Saturday, May 31, 2008

"It Seems To Me"

Remember when Mlle. McArdle started every other item w/ that phrase? Now guest blogger Jon Henke is doing the same.

One might easily disagree w/ his division of the Republican party into three sub-sets. There are other tripartite approaches, which include the money-grubbing section of the party, for one difference w/ Henke's approach, but, really, who cares?

We might notice that Jon's classifications all use the names of individuals as descriptors; Teddy Roosevelt, Goldwater, & Bush, yet I get the idea he doesn't like individuals too much.

...seem to want a Great Leader who can do Big Things.
Further idiocy:
...a lack of publicly appealing, political viable ideas for limiting government has rendered them mostly impotent. The Goldwater Republicans have the greatest opportunity, however, because it is they who will have the most compelling arguments against Democratic and/or McCain poliices [sic], and it is they who will need to begin driving a narrative about the impact of Big Government poicy[sic].
Learn to spell "policy" before you start squawking about it, eh? And please note that the "lack of publicly appealing, political viable ideas for limiting government" is because there aren't any, & there aren't going to be any in the future. The frontier closed almost 120 yrs. ago, & all this blather about "individual freedom" just doesn't work when the chance to run off & homestead your own farm isn't there. Or does J. H. think that every person on the planet is a budding Edison, who will invent an equivalent of the electric light & make a fortune, as long as the gov't. doesn't interfere? He just might be that foolish.

The real fool today is (guess who?) Conor:
This post is sorta required reading if you're trying to stay engaged in the discussion about what exactly libertarianism is.
It's "sorta required." If these clowns can ever make up their minds "about what exactly libertarianism is" & manage to form a party that runs someone other than Bob Barr for president (or dog-catcher) maybe Mr. & Mrs. Average American will pay the slightest bit of attention to them. And if any of them believe that they're going to talk Middle-America out of their "entitlements" in exchange for "individual liberty" or whatever the fuck they want to call being alone & unprotected in a world of predatory capitalists, they really are as dense as they sound.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pigs fly, Pink Floyd reunites again

and I'm going to be glad when Megan is back, apparently tomorrow.
She sucks, but at least she sucks in manageable amounts. Trying to keep up with the output of Conor ADD Freihofer or Tim "It's free, it's freeeeeeeeee, vote Bob Barr" Lee would be like having retarded infant twins with diarrheia, who refuse to wear diapers.
I was not going to spend this week wiping retarded baby shit off the place. That's Megan's job.
And no, not watching that bloggingheads. Yglesias really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really needs to take a class on public speaking.
Project from down low, Matt. Talking through your nose is just fucking annoying to listen to.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Conor Freihofer
actually sucks more than
Megan McArdle

(I know, it doesn't have a reference to a season, and thus is not a true haiku. Neither was his.)

Who Says Bloggers Don't Do Research?

Look what I found!

h/t, Drew, from Roy's comment section.


Sometimes the news doesn't suck.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting Personal

In the never-ending blather about which city is really, absolutely the very coolest city, we are treated to more from Conor F. (He must have more time & Internet access on his hands than I do, as he is outposting his fellow guest bloggers by about three to one. Get a life!)

But let's examine the inner Conor:

I don't care for graveyard rock shows, but I wish I lived in a city where enough stuff was going on that they were happening.
First question: Has he ever been to a "graveyard rock show?" If not, is his dislike one of those "I don't have to jump off a cliff to know it's bad for me" deals? This has also been expressed as: "I'd never go to any of this crap, but it's nice to know it's there, if I ever did want to go to any of it."
I am a man who likes warm climates, laid back people and Mexican food...
Conor, we didn't think you were a goat or a lug wrench, but if you must remind yourself of your manhood every so often, please do it only through typing, not via any less socially approved activities.

Fortunately, he does seem to get out of the house once in a while.

In fact, now that I'm living in Washington D.C., where the social scene more often involves hanging out at friends' houses and conversing over drinks, activities that I prefer to extravagant parties, I've got to say that I miss the New York scene, not for its pretensions, but for the sheer amount of stuff going on at any moment. I never imagined, coming from Los Angeles, that I'd be stunned by the offerings of any American city. I find it hard to communicate to anyone who has never lived there.
May we also point out that

My parent's neighborhood in Orange County, CA

Costa Mesa, where I grew up
are unequivocally not, in any way shape or form, Los Angeles.

(And I'll add that when I had an interest in socializing, even in fabulous Los Angeles, it was generally BYOB at someone's padcrib, just as in benighted Wash. Because that's what I wanted to do, as I knew enough interesting people that I didn't need to prowl bars to find kindred spirits. Tain't what's happening in the free weeklies – it's those you know that make the city.)

Young Friedersdorf (I love to be condescending) will start thinking that quantity is quality if we continue to pay attention. We'll leave you w/ this comment, which for all we know, was posted by one of our own snidesters ('cept for the Limey spelling):

No offence, but it'd nice to see some bloggers on the Atlantic who've been out of college for more than twenty minutes.

A "Just back from Park Slope and, geesh, New York is full of stuff!" post approaches parody.

And, yeah, it's more than the guy's age. It's a type.

Megan may be gullible and not that great a writer, but, man, that girl sure can network!

Well, welcome onboard, Conor. It's your world we're just living in it.

Posted by Everyday is Privileged Kids Day at the!!!

Alright, I'll Bite

Few of us here want to touch ConanConor Friedersdorf's output, but I'm game after seeing this one, in which he

point[s] out that were every woman to vanish from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan tomorrow, the extremist Islamists in those countries would still want to kill infidels, stone gays, etc.
That doesn't mean that fundamentalism isn't, at its root, about the control of women & reproduction. (That's why they disapprove of gay people, because they aren't pulling their reproductive weight in the tribal, "must have more cannon fodder" environment in which they function.) And one must wonder what C. F.'s position on gay marriage is. Funny how the pants-wetting element likes to bring up the "Oh, they hang gay people in Iran," factoid, yet seldom favors gay people having the same rights as other citizens in the West. Even the pants-wetters of the closet case persuasion take this attitude.

And another classic paragraph:

If Senator Clinton's understanding of extremists and fundamentalists is really as simplistic as that she is unfit to head our foreign policy. Oddly a really compelling defense of the above statements is that Senator Clinton, when talking about sexism, can be assumed to be disingenuously spouting anything that might help her politically.
Do presidents actually "head" foreign policy? What's the deal w/ that last run-on sentence? Is Master Friedersdorf amazed that politicians will say anything, & that the unwashed masses want to be pandered to?

And a paucity of commas is no better than a lack thereof, Connie.

So has Henke posted yet?

I've been afraid to load the page today, after what has already come. FFS, Tim Lee said, in discussion of Bob Barr as the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate in 08;

I don't plan to support his candidacy because while he may be the least-bad option on this November's ballot, he certainly isn't the kind of person I want associated with libertarianism.
We're all political geeks here, so I don't need to explain to you why Bob Barr is ratshit, batshit, dirty old twat, sixty nine assholes tied in a knot, hooray, lizard shit, fuck!* crazy, but here's an amusing snippet from his Wiki page:
In Congress, he also controversially proposed that the Pentagon ban the practice of Wicca in the military.
He's also a strong supporter of the war on poor black and hispanic men drugs. There is absolutely nothing revealing about the true nature of those who collectively call themselves "libertarians" that Bob Barr is their fucking Presidential candidate, or that Megan gave someone the space in The Atlantic to call Bob Barr the "least-bad option". Shit, even Megan probably understands Barr is just too obvious a move to be defended in any way. She'll have a post soon after returning about how Bob Barr is FUCKING INSANE, and use his antics for comic relief and to prove her indie credentials between now and November, the same way the right will use Alan Keyes.
And Lee's post was at least literate and displayed an attention span of greater than 2.87 seconds. This Conor kid has no excuse, except the culture he's been raised in. The sheer.... fecality of his work is staggering. I was going to mock a good many of his posts, but they're not interesting enough to finish reading. Instead, I'm just going to quote one of them in full.
Imagine that a Great White shark and a Bengal tiger are going to fight to the death. How many inches of water are needed for the shark to win?
Adult Swim's Flying Shark versus Flying Crocodile was a great bit, four years ago. Conor's post is quite literally the kind of question the kid you dreaded sitting next to on field trips in elementary school would ask, with the added benefit of startling unoriginality. Even in absentia, Megan's efforts are dragging The Atlantic down to new lows.
I'd link to some of Conor's attempts at being "literary" or "reasoned", but that'd just be cruel.
Megan definitely made sure no one would outshine her on this break like Henke did last time. Even if he chimes in with an interesting, thoughtful post exposing honest conservative views, it'll get drowned out in the hyperactivity and constant pooping.

*- George Carlin is the greatest living American. That's his cheer.


After looking at today's output, I'm waiting for Megan to come back to post again. Bleh.

I think we need a contest

Tell me, dear readers, is the following sentence the worst sentence to ever appear on McMegan's blog?

The stuff I saw city officials do knowing that I was a particularly dedicated reporter watching them closely convinced me that during the many times when no one was watching -- for months before I got hired at that newspaper and months after I left, for example -- they were serving the public even less well.

I've encountered more interesting and readable passages in the reading comprehension section of the GRE's. Let me take your hand while I attempt to parse this insult to the English language.

1) Conor Oberst Friedersdorf saw city officials do "stuff."
2) These officials "knew" (obviously, these officials were gnostics) that Conor Bright Lies was a "particularly dedicated reporter" (why the eff is he "particularly dedicated?" Why did Conor feel that being just a "dedicated reporter" insufficiently expressed his point? In addition to being a "particularly dedicated reporter", Conor "watch[ed] them closely"--just in case you thought that having the properties of being a "particularly dedicated reporter" did not contain "watching" the subject of the reporting.)
3) Because Conor saw these officials do bad things, they must do worse things when he didn't see them.
4) The time that Conor "wasn't there" observing city officials includes the time before he was there and the time after he was there.
5) Please ignore the possibility that these officials didn't care about Conor, and didn't alter their behavior when a prepubescent reporter from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin was in the room.

Can the Geneva Conventions be applied to syntax so that we can stop this torture?

I should add that I'm not looking for blogging in the style of Chuck Palahniuk, but I do think you could reduce Conor's sentence to this:

"The horrible things I saw city officials do when I was watching them suggests that they did even worse things when I wasn't there."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quick holiday cat porn

hot off the memory card. Binkley is asleep behind me and being cute.


He moved before I could get a better shot, but he's was still being cute.

Das ist alles, the post making fun of the new kid will come when it does.

(Note for the fastidious: that's cat hair on the chair, and I do clean it, it just builds back up.)

A couple shorters

to catch up before we get to the huge steaming pile of crap this Conor kid, who writes like he's about 5 years old, has produced. Please, Jon Henke, post already.

Woman's work:

I don't mean to suggest, when I say that sexism is a bigger handicap for a presidential candidate than racism, that Hillary Clinton is losing simply because she's a woman. Many people I know think that the Clinton campaign has had only one main problem, but unfortunately that problem is named William Jefferson Clinton. And Ms. Clinton is not a charmer like her husband; her strength is ideas, not charisma. This would, I think, be true if she were a man with all the same genes except the second x chromosome. Indeed, she'd probably never have been a politician in the first place.

But I do think that sexism is a deeper and subtler handicap than racism is when it comes to leadership roles. She might not have won if she was a man. But as a woman, it was harder still.
Let's see now, presuming that Obama doesn't pick a woman as his running mate, which may well be an unfair assumption, when he is nominated he'll make women and African-Americans equal in the number of slots they've held on major party tickets. But, yes, that's comparing Presidential candidates to VEEPs. How's about this? There are 87 women in Congress, now including the Speaker of the House, and approximately 38 black members of Congress, with an overlap of 12 black women. That means there are 75 white women* and 26 black men. That's three to one. You were saying, Megan?

I've been going to a lot of events on the crisis and consumer credit over the last few weeks. And the consensus on this [own to rent] plan is it can't be done, for multiple reasons:
Reason number one; it will not make the already wealthy richer. Reason number two; see reason number one.
The tenants may be willing to invest in upkeep, but who fixes the plumbing when it breaks? The servicers are not rental agents. Moreover, they have no legal ability to become rental agents under their contracts. There is no entity in the position to take the role of landlord to these people. This is seen as the biggest--nay, insurmountable--obstacle. The only way this would work is if the government took possession of the homes, i.e. gigantic government bailouts.
Without bothering to do the least bit of research, I can say with certainty Megan is full of shit here, and trying to use a detail she hasn't personally seen addressed as an insurmountable flaw, as opposed to something that remains to be dealt with. I have no opinion on the own-to-rent idea, I just have no confidence in Megan's ability to honestly represent something she doesn't like.
you're putting a big capital loss on the bank's balance sheet and keeping it there, year after year, rather than writing it off.
(See reason number one.) The banks who gave out loans without the most basic of diligence MUST NOT SUFFER. Otherwise they might learn something.
The rent-to-own plan is an attempt to engineer a bailout for free. And like most such "free" goodies, it seems like it will probably end up costing us more in the long run.
"Us" meaning corporate enablers properly shielded from knowing any of the poor plebs who face losing their home, of course.

As I said, a look at the guest bloggers' output will come later, sometime in the evening most likely.

*- Update:

It occurs to me I'm being stupid in assuming all the non-black female members of Congress are white. Short of the very dubious method of trying to guess ethnicity based on name or going through each of their bios individually there's probably no simple way to figure it out, and I don't care enough to dwell on it. Does five sound like a reasonable guesstimate of non-whitey european types in those 75? So it's almost three to one.

Update the second:

Nutella's comment prompted me to crunch a few more numbers. In current times the primary sources of major party Presidential candidates are the Senate and the governors. All three remaining candidates are Senators, and 4 of the last 5 Presidents have been governors.
There are 16 women Senators, (not 17 as I said in comments) and a single black man, only the third black Senator since Reconstruction, following a Republican man and Democratic woman.
There are 8 women governors and 2 black governors, only the third and fourth in American history (I effed up again in the comments and forgot Deval Patrick in Mass).
Out of 150, that makes 24 women, 3 black men. Hell, there have only been 6 black men total in those positions since Reconstruction, a cut-off which would add a grand total of 2 more.
Megan is full of it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Israel is Awesome

In case you've heard otherwise

brad adds:

Israel has the right to exist, as do the Palestinian people. Neither side has any moral high ground left, and all rational people should care about is how to stop the dying and heal the two cultures. If anyone wants to take a side and debate, there's several million other places you can do that. FMM is about making fun of Megan McArdle's shitty output, not taking sides in an intractable war of attrition. Israel won't be a topic here again, barring extreme circumstances, in which case I'll deal with it and leave taking sides out.

brad adds a little more:

That's not a dig at any of my co-bloggers, just a statement of a new policy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sleepy Time Blogging

Sadly, Miss McArdle's off to the beach for a wk., & will not be steadily torturing us. (Maybe not so sadly.) Is this any way for a patriot to observe Memorial Day, fucking off to the beach? But nature, the blog-o-sphere & The Atlantic abhor a vacuum (insert your own ha-ha here) & the usual suspect guest bloggers are in. None of them have yet typed anything blood-boiling enough to provoke a reaction from this keyboard. Or any other reaction. [Lies down & naps...]

0, zip, nada, goose eggs, zilch

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Beg to Differ

Didn't take long? Didn't the endorsement occur in Feb.? And somehow McCain's flunkies were unable to check Hagee's & Parsley's statements, books, newsletters, podcasts, etc.?

McCain throws John Hagee under the bus
That didn't take long.
We'll note that the story to which she links ( I oughta know, I did a bit on it too) mentions Pastor Rod (legal name: Ralph) ParsnipsParsley as well, but that might be too long for her title...

Another Edition of Megan Talks About Shit She's Ignorant About

Megan attempts to mediate a blog spat between Atlantic colleagues Yglesias and Goldberg. Goldberg says--yes, the same Jeffrey Goldberg who lied on the pages of the New Yorker about Saddam's weapons--that Walt and Mearsheimer "made themselves worthy heirs to Father Coughlin and a long list of antique Jew-baiters." Fascist. I guess this is what counts as 'balance' at the Atlantic.

Megan, surprise surprise, dumbs down the discussion.

She writes:

Israel is not going to do what it would take to get them [the Palestinians] to leave, which is to round them [the Palestinians] up and force them at gunpoint, while killing lots of them, including women and children, to make their point.

Oh holy and morally superior Israel! No way Israel would ever massacre Arabs! Never!

She continues:
Even if Israel did do so [kill Arabs], the international community would stop it. Even the US is not going to support anything that involves millions of women and children being moved across the border at gunpoint when the US followed up the Sabra and Shantila massacres with increased diplomatic, financial, and ideological aid?

Most of the time when I get irate over the presence of apologetics for Israel in the US media I focus my wrath on the institutions that promote apologetics and suppress criticism of Israel. In Megan's case, I don't think that is what is happening.

There's a simpler explanation: stupidity.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh yeah

travel time again for me. Not likely to be posting again till Sunday, just fyi n to shift the burden onto others.
The Mass coast is purty, n clear tonight. I shoulda brought my camera.

But they're still not to blame

Bank on it:

The old adage is that a banker is someone who lends you an umbrella, then asks for it back when it is raining. The banks may find out this home truth for themselves: UBS joins the string of financial institutions looking to raise major amounts of capital to shore up their balance sheets. The institutions that are doing this are, of course, the ones who screwed up most spectacularly in the mortgage crisis. I wonder if the road shows will contain a slide reading: But this time will be different, I swear!
Coherency in thinking and self-awareness are, like, overrated.

Ok, Mom

Tradeoffs: who knew?:

Either we get upset about doing less driving and flying, or we get upset about climate change. We cannot simultaneously fix both problems.
Thanks genius. You mean unless we find a way to replace the internal combustion engine, of course. But why would we want to do that?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Leap of Something

From "No, don't let first cousins marry!" to "Whittle your mating population down to a thousand people and you're asking for trouble," in seven easy lines. Is that a leap of faith or logic?

I've often found that whittling my mating population down resulted in many fewer potential mates, even among those not actually whittled down.

Back to the Future Past

You could read the whole thing, but this is the most fun:

It would be nice if one could win an election on "Don't just do something--stand there!" This would quite warm my little heart. But it doesn't work. Conservatives need to figure out how they are going to roll back the bad ideas and prevent new bad ones from getting through. For that, they need a proposal a bit more eloquent than "Stop!"
No, we're not talking lib- or glib- ertarianism here, Megan just wants the world to stop. Some of the "good ideas" that St. Ronnie of Alzheimeria "brought to the table:"

Reagan did it with tax cuts, big increases in defense spending, and deregulation.
W/ ideas like that...

Megan and Hillary

sisters in victimization.

The privilege olympics: sexism or racism?:

(Opening disclaimer: the sexism in the MSM's treatment of Hillary, embodied by Chris Matthews, has been horrible and inexcusable. I am not making light of this in mocking Megan.)

As the post-mortems of the Hillary campaign gear up, one of the things I'm starting to hear discussed is who suffered worse: Hillary from sexism, or Barack from racism? I suppose you'd expect me to say this, but my vote goes to sexism. I think it is much harder to be perceived as a leader when you're a woman.
Or, maybe, Megan, you're not a leader, yourself, what with the horrible narcissism, elitism, and inability to feel empathy for others?
Women always walk a fine line between looking weak and looking bitchy--indeed, I'm not sure the line's even there in upper management positions. Women have had a harder time making it into the CEO's office. Everyone watched Carly Fiorina's ascencion to the head of Hewlett Packard and her spectacular implosion, with the subtext that maybe a woman just can't run an important company. By contrast, how many of you knew that Stanley O'Neil had stepped down as CEO of Merrill Lynch after criticism of his performance--much less that he was black?
Aside from those of us who read the recent long piece on O'Neil in The New Yorker, you mean, Megan? It only went to great lengths to explore the role of race in his story. Once again, we see how little Megan thinks of her readers.
I don't mean to belittle the racism that clearly still exists, and there really do seem to be an appalling number of people who will not vote for a black man. But we don't have any cultural problem with images of black men as leaders--think of any of a hundred movies where black men are military leaders, politicians, family patriarchs, and so forth. By contrast, there aren't very many images of strong women successfully and sympathetically holding a traditionally male leadership role.
The top two leaders of the Rebellion in Star Wars were women, though Princess Leia obviously got more screen time than Mon Mothma. It's not that Megan is entirely without a point, but at the same time I'll wager black men were not cast in leadership roles very often before the 70s, and even still, most of the movies she'd think of come from the last 15-20 years. It's only been since the 90s that women have gotten these roles, too, major exceptions like SW aside, so I can't dismiss the point, but the hand is being overplayed.
We've heard a lot of worry about what Barack Obama believes--is he a closet black nationalist? But much of the focus on Hillary Clinton is about who she is: a controlling ice queen, a petulant weakling using her tears to garner false sympathy. I've heard more than one man say to me that he couldn't vote for her because she reminds them of their mother. This carries with it a cultural presumption that we don't want a president with maternal qualities. Personally, I don't agree with her message. But I can think of worse things than having the president tell the federal agencies to clean up their damn rooms.
I'm going to highlight a piece of that.
But much of the focus on Hillary Clinton is about who she is: a controlling ice queen, a petulant weakling using her tears to garner false sympathy.
And now, I present Megan's words on Hillary from Jan 9th:
Is it sexist to comment on Hillary's clothes?
(Btw, this was the first time Megan spelled Hillary with two L's.)

Megan on Jan 13th:
Cry once, you're human. Cry all the time, and it's a schtick. A schtick, moreover, that suggests you're a cynical, manipulative woman who uses tears to get what you want.
Megan on March 1st:
It's probably true that Hillary would not be in politics if she weren't married to Bill; she doesn't strike me as someone who's naturally attracted to electioneering. And her senate career is obviously a side effect of his presidency.
I could go on, but methinks the point is made.
Megan, you are amazingly full of shit. It helps, when criticizing behavior, if you haven't been publicly engaging in the exact same behavior.

A relatively quick bunch of shorters

how does she pack so much crap into so little time?

More on WIC: Here's a shocking story of a faceless bureaucracy which has odd requirements on participation in its programs. It would have been much better to have given this woman no aid, and let the market sort it out. The market can solve everything. The market cured my butt cancer.

More on milk: You know the government used to have a really stupid way of figuring milk subsidies, and replaced it with another weird way? PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING! Pork barrel politics proves altruism doesn't work, folks.
Also, the first comment to this post deserves highlight.

I look forward to government pricing of health care under Mr. Obama.
I can't snark that, I can only point and laugh.

Performance anxiety:
Anyone who's seen The Wire is intimately familiar with the process of playing with crime statistics to make them look better, rather than actually controlling crime.
Oh.... fuck.
But remember, schools don't juke the stats, those are numbers you can trust.

Vegan star power: If Oprah goes this whole vegan cleansing period without having Megan as a guest, she's a fraud. Megan IS veganism.

The privilege olympics: sexism or racism?: This one gets individual treatment.

The communications counter-revolution: This just in, Generalissimo Fransisco Brijit is still dead.

Are conservatives out of ideas?: "I want more money" is an idea? "Let's not help people"? "I blame whoever is around that doesn't look like me"? 'Let's pursue policies that are counterproductive to our own benefit and truly fuck future generations"?
If they're out of ideas like that, it can only be a good thing.
"tax cuts are awesome" is not the universal solution to every problem, and moreover, they're totally unaffordable thanks to entitlements. (Obama's plans are totally unaffordable too, for the same reason, but that's a rant for another day).
"entitlements".... like the no-bid contracts given to military contractors making the Iraq War hugely expensive? Megan, you're a real asshole sometimes, like when you post.

Like I said, a closer look at the sexism versus racism post is on deck.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Drinking FMMly, the update

There's new hope for those feeling left out in the HUGE RUSH to take part in a small niche political snark blog meet-up. We've had to push it back till sunday or later, so you can still get tickets, if you hurry.
I'm even getting a haircut tomorrow, so I'll be all sexy n shit.
And only $75, plus handling & transaction fees.
What a bargain!

What do gay folk and polygamists have in common?

It's not a rhetorical question, I genuinely don't know. Let's see if Megan can help.

The ban on gay marriage is sustained not by solemn policy arguments, since there is no actual hard evidence on either side. It's a social taboo that rests on Burkean principles: no society we know of has ever had gay marriage, which maybe ought to tell us something. The legal ban on interracial marriage was a local phenomenon in the South, and the laws were invalidated by a court with a northern majority. Once you have established that society's ideas about what constitutes a valid marriage are not a relevant consideration, I find it hard to see how you can forbid a marriage just because one of the partners happens to also be married to someone else.
I'm trying to be charitable and presume Megan is going to end up in favor of gay marriage, somehow, but that's a very bad beginning. This
no society we know of has ever had gay marriage, which maybe ought to tell us something
stands out especially, because it's so fucking wrong.
The law of averages being what it is, we are probably not the first culture to ever think of the idea. So if it isn't around, this suggests that societies which tried it either didn't survive, or abandoned the practice.
The aboriginal peoples of North America all but died out cuz of gay marriage. You heard it here first.
Next, the blogger Megan is responding to says
Plural unions have historically most often taken the form of one man having many wives. It seems likely in practice it would take that form in the future. This raises many concerns different from those raised by same-sex marriage, including the greater potential for abuse of women and children.
I want to call this a good point, but I'm not sure we can presume same sex families would prove immune from continuing cycles of abuse and violence. Those are related to the family histories of the people involved, not their sexual orientation. Still, Megan's response is fucking stupid.
Huh? How does having more than one wife make a guy more likely to beat his kids? To be sure, polygamy tends to be embedded in societies that tolerate more wife beating. But the polygamy is not the cause of the beating. To make this assertion stick, you'd have to have some evidence that abusive husbands are more likely than others to take more than one wife.
You mean a man likely to see women as chattel is more likely to beat them, too? Bullshit. If Megan doesn't see it, it ain't there.
On first glance, the argument seems kind of plausible: husbands who come from cultures that tolerate spousal abuse will be more likely to engage in polygamous marriage. But think about this. The women in abusive marriages to those men are almost certainly going to be from the same culture, the children of conservative parents. They wouldn't be allowed to marry outsiders anyway; plural or single, they'll end up wed to someone who might have been raised to think its okay to slap your wife around once in a while.
They're gonna get beat no matter what, so let's not blame the mechanisms used to keep these women in effective bondage for enabling the beatings, sheesh.
Then comes a long bit on the respective impacts of gay marriage and polygamy on the... marriage opportunity market and other technical quibbling we can skip.
Megan closes with the following
Ultimately, I think the gay marriage debate made us ask "What is marriage for?" And the answer we came up with is "Dunno, whatever you want, I guess." Having said that, I don't really see grounds on which we can ultimately deny polygamous couples groups the same right.

Let me be clear that this is not some backdoor argument against gay marriage. I frankly don't see why legal polygamy should be any worse than gay marriage. Which is good, because I'm pretty sure we'll see it within the next few decades.
So gay marriage is unknown in human history and probably for good reason, but she's still in favor of it, like she's in favor of letting junkies shoot up, I guess. Polygamy shouldn't be judged by the fact that it tends to be a key part of cultures that are very abusive of women when it exists in reality, but rather in some abstract sense where some swingers want a permanent threesome with legal benefits. Same thing as two men or women in a deeply committed relationship, absolutely.
It's not man-dog love that gay marriage will end up enabling, just polygamy. Then comes man-dog. And, eventually, manbearpig.


Why scrap WIC instead of reforming it?

It's been thoroughly captured by the farm lobby.
You see, there's very, very little soy produced in the US.

Policy: getting there from here:
all the liberals I hear talking about national health care seem to imagine it being implemented in a magic fairyland where the AMA and the AHA have not developed gigantic lobbying arms in order to more effectively siphon cash from Medicare. This enables them to design a perfect system based on cherry picking their favorite features from each European country, rather than working on the assumption that whatever we get in the future is probably going to look very much like what we already have.
You see, even if we overcome those barriers to reform of our health care system.... they'll be barriers to reforming our health care system. It's the Moebius strip version of logic.

Markets are hard:
After a little thought, I'm not sure that I made what I was thinking quite clear on my earlier post on McCain's healthcare plan: markets are hard. We used to think that, like Topsy, they "just growed". The experience of Russian shock therapy belies this. Once bad government regulation has screwed things up, fixing them is not always just a matter of removing the original bad law. Nor of simply willing, via legislative fiat, that a better one shall grow in its place.
That is one dense turd. The opening is funny, like a fart, the middle is all full of crap, and the end... I dunno, I think it's time to end this.

A few things it is wise not to do: Another thing it is wise not to do: publish shit like this under the once proud banner of The Atlantic.

Home, sweet home:
This morning, a bracing dose of reality: Home Depot's earnings have cratered. There is no field associated with housing that is going to be a good place to be for the next couple of years--unless it is nailing foreclosure notices to front doors.
So does this mean the recession is back on now, or just that predatory subprime lenders remain blameless?

Knowledge is power: They're fat because it's their fault, not the system's.

A longer look at the gay marriage =/ polygamy post to follow soon.

Sorry Brad, but...

this may be the worst thing ever.

That feisty contrarian we call Megan asks, 'Should Lori Drew be prosecuted?'

For those who don't like links, Megan is wondering if a 47 year old woman (Lori Drew) who posed as a 16 year old boy on MySpace and courted and flirted with a 13 year old girl should be prosecuted with a crime. BEE TEE DUB, the 13 year old girl killed herself after the 47 year old qua 16 year old said nasty and hateful things to the child on the intertubes.

Megan then offers up this news:

After looking into the case, local and state law enforcement authorities could not find any criminal laws that Drew had broken. But last week Thomas P. O'Brien, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, brought four federal charges against her: one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing a computer without authorization via interstate commerce to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

Then her expert legal advice: "But it seems to me that it isn't a legal crime." Her argument consists off.... oh wait, she just avers that Drew's actions were legal.

Now, I have no problem with a lawyer who offers his/her sober positive analysis of the case, and concludes that a crime was not committed. However, I think it is pretty fucking disgraceful to glibly assert that a crime wasn't committed, especially when the asserter lacks any legal expertise, or acute logical facilities. Glibly dismissing these legal charges as unfounded is even more disgraceful in world where Chris Hansen is ubiquitous and everyone knows that the laws regarding adult online contact with minors are pretty fucking stringent.


Here is a smart post arguing why, based on sound legal principles, the case against Drew is unfounded. Just cus we're fair and balanced here at FMM.


Comment time, from STC:
The essence of this is that if someone hurts your feelings - on the Internet no less - and you are so unbalanced as to go off and kill yourself, they are liable?

Yes, because thats what happened. In addition to fraud and establishing a romantic relationship with a minor. Later, STC opines that "This woman is a bit pathetic." Actually, Drew is the most pathetic thing ever, second only to her apologists.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Going off topic

This post (and even moreso the comment thread following) might be the worst thing I've ever seen.
Then again, I live in NYC, n was in Manhattan on 9/11/01. We who have in literal fact suffered from terrorism deserve much worse in the minds of these... "people", because we want effective counter terrorism policies instead of having the issue misused to justify policies meant to satisfy blood lust and greed. We'd rather be safe than seek misdirected and counterproductive revenge, which somehow makes it ok to wish the worst upon us.
The post is about a remake of that piece of propaganda crap Red Dawn. The blogger says

In my hands it would be set in Manhattan because an island’s easier for the terrorists to defend and chock-full of appeasers in desperate need of a wake-up call. The scene with a herd of Greenwich Village liberals being shoved into burqas writes itself.

Is war the answer now, punk? Oh, it is? Good. Then why isn’t it when the people are brown-skinned foreigners?
Ahhhhhhhh, right wing projection, how common you are.
We, who are the only ones outside the Pentagon to actually have been attacked, need a reminder.
And the comments are worse.
Manhattan is the exact wrong place to set it. Not even Snake Plissken wants to die to save Manhattan. We would just cordon it off and turn it into Gitmo North.
Red Dawn is a redneck shining moment. Folks between the Appalachians and the Sierra Nevada (on balance) do the fighting and dying for this country. I love The Wolverines, but maybe they could change the high school mascot to The Crusaders.
What are the odds that this Red Dawn will be a high school version of V for Vendetta? Remember Remember the 11th of September… as the day GW Bush took over.
Or perhaps the Mexican invasion and the war for Aztlan?
Of course, if Jimmy Carter had been elected to a second term in 1980 the world might have turned out much like Milius depicted in Red Dawn.
Y’know, I’ve always wondered why Leftists tend to flip out at the very mention of the word “theocracy”, as opposed to, say, “Islamic theocracy”, given that other theocratic states such as Great Britain and Japan are relatively benign by comparison.
Two nations we've never had major wars with. And, finally
Let me enlighten you, Templar. Leftists subscribe to a worldview known as Critical Theory, an anti-intellectual philosophy that sprung from a motley crew of communists known as the Frankfurt School.

Don’t assume that “critical” means “critical thinking skills” in this context. Quite the contrary: Critical Theory is ONLY about critisizing the Power Structure, which is assumed to be white, male, Judeo-Christian, heterosexual, and capitalist. The purpose of Critical Theory is to attack, denigrate and weaken the Power Structure in any possible way. The mission is to undermine the legitimacy of liberal, capitist society (epitomized by the west and specifically America) and the authority of the Power Structure. Anything that supports or stengthens the Power Structure is to be opposed and marginalized if not totaly destroyed - by any means necessary.
I'll close with a question, since we're all lefty academics here. Which claim is less accurate, that critical theory forms the basis of lefty politics today, or the description of CT that follows?

(Via Thers by way of LGM)

out-misogynining the misogynists

From the comments on Megan's post about Women in Tech, by John:

women just don't take to geekdom very well. It is not just technology. I don't know any women who are as passionate about their hobbies as the men I know. How many women do you know get into micro-brewing? Or civil war reenacting? Or history? Or chess? Not many. Some get into crafts or sewing bur rarely with the same kind of energy and passion that your typical male goes after a hobby.

Its not so much that John is a retard, or that he's wrong (women aren't interested in history? really? I don't think so) its that misogynistic comment's like John pass uncriticized in Megan' comment section, while overt and pointed ungendered criticisms are smeared as misogynistic.

Sure, kids n shit, but what about Megan?

Credit only where credit is due:

I agree that tax credits for school choice are not a very good idea.
You'll be shocked to learn why.
with a tax credit, you get to keep your own money, while with actual spending, the government takes your money. Yes, well, that is true for you, where you is someone who gets the tax credit. But unless we cut spending somewhere else, that is not true for me, where me is a childless single. Since the government is taking less of your money for other spending, it has to take more of my money to cover the shortfall. This is no different, either economically, or morally, from taking money from me to give to you in order to educate your children at the school of your choice. [lots of italics not reinserted]
Megan, you see, receives no benefit from public schools. She didn't go to one, and she carefully avoids any retail establishment or public service which might employ the product of public schools. Because she, thankfully, hasn't squeezed one out she has no part in that system, except to say it should be replaced with a for-profit model. She does not live in the same society as the rest of us, where schooling the people around us makes for a better place, she lives in a magic world of rugged self-reliance. Megan grows her own food, and makes her own clothes out of cotton she grows, strains, and weaves on her own. (No bleach, she's good to the environment.) She even has her own network of roads, built by her from cobblestones she personally collected, and her own internet.
Shit, she even mined and smelted and forged the steel in her new bike, and grew the rubber trees that produced the tires from seed. The rest of us should pay her for being in the world with us. Taxing single people like her for schools is, like, totally what Hitler would've done.
It'd be much fairer to penalize families for producing new citizens and charge a $100k start-up fee for having a new kid, sparing the rest of us any taxes for that kid. That way single, childless Megan will be able to afford the massive costs of being cared for in her old age in the future when 1% of the nation is under 50.
You live here too, Megan, you spoiled selfish brat.

(N yeah, I know she's talking about tax credits for school choice, not school taxes in general. Let's not pretend there's a difference in her mind. She's bitching about the prospect of losing even more of her money, and only to support something she's supposedly in favor of. Isn't school choice part of the whole charter school boondoggle?)

Down with the nanny state

Megan doesn't like the food options.
WICked inefficient:

I've taken a lot of flak for saying that food stamps are a program whose time has gone. But I hope we can all agree that it's time for WIC to take the long walk behind the barn. The goal of the program is laudable, and even (gasp!) something I think we should be spending government money on: making sure that poor, er, proto-babies get adequate prenatal nutrition. But as it has been implemented, the thing is a massive handout to dairy farmers.
Why does Megan say this? Because soy milk isn't an option under most state's definitions of the program. That's it. Cuz apparently there's a huge demand for it from poor, mostly single pregnant women, and Megan didn't see it listed in a non-binding Federal summary of the program. States determine what is and isn't on their list, as Megan would know if she'd read the entire post by Ezra instead of, say, the title. N btw, Ezra, you (fellow) over-privileged rich white boy? Wtf is so funny about not including soy? Yes, all the anorexic white women who hate themselves and their bodies around you swear by it. This means the state should try to coerce young women into following suit?
Yes, ultimately I agree soy milk should be an option, if only for the benefit of the lactose intolerant, but Megan is arguing its lack of inclusion is evidence the whole program needs to be scrapped.
Put down the "Vegans are evil" picket sign; my problem isn't that we're giving them milk and milk products.
... then why did you say the exact opposite in the previous paragraph?
The problem is that the list of foods available is weird and not particularly nutritious. Fruit and vegetable juice, but not actual fruit and vegetables. Milk products, but no soy milk or cheese. Hey, I don't like either. But there's no reason to give people dairy products, but not fortified soy milk. And juice is much worse for you than the high fiber plant foods in their original state.
So it's actually a subsidy for big orange juice? Btw, Megan, ever heard of juice with added vitamins, like calcium enriched oj? Also, to say again, maybe poor mostly single pregnant women aren't a big market for soy milk, and part of the program's goals is to realistically impact these women's food choices? Oh, also? Soy milk isn't commonly stocked in the small, ghetto style supermarkets and bodegas the majority of women on WIC in urban areas, at least, frequent. How do I know? I live across the street from a major set of projects. There are new yuppie delis that have soy products, but funnily enough, they don't have the "WIC accepted here" signs in their windows. I'm sure the situation is different for poor rural women, that one store in the county that takes WIC surely makes certain to stock soy milk. Huge demand, dontcha know.
Obesity is a much bigger problem for poor people than undernutrition; there's no reason that we should be pushing fattening foods on poor women, except that the lobbies that produce these foods will not tolerate having any of them removed from the list. Meanwhile, there's no attempt to ensure that pregnant women and young children are getting a really balanced diet, even though new research is showing that the different components of prenatal diet may have a large effect on lifelong predisposition to obesity and disease.
So fuck it, don't help them afford food to eat. Scrap the program, give 'em free money, and make sure even more kids are raised on Cheetos and Coke. That'll lower the obesity rates eventually, when they start dying off.
A supposed libertarian is suggesting a gov't program for the needy be dismantled because it isn't intrusive enough. Brilliant.

Me, Myself, & I

This may be a bit unfair (nothing wrong w/ anecdotal whatnot) but again we find McMegan using only her experiences to consider something.

I actually found technology relatively family friendly, if only because women were such a novelty that companies liked having them around.
"Family friendly?" That is so meaningless in this context. I guess she's believes herself to be clever, but there's no family involved, & this isn't really making much mock (if that's even what she intended) of over-used phrases like "family friendly."

Enough quibbling.
When I came in on Monday morning and people asked me what I had done, the answer was usually something like going to a club, or sailing.
Here we'll assume she forgot the phrase "over the wknd." Unless of course "What have you done now, McArdle?" was an oft-asked question everywhere she worked.

But we can see by her clubbing* & sailing wknds. that "journalism" is much more appealing to her. Many more chances for elite activities. How's Chesapeake Bay compare to Long Island Sound, Megan?

P. S.: MBA w/ econ emphasis or whatever, B. A. in English. Not electrical engineering or computer science. Technology "consultant." What do you think she was really doing? Cost analysis or something? Not really science & technology.

*Sorry to turn noun into verb, but it works better in that context than to have re-quoted.

Megan is a Liberal!

How do I know? Well, she calls Noam Chomsky a liar.

After all, that is what liberals do to signal to the center and right that they aren't entirely batshit crazy with their ideals of social justice and hatred of state sponsored murder. Maybe Chomsky embarrassed these folk way back in the early sixties when he realized, along with one other intelligent person, that invading Vietnam and burning the skin off Vietnamese children was fucked up and the argument that supporting the RVN would kill all the Soviets and Chinamen was sans merit. Well all the liberal hawks forgot those lessons, and that amnesia was partly induced by drawing up Venn Diagrams where brilliant and principled scholar Noam Chomsky was relegated to his own little circle with Alexander Cockburn and the Counterpunch Bunch far apart from The Hateful Triangle of the military-industrial complex, frightened liberal journalists, and Arab hating neocons. Not to worry, Liberal Hawks--you can redeem yourself (by yourself, and for yourself) simply by being against the Vietnam war post facto. Or even better, wipe that Yglesias off your donut and support the Iraq war and then let careerism steer you back on the path of moral righteousness. Who the fuck cares as long as your word count is up and the check is in the mail.

I'm sure these people will be fine with it:

Old fashioned cat porn returns

after a delay born of me not finding a need to obsessively take and post pics of what remains the same (boootiful n loving) cat. That said, it's worth showing him off now and then, and here's a now.

He lies like this on hot days. He learned the position from a much fatter cat, I'm not quite sure how he balances. (Clicking this one to make big might be vaguely NSFW, or at least not as cute as I'd intended.)


isn't he?

That's all for now. In case you're wondering, Binkley is always on the same rug because it's under the best lighting in my place, and he's learned to turn away from a flash, making the pics from around there the only good ones.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kindle, Schmindle

Not much activity, there or here. Nap time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fabulous, My Ass!

Ms. Megan says:

Art imitates life

The ever-fabulous Dr. Boli offers
a fable about Myanmar.
So I finally gave in & clicked it. Trust me, it wasn't worth it. None of her commenters thought it was either. It's not art & it didn't imitate life. Is "Boli" the plural of bolus?

P. S.: Get it? It's not, like, ironic, it's a fable, so she called him "ever-fabulous."

P. P. S.: If one of you co-bastards had posted something today, I wouldn't have felt obligated to suffer like this.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Here's to Crime!

Megan says:

I'm not going to dispute that blacks commit more crime than whites.
She doesn't say why she won't dispute it. Can't be proved? Really believes it's so? Not willing to research? Raw numbers? Per capita?

I'll grant that more black people are arrested & convicted for "criminal" activity, but the actual commission of crimes?

Megan also said (in her "long post on race" previously referred to in this pile of electrons):
In a similar vein, I had no idea that black people get followed around retail establishments--even though I worked retail on the (then) very racially integrated Upper West Side.
Oh, those UWS liberals, so anxious to be PC that they won't even follow "those people" around their stores. And seriously, she had no idea? Really? Never heard of the phenomenon? Ever? What is she aware of? While I reserve most of my bile & vitriol for those more significant than our muse (at my own electron dump) & have been a bit leery of the general "Good gawd, how self-centered & self-absorbed can she get?" attitude that is sometimes visible here, this ("...even though I worked retail on the (then) very racially integrated Upper West Side") is just incredible. Is working retail on the Upper West Side the ultimate in retail activity? Once you've done that, you know all there is to be known concerning retail? At a loss for words again.

Note: Forgot to post this drivel earlier. Actual posting time 1951 EDT.

Comment Digging Time!

What's better than a long, boring post on race...racist comments!!!1
Let's see how the rabble roused.

Dan, start us off:

Might the fact that black people are more likely to be followed around the store be due to the fact that thieves are disproportionately black?...If you have two customers, one white and one black, it makes sense to devote your attention to the black one. That's just playing the odds.

Why not just shoot the darky before he shoots you?

Edward Royce says
Honestly I think the day prostitution is legalized it'll be the death of dating.
Um....I'll leave that alone.

Poolside should just jump in and drown:
African-Americans often exhibit an attitude in their social interactions with white people that leads to miscommunication or conflict ... almost as if they are actively seeking proof that racism exists.
Whether or not that proverbial "chip on the shoulder" is warranted is another topic altogether. I think most blacks would say it is; most whites would say it isn't.
Either way, the constant claim of racism puts whites in a no-win situation.

Sidney, poor Sidney:
Given that Nigerian's are notorious for running different email and identity scams (I will cite 60 Minutes here as reference), I find it particualrly curious that more and more Africans are running the doorman and security functions in NYC buildings. Maybe 95% of them are honest, which means 5% are not, which means night time access to an awful lot of buldings and information.

Back to Eddie Royce!
The list goes on and on. There has been very long history of overt and covert racism against Asians. Whether it's pejoratives such as "chink", "gook" or "jap". Whether it was barely concealed anger by WWII, Korean War or Vietnam War veterans. Even children emulating their elders on every December 7th. Asians have undergone just as much discrimination and racism in America as African-Americans. And in many cases now have to contend with racism *from* African-Americans.

So. Why is the outcome different?

Honestly my opinion is: less whining.

Roberto fawns
Between quoting Psalm 73 (actually saying that the news from Burma brought it to mind) and C.S. Lewis, you are one fascinating agnotheist

Spread the love

The real "other brad" has got the right idea.

I'm starting a competition to make the largest donation right now, with my initial bid for first at $500.

Ask a stupid question

... get called a fucking moron.

How many fabulously wealthy Democratic farmers in swing states can there be?

Hey, stupid fucking idiot, you're really really uninformed. Have you heard the word "agribusiness?" Have you heard people complaining about the death of the small farm and the take over of the factory farm? I know you have,you stupid fucking cunt. there are a SHITLOAD of wealthy farmers everywhere, and certainly in the midwest and southwest. Last i checked, Iowa was a fucking swing state you rot-brained shit stain.

I know you guys have missed me, you miserable twerps.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drinking Fire Megan McArdle-ly

Nutella and his gf will be in NYC next week, and since we'll probably go out drinking we might as well see if any of the 10 of you (readership is slowly going up) live in the area n feel inclined to join in. Actually, I know some of you do live in the area, but for all I know you are Megan's Mom. Ifso, sorry, Mrs. McArdle, and please don't vote for McCain.
So yeah, there's no firm plans, just sometime before Thursday. If anyone has interest, speak up or email me at the fire megan gmail addy.

Y'know what?

I'm not going to snark Megan's long ass post on race after all. There's some mockable moments where she uses her own experience of other people telling her their experiences in revealing ways, but the truth is she's trying. Steve Sailer won't like her post, surprisingly. It is a bit patronizing for her to "allow" black folk to be resentful, especially considering I find it expressed more often today as exhaustion, like a tired adult rhetorically asking themselves whether their spoiled child needs to throw yet another tantrum at this precise moment, but I'm also not black so I'm going to shut the fuck up now.


Upon rumination, I think I do have to at least highlight the fact this privileged glow in the dark white woman is producing this content for The Atlantic, instead of one of the many fucking millions of black people in the country. But I am also glow in the dark white (but Scottish, not Irish, eff you bagpipe stealin spudsuckers) so I'm going to go back to shutting the fucking upping now.

Megan Just Left...

...the blogging equivalent of a burning bag of dogshit on our front porch.

I dont have the energy; take it away, brad.

brad adds:

This is Jebus's way of punishing me for never finishing that bloggingheads bit with Megan and Glenn Greenwald.
Damn you Jebus, you bulldyke.

Unions are selfish

and stuff.
Or so Megan tries to claim in a weaselly way,

A couple of days ago a commenter asked me why we couldn't just cut a deal with the teachers unions: higher pay in exchange for surrendering control over work rules. As it happens, I think that would be a very good deal; I don't see how we can get top notch teachers by turning them into underpaid civil servants. I also don't think we can cut that deal.

The problem is, the union sits in the middle of that transaction. And for the union, this is an unambiguously bad deal. They don't get a commission on the higher salary they win for their members. And dismantling all the dispute-resolution and work rule apparatus would substantially slash their power. Problems like this are the reason that the West Coast ports couldn't cut a deal with the longshoremen to pension off the current workers at full pay in exchange for the elimination of their jobs, even though my understanding is that this is one of the options they explored. Full pay for no work would have been a great deal for the membership, but a death blow for the union.
This is a whole bunch of really fucking stupid. The proposed deal would not be a good thing for teachers, because it's a bullshit trade off. Teachers face a myriad of directly competing pressures as is, the last thing they need is to lose any hint of autonomy in their own classroom. There's some jargon at play here, so I might be wrong, but this sounds like another veiled attack on tenure, which any teacher in the world will agree is worth a great deal of sacrifice to protect. Tenure is the only reason truly gifted people have to want to teach; it offers certainty. Low wages, but certainty in them, at least. Take that away, and all that remains is altruism, and maybe masochism.
Now let's step away from the specific case of the teachers' unions to a more general question about the nature of unions. Do they really put their own wellbeing above of that of their membership? Megan certainly thinks so, just like opponents of unions for over a century. Fortunately, we know she's seen season two of The Wire, so Frank Sobotka is available as an example to help explain why Megan is wrong. Let's say Frank's local IBS was offered that deal, where for not working all the union members would get a continuation of their current wages. Only the most senior of the members were able to live off the wages they were making, which is to say, it'd fuck the next generation, who were largely the children of the senior members. Unions, having a greater sense of history and duty of one generation to the next than the average American, are full of men and women who want not just good wages at good jobs, but continuity of culture and community. Frank Sobotka wanted to maintain a place for his family and people in Baltimore, it wasn't about the money, and that, Megan, is what you're incapable of comprehending.
Unions see themselves, rightly, as the last home of the blue collar worker in the US. It's not just about dollars, it's about a way of life, and if you can't respect that, your whole perspective is whack.

A rather important qualification

which is not extended far enough.

while I understand that teachers also lobby for things that are good for kids, like better supplies, this does not make powerful teacher's unions a good idea. Teacher's lobby for kids when it happens to coincide with their interest. Unfortunately, in urban areas, it often doesn't.

I should probably clarify that I'm talking about twenty, maybe thirty failing urban school districts/agglomerations in the United States. I could care less whether Scarsdale has a powerful teacher's union that negotiates triannual ten month paid leave in Hawaii. And the problem in rural areas is not the teacher's unions, it's the geographic fact of no possible competition, and often the net outmigration of educated people who might make good teachers. [my emphasis]
Nevermind the teachers' unions, because of those 20 or 30 districts we should dismantle the entire national school system and start over from scratch with an ideologically driven unproven method that in no way is obviously designed to be gamed into segregation of students by economic class and/or race.
This is rather like the justification for the logging now going on in our national forests; there's a few old, dying trees in those acres, so they need to be clear cut for their own health.
I don't get it. Aristotle was arguably a conservative (arguably), yet they all suck at logic.

She's not wrong

she's just wrong.

What's in a name?:

If you're blogging on Burma, you've probably wondered whether to call it Burma or Myanmar. Turns out they're both right--and wrong. Myanmar is the formal, literary construction, while Burma is the everyday sound. But the r sound in both is a Western addition.
Megan is, like, sooooo down with the common Burmeseian/Myanmarite. That's why she calls it Burma, instead of the actual name of the country as it's called by the rest of the world since the current (very bad) government took over, just shy of 20 years ago.
It's called fucking Myanmar, lady. Deal with it.

The McArdle Curse

The free market murders Brijit.*


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rah Rah! Sis-Boom-Bah!! Go Team Go!!

When Ms. McArdle refers to school competition, she apparently doesn't mean on the gridiron or the diamond, rather that it should be like Ford vs. Toyota, neglecting to acknowledge that students who don't perform can't be fired at will, nor can parents be forced to participate in the educational process. (I suppose she'd say that Ford can't fire anyone because of the UAW, & gov't. regulation keeps Ford from really clamping down on their suppliers, but let's not go there.) If only there were an imaginary "charter school" out in the sticks to "compete" there probably wouldn't be any further problems.

And the problem in rural areas is not the teacher's unions, it's the geographic fact of no possible competition, and often the net outmigration of educated people who might make good teachers.
This I don't even understand:
This is not some crazy right wing opinion about unions in general; it is a specific problem with public employee unions. The cops and firefighters have their own issues, about which I will happily wax lyrical some other day, but in the end most of them boil down to getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to do no work. If the laziest ten percent of New York's teachers spent all day drinking coffee and doing "literature review", this would be a fiscal problem, but not a desperate one. The problem is, we stick the teacher's [sic] union's problems in our classrooms.
Does the second sentence mean police & fire unions are featherbedding? (Maybe we should be setting more fires so those lazy firefighters aren't just sitting around all day.) Or does she mean teachers are not working? Is it only the laziest 10%? How do they get away w/ this, if they do, police, firefighters or teachers? By "teachers union's problems," does she mean lazy teachers? How is that the union's problem? Are the unions a deliberate evil, like the Cosa Nostra, making the school districts hire & pay people who show up only for their checks? Or, or, or?

P. S.: Just occurred to me that there are no slang terms for firefighters similar to those for police officers (cops, the heat, pigs, & so on). Interesting. (Until someone corrects me.)

Have I mentioned Megan's fundamental dishonesty lately?

Megan shares a poignant story of the cracks in the system screwing over real, live people posted in the comments to an old post of hers, in a manner suggesting it just goes to show what she'd been saying. Curiously, she doesn't link to the post, but we'll get back to that in a moment. To this tale Megan adds

I think this illuminates several aspects of the debate over food stamps:

1) The poor really are not living lives of joyous leisure on their frantabulously lavish benefits.
There's more, and I'd respond myself, but I think I'll just quote the original post by Megan whut the comment came from, titled 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.
There's plenty more bullshit in the older post, but that's enough to make my point. Megan, fuck you.


Megan replied to my posting the link to her original post in the comments. Let's see whut she said
I wasn't ashamed of that post, Brad; I just pulled the comment from the app interface rather than the web page, so I didn't post a link. I stand by my assertion: what the poor in America most need is not food.

The reason that a poor college student can't provide for his mother is the way the benefits are structured. If he is legally living with her, she'll lose not only cash, but Medicaid, and probably a bunch of other services like home heating assistance; I assume the same is true of family income, which may be why she's getting low child support payments. For someone with a really expensive and uninsurable condition, this means they have to keep their income very low, even if they could work a little more--I know someone with a debilitating and probably fatal lung condition who cannot work at all because of this, even though she would like to do piecework as able. She also could not get legally married, because her boyfriend was a freelancer who buys his own health insurance, and the marriage would have rendered both of them instantly broke and without healthcare. This is not a good system.
I'll ignore the reassertion, shit, at least she's standing by a widely reviled opinion for once. Let's just get to the second part.
In a sense, Megan is right, the restrictions the student whose comment she posted faces are simply stupid, and counter-productive. Thing is, they exist because of people like Megan and their opposition to helping people in the first place, at least in part. Of course bureaucracies have their own built in inefficiencies, but the system is restrictive because of apocryphal stories like Reagan's welfare queen making the public want tight controls.
Why are conservatives so fond of pointing to the flaws they introduce into systems as proof those systems don't work?

A dishonest definition of wealthy

In a post titled Democrats: the party of . . . rich farmers? Megan quotes Richard Posner who says

The President has expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed Farm Bill wending its way through Congress. He wants farmers whose annual incomes exceed $200,000 to be denied subsidies; the present cutoff is $2.6 million and Congress will not go below $950,000. The President's concern with farm subsidies cannot be taken very seriously, since in 2002 the Republican Congress with Administration connivance greatly increased these subsidies and at the same time repealed some of the modest reforms that the Clinton Administration had introduced in 1996. The Administration's current proposals would, if enacted, be a step in the right direction, but they will not be enacted, and, judging from the 2002 legislation, they are intended I suspect merely to embarrass the Democratic Congress.
Megan, in full Instafuckingasshole mode, adds
What I don't get is why the Democratic Congress is letting itself be embarrassed this way. Of all possible reforms, this would seem to be a no-brainer. How many fabulously wealthy Democratic farmers in swing states can there be?
Here is the NYT article on the topic, which suggests, without being clear, that we're talking about gross income, an important distinction.
A big sticking point is how much money would go to wealthy farmers. Married farmers with joint incomes of up to $1.5 million a year and individuals who make more than $750,000 could qualify for some crop subsidies. The Bush administration has called for much lower limits that would deny subsidies to anyone with an average adjusted gross income above $200,000 a year.
To begin, while I know literally nothing about farming, I have no difficulty believing a farm could have $200k gross income a year and be very much in the red. I have no real difficulty believing a farmer could net as little as $50k from the $750-950 range under discussion, if indeed it's gross. The fact that Posner does not note whether he's talking about net or gross strikes me as a potentially dishonest move, insofar as if it's the latter we are not talking about fabulously wealthy farmers. The fact that Posner, and Megan, are echoing the Bush Admin line is certainly not a point in their favor.
Megan, of course, doesn't trouble herself with such trivial things as net versus gross. There's probably not much of a distinction there for her, though the way she bitches about doing her taxes suggests she tries to write off everything she can.
Starbucks is not an operating expense, Megan.


Anon in comments is correct, I mistook adjusted gross income for gross income. The former is, apparently, much closer to what most of us think net means than to the latter term. In my mild defense I must note that I wasn't the only one to make this mistake, leading Megan to produce a second post on the topic containing actual information, which must have been painful for her.

One last quote

Teachers in inner city schools are dealing with marginalized kids, many of whom have parents who can't or won't cope. This is the hardest teaching their [sic] is, and it's no wonder so many give up.
Heh, indeed. Don't bother to read the whole thing.

Some shorters and a longer look at the farm bill post still to come.

Yet another quote

Furthermore, the commenter assumes that we actually know the optimal level of carbon. I don't think we do.
And who's to say global warming won't have positive effects?
There's a lot of people sitting on future beach front property whose kids or grandkids are going to be very wealthy someday, for example.... provided, of course, that our society doesn't all but collapse under the strains of adjustment, making that value entirely aesthetic.

Another random quote

I too have haggled in Turkey, and I have a feeling I'm pretty bad at it. I bought a rug that I am sure could have been obtained for less money if I were a sharper dealer.
To be sure, I should not have bought a beige rug. But I still love it. And I'm still wearing the earrings I bought in Greece despite the fact that I know nothing about gold jewelry.
Now who can't relate to that?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Coming next year

a new blog.

Fuck Jimmy Fallon.

Why? Cuz.

What a waste. Letterman broke R.E.M. in that time slot. Conan's first musical guest was Radiohead. Dave gave Andy Kaufman and Bill Hicks a home. Upright Citizens Brigade got the exposure that led to their Comedy Central show on Conan.
Now the Dave Matthews band and that schmendrik from the Mac commercials have a home. Wonderful.

Demetri Martin got jobbed, even if he didn't try for it.

A quick quote

yanked out of a context which doesn't mitigate its content.

The main thing to remember about the minimum wage is that it is trivial.
The context is Megan trying to position herself as a fair arbiter of truth.
Yeah, I know.

How to be an idiot

Step 1; take anything Megan says seriously. Step 2; rinse and repeat.

Do Unions matter?:

Liberals often complain that those of us who support school choice are just interested in smashing the teacher's unions. And to some extent, they have a point. To be clear, I do not object to the teacher's unions because they have a union. I object to the teacher's unions because teachers are among the competing interests that run low-income school districts for the benefit of the various interest groups, rather than the children. The union merely gives them more power to move value from children to teachers.

I do not say that they are malicious, though certainly in many cases the union clearly recognizes that they are benefitting their members at the expense of the children. But more of it is that the entrenched institutional arrangements, many of them enshrined in union contracts, are extraordinarily impervious to change. When an entire system has grown up around union arrangements, tweaking any substantial part of it threatens to throw the whole system into disarray.
So, therefore, we have to completely dismantle the system to fix it.
Unions also give teachers power to resist changes that make their jobs less fun. I think the teachers genuinely believe that these changes are bad; but I also think that they strenuously resist learning anything to the contrary. There is really good evidence for the benefits of direct instruction in teaching disadvantaged children. But direct instruction moves the teacher into being more of a technician and less of a creative professional. Ian Ayers talks about this in Supercrunchers, giving the example of bank loan officers, which used to be a skilled, prestigious jobs, and are now almost a clerical role. Doctors and teachers are resisting an attempt to do similar things to their jobs through, respectively, evidence based medicine and direct instruction.
And just look at how well that turned out for the banking industry! Awesome example, Megan. And who knew she now knows how to practice medicine better than doctors? What, are doctors refusing to coordinate their prescriptions with the sales projections of pharmaceutical companies? The bastards, always thinking of themselves and how it'd benefit them to have healthy, living patients.
But it's more than that. In New York, the principal's union resisted an attempt to attract the system's top principals to failing schools by giving them a substantial bonus payment in the tens of thousands of dollars. The union vetoed this because the extra pay wouldn't accrue pension. Huh? It was entirely voluntary, the system couldn't afford pension payments, and the principals would have gotten an extra $25 grand or so. But no dice. Any change threatens the union, because it puts the delicate balance of power between all the competing interest groups in play.
Y'know what'd be nice with a story like this? Documentation. It sure is easy for Megan to make a story sound however she wants if she's the only source for info on it. I'm sure the basics of what she's describing happened, but I'm also sure she's misrepresenting the union's position, or at least giving short shrift to their reasoning. A quick googling provides no info, though I didn't try very hard.
Liberals rejoinder that it isn't the unions--it's the funding/poor kids/infrastructure/class size/textbooks. This sort of thing is hard to disprove conclusively, of course. But here's a data point: New Orleans smashes it's [sic] teachers union; test scores rise dramatically, even though it's still ministering to poor kids testing substantially below grade level.
If there were, say, actual data in the links Megan provides, I might be impressed. The first is superfluous, the second is a NYT article that sort of supports Megan's claims. Certain test scores did rise dramatically, however, since Megan hasn't made it to season 4 of The Wire she might still be ignorant of the phenomenon known as "cooking the books", whereby you redefine the categories to appear to make progress. A massive program put in by the Bush Admin to prove charter schools work wouldn't have any pressure to falsify results, at all. Further, the diaspora of the poorest, and, sadly, the most likely to do poorly, children of NO across the country couldn't have had any impact here. Finally, if you actually read the NYT article, you'll find it closes with the following;
Mr. Vallas attributed many of the improvements in testing to the new teachers.

“The biggest contributing factor was the quality of the instructors,” he said.
Which is why the efforts of Teachers' Unions across the country to raise the level of pay so as to attract better qualified people is, like, bullshit. (No, I couldn't find a quick source of comparison for teacher salaries in NO pre and post-Katrina.) All you need is a massive 'natural' disaster unprecedented in modern American memory to inspire people to give some service to the victims of it. Maybe inner city Chicago could have another fire? It'd be so cleansing.
I hate to say it, but people smarter than me need to start in on demolishing this meme before it gets off the ground. Privatizing public schools is a massively bad idea, which people like Megan are not going to let go of.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to lie via conflation

Rent controlled and rent stabilized are incredibly different things in the context of the NYC rental market. Anyone who's had to navigate that market knows this, but Megan is depending on a limited number of those people reading her work, apparently. In another post on minimum wage Megan includes the following

Rent control was a great deal in New York in 1955. By 1990, rent controlled, or rent stabilized apartments were generally pretty squalid--do not believe television shows showcasing palatial apartments available for a song. Any apartment that great is occupied by a 90 year old lady who moved in during World War II, and you can bet the landlord has a camera on the door so he can prove that whoever tries to inherit it on joint tenancy did not actually live there. More typical was my ex-boyfriend's rent stabilized deal on the Upper East Side--$1400 a month for two small bedrooms overlooking an airshaft, a stove that hadn't worked since about 1970, and don't forget to step over the dead roaches as you come through the door.
To put it in very basic terms, rent controlled means the rent can only be raised a tiny amount with each new lease, while rent stabilized means there can 'only' be an increase of around 15%, depending on certain factors, per new lease, though landlords are allowed an additional bump when taking in new tenants. Finally, these laws only affect a tiny part of the market at this point. Rent controlled places are practically museum pieces, and rent stabilization generally only can be applied to properties renting for less than $2000 a month (tho there are, of course, other factors in determining it) which is not that big a piece of the market anymore.
And Megan didn't mention the square feet of her ex's apartment or the years he had it or where precisely it was, most likely because those factors would actually tell you something. If he had a large, say 600 sq feet or more, 2 bedroom near the park in the low 70s around 2000, he had a pretty good deal, dead roaches in the hallway or no. (N Megan, you grew up in NYC?) If he had 300 square feet near the East River in the low 100s in 1995, then he let himself get ripped off. Megan is lazy, it's true, but she's also intellectually dishonest, and let's not pretend the two are mutually exclusive.
In any case, it's a dishonest portrayal.