Friday, March 7, 2008

More catch-up shorters

I fear my snark levels are low, as is natural considering I'm writing this on the patio by the pool, in the sun, with a kitten nipping at my fingers, but another soldier has fallen, so we must go on.

Beauty is truth, truth is beauty: I foray trepidatiously into literary criticism: Dear Megan, We all have thesauruses. It ain't impressive. As for the post itself

Matt has stumbled upon one of the few subjects I can plausibly claim to know well; my long-ago thesis was on the emergence of the novel, and I spent most of my senior year immersed in its early history.
A bit later
I understand that some cognitive scientists theorize that the reason we enjoy stories so much is that they activate the parts of our brain that deal with social cognition and learning. The reason that genre fiction, even though it is usually not a masterpiece of prose styling, can be so absorbing is that it provides this function.
Mhm. This is definite expertise.

Anger management: Apparently, Megan hasn't seen what they write about her on the toilet stalls at The Atlantic. Shit, the fact that the thing still publishes means there's some non-ideological hires there, people with talent who thought they were going to work for a prestigious old mag. Poor bastards.

A very long post about labor force participation that you should read anyway: Credit where it's due, Megan provided links and even a chart. I don't give a damn what she said, nor did I read it, but it'd be unfair not to recognize the effort.

The economics of The Wire: Oh, fuck. No. Nooooononononono. Fuck off, Megan. The Wire is too good for you. It's about the people who suffer because of the policies you champion. Fuck. Off.
Speaking of low wages for unskilled workers (were we? I hear you cry. Well, I was.) I must now confess that I have only lately come to The Wire. Yes, I am one of those unlucky souls who is late to every trend--you have only to look through my wardrobe or my collection of home electronics to get a good sense of what is just about to go out of style. I haven't seen a movie in six months.

Stop looking at me like that, okay? I'm a very busy person.
Is there anything you do pay attention to, Megan?
I know, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
What would happen to the economy of the Baltimore housing projects if drugs were legalized? Would it ultimately be better or worse for the people there?
Guess you haven't gotten to season three, then, Megan? In a certain sense the rest of the post is like writing about who you think killed Laura Palmer without bothering to watch all of Twin Peaks.
Also, her theories on the effects are moronic. Drug dealers are going to shift to mugging? Mugging who? The fiends who spend all day scraping together 10 or 20 bucks for a fix? White people downtown, where the police actually spend time?
Yeah yeah, she's in favor of legalization, but like Ron Paul on Iraq, the why matters.

Old programs never die: It's easy to prove your point if you effectively lie by omission. Here's what Megan didn't quote
Belgian readers may complain at this point that their central bank still has various tasks to perform, including the collection of statistics and whatnot, printing banknotes and its role as a member of the Eurosystem.

The bank's website clearly recognises it may have an image problem, stressing at some length its tasks, which include: "operation of the Central Balance Sheet Office and the central credit offices, the State Cashier service and the management of the interbank payment systems."
Why bother to provide even a hint of depth on a topic when you can distort it to "prove" an ideologically based claim?

To hell with the peacemakers: Hasn't anyone considered the positives of dehumanizing your opponents so as to legitimize brutality against them? Are 2x4's brutal?

US taxes are "fairer" than those in the UK:
No one believes me when I say that George Bush's tax cuts made the tax system more progressive, but it's true--the cuts for poor people were, on a percentage basis, bigger than the cuts for rich people. The estate tax might change that picture, but it raises very little money, and is only really starting to kick in over the last few years. This is not an endorsement of the wisdom of the tax cuts, just an empirical observation about their effect.
You know what would help make people believe you, as opposed to every other public voice on the topic in the entire world? A reason to do so.

Will the real free traders please stand up?:
While there are free traders in each party, and protectionists in both, on net the Democrats are now the more protectionist party, because a huge portion of their base is the unions and the Rust Belt. George Bush has not been perfect on trade, but he's been actually quite good within the limits imposed by popular sentiment and political need--yes, steel tariffs and all. His father was the one who did most of the heavy lifting on the transformation of GATT into the WTO. McCain is not substantially breaking with that legacy.
Woot, there it is.

Delusions of grandeur: If omission doesn't make your point, insert words in your opponents' mouths
The fact that he has oil, and hates us, seems to have deluded Hugo Chavez into believing that we want to invade his country:
Chavez threatened on Wednesday possible government takeovers of Colombian companies in Venezuela, and said Venezuela could sell off investments it has made in Colombia.

He said Venezuelan mobilization of military hardware and troops was to defend itself against possible attacks from Colombia and the United States.

"Our policy is peace, but we have to take preventive measures to prevent war," Chavez said after meeting with Correa.
Would invading Colombia to stave off a nonexistent US invasion threat count as a preventative war?
There's a difference between being attacked and invaded. And, as a commenter noted, perhaps the US's alleged role in the 2002 coup on Chavez influenced his thinking? Nah, because Megan disagres with Chavez, he is automatically wrong. You can learn a lot about a person based simply on whether they dehumanize their opponents and view them as the embodiment of all that is bad, and you don't have to call them monsters or cockroaches to do so.

That elusive oil independence:
Why yes, yes it is obvious that high demand is raising gasoline prices. But I am intrigued by the blithe statement that we should "get off" oil. What, I wonder, does [Bush] think we should substitute, not only for gasoline, but for fertilizer and plastics? Or the hundred other uses to which we put petrochemicals?
Wow, it's almost like he didn't mean it.

Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch: Have you heard about this revolutionary concept where instead of throwing stuff out you maybe give it to people who can find use for it? I'm disappointed that Megan would endorse such blatant communism.

Ok, enough of that for now. I'm on vacation, dammit. Still more to catch up on, alas.

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