Monday, June 30, 2008

Today's shorters and longers

More guns, more libertarian video:

Matt Welch and I have a new bloggingheads up about guns, politics, and other matters of interest. If you are Freddie, Mindles Dreck, Brian Dougherty, Julian Sanchez, or my ex-boyfriend, you should watch it just for the name check. The rest of you should watch it for Matt's dreamy eyes.
Megan is literally regressing in front of our (not quite so dreamy) eyes. Her Althousian trajectory continues unabated, in other words. Soon she'll be making poop jokes.

Summer cooking: raspberries: Susan already touched on this post, but I can't leave the following unnoticed.
Add whipped topping if you roll that way.
I don't know when it became de rigur for yuppie white women to say "roll that way" or "that's how I roll" or any other variant, but it's fucking stupid, ladies. You don't sound hip when you say it, you sound like a 12 year old trying to copy their 16 year old brother, with epic, and comic, fail. (Just for record, it sounds moronic when guys say it, too, and meaning it "ironically" just makes the person an even bigger idiot.)

Question of the day:
Is it really possible that the Large Hadron Collider is going to accidentally end the universe? CERN says no, but every organization has a tendency to believe its own press releases. Discuss.
Is it possible that Megan is actually a reptilian alien working for the Illuminati to dumb down humanity so that we won't even realize it when we're colonized? She says no, but spies always lie. Discuss.

A pack, not a herd:
Commenter Freddiemac asks me whether the vicious pack behavior displayed by girls is nature or nurture.
Now Megan is an anthropologist who can answer one of the most fundamentally vexing questions about human behavior in regards to a feminist hive mind which is out to get her for not wearing the right kind of shoes.
Given its universality, and how young it appears, I'd bet mostly nature with an able assist from the surrounding culture. I expect this also explains the visceral pleasure that most women get from gossip, which most men really don't seem to enjoy nearly so much--the perhaps sad truth is that I feel closer to my female friends when we have gotten through a really good round of "what's wrong with everyone else". Though I don't actually find what seems to be the male equivalent, "who's winning the cocktail party?", any more attractive.
So because Megan enjoys being a catty asshole and discussing the personal lives of supposed friends behind their backs, women are bitches, all of 'em. Megan's personal failings show that the people arguing against her are vicious and motivated by personal issues. This is such blatant projection I'm almost surprised Megan didn't recognize it. (We'll come back to the "winning the cocktail party" bit in a moment.)
But saying "nature" doesn't tell us the thing is inevitable. Lots of behaviors are natural, like rape and murdering strangers, that we struggle mightily to overcome--and mostly succeed. Even if my gender has a preprogrammed tendency to self-define through the people we can exclude from the group, we can rise above that.
It's just human nature to rape and murder, which is why pre-schools are such dangerous places. Kids don't know how to control these inherent, natural urges, which is why they're so cruel and brutal. It says nothing whatsoever about Megan calling herself a feminist that she's implicitly endorsed the incredibly stupid, and harmful, idea that rape has anything to do with sex. The desire for sexual gratification is natural, that much is hard to argue against. Rape, however, is not about the orgasm, but the "power" of violating another person. Unless Megan wants to call that urge natural, she's saying rape is about sex, which is to say she has no idea what she's talking about. Nothing new, but kinda strong proof she isn't a genuine feminist. They tend to be informed about topics like this.
Feminists who use the phrase "anti-feminist" to describe anyone who disagrees with them are choosing to view the world as composed of two mutually exclusive groups: feminists, us; and the bad people who have not joined the group and are therefore our sworn enemies. They are choosing, too, the nastiness that tends to result from giving into our baser primate instincts.
No, Megan, feminists who label you an anti-feminist are simply empirically correct. You're actually quite misogynistic in a number of your expressed opinions, such as calling women inherently gossipy Mean Girls, and you neither have absorbed the most basic lessons of feminism nor done anything to contribute to the cause. In fact, you argue against feminist positions and try to justify many of the worst stereotypes about women and feminists. That's why they call you an anti-feminist. It's not us/them, it's that you have staked out a position that is anti-feminist. You can't understand this because, being a horrible narcissist, you can only see that you aren't having your idiocy indulged, and you think feminism means you get what you want because you have a vagina, which is wrong.

Yes, society is gendered: Now we get to watch Megan misuse the terminology she's half-absorbed from her limited actual investigation of feminism to try to justify her half-assed assertions about human nature, this time as it involves men. Tomorrow Megan will make sure to deeply offend as many kinds of transgendered folk as she can, in the spirit of being inclusive.
I've had about ten requests from men to explain the phrase "winning the cocktail party". None from women.
Where do I put the [sic] in that quote? (And Megan, you've driven off your female readers. Even Anonymouse has been giving you grief. That's why they aren't asking you what the fuck you're talking about.)
A male friend, who spends a not inconsiderable time cruising feminist sites, was one of those who asked what it meant. I find it odd to realize that most men don't observe something that is obvious to every woman I know: that there is a competitive male dynamic to groups that is completely different from the way female groups act.
In groups of fratboys, no matter their age, sure. In groups of adult males, not so much. Megan is saying either she mostly hangs out with shitty people, or she has no idea how the male mind works and has accepted the same empty pop culture definition of masculinity that she has of femininity. Guys are jocks, girls are gossips. I think Megan lives in Archie comics.
[Men] don't know, of course, because unless the group is overwhelmingly female, the dynamic of any mixed group always defaults to male, with women fading back into supporting conversational roles. Maybe it's the kind of thing you can only observe by contrast to the extremely anti-competitive nature of female groups.
"Anti-competitive nature"? What the fuck?
Granted, my experience at Vassar has biased my selection sample, but women are just as competitive as men, if not moreso. Guys tend to pick one or two things to compete over, whereas women seem to have much more detailed scorecards, in my experience. Forget Archie comics, I think Megan lives in "Little House on the Prairie".
The easiest way to put it (and this is hardly original) is that men in groups are focused on their role within the group. Women in groups are focused on the group. Men gain status by standing out from the group; women gain status by submerging themselves into it--by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves.
*sigh* This bullshit is so devoid of actual meaning that even Megan would attack it if it came from a critic. Megan is trying to use the cultural tradition that women should be submissive as proof women are submissive. That is the very heart of sexism, and most bias. Society forces a group into an unpleasant role, then points to the role as proof the group is inferior. It's one of those unfortunate things that link women with racial and sexual minorities in regrettable ways, and Megan is trying to use it to justify the claims she pulled out of her ass. And what I, at least, find most annoying is that Megan thinks she's being enlightened about gender by drawing on these traditions, and not at all judgmental.
Both these styles have advantages and drawbacks. I'm not trying to establish that one is better than the other. But I'm kind of shocked, though I shouldn't be, to realize that men don't even see it, the way they don't see catcalling, because it never happens when they're around.
And she closes with a blatant attempt to kiss the ass of genuine feminists with a nod to an odd phenomenon and passive aggressive swipe at men. It's our fault we don't see women being catcalled, because we choose not to. Megan doesn't even understand that misandry isn't a feminist virtue.

I feel bad for Kathy G and the rest of the Mean Girls who'll feel forced to read and potentially respond to all this. I can't imagine how infuriating it must be to be lectured about feminism by a misogynist and misandrist, especially when feminism is your passion and calling.

Quick note

Amanda Marcotte and the inimitable Kathy G are also Mean Girls, to steal Kathy's phrase, and boy oh boy is it gonna be fun seeing Megan respond.
I'm waiting for the post arguing that these feminists are actually anti-women, in that they like, totally aren't supporting and empowering Megan in being a complete asshole. We all know it's inevitable.

Quote of the Day!

But I'm kind of shocked, though I shouldn't be, to realize that men don't even see it, the way they don't see catcalling, because it never happens when they're around.

She is shocked that men don't see what doesn't happen around them.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this women IS paid for her insight.

Time-Traveling Blogger Beats Dead Hippie

By David Gutcheon|McClatchy Newspapers

A blogger in the employ of The Atlantic Monthly magazine traveled back in time to beat a dead war protester, it was discovered today.

Users of the internet noticed an alteration in a famous image of the May 4, 1970 violence at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. That Pulitzer-prize winning photograph, taken by John Filo, showed the body of Jeffrey Miller, one of the four students fatally shot by National Guardsmen during a campus protest, lying on the ground beneath another, distraught youth, Mary Ann Vecchio.

In the altered image, Ms. Vecchio's visage has been replaced by that of Megan McArdle, who blogs for The Atlantic Monthly and is shown brandishing a length of 2" x 4" pine lumber over Mr. Miller's body.

At press time, Ms. McArdle had not responded to numerous press inquiries and is believed to be under questioning by Federal authorities. Her employer issued a brief statement, expressing some concern for the alteration of the historical record and apparent mistreatment of a corpse.

The question of how Ms. McArdle was able to manipulate the space-time continuum remains unanswered, but a colleague of Ms. McArdle claimed that he'd recently overheard her talking about a "time belt" while in the Atlantic Monthly's men's lavatory. "Ever since that [Village Voice] column pegged her as a lipstick libertarian, she's been [a] persona non grata in the ladies room," said Andrew Sullivan, author of "The Soul of a Conservative" and a frequent guest on political talk shows. "She said something like 'Time belt, check,' then just a lot of muffled grunting."

Early speculation that Ms. McArdle's appearance in the photo was an elaborate hoax was shunted aside when it was discovered that John Filo's original negatives registered the change, as well as the negatives for images taken by another photographer on the day. The 2" x 4" shown in Ms. Mcardle's hand has apparently been recovered from the living room mantle of her Washington, D.C. area home. Preliminary analysis of human tissue found on the weapon has linked it to Jeffrey Miller.

Friends and professional acquaintances of Ms. McArdle were notably unified in offering up an explanation for her behavior. "She's wanted to beat a hippie with a 2" x 4" since she was 7 years-old," said one libertarian blogger, who, like others interviewed, asked to remain anonymous. "I presume she thought that this was the least harmful, and least legally actionable, way of going about it." Others agreed, with one liberal blogger adding, "She must be disappointed that she couldn't find a dead black hippie. She thinks that black people smell funny."

Dr. Jennifer Stumpf, a theoretical physicist at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies, suggested that Ms. McArdle might have manipulated time by some combination of technology and an abstract concept known as the Loop of Infinite Self-Regard. "Basically, LOISR posits that an individual could, conceivably, travel backwards through time by shutting out all sensory input and focusing on themselves, generating a singularity of consciousness." Some guidance system would be needed to limit the traveler's range and number of destinations, otherwise, "They'd be all over the past all at once," said Stumpf.

Megan McArdle's colleague Andrew Sullivan, for one, finds Stumpf's theory plausible. "Talk about a loop of infinite self-regard. That's why Megan was grunting: she was shoving her head up her ass."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Too good to pass up

Statistics are a feminist issue:

Prominent feminist blog #4 to jump on the horrible gun statistics round robin.
For those keeping score at home, that's Feministing, Feministe, Jezebel, and TAPPED. Excuse me while I break out in a fit of childish giggles.
Ok then, where were we?
For all that Feministe, in particular, is fond of labelling me "anti-feminist", I think the feminist movement is doing something important. Society treats men and women differently in ways that it shouldn't. I'm glad that there are people who focus their lives on changing that--even when I disagree with them; even when I think many of the battles they have chosen can't be won.
... giggle break time, again.
And we're back. Time for Megan's Very Serious Critique of modern feminism.
There are three things I really dislike about the feminist movement, all of them sadly reinforcing stereotypes about women.
Question; is this the funniest post Megan has ever written? I'm voting yes.
1) The way that thinking women should be equal is assumed to be necessarily equated with a left economic agenda, and disagreement is treated as a betrayal.
So wait, being completely at odds with a core aspect of feminism, namely a concern for the welfare of humanity that Megan wants to reduce to ideology, and receiving a negative response to that antagonism shows that women really are bitches? This truly is the funniest post of Megan's career.
2) The practice of labelling anyone who doesn't share their agenda as an "anti-feminist". Anyone who has gone to an all girls institution has probably noticed what I did at my girl's camp: every year, every single cabin broke down along the same lines. In the group of five or six, there was one girl who was picked on, one girl who was neutral--and the rest ganged up on the "out" girl. The need to shore up group solidarity by labelling someone as the enemy is probably the least attractive feature of feminine life in America, and it's pretty disappointing to see it so widely reproduced in a movement that's supposed to be liberating us from tired gender roles. I understand wanting to say that people who disagree with you shouldn't use a label you think is important. But I hate the term's implication that anyone who disagrees is an enemy.
There's almost a quasi-respectable opinion here, but Megan can't see it for the personal trauma. Women are very much not immune from the drawbacks of tribalism, and sometimes some feminists lose sight of this fact or don't recognize it. But that fairly minor nit to pick with individuals at specific moments has limited, if any, application to feminism as a whole.
Also, being against feminists kinda fits the label "anti-feminist".
3) The practice of handing around bad statistics like Grade Z Oaxaca Ditch Weed on the last night of Senior Week. It's bad enough in itself, but it also hideously supports stereotypes that women can't cope with real math. This is certainly not a practice limited to feminism--any political movement does a lot of it. But many of the worst statistics come out of women's study and feminist advocacy.
Alright, it's not funny anymore. I hate wimmin for being purty and expecting me to treat them like humans if I want to share in orgasm producing activities with them, and even I'm getting pissed off by Megan's passive aggressive assholery here.
the silly assertion that we know how many women are helped with guns vs. hurt by them, when the data needed to decide such a claim are unavailable, and the coding problems enough to make Jesus weep.
Megan, you began this by asserting women should get guns because it'd help them, which is what the fucking blogs you're calling catty popular girls ganging up on you are responding to.
Having written a follow-up posts [sic] on exactly why you can't infer from flat tabulations of shootings that guns hurt women more than they help, it's pretty discouraging to see four feminist sites link the original with exactly those sorts of ham-fisted statistics.
"A follow-up posts".
Megan's argument boils down to these silly girls don't understand math because they didn't read the follow up post where Megan admitted she has no evidence to back up her assertion by accusing her opponents of the same. She dismisses any studies they might bring up preemptively with "girls are bad at math", because these teams of trained experts didn't check with Megan McArdle before undertaking these studies, conclusively showing that girls are bad at math. Only Megan is aware of potential problems with studies like these, whereas the PhDs and such conducting them are incompetents.
No, it doesn't matter which study. If Megan doesn't agree with it, it's not statistically valid, because feminists who don't accept her authority on things she's unwilling to so much as argue honestly are clearly stuck up snobby bitches who are bad at math.

She didn't take the weekend off

Instead, she turned the idiotic babysitting post into a whole series, because when everyone disagrees with her it's because we don't understand what she meant. It couldn't be that a blogger who accuses her critics of sexism has retrograde opinions on the value of her own gender, could it?
No shorters, longers.

What's in a skill?:

But isn't childcare skilled labor?

In some trivial sense, all work is skilled. Walking is a skill that takes years to master. So is carrying items from point a to point b. But when the majority of the population has your skills, we do not refer to the employment of them as "skilled labor".
This is going to be painful. It's a good thing I'm such a misogynist I can agree with all the stupid shit Megan is about to assert, otherwise, I might find it offensively dim.
Childcare is hard. I would far rather do almost anything else than care for someone's baby full time (I am told I will probably feel differently about my own, in the event that any arrive). That doesn't make it skilled. Cleaning houses is also incredibly difficult. But assuming that one has had a semi-normal upbringing, one can master the tasks involved in well under a week. After that, the main skill is not jumping off a bridge on the walk home.
Raising a human being and changing someone's dirty sheets are, like, totally equivalent, at least insofar as Megan has no experience with either.
There is a lot of talk about the way that traditionally "women's" professions are devauled [sic], and I think that there is something to that, but those women's professions also have odd characteristics--like flexibility in hours, and the ability to take long periods of time off without suffering much of a wage setback--that make direct comparisons somewhat more difficult than most people quoting those statistics take into account. We can have a long, elegant discussion about whether all professions should offer such perks, but the fact remains that those benefits have economic value, and you have to pay for them by accepting something less elsewhere.
Yep, Megan just decided the "mommy track" is a benefit system, probably because it's something she's never really thought about. Also, where are these magic "mommy" jobs where your hours are so flexible and your options so vast? My Mom had a job like that, but she quit her job at the state and went to work for my Dad to get it. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say most women don't have that option.
I'd say more about how clueless Megan is about the mommy track, but I'm a guy and a grad student, so I can't really say much. I do know that in academia you don't want to get pregnant before you get tenure, which only means most academic women have to wait until they're nearly 40 to consider it a real option. But really, it's stunningly stupid for Megan to call the mommy track a benefit. You'd think with her dedication to her career Megan would at least be sympathetic to the way having a kid lowers the glass ceiling on many a career, but she's probably trying to make a virtue out of deciding not to reproduce. Women who trade career for family, to whatever degree, choose the Mommy track, making it a benefit. I really can't believe she's arguing this.

Let me put this another way: Childcare Q&A:
The basic argument is that we should have highly skilled, quality childcare available for every child under the age of five in America. We should ensure this by paying a high wage and good benefits to those workers.
Let's unpack this a little.
Let's call skilled childcare workers someone with a degree in early childhood education. Those degrees currently pay pretty well, actually--north of $35,000 a year, according to the best estimates I can find on the web.
Now, we could ask whether $35K a year really is being paid well, but let's instead notice that Megan is blatantly cooking the books. When I think "skilled childcare worker" I think of a physically fit grandmother working as a nanny, not a special needs teacher. Or I think of one of those young, beautiful nannies that well off Upper West and East Side families employ to determine whether the husband will remain faithful. These nannies earn major money, but at least part of that has to be considered a modeling fee. The talented grandmas face a crapshoot and are just as likely to make nothing as a huge fee. In any case, here's Megan's point
Say we pop the little beauties into daycare at six months and leave them there until they're five. By my math, we'd need the following:
650,000 people caring for the nation's infants.
1 million people caring for the nation's toddlers
2 million people caring for the nation's 2-4 year olds.
Call it 3.5 million people, conservatively. The pricetag on just their wages would be $140 billion a year. You generally estimate 30-50% on top of salary for payroll taxes, training, and a decent benefits package, so call it $200 billion a year. That's before you do anything like heat the daycare center, buy insurance, pay rent, put someone in charge of handling the administrative work, and so forth.
Now, you might wonder how much is already being spent on child care in the US today, but Megan won't tell you, because she wants you to think we need to come up with $200 billion from scratch. My guess is she's more concerned about corporations having to give up a tiny sliver of their sacred profits to provide adequate day care for their employees than the difficulties of logistics and public funding.
But of course, at the current price, we don't have anything like 3.5 million women* with early childhood degrees scrambling to work in daycare centers. In order to get those women, I presume we will actually have to raise the price of their labor. Why? Well, ask yourself why you want this fabulous childcare. Answer: you do not want to spend your entire day in the company of one or more toddlers. That's your fascinating, adorable toddler. Presumably even less do you want to spend your entire day in the company of someone else's snotty nosed brat, getting sick every month from whatever the children are passing around, changing forty diapers a day, toilet training seven or eight children at a time, and so forth.
Yes, you want childcare so you can get away from your awful, loathsome children, you horrible mothers you, not so that you can go and earn the vast sums needed to provide for said child or continue to have any kind of existence of your own. Megan doesn't like your kid, so fuck you, breeder, don't expect her to chip in.
There is something truly odd to me about highly educated people who simultaneously believe that they have something better to do than employ their degree in singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" seventy times a day, and also that there should be a large supply of bright, educated people who choose to do just that. There are very special people in the world who genuinely long to spend the rest of their days caring for small children. They are very rare.
No Megan, you just don't have a soul. If taking care of kids paid respectably a lot more people would consider it. Know why? Cause being around kids is awesome. They're full of joy and love and wonder and play, and it can be tiring, but it can make you younger, too. If a childcare worker isn't overburdened their job can be a wonderful thing. But Megan thinks it's only genetics that makes someone enjoy being around children, because she's dead inside.
I'm not talking about caring for your own children--even though I have yet to meet anyone under the age of sixty who has uttered both these sentences to me:
"I really loved my job."
"I decided to stay home with the kids."
Notice the qualifier? Maybe that's because it's become nearly impossible to afford a family on a single income in the last 2-3 decades and staying home with the kids isn't an option anymore? Nah, Megan's incredibly qualified and specific experience here must be telling in the ways she means, which isn't clear to me but seems to prove that women only go on the mommy track because they want reduced expectations and income and prospects.
But nature prepares you for the difficulties of caring for your own child by flooding you with neurochemicals that make you fiercely interested in its life. Very few people experience that same feeling for any random group of very small children.
Hence "women and children first."
Childcare is extremely tedious. Bright, educated people rarely voluntarily seek tedious work. This is why even most people with degrees in early childhood care do not actually provide day-to-day childcare. You will have to spend a phenomenal amount of money on salaries to attract these high-quality workers you believe your children should have--indeed, in most cases, much more than either mother or father makes.
I made you read that to set up this.
I love children, and wouldn't mind having some of my own, circumstances permitting. But the very mothers flooding my comments with angry dissertations on the appalling state of American childcare also dwell quite lovingly on all of the insane tedium of doing nothing but provide it to their own children. There is a pretty deep disconnect here.
Please, Megan's ovaries, give out early. It'd just be cruel to let her bring a child into the world, both to the child and to the people who'd have to deal with such an emotional cripple.

Being a stay at home mom is hard, cont'd:
There are a couple of commenters and emailers who declare that I have no idea what's involved in being a stay at home mom--not merely the childcare, but the cleaning, the laundry, the bills, the scheduling, arranging for repairs, and so forth. These people seem to be under the impression that I have a staff of ten or twelve, or perhaps live in the magical fairy world of single people where my air conditioner has not just broken, and the bill-paying gnomes show up once a month to organize my personal finances and regrout the bathtub. Sadly, I too do laundry, cook meals, pay bills, get the car serviced, repair broken appliances, wax the furniture, wade through accumulated mountains of paper, wash the dog, clean the drool off the walls, and so forth.
Yes, Megan did just compare caring for herself to having a child. She really is that fucking stupid.
Moreover, I come from a pretty large extended family, and have put in my time as both a remunerated and an unpaid childcare worker. I am familiar with the operations involved, and rest assured, I can do all of them except breastfeed (right now, anyway). And just to put everyone's mind at ease, I do know at least enough to put the formula in the bottle and the strained peaches in the dish that your child is about to throw onto the floor.
I went to Vassar, I totally know what women are going through when they're on their periods. I totally know what it's like to be a lesbian. I am aware of all womanly traditions.
I have, believe you me, endless respect for the fantastic amount of labor required to care for a child, and my hat is off to each and every one of you who has voluntarily undertaken this herculean task. But it is not "skilled" labor in the sense of "something comparatively few people know--or can quickly learn--how to do." It is particularly not "skilled" when we are talking about childcare, rather than parenting. Their job is to tend to your child's physical needs and keep him or her occupied. You still have to do the trickiest part of raising a decent human being.
I so want to make a crack about Megan's parents here, but I'm going to pretend I'm better than that. Besides which, personally, I think it takes a great deal of skill to be a good childcare worker. You have to have extraordinary amounts of energy and self-control. You can't get mad, you can't reason with a hyper kid or one throwing a tantrum, and you have to deal with asshole parents with no sense of reality. If managing all that isn't a skill, what is?

More thoughts on childcare:
A reader (gender unknown) says something I've heard a lot of guys say: that I have the good fortune to have a career where I can work from home.
Well, sure. As long as there are no children in it.
Having small children and writing is no more compatible than having small children and being a lawyer. For the first five years, childcare is constant. I might be able to freelance an article here and there provided my husband cared for the children while I wrote. But when a child is in the house, and you are responsible for it, you don't do a damn thing that requires more concentration than running a load of laundry. I always laugh at the men I know who entertain fantasies that their wives will bring in the major salary while they stay home with the kids and write. If you are of this class, take a daytime babysitting job for a day and bring some work along with you. Report back on how far you got. My bet is that you didn't even get a paragraph finished.
Yes, Megan is lecturing men about being inconsiderate of the demands of childcare after all that. Yes, Megan thinks she's a feminist.
Oh, also, Megan? Maybe you shouldn't lecture people about a situation you've never experienced? Just maybe.
Guys do babysit, too. I did plenty, back in the day. And I'd sometimes bring homework with me, which I'd do when the kid was napping, or watching tv, or playing on his own in the corner. No, I didn't have to do the laundry or clean the place, but if you're well enough off to comfortably raise a kid on a single income you likely can afford a maid and/or part time nanny. Also, once the kid is in pre-school you kinda have half the day to yourself, and then the whole day come 1st grade, unless you expect stay at home dads to conform to the archaic gender roles pop culture assigned to moms and spend all day baking cookies and making chicken pot pies. Shit, about half the comments on this post are by guys whose personal experience disproves Megan's assertion, including one guy who wrote five books before his daughter turned five.

It's almost like talking out of her ass does Megan a disservice, in that it makes her constantly wrong. Ah well, at least we can be sure she'll post about this topic a lot more. She's never met a hole she can't make deeper. Expect more unfounded assertions about the impossibility of stuff she's never experienced in the morning.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Like the empty calories of reading...

Holy shitting circus seals, she's definitely taking a break today. I have never been so stunned by such a dazzling display of vapidity. You hardly need to finish her fucking titles before you realize what an idiot she (and her audience-assuming they enjoy this kind of crap) is.

The economics of childcare
Oh brilliant muse, please, answer the age old question as to why babysitters require so little pay?

SPOILER ALERT: It's because baby sitting is EASY AS SHIT! That's why it's one of the few things, along with flipping burgers, we let teenagers do!

By request: those crazy kids with their hip hoppety music and their baggy chinos
Proof she's voting for McCain; she actually just wrote a "kids today" post. She thinks she's being trenchant by pointing out older people don't like newer people's music as a rule. You mean music hasn't been getting consistently shittier since the middle ages?

WOAH! Slow down their, McBrilliant!

By request: dating games
Please, please, give me some dating advise. I'd like nothing more than to hear the about romance from someone who's a hop and skip from old maid status. Please, how is it that you managed to show men how repulsive you are so consistently for so long? I need to know what to look for when I decide to not date some sort of pseudo-intellectual, cold hearted, self-important over-privileged shit pile.

Bonus deep insight: Women who take advantage of men and get them to buy them drinks are being shallow.




Daniel Larison=really smart with an acute moral sensibility.
Megan McArdle=none of the above.

brad adds:

Megan McArdle's talent, like the need to invade Iraq, totally exists. David Brooks has never been wrong in his life.
Also, to be lumped in a group with Ramesh Ponnuru is not a complement.
It's like being called a hip new comedian along with Dane Cook, Jimmy Fallon, and Carlos Mencia, by Carrot Top. Not a good thing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not shorter

Gun statistics:

Now the gun controllers pour out of the woodwork to claim that you're more likely to kill yourself or a family member with a gun than a criminal.
Some of the people deploying this statistic really ought to know better. Composition fallacy, anyone?
These are not double blind experiments. Guns may be the weapon of choice for all sorts of crimes; that does not mean that they cause the crimes.
Yes folks, Megan quite literally is about to argue that guns don't kill people, people do. And I'm a "gun controller", not opposed to gun violence.
Men like to kill themselves with guns. (This is not culture-specific; women tend to choose poison everywhere, presumably because of some deep fear of disfigurement). Gun suicides tend to be successful. But this does not mean that if you took away the guns, people wouldn't commit suicide. ... Think of it this way: most people who choose to wear high heels are women. That doesn't mean that if I threw out my Manolos, I would turn into a man.
2 questions. 1, Has Megan written this to so piss off her opponents on this issue that we want a gun? 2, did I just make an implicit threat that now allows Megan to shoot me in self-defense?
Similarly, (a small number of) men like to murder their families with guns. But they also like to murder their families with knives, baseball bats, and their fists. Taking away the guns might somewhat reduce the number of homicides (it might also increase it; you're more likely to recover from a fatal-looking gunshot wound to the stomach than from having your head banged against the floor 80 times). But spousal murder is plenty easy without a gun.
Now compare this to the actions of people who are not looking to commit homicide or kill themselves. What are they likely to do with a gun? Brandish it or fire a warning shot. If they do shoot someone, they are likely to stop as soon as that someone is disabled, and call for an ambulance.
What does this have to do with.... anything?
Most importantly, almost no homicides or shootings go undetected. On the other hand, many people who wave a gun at someone threatening, and thereby cause that person to go away, don't report it. How many? We don't know, because they don't report it. But I didn't report the mugging I foiled last January through strategically hunting for my keys in a well lighted portion of the street. I doubt I'd have been any more likely to do so if I'd waved a gun at him.
You've reported it on your blog at least twice now, Megan. And you do realize you just showed why a lethal device isn't necessary to foil a potential mugging?
Now, it is possible that having a gun is actually on net dangerous to you and your family. But we have no evidence to support this notion, because all the statistics on the subject are crap. The denominator is what criminologists call a "dark number": one where there is no way to arrive at any reasonably credible estimate of its value.
And because Megan is telling you this, a completely non-controversial claim, you will accept it. Facts, statistics, studies, and any other form of documentation and supporting evidence miss the point that guns don't kill people, people do.
Look at the good longitudinal data we do have: liberalizing concealed carry--the right to have a hidden gun on you at all times--hasn't resulted in the predicted rash of deaths. It turns out that suicides and would-be homicides weren't paying much attention to the legality of their actions. It also turns out that having a gun in your hands does not seem to turn a previously law-abiding citizen into a spur-of-the-moment killer. It wasn't totally unreasonable to fear that guns might turn altercations into homicide, but the evidence from states that have moved to shall issue models shows that they didn't.
Which makes it totally ok for people to be carrying loaded firearms around in public places, like, say, bars.
Megan cites, as evidence of all her bullshit claims, a very dull post by an academic about a disagreement between him and another academic written in academese. The disagreement does seem to be related to the veracity of commonly known gun statistics, but the post doesn't contain... facts, just assertions about the other academic's claimed mistakes.
People who shoot other people, or themselves, are not ordinary folks whose gun let them vent a moment of madness. They're mostly people with long histories of all sorts of violence towards either themselves, or others.
Which, of course, is why we should remain a society where such people have easy access to firearms.

Oh, shit

Megan is having an "up" day. Lots of posts, lots of lack of consideration. This is just sad. Shorters, or semi-such.

Heller affirmed!:

I have no idea what the Supreme Court ruling means yet, exactly, because I am waiting for the legal scholars to explain it all to me. Apparently, they want to read the opinion first.
And still she posts about it, and continues
At least one good thing has come out of the Bush presidency. Let's hope this blow for individual rights outlasts the executive power grab. I think the Bush administration genuinely believes that the executive should have more power. I also think they're desperately, hopelessly wrong. But of course, since I think all government officials should have rather less power, I would say that, wouldn't I?
Yes, you would conflate the creation of an Imperial Presidency with "extralegal" surveillance and detention powers with wanting to get rid of food stamps, wouldn't you?

The problem with Africa: I'm not saying colonialism was good, just that it was more efficient. Africans died to generate sacred, blessed profits back then, now they die because colonialism helped destroy the underpinnings of civilization on the continent.
So why am I defending colonialism? As I said earlier, I'm not; the fact that most Zimbabweans might have been better off under Smith doesn't mean that they didn't deserve to be even better off under a government that didn't think blacks were not quite human. However, on any metric I can think of--ethnic violence, political rights, economic prosperity, social cohesion--ordinary Zimbabweans were probably better off in Old Rhodesia.

Lord, grant me a gun and self restraint . . .:
. . . but not yet, Oh Lord, not yet. Apparently, it will be a little while before we can actually have guns in the district.
Yay increased gun violence!

Guns are a feminist issue: Oh, christ.
I'm hardly the first person to make this observation, but I don't know why it isn't noted more often: guns are the only weapon that equalizes strength between attacker and attacked. It's the only time when men's greater speed, strength, and longer reach make no difference; if you pull the trigger first, you win.
Yes, Bernard Goetz really is a winner.
This is an enormous social advance. I am all for strengthening the social contract (and law enforcement) so that fewer men commit rape, assault, or robbery. But until human nature has improved so radically that grievous bodily harm has passed from living memory, I don't understand why more feminists don't push for widespread gun ownership.
Perhaps because most feminists take time to educate themselves on the issue with resources besides NRA literature. Or maybe it's because women are, just maybe, more compassionate than men, on average? Or, and this is really out there, because folk who spend time defending a woman's right to authority over her own body see a problem with also promoting a device that gives someone authority over whether the people around them live or die?

Why not the death penalty for child rape?: Megan is against the death penalty, and for that she should be commended. However, that doesn't mean I can let the following pass
I think people have a perfect right to shoot robbers--once someone has implicitly threatened you, they've forfeited their right to the protection of the law.
"implicitly"? That's a pretty fucking low standard to set for quite possibly ending someone's life. Besides which, shooting someone to keep whatever cash you have in your wallet, your phone, and your watch, ain't right. Your stupid yuppie shit ain't worth a life.

By request:
What do you guys want to talk about?
Dude, I dunno, wanna watch a movie?

I really hope she takes the weekend off. The stupid has been thick this week, I need a break.

More Waffles, or Some Coffee?

I haven't noticed this before (There are none so blind...) but we appear to be getting a bit o' decency & common sense from Our Muse, followed by a sudden, surprising shift, as indicated in the previous item. Has someone been reading a "How to Write Good" book & taken the "surprise & shock" chapter to heart?

But if we are going to have the death penalty, I don't see any particular reason to limit its application to murder. I can imagine much worse things than a quick, clean death.
So it's a bad thing, but if we can't get rid of it, let's make a really "brutalized state." And what the hell, we can take that old "eye for an eye" thing & apply it. You're found responsible for an accident in which someone is permanently disfigured or paralyzed, the state should have your spine snapped at the same vertebrae, &/or your face cut up good. If any one has the nerve to click her link, please tell us about in the comments. I can't do it.

Waffling Atop the Fence

Ms. McArdle writes four perfectly reasonable paragraphs on the situation in Zimbabwe, & Africa in general, & then makes a 180° turn & denies that she was defending colonialism. (It was only Ian Smith's minority gov't. of Rhodesia that she was defending.)

Apparently much of the problem is Western gov'ts. (Nothing about any corporate interests doing any enabling, of course.) And not that they invaded & occupied any place w/ a $1.98's worth of resources, but that they figured as Mugabe was black, they might as well "enable" him. (And keep the corporate entities making as much money as possible on the deal.)

[T]hey didn't look, say, at the different ethnic groups within the country, because aren't all Africans the same? Nor did they look very hard at how he might rule, so long as he managed to be black. This is a way of infantilizing Africa--acting as if Mugabe is really the best they're capable of. Nearly every government in Africa is better than Mugabe's. We should have expected better.
Um, uh, well, we might want to note that there probably is tribal dissension, as she mentions, which has to do w/ various tribes being suddenly unified under a colonial administration by decisions made among European colonial powers. And isn't it also infantilizing to suggest that Euros should have had some say in who would run any post-colonial entity? And how would that have been achieved?

Commentariat Note: So far, only one "Look, IQ proves I'm better than they are!!" comment. So far.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A quick note

apparently Megan feels that the comments section at her place is occasionally too interested in her genitals, and that some of that attention is coming from folk who also frequent our waters. I doubt it, but I did just joke about her masturbating in public so I suppose a little clarification is in order.
I have no interest in Megan's lady parts, and this is one personal choice I urge you to follow me in. When I talk about her manipulating them in public I am comparing making a public spectacle of one private action to doing the same with another private action. Shocking as this may be, it is now official FMM policy to actively discourage obsessing over Megan's private bits in her comments section, or anywhere else. In fact, I apologize for mentioning her bits at all, necessity be damned.

Today's stupidity

can't let Susan have all the fun.

The lesser of two incredibly awful evils:

a baby is better off having its throat cut than being burned to death, but this is not a good reason to kill babies.
No, we kill babies because their flesh is so very, very tasty. Little known fact: cute things are delicious.
But, that doesn't mean the babies care how they die.

What makes a terrorist?:
Islam currently ties Pakistans [sic] and Arabs together, but without Israel and America to unite them, they'd fall apart.
People like Megan make terrorists, by enabling a system that impoverishes billions so that she can publicly masturbate with a dildo lubricated by animal product free astroglide.

To Heller and Back:
I have no particular desperate longing to own a gun, but I have a big jones for more personal liberty.
Without trying to justify the developing surveillance state, what liberties, exactly, does Megan lack? What opportunities have been denied this rich white child of privilege? I grew up in similar conditions, and I feel fairly liberated, personally. True, I can't smoke a joint in public, and I wish there were coffee shops so I could socialize more easily with my own kind. Guess what? There's more important shit to worry about.
Megan likes feeling put upon, as a way of pretending she isn't who she is.

Morality is a luxury good: Holy fuck this is a stupid post, from the title on down, though she's unintentionally right that morality is generally defined by the wealthy as "things we do that poor people don't". First, the valid observation by another blogger that Megan quotes;
That ordinary people are sufficiently and securely fed, clothed, shod, and sheltered to enable some of them to devote substantial stores of their emotional energies to the care of pigeons is a sure sign of deep and widespread prosperity.
It says nothing whatsoever about Megan that she's about to compare being a vocal vegan to having pigeon snipers at tennis matches.
This sort of observation is presented as a would-be gotcha against me in my comments on veganism. I don't understand why. [my emphasis] I am sure there are some animal-welfare types who do not understand that their concerns are an artifact of wealth, but I am not among them. Of course my affluence enables me to be concerned more about animal welfare than about obtaining sufficient calories. Isn't it fantastic that I am affluent enough to care? If it were a choice between feeding my kids and letting a cow live--well, steak's on! This is one of the many, many reasons I am happy to live in a prosperous and successful society.
How the fuck do you snark something that stupid? Being rich makes Megan awesome, and so of course she loves a society that enables her being a rich, self-involved, piece of shit. Instead of, say, frequent reference to The Omnivore's Dilemma or simply a general explanation of the benefits both to a person and our environment gained by avoiding industrial, processed, food whenever possible, making locally grown vegetables the basis of your diet, and paying extra for pastured meat, Megan talks about herself. Shit, Megan is absolutely right in one sense; industrial pork is a major evil, even moreso than industrial beef, which is bad, too. It ain't about raising pigs humanely, tho that matters, it's about not doing so in ways that create massive environmental problems. Changing how Americans eat is a worthy cause, with many good arguments to back it up. Megan thinks it's about her, and how fucking awesome she wants you to think she is. Fuck you, Megan.
Wealth enables charity in the deeper, older sense of the word.

That this is true in no way undermines the decision to be charitable. Morality lies in doing the best you can with what you have. Given that I do have the luxury of finding delicious vegan food and non-leather shoes, I believe I have an obligation to do so. If that should change, I will go back to eating and wearing animal products without moral regret--though with a fair amount of digestive distress.
This makes me so angry I want to use words I've labeled verboten on this blog. Eating healthily is NOT A FUCKING CHARITABLE ACTION. It's a personal decision. To try to raise informed self-interest to the level of charity is monstrously stupid, but then Megan did try to claim going into blogging out of business school was charitable on her part, because she isn't inherently rich to fucking begin with. Jebus fuck, Megan, you are one stupid asshole.
This is why I hated the people I grew up with. They were like her. Self-involved and proud of it.

Existential threats: Dear Megan and the rest of the stupid fucking world,

Existential does not mean having to do with existing. An existential threat would not be a threat to our existence. An existential threat is something like nihilism, which is to say something that threatens to interfere with man's capacity to choose to exist.
Yes, I realize people use existential in this context. Sportscasters use ironic to mean coincidental. They're wrong, just like you.
Also, does supporting our troops really include accusing them of being potential terrorists?
Tim McVeigh-style racist scumwranglers: small in number. Their most terroristically [sic] useful members are probably in Iraq or Afghanistan right now.
People who don't support the troops should be hit with 2x4s.
Oh, wait.
I was not in any way trying to imply that the military is full of Aryan Nation types; only that such groups probably can't stage an attack without members who are ex-military, like McVeigh himself. Those members have probably been called back to the Guard and sent to Iraq. Or so I mote. I do not think that these are a sizeable portion of the military; only that the military, like any group that contains millions, is likely to have a few rotten apples scattered in there.
Mhm. And if Hillary had said this, though she wouldn't without facts and shit to back herself up, I'm sure Megan would calmly explain how Hillary was being taken out of context.
I know there's other words in this post, but they amount to a piss poor recap of shit we all heard back in 2003, so why bother.

Vegan shoes: the decidedly non-definitive buyer's guide:
I haven't attempted to order vegan shoes over the internet yet, though I may be reduced to it; right now I'm still working my way through my back stock of leather shoes, even though every once in a while I have a creepy re-realization that I'm wearing an animal's skin wrapped around my feet (something that I felt was creepy before I became a vegan, before I am accused of moralizing).
So why the fuck did you ever buy shoes with leather in the first place?
Again, notice that Megan doesn't spend a single word explaining why "vegan" shoes might be a good choice to make, she simply talks about herself. Her choices aren't about morality in the least, they're about servicing her own self-image. She doesn't want to touch on any of the potentially valid arguments in favor of some of the choices she's made, she simply wants credit for making them.

As predicted by a friend over IM this morning, the remark about Timothy McVeigh wannabes probably being in Afghanistan or Iraq right now was wildly misinterpreted as an attack on our troops.

I am second to none in my admiration for the military.
Do you also have black friends?
I do not think that being in the military makes you more likely to be a nutty, militia-style potential home-grown terrorist. At a guess, there are perhaps a couple hundred people in the United States who would like to take violent action against our government in a frantic attempt to ward off the New World Order.
Outright lie. Megan has been to libertarian conventions, and gun shows. She knows this is not true. I wish she were right, but she's not.
So even though almost no one in the military is a raving nativist loon, many of the raving nativist loons may be in the military. My understanding is that many serial killers are attracted to law enforcement; similarly, people with fantasies about striking a violent blow against the forces of evil may be seeking vocational education in the armed forces. This is no more a smear against the military than it is a smear against firemen to note that many arsonists seek to join their ranks.
Gee, where have I seen Megan argue the EXACT OPPOSITE OF THIS?
Another mistake I think people make when they discuss police brutality, or war crimes, is to attribute them to some characteristic of the population that joins the military or becomes a police officer.
Megan, you're a fucking hypocrite.

No pithy close. Stupid make me too angry. She really is an asshole.

"you'll just sit around...with the other trust-fund babies, and talk about how you went slumming, too"

Good Will Hunting! Check out these comments I found on Megan's post that excerpted Timothy Burke's sensible views on Zimbabwe.

Poor Nelson.

Specifically the thing that struck me most about Mugabe was his disregard for property rights and his love of power for its own sake. From this all other bad things followed

Methinks that when this ol' chap was a youn' buck, he attributed the monsters under his bed to the sharing of toys.

Meanwhile, Michael blames the rise of Mugabe on... "hidden cultural norms." Which I can only interpret as gangsta rap, watermelons, and hand lotion.

Sace some thanks for Moqui this fall. He's candid enough to just come flat out and praise Rhodesia for...get this... its racial equality.
It's not a choice between racism and riots: Its a choice between racism on one hand, and racism plus riots on the other. You seem to be completely discounting the high levels of anti-white racism within the Mugabe regime

Joe Doakes pe pe in my coke wishes for "Jason Bourne and James kill annoying people in far-away places." Is Doakes saving his third wish to have Jack Bauer torture a pan-handler in Myanmar Burma? Sam is more succinct: "Look. It's real simple. Kill the bastard, now." You first.

The award for most contradictory comment goes to DirtyJobsGuy for this gem:
The best statement on Africa I ever heard was from a West African intellectual who said the west should stop treating them like children. His point was to hold africans to high standards and not to excuse the Mugabes.

From my personal experience there is a strong sentiment in much of africa for a neo-colonialism however improbable that might seem.

Stop treating us like children, but come be our daddy!

As much as I love excerpts, I have to quote this comment by RAH in full. Apologies:
African regimes devolve to dictatorships the most current example is Zimbabwe.
Rhodesia was the economic breadbasket of Africa. The civil servant system was the best. They was a high literacy rate, civilization flourished. Yet Jimmy Cater and Great Britain forced white minority rule to be subsumed in the “ enlightened” black thug Marxist regime of Robert Mugabe. Now inflation is over a million and starvation is rampant because the government stole the farms and burned the homes of the farm workers. Break up the white run farms and let the land die. That is better than prosperity right?
When will Jimmy Carter apologize for that and hang his head in shame? Surely that is a crime, right?

Colonial rule was a well run state and vast mobility and education for the black Rhodesians. The bureaucracy was run by black Rhodesians. The entire civil service was well established and very little corruption. The path for educated and trained black Rhodesians was there. This changed when a marxist power hungry Mugabe came to power over Muzorewa after Mugabe slaughtered some of the peace ministers sent to Mugabe to came to a power sharing agreement.

By any parameter Rhodesia was better than Zimbabwe.

Mmmmm....Take a little nibble of that and roll it around your palate. I suggest this: "They was a high literacy rate, civilization flourished." Mmmm... goodness.

At this point, like all African states have to do, the conversation devolves. Al Fin: "Mugabe was welcomed with open arms by Zimbabwean, much like David Dinkins was welcomed by New Yorkers, and Barak Obama will be welcomed by most Americans." Oi! Then, parody, by paul a'barge:
We're talking about Africa, folks. The place is absolutely hopeless and not able to be redeemed.

Let's just stop all foreign aid and involvement and let these poor folks make themselves extinct, shall we?

I mean, really. What's the point?

Megan, these are your fans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Off topic

Rusty Kuntz.

On politeness

Susan of Texas has once again overcome her inherent wimmin-ness to produce a good shorter of Megan's post on being nice n shit, and most of you read it yesterday, so let's get right to my own sorta long winded response.
It's true, Megan is nice to the actual people she encounters, except Susan, to Susan's credit. Almost all of the FMM crew have exchanged quite civil emails with her, she even contacted me, of her own volition, at the fire her gmail addy to show she hadn't altered a comment. It'd be unfair not to credit her a little, I guess, even if she, to paraphrase Obama on McCain, won't credit us with not being prejudiced against her vagina.
But (I know, don't start a paragraph with a but, but this is a big ole but), being polite can be, and often is, the same thing as being completely full of shit. Megan's politeness is frequently equivalent to wearing a suit to work when it's expected. She's nice to people at least in part because it helps her career, and you never know who you'll end up working for someday. Kathy G could be her boss in 10 years, and don't think Megan doesn't realize it. Being polite doesn't mean you actually give a shit about the people around you, it only proves you want them to think you do. I'm not calling Megan fake, I have no special insight into her character, nor do I want any, but there's no denying that being polite is kinda a basic necessity in networking, unless you're in a really testosterone laden field, or truly gifted.
More importantly, being polite is bullshit because a lot, if not most, of the time it ultimately betrays a fundamental lack of respect. I don't mean basic human courtesy, but the kind of making a point of being nice to everyone that Megan is championing. Most of the people I've known who take pains to be polite use it to try to keep people malleable to their wishes and/or as a way of dominating the social setting and forcing everyone there to confine themselves to the behaviors considered acceptable by this person. I don't mean to project onto Megan, I don't know if she does this. But her patting herself on the back for being nice to people is crap. She does not respect people. She doesn't respect her critics enough to credit them with not basing their disagreement on hatred of her gender. And, much more importantly, she doesn't consider the millions, if not billions, of people on the planet living in situations the villains of Dickens novels would have considered intolerably cruel to be worth the basic respect of being thought of as people, instead of exploitable units in an economic equation. Megan is wonderful to Erza, but not to sweatshop workers whose suffering she considers a sign of progress.
I'm getting long and ranty, and verging into getting more personal than is right, so let's just sum it up; politeness is often simply shallow and empty, as most everyone reading this probably knows. Making an effort to pretend to care about everyone at your dinner party does not make you a good person. I'm not saying I'm a good person, but I've seen some on tv, so I know what they act like. They tend to do good things for people regardless of whether it might benefit them.


Also, it occurs to me to mention that being passive aggressive is not polite. If anything, it's far worse than being direct and rude, as you're being dishonest in addition to being a dick. Passive aggression is a move designed to provide cover. Megan wasn't talking about Kathy G with her grad student post, but isn't it revealing that you think she was. Lying to people isn't being respectful to them, which is much more important than being polite.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Busy day

Snark soonish. Megan make funny dumbness today.

Also, new poll, finally.
I might start reusing polls, eventually, especially considering it seems the votes aren't cached by Google forever.

R.I.P. George Carlin

and fuck anyone who says a prayer for him.

George Carlin and Hunter S Thompson are the closest I come to having heroes. They went through it all and stayed true to who they were, no matter how hard it was. George Carlin was a genuinely great man, and he will be missed.

Ratshit, batshit, dirty old twat
sixty nine assholes tied in a knot
hooray, lizard shit...

Bye George. Thanks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Megan, Is That You?

If it really is McArdle, this is a pretty awful response to the question posed, which was, "Well, do you have any suggestions as to what can be done about torture, etc., then?"

No, nor do I have any suggestion for how to deal with the perennial problem of unrequited love, the dissatisfactions of aging, or parents who say horrible things to their children. Sometimes life's a bugger.
Posted by Megan McArdle June 21, 2008 10:15 AM
Come to think of it, she's had about eight hrs. to delete this & advise all that it wasn't her typing, so unless she's off for the wknd., we can assume that she ranks "unrequited love" w/ torture & mass murder. What do you know? Again the "life's a bugger," or, "life is unfair, so..." Why any fucking laws then? Why not anarchy in the streets, & the farmlands as well?

Interesting comment thread in general. Megan has a bit of a hissy fit on FMM friend Susan of Texas, & there's the usual "leftie Euroweenie" blather from the guns, gawd, & homophobia folk.

Sinking One's Teeth In, All The Way

At last, not a pile of indecipherable economic mish-mosh but something vaguely connected to the real world that I can work on!

No, really, leave it aside, because the moral question is irrelevant to the practical one. What will be the effect of this? Will it build the credibility of international justice institutions by proving that even the powerful US can be brought to heel?
No, don't leave it aside, because the practical question that must first be asked is, "Does torture work?" (Meaning, does it provide useful information to save the lives of thousands of people? Not meaning, "Does it entertain sadistic civilian prison guards double-dipping in the Army Reserve or National Guard?") How could it not build credibility to deal w/ Bully Number One?
We are still the country of Monroe and Roosevelt.
And all along I, for one, have been laboring under the illusion that this is now the country of hedge fund managers & corporate entities that move to overseas P. O. boxes to avoid paying taxes. Oh, &, uh, we'll assume Our Muse was referring to presidents, rather than shock absorbers, so, which Roosevelt, exactly? And if she does mean Monroe (of the doctrine) isn't a corollary of said doctrine that This Great Nation of Ours™ maybe shouldn't be occupying sovereign nations & stealing their resources for the profit of corporate entities through dubious legalisms?
It will only be after the damage is done that Americans will realize it is sometimes convenient to have allies, while Europeans belatedly discover that internationalism doesn't just run on solemn conferences and soft power. Not to mention how cute they'll all look trying to hem in Russian expansionism without the implicit threat of the American troops now stationed in their countries.
Ms. McArdle, if you're so damn smart as to realize all these things, why aren't you interested in somehow informing or advising Americans, especially, of these facts? "It won't work because: A) Americans don't realize allies are (sometimes) convenient, B) Most of the public will view this as an act of war," isn't much of an attitude to have. It is the duty of the privileged to educate &...oh, sorry, different group of privileged. Forget it.

(In passing, let's note that "Bobo" Brooks is also nervous about the Rooskies.
If we’re going to have a president who is going to go toe to toe with the likes of Vladimir Putin, maybe it is better that he should have a ruthlessly opportunist Fast Eddie Obama lurking inside.
What up? I thought the Chinese were our next "real" enemy? Can't they let go of the USSR/Russia? Not unlike a dog who gets close to rabid when you try to replace its old chew-toy w/ a newer, chewier one.)
It might be nice if international justice were like a real national legal system, where everyone, rich and poor, submits themselves to the impartial will of the courts. But it is not.

Oh, so much crap. "Might" be "nice?" Real national legal system?" "Everyone submits," yes, though some have greater & some lesser chances not to submit, & the quality of attys. & amount of money available to the defendant can, believe it or not, affect the outcome of a trial. "Far too much time in the Bat Cave," indeed, mlle.

This is not fair--life isn't, you may have noticed.

This particular piece of common, popular crap makes my blood boil. I'll make it perfectly clear: Life is arbitrary, people are unfair. Therefore, the unfairness of people can, it is to be hoped, change or be changed. Please understand that, & never, ever, use that bromide again.

I know that I have a lot of seething war opponents reading this, their souls screaming that the practical considerations are secondary to the moral ones. But the US flatly cannot be brought to heel in this manner, while other nations can. Shall we enjoy the righteous satisfaction of expressing our moral outrage, at the cost of severely eroding the international community's ability to encourage peace in the rest of the world? Only if you think that American politics is so overwhelmingly important that it overrides trivial considerations like dead Bosnians.

Uh? I understand a bit o' sarcasm is being used in the last sentence, but the entire piece prior argues that American politics will not allow ("is so overwhelmingly important") justice to be done, & does trump dead Iraqis, not to mention the several thousand Americans dead & many thousands more permanently damaged, in so many different ways. Why is bringing war criminals to justice reduced to "American politics" in the first place? And let's also face it, if one side says justice isn't important, we're too powerful to stand for accountability & punishment for bad decisions (not poor people though, they make a bad decision they have to pay for it!!) & yet our power is what makes all these international institutions able to save Bosnians, while the other side disagrees & calls for justice, punishment for criminals, accountability, responsibility & all the other glibertarian buzzwords, the whole thing transcends politics, because my side (DFHs) is obviously just & correct. Does she really think this is mere politics, that because G. W. Bush, war criminal or not, sets most peoples' teeth on edge, that this is all about "Bush Derangement Syndrome?"

Ms. McA. also, unconsciously, brings up another point. It is often said that the U. S. spends more on its military than every other nation on the planet combined. Not sure if this is absolutely true, but we certainly do outspend all the other large nations that might even remotely pose a threat to our sovereignty. And there's little question that much of these expenditures are wasted, poorly spent, lost to fraud, & so on. (Just like those welfare entitlements, right?) I now anxiously await a call from the Megatron to seriously cut military spending, so that our nation is no longer hostage to corporate cheaters, & so that we'll no longer be able to bully our way to immunity on the world stage. After all, if the only legitimate federal expense is defense, our defense dollars are being squandered, & we don't seem able to defend ourselves against a few religious wackos w/ box-cutters, shouldn't a severe pruning of wasteful spending be our number one priority?

Megan's politics

this is kinda painful.

* I think most people think that they have good reasons for believing as they do. It is rare that they are simply malicious.
First, note that this professional blogger used asterisks instead of bullet points. Ah well, at least she didn't quote herself in blockquote. Megan is aware of all moral laws, but not all internet traditions. Second, note the weasel words "most" and "think". When a dirty hippie like me points out that resentment is a powerful political motivator and clearly plays a large role in conservative politics today Megan can agree, saying "most" don't consciously let hatred guide them and instead "think" they have whatever "good reason" Rush told them that day to believe as they do.
Most of Megan's deep "I think" statements are equally vapid in a Hallmarkian kinda way, but a few are amusing.
* I think that no system is perfect, and the fact that something has gone wrong is not evidence that change is desireable [sic].
Except when discussing the public school system, or any other system that Megan feels should be changed. This only applies to situations such as the credit crisis.
* I think most people, undoubtedly including me, give themselves too much credit.
Has no one ever explained to Megan that acknowledging a fault does not free one from the responsibility to try not to indulge it? Or is that the sole province of exgfs?
* I think that too many people in political debate are looking for reasons to be angry.
Which is entirely consistent with "I think" number 1.
* I think that we have a moral obligation to, as the bumper sticker says, be the change we want.
I have to be a nation that withdraws from Iraq, meaning I have to invade Iraq, have a parade for myself, get shot at for a while and almost blown up several times, then choose to withdraw.
I also have to start, then quit, torturing people. There's lots of other stuff I have to do, then not do. This is going to take a while.
I was going to do a couple of my own mocking "I think" constructions, but I just don't speak cliche. .....
* I think I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Off topic

If you didn't see this over at Whiskey Fire, now you can see it here. It's.... odd.

What the fuck is wrong with the Texas GOP?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From the Muse's Mouth

Either Ms. McM. doesn't actually read here, she hasn't connected Malignant Bouffant w/ M. Bouffant, or she is not quite as evil as all of us here think, as she was kind enough to respond to a question from me in a comprehensible way, & even to e-mail me advising the question had been "Blogged." (Short but sweet.)

OK, I'm easy. Very easy. A spineless puddle of goo. But I can't really disagree w/ her answer. Did expand a bit in the comments, which have already turned into a ninny fest, w/ the usual gang of idiots going on about abstruse legal concepts, & so forth. Pinheads. They claim academics live in an Ivory Tower. It is to laugh.

So cut her a break for about 10 minutes (unless something really dumb appears there, like the stuff just below that brad has kindly Shorterized™©) you misogynist male pigs.

Long ass shorters, Part 3

let's get right to it.

Inherit the wind:

Bryan Caplan points to a study showing that the cognitive effects of upbringing evaporate over time.
I confess I still don't understand it
I know that's an unfair quote to put together, and I don't care.

Bonus second shorter:
There are lots of things that early childhood environment does affect: the Perry Preschool Project, for example, produced significant reductions in criminality, while improving high school graduation rates and modestly increasing future income. But we're talking about moving from Popeye's to a steady job in a warehouse or at the Post Office, not mass movement into the professional class.
So who cares? Stupid proles.

By request: consumption taxes:
The bourgeois moral affection for savings is a socially useful cultural belief, but it is not actually a moral law.
Megan is aware of all moral laws.

I don't have any way of assessing whether Halliburton's prices are reasonable. But keep in mind that such arrangements often make non-cash economic costs explicit, which makes them seem more expensive.
This is the closest Megan will come to admitting she lacks basic common sense.

So as not to keep you in suspense . . .: No, Megan was not talking about Kathy G in the grad student post, and it means you are the one projecting your own issues with her if you thought that, and thus misunderstood Megan. She was being passive aggressive towards someone completely different.

Emendation to Railroad post:
My father writes to point out that I have confused Detroit and Cleveland. This is a very common mistake, at least among those of us who have never been to either city. Please open your textbooks and cross out "Detroit", substituting "Cleveland". That is all.
It must be nice to be able to dismiss your own errors so flippantly. Me, I tend to examine them to see if I can learn something.

By request: hiring convicts:
And prison doesn't improve them.

Mark Kleiman has done some sterling work on ways to deal with the impulse control problem--close monitoring of parolees with small immediate punishments, rather than rare but severe punishments. In this way, you try to move groups of felons to a new, lower crime equilibrium, and then switch monitoring resources to the next group.
And if that doesn't work, you fix them with electric shock collars and give them a jolt when they're bad, or when they look like they're thinking something bad.

Share and share alike:
Ross defends the notion that viewing hard porn is somewhat equivalent to adultery. Julian Sanchez dissents. I want to know this: if you watch the porn together, are you both cheating? Or are you swinging?
................ pass.
Then she followed up with the British boarding school sex ed scene from Python's Meaning of Life. You cannot kill Python, Megan, no matter how hard you try. For one, you clearly only know their greatest hits, so the real treasures are safe from you.

That's all for now, tho M. has something to talk about when he next comes through.

Ahhhh, grad school

(This is looooooooong. Sorry.)
To begin, business school is only technically grad school. Being taught how not to feel guilty about exploiting your employees, which seems to be the main purpose of an MBA, has nothing in common with the accumulation of specific knowledge in the hopes of being able to eventually add to that knowledge, or the further development and refinement of specific skills, be they technical or artistic or both. (My family owned a business school for 150 years, so I feel qualified to opine here, btw.) Business school is supposed to be something very different from what it is today, but in effect it is paying to be made into a sociopath. All other forms of grad school are based on a model of increasing a student's knowledge.
So, despite having a highly unrepresentative experience of grad school, Megan let loose with an incredibly long post on the perils of graduate education. In a similar vein, since I went to Vassar and was in close proximity to a strong Womens Studies Department and many lesbians, something which hasn't changed living in hipsterish portions of NYC, I am totally qualified to discuss the perils of being a lesbian Womens Studies major. I'll post about it after this.

It's expensive. It often leaves you, on net, worse off financially than you would have been without the degree. And it makes you stupid.
Ok, her first point is uncontroversial, though depending on the school and program it might be an overstatement. Her second point is one she has no right to make. You go for an MBA in the hopes of making more money in the near future afterwards. It's called spending money to make money. The debt incurred by someone pursuing a PhD in, say, Sanskrit is a burden that person is knowingly and willingly accepting for possibly quite a long time. Megan was in no way, shape, or form ever a representative grad student, and what she says about the topic is as full of shit as everything else she's ever written.
The stupidity, thankfully, is only temporary. But while it lasts, it sure is painful to watch.

This post grows out of a conversation I had recently with someone who deals regularly with graduate students. I was relating an exchange I'd had with an interviewer, a PhD economist, who'd asked me about my MBA. "Well, while I was getting it, I thought I knew everything," I told him. "Sadly, that turned out not to be the case."
Which explains why Megan is never wrong, but often misunderstood. She's clearly changed and grown, as her own willingness to complement herself clearly demonstrates.
To judge from the number of people who think that their PhD makes them an expert in, well, everything, he's absolutely right.
I guess Megan knows lots of engineers.
Semi-inside snarking aside, her claim is somewhat true, we've all known the pompous PhD who thinks they know everything. But we, not being Megan, also know that these types act that way because they are insecure and/or mediocre. In my experience the adjunct prof at MidSouthEastern Georgia State Community College puts on many more airs than the at the head of her field, frequently honored, tenured at a name Uni full Prof who actually learned something from grad school. My personal experience of grad school has been quite humbling, as it's made me realize both how very little I know of even the things I know best, and that it's very hard to come up with anything truly original, considering the thousands that have tread your very narrow corner of learning before you. I've also found that most of my fellow grad students are quite willing to be proven wrong. (I suppose it's something of a quirk of philosophy students, but we actually want to be proven wrong. It's usually more productive.)
In any case, Megan's description of grad students only works as a description of herself. Not as a grad student, just as Megan McArdle. She didn't grow out of these flaws, she merely found ways to fool herself. Mostly faux humility.
[Grad students] get not merely the feeling that they have learned things others haven't mastered, but that they are the possessors of knowledge that others can't master unless they, too, are initiates. They develop an amused contempt for anyone who is not in a PhD program. Oddly, they are more easily convinced of the competence of people with advanced degrees in entirely unrelated fields than, say, policy professionals.
No, Megan, this is how people who go to professional programs in Ivies think, not how grad students think. The closing of a mind you describe is the precise opposite of what should happen in grad school.
There's an additional effect in a lot of social sciences; graduate students tend to drift towards schools and professors whom they find ideologically sympathetic. They read some books that agree with them, and listen to their professors confidently smiting the arguments of people they didn't like in the first place. After a year or so of coursework, they feel like able masters of a difficult body of material which proves, scientifically, that they were right all along.
Does anyone know what the fuck she's talking about? This sounds like how you'd describe the worst department at a bad community college. Where are these professors who only agree with you and reinforce your sense of genius? My gpa is... pretty, and I get along well with my professors, but most of the time we find ourselves in productive disagreement, where each pushes the other for greater clarity of expression, not final agreement, as Megan says in the very next sentence.
Meanwhile, those professors are constantly challenging them--forcing them to jump a series of ever-higher hurdles, exposing their logical mistakes, breaking them down and building them up again in the mold of their school.
..... so wait. Grad school reinforces someone's biased self-opinion by putting them through a cult initiation? I take back any element of snark in calling business school learning to be a sociopath. That is literally what it is. Also, it doesn't teach you to reason logically, or coherently.
At the end of this process, they are like movie Marines coming out of boot camp--they feel ten feet tall, tough as nails, and hungry for some action. This is generally when they start making total, and all-too-often extremely public, asses of themselves.
.... wasn't the original premise of this post that one becomes less of an ass out of grad school, eventually?
The new graduate student's lack of humility is a stunning thing, perfect, seamless, and unbreakable. They begin issuing their opinions to anyone who will hold still on the assumption that the benighted masses have just been waiting patiently for a clever graduate student to explain How Things Really Work.
"New" in this case meaning "one who has gone through the portion of the process Megan described earlier", which I think translates to a second year student. And for potential future teachers who are beginning to approach that role to have an urge to lecture about what they know is clearly proof of know-it-all-ism, as opposed to evidence they chose the right path for themselves. It's an annoying thing, sure, but it sounds like Megan's jealous of folk who know enough about something to actually teach others about it.
The new graduate student, bolstered by the opinions of their professors, tends to become extraordinarily indignant at the notion that anyone would challenge them.
Unlike Megan.
Since no one without a graduate degree could possibly have mastered the requisite knowledge, disagreement becomes a sign of willful malice.
Or a failure to properly understand Megan's point.
They stride forth confidently into arguments with professionals armed with the three books they have read on the topic, the opinions of their professors, and enough arrogance to power a high speed monorail between Moscow and Vladivostok.
Unlike Megan, who doesn't need to so much as Google a topic before wading in.
That's when they get their asses handed to them. Even worse, they are often too dumb to recognize this has happened; at the nadir of the disease, they are simply constitutionally incapable of recognizing that a slot at a good school is not the same thing as omniscience.
Rush Limbaugh isn't capable of the kind of projection Megan's last paragraph demonstrates. I really and truly think Megan doesn't know what a mirror is.
The problem is that the professors whose ideas they are parroting, the authors of the books they have read, have honed their beliefs against the harsh grindstone of academic and political debate. Their professors thoroughly understand the canonical works of the other side, and can defend, at length, the subtle judgements that led them to reject their conclusions. The graduate student can usually only walk through one or two rounds of a lengthy rehash of these arguments before they are forced to fall back upon "My professor says that Mr. A is right and Mr. B is wrong."
Whereas Megan simply quotes Hayek.
Unfortunately, there are few topics of great interest in which all the authorities are on one side. In economics, the subject with which I'm most familiar, trade and asset price controls are among the very few topics of which this could actually be said.
.......... I'd give up now, as I want to, but we have to make it to the conclusion. It's even worse.
Or must everyone suffer as I did when I discovered, with brutal shock, that there were still a surprising number of people in the world who knew more than I did?
"were". Not are, were. Now that Megan is a full adult no one in the world knows more than she does, and the flaws she diagnoses in others are not her own. Megan's problem now is she knows too much, and can't put all of her knowledge into her writing lest she overwhelm our tiny wittle brains. Cuz it's a universal feature of effective knowledge that people who really understand something can't explain it clearly, at all.
I could write two or three more posts, each longer than the one prior, in response to the stupidity Megan has poured into this post and about how it reveals the flaws in her mindset, but this one is too long already.
George Bush is more self-aware than Megan. Ronald Reagan's corpse is more self-aware.

Long ass shorters, Part 2

There may end up being a part 3 coming tonight. I'm not sure how much more I can take right now.


Obama inspiring suits among black teenagers seems about as likely as McCain inspiring Goth kids to scrape off the black nailpolish and put on a cardigan.
How many mistakes can you spot in this one sentence? Should we start with the fact that no one really calls themselves goth anymore unless they're over 30 and at a Ren Fair? They're called emos now, Megan. Second, I wasn't aware John McCain was the first goth kid to win a major party nomination to the highest office in the land, following a centuries long national history of enslavement of and discrimination against goth kids. Megan, you're a fucking moron.
I don't know where Battiata grew up, but in my high school, anyone who had come in dressed like Barbara Bush would have spent the next few years ruing this decision at their very own cafeteria table. I wore . . . well, baggy jeans. Also ratty sneakers, tentlike t-shirts, and flannel shirts about eight sizes too large that used to flap around my girlish figure like a shroud. Nonetheless, I seem to have managed a rich and fulfilling life.
Let's see, is that because you're a rich asshole who had a rich and fulfilling life all but guaranteed for you at birth, or because you dressed like Kurt Cobain in an attempt to irk your Mom for a couple years? I think even Megan can answer this one.

Everything I needed to know about econometrics, I learned from Arnold Kling:
Correlations are, at best, suggestive. They are not by themselves evidence--nay, not even if you cross your arms, scowl at your opponent, and say "Well, then give me another explanation for this astonishing correlation!" Until you've got something better than a simple correlation, the burden of proof remains upon you.
Unless you are Megan McArdle, in which case mere assertion of something is sufficient to consider it proved, what with being an infallible source of secret wisdom unavailable to plebs who don't have high def tv.

Iraqification: Ladies and gentlemen, the most pointless post in the history of the internets.
Reader Ann asks me to comment on progress in Iraq, and the media's coverage, or lack, thereof.

I'm not really qualified to assess progress in Iraq; I know little about their political system, and less about military matters.
And yet, she goes on.
I think economic progress is underreported; their infrastructure has either returned to, or exceeded, prewar measures, and by all reports is still rapidly improving. This matters a great deal, not only for quality of life, but because the more there is to destroy, the more stake people have in peace.
I think the introduction of My Little Ponies to the US military has made Iraq a magic place that smells like baby powder and reminds me of my elementary school playground, but I have better drugs than Megan.
I can comment a little on the severe difficulties of news coverage in a war zone, particularly Iraq. It isn't safe, so reporters are limited mostly to Baghdad or embeds, which are not the whole story, and probably dramatically skew their perception of the situation; Baghdad is in the Sunni triangle. Also, someone recently pointed out something I hadn't thought of: most of the people who speak English in Iraq are Sunnis, privileged in the previous power structure. That is going to skew what people see. There's also the fact that bombings are dramatic, easy to see, instant; progress is slow and often hard to measure.
So Megan doesn't know what's what, but still...

In no way does Megan's previous support for a pointless war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars induce her to want to find signs of progress in a nation we have fucked for generations. Don't mention depleted uranium, either, she'll just call you a dirty hippie. Oh, and the punchline?
Journalism, like most things, is harder than it looks; without great care, it can go very wrong.
But if you put literally zero effort into it, there's no risk and you're golden.

By request: growing your own: No, no pot jokes. Too easy. I just want to highlight the following;
So if you're going to have a vegetable garden or stock, you want to carefully consider the opportunity cost of your time. You could be taking on extra work to pay for food. Unless you make a very low wage indeed, you will probably spend less time earning the money to buy the food than you would growing it yourself.

Yes, you may say, but I can't find a decent job for only a few hours a week at my convenience. But wait! Don't forget that your leisure is also an important opportunity cost. After all, if you didn't value it pretty highly, you'd already have another job.
The natural state of man, in Megan's mind, is a wage earner. If you didn't value pooping as a material good, you'd spend that time every day working a fourth job, you lazy shitter.
And lots of people, through some sort of tragic congenital failure, actually enjoy gardening.
Megan, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Actually, there's gonna be at least two more posts from me today. I know the grad school post has already been touched on, but there's no way I can avoid responding to it. Then a final catch-up shorters.
N once again, if anyone has any ideas for a new poll, please, help meeeeeeeee.