Thursday, January 31, 2008

Someone needs a thesaurus

Liberal baiting:

Okay, so Obama's not the most liberal senator. But who is? Enquiring minds want to know . . .
A few months ago we got you to stop calling us your little chickadees. Any chance we can get you to STFU about "Enquiring minds?" Inquiring minds want to know.

Also, see how I spelled it? It's the right way to spell it. You'd think after the 56,432nd time your spellchecker underlined it in red, you'd have figured it out.

And on a final note, who the fuck thinks Obama is that liberal? Every single fucking description of him that I've read calls him left-of-center. I guess some of us focus on his policies, and others on where he puts his fingers during the SOTU.

Stop. Using. The. Same. Joke. Over. And. Over.

Worst. Article. Ever.:


For the umpteenth time McTarded uses the tired old Simpson's reference that appears in roughly 5/3 of blog posts.

I won't quote but she says that this is the worst article ever cause it overestimates Iraqi casualties. Gee, you think that one's worse than any of them say, 1 bagillion or so before the war that made us go in and kill those one times ten the 6th or 7th people in the first place? I know, it's an order of magnitude, but somehow my threshold for "giant fuck up" is significantly below the 6 figures of pointless deaths so to me, quibbling over the exact number of people who died just for the heck of it in Iraq is a little, well, what's that word again? Oh yes... heartless.

Yeah, I own a home, but I live in a cardboard box

Surrender?:

Is this inexplicable title of this ridiculous post.

If you spend any time watching "technical analysts"1 on the market watch shows--and who can resist?--you'll notice they spend a fair amount of time talking about "capitulation". This is what they call it when everyone decides the market isn't going up any time soon and sells out in the hopes of sheltering in safer investments. It is supposed to be a good time to buy because once everyone has capitulated, the market starts going up again.

I don't hold much faith in technical analysis. But looking at all the "just reduced!" ads in the Washington DC real estate classifieds, I wonder if homeowners aren't finally throwing the towel and trying to sell at any price.

Dear stupid bitch,

People buy houses so that they can live in them, not for an investment. Sure, some people invest in housing, but this crisis is centered around people's homes. Don't you think pimping a scheme to making money of the evicted is kind of heartless? Oh, yes, I forgot, you have yet to learn that heartless is a modifies with negative connotations.

Also, take a look at a graph of prices over time. We're nowhere near the correction necessary to bring prices down to their historic levels. Anyone who gets into housing now is just as stupid as anyone who's done it in the past 5 years.

Sincerely,
Someone with a brain

Money, money, money

How profitable is Pharma?:

Sometimes I wonder if Megan's bizarre capitalization schemes in her titles isn't just another misguided attempt at picking up the jargon of the youth; leet speak. Pharma, Megan, isn't a proper noun. Alternatively, profitable is a long enough word to warrant capitalization in a title. Third alternative; God damn you're a fucking moron, woman elf.

I'm really busy this morning, and probably won't be blogging much, but there's an interesting debate going on in the comments threads about the return on investment in the pharmaceutical industry. You have to be very, very careful with this stuff, because there's enormous survivor bias in stock screens. A pharma that has a long, bad run of no good drugs disappears from the sample through merger or failure. Sadly, this is pretty common, which is why so many pharmaceutical firms have obviously compound names. If you have relatively binary outcomes--companies are either very profitable, or not profitable at all--then if you drop the non-performers from the sample, being in the pharmaceutical business will look like a license to print money. The fact that so many new entrants find it so hard to actually grow to pharma size indicates that it might be a little harder than it looks.
Alright, Megan, you make this statement but provide no proof that it is true. We can either believe people who don't agree with this premise based on nothing, or you based on nothing. I'll be gracious and say that it's somewhere in-between.

As a research scientist, I can relate to this sentiment quite a bit, though. The problem with research is that if you knew what was going to work before you started, it wouldn't be called research. No matter how smart you are you're always shooting at least a little bit blind and there's a damn good chance you're going to miss no matter how good of a mark you are.

That being said, pharma these days is dominated by established companies that can essentially hedge their bets against failed avenues of research by attacking multiple targets, or paths to the same target, simultaneously. The only successful upstart companies of which I've heard are generally based on a single drug for which a company was founded by a professor running government funded research projects. I'm no wonk on this particular subject, though, so I may be wrong about a number of things.

It doesn't matter, though, because Megan continues to fail to address the subject that Brad has brought up numerous times. Profit driven drug research is a fucking horrible thing. The point of drug development is to improve and save lives. The problem, people with a lot of money get to choose in which ways lives are improved are saved. Since most of the diseases which would be profitable to cure are tackled, we're now focusing a ridiculous amount of medical research on how to make ourselves prettier or our cocks bigger or whatever.

The problem is bad enough that there are a large number of government funded researchers dedicated to "orphan diseases", diseases that affect either a too small number of people or a too poor demographic of people for pharma to take a look at them. Malaria is the best example of such a disease as it desperately needs to be controlled, but as it mainly affects third world inhabitants gets little to no attention.

So, since we know the queen of narcissism herself has to read this blog, please, tell us Megan, how in the fuck is it you care more about the ethical treatment of pigs than you do about saving the lives of HUMAN BEINGS. (For the record, I'm on board with both).

Oh sorry, that wasn't funny. I just got invited to a Ron Paul event and my "libertarians are assholes" knee got jerked. I'll be funny in my next post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ohdearsweetbabyrapingjebus

My opinion on this may reflect a difference in what we write about, because legal writing in general is pretty much exclusively about generating an opinion; there's no expectation that anyone is going to generate independent data. But for economics writing, the reliability of the data set matters, and that means that I have to trust that the person who generated it was at least capable of reaching a conclusion other than the one they ultimately published. I'm already reluctant to use all but the most anodyne data from think tanks--either right or left--precisely because I know that most of the scholars there knew what the answer was before they asked the question. Think tanks that fire people for ideological unsoundness do not get their papers mentioned by me.
I think I was around 19 when I first noticed I hate most in others what I fear in myself, which is why rich kid entitlement reduces me to an uncensored Yosemite Sam but homophobes tempt me to pretend to be gay and hit on them.
Megan doesn't see my point, but I'll bet you can.

An ongoing theme Pt. 2

Megan sez,

The left, of course, has its own fantasy solution set: drugs should be both innovative and cheap.

But clinical trials for a single successful drug cost $500 million, and not because the labs have outrageous administrative overhead.
Megan will never admit it, but she reads FMM.
I'll begin by noting that, as usual, Megan doesn't bother with references or citations to back up a single assertion of fact. It's not like anyone would expect her to, at this point, but I could argue, in response, that it actually would only cost five bucks and a pack of smokes to cure every disease known to man and we'd be on equal argumentative footing. Megan, since I know you're reading this, let me once again make this point explicit; you are not a trustworthy source. If you want to use numbers to make a point, you have to prove those numbers are accurate. It's so simple even you, and Jonah, can get it. Show your work, pretend math genius.
And then it gets really bad. First, Megan decides that 1.) questioning whether the profit driven model is beneficial to medical science means you want the government to nationalize all medical research and 2.) medical research undertaken by the government can only handle general concepts and only private industry can make specific, targeted use of these generalities. I'd respond to these premises, but, for one, they're self-evidently moronic, and besides, they're an artless dodge.
The question is not who pays the development costs, but what drives development. In a profit driven model drugs that market research indicates will sell are pushed, which is why there are half a dozen male impotence drugs. Industrial research is specific as opposed to government research because the gubbermint, presumably, is after knowledge that will benefit humanity, or at least Americans, the medical industry is after drugs that will put money in their pockets. And no one rational is arguing that private companies shouldn't be able to charge a fee for their products to recoup development costs and enjoy a little profit. But it should just that, a little profit. Medicine, like journalism, has undergone an under reported (I wonder why) but historic shift in the last few decades, away from being a public service to just another industry that has to produce ever growing returns for an already moneyed elite, to the detriment of everyone else. It's one thing for doctors to expect to be made rich by their work, they're saving fucking lives. The beancounters, on the other hand, mostly make their money figuring out how to limit access to discoveries, for their own enrichment.
You see, what Megan is ignoring by dismissing government funded research is that such research demonstrates that huge profit margins ARE NOT NECESSARY to advance medical science, hence her pathetic attempts to belittle the results of that research by comparing private innovation in home appliances to medical science.
This is why when you start to make a list of all the state-run economies that have produced large numbers of innovative products with a high level of consumer satisfaction, you have to throw your privately manufactured gel pen aside in disgust. For whatever reason, the government is just not good at producing innovation.
Maybe because new washing machines aren't particularly important to the public good, but, say, research into SARS is? Or, perhaps, and I know this makes Megan's brain hurt, because the government doesn't exist to turn a profit.
Fittingly for a post filled with bullshit and dodges, Megan ends with a doozy of a strawman; the military.
Before you say it, I know that you are leaning forward in your chair, your eyes alight, preparing to demand "What about the military?!" and lean back triumphantly in your chair. My friend, have you ever taken a close look at the military procurement process? It costs a fantastic amount of money to generate products that often aren't even wanted by the end users--how many times have you read about some military service being forced to buy some gargantuan piece of equipment they don't want because the thing is being manufactured in a key congressman's district? This is how we spend four percent of our national income on something that most of the American public never sees. Forgive me if I'm not excited about applying the same process to health care.
From the NYTimes:
In 1950, about 5 percent of United States national income was spent on health care, including both private and public health spending. Today the share is about 16 percent. Many pundits regard the increasing cost as evidence that the system is too expensive.
I'll grant the article goes on to complicate that final assertion, but I think my point is made.
And, well, the next time I see anyone even vaguely leftish point to our military procurement system as a successful way of accomplishing anything aside from distributing pork will be the first. (And no, Megan, anything Hillary or Lieberman has said doesn't count.)
In the end, Megan doesn't answer the initial question, of why we can't have both innovation and affordable drugs. To do so would involve discussion of the profit margins in the industry, and how expected earnings affect allocation of research dollars. Megan is either incapable of doing so critically, or afraid to be honest and simply say she doesn't give a shit about people when there's money to be made. Either way, expect more dishonest responses to laughable strawmen instead of detailed discussion of complex topics until Megan finds a new way to smear feces on her face next week.

An ongoing theme

A lot of people in my comment threads on pharma are saying "Well, okay, maybe if we forced the drug prices so far down, that would kill off innovation. But it's not fair that Europe is free riding. We need to find some way to force them to Pay Their Fair Share." Interestingly, many of them seem to be conservatives, the same people who applaud when I say, in re other policy issues, that the fact that there is a problem does not automatically imply that there is also a solution.
It's almost as if they agree with you for purely ideological reasons, eh Megan?
Truth is, I don't give a damn about what Megan has to say to conservatives about the horrible evil of Europeans not paying American corporations for the privilege of healing and saving lives, but there's a couple howlers in the post to deal with before we get to her response to us dirty fucking hippies and our hatred of money. First, this
No one who is a serious policy wonk on this stuff has any sort of workable proposal whereby America persuades Europe to pay more for its drugs. [my emphasis]
This is because they're too busy reading Liberal Fascism and writing fanboy letters to Doughbob. So we see that LibFasc actively hurts America, by denying multinational corporations the full amount of money they could make.
Then there's this
As anyone, including me, who is taking a newly invented drug will tell you, we're getting pretty good value for money. (And if you're not getting good value for money, you can just not take the drug! Problem solved.)
And if you can't afford the drug, you just might already be dead! Problem solved.

Back with part 2 in a few...

Stupidity is Served

Megan turned 126 today. Here's what she has to say:

Today's my birthday, so I spent the evening at dinner with loved ones, rather than watching television like the rest of you
Titter! Modern American culture features a lot of TV watching. Titter.
This did give me some time to poll a representative sample of the non-wonketariat.
And by representative you mean statistically insignificant? Also, does this imply that you have friends who aren't policy wonks? Man, I envy the fuck out of your life, Megan.
My mother, whom I have dubbed The Swing Voter because her vote has correctly called every presidential election since I was sentient, has announced that if Hillary is the nominee, she's voting Republican--regardless of who the Republican is.
... and thus it is proven that Clinton Derangement Syndrome is a genetic disorder.
Meanwhile, the gay Republican vote is apparently going for McCain, with a margin of error of 100%.
Tee-hee. I just outed my brother. Tee-hee.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lots of words today

Here's some sorta shorters about some of 'em.

Go vegan!: If you thought forcing people to buy me humane meat was obnoxious, you're gonna love how big an issue I'll make of going vegan. It'll be especially pleasant when I turn to PETA to prove going vegan makes me an environmentalist.
But remember, the point isn't me making a decision about my diet, it's telling everyone I possibly can about that decision.

Prophets of profit: Is Megan unintentionally trying to make the argument I was too peeved to earlier? Read this

The main obstacle to R&D, then, is not the current state of pharmaceutical industry profits; it is the potential return on the investment in R&D. After all, Merck doesn't have to make drugs; it could generate a nice, safe return of 5% a year in government bonds.
She's utterly blind to what she just said, but there it is. No research without profit. The driving goal is not the betterment of humanity's collective lot, but executive bonuses. If already obscenely rich people don't have the chance to reap huge profits off of saving the lives of others, what's the point in trying?
If you drive down the profits on new drugs too far, it stops making sense to invest in new drugs, even if there is a small profit to be made on current production.

...

Developing new drugs is very, very risky. Depending on what you think constitutes a drug candidate, somewhere between one in one thousand, and one in ten thousand drug candidates makes it from a lab bench to clinical trials. Each of the failed drugs was very expensive, particularly if it got partway through clinicals, which run about $500 million per course.

The problem is, once you've developed a drug, it's easy to copy. It's also usually trivially cheap to produce.
How the hell do I snark that? How did a human being write it? The problem with drugs designed to heal and save lives is they could too easily benefit everyone who needs them, instead of just those who can afford them at astronomical prices?
I think Megan is genuinely incapable of contemplating the idea that the main problem in our medical system isn't whether it's public or private, but greed.

Why can't we just fund R&D from pharmaceutical advertising budgets?: First, see if you can find a single reason to believe any of the numbers Megan pulls out of her ass in the following
Even if companies could, they won't, for reasons I just explained. But mostly because pharmaceutical advertising budgets aren't really very big. People who think that there is a gigantic pool of capital that could be sucked out of the pharmaceutical advertising budget are being misled by accounting terminology. People who rail against the pharmaceutical industry are fond of noting that about 20% of industry revenues go to marketing, with the implication that this is all wasted on advertising baldness cures during Golden Girls reruns. But just the top ten firms in the pharmaceutical industry took in about $350 billion in revenue in 2007, 20% of which is $70 billion. The entire US expenditure on advertising by all companies in all media forms totaled something like $150 billion in 2007. I know it seems like every other commercial you see is for Botox, but most advertising is not done by pharmaceutical firms.

In fact, advertising is only a small fraction of that marketing expense. Over half of it expense consists of free samples, the offering of which seems to me like an unalloyed public good.
That's the entire post, I put the link in because it's the only goddamned attribution in it.
And to respond to the content, how's about they pay for R&D by accepting lower fucking profit margins in an industry that, at its most basic core, is about saving lives?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snark on snark violence

Megan tries out some snark, and still looks stupid. I'm bored so I'll do a more thorough SOTU liveblogging shoot-down. Note to anyone who cares, I didn't watch the ridiculous thing.

I am sitting in my apartment with a few other journalists, eating chips and watching the State of the Union. Bush looks like he has been preserved in formaldehyde; the Democrats look as if he is a particularly disgusting specimen they are being forced to examine, like a fetus with two heads. Hillary Clinton is, one can't help but notice, making sure the cameras catch her hugging every minority in the room. Barack Obama is staring at the ceiling as if he were actually planning to rise above all of this.

This paragraph contains a lot of stupid. You'd think after some practice her writing style might improve. I'll just address the first sentence. Megan, you are NOT a journalist.

and we're off:
9:15 Handshaking over! Now speech

Pointless opener over! Now stupid commentary!
9:17 Grave danger that tax relief will not be made permanent! Not very specific about what the danger is, exactly, other than George W. Bush's taxes going up.
Um, you mean "if tax relief not made permanent!"? Or is the bad grammar joke being that pervasive?
9:18 Republicans leap to their feet. Barack studiously sitting down and looking serious, with two fingers pressed over his pursed lips. One of the other journalists wonders if this is some sort of signal. Perhaps "Beam me up, Scotty".
Is there a way to look studious and not serious? Also, WTF are you talking about with the signal? Who would he be signaling? Where do you find other journalists as stupid as you are?
9:24 Okay, I love me some trade deals. But even I find it hard to believe that the greatest threat to human liberty today is the specter that Panama may not be able to sell us handmade hats.
Commas go between clauses, Megan, but you're retarded so it'll never happen.
9:29 Calling for bans on the patenting of human life. Thank God, because after what the Patent office has done with computer algorithms, I'm afraid I'd find myself paying royalties to some guy in Idaho every time I take a deep breath.
Don't know the background on this, but I find it hard to imagine there is a reasonable parallel between something written by a human and a baby, unless fucking counts as writing. Actually, Megan's such an emotionless robot, the two just might be equivalent on many levels in her mind. Also, what has the patent office done with computer algorithms? I mean, other than patent them.
9:32 The speculation on who tonight's SOTU special guest stars will be is growing to a fever pitch here at Stately McArdle Manor. Best guess so far: Heath Ledger's family.
Because of the extreme political importance of Heath Ledger? Also, stately is an adjective and does not get capitalized. Also, if you're gonna get all swanky and use a colon, why not go ahead and make the part before it a complete clause?
9:34 President Bush says that illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved, and must be resolved. But illegal immigration is probably the least complicated issue out there. The 3-10X wage differential across the US-Mexico border draws people here to work; it's hard to patrol more than a thousand miles of border. Unlike almost any other issue, there aren't really any complicated, wonky proposals out there that ordinary citizens have a hard time wrapping their brain around. The main proposal is a wall. Walls are not really very hard to understand
Yes, Megan, it's just a wall. It has nothing to do with the 12 million human beings already living here. Human beings and what to do with them is simple! Bonus points if it took you less than five minutes to figure out that "3-10X" means three to ten times. Guess she still needs to brush up on some of the finer points of her coding syntax.
9:39 Don't forget to play along at home
There's a drinking game for The SOTU? WOAH NELLY THAT INTERNET THING IS WHACKY! WHAT OTHER OBSCURE THINGS HAVE YOU FOUND?
9:41 Thoughtfully, from one of my guests: "It's hard to differentiate between cheers and boos sometimes.
Said thoughtful guest went on to pontificate about why it's always in the last place you look and what the real reason behind the chicken crossing the road was.
9:42 President Bush says that 80,000 Iraqi citizens are fighting the terrorists. This implies something disturbing about the other 25,920,000 Iraqi citizens.
War supporters and two time G.W. voters are hereby banned from snarking about the Iraq war, you soulless, thoughtless, overgrown sock sniffer.
9:46 The segment on Iraq is problematic: he wants to reassure Americans that they won't have to sacrifice much more, and scare the bejeesus out of the terrorists with our steely resolve. These are mutually exclusive goals
Megan comes to the startling conclusion that Bush has no idea what he's talking about vis-a-vis Iraq. I think she might be onto something.
9:51 Peace in Israel/Palestine. And a pony! Why does every American president with a grim-looking prognosis for their legacy try to salvage everything at the 11th hour by swashbuckling into Jerusalem with no political capital to spend and praying for a miraculous resolution of the least tractable conflict of the last 50 years?
Megan comes to the startling conclusion that Bush has no idea what he's talking about vis-a-vis foreign policy. I think she might be onto something.
9:55 Making fun of State of the Union speeches feels a little cheap. These speeches always have the informational content of a Highlights Rebus, and they're never more vacuous than in the last year of a presidency. George Bush isn't going to do anything in the next 12 months; the biggest achievement he can hope for right now is to veto a whole bunch of earmarks. And that isn't even his fault; no president gets anything done in their last year. So why make fun of him? Well, because if you want less of something, you should raise the price of it. Me, I want fewer vacuous political speeches.
Self awareness.... WHAT THE FUCKING HELL? Was that a horsemen I just saw outside my window. Also, if you knew it was going to be pointless, why throw a party in it's honor and bore us with one of your longest posts ever? Oh, right, because you're an idiot.
9:58 Oh. My. God. As soon as the Bush says the word "African", CNN cuts to apparently specially staged woman in full African gear, with a child wrapped in a leopard print throw. "Cue human props!"
Megan comes to the startling conclusion that Bush is disingenuous. I think she might be onto something.
9:59 And yet, he's talking up the Millenium project, which is actually one of the great things this administration has done. This doesn't get nearly enough good press.
Don't know what that is. Don't care. I'm sure whatever she said about it is idiotic, though.
10:01 Bush sounds like he's telling the little nations that if they drink their milk, some day they will grow up to be just like America
Megan sounds like she's saying that if you use enough horribly cliched metaphors, you too can become a professional writer.
10:02 Let us go forth to do their business? Was that seriously the last line of his final State of the Union speech? Are we toilet training them? Who's writing his speeches these days--the copywriters for Charmin?
Um, does anyone say to their kids that pooping is "going forth and doing business?" Yet another reason to be thankful she didn't procreate. Also, Charmin sells toilet paper. Toilet paper is used by adults. Megan, I'm not sure if I've said this before, but you really are idiotic.
10:04 Wolf Blitzer ponderously declares "The state of the union will, he says, remain strong" as if this were somehow remarkable. Was he thinking that George Bush might come out and recite The Second Coming?
Megan ponderously notices that television news casters aren't the most trenchant. Oh my God, it's like infinite recursion.
10:06 The commentators are discussing the possibility that George Bush will achieve piece in Israel/Palestine as if this were remotely feasible. Personally I think it would be even more remarkable if he suddenly developed the ability to heal the blind.
Compared to some to some of the bullshit you spout, I think peace in the Middle East is a fucking shoe in.
10:17 There's something really odd about being in the middle of a hotly contested Democratic primary involving two sitting senators, and having the Democratic response to the State of the Union be delivered by . . . the governor of Kansas.
Megan, you yourself pointed out how meaningless this speech is and now you're criticizing the Democrats for not treating it with enough heft? So much for that glimmer of self awareness before.
10:22 She is asking the President to "join them". This seems unlikely. Also, even if he did, having a lame duck president with low double-digit approval ratings on your side is not all that helpful.
Um, maybe she means "Stop vetoing every fucking bill the American public clearly wants passed you shit head." You do realize that, though he sucks, the president is still and important person, right Megan?
10:24 "I know government can work, Mr President, because like you, I grew up in a family devoted to public service." This makes it sound as if the purpose of government is providing jobs for every politician's child. Oh, wait .
Yeah, cause we all know how much more glamorous it is to be working in the public sector instead of the private sector. Actually, Megan, it makes it sound as if there are dedicated people out there who want to make the government the glorious safeguard against tragedy that reasonable people know it can be.
10:26 A friend reminds me of the time I fell asleep in mid-sentence--my sentence. Apparently, the governnor is causing flashbacks.
Um, what?
10:28 Yes, snark is beneath me. But what else can you do? The speeches are totally content-free.
So is your blog. Maybe we should do away with them both, eh?
10:40 t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-hat's all folks!
Man, she does a NICE Porky Pig. I can't believe I survived that.

Which do you care less about?

What a powerless figurehead who's been set up by various interests to take the fall for their greedy rampage through history has to say,
or Megan's responses to him?
I can't be assed with either, but neither can I ignore this

Hillary Clinton is, one can't help but notice, making sure the cameras catch her hugging every minority in the room.
Will no one stop Hillary's racist campaign to acknowledge the existence of people who are not white?
Megan, if you ever think we're being petty in our treatment of you here, just think of this moment. And when you try to dismiss us as misogynists, ask yourself what's between Hillary's legs, asshole.

Update:

It actually gets worse.
The speculation on who tonight's SOTU special guest stars will be is growing to a fever pitch here at Stately McArdle Manor. Best guess so far: Heath Ledger's family.
HAH, that guy's dead! Hahahahahahahahaha, dead guy with a young daughter, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Man, she's good.
Or not good, what's that thing that means the opposite of good... Megan McArdle. Yep, she's Megan McArdle, and sometimes I think that's punishment enough.

An incredibly stupid, and common, premise

I want to write a snarky response to this piece, but it just pisses me off too much. Instead, a question; is the current system of medical research a boon to medical science, or an impediment?
I don't mean to malign those good folks researching life-threatening illnesses, or to deny that making such positions well-compensated helps attract the best and brightest to them and benefits us all. But profit driven research leads to cures for male impotence and trillions spent researching male pattern baldness while less common, but actually life-threatening, conditions are de-prioritized because too few suffer from them to make money off of curing it, or only poor people die of it.
Is it really a good thing to make medical advancement contingent on how big a bonus executives with MBAs instead of scientific Ph.Ds will receive? Isn't this why we have dozens of questionably tested treatments for high blood pressure or cholesterol, which all too frequently end up being taken off the market due to dangerous side effects, but Lou Gehrig's Disease still essentially mystifies us?
I know, this is a snark blog, and I don't have enough command of the small details in this fight to so much as attempt to command a soapbox, but this shit pisses me off.
Medical science should not depend on executive bonuses for advancement. One day, if humanity survives the worst of our nature, people will look back at this process as criminal, not an achievement. Megan, however, lacks the mental capacity to see that there could be any other way. She's just not very bright.

Dear cute girls

Megan hates you, because she can't pull the new look off.
Now, granted, shirtdresses have a certain Sex and the City-ish shallow, materialistic, fashion oriented vibe, but at the end of the day they're only clothes.
Also, Megan, herself, is shallow, materialistic, and overly fashion conscious, and probably thought Sex was a great show.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Megan is retarded.

VP != VIP?:

The VP slot seems to be a lot less important than it used to be. Thoughts on why this is?

So apparently Megan is looking for a job at Apple, that's like the 50th time in the past 5 minutes she's used "!=" to mean not equals. Let us only pray that she gets it so we won't have to endure her writing English anymore. Then again, there isn't a debugger in the world who'd be able to handle so many syntax errors and such verbose code, so maybe she'd do even more harm there.

Let's see, VPs have won their parties nomination in 2000, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1976, 1968, 1964 and that's just as far back as I'm willing to look. Contrast that with the Mark Twain quote (a favorite of my father's).
"Two brothers left home. One went to sea, the other became vice president. Neither were ever heard from again"

Yeah, she's dead on. Being VP, other than being second in line for the presidency should tragedy/impeachment happen, is totally meaningless. I'm pretty sure we'll soon be outsourcing the job to India.

brad adds:

Cheney has made the VP's Office more powerful than at any prior point in American history, (in)arguably is the one truly running the Executive branch, and Megan thinks the VP is less important than ever? Ye gods.

Doughbob vs. Megan

Have you heard? They got into a huge spitball fight during lunch the other day. I think Doughy has a crush on Megan and doesn't know how else to get her attention.
Shorter Doughbob Loadpants: She didn't read the book, so she's a poopyhead, but there's some bits which I can interpret as sort of in agreement with me.
I'm actually kind of glad Gavin or Bradrocket will likely have their own take on this exchange at some point at S,N!, as it means I don't have to try to give Jonah's deluded ramblings extensive coverage. Fuck, he actually wrote this

Even today, "nationalist" and "socialist" are pretty much interchangeable terms.
I... that's above my pay grade. This is a good example of why I've only read about half of Jonah's book, and just can't finish it.
That said, Megan would certainly agree with this
... look at the Ivy League, look at Georgetown, look at the Ford foundation, public libraries, English departments, the mainstream media, museums, main line churches, the AMA, ABA and about a million other three letter acronymned organizations. These were all co-opted by the left to one extent or another and now they are part of a liberal gleichschaltung where political correctness rules and deviation from "progressive" ideas is increasingly treated as a thought-crime.
Megan might defend Ivy League English Departments, though she also effectively slanders them with her work, but she definitely sees a "liberal gleichschaltung" making academia a place unwelcome to people who make shitty arguments that run counter to basic empirical reality. Damned elitists.
And now, we come to Megan's response to Jonah's response to her non-review of a book she didn't read. Truly, a clash of titans. To begin, this might be the funniest and most unintentionally revealing sentence fragment Megan has ever written
Some of his argument is a misreading of my post, perhaps because I was unclear--when I said that
... alright, maybe it's not that funny, but Megan nicely saying Jonah misread and she was unclear strikes me as amusing.
And then comes this
I think Goldberg is actually making a valid point, which is that Fascism!=Conservatism. Fascism was a compendium of left and right wing ideology; part of what gave the movement its power was its co-option of (to my mind) some of the most appalling elements of each. The liberals who think that "Liberal Fascism" is somehow more definitionally stupid than "Conservative Fascism" are, I think, patting themselves on the back a little too hard. They didn't call themselves "National Socialists" for no reason, and pointing this out is, so far as I am concerned, God's work.
Lemme repeat part of that
They didn't call themselves "National Socialists" for no reason, and pointing this out is, so far as I am concerned, God's work.
Megan, despite.... reality, thinks Nazis were socialists. She doesn't truly disagree with Jonah so much as have muddled crackpot theories based on personal grudges of her own. To wit
But though I am very much all for the goal of stopping people from deploying the term fascist against any conservative they happen to disagree with--and particularly libertarians, who, will their horror of both state intervention in the economy and nationalism, are literally as far from fascism politically as it is possible to get--ultimately, I just don't like inflammatory titles. I find things like "a politics of meaning" creepy, but calling it fascist isn't going to do anything except give a flutter of satisfaction to people who already hate Hillary Clinton, and alienate her sympathizers.
Jonah's mistake is in writing the book from the perspective that it's movement conservatives who need defense from charges of fascism. This does not involve Megan, and thus is superfluous to... well, everything. Libertarians need to be defended from being called fascist, especially those who coincidentally happen to think corporations should be allowed to all but replace Federal governments. Besides, you risk alienating people you might otherwise fool.

Not an endorsement you'd want

I'm a big fan of what I've seen of McCardle's [sic] work generally and I think she's trying to be fair.
Jonah Goldberg

I'll get to his post and her response soon, but for now let's give that quote some space to breathe and stand on its own.

We begin

with a whimper.
Shorter Megan on Liberal Fascism: I don't read Orcinus, so this whole thing hasn't been much of a learning moment for me.
or
Jonah says malaka malaka moop, I say walaka walaka woop. See the difference?

I know she's saying he's wrong and we should encourage those all too rare human moments, but her argument is so... utterly random, and mediocre, that Jonah was able to comprehend it and respond.

*more to come*

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A note about editing

So, my laptop's screen is broken and there is a large chunk in the middle that is always solid black. This can make editing quite a chore. Since I know a few of our readers are grammar NAZIs, I apologize for any errors I miss in my posts but that's just the way it's gotta be.

I stand corrected, but I'm still right.

Political pragmatism:

Of all the arguments in favor of putting a food stamp provision into the stimulus package, rather than a cash transfer, possibly the most bizarre is "Well, it is perhaps less than ideal, but it was the only way we could get it passed."

You may have noticed that it didn't, in fact, pass. Politically, increasing food stamps has been exactly as successful as increasing cash transfers, which is to say, not at all.

Summary: The Democrats tried to compromise but stubborn ass Republicans refused to budge so obviously the Democrats' ideas were flawed.
In fact, the EITC is the only major program for the poor that has been expanded in the last ten years--and yes, that last expansion would be in 2001, under President George W. Bush
Yes, Megan, we should all emulate dubbaya in our empathy for the poor. Duh!
Update I stand corrected: the farm bill expanded food stamps in 2002. The larger point stands: there's no reason to think that cash transfers are politically impossible, because they self-evidently aren't; and trying to use food stamps to funnel money, however inefficiently, to the poor, clearly failed in this instance.

Paraphrase: The only piece of evidence I used in this post isn't actually true, but I'm still right, compromise is a stupid idea and you should always blindly do what you think is absolutely best and assume that your opponents will be intimidated by your ability to use the force.

It's like her father was killed by a food stamp...

Seriously, she just can't let it drop despite the fact that she makes no sense at all. Oh it hurts.

Protect them from themselves:

A number of people in my commenters have come out in favor of food stamps not as a political expediency, but as a first best policy option because they force people to spend money on food that might otherwise have gone somewhere else. This comes in two varieties:


1) If I'm giving you my money, I damn well get to determine how you spend it

2) Poor people might make bad decisions with cash, so better force them to use it on food.

Both of these arguments are somewhat undone by the fact that food stamp recipients can always monetize their grants to some extent, by buying food and then exchanging it for cash. It's just that the process is extremely inefficient, and the sale will net much less than the full value of the food stamps

Well, she goes for the trademark and inexplicable move of blockquoting her own statements. First, these arguments may be somewhat undone if by "somewhat" you mean "pretty much not at all." How successful does she thing a bunch of poor people standing outside grocery stores trying to sell their food stamps would be? Oh yes, person of questionable character, I will gladly engage in your attempt to defraud the government for a minute monetary gain! Now be a good crack whore and spend it on drugs! Tah Tah!
More broadly, do I get to attach strings to the money you get from the government? If you have a mortgage, and deduct the mortgage interest, thus getting a hefty government benefit paid by those of us who are not homeowners, does this entitle me to go over to your house and make sure that you're not spending the money on something I disapprove of?
Brilliant analogy! Tax refunds for money spent on living expenses are EXACTLY the same as providing basic necessities to those who can't afford them at all. Why didn't I see this glaring correlation?
As to the second argument, I recognize an obligation to ensure that those who are genuinely incapable of earning a minimally decent living for themselves have the ready needed to secure the basics. I do not recognize an obligation on my part to ensure that they actually do so. Nor do I think that I am the best judge of what people need.
Projecting much, Megan? I think food stamps are a good idea, but not because I think poor people are too stupid to spend their money wisely. See, like you, I recognize that any attempt to give aid by the government will be abused by some people. Unlike you, I have a heart, so I'm willing to allow for this negative because I feel the positive of feeding poor people outweighs it substantially. Ensuring the money is spent on food is the best, albeit imperfect, way of reducing graft.

If people are genuinely so screwed up that when given enough money to buy what they need, they fail to purchase enough food to sustain life, then what they need is not food stamps, but 24 hour supervision. If people will buy alchohol or some other unnecessary instead of feeding their children, then they are probably neglecting their children in other ways requiring a stronger intervention than an EBT card. One could argue that right now, incomes are not high enough to purchase basic necessities (and indeed, I think the EITC should be increased, as I've said numerous times.) But that still doesn't make the case for food stamps for me; if the poor take money out of their food budgets to buy something else, it is presumably because they think they need that something even more than they need their next meal. Who am I to second guess them?

This has nothing to do with the appropriate level of spending on the poor, or even the structure. But assuming a basic basket of cash that we are prepared to spend on improving peoples' lives, it seems clear to me that none of that cash should be handed out in the form of food stamps.


I'll ignore most of this since it's largely based on the patently ridiculous assumption of the previous quote. I will note that I've been reading MM's blog for quite a while and never heard her mention, other than in passing, her desire to see the EITC increased. I have heard her talk about how her taxes are too high, the Jena Six should be jailed, and that it's totally worth it to spend more than $1000 on a fucking coffee maker. I love you Megan.

You know, they say that only men can be colorblind but Megan's inability to see the world in anything other than black and white clearly disproves that.

An oddity is an English major who doesn't know how to use the word oddity.

Those Kids!:

With a town in California looking to keep people from smoking in their own homes, this blast from the past has a particularly poignant oddity:
Followed by a youtube clip of an old Flintstones where they shamelessly promote cigarettes.

Me: Mrs McArdle, how does a clip contain an oddity? Wouldn't it be "is an oddity?"

MM: You clearly misunderstood my point. What I was trying to say was.....

Me: yeah, ok, I get it now. OKIE, but then what does an old show that, typical of its era, inserted it's advertising into the storyline have to do with a modern day attempt at creating healthier living conditions for people?

MM: Um... well... see... they both talk about cigarettes so and um.... it's obvious isn't it?

Me: Alright then, well, isn't it blatant mischaracterization to say that this town is trying to prevent people from smoking in their own homes when the legislation related only to renters, current renters are unaffected, and then only provision is that renter designate new rentals as either smoke free or smoking?

MM: Um, clearly you're arguing with me because secretly you know I'm right and so therefore say that I'm wrong.

Me: Okie, one final question. How many martinis did you have this morning before class?

MM: THEY WERE APPLETINIS!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

She won't stop

Having gotten blowback from big dogs like Tbogg n Atrios for being a heartless asshole, Megan decides to make it worse. This might be the single dumbest post she's written on my watch. No kidding, it's that bad.

Why not give the poor food?:

If giving them food stamps is such a great idea, why not give them the food you say they are unable to purchase, and turning them fat: produce, whole grains, lean meats, etc.

When you think of actually lining people up to hand them a big bag of quinoa and a chicken breast, the stupidity of this program seems fairly self evident (or at least, I hope it does). How happy would you be to get a chicken breast and a bag of quinoa? Not very. Maybe you wanted chicken breasts tonight, but probably you didn't. And you definitely didn't want quinoa. No, you didn't. Stop lying.
And you don't have a freezer or place to store as yet uncooked foodstuffs, do you? Stop lying.
This is the basic premise of the post, folks. Giving poor people free food might not meet their cravings at that particular moment, and thus is a bad idea.
Most poor people, if they had access to more money to spend on food, would not buy a lower-calorie, higher fiber diet laden with fruits and vegetables. We know this because almost no one in America eats that kind of diet; it is almost exclusively the province of a certain substrate of the upper middle class. Poor people, given more money to buy food, might upgrade their calorie consumption, but they would not eat like a corporate lawyer from the Upper West Side.

And this is not a moral judgement. Being thin, eating little, having a high fiber diet--the fact that so many people think I am judging the poor reflects their own belief that there is some sort of important moral content to one's weight or calorie consumption. There isn't.
But eating humane meat does make her more moral, and if poor people could afford, or were given, humane meat then how would Megan distinguish herself? Fuck poor people, who are too dumb to want to eat healthily, apparently, what could such a thing mean for Megan's self-regard?
But the only reason to give people food, rather than cash that they might, if they desired, use to buy food, is that they are starving and need food right away. The poor in America are not starving. They do not need food right away. They certainly don't need you telling them that they can have $45 a month, but only if they promise to spend it all on vegetables. They have enough problems without having to contend with well-meaning bureaucrats trying to raise them.

Now, I assume that most people will concede that the poor are not starving, but at the same time say that living on the food budget implied by food stamps is pretty miserable. Indeed it is--though please, don't tax me with the bloody food stamp challenge, because first of all, I've already done it for an article I never sold, and second of all, the average food stamp grant is not what people actually live on; it's a budgetary supplement, not a food budget.
Y'hear that, Tbogg? Megan's tried it, and still doesn't give a shit. Ain't her problem.
And fuck this giving out healthy food idea. We aren't talking about starving Africans but malnourished Americans. Why would they deserve any consideration? They're all fatties anyway.
But wait,
I am sympathetic to this argument. But that doesn't mean I want to increase food stamps, for the same reason that I don't want to actually give people food: many of the people I give the food, or the food stamps to, would rather have the cash to spend on something else. If peoples' incomes are inadequate to the bare minimum needed for decency in modern America, then I am in favor of topping up their incomes. But food stamp programs are stupid at the best of times, and in a population that has clearly reached and surpassed caloric sufficiency, they are ludicrous.
..... I ..... how the hell do you write such things? I've been on this beat 4 months or so, and I'm still flabbergasted by the idea a human being could think, let alone be paid by a once venerable institution to write, such things. 15 year old Johnny would rather have an iPod than lose 20 pounds and gain 5 years of life expectancy? Cool, Megan owns stock in Apple.
There are two possibilities with food stamps:

1) They are entirely fungible, so that every dollar of food stamps frees up a dollar to be spent on something else. This makes the program good stimulus, but perfectly idiotic social policy.
As opposed to cash handouts? Why? Cuz Megan says so.
2) They are not perfectly fungible, so that at least some of the increase has to actually be spent on food. Many people who would rather spend the money on something else are forced to buy food, and many of those people are probably obese.

Food stamps continue not because they're great for the poor, but because they're terrific for the farm lobby. If you want to give stimulus money to the poor, increase the EITC, welfare grants, disability, or unemployment insurance. (I'm on the record as being in favor of the former, against the latter). But for God's sake, can't we all agree that food stamps are a program whose time has gone?
Megan says so, what more reason to agree do you need? Fuck, shes on record about it. STFU and accept it. Disagreeing with her only means she's right, anyway.
Megan is not a good person.

*Update- Changed one word so as not to let my temper put me in a bad light.

Stupid, stupid, stupid

Megan added the following comment to the post focusing on food stamps,

I've also "worked on the front lines", and while theoretically, food stamps might push people into healthy food, in practice, they don't seem to. If you restricted food stamps to produce, unprocessed meats, and so forth, then yes, it might force the poor to spend money on healthy food, but of course, you can choose between tater tots and apples, and the poor choose tater tots. A healthy, balanced diet is not inherently more expensive than living on chicken fingers; it's just less hedonically satisfying in a life with relatively few hedonic satisfactions. To be sure, I've only written one article on the subject, and that a while ago, but as of 2003, the researchers on the subject I spoke to agreed that the problem in poor communities was not an insufficient quantity of food, or that it was not possible to compose a balanced diet out of what the poor were spending on food; it was that the poor were choosing unhealthy foods over healthy ones. It is possible that if we doubled their food stamps, they would suddenly cut their calorie consumption in half, but there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is the case, and it seems to fly against everything we know about human nature, and obesity. The new research on obesity indicates that people are almost always eating to set points that rise slowly every year; whatever causation there is in the link between income and obesity almost certainly runs the other way.

Posted by Megan McArdle | January 24, 2008 8:01 PM
I can't even add anything. Fuck you, Megan, again and eternally.

Ghetto life

The poor, you shall always have with you

But the poor don't need to be hungry to be poor. There is little to no systematic evidence that poverty-linked undernutrition--malnutrition caused by too little food intake--is an actual problem in America. "Food insecurity" numbers batted around by the FDA do not mean that people actually went hungry; they mean that people worried about going hungry, or changed their diet--usually by altering the composition of the diet, not by forgoing food--to avoid going hungry. But of actual sustained hunger, there is no evidence.

There is, on the other hand, a lot of evidence of obesity among the poor; their obesity rate is estimated at 36%, and the obesity rate among poor children seems to be about twice the rate among non-poor children. The poor people are eating more calories than they need. Yet we propose to stimulate the economy by giving the poor money that can only be spent on more food.

What about the argument that the poor are forced into eating high-calorie diets by the expense of produce and whole grains? This is silly on many counts:
Oddly enough, I can offer an informed perspective on this. You see, I live in the ghetto, or rather across the street from a large, famous group of projects in Brooklyn. This means that, in addition to Whole Foods in Manhattan, I often shop in the tiny, understocked supermarkets and delis that form the basis of the food chain for those folk across the street who don't have the disposable income I do. And these places sell crap. High fructose corn syrup, fully hydrogenated transfat, crap. The other options are McDonalds, Taco Bell, fried chicken joints, and the latino versions of lunch counter spots which serve only heavily fried foods. A big night out for too many of my neighbors is treating themselves to cheap chinese takeout.
Megan, however, saw tv in the late 80s, and those poor people were lazy, so there.
And yet, in one of her truly obnoxious "I hate this but I'll be big and accept it" moments, where she'll say "I don't like x, but it's not as bad as stealing infants to harvest their organs, so I'll live with it", Megan says, fine, give em more money, just don't tie it to food, because that would ...... actually address the issue at hand.
Unlike Megan, I think giving the poor more money for food, so they can afford higher end food stores and products, sounds like a good idea, but it's just a beginning. More city run food co-ops would have a huge impact, but the biggest target should be the companies that supply the delis and tiny supermarkets, and finding ways to force them to change what they sell to these stores. Or, if we're gonna indulge in pie in the sky dreaming, force Kraft and McDonalds and so on to make some hard choices, and begin selling products that could be realistically defined as food.
But back in reality, giving the poor more money to afford healthier food is about half of what needs to be done. It's just as important to give those folk better options, which they will take, if given a chance. Despite Megan's biases, no one wants to be fat and listless, but they gotta eat, and MikkyDs is right across the street.

Megan's real problem with the idea of giving the poor more money to afford healthier food is that she thinks aid to the poor should be a simple cash giveaway, because it's disrespectful to people she has no respect for to ensure they use the aid given them by society in a way which actually aids them (and their kids). I'll let her explain.

Why not food stamps?:
1) The poor don't need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America; except for people who are too screwed up to get food stamps (because they don't have an address), food insufficiency is not.

2) Food stamps only imperfectly translate into increased cash income, meaning that the poor will spend . . . more money on food.
See, if Megan didn't blithely dismiss the actual fact that the link between poverty and obesity is based on the food the poor can afford and have access to, she'd be totally right. To her, spending more money on food = fatter poor people, because she thinks poor people are morons who are poor because they're dumb n lazy and weren't born into a very well off Upper West Side family that gave them every possible advantage in life. Instead, just give 'em cash handouts, so they can be happy fat poor crackheads. Come to think of it, ever seen a fat crackhead? Maybe she's onto something.
The point, however, isn't even the poor people at all, it's the companies who profit off of selling food to poor people. DUH!
3) If the increase in food stamps takes the form of expanded eligibility, rather than larger grants, the administrative issues and public outreach will delay your stimulus until well after it is no longer needed.

4) The limits on the type of goods available to food stamp consumers, and the growing season, mean that some (it's hard to say how much) of the food stamp spending will simply draw down perishable stocks rather than generating new economic activity. Eventually this will probably generate more economic activity, but probably well after your stimulus is needed.

5) The economy doesn't need a food sector more distorted by daft government programs than it already is. If you want to give money to the poor, give it to them. Even if they spend it all on drugs, it will hardly be much worse than spending it all on increasing their already astronomical obesity rates.
Y'hear that, you do-gooder hippies? The problem will fix itself before you can do anything, and Megan doesn't think that it'd have the intended impact on the bottom lines of the food producers. The question to ask is not whether it'd benefit the poor child of a single mother who works two jobs and still can't make ends meet, but whether it'd impact the value of Megan's shares of KraftCo.
I'd expand further, but my patience is exhausted. Fuck you, Megan. Try eating only things you can get in a cheap ghetto deli for a month.

Tbogg takes on Megan

shorter Tbogg,
Soylent green is poor people: It seems like this Megan person doesn't know what she's talking about. Obnoxious, innit?

I'll add my two cents soon.

The aim of the internet has been reached. We can shut it down now.

Why Tide?:

I've decided that the internet was invented simply so that the most inane thing ever could be posited for public discussion by a paid journalist. We have found that thing:

Tyler Cowen asks how come it has a high market share, even though it's more expensive. Answer: it actually does seem to be better (and I'm generally a fan of generics.) Am I deluded? Any chemists in the audience?

And, I'd like to say that, as a chemist, I'm highly offended that Megan thinks she's actually be able to understand a single word about our profession.

Sometimes they're so stupid they just speak for themselves.

Question of the Day:

Megan is asked who most changed America. Her answer:

The guy who discovered fire, I'd guess. Or agriculture.

I'm guessing that I don't need to make a joke, as you're prolly already laughing.

Um, other than the few million that read the NYT?

The saddest commentary on the Gaza breach:

How many Americans even knew about the Israeli cordon and the resulting humanitarian crisis in Gaza? When I tuned into the morning news yesterday, the BBC was covering the Gaza strip. Fox News was teaching people how to make homemade butterscotch pudding.
Hey, Megan, have you heard? Fox news isn't the best place to learn things. This story has been in the New York Times since it happened. I know this because that's the only paper I read. You hear that? I read ONE PAPER and I'm better informed than you. I don't even read it a lot of the time. I just read the headlines yet somehow I knew that Israel had blocked access to the Gaza strip.

Oh, and cunning analysis. You checked two news stations at a single point in time and while one had a serious peace, the other did not. BRILLIANT! Looking out the window I see a man smiling. HOW CAN HE SMILE WHILE GAZA IS BLOCKADED?!?!?! I'm going to go teach him a lesson!

If you kind of squint, Hillary's a racist so you're a hypocrite.

Why isn't this a null set?

Democrats who believe that the GOP southern strategy is a defining moment that discredits the entire movement ∩ Democrats who think that the Clintons are very deliberately playing up Obama's race in order to drive white voters into Hillary's camp ∩ Democrats who will vote for Hillary Clinton in November once she secures the nomination.
Um, well, maybe it is. I mean, other than your ass, who has made those three statements? Care to link? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH oh man, I crack me up.

Okie, so let's just play along. Hmm, if Hillary catches the nomination she will face a republican. A republican. you know, a member of that party that openly endorses racist policies all over the fucking place? So, let's see, given the choice between someone who's prolly actually kind of well really at least a little RACIST or a woman who once did something maybe kind of racist if you squint just right, well, obviously you're a hypocrite for choosing the latter.


Which reminds me of something else I want to post about. It's not funny at all but I have to say it. WHY THE FUCK ARE LIBERTARIANS SUCH IDIOTS?!?! Seriously, it's ridiculous. I mean, if you just look at their straight up platform, less government regulation, equal rights, etc, I disagree with it but it's at least not evil. Then you go and actually meet a libertarian. He says he's for equal rights and low taxes. Ok. Then you check his priorities and LOW TAXES COME FIRST?!?!?!!?!!?! WTF is wrong with these people? They vote for Bush even though he wants to put the words "God hates fags" in the constitution because he's going to save them a few hundred bucks on their taxes. It's absurd. It's like they have just enough self awareness to know that being an openly greedy asshole is wrong, but not aware enough to know that half heartedly tacking on liberal social agendas doesn't actually fool anyone. God damn do I hate libertarians.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Veganity

As promised, time to deal with the vegan and moral meat trilogy of posts from earlier this week.

Vegan's just another word for "nothing left to eat":

I read somewhere that evolutionary biologists now believe that digust [sic] co-evolved with the decision to eat meat. After reading that book, I may be devolving.
I'm tempted to note this isn't the best use of the word devolve, but it is true that her chosen sense has become acceptable via popular usage. Or I could note that Megan is again using her memory of something she thinks she read as all the sourcing needed to make a claim, or educate her readers, but this happens in every post Megan has ever or will ever produce. Trying to make Megan recognize this MASSIVE FLAW in everything she's ever done is, to paraphrase Bill Hicks quoting countless comedians over time, like showing a dog a card trick.
Instead, let's just, once again, note that, despite her inherent moral superiority for having the financial means to eat "humane" meat and consider veganism as a serious option, Megan doesn't bother trying to give reasons why her choice is one others should at least consider following (unless you want to count repeating a claim she knows to be spurious). Instead, it's all about her, and making sure others know how good a person she is for giving animals the kind of consideration she denies people.

Preach it, veggie-man: After referring to a debate in a thread she fails to link to, Megan finally tackles that burning question of why she doesn't seem to want others to follow her sooper-moral and caring example in dietary choices.
Most vegetarians and vegans do not, in fact, prosletyze. While I do explain, when asked, my decision to only eat humanely raised meat, I've never finished up with " . . . and that's why you should too, you cruel, thoughtless bastard." Nonetheless, many people react as if I'd tacked on this last phrase, and spit. What the hell is wrong with me? Don't I understand that meat tastes good? That certified humane meat is expensive? That animals would do the same, and worse, to each other . . . etc. Yes, yes, thank you Dr. Insight, I have in fact heard each and every one of these devastating arguments at least a hundred times.
Ok, Megan, then you have an answer to the question of why you never mention that "humane" meat tastes better? A truer name for it would be artisanal meat, as it sells not because it's moral, but because it fucking tastes better. This, combined with the lesser environmental impact of non-factory farming and the advantage of not pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into our food animals seem, to me, pretty good reasons to champion the stuff. Additionally, as it becomes more popular and more humane meat is produced, the price will drop, allowing more people to enjoy it, and putting greater pressure on the factory style producers to change their ways.
But that has nothing to do with Megan, personally, so it's not important. If anything, Megan prefers not trying to bring others around to her point of view, because their resistance proves her right.
Those who, like me, have made ethical choices about our diets that we haven't asked anyone else to emulate, find the aggressiveness of these encounters puzzling; most of us have come to the conclusion that it is a psychological defense mechanism employed by people who think that we're right, but don't want to make the modest hedonic sacrifice necessary to comply with this ethical position. So you're not only not persuading us to change our ways; you're reinforcing our belief in the correctness of our choice.
At least we know she's familiar with Jonah Goldberg's work. If lots of people disagree with you, it's because you're right.
And that's what matters; that Megan knows she's right. She's so secure in this knowledge she doesn't have to force it on others, despite the fact if she actually believed the things she says she'd probably, at least once, maybe try to use her privileged perch to, instead of congratulating herself for her choice, try and give others a reason to consider it. Y'know, like maybe mentioning humane meat is tastier. But it seems salesmanship isn't an option, either you hit them over the head with it, or do nothing.
Meanwhile, vegetarians who feel that they must lecture the Great Unwashed: how many people have you converted? Count them up, right now. The answer would be "none", wouldn't it? Yes, that's right, the people you're hectoring are about as likely to come into the fold through your lectures as you are to be reborn in Christ through the efforts of that guy shouting about the Whore of Babylon on the 42nd Street subway steps. Just as he makes Christianity less attractive through his histrionics, you are, by convincing potential converts that vegetarians are a bunch of humorless jerks who spend most of their time lecturing hapless diners, probably driving people away. Plus, you're not only annoying them; you're annoying me by proxy. Please stop.
And above all, don't use your position to advocate for your beliefs, Megan finds it distasteful. It's much better to simply pat yourself on the back in public repeatedly for manipulating friends and acquaintances into buying more expensive meat just for you when you've been invited to be their guest for a meal. That would never annoy someone.

Agree to disagree:
Is it true that there is some implied censure in the decision not to eat meat, or not to eat factory-farmed meat? Well, given that I have concluded that refraining from the purchase [sic] factory farmed meat is the ethical thing to for [sic] me to do, then it is indeed logically implied that I also think it is the ethical thing for you to do.
Why bother providing someone with reasons to follow your example, when you can just be so regal that they should be like you because you're you? Megan's sheer awesomeness is all the argument you should need to figure out how to afford artisanal meat.
However, polite society thrives on people with ethical differences agreeing to live and let live. I leave room for the possibility of errors in my own judgment, for differences in situations and priorities, and for the fact that no human relationship can survive a strict accounting of every value difference. I think it would be nice if everyone thought hard about how much moral weight to give to the suffering of animals, and gave up meat for a month or so in order to find out how hard it would be to live without it. (Answer: not nearly as hard as you think. I eat meat perhaps a few times a month, and honestly don't much miss it--and I like to eat.)
Oddly, I agree with Megan here. It should not be up to her to provide arguments for these choices she's made, as she's likely utterly incapable of it. Her basic argument is that people should follow her example because it's her example. This is a shitty argument, and that's the only kind of argument Megan seems capable of.

(As an aside, I can't help but feel a need to rephrase a little of that and turn it back on her,
I think it would be nice if everyone Megan thought hard about how much moral weight to give to the suffering of animals sweatshop workers and other victims of globalization, and gave up meat all the things she depends on those workers to produce for her for a month or so in order to find out how hard it would be to live without it them.
Might teach her a thing or two about respecting workers' rights.)

Getting back on point,
On the other hand, I also think it would be nice if everyone tried hard, every minute, to be as nice as possible to those around them; volunteered with homeless children in their spare time; and supported a robust free market regime. I don't live up to all of these ideals, however, and living in society means understanding that others make differing value judgments. I presume you know better than I do whether you are really doing your best to do what is right. I'm not going to lecture you on your moral obligations. In return, I would very much appreciate it if people would refrain from attempts to argue me out of doing what I believe is right because they would enjoy their own value judgments better if they had more company.
Just let Megan tell herself she's a wonderfully moral person, moreso than those poor proles who can't afford a good steak, instead.
In short, if my refusal to eat factory farmed meat makes you uncomfortable, then you should probably stop eating factory farmed meat. Because I am not, I swear, wasting one moment of an enjoyable dinner worrying about what's on your plate.
If you disagree with me, it's because I'm right, and my belief in the moral value of humane meat pales in comparison to my belief in the value of telling people I eat humane meat.

She got paid for all of this.

In Case We Forget

Unless the Internet has been lying to us all (or my memory, like everything else, is shot) Mlle. McArdle will be celebrating her 35th natal anniversary the 29th of this month. District of Columbia residents have now been warned well in advance.

This is the perfect opportunity to get her something from the Amazon wish list. I, for one, wish she'd get a flaming bag of poo on her doorstep. But that's just me. Perhaps someone could just get her a clue.

Bad company

Nutella gave Megan's atrocious post on Heath Ledger's death coverage below, but I have to add that, from now on, we will refer to this incident as her Andy Rooney moment. (Not explicitly quoted there is the worst of that segment, where Ronney asked why everyone is so upset about the death of someone he'd never heard of.)

I am not particularly a fan of Ledger, or Nirvana, but jebusnbabyfuckingchrist, would it kill you to pretend to be human, Megan?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'll be here all week

So, I'm gonna start with a disclaimer. I haven't written anything for the public eye since a piece about the birthmark in my eye was published in the 1998 edition of "Dead Center", my high school's literary magazine. I may suck. But, hey, the six of you are getting this for free. (Oh, opening with a blogs are free cliche, man, I suck).

Onward to the Meganity:

Radio Free Megan: Obamanomics: I could only listen to about 5 seconds of the first segment of this. When you open with "Actually, this is my second podcast" you get ignored. How in the hell does an English major fail to realize that when half the words in your sentence are useless, no one wants to "actually" hear you. Actually, Megan, even if I cared what you had to say, you're far too painful to listen to.

Heath Ledger is Dead:

In full:

I'm no cultural critic, and also, not sixteen, so I don't have much to say about this except the banal bewilderment at how much extra-tragic it seems when rich, beautiful, famous people die young. There were pills found near the body, and it happened in the middle of the day, which makes it sound like suicide. Even worse, he had a masseuse scheduled, which makes it sound like a too-successful suicide attempt. But presumably there will be an autopsy.
Paraphrase: Okie first, let me marginalize the career of a recently deceased man. K, now I'm gonna go ahead and make some trite and naive observations about a rich, famous person dying young. Next, it's on to some wild speculation. For my encore, I will state the obvious!

Hey McMegan, if you "don't have much to say about" something, then why in the hell are you torturing us with a blog post about it? Here's something else you can try instead of boring us to tears; it's called "STFU" and is sold all over the place.

Marriage Minded: Megan quotes Bryan Caplan, who says that married men aren't "shirking" cleaning duties because they simply don't desire as clean a house as their wives so naturally don't clean as often. Rather than attacking this for it's absurd stereotyping or lack of any real data, Megan goes into list mode (Cause who needs paragaphs) and says a bunch of stupid crap. WEEEEE!

1) Men who live alone clean less than men with male roommates. This is because your own mess is much less unbearable than mess generated by other people. I assume that Mr. Caplan covers negative externalities at some point in his classes.

They do Megan? I see you're using the Encyclopedia Out-of-Your-Assica again. I don't know if she knows any men that live with other men, but I saw a fair number of houses in college that were completely disgusting despite the fact that there were multiple males living in them. Hell, I've seen those in grad school too. Maybe when you're pushing 47, like Megan, men suddenly start acting differently.

2) Coasean reasoning only holds if you believe that marriage somehow eliminates all transaction costs.

I only look up one unexplained, obscure term per post, and I'm saving that for #3, so I'll just assume that what she says doesn't actually apply to Coasean reasoning much like the following:

3) Mr Caplan seems not to have heard of the tragedy of the commons.
Hey, guess what? Neither have I? You know why? It's because THE SHIT YOU LEARNED GETTING YOUR MBA ISN'T COMMON KNOWLEDGE. That is why you your parents paid someone to teach you that shit. I went and looked it up. Turns out the tragedy of the commons has to do with the allocation of limited resources and not who spends more time cleaning, men or women. Seems like Megan has heard of the tragedy, but doesn't actually know what it means.

4) In most relationships, even keeping a two-person apartment at the level of a bachelor pad seems to be done mostly by the woman, which would seem to indicate that the men are, well, shirking.
There's that voluminous resource that is Megan's ass again. I wish she'd linked to the modern anthropological study about the breakdown of labor commonly required in modern society in order to keep things at a "bachelor pad" level. I'm curious as to their methodology. Did they us the definition of "squeaky clean" as defined in Mr Clean's seminal work on the subject, or did they go with the more controversial paper published under the auspices of the Tide Research Institute?

5) The introduction of kids raises things to an entirely new level of mess, again, usually beaten back mostly by the woman.
Well, if we're gonna go ahead and stereotype our asses off all day, I'm going to have to slap you for giving another man lip and tell you to make me a sandwhich and then finish the damn laundry, Megan. And who said you could wear those shoes?

6) Does Mr Caplan think that "person with the lowest standards wins" should be a general rule for marriage? Can women unilaterally quit their jobs because they're content with a lower standard of living, or spend the retirement fund on shoes because they don't mind spending their golden years in penury?
Tell me Megan; does being this obtuse require special effort on your part or do you actually have this much difficulty fully comprehending your opponents ideas? Bryan is clearly saying that men aren't shirking (which means not doing their fare share) because they believe that the "share" is much smaller and hence so is their portion of it. He isn't making any judgment about what's the proper level of clean to keep a dwelling, you twit. He's simply saying that if two people live together, the one that has a desire for a cleaner house is naturally going to do more cleaning.

Now, seriously, STFU and go make me a sandwhich.

Busy week

for me, at least. School's back, got a date, and there's various other stoopid stuff to deal with. So, even though I told him to leave me some pieces, I'm gonna let NutellaonToast have at it for the next couple days, test out his chops. I'll be back before you can miss me, probably tomorrow to laugh at the humane meat n vegan stuff from yesterday. No time today, tho.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Standard issue catch-up post

Let's see what I've missed.
(Btw, if anyone out there wants to write the occasional post mocking Megan here, drop me an email, and leave a comment saying you did so. I remember to check that account once every two months or so. It's pretty much back to me on this, n while I don't want to let all 7 of our readers down, I'm just not into Megan enough to see her every day.)
And now, the stupid.

There are no new arguments under the sun: I'm tempted to treat this post on its own, as there's so much in it to poke fun at. First there's the continued high quality of Megan's work, as referenced by one of our favorite of Megan's commenters; liberalrob,

1) We will sell more stuff to foreigners than they buy from us.
[...]
3) Over the long run, foreigners will sell us more stuff than we buy from them.

Is this some esoteric economic concept, or is it a typo? How can you sell more stuff to someone than they buy from you?

Was #1 perhaps supposed to be "we will sell more stuff to foreigners than we buy from them" and #3 "over the long run, foreigners will sell us more stuff than they buy from us"? I.e. #1 is a trade surplus, #2 is balance and #3 is a deficit? That would make more sense...
Megan, surprisingly, actually fixed this mistake. But that doesn't fix the post. You see, Megan, despite NOT BEING AN ECONOMIST, takes an assault on the claimed expertise of economists personally. Granted, it's hard not to see the following as a dig at her style, but she's NOT AN ECONOMIST.
You have to be very well trained in economics and have high-level skills to make such a brain-dead assumption and not even know you’ve made it. Then you don’t have to give serious consideration to counterarguments because, hey, why pay any attention to the fallacies of economic illiterates and mathphobes?
Megan apparently missed the sarcasm at the end of this quote, as she responds by calling non-economists, a group which includes Megan herself, superstitious morons.
Ordinary people in many parts of the world worry about getting fatal diseases because witches have cast an evil spell on them. That doesn't invalidate the germ theory of disease. Notably, doctors using the germ theory of disease have produced far more cures than doctors attempting to chase out the bad spirits with an energetic series of bloodlettings. And economies with (classically) liberal rules about trade both among the citizenry, and with citizens of other countries, tend to be much, much nicer places to live than the economies that charge you $1,500 for the privilege of importing a laptop.
To recap, Megan responds to charges that a group she pretends to number herself among has isolated itself from reality and is unwilling to hear the criticisms of the average man by comparing disagreement with "her" discipline to people who think evil spirits cause disease. Btw, the person (bottom of the page) who wrote what Megan is reacting to is a professor of Economics and has a B.A. and Ph.D in Economics. I'd go on, but do I really need to?

Don't just stand there, spend something!:
Mr. Brian Beutler complains that the Iraqi government has not spent much of its reconstruction funding. I find it interesting that so many people seem so obsessed with using the amount of money that the government has spent as their prime metric rather than, say, whether it built anything worthwhile.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this is just some idiotic post by Megan which ignores the fact it's difficult to build things without buying building materials and hiring and paying workers. It is, in fact, a kind of zen koan. This post isn't a stupid thought, it's an anti-thought, which will clear your mind of all thought by focusing on it.

Department of Awful(ish) statistics: While we just saw how Megan is a dedicated pro-choicer who thinks abortion is barbaric and hates all the other pro-choicers, apparently a decline in the rate and number of abortions in the US is awful(ish). She goes on to explain that Kevin Drum's.... nevermind. Who cares what Drum said, or why Megan is so schizophrenic about abortion?

Department of Economic Illiteracy: Instead of taking issue with the content of this post, I'd like to note something extraordinary; Megan cited a reference for a number. Granted, the link she provides doesn't actually mention the value of stocks held by "foreigners" (and with multi-national corporations and various funds and such it must be quite a task simply to determine who and what qualify as foreign), and a quick googling provides no source for Megan's number, but at least she's trying. We're about to be reminded that's not always the case.


Greg Mankiw explains it all
:
I don't want to hear any more about how the Democrats are the party of fiscal responsibility; none of them are planning to close the current deficit, much less deal with the now-seriously-it-really-is-looming entitlement problem. Their tax code changes will claw back only a small fraction of the revenue lost in the Bush tax cut. If you are surprised, it is probably because the Democrats and the Republicans have a different definition of the tax cuts going "mostly to the rich". If you mean, "which individuals got the biggest benefit from the tax cuts?", rich people did, because they pay the most taxes; that is the definition Democrats use. But if you mean "which class of people got most of the money?", then the answer is "the middle class". There just aren't that many rich people; it costs a lot more to hand out a modest amount of cash to 200 million than to hand out a lot of cash to 500,000. So when Democrats repeal only the tax cuts on the top one or two brackets, this may be symbolically rewarding, but it will not actually generate that much revenue for the treasury.

Democrats are, of course, planning to spend every bit of the money from their tax increases on new spending, plus it looks like some more. You may now return to forgetting that you ever thought you cared about the budget deficit.
To begin, Megan, and the blogger whose quote she bases the post on, are essentially taking a single line in an NYTimes article as a detailed description of Hillary's tax policies and complaining the numbers don't really add up. Neither do any real research, such as, say, going to Hillary's campaign site and looking at the more detailed position papers there. You see, this might make for reliable numbers and a considered, even nuanced response to Hillary's ideas. I'm not saying I know what Hillary's ideas are and agree with them, I have no real idea, and neither does Megan, who's just glad for a chance to be critical.
Clinton derangement syndrome is a terrible affliction. Give today, a cure may yet be found.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A lil bit of cat porn

I still need a new digital camera, but I have to admit, it's slipping on my list of priorities. There's now a complete Dr. Katz boxed set for sale, my sick laptop to have repaired, and rent and food and the like. These are more important things than a new camera. That said, here's a taste of cuteness. Today's theme is love, not war. It's cold, which means he loves me extra.


Lap cat.


Desk cat.


In the corner by the heater cat. (I live in a commercial loft that makes up for what it lacks in amenities in sheer space and affordability.)

And, finally, a video of a little flirting.

video

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I got nothin

anyone have any ideas for a poll? Megan's been so low on my priorities this week I forgot to think up a new one.
A catch up shorters post and cat porn still to come, sometime before the end of the weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shocking news

libertarians aren't anarchists.
Seems this didn't go over well with some of Megan's fans.

Anyone who has ever observed a two-year-old knows that lying, stealing, and using force to bully those of slightly lesser strength are also natural and normal human impulses. The point is, society is supposed to encourage us to control some of our less noble desires.
I'd snark, but the truth is such basic recognitions by Megan should be encouraged. Maybe she can lear... heh.
In any case, that comment triggered a truly revolting response by a sizable portion of Megan's commentariat. Some focused on the implied, and later made express in a comment of her own, support by Megan for school integration. (Vouchers will take care of the "problem" of mixed race classes anyway, at least where they're seen as such.) I would snark that Megan takes the easy way out in her follow-up post, but in truth I'm glad she stayed away from a racially charged topic. That is always a good thing.
Instead, I confess, I'm shocked:
And I didn't think I could be shocked.

A bunch of allegedly libertarian commenters in this* thread do not seem to grasp the idea that there is any sort of operating manual for society other than what is legal.
*- I didn't leave the link out, she did.
What follows does not sound like it was written by a libertarian, especially not a left-leaning one.
Someone may have the legal right to say abusive things to their spouse, refuse to hire Catholics, or use racial epithets. Indeed, I think they should have the legal right to do all these things. But that doesn't mean that I believe people who do do those things are right. I am not going to smile approvingly and say "Normal human impulse." Society--in the person of you and me, excercising [sic] our own precious right of free speech--should discourage these sorts of behaviors. We don't need laws precisely because the hidden order embedded in our culture does a (mostly) very good job at controlling behavior in these areas.

Society operates on rules. But the legal system is just the tip of the iceberg. 95% of the rules that sustain us--"Don't jump the queue"; "be polite to your mother in law"; "send a thank-you note"--float below the level of our consciousness. They are not codified anywhere, and through long socialization, they have become so natural to us that we are rarely aware of them at all. Libertarians are supposed to appreciate and celebrate the awesome weight of this emergent order, not complain that expecting people to behave like civilized adults without supervision is really just an extension of the state's cold, dead hand.
Moral constraint as societal glue in the place of (additional) legal regulation? I.... jebus. Libertarians are supposed to be glad for the influence of the Catholic Church?
Gittle hujibur ghu tesz? Mulibun! Nuchijan clivon.