be cool if Megan looked up some sales figures, contacted some publishing houses or even read some websites, and found out the answer to her question? Then she could give us the information instead of asking someone else to do it for her. (I believe I'm not the only person suggesting this.)
Megan McArdle is Jonah Goldberg without the family connections. The lack of content on her blog is glaring. Too bad she never developed Goldberg's schtick of going to the movies and writing liberal-bias-society's-collapsing reviews, but at least she's realized that she can blog about grocery shopping, something this housewife would never even consider doing.
It's owned by Clarity Media Group, which is owned or controlled by Philip Anschutz, "an American businessman and supporter of conservative causes," according to Wikipedia. He also has an interest in Walden Media which produced The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a movie very much supported by conservatives for its "Christian values." (The Christ figure dies and comes back to kill his enemy with his bare claws, which seems to be more popular with the conservative set than Jesus' actual attitude.)
And who is the editorialist? It could be anyone.
Clarity Media is adopting a pay-per-page view strategy for Examiner newspaper
blogs. Gawker.com reported that bloggers coined "examiners" will receive
anywhere from $2.50 to $10.00 for every 1,000 page views. The blogs will cover
25 categories in 60 cities. In a call out for participants, the newspaper chain
said "examiners" will be the "backbone" of Examiner.com. "An Examiner is someone
in a local market who enjoys informing others about subjects they love. ... They
are magazine writers, bloggers, housewives, Ph.Ds, college students and others.
... Together they form a pool of credible knowledge that has become a local
guide to a city through their expertise."The Examiner.com is looking for people
who can write "concise" and "relevant" posts about three lines long. So far some
of the topics listed include arts & entertainment, bars & clubs, games,
health, jobs, and spirituality.
So Jonah links to an article written by a bored housewife* or broke student for a couple of dollars, paid for by a wingnut welfare billionaire. Why doesn't he just stop people on the street and ask them to love him like his mother never could?
*Not that there's anything wrong with that. I am a bored housewife doing the same thing, just for free. Although I doubt Anschutz would give me any money for my opinion, unless I decided to rent myself out to talk about Bill Clinton's blow jobs, as Jonah Goldberg did.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I'll get the popcorn.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Megan McArdle has been wrong quite a bit this past week. Let's take a look:
On Monday, I said it didn't look likely that Russia would try to grab Georgia proper. Well, that idea is looking somewhat less crazy today[.]
Another way to look at the question is: are we going to allow Russia to reassemble the old Russian empire? At its heart, that's what this is about. ...[...]Russia's imperial ambitions are unlikely to stop at the Georgian border. Also, as far as I know, Georgia controls the only major pipeline to Europe not owned by Russia or Iran--Russian control of Georgia would dramatically increase its negotiating power with the entire European Union....But it's been clear for a long time that Russia's goal is to regain its former imperial borders, effectively if not nominally.
It sure sounds to me that Megan said Russia would try to grab Georgia.
After every bubble, there's generally a sort of an anti-bubble--when analysts start looking for reasons that this is, like, the worst crisis ever. The worries about Alt-A mortgages seem to me to be largely part of this fever."Everything in the future will be exactly like everything that just happened" is what got us into this mess in the first place . . .
Goodness, that's horribly wrong too. Read anyone else, they say Alt-A will be a problem.
Megan says one can't get doping out of sports, so you might as well allow it. Not very smart, and almost certainly wrong. Why couldn't you test and eliminate dopers? It's being done now. Eventually people will learn they can't use drugs to enhance performance, although some will still try. It's like saying you can't have traffic rules because people will break them.
That's just the past week or so. Is she ever right? And is that why her posts on student loans and oil conservation are simply quotations by other, more knowledgeable, people? It certainly helps Megan avoid having to read comments telling her how wrong she is.
High Abortion Rates in NYC [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
God bless them, even Crain's is worried!
Crain's seems to show that the doctors and health officials are worried that women don't have good enough access to contraception, and therefore depend on abortion instead. K-Lo is very much against contraception, so it's not surprising that she fails to mention that part. Willful blindness seems to be the only way K-Lo can make her way through life. Rush is a hero, just ignore that pesky Viagra-fuelled trip to the Dominican Republic. Bush is a hero, forget the failures. Iraq is necessary, ignore the dead completely. Our soldiers are heroes, ignore torture and degradation. The pope must be obeyed, ignore the fact that most people in the world don't care what he says. And on and on, about everything in life.
Imagine a world devoid of popular culture, of sex, of freedom for women, of complexity, of shades instead of black and white. That's the world K-Lo lives in. You could say it's a convent in the mind, but it's more like horse blinkers, voluntarily worn so K-Lo won't be distracted from keeping her eye on the prize; Death's permanent embrace, where Jesus will lift her to his side for all time, whispering sweet words of love and acceptance.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It must have been a bit of a relief for Yglesias to abandon the sinking ship of the Atlantic. It wasn't doing his reputation any good, and now he's in a better place, as they say in another context.
Bishop Facks: So, Father. Do you ever have any doubts about the religious life? Is your faith ever tested? Anything you would be worried about? Any doubts you've been having about any aspects of belief? Anything like that?
Father Dougal: Well, you know the way God made us all, right? And he's looking down at us from heaven and everything?
Bishop Facks: Uh-huh. [nods]
Father Dougal: And then his son came down and saved everyone and all that?
Bishop Facks: Yes.
Father Dougal: And when we die we're all going to go to heaven?
Bishop Facks: Yes. What about it?
Father Dougal: Well, that's the bit I have trouble with.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The girl in the Planned Parenthood video is, of course, right to say that
her night at home won’t give her disease or a baby. But it’s no way to live.
She’s cutting herself off from others. She believes she lives in a world in
which sex and simulating sex are the only options on a Friday night. There are,
of course, alternatives, and good ones at that. If there weren’t, all married
couples would get divorced after only a few years of nuptial bliss.
The bottom line is that we need to be doing more than simply saying, “don’t
have sex.” Of course that won’t work. Teens are not stupid; they’re human and know there’s something appealing about it, and they shouldn’t be told otherwise. But they should understand that there’s more to want, and that they should hold out for more — for love, commitment, and fulfillment. We need to seriously talk about character formation. This is why some of the religious schools exist. This is what a group like the Best Friends Foundation does for schools. But those groups and messages are getting hard to hear in a prurient culture obsessed with youth and selfish pleasure. [Bolding is mine.]
Darlin', you couldn't be any more of a virgin if you tried. You suspect there's something appealing about sex? Yet sex is off limits under any circumstance but the one your priest tells you is permissible. You know, the last time I looked for God, He wasn't crouched between my knees, afraid that something was going on. Too bad you can't say the same about K-Lo.
SIGH--I spoke too soon. Megan informs us that Russia is reassembling their "old Russian empire," and maybe we should do something about it, or maybe not. Does she mean Tsarist Russia or the Soviet Union? It's hard to tell, but no matter.
ANOTHER UPDATE--Megan has a lung infection! Poor kid, I've had tons of those and they're no fun. You can barely sleep for weeks because of all the coughing. Out of consideration for Megan's lungs, I will do no more than note an absolutely hysterical post on why Megan can 't drive her new car. Suffice it to say that rules are meant for the little people, not Megan.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE--It seems that Megan was exaggerating her illness. ".... it's just a hideous, hideous cold" Megan now says. Not a lung infection. I hope Megan doesn't get a hangnail; she'll have us all convinced that she's about to endure an amputation.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I understand that there are urbanites who contemptuously declare that everyone in the country needs to get out of their car, like, RIGHT NOW. Those people are wrong, and pretty damn obnoxious. But so are the people who react to a post about building parks in DC with vicious diatribes about how horrible cities are and how he wouldn't live in one if you paid him a million dollars. It's exactly the same kind of lifestyle totalitarianism. And it's really, really unnecessary. Proving that there is nothing wrong with your lifestyle does not require you to angrily trash mine.
"Vicious diatribes"? "Angrily trash"? "Lifestyle totalitarianism"? Shiver me economic timbers! My goodness, what happened in Megan's comments to upset the little miss so much? Let's read the comments. Hmm, lots of genuine love of broad, expansive lawns and houses. And a couple of I-don't-understand-Megan's-attitude. Megan chips in:
Well, that's not a surprise. Megan grossly overreacts to criticism. It's sad to see because it's a sign of low self-esteem. (Conservatives, that means she doesn't like herself very much or have confidence in herself.) It's also annoying because she's a professional advice giver. And finally it means her employers have absolutely no idea what they are doing.
I'm arguing that DC should build some damn parks so that parents who want to raise children in the city have a shot at doing so. Why this provokes such a hostile reaction is sort of puzzling.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Liberals wonder why they are parodied as out-of-touch secularists who mix near-total ignorance of traditional Christianity with a seething, idiotic attempt.
One assumes she means contempt, but with Megan Mc Ardle it isn't easy to tell. Notice the passive-aggressive nature of the slur; Megan isn't calling them names, Megan isn't wondering why they are parodied, she's just "reporting" what others say. In her head. There are many religious and spiritual liberals. It takes a lazy smugness to label an entire group with the same old lies. But lazy smugness is Megan's modus operandi.
Not to mention the fact that "the liberals" aren't the ones who made a complete hash out of Catholic doctrine.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The brain is a food-seeking antenna at the service of the stomach, the
controlling organ of the body. To understand this is to be free of the delusion
that we humans are rational beings who observe to gather data for analysis,
analyze to formulate plans and arrive at decisions, and then employ our physical
selves and our exosomatic mechanisms to enact these plans and decisions.
Instead, we decide emotionally and largely unconsciously, generally on the basis
of fear and prejudice, and we use our brains to fabricate post-facto
rationalizations for our biases and predetermined actions. Some may feel this
characterization of human motivation is unjustly insulting to human dignity, and
severely dismissive of human intellect. I concede that it will not be
universally applicable, but I think it sufficiently representative to help
explain many social trends and popular attitudes.
We voters make our electoral choices on the basis of biases that are rarely
as dispassionate and principled as we declare. Racism is one obvious factor
influencing electoral choices in the U.S. If we view bias as "thinking with your
stomach," or "gut feel," then we can ask: what is any voter's bias? A US
industry revolves around this question.
Each individual's dominant motivation will often combine the avoidance
of their fears, which can involve prejudices and superstitions few admit openly
today, and the grasping for objects (including money), status (self-esteem) and
relationships that are idealized as desirable. People dominated by the grasping
for wealth, and prone to xenophobia, will easily find that the Republican Party
speaks for them. People dominated by a desire for protection against both
impersonal natural forces and socially callous authoritarian, bureaucratic and
capitalist organizations are more likely to be drawn to the Democratic Party.
These are broad generalizations offered as suggestive, not exhaustive,
Some portion of a voter's preference will be based on the personal
attributes of a candidate: race, military veteran status, age, ethnicity,
assumed state of health, assumed sexual proclivities; and another portion of the
preference will be based on the assumed benefits to be had with the victory of
one or another party as regards: the personal pocketbook, the social impact,
potential policy changes in an area of personal interest, pork barrel. "What's
in it for me?" So, after people vote in hopes of lowering their taxes,
sheltering their capital gains, closing out undesirable populations from their
comfortable neighborhood enclaves, or from the entire country, gaining
advantages from foreign laborers cheaply, subsidizing their private liabilities
at public expense, initiating new wars they anticipate profiting from, and in
many other ways gaining exclusive preferences and subsidies, and giving free
rein to their prejudices, they may seek sympathetic characterizations of their
voting rationales because uttering the unvarnished truth would be too
The most deadly thing we can do in this world is to lie to ourselves. It is a sure way to ruin because it leaves us lost, without moral center or identity. We don't know who we are, what we want, or what we feel. We are the fabled blank slate, tabula rasa, ready to be written upon by anyone with something to sell--soda, chips, war, president, God. Even if we do nothing but acknowledge the truth, we will avoid most of the pain that comes from knowing we are not what we appear to be.
Read it all. He's absolutely right.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Parks are definitely the key to building a city that works over the entire life-cycle. But I'd dispute that DC has done a good job of this. Indeed, this is one of the things that my mother, who has just moved here from New York, often complains about-there aren't really any adequate parks in Northwest, at least east of Rock Creek.
According to economists like St. Milton of Freeman, Megan's hero, the city should be responding to market forces. When enough middle-class families want to settle there the parks and schools will be built or improved. But that doesn't stop her from complaining--or rather, repeating her parents' complaints, something she does rather a lot.
Middle class families are, IMHO, the backbone of a thriving city--they're the stabilizing force that keeps civil society together. And those families will not stay in DC, in part because of the schools, but also in part because DC is not constructed to make it easy to have small children here.I wonder why she brings up this nonsense at all, except to talk about herself. Or push her concept of "civil society" based on middle-class mores, a lazy assumption that middle class life is the touchstone of civility and morality. I see a cowed middle class terrified by the prospect of identity theft and loss of credit points, yet supine and bloatedly indifferent to our killing and eradication of civil rights. God over science, fiction over fact, surface over depth. No wonder the middle class is suffocating under the weight of its own lies.
Cindy McCain tries to distinguish herself versus the elite Obamas by dressing down. Interesting idea, but she's still a thief (of pills and husbands) with impulse control problems.
Republicans who like the idea of Bush as Batman should read what James Howard Kunstler has to say about the movie.
The most striking thing about the new Batman movie, now smashing the
all-time box office records, is its emphasis on sado-masochism as the animating
element in American culture these days. It must appeal to the many angry people
in our land who want to hurt others, even while they themselves feel deserving
of the grossest punishments. In other words, the picture reflects the extreme
depravity of the current American sensibility. Seeing it all laid out there must
be very validating to the emotionally confused audience, and hence pleasurable,
in all its painfulness.
The rich symbolism in this spectacle represents the tenor of contemporary
America as something a few notches worse than whatever the Nazis were heading
toward around 1933. We like nothing better than to see people suffer and watch
things get broken. The more slowly people are tortured (including the movie
audience) the more exquisite the pleasure derived from the act. Civilization
offers no consolation. In fact, its a mug's game. Thus, civilization is composed
only of torturers and their mug victims.
Gotham City, the setting for all these sadomasochistic vignettes, is a
place devoid of comfort. (The suburbs are missing completely.) Even the personal
haunts of "the Batman," a.k.a. zillionaire Bruce Wayne, are hard-edged
non-spaces. His workplace (cleverly accessed via a dumpster) is an underground
bunker the size of about three football fields with a claustrophobic drop
ceiling and a single furnishing: the megalomaniacal computer console that is
supposed to afford him "control" of the city, but which appears to be, in fact,
a completely impotent sham piece of techno-junk, since it can't even outperform
a $300 GPS unit in locating things. By the way, Hitler had a brighter sense of
decor in the final days of the bunker. Bruce Wayne's personal apartment is one
of those horrid glass-walled tower condos beloved of the starchitects, which, in
its florid exposure to everything external practically screams "no shelter
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The odds that she is not on some kind of birth control are probably non-existent, you idiot.
Megan McArdle: "Analysts generally expect housing declines to be three years from peak to trough, so we're riding out the worst of it right now--at least, if history is any guide."
Calculated Risk says,"As we've been discussing, the 2nd wave of defaults it just starting, and Alt-A will be ground zero this time. " See this chart. I also don't believe that history is a guide in this case, due to the housing bubble. Megan's post is stupid, or at least stupidly limited.
Michael Novak: "there is the experience of making practical decisions — which sometimes we know that we make intelligently, and sometimes stupidly — in which scientific knowledge does not show us which decision to make. At those times, in practical intellect, we know a form of knowing that leads to decisions which we darkly know to be right — “feel comfortable with,” we sometimes say. Here, too, we reach a kind of dark knowing, a knowledge of unseeing. Since we become aware in our practical knowing of better decisions and worse, greater goods and lesser goods, we come to understand darkly that there is an (unseen) standard by which we measure all goods, so as to judge them better and worse."
Hullabaloo quotes a Wall Street Journal article: "Pollsters try to get voters to reveal the biases they're too embarrassed or afraid to admit by asking questions like, "Is the country ready to elect an African-American president?" But people also have biases they don't know they have. These implicit biases, as psychologists call them, are picked up over a lifetime, absorbed from our culture, and work automatically to color our perceptions and influence our choices....Most people don't see their own implicit bias, which can appear spontaneously as intuition, a gut feeling or a vague doubt about a candidate."
Most people make many decisions based on unconscious factors, then try to justify them after the fact with some favorite ideology or religion. They think they're being logical (or devout) but they are really making choices based on fears, prejudices, and hatreds.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
So why are sales common in the midmarket, but unheard of at both discounters and many luxury brands? I know you can't figure this out yourself, so I'll tell you. Rich people have lots of money to spend and poor people don't!
It's not because price discrimination wouldn't work; there are people who would buy a cheaper iPod or Louis Vuitton bag. For instance, I bought an iPhone but I had to charge it unlike the rich people who can pay cash. And the iPhone wasn't on sale. It's no fair that I have to spend so much money to fit in with my friends!
The answer is so simple that even the simple-minded poor people could understand, but I'll tell you anyway because I'm paid to state the obvious. Rich people can pay for quality, poor people can't. Moreover, people love love love to shop at cavernous warehouses with too few check-out clerks and cheap prices. Every time I "contemplate" my Rabbit, I get a little extra thrill from remembering that it was $11 at Costco. Rich people, however, get their thrills by owning something you, a poor person, cannot own. Did I mention I own an iPhone?
Monday, August 4, 2008
UPDATE: The hurricane is a bust. It's a real let-down to have to party through a rainstorm.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
One down, 16 left to go. My money's on Rumsfeld. The world just isn't the same if you no longer can kill a hundred foreigners before breakfast.
Through the ups and downs of two decades, his message — always delivered with optimism, civility, and good humor — has been faithful to two core convictions: the power of freedom and the power of American exceptionalism.
He is talented, witty, creative, informed, and smart as hell. People look up to him, and love him — and they’re quite right.
In the Great Man's own words:
"Feminism was established so that unattractive women could have easier access to the mainstream of society. Just look at the history of feminism if you doubt the truth."
"We must tax the poor. This is not hardhearted and mean. It is axiomatic that if you subsidize an activity or condition you get more of it; if you tax it you get less of it. Obviously, we want to eliminate poverty, and there is the one method that has never been tried: tax it."
"Why should Blacks be heard? They're 12% of the population. Who the hell cares."
"Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."
"Citizen service is a repudiation of the principles upon which our country was based. We are all here for ourselves."
"One of the things I want to do before I die is conduct the homeless olympics...the 10-metre shopping cart relay, the dumpster dig, and the hop, skip, and trip."
"If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people--I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do--let the stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."
Gracious, witty, creative, humanitarian, Great Man Rush Limbaugh. Rich beyond avarice and popular with millions. This is America's Hero.
Rush quotes from here and here. Quotes on Rush from the NRO Symposium on Limbaugh.
But how will I know if Ann Althouse is reading the blog????