Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back to the grindstone

some not entirely quick shorterizationings.

Seriously, though: That an NYTimes blogger put perhaps too much stock in a white supremacist's claims of ties to Ron Paul means RP is definitely not a racist extremist, just an extremist. The support RP receives from white supremacists, such as David Duke (no link to any of his hate, but support for RP is all over Duke's home site), isn't significant. That this whole episode reeks of a low quality attempt to paper over RP's ties by discrediting one particular set of claims, in the model of rat-fucking Dan Rather in Memogate to negate the AWOL from National Guard duty issue, should not raise any suspicions. It certainly doesn't for Megan.

Who cheated whom?: ... *sigh* Megan simply will not hear of possibly blaming banks for any portion of the subprime loan crisis. Neither will a famous product of the U of Chicago Economics dep't, who is above reproach because of awards.
The housing bubble was a great national folie-a-deux. Buyers and lenders alike were deluded by long years of easy credit into thinking that risks were lower than they actually were. It is not plausible to argue that the banks knew the loans would go bad . . . and nonetheless jammed billions of them into their portfolios.
Don't blame the banks, they made the same mistake as the people they extended credit to. Blame the people who accepted that credit, instead, who were operating under the exact same mistaken beliefs. I'd say why, but I can't snark that well.
To many people, of course, this cries out for regulations to keep the bankers from being stupid: force them to up their loan quality. This is likely to just replace one kind of error with another. Most people who got subprime loans are not in default, and I will be very, very surprised if the number of defaulters even gets near the 50% mark. Why would we want to cut off credit to the sensible majority who can meet their payments, in order to protect those who take out loans they can't afford? There is no way to tell Class A from Class B--or believe me, the banks would already have weeded the latter group out.
A month ago, Megan was claiming 15% default was no biggie and had to actually update to admit that she was being flip, by being flip and joking about a "financial holocaust", as M. noted at the time. Now, she's claiming a 50% default rate wouldn't justify denying, or not aggressively pushing, credit on people unqualified for it. I'm no economist, but this strikes me as extremely fucking stupid.
But Megan is more worried about whether people will be able to put themselves in massive debt in the future.
It is characteristic of major economic problems that whatever problem you're having now seems like the only problem worth solving, no matter what the cost. But the cost of denying credit to millions of people is very high--and tellingly, it will not be borne by any of the people who are advocating it.
Are you willing to bear the costs of forcing bankers to perform due diligence? Could you live with yourself?

Why shouldn't we punish rich people who renounce their citizenship?: Maybe because their wealth was generated by participation in our economy and would not exist without it? Or the fact that the rich folk at issue here are often, usually, trying to continue earning income from US holdings but avoid paying taxes on them?
This is an excellent example of the shallow nature of Megan's glibertarianism.

Ron Paul on taxes: This is probably the longest post Megan has produced for The Atlantic, and it amounts to saying RP's batshit crazy beliefs on taxation and the Dep't of Education are a different flavor from Megan's batshit crazy beliefs on taxation and the Dep't of Education. This is two schizophrenics arguing over what God's voice sounds like.

And while I'm building my wish list...:
In general, I try to assume that when someone does something professionally, they have some passing familiarity with the subject. This prevents me from looking like an utter fool when I triumphantly catch, say, a science journalist in some "error" that turns out to be my own misunderstanding.

In fact, I have caught professional economists and journalists in errors, sometimes embarassing ones; and in turn, I have been caught in a few bloopers of my own.
I could link to examples of posts where Megan disproves her own claims here, but that'd be roughly of half everything we've ever posted on this blog. Instead, I'm going to stop, because Megan's degree of self-deception in this makes my head hurt.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Since S.N!'s spam blocker hates me

here's a pair of mean, petty Doughbob lolcons I made.


(credit to S,N! commenter Ted for the shot.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Working Holiday

Four shorterized items. (Btw, I know I've been lax about the cat porn. If anyone cares, do chime in.)

Your morning retail report
: While millions of Americans have switched their holdiay shopping to Amazon or other online retailers, my brief visit to an outlet mall makes it quite clear the economy is about to tank. Put all your money into shotguns and canned goods, folks.
(By this logic, no one is flying this holiday season, because the Jetblue terminal at JFK wasn't crowded for me yesterday. And yes, I know the economy isn't actually healthy.)

Ron Paul = protest vote?: Let me ask you a very serious question; am I a registered Republican? Because I'm not sure if I should vote for Ron Paul in the primary.

Senior moments
: Once again, let's remember not to blame banks for extending credit to people obviously unqualified for it. The fault lies with those old or dumb people who take money offered to them by folk from a bank telling them repayment will be eaaaaaasy. The system is fine and great, and changing it will only prevent further old and dumb people from being buried under debt from credit they never should have received (or been aggressively offered).

Department of mathematical illusion
: Some people are bad at math. This means Social Security is going to collapse, and we should just scrap it for lottery tickets investing in the stock market. WE'VE GOTTA CLOSE THE BEACHES!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More tales of travel

I wonder if Megan is still smarting about JFK making her wait for her bags on the day before Thanksgiving. I continue to be blessed by the gods of interstate travel.
I'm in JFK right now, about to fly to Florida for Festivus with the 'rents. Got to the airport a couple hours ahead of time, figuring today would be crazy. It isn't. There's no lines. At first I'm almost mad, cuz now I have hours to waste. Then I see my flight has been delayed a little under three hours. Must be real bad weather in a major hub today, everything to everywhere is delayed aside from the flights in the next hour. Poopy.
Then i see the 4:15 hasn't left, is on time, and for fifty bucks more has a seat for me. Now I'll be in Florida almost two hours before originally planned.
Wasn't a line at security. I'll say again, because it's that amazing. At 3 pm, the Sunday before Xmas, at JFK, there was no line at security.
Cuz Jebus luvs me.
N not Megan.
Merry Festivus.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Here's the thing

I can't be bothered to care about the impracticality of returning to the gold standard, because I'm too busy preparing a 24 post report on why it's mistaken to claim evil spirits cause illness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Today in Meganity

tales of true crime, and Ron Paul. The former is relatively inoffensive. There are minor nits to pick, but the meat is in the RP post.
As an aside, before we begin, let me say I fall fully on the Dave Neiwert side of the debate over whether what matters more is RP's opposition to the war or his extensive history of ties to militias and believing in batshit crazy things. To my mind, it boils down to whether it matters that RP is right for the wrong reasons, and I believe it does. Presidential candidacies by men who aren't going to get the nomination or win as a third party entry aren't necessarily entirely quixotic endeavors. The candidates build organizations, identify reliable donors, and create space in the mainstream for practitioners of their particular brand of politics. Pat Robertson was never going to win, but that wasn't the point. And RP is serving as a meeting point for extremist elements of the right and left, which means claims like 9/11 being blamed on the New World Order are just going to get more and more common. All in all, Ron Paul scares me.
That said, you'd think Megan would at least give RP credit for the libertarian aspects of his wackadoodle portfolio. All but dismantling the Federal Government is supposed to be one of her fondest dreams. And yet, this is what she says;

Ron Paul is not going to win. Ron Paul is the ultimate refutation of the notion that money is what determines races. Like fellow Texan Ross Perot, Paul appeals to people who are fed up with the political process, including a lot of libertarians. But many of his positions are deeply unpopular, and he can't triangulate because his precise appeal to his supporters is the image of standing rock-steady in the face of politics-as-usual. Nor has he, as far as I can tell, injected his own politics into the race by forcing other candidates to kowtow to him. Since he can't win, and isn't forcing other candidates to react, why not use the platform he has to push a single issue? Not the Iraq war, upon which no one seems open to much persuasion, but something where he might conceivably actually change America a little? Wasting it on actually trying to get elected seems extravagent [sic].
Can anyone tell me what point Megan is trying to make here? What does
injected his own politics into the race by forcing other candidates to kowtow to him
mean? Does Megan wish he'd launch an anti-income tax candidacy? Anti-NWO order? Or does Megan want RP to sate her inner Steve Sailer and bring some militia-men of dubious racial views on the stage with him at rallies? I realize I'm being harsh, but this is yet another of those moments where it's unclear whether Megan is being dumb or sly. Sometimes I truly wonder.

A brief interlude

This is how I feel pretty much all the time;

(From the additional artwork on disc 2 of Radiohead's In Rainbows, presumably by Tchocky and/or Stanley Donwood.)

And to make this a less completely pointless post, here's the final track of the bonus disc 2, 4 Minute Warning.

Up Is Down & Tuesday Is Thursday, or Is Thursday Tuesday?

I searched for a regular "Music Thursday" feature (or bug) at A. I., to be sure Mlle. Megan wasn't being tongue in cheek titling her 18 December (yesterday, Tuesday) item as "Music Thursday." There wasn't, she wasn't. The only possible conclusion: Megan doesn't know what fucking day it is.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Needles & Pinheads

The Federal District has begun a clean needle program, giving Megan the chance to open a forum for her faithful to call for the execution of addicts & so on, as well as make flimsy analogies:

It's like the proverbial gas station attendant who runs around town siphoning gas out of peoples' tanks and then sells it back to them the next day.
I can't help but wonder if she has a dog in this hunt:
it rivals Solitaire and heroin for sheer mindless pleasure.
but I'm sure she's still just a wknd. sniffer/smoker, & doesn't need clean needles.

In part two of the three-part series, we get this:
Needle exchange is one of those weird areas where bourgeois morality is actually very expensive for the state to enforce.

Probably, needle exchange does lead to more drug use by lowering the cost of doing drugs. But most of us (all of us, I hope) recognize that no matter how screwed up you are, no one deserves to die of AIDS or hep C.
Probably? No, certainly! Someone in so much pain (psycho- or physiological) that they turn to powerful, addictive, illegal drugs for relief always sits down w/ the laptop & runs a cost-benefit analysis before making the reasoned, informed decision to become strung-out. Often the cost of needles is the final determinant. See? Marx was right! Everything is economic.

True glibertarian Jim checks in; he wants local gov't. to solve (finally) the problem:

Now if society were truly interested in reducing drug use, and the demand that feeds the traffic, it would have local governments poison those needles.
Another, truer glibertarian (or Death Wish-style soon-to-be spree killer) checks in:
Besides the obvious point that we let junkies suffer the logical consequences of their lifestyle choice (i.e. death) all of the time, it seems to me that with the expansion of “shall-issue” concealed carry permits in 38 States and the growing popularity of expanding the castle doctrine beyond just the home and the workplace, we may be moving towards a place where people are so fed up with crime, that junkies (and hopefully drug dealers) lose their ability to intimidate and threaten decent people who increasingly have both the means (and eventually the will) to start thinning the herd.
I've never heard of the "castle doctrine" (at least not described as such, though it's clear what it is) but I suppose that soon enough, as it expands to include any space around "decent people," it should allow for the summary execution of indecent people. They're nothing but animals anyway, thin that herd! Other "decent" people are advised to beware of poor shots, ricochets & blood spatter. Note the capitalization of "States." Well & good, but I'm inclined to think that perhaps the County should be the ultimate governmental authority. Smaller government means one isn't immorally forced to drive all the way to the state capital to shoot any one interfering w/ one's "castle."

Not "(all of us, I hope)" seem to recognize that the screwed up & addicted don't deserve to die immediately. Does Mlle. McArdle feel any "moral obligation" to tell her commenters to shut up, or to stop being blood-thirsty wanna-be Charles Bronsons? Comments will be deleted for gratuitous trolling or whatnot, but threats of vigilante murder aren't even acknowledged, let alone disagreed w/.

Part three (in its entirety, FMM saves you a click):

Of course, I neglected to mention earlier the most hideous cost of leaving drug users to share needles: they form a solid reservoir of nasty diseases that they pretty regularly pass out into the non-drug-using population. This is one of those public health measures that actually does help protect the general public from other people.
Well of course you neglected to mention it. That's what makes you you. And we wouldn't have it any other way. That, and the belief that some public health measures actually don't help protect the general public from other people. Really, it's surprising that you even find yourself
sitting in a coffee shop with five bloggers
when you could be all by yourself. Is it some sort of support group? Or self-reinforcement? Wouldn't do to have any non-bloggers in your "castle," would it?

Back to Megan

If you haven't already, take a spin over to S,N!. Someone, whooooooo could it possibly be?, gave them access to Jonah Goldberg's new book. It is a very excellent book indeed, with notes and an index and everything. I am enjoying reading it the excerpts S,N! is posting.
Anyways, Megan, Megan, Megan. Oy, Megan.
Today, she wrote this;
Drug companies make lifesaving drugs that people need, which of course tends to breed resentment when they charge what the market will bear, but also gives them a rather powerful weapon to deploy in the PR war.
People need them, which is why some of those poor sick folk will be priced out of affording them. This is a net plus for drug companies, and proof our medical system works.
Oh, and there's this
I mean, these tactics are fine by me; I don't want national healthcare. But is Paul Krugman interested in making policy, or just making an expressive statement about his youthful ideals?
An "expressive statement"? Megan champions vouchers while admitting they're untested and quite possibly a flawed idea (admitting in the pretending to acknowledge sense, of course), but Krugman suggesting a politician could use force of will to effect an incredibly needed change is naive? Pity poor Krugman, after next month all he's got is a tenured position at Princeton and a spot on the NYTimes editorial page.
In any case, Megan is a pretend lefty but actual Hayekian libertarian. She'd never admit it in public, but she's against humane treatment of humans, unless they're involved in caring for the animals she'll eventually eat. Can't have Bessie the cow picking up depressing waves from her handler, now can we? But, because she can't admit she's in favor of cannibalizing the poor for profit, she has to put on a bullshit face of concern for those not afforded the privileges she's had in life. This is exactly what the patronizing Upper West Side lefties Megan has spent her whole life being a reactionary negation of do. They pretend to care so as to avoid the guilt they very much should feel. As a member of a well-off tribe myself, I can tell you that either you go through a very depressing period where you feel guilty for existing, or you make token gestures to push the guilt into your subconscious and act self-righteous about it. The only difference is that those liberal do-gooders occasionally manage to do a little good with their ego defense mechanisms. This doesn't justify spending twice as much on celebratory galas as on actual charity work, but it's more than Megan's little pet charity manages.
The more you try to avoid becoming something you hate, the more likely you make it that's exactly what you'll become.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Greed Is Groovy

In this item, the woman we love to mock & abuse (because she makes it so easy) explains executive pay to us. Thank you so much.

First, from the interview she's riffing on:

If the [compensation] process gets captured by the CEO, then it can get corrupted.


If it’s a market wage, it’s a market wage. I don’t know of any solid evidence that the process was corrupted.
Who sets the CEO's compensation? The board of directors. And many/most boards are composed of (Imagine!) other CEOs, people who serve on other boards, & so on. There's little "solid evidence" because this is the way the Old Boys (& a few Girls) Network works. Are we supposed to wait for documentary evidence of pay-offs or the like?

Now try this on for size (or sense):

But what advocates of the idea that these salaries are necessary to attract good CEOs must contend with is the question of why CEO salaries have increased so much over time. Contrary to popular belief, CEO's [sic] are not driving inequality trends; there are too few of them, and they aren't paid that well. Nonetheless, they are much better paid than they used to be, and one wants to know why.
Yes, there are too few of them, & they certainly aren't paid that well, just much better than they used to be. Thank goodness for that. There was nothing more heart-breaking than those annual Christmas features about the plucky CEO w/ his family at the Downtown Rescue Mission, just hoping that Muffy & Chad would be able to have a few slices of turkey this year, as long as they got to the mission early enough, and if they had no gas for the limo they'd never get there in time!

Is the supply of CEO's [sic] being outstripped by the demand? That latter case is pretty hard to make; there are actually slightly fewer public companies listed on the various exchanges than there used to be, and the population has grown rather rapidly.
That's getting beyond silly. And doesn't exactly back the case that "if it’s a market wage, it’s a market wage."

Ms. McArdle's own ordered list:

I find Paul Krugman's argument that CEO's [sic] have simply gotten greedier, while the rest of us have become more greed-tolerant, less than compelling. Explanations I do find compelling:

1) Falling tax rates have increased the bang one gets from one's CEO salary buck

2) The size of public companies is bigger; CEO's [sic] are essentially taking a fixed piece of a larger pot

3) Being a CEO is riskier than it used to be; executives are more likely to be forced out

4) Stock options have disguised the true cost of compensation, boards spend them with the casual disregard of a tourist using a strange currency

5) Deregulation and globalization have made the economy more competitive, which means that CEOs matter more. Thus, it is more important to actually have a talented CEO, which results in a bidding war for a limited supply of human capital.

6) Advances in financial markets offer an alternative way to get really, really rich; CEO pay is bidding against Wall Street salaries for talent.

7) Deregulation means that boards are no longer afraid of attracting unfavorable government attention with lavish executive salaries.
And the compelling answers:

1) Really, what does this mean? Was the discussion about how much more they're raking in after taxes? No, it wasn't. We quote: "Nonetheless, they are much better paid than they used to be, and one wants to know why."

2) Again we quote: "[T]hey aren't paid that well. Nonetheless, they are much better paid than they used to be[.]" So the economy has increased by an almost infinite factor, explaining why CEO to average worker pay is now something like 400 to one, but used to be larger by factors of tens, not hundreds? (No, I don't remember the exact numbers, & if Megan can speculate her "compelling explanations" w/o any back-up, I needn't be bothered w/ numbers either.)

3) The typical forced-out (as if they have a right to be there; they're never "fired") exec is usually at the unemployment office the afternoon of his forcing-out, right after calling his wife & telling her to post that old resume @, she's going to have to support the whole family for a while, & if she wants to keep two maids & a nanny she'd better start pulling her weight. Two cases in point:

Charles "Chuck" Prince, the deposed head of Citigroup, is in line to walk away from the Wall Street giant with a total pay, perks and shares payout worth just under $100 million, it has emerged.
The payout for Mr Prince, who stays on as a consultant until the end of the year, include a pro-rata cash "incentive award" currently estimated to be worth $12 million.
It also includes $10,716,469 in restricted share awards and $16,046,703 in stock options that will automatically vest at his departure.

Merrill Lynch CEO Guaranteed $159 Million Exit Package After Firm Posts Huge Loss
Merrill Lynch's directors may be weighing E. Stanley O'Neal's future, but one thing is already guaranteed: a payday of at least $159 million if he steps down.
Mr. O'Neal, the company's chairman and chief executive, is entitled to $30 million in retirement benefits as well as $129 million in stock and option holdings, according to an analysis by James F. Reda & Associates using yesterday's share price of $66.09. That would be on top of the roughly $160 million he took home in his nearly five years on the job.
Oh, it is tough out there. Hope the CEOs have a rainy day fund gathering some interest at the S&L. (Or a hedge fund.)

4) & 5): Yes, a lot of executive compensation is in stock options. And oddly enough, the primary function of the CEO is to keep those stock prices up. Which is why, as often as not, the CEO is someone who, if she's risen from w/in the company, is not someone who knows enough about the business or product line to make any difference in the actual running of the company, but a salesperson, who can suck up to the stock analysts & keep the price up, at least, at least until the "force out."

Let's face it, CEOs are next to worthless as far as keeping a corporate entity going. Those of you unfortunate to have worked for an almost-living wage in any hierarchy may have noticed (unless you're brain dead authoritarians) that things would almost always function much more smoothly w/o management imposing its inane agendas, mission statements & other time wasting crap dreamed up by corporate drones who never leave their echo chamber headquarters.

6) Maybe so. Those "advances" in financial markets do make it easier for scam artists to play w/ other people's money & grab a commission, whether their clients see a profit or not. And a lazy parasite is just the kind of person I want running my company.

7) Another reason deregulation is yummy & good. That "unfavorable attention" comes from petty, jealous bureaucrats, not the interests or will of the voters. And if the Democrats get in & start regulating things again, well, that's just another argument to be made against small-"d" democracy. Somehow voters just refuse to understand that the interests of CEOs are really their interests.

As to Krugman's explanation: Occam's razor, baby. Like, greed is groovy.

Elements of Style©: Try it this way:

But what [A]dvocates of the idea that these
salaries are necessary to attract good CEOs must contend with is the question of why CEO salaries have increased so much over time.
Brief. Simple. Clear. Really, try it once.

And "over time?" As opposed to over space? Or, I dunno, over cardboard?

Also, please (Puh-leeeze!) learn the use of apostrophes! Or be consistent in the abuse thereof. And items 1) through 7)? A period at the end of each? Or a semi-colon? Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Job

I'll assume Mlle. McArdle & both of my co-bloggers (Atlantic Seaboarders all) are snowed in, have lost their Internet connections to various manifestations of snow/ice/sleet, or something, explaining their lack of activity (Just have a note from your ISPs or a doctor on my desk Monday morning.)

In passing, I'll note that Ms. McA., who's been living, looking, listening & reading in this country for the better part of 34 yrs., is still amazed by hyperbole in advertising:

You know, I care about good credit and all, but I am not under the illusion that if my credit suffers, I will have to move into my parents' basement; presumably I will still have income.
That is awfully presumptuous of her. Many employers are looking beyond mere criminal records these days; your credit report can be as much a hindrance to an income that'll keep you out of the fianceƩ's mother's basement as that drunk & disorderly conviction from spring break. Many landlords are concerned w/ your credit rating as well, I might add. But some of us never have to worry about that, because we're just so smart that we're always making the "moral" choice, aren't we?

In the "drunk & disorderly" parts of Friday's Asymmetrical action, we are given a recipe for "hangover cure pasta." More of that false advertising mentioned above, as is (admittedly) admitted:
It was christened by a friend who believes that its alcohol-absorbing qualities are a sovereign cure for excessive imbibement.
A fine theory, except that the body recognizes alcohol as poison, & pumps it through the liver as quickly as possible, often ignoring nutritive substances that have somehow found their way into the digestive tract. Fortunately, some sound advice appears in the item, though you'll have to wait until the very end:
Serve with vitamin C, aspirin, and large quantities of water.
Why Ms. McArdle may need hangover cures:
M. McArdle, & Reason columnists Dave Weigel & Cathy Young. From the Reason "Happy Hour," 8 March 2007. Why can't Mr. Weigel unclench his fists? Potential sexual harassment suits if he opens 'em up?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gay/Deaf Genetic Review

I think TBogg called it "nutpicking," where one abuses a blog by going through the comments looking for whoppers. He's mostly a'gin it, I actually don't care one way or another. And in this case, it's the well-known scientist & genetic expert Steve ("Hello") Sailer leaving a comment on what is not actually an unreasonable post by our heroine:

Similarly, even if they were not worthwhile in themselves, the subcultures we now have the medical possibility of destroying are sources of dynamism in our society. We will all be poorer without them.
(Multi-culti surrender monkey. Doesn't she understand the necessity of unity & conformity in a free market?)

Here's Sailer boy's comment:
Bottom Line: People who go through all the work of having and raising children want to get grandchildren out of the bargain. Having homosexual sons greatly decreases the likely number of grandchildren you will have. So, if a safe and effective preventative treatment for male homosexuality is available, it will be highly popular.
Excuse the fuck out of me, but wouldn't lesbian daughters greatly reduce the likelihood of children as much as (if not more than) homosexual sons? Perhaps if Mr. Sailer & the rest of the VDare element would remove their heads from wherever they're hidden & stop thinking of themselves as mere strings of DNA w/ a flesh wrapping we wouldn't have to read this sort of drivel so often.

People who go through "all the work of having and raising children" probably want their children to be healthy, happy & making a decent living, whether or not grandchildren are in the offing. Steve, of course, is worried that the "mud people," w/ their carnal instincts, are, at this very moment, outbreeding his precious "white race" of genetically superior brainiacs.

Not to let Ms. McA. off scot-free:
[E]ven if they were not worthwhile in themselves [...] the subcultures [...] are sources of dynamism in our society.
Um, uh, what?

Inside My Brain

Ms. McArdle gives us mental health advice. Apparently all you need do is
"support your local pharmacist." No mention of how many different drugs your doctor may have to try on you before an effective one(s) w/o serious side effects is found, or how your health insurance (should you have any) probably won't pay for nearly enough help. Just give money to the chemist.
Sure. It's that easy. As long as someone is making a profit. And you can always go to the "town hall" or "social work center." Not to be confused w/ "the work house." Which century is this again? I know she's sincerely trying to help, but...

Friday, December 14, 2007

A peek inside the mind

of the world's tallest female econoblogger. I know, just what you wanted.
Here we have Megan explaining why she is a good, moral person, probably moreso than you, because she only eats "humanely raised" meat and eggs.
People who eat meat dislike you because of the uncomfortable implication that they, too, should care about the suffering of the animals they eat. And vegetarians are apalled by what they regard as half-measures. Don't I realize that an innocent, adorable little animal died to provide my dinner?

I do. I take that seriously. But for animals (not for humans), I'm essentially an aggregate utilitarian: I think that as long as their lives are worth living, it is a positive good to eat them.
It's simply a positive good to eat humans. If that's what the market wants, then so be it. Now, credit where it's due, she's right that factory farming is bad. Thing is, you don't even need to be concerned for the welfare of animals to be against factory farming. It's very bad for the environment, produces meat that tastes like shit, if it even has a flavor, and is full of antibiotics and contaminants. I agree the animals' well being is the best reason for humane practices in raising them, but that's not going to motivate others to change. And that's what's strangely lacking in Megan's post; any attempt to convince others to follow her obviously far more moral example. It's almost as if Megan is afraid to admit humanely raised meat just plain tastes better. Or maybe she just forgot to raise that point in her rush to feel proud of herself.
But if a bird or mammal has a decent amount of space in which to move, the company of its own kind, and the ingredients of such recreation (mostly hunting for food) as they are capable of enjoying, I consider that it is better for them to be born, live, and be killed for food, then never to have lived at all. Eating certified humane meat is not a compromise; it's a positive good.
It's almost as if Megan is subconsciously arguing against herself here, that or she genuinely believes it's a privilege for livestock to live so that she might eat them someday. Either way, this is an incredibly shitty argument. This isn't a recognition of the inevitability of livestock being killed for meat, and a desire to make that a less barbaric and harmful process for both the livestock and the people eating them. This is basically a way to call only eating better tasting, healthier, and more expensive meat a personal achievement, as opposed to a privilege of her economic class.
But Megan, having been raised on a ranch in Montana, knows cows and knows they're glad to be eaten by her.
I've had more than one vegan friend tell me that it's better for a cow never to be born, then [sic] to live its life as a slave. This strikes me as the comment of someone who has never spent any time near a cow. Cows Bovine Americans do not have the same kinds of aspirations to liberty and self-actualization as the other residents of our great nation. They mostly want to chew. This routine is broken by short bouts of walking, the very occasional trot, and some lying down to enjoy the grass externally as well as internally. If they have access to the opposite sex, occasionally they will mate, a process that is nasty, brutish, and short. But even if you leave them the large print version of On Liberty and broadcast the Teaching Company's philosophy lectures into the pasture every afternoon, their political consciousness tends to remain very low.
This is subtle but powerful irony. Megan is saying the inability of cows to develop intellectually is partial justification for eventually eating them. Megan is a glibertarian. I don't know how much of this I need to spell out, but I think Megan is ok with someone killing and eating her, so long as she likes the life she's had to that point.
And then she ends with a claim about the treatment of dairy cows that is far from universally true, not that they have a plum life. To say again, missing from this entire post is any attempt to give others reason to agree with, or perhaps even adopt, her lifestyle choice of only eating expensive meat. Instead, we have a big heaping helping of defensive self-congratulations. Megan isn't picky, she's moral.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Busy week

posting, from me, will continue to be light for the next few days.
But I have to call attention to this post. To begin with, it features the most inexplicable use of blockquotes I've ever seen. It's possible Megan is quoting herself from an old post without linking, but it appears she's using it to distinguish an argument as opposed to prose. This is odd.
Then, of course, there's the content of the oddly formatted "joking argument";
5) I already pay quite enough in taxes, thank you very much.

6) I have noticed that the kind of economists who spend a lot of time proving that tall people are smarter, earn more, and are also probably better conversationalists and fantastic in the sack, tend to also be the kind of economists who spend a lot of time shopping at Rochester Big and Tall. This qualifies my faith in their results, and therefore, my willingnes to alter tax policy accordingly.

7) I really pay a lot in taxes.
I'd mock yet another failing attempt at humorous content by Megan, or the whining about drawbacks of being tall, but there's a silver lining in posts like these; they aren't about race. If she can keep herself busy with posts about random plastic crap or dorky mother grade attempts at humor, at least she's not trying to explain why the inferiority of non-whites isn't their fault, but rather big gubbermint's for not practicing tough love.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heavy Lifting Done for Us. Thanks, G.!

Gavin M. @ S, N! picks on an "overgrown elf" for whom X-Mess is no doubt the happiest time of the year.

M. B. adds (seconds later): That'll learn me not to post before refreshing. The second link is still interesting, moreover.

Semi shorterized

First off, go read what Gavin done produced, if there's anyone who reads us here but not S,N!. He seems to be continually revising it, n it just keeps getting better. I had thought of doing such a post, but I got beat by a pro, at least. Maybe later, or an Ann Althouse visit.
In any case, there's 4* posts up worth a poke at, so let's get to it.

Festina lente: Apparently it's not a given that if you apply for diability benefits from Social Security you'll be granted them, and because of inefficiencies in the system some are left waiting for months or even years to get the benefits they need.

There's apparently a pretty standard procedure for applying for Social Security disability: you apply. They reject you. You appeal. Some unspecified period of time later, your appeals win, and you get to go on disability. This New York Times article has a pretty harrowing explanation of the process
The problem with this post is I've read it many more times than I should, and I still don't know what Megan actually thinks about disability coverage. She veers from feeling sorry for those caught in a tangle of red tape to talking about how Sweden gives out so much disability there have to be able bodied workers back to the plight of the truly needy. She gets very upset by the idea that someone who could work doesn't, as one would expect, but she also might just maybe get that disability is a good program, when it functions as intended.
But Megan leaves out a clear subtext of the article, which is that the program has suffered from underfunding in the Bush years, with many of the numbers you don't want to see go up, like cases stuck in appeal or some other limbo, doubling if not worse. To read her post, you'd think the need to prevent fraud is what's created the backlog. To read the NYTimes article, you'd think it's Bush not wanting to give the program the funds it needs to hire more judges to decide on cases.
A first step of raising the number of judges to 1,200 will require at least $100 million extra for the agency beyond the $9.6 billion that President Bush has proposed for the 2008 fiscal year, Mr. Astrue said. Within a wide-ranging, $151 billion health, education and labor bill passed in November, the Democratic-controlled Congress voted for a $275 million increase for the agency. But Mr. Bush vetoed the bill, calling it profligate.

If the stalemate continues, the government will probably operate on the basis of continuing resolutions, which will keep agency spending at last year’s level and doom the plan to add judges.
Yet Megan ends with this, speaking of Sweden's likely inclusion of those who could work;
Of course, if you think the government should support more people, this is a feature, not a bug. But even if you don't, it's hard to see what should be done about this. Discouraging malingerers this way also entails immense suffering for the truly needy, who lose houses and hope while waiting for the government to relent.
The problems in the system are because of people who aren't that depressed, who could go back to work if they'd just show a little backbone. Not, as the article says, a lack of funding to sufficiently staff the program, no. "Malingerers".

Live or recorded? If, like Megan, you agree with this description of concerts;
But the music sounds worse. It's too loud, or you can't hear it, or it's garbled, or mixed improperly, or the performer is having an off night, or...always something. If I want an "experience," I might go to a concert, but if I want to actually hear music, I'll put on a CD.
then I'm sorry, but you listen to shitty music, or only go to incredibly shitty venues. One of my basic tests of a band is whether they can pull it off live. Part of why I love Radiohead so is they often sound better live than in recording. I often end up preferring bootlegs of my favorites bands to their studio efforts.
And people who go to concerts for the energy and not the music are probably the people who talk at concerts, or should I say scream to each other. These people are scum.
Also, "mosh pit"? *giggle*

Give us your huddled masses...: There's a limited amount I can say here, having also gone to private school and then a name brand college, but this can't pass unremarked upon.
When I was at Penn, a friend who actually qualified as a proletarian, and whose proletarian consciousness would have been rated "Exceeds expectations" by the Comintern Membership Committee, indignantly informed me that almost half our class was the product of private schools.

"So?" I asked innocently.

"So those schools are less than 2% of the total American school system," he said. As far as I can tell, that disparity has only grown in the intervening years; thanks to unfavorable demographics, getting into college now is much more competitive than it was in my day. As long as you're drawing half your student body from schools that charge tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition, playing with your financial aid package is the poverty-fighting equivalent of sending a complementary fruit basket to the local orphanage at Christmas.
Need I remind you, Megan's charity of choice is a school voucher program which provides too little aid for the poor kids it's supposed to benefit to participate. You have to also love that she presumes these rich kids have been trained to be "Harvard material", instead of having legacy ties and/or capacity to pay full tuition. I knew many people who went to Ivies, but I didn't know many who were qualified to.

*- Unless M or Clem beat me, I'll write about the Obama post later. Right now I gots things to do.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weekend Cat Porn

Binkley wasn't too photogenic this week, as he mostly spent it sleeping off his sickness, so this is a mix of old shots and new. He's back to his normal self now, but was off solid food for about 4 days, which left him extra lethargic. I had to get a nutrient paste and force feed him it to make sure the not eating did no harm. He didn't like having me open his mouth and spread it on the back, but he noticeably improved soon after I did so. At any rate, he's ok now, so on with the porn.
Here we have his highness mildly annoyed he's not either in my lap or biting my hand.

Next, a nap under the bed in Florida.

Speaking of Florida, one last shot of Sasha, the rat kitten who got Binkley sick.

Now Binkley is healthy again, and the evil is back in his eyes.

He's baaaaa-aaaack.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

MM meets MM

I’ve been keeping it under wraps over the past year as I quietly toiled away in the wee hours of the morning, but since Instapundit kindly mentioned receiving the book yesterday, I am delighted now to share a few more details with you.
"Bleg": Is the general tone & word choice above rather Meganesque? It does flow a bit better than Ms. McArdle's work, but I'm merely stating.

Vote Nietzsche in 08

I said I wouldn't get personal, and I won't. Megan's output for the last 24 hours or so gets a pass, only partially because I'm lazy.
Instead, the following, from J-- in an S,N! comment thread.

Tell Me What I Want, What I Really Really Want

More consumerism. Repellent enough. But this whole "I don't know what I want or when I can get it, can you heeeeeellllp me?" is really too much.

Given what I do with a bike, I'm thinking I might want a Trek Lime Shopping or a Gary Fisher Simple City model. But I don't know when they'll be out; obviously, I can't wait that long. Anyone have any scoop?
Why the link? So we can admire what she wants, & how cool it is & she is for wanting it? Wouldn't an e-mail to the manufacturer or distributor be more efficient (& informative) than a plea sent to the entire wired world?

One might imagine someone so "crunchy" (brittle?) would just buy a used bike cheaply somewhere, as it's obvious the local hooligans have her pegged as an easy mark for bike theft.

Dep't. of Ivy League English: "Scoop" is not a collective noun. It's "the scoop, not "any." Collective nouns would include: information, data, dope, poop, etc. Gaahh! And: She doesn't know when they'll be out, but "obviously," she can't wait that long, however long it may be. Gaahh, & gaahh again!!

Dep't. of Redundancy Dep't.: "I'm thinking I might want..." Please, Miss McArdle, stop double-qualifying everything you type. It gives those who read & understand English the distinct impression that you have no confidence in anything you type. (Then they read it, & they have no confidence in anything any more.)

"Bacon offsets" or Why not profit off your friends?

I don't even know how to begin to make fun of this post.

Find an amenable friend, and bet against the outcome you desire. That's what friends and I did in graduate school with permanent offers from our summer internships: anyone who got an offer had to kick in $75 for those who didn't.

This did not, of course, erase the pain of those who didn't get permanent offers. But it did soothe it a little; the disappointment of "they hate me" was replaced with the sudden realization that you had a few hundred dollars to blow on something frivolous. Meanwhile, those who got a job had multi-thousand dollar signing bonuses, against which the pain of the lost $75 was invisible.
Or just steal from their wallet.
And it gets worse;
Recently, I have also been experimenting with bacon offsets. As longtime readers know, I only eat certified humane meat. This creates certain problems when I am invited to brunch or a weekend at someone's house, and they have thoughtfully provided me a meal laden with juicy, delicious, inhumanely raised and slaughtered bacon.
Personally, I only eat dry aged kobe beef, which has nothing to do with why no one invites me to bbqs anymore. But this isn't Megan being royal, she's helping the pigs. (She'd maybe get credit from me for having a point about humane, non-factory farming of the animals we eat if she weren't in favor of those conditions being reserved for humans.)
Luckily, the first time this happened, my friend Matt swooped to the rescue. Matt buys a lot of bacon, but has so far resisted my blandishments to purchase the certified humane kind. However, if I eat bacon out, Matt has agreed that the next time he buys bacon, he will buy the certified humane kind, and let me pay him the difference between its cost, and the cost of the regular bacon. This way I get to be a good guest, and the net amount of animal suffering in the world doesn't rise . . . indeed, it falls slightly, because the going rate is one pack per outing, and I don't eat a whole pack of bacon. Even nicer, the last time I went to brunch at someone's house, they bought "hippie bacon" rather than force me to excercise my offset option.
Because everyone is money obsessed to the point that they'd accept a couple bucks from an invited guest to "offset" the cost of meeting their picky specificities.
This also means Megan has made a point to bring this up either when invited somewhere, or as a general principle to consider, instead of perhaps politely declining bacon at breakfast. And what about the eggs, and the cows who produced the dairy products?
I've decided my new dietary restriction forces me to only eat foods that cost more than $50 per serving. This includes wines and liquors. Please bear this in mind when planning my portion of the menu at any future events, thanks.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Another trip up Megan's ass


Thank God for telecommuting: The further south you go, the less annual snowfall one can expect. The people are thus less experienced in dealing with it, especially in a city composed of people from across the country and globe like DC. Obviously, this means all these people are pussies. (see update)

It's electric!:

..... the horror, the horror. Yuppies rhapsodizing about the overpriced crap they own should not be legal in public. Don't get me wrong, I like cool new toys, too, but god fucking damn. She went to Vietnam and heard how millions live on less yearly than she spent on individual pieces of the crap she's listed, and here we still are. Telling us what she learned on another continent is less important than beeping pieces of plastic.
I won't respond to her individual attempts at future free gadgets except to say that while Bose's high end gear is quite good, their cheap all in one systems broadcast in frukking mono. It can be interesting to listen to music on those little systems, as stuff buried in the back of the mix will sometimes end up as loud as the lead vocals, but you have to have no respect for musicians as artists to take their work and shove it through a mono portal. But by all means buy a carrying case for the piece of crap.

Musical notes: To quote Tabitha Soren of MTV News fame, according to urban legend; "who's the loneliest monk?"
*headdesk x infinity*

Mixed metaphor: Ezra said the cutest thing about health insurance versus car insurance while I was braiding his hair in study hall the other day. I don't know if I quite agree, tho.
[Not Megan voice] I have to share some quotes from this one.

Most people get insurance because it's illegal to drive without the stuff, even if they're reasonably sure they'll never be in an accident. Yes, some small segment of the population is uninsured. But they're mostly poor or irresponsible people who wouldn't have contributed much money to the system anyway.
And, quite possibly worse;
Remember that almost all of the people you're worried about not complying will almost never show up in a hospital; anyone who's actually sick and uninsured will presumably jump on community rating. So this isn't a problem about system access; few of them will try to swipe that card. It's a finance problem: what we're really worrying about here is that we can't take money from those young, healthy, uninsured people in order to subsidize the older, sicker people who buy insurance. But as I pointed out above, the people who will fail to buy health insurance under the new system are almost certainly the kind of people who have very little ready cash to contribute to the system. So it seems unlikely that the overall effect of their absence would be large.
The issue in health care is how the uninsured affect the system, not how being uninsured and denied full access to the system affects those people.

OIl [sic], oil [sic] toil and trouble: The second [sic] might be unfair, if she actually meant to say "oil toil", but that sounds quite stupid, and mangles the structure of the reference. This also sounds quite stupid;
But people in the world have a lot of spare income they can use to bid up the price of oil; the speed with which its price is increasing is a measure of just how useful the stuff is.
Dear motorists, stop outbidding each other for gas and the price will go down.

Eff the blegs, done.


Shits and giggles aside, that's actually a word that's fair to argue against using, generally. But, as the priest in HBO's Oz once said, "sometimes the only word that fits is shit".

Special attention

This is just too good to shorterize.

Favorite headline of the day: "GOP claims Democrats are waging 'war' on the economy."[Link not reinserted cuz who the hell cares]

So many questions about this . . . is it a preemptive, preventative, or defensive war? If the economy loses, can Democrats build military bases in its territory? Will economists greet the Democrats with flowers?
Megan trying to be snarky is the textual equivalent of waspy white girls trying to rap (listen to this and try not to laugh. it cannot be done.) or Kirk Cameron's use of the banana to prove the existence of God:

Except Megan isn't funny.

Here comes the flood

Megan was busy today, and has produced yet another astonishingly large pile of steaming crap. This calls for highly condensed Megan, dare I say shorter.

A moment of thanks for the modern minutemen: Haha, Naomi Wolf meant exactly what she said when I tried to mock her for it. It is to laugh.

I could have done better than this on a freshman composition, spotting Ms. Wolf three beers and an entire day wasted on Law & Order marathons.
... oh, and what's Google?

Paternalism: it's what's for lunch!: Efforts to have schools not sell unhealthy processed junk food are as foolish as attempts to keep children out of the workforce in developing nations.
That's why laws outlawing child labor, in areas where child labor is actually common, seem to result in a lot of dead children, or children shifted to worse labor than knotting rugs, such as the unregulated sex trade.
Yes, she actually typed out and published that sentence, with conscious intent.
Besides, the problem is the public school system, not corporations pushing crap.
In addition, I note that the federalism we currently have--the Department of Agriculture's various interventions--are one of the reasons that school lunches are such crap, since of course the Department of Agriculture's nutrition guidelines and other programs often sacrifice dietary soundness in favor of appeasing the various farm lobbies. Like Julian, I see no reason to federalize the nation's cafeterias.
Again, she actually wrote this.

OPEC gets greedy: Only white people can price gouge morally, you bastards.

Quote of the week: I love this sophistic argument against accepting the facts of global warming.*

Who's your daddy?: So Matt and Julian and I were totally talking at lunch today about whether it's demeaning to our parents for the school to consider whether to stop selling us Red Bulls and Doritos and then Matt had another heart attack and blahblahblahfuckityblah.
(Oh, note that in the url this post is titled "whose your daddy", meaning that's what she had there at first. Who says Megan doesn't do corrections?)

A for effort: Have I mentioned I like judging the people around me? It's because I am inherently gifted and live in a society which can't recognize it, or give me the opportunity to be as great as I really am. (Clem covered the money shot of this post two posts down.)

Skeptical inquirer: * - How could an approving quote of a global warming 'skeptic' be considered support of their cause?

Vive la difference:
I've never heard anyone deny that men are, on average, stronger than women.

Second favorite headline of the day:
Update A commenter points out that he wants a "Craigslist-like" database, not a Craigslist database. This implies that Craigslist is insufficiently like Craigslist. Or perhaps it is too much like Craigslist. So we want something that is like Craigslist, but not like Craigslist. Have I got that straight?

RHIP: I want power so I can be vindictive.

Upmarket: Wanna learn more about Vietnam's economy in a 250 word blockquote than I could cram into a week or so's worth of posting?



Whatever the "topic" may be. Has anyone else noticed an inability to comment @ Sadly, No! this evening? I was advised that my IP address had been engaged in "malicious & illegal" behavior, & there don't seem to have been any new comments for several hours.

UPDATE: Almost as soon as this was up, so was S,N!, again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The New England Journal of Forensic Blogginess, Vol IV

The subject's pattern of forming instant attachments to surrogate parent figures (Friedman, Reynolds, Crook, et al) derives from her biological parents' narcissistic cathexes:

My parents, who had both themselves found school excruciatingly easy, certainly never told me I was smart; they believed the important thing was effort, not talent.

"Come back when you've made some progress. Or not. And Clarice?"
"Next time you'll tell me two things. What happened with the horse is one. The other thing I wonder do you manage your rage?"

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Debtor's Prison & Forty Lashes

Check also this excerpt from the WSJ that the poor little rich girl ran:

"People have to be responsible for their own actions," says Harry Lancz, a small-business owner in Traverse City, Mich. He holds a pair of fixed-rate mortgages, one for his primary residence, which has been for sale for six months, and one for a second home in Louisiana. "What are you going to do when their credit cards get due and they can't pay? Are you going to bail them out on that, too?"
No, because the credit card industry purchased enough legislators to make it much more difficult to declare bankruptcy a couple of years ago.

Must be easy for a small business owner to get self-righteous about poor people.

Also from the WSJ, a mortgage banker:

says he made a bad investment decision when he bought a $600,000 oceanfront home last December with two subprime loans. But he's committed to making the $6,000 in monthly payments -- and the higher payments once the rates go up.

"A lot of people are trying to point fingers and get themselves out of something they put themselves into," he says. "I put myself in this position. I need to find a way to make it work."
And how is Mr. Mortgage Banker, who should, of all those on the face of this planet, know what a good or bad position is in the first place, going to "find a way to make it work?" Selling even more bad mortgages to other suckers? Get a night gig driving a taxi? Stick up liquor stores? Start counterfeiting? Really? What's he going to do?

Mr. Miller [the incompetent mortgage banker] says that the rate-freeze proposal reminds him of a television commercial: The announcer asks, "Do you owe back taxes?" A client responds, "I settled for half of what I owe." Says Mr. Miller: "How's that fair? Everything seems to be backward."
What would Mr. Miller say if he were offered a better deal on his "bad investment decision?" Turn it down & stick to his original deal? Is he in favor of the maximum sentence on all criminal convictions? And opposed to plea bargaining of any kind? Has he ever changed the terms of a mortgage deal? As one of the local sports columnists says: "These people live among you."

Bring back debtors' prison!

It's not the banks' fault for giving loans to people obviously unqualified for them, it's the poor dumb Americans who took the loans. We're a a free market, dammit, and if they fuck up them n their kids are out in the street. And fuck them for inconveniencing the banks. Or so says Megan;
I said in my previous post that I'm not sure it matters who's at fault, but of course, politically it does matter. Borrowers may have had help getting in over their heads, but at the end of the day, "variable interest rates vary" is not in the realm of things it is unreasonable to expect them to have understood when they signed on for a gigantic mortgage. Indeed, many of the defaulters seem not to be able to afford their teaser rates, which is certainly something they should have been able to figure out on their own. One of the reasons that I do not currently own a home is that I cannot afford one. Now I get to pitch in my tax dollars to bail out people who also could not afford a home, but went ahead and bought one anyway.
But Megan isn't inhuman, that the gubbermint is stepping in to make sure people aren't ending up homeless is one of those things she's philosophically opposed to but will live with, if she has to. I was being unfair, she's not saying they have to be thrown out in the street, just that they deserve to be.
I can't say that this thought is keeping me awake nights; keeping people from losing their homes, however stupidly acquired, strikes me as a better use of my tax money than much of what the government does, especially if this has the side effect of forestalling a financial crisis. And the cost of it is likely to be small compared to, say, invading Iraq or buying prescription drugs for affluent seniors. On the other hand, I am a contented renter, not a family crammed into a small home they could afford on a fixed rate, watching neighbours in bigger houses get a helping hand from Uncle Sam.
You've gotta love the gall of someone born into affluence telling one hypothetical poor family to hate another because the poor idiots fell for those omnipresent "easy credit low terms" ads. I'm not disputing their stupidity, but Megan is ignoring the banks'.


I was wrong to interpret Megan's quiet as sign of an impending storm. A very light day, so far. There is, however, this post on that mini Hitler who dares sin against the holy free market of white people owning everything, Hugo Chavez. There are problems to be had with Chavez even beyond petty complaints about his style, but Megan's real issue here is that neoliberalism, or Friedmanism, or her Hayekian variant on it, or etc, does not hold sway in Venezuela.
Aside: I have to admit that The Shock Doctrine* has had a profound impact on how I read Megan's work, among many other things. The biggest question for me in regards to Megan remains, to put it bluntly, whether she is stupid or maliciously greedy. The two aren't by any means mutually exclusive, but I really wonder whether she's dumb enough to believe she's working for the benefit of humanity, or just feels a need to pretend so. I'm coming to favor the latter, that she's not quite as dumb as she pretends, but is a lot more repugnant, which is saying something.
Returning to the topic at hand, Megan compares Chavez to frukkin Mugabe, which only really makes sense if you consider keeping a country's national resources from being bought in a fixed deal for way below market value by foreign rich white people to be hideously evil. (Which is not to call Mugabe in any way well intentioned.) Even Megan has to half admit the comparison is a reach,
The situations aren't entirely parallel, of course; situations rarely are. But Chavez's crony populism and hamfisted mismanagement of the country's main economic resource, combined with his obvious belief that the world would be a vastly better place if he had a great deal more power, does not exactly make me sing with joy for his nation's prospects.
If only they had a leader willing to put everyone out of work to save their jobs.

*- Also helped me understand why Megan is reduced to ranting against Naomi Klein, instead of rationally taking issue with her. Klein is a real threat to Megan, and has the kind of success and respect Megan can only dream of. The Shock Doctrine is genuinely important.
And yes, I realize the incongruity of an avowed misogynist championing the work of a woman. There's a blow-up doll with a Margaret Thatcher mask on waiting to be punished for it.

New poll

Big whup, yah wanna fight about it?

Megan is too quiet. Tomorrow will bring a hail of race, voucher, and health care posts, I fear. Guard yourselves.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What's Megan Saying Now?

Megan links to a big mistake spotted at the WaPo, which is about one more made up story or story built around bogus rumors from reduction to a total laughing-stock.

I'd also argue that to eliminate this sort of exchange rate confusion, Baker should have used PPP in constant dollars. That figure yields a much more favorable assessment of NAFTA--although still one that makes the Washington Post look wildly off.
My question (Other than, "What's PPP?" And no, don't bother answering; even if you know, I just don't care.): Is Ms. McArdle suggesting that Baker should lie, cheat & steal in order to get his desired (pro-NAFTA?) message across? Will that make people trust Megan even less? She must be in favor of it, it's good for corporations & bad for workers, right?

Megastats: But one lonely post today. Must've been quite a wknd.

Random good news

Binkley is already doing much better, and the second disc of Radiohead's new album is now available from your favorite filesharing app.
Megan broke her posting fast, but not in a way worth genuine notice. Let's all keep enjoying the respite.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Just to follow MM's advice & post on a daily basis (though she must now think she's above that) I decided to peep @ Matt Yglesias, as he's right there in the Atlantic's Voices w/ Megan.

Okay, it's a Sunday and I'm flying back to the states today, so probably not much blogging until later, but starting Monday morning things'll be back to normal.
(He's blogging about blogging; now I'm blogging about him blogging about blogging. Blaaargh!!)

Can you people just keep your announcements of expected output between yourselves & your editors, assuming any of you have editors, or someone exercising some control over your "bloggy activities?" Few of us really give a flying whatever. (Seriously, no one even remotely stable is on the edge of his/her seat awaiting your next missive from on high.) And it's not as if MY hasn't posted four other items today.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Weekend Cat Porn

Poor Binkley is sick. He picked up something from my parents' kitten. He'll be ok, but he worried me a bit this afternoon. Had to take him to a not cheap 24 hour midtown vet, get some antibiotics. Here he is in happy times.

Binkley with the sickness giving kitten, Sasha;

Sasha happily stealing attention from me whut should be Binkley's;

Sasha about to pounce;

Sasha being adorable;

My parents' other cat, Mac, who does not like me or Binkley;

Finally, a shot of sick Binkley, still a little purring furball;

This has been your weekly dose of cat porn.

Lightness & Emptiness

Apparently "blogging will be light." Same here then.


1 item in the last 48+ hrs., just as silly as ever (maybe one's Tivo can read one's mind, realize for what one is best suited, & record accordingly) w/ a link to a "classic" article. (Five yrs. old.) The definition of classicism is not what it used to be. And Ms. McA. gets the title wrong.

Compare this to the staff that calls itself "Andrew Sullivan," 20 items today alone. (And plenty of images to break up the textual monotony!) Even MY, probably a better comparison (as he may not have a "staff" of any kind — see, we hate men too) has five items for today (a Saturday).

Point where I start to worry that I may really be "obsessional": Last two A. I. posts occurred @ 4:42 pm. Is this a signal to glibertarian terrorists? Or should it be a signal to my mental health self-awareness?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Writer Heard From

Compare & contrast:

This, from Slate's "Moneybox" (there's a semi-icky name) by a Daniel Gross, who was on the same junket to Vietnam as our muse, Ms. McA, w/ all of Ms. McA.'s items from Vietnam, & the obsessional coverage generated here. Interesting, no?

And the real masochists among us might want to visit the German Marshall Fund blog, esp. for 22 & 23 November, for further contrast.

Web log beg: Do any of my readers remember if Megan mentioned anything about the transportation infrastructure in Vietnam? Not to mention that said infrastructure was in such bad shape as the result of the well-intended, beneficent United States gov't. dropping more high explosives on Vietnam during our "dust up" (her words) w/ them than it dropped on Germany & Japan during WWII (or whatever that stat is).

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to duct tape some road flares to my chest & visit the Dep't. of Public Social Services. Watch the news!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm No Foodie, But...

I won't go into the rant about the rise of food fetishism in the '80s being a displacement of sexual whatnot based on fear of AIDS, which I mentioned in the comments to Clem's response to Megatron's first "Kitchen sink" item. Indeed, as I'm soon out to Trader Joe's™ for some peanut butter w/ my new food stamp card (it's coming out of your pocket, McArdle!) I'm just going to drive by this one. It's cookbook recommendations. No Joy of Cooking? Links to Amazon, though. Someone's maximizing their efficiency.

Did you know that Julia Child and I were the same height?
Now ask me if I care. By the way, English major, are you both dead? Or is that just how you type?
Jasper White is our seafood go-to guy; we're particularly fond of his lobster book.
May we have a moratorium on the phrase "go-to guy?" Thank you. (She's slipped into the first person plural because she's referring to her family now. Thought she'd totally rejected all their left-wing trendiness.)

Now the best part. Referring to Betty Crocker's (not a real person, but a corporate simulacrum) 1950 picture cookbook, she rightfully mocks Betty's attitude:
I wouldn't touch their "foreign" recipes if you paid me.
Oh, those quaint, unsophisticated Americans of the '50s. Tee hee. "Foreign." Have you ever read that James Lileks fellow? He makes fun of stuff like this, & Andrew thinks he's a hoot.

Four paragraphs later:
I don't have recommendations for other ethnic cuisines, either because I don't think there are super good ones, or because it's a cuisine (Chinese, Indian) that I don't cook. Though considering the state of ethnic food in much of the district, I may have to start.
How amusing to emphasize your ethnocentrism w/ the word "ethnic." Though maybe she's just emphasizing her ignorance. A "cuisine," by definition, is "ethnic." Except, of course, "American" food. It's just, you know, food. Well, pemmican, corn & taters are "American" food. Anything the Euros here eat is pretty much, oh, European, just adjusted a bit, in fine melting pot-stylee. (Fondue, any one?) And note which cuisines she doesn't cook.

Now I'm really hungry. Hope this damn card works. TJ's, here I come.


Not to step on Editor-in-ChiefFounder brad's toes or blue suede shoes (I went to college in the 1820s) but to expand on his previous item, about MM's item:

Mr [sic] Brian Beutler has a hilarious post about Public Service Announcments [sic][.]
(Hey, two sics in one sentence!) What the hell was so "hilarious" about BB's post? He threw up five YouTube clips of PSAs (one of them Canadian, one of them Kiwi). I'm doubled over in hysterics! There's irony involved, I'll grant, but I suspect the only real hilarity observed by the soon to be officially a spinster (in both senses of the word) was from the Canadian PSA, which Mr. Beutler found amusing as well. Apparently

a Canadian movement called "Prevent It", whose goal seems to be to make sure that good, hardworking Canadians never do anything without a healthy dose of panic [,]
is in favor of workplace safety. And I think we all know that "workplace safety" is statist code for choking business to death w/ petty regulations. So when some one gets a vat full of hot water/soup in the face, or falls off a ladder, it's Laffs On Parade:

Stupid workers. They deserve to be punished for the character flaws that led to their making a choice that put them on a ladder instead of behind a keyboard. Ha ha ha. Suffer, workers. Do not expect a new, safe ladder. Your betters need profit & productivity.

Spinster aunt countdown commences

With this post Megan is officially getting old. Not so much for the content as the tone, and for thinking anyone who's lived in the US for any significant amount of time doesn't know that "brain on drugs" commercial, if only because they were doing versions of it for at least a decade.
There's also this;
My college roommate had a terrific poster of a plate of breakfast food, captioned: "This is your brain with home fries and a side order of bacon.[sic]
I understand humor is inherently subjective, and Megan went to college in the late 1840s, making the poster hip in its time, but that's just not funny.

And it's not over yet

I hate you Jebus, and I'm glad you died.

What to do? What to do?:
Leaving aside race and IQ (and that last post comes quite a bit closer than I am comfortable with to touching the subject with the proverbial ten-foot pole), IQ matters for social policy. We do need to know whether g, the general intelligence factor that IQ is supposed to measure exists, how much of it is simply genetic, and how much more of it consists of environmental factors that we can reasonably change.

Because, assuming that it exists, but that the biggest problem for low-income children is environment, I don't know what sort of policy interventions this reasonably implies.
And alternately, if g doesn't exist, and the test is working on faulty assumptions of how intelligence manifests itself, then we need a new way to argue against inner city schools.
And yet, despite public schools being a trick to steal money, we could use them to improve the g of poor kids.
Even earlier interventions might help somewhat, but the earlier you go, the more problematic such interventions become. The younger the kids are, the more individual attention they require, which is why preschool is more expensive than fifth grade. Even if you're willing to pay for it, where are you going to find these millions of highly qualified early childhood experts to become, in effect, the surrogate parents to these children?
The same place you'll find the staff for thousands of new charter schools across the country? Megan's inability to self-reflect seems to extend into her ideas.
Not that I'm against trying--early childhood intervention seems to me, like schooling in general, to be one of those goods that society has an obligation to provide children if their parents are incapable. But as I've written before, good early childhood programs have enormous scale problems; I'm not sure how we overcome them.
WITH VOUCHERS!!!!!!!1!111!!!!!!1!! What better way to improve a potentially non-existent characteristic of children than with an untested radical reorganization of every facet of the context in which their intellects are, presumably, developed? And who knows better how to deal with scale problems than the good people at corporations like McDonald's and Coca-Cola? These are problems with solutions, Megan. Sheesh.


Steve Sailer is all over Megan's comments, and not for the first time. I don't know that Megan can be faulted for his frequent visits, but it is interesting that rather than take issue with him or warn others of his dubious nature, she's giving his underlying concerns voice, while avoiding specifics. It's hard, at times, not to wonder what's in Megan's heart.

Why, sweet Jebus, why?

A post on race and IQ titled Ugly questions.

Dear Jebus,
If you exist, and love me, you'll make a bus plow into the side of the building before I can proceed with reading this.

Fuck you, too, Jebus.
I am clearly not qualified to deliver a final opinion on the actual merits of the race/IQ debate. But I think that our social reaction to it is disturbing. And I do mean "our". I'm as creeped out as any latte-sipping liberal when people start arguing that blacks have genetically lower IQs than whites do. But hysterical revulsion is not the correct response to what is basically an empirical question.

In part, this is a justified reaction to the fact that so many of the people advancing these theories in public are clearly racists who have seized on a theory that validates their priors. But only in part. After all, the fact that any discussion of the possibility is greeted with hysterical revulsion guarantees that only two types of people will take the "pro" side in public: fearless iconoclasts who do not care what anyone thinks of them; and racists.
Lest we forget, Megan thinks blacks are lazy, not stupid. Damned bigoted racialists.
But being a liberal, Megan wants to know about the genetic differences between races, obviously.
If there is a difference, and that difference is genetic, I assume, in my classical liberal way, that we are better off knowing than not knowing. But my sense is that it is currently not possible to examine the question in any rigorous way right now, because almost no one will touch the subject with a ten foot pole.

And yet, the question matters. We gauge the success of our social policy by looking at macro results under the assumption that everyone (in aggregate) starts off with the same basic genetic endowment. If this is not in fact true, that would alter how we should look at that data.
Whenever I hear the phrase "classic liberal" in a non-academic setting I think of Reagan's Presidential campaign in '80, and I interpret it to mean "I am full of shit in what I'm about to say". Megan has not succeeded in challenging my instinct on this. As for the claim no one will touch the subject of genetic differences between races, I just don't know where to begin. How dare geneticists not focus on the differences between members of largely artificially constructed categories instead of scientifically valid work? The nerve.
To be sure, I am not clear on how one entirely overcomes the deep entwinement of society, environment, and genes in this case. I was recently talking to a friend who was mourning the way he watched the girls get dumber as they hit puberty, lose their interest in math and science, in a way that seemed much less likely to be the result of estrogen on their math receptors than the result of social conditioning about what men should find attractive in women.

Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure we could be doing better than we are now, except that people on all sides are terrified of finding any answer that doesn't confirm what they already believe.
Such as proof that blacks are just plain old lazy, in large part because of inner city schools and governmental aid programs for the poor.
That closing paragraph really annoys me. Megan is basically talking about something she clearly doesn't know a goddamn thing about, and taking the Bell Curve enthusiasts' claims that science is afraid to engage their claims on face value. It reminds me of a time when a born again friend of my parents tried to lecture my then gf on the lack of evidence for evolution and science's fear of admitting it. My then gf was a molecular biology major and quite possibly the most gifted intellect I've ever known personally. The amount of ignorance required to lecture others for not being more ignorant always irks me. I guess it's not Megan's fault so much as those damned inner city private schools, tho. She can't help herself.


Another view (from the world's most attractive semi-literate Christ-o-blogger) on the absolute necessity of vouchers if the minds & souls of the poor "kids" whose parents can't keep them repressed in this hideously smutty society are to be saved.

Our public schools are no longer safe havens from those who gladly give little girls hormonal pills. Expect this practice to come into your schools. Be vigilant and prepared to stop it.


Many Americans are beginning to understand that it is no longer wise to send your children to public schools. It is best that you sacrifice and do without the tiniest of luxuries so that you can send your child to a parochial school. Many private schools have private donors to help pay for your children's education.

Home schooling is a fastest growing phenomenon. Every child is entitled to a public education. However, public education is not entitled to every child. Many parents are willing to take their kids away from the harmful influence of liberal infiltrated, public educational system.
Also mentioned was the Utah pro-voucher referendum, which was defeated earlier this month. Oh, pesky democracy!
Sex education in public school is a ruse. Our youths are inundated with different sexual life style choices and not being taught the proper restrains concerning their own bodies.

There was a time when the whole of our population protected family values and understood right from wrong. Our public schools were a reflection of the times. Good moral values were of no debate. Our children were protected. That is no longer the case.
Alright, alright, Ms. McArdle's voucher fetishization isn't (openly) based on this sort of foolishness, but if nothing else we need a distraction from the financial holocaust that isn't going to happen.

Bouffant adds (1658 EDT): Not to mention a respite from the racial holocaust we're not helping to bring about.

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow in Financial Holocausts

In an undated & untimed update, we are treated to this announcement:

Update In calmer consideration, that was too flip. But the financial holocaust that was widely feared has not come to pass, and is looking less likely to occur with each passing day.
Perhaps MM was sat down & given a lecture on flippancy, esp. as concerns "serious" financial matters. (Like financial "holocausts.") Or, she may have read something on the subject (it could happen):
Policy makers at the Federal Reserve are growing increasingly alarmed about the problem, which is an outgrowth of the woes of the housing and mortgage industries.
Granted, the NYT may be a little daunting (or taunting) for an English major from Penn but there are sources at a more appropriate level:

"That light at the end of the housing-meltdown tunnel appears to be an oncoming train," says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. "With so many choices and so few buyers, the median sales price is cratering."
Mmmm, colorful metaphors. Yum. Not like that confusing old "flat earth" thing. What's up w/ that, anyway?