Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And Oh How The Liberals Rejoiced

I want to be the first homosexual on my block to get a confirmed kill.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Get Me Wrong...

I'm truly sorry, but I just don't know if I can go through Megan's gift garbage again. She has gotten extremely verbose, lately (or else my patience for her continues to diminish... somehow) and I just don't fucking care anymore. Especially so since I've come to the opinion that all the other morons are only a hair behind in their immoral, side-cheering and self-centered stupidity.

Matty Y, on the other hand, can keep it short and sweet and has the decency to make large block quotes of articles I've already read. I just can't thank the man enough for making my job easier that way:

So as best I can tell Manning is, in fact, guilty of serious crimes. And unlike the nutty and dangerous effort to legally sanction Julian Assange for publishing leaks, I have no problem with the government punishing people who violate the terms of their classification status. But Manning hasn’t had a trial and hasn’t been convicted. Somewhat punitive post-arrest pre-trial measures are kind of a necessary evil, but the prolonged confinement of Manning under cruel conditions go well beyond the necessary into the straightforward evil.
Matty boy isn't quite ready to go so crazy and say that EVERYONE should be considered innocent (and thus treated with respect) until proven guilty, but he's willing to make the bold moral claim that horrible torture should at least be reserved for those who've had their trial. Wouldn't want to drive the wrong man insane for the crime of letting the public know what horrible things his government was doing and lying about.
Incidentally, I assume the majority of humanity, including many of the officials responsible for the conditions of Manning’s detention, haven’t read Atul Gawande’s brilliant March 2009 article on solitary confinement. But absolutely everybody should. It utterly transformed my conception of what it meant to hold someone in isolation like this, and makes the idea of doing it to someone who hasn’t even had his day in court seem completely outrageous.
Actually, Matt, I was way into Atul before he got all big and sold out, but I'm glad his words are speaking to you. I, too, had to be told it was excruciating to be locked in a box without human contact for months. Thankfully, now that we know how horrible and soul destroying a torture solitary confinement really is, our conscience will only allow us to use it on the worst of citizens... like soldiers who use their conscience.

But this is all incidental. We wouldn't want to let it distract from the bigger issue, such as Matt's hip neighborhood that he's totally loving ever since he got famous on the blog boy scene! UH!

Monday, December 13, 2010


It is now literally true that nothing has been accomplished.


UPDATE: Oh shit, what if Obama tries his hand at court packing? Man, that'd be fun.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

He Said It

Newt Gingrich on John Boehner to the New Yorker:

You have to measure Boehner against other Boehners
And remember to start the measurement at the base.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Last Minute Shopping

Goy Day is only two weeks away and still no word on our muse's (about whom I simply CANNOT stop thinking) decision about what to buy our loved ones.

I'm getting a little antsy. OMG. What if I can't display my affection this year because Megan doesn't tell me how? That'd be horrible.

UPDATE: Well, at least I've found this to tide me over.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Feel Like Sharing

That is all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Say Good-Pie

This beautiful image doesn't do it for Megan.

This seems like the stupidest appliance ever: it makes mini pies. Or rather, it bakes them. You still have to make the pie first.
And Megan knows from stupid appliances, let me tell you! And let me tell you with several paragraphs wrought in a self centered and condescending style, cuz it's write like McArdle day.

I'm reminded that the holidays are nearly upon us, which leaves me wondering if I should prepare for another holiday gift guide takedown. The last one was one of my better received pennings, which leaves me both eager to follow up but hesitant to ruin it. What say you all?
I don't really make pie often enough to have a whole appliance just dedicated to pie.
From the fucken horse's mouth, folks.


Oh boy!
The gift list is on its way, and will be massive this year, since we have a lot of new gadgets to talk about. Meanwhile, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and my thoughts have turned to baking.

What are you making this year? Recipes welcome, particularly if they are for British fruitcake, which is not horrible like American fruitcake. Also naturally welcome: recipes for Hannukah or other non-Christmas holidays. While I am denominational, the blog is not.
I guess I'll have my work cut out for me...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Telling Paragraph

Stupid body. In China, I snapped awake at 4 am every morning, and nodded off during dinner--the first night I apparently gave a rather impassioned defense of American exceptionalism that I (blissfully) can't quite remember. Now I'm back in the states, I can't get to sleep before about 3:30 even with the help of Ambien. This was tolerable over the weekend, when I didn't have to get up for work. But you can imagine how chipper I was this morning.
Can we now assume that many of Megan's posts (like her "rather impassioned defense of American exceptionalism") are written under the influence of Ambien, & she has no more memory/knowledge of them than if she were to snack/drive/whatever while unconscious & even less reasoning than usual?

Maybe she should leave the car at her sister's until she gets off the stuff.
This morning I spent twenty minutes looking for my car keys, before remembering that I'd parked the car up at my sister's house while I was away.
Elements of Style:©:
4 am every morning
Not to be confused w/ four a.m. every evening, or four p.m. every morning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl

I often wallow, these days, in the inevitability of it all. It seems stunningly obvious to me that man will never change. War, pestilence, lying, bad movies... they are here to stay. The poor will always be with us. It's a depressing thought.

This painful realization has been offered with perhaps some qualifications here.

I don’t presently care to argue that there is never any “need” to go down any given low road. In some cases I may support some low roads for some purposes. Locking up murderers, for instance. In other cases – torture – I have a much easier time saying “Never go there.” But what we see over and over again is that we judge high-road approaches as failures unless they produce nigh-instant and complete favorable results, while we show nearly infinite patience for journeys down the low road.
Our man seems ready to accept this proposition. Why else would humanity so doggedly pursue war as a means to an end if it weren't the war itself which interested it?

But in what may be the flickering of that blogger's hope we perhapssee the reignition of this blogger's. For sandwiched around the fairly perceptive insight that people will stick with the horrible for much longer than they'll countenance the "weak" we see a naive blindness to the nature of the dark. It speaks of a persistence towards optimism just as large as the endless rush towards conflict.
What we see in the article is a familiar phenomenon that represents either a sickness in our culture or a sickness in the human species. I can’t decide which.


The open question, to me, is who “we” are in the above. American culture, or the human race? I suspect the latter, and that relative power simply gives the US a greater opportunity to take low-road approaches. But I’m not sure.
So we see a man staring into the abyss that – as he seems to grasps – extends in all directions in both space and time and yet it does not stare back; It merely winks. It taps on the shoulder. It gapes only large enough for our bebloggered friend to have the inklings of a doubt; a sneaking suspicion that maybe it's not the internet that did it. Maybe man has just always been a killer. Maybe we just likes to go to us some war. But only maybe.

As infinite as the maw is, there are just as many bridges across it, it would seem. The wonders never cease.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If Wishes Were Horses We'd All Be Eating Steak

I keep letting Mr Troll bully me back into the land of the self-centered and dum, and it hurts me. I need to stand up for myself.

I would love to hear the TSA's side of this--and see the whole video.

I'd love to see her -- from her position of mild import -- champion a cause not centered around her relatively minor inconvenience. I wonder whose wish will be granted first.

Bonus Fun: Sometimes I fantasize about violence, but I keep it awesome.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Cats are always cool in a crisis because they just don't care about your problems.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Horrifying Skulls Also Need Love

My latest FB friend. True Story.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Nagasaki Day

Novels in dystopian futures frequently have a theme of regret. The characters look with a sad, regretful air at the decaying advertisements for the genetic code altering medicines that gave us all a transmissible taste for living flesh. But that's not really how it'll happen.

No, when American military researchers fire the first test of their neutrino rockets and a horrible chain reaction destroys most life on earth, the handful of remaining humans will not rise from the ashes with a horrified look of shame and solemnly reflect on their hubris. Instead, the president will emerge from his bunker smiling at his approval ratings as they peg the needle and he will assure the small, scraggy remains of the American public that despite this tragedy we will persevere. He will tell them that now is the time to band together. Yadda Yadda.

And then he will blame shoddy Mexican labor that had been hired at the insistence of his political opponent.

And we'll dig out pieces of rebar and boards with nails from the ruins, and march south to teach Them a lesson.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Place Called Hope

ESPN has fired Joe Morgan. (Or to be technical not renewed his contract.)
It only took 21 years, meaning we have, what, 18 left?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Look, a totally famous blogger put me in her random collage video, so now I'm totally famous.

Also, here's a picture of a libertarian making a sandwich.

Yum. Sandwich.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Like The New MS Paint.

Apparently our boss is all mad cause we're not doing our jobs. Sorry about that. It's his fucking fault for giving us the internet. If he doesn't want us looking at cat pictures her shouldn't have done that.

Anyway, so Megan.

A number of my readers are claiming that the only reason Obama is running such a big deficit is that revenue has collapsed. I don't see that in the data:
Awesome. Yet again the first sentence of the first post in my first visit in months just smacks me in the face of stupid. NO ONE IS SAYING THAT. The number of readers saying that is zero. NONE.

But, hey, since we got this strawman around, let's go ahead and pour some gasoline on it:
Hrm, I guess she mistook water for gasoline. Thankfully, there's a lot of freelancers in the comments these days so I'll just hand it over to "zosima":
There's nothing to argue. Megan doesn't source her data, and it conflicts with the St. Louis Federal Reserve Data. To use a phrase of Megan's, her argument is "Garbage In Garbage Out"

To see what this plot looks like when not constructed with fictional data, follow this link:

She's making some sort of mistake, if she provided her sources/methods, we might be able to figure it out.

Here's another plot from FRED with the Federal Series.

p.p.s. Stimulus spending in 2009 was about $250 B and the 2009 budget was put together by Bush. So, at best, you can blame Obama for $250 B in 2009 and the change from 2009 to 2010. But wait there's more! Here's a post from the CBO which indicates that the deficit declined from 2009 to 2010:

Another commentor replies that those aren't the right numbers either, so, ok, fine. Let's use Megan's. But first, let's look at Megan's foray into linear regression:I never realized how fucking hilarious trendlines can be. Here, let me give it a shot:Fucking ghosts.

There's a shit ton more stupid to go around, but what the fuck is the point. I'll just leave you with this amusing exchange:

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Dear John Stewart,

I appreciate the sentiment, but restorations can only be carried out on things that have already existed.

Some Asshole

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Undercover in the Asylum

I could find a few guys like this panhandling on Telegraph Avenue, I think. They'd be anarchists, not terrorists, though, so I guess I'm not a qualified FBI agent.

The FBI said the public was never in danger because its agents were aware of the man's activities before the alleged planning took place and monitored him throughout. Ahmed never bought any explosives and was never near carrying out a plot.
The most photographed subway stop in DC.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Really, Megan?

Figurative Curb-Stomping:

I notice it much more on left wing sites, but that's because I basically refuse to read angry right-wing sites, so I don't know what's going on there.
Can not soil her precious mind w/ any of those angry right-wing sites.
It's one thing to be angry; it's another when anger is the main force that binds a group together. Call me a vaporing language nanny, but I thought it was pretty creepy when Jon Chait described another liberal journalist, Michael Kinsley, another journalist, as "curb stomping" economist Greg Mankiw for, yes, daring to suggest that higher marginal tax rates might have incentive effects. Woo-hoo!

But why stop with curb-stomping? Wouldn't it be fun to pile ten-thousand gleaming skulls of supply-siders outside the Heritage Offices?  We could mount Art Laffer's head on a rotating musical pike that plays The Stars and Stripes Forever!  Then, in the most hilarious surprise ending of all, the mob could turn on Jon Chait, douse him with gasoline and set him on fire, and then sack the offices of the New Republic!

Somehow, that's not actually funny. Neither is curb stomping, as Ezra Klein pointed out.
When anger binds a group. Tea Party, anyone?

Actual curb-stomping, & not just men shoving each other, falling down & moaning.
Here's an angry right-wing site that thinks this is the funniest thing since, we'll guess, Emmett Till.

Do the Kentucky Head-Stomp!

Posted on | October 26, 2010 | View Comments
It’s the dance sensation that’s sweeping the nation:
How many of your mealy-mouthed words are these pictures worth, McArdle? Who's angry here?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Revolution Got Televised

We interrupt your obsession with celebrity to bring you an important message, delivered to you by a celebrity.

Full disclosure, I learned about this when someone I went to high school with posted it on Facebook. Apparently he helped make it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All His Friends Were Doing It

He has accomplished more than most men...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vote Wookie Party For NY State Governor

or he'll come to your home.

Humanity has had its day, vote Wookie.

Friday, October 15, 2010

In Case You Missed It

The dumbest libertarian quote ever;

"The family should be left to resolve it on their own," Biondolillo said. "Or private enterprise - private companies can contact the family and say, 'We heard you were hitting your kids. Can you stop that?' "
Sometimes I truly believe it'll be a good thing when our species causes our own extinction.

(via the wonderful Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice from a link whut I closed the tab of and am too lazy to search out)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Air Conditioning: Invention Of The 1980s?

Having seen the Muse Error-ato just last night (in the flesh) we were inspired to visit her log, & found something so inane it had to be shorterized:

"Shut up! You have air conditioning & you don't have to associate w/ poor people in public places any more."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our Children Are Being Ravaged... Burn Down the McDonalds

It occurred to me this morning that the war on Southwest Islamistan has proven nicely that even the hippies were only acting in their own self interest.

But it's ok. Activism is still going strong. The UC students walked out this week over the tragic loss of the rugby team. They reported that they liked it outside on a nice day without class.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Almost Never... OK. Fine. Never.

Heh, I love Glenn and all, but this cracked me up:

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes, something you read is so magnificent on its own that there is nothing to say about it.
No, doesn't happen often at all. Certainly not in that post, in which he writes a full paragraph and then updates twice.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worth Mention

I'm looking at the... script written for James O'Keefe in his rape video fantasy aborted attempt to "punk" CNN, and I think something interesting is getting overshadowed, rightly so, by the sexual predator angle. Here, look;

Potential 'big lies' as it regards CNN
2. Their own internal racism against whites
3. Their potential internal racism against minorities
[transcribed from what appears to be a jpg or pdf for some reason]
CNN is racist against whites and minorities. And they hate puppies, too.
These kinds of failures in reasoning pave the way for "it won't be rape, she wants it. And besides, she deserves it."
The sad part is O'Keefe will probably just disappear from public view for a month or two then go right back to manufacturing "Saddam has WMD" quality obvious lies for the MSM to report on the "controversy" over.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Frozen Blogger Tastes Worse Than The Fresh Stuff

I've never felt comfortable with capitalization schemes for titles. How's that for hypocrisy? Hah.

I sometimes feel like California-based foodies have produced some kind of mass hallucination around the subject of fresh vegetables. But if you poke around your local supermarket, you'll find that they have tons and tons of big freezer full of little conveniently portioned bags of vegetables. Just like pizza or egg rolls. But healthier. Is it 100 percent as tasty as farm-fresh locally grown in-season produce? No.
That's her quoting Matt-Y.

I'm glad that both her and Matt – each masters of cuisine in their own right – are the type to imagine hippies as the kind of people who'd sooner see you die of scurvy than drink orange juice from concentrate. I find this compatible with the caricature of a person as the kind that would think it's up to them to educate the masses about the existence of frozen vegetables. (Pro-Tip: They're in the frozen part of the store.)

Bonus Fun: 26 years of professional blogging experience has still not taught Megan the difference between links on the internet and links from her reader...

Bold words: followed by a semi-[Boy, can I be stupid, sometimes. ~ed.]colon and regular words.

Monday, September 27, 2010

They Got Better

Ladies and gentlemen, Ross Douthat:

The antiwar movement, for instance, seemed to effectively take over the Democratic Party in the middle years of the Bush administration.
Ross Douthat, ladies and gentlemen.

A Lil Bit Of Pavement

Pavement's reunion tour passed through last week, and I was at a few of the shows. I really do love me some Malkmus. Here's a few shots.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clowns to the Left of Me

Wow. So Colbert really IS testifying before congress. I dismissed it when I first heard about it figuring it was some joke I just didn't get.

Good to know.

Now back to your regularly schedule left wing complaints about beauty pageant contestants being treated like serious political theorists.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Minor Moment Of Stupid

couldn't sleep, made the mistake of reading Megan. Susan and Roy have already mocked this piece on being unemployed later in life, but there's a little detail I'd like to highlight.
The setup:

The woman highlighted in the article, after all, is not going to be saved by Social Security; she's 57. Without massive changes in spending, she's headed for bankruptcy long before she's eligible to collect benefits. That's not to say that she's a profligate spendthrift who deserves the pain she's suffering; rather, the errors she's made are incredibly common. That's why it's worth running through some of the most common mistakes that land people in these kinds of messes
Lets see if you can spot the stupid that follows. Bear in mind Megan is trying to examine the "mistakes" this woman made that led her to be... unemployed and not able to retire at 57, so that someone Megan's age and younger won't do the same. (Spoiler alert, the real "mistake" was not being born with enough money to make more of it later.)
It's all too easy to put off those retirement contributions. You're getting married. Then you want a house. You're having kids. You need a vacation, a new house, the car broke . . . suddenly you're 60, your peak earnings years are over, and you have to figure out how to survive a 20-year retirement on $100,000. Our parents got by on massive increases in the price of houses and stocks. You can't, so you have to pay yourself first, even when it's painful. [My emphasis]
First, note the narcissism. Everything is about Megan and everyone would be her if they could. And yes, you may shudder at the hint of her and McSuderman reproducing. Then go back to the sentence I highlighted and recall we're talking about the "mistakes" made by a 57 year old woman, who, therefore, is old enough to have been Megan's mother. Yes, she would have been a young mom, which is and was somewhat uncommon among the wealthy elite in modern America, but that's not the point, now is it.
From the NYT piece which Megan is trying to ignore the message of;
Most of [the unemployed 57 year old's] days now are spent in front of a laptop, holed up in a lighthouse garret atop the house that her husband, Denny Mielock, built in the 1990s on a breathtaking piece of property overlooking the sound.
With her husband’s home repair business pummeled by the housing downturn, the bills are mounting. Although the couple do not have a mortgage on their 3,000-square-foot house, they pay close to $7,000 a year in property taxes. The roof is leaking. Their utility bills can be $300 a month in the winter, even though they often keep the thermostat turned down to 50 degrees.
They could try to sell their home, but given the depressed housing market, they are reluctant.
I don't even know how to untangle the various mistakes in thinking Megan has made here, I can only point to them. Don't be like a woman who did what Megan thought would have been the appropriate thing for someone that woman's age to do, because we won't get the same benefits from home ownership that this woman apparently should have received but somehow didn't. Also, don't note that Megan is demonstrably not following any of her own advice, this is for non-elites who should be concerned about someday not being employed. Despite her own incomplete history of employment and McSuderman's lack of... an employment history outside wingnut welfare, she's talking down, to us, about concerns she does not share. Granted, it's clear she'll only ever be fired for behind the scenes politics, which she guards against by kissing literally every ass she's ever seen, but The Atlantic may well eventually fold, especially considering her efforts to drive away every member of its once core readership.
I'd deal with the rest of her advice, including get a McJob you stupid peasant, but I'm heading out to see Pavement again, and don't need the agitation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

(Very) Random Nutpicking

I still can't bring myself to go anywhere near Megan's place, but a friend linked me to this, which is worth a quick laugh.

LOL at dinosaurs being millions of years old. If so they would be buried under miles of dirt and debris. Ancient villages are often uncovered after digging down several feet and they are assigned much younger ages. Usually in the thousands of years, Then someone stumbles on a dinosaur bone on or near the surface of the Earth and quickly proclaims millions of years in age for the beast.

Dinosaurs probably existed with man a few thousand years ago.
It hadn't occurred to me that young Earth proponents also have to deny plate tectonics and erosion on a geological scale, but there you go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not a Literal Connection, Dude

A lot of people are all up in arms about some anti-colonialism comment in some article written by D-Souzie. He thinks colonialism isn't something we should be against? I dunno. I've been too busy writing down anti-american names so that – when we finish up in SandNiggerstan – I'll be useful in directing our flying killer robots at home where they are still so desperately needed. Enjoy your wedding party, libtards!

I managed to get far enough into the article to find this beautiful, beautiful peace of logic:

More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources." Obama railed on about "America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?
I was confused by this at first until I realized that Dinesh meant it was strange that a professionally intellectual would argue that excessive use of oil would never lead to reckless exploitation of oil resources.

I may finish the article, in which case, updates will go below.


Yup, as predicted.
Obama's foreign [Uh, what country is New York in again? -ed.] policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.
I guess missing blatant connections is just this guy's thing...

Update II:
Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.
Uh, Dinesh, if I might... uh.. borrow some idiocy. I don't see any connection there!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Full Disclosure

 Hiding this sort of thing can only lead to trouble, so I must 'fess up. This is a friend of mine's operation, & she asked me to "like" this.

Unlike pink salt fan McArdle, my friend does this for a living (Produces both a product & a service, that is.) So it's perfectly OK to call for fine food at your next SoCal event.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

About Christine O'Donnell

am I the only one who gets a major bdsm vibe off her? It's obvious she's a massive hypocrite and has been extremely sexually active, but she's uncannily like a girl I went to boarding school with who... let's just say liked it really rough and degrading. (I'm not speaking from personal experience with her, but I did have the misfortune of seeing part of the video.) For the record, my classmate was also a Christian fundie, and really made a show of it in public. Apparently she felt God meant for women to obey men in every way possible, she had so internalized the misogyny underlying her values. Again, I'm reminded of O'Donnell.
I'm not slut-shaming here, to each their own kink, but O'Donnell's past advocacy and remarks put the question in play, at least to me. I'm pretty sure she has done things that would shock Madonna, that's the way it always is with these types. The louder they chirp in public, the harder they like to be slapped behind closed doors.
It's possible she's actually a domme, but she doesn't seem bright enough to succeed at it.
And yes, I know there's no real need to go here, but I can't help but wonder.


Christine O'Donnell Flashback: 'I Dabbled Into Witchcraft'

No, it's not the same thing, but we're gettin there.

Friday, September 17, 2010


who else is going to the Daily Show's Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Colbert's march to Keep Fear Alive?
No link cuz it looks like they haven't set up a website for it yet.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'd Say Fire Suderman, Too, But First He Needs A Job

first, via the comments over at Susan's, Peter Suderman is a fucking hipster. (I know it's stale, and knowing hipsters it might be an inside joke, but fuck'em.)

second, this;

I'm pretty much healed up, except for a little scarring to be dealt with. I'd call myself lucky, but thanks to Megan I know I chose not to be seriously injured by being hit by a cab. Go me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Skinny Jeans Are The New Leggings

I was into Democracy back before it went all corporate.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Own Goal

More Mattie. I suppose there is enough of him to go around:

All these countries are actually full of stupid policies—in Sweden a privately owned store can’t sell Tylenol and the United States invaded Iraq to eliminate a nonexistent nuclear weapons program—but we succeed nonetheless.
The lead in?
Karl Smith is fascinated “by the fact that Democracy seems to be a highly effective form of government despite an almost necessary implication that policy will be determined, or at least largely influenced, by the least knowledgeable..."
Kind of refreshing to hear someone call themselves a moron. I wish he'd take it to its next logical step and disengage from politics. Then we could get EVEN BETTER Democracy with 100% less irony.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Moving Forward Like a Receding Hairline

Memory lane time, I guess, as I wandered over to Fatty Y's for the first time in ages:

It’s great that the violence is way down from its high ebb
No one ever says ebb except as in "ebb and flow" and this fucker STILL can't figure out its meaning.

Oh, and shit-face, the concept you're looking for is called "reversion to the mean." That and six more words would have replaced your entire post.

Ladies and gentlemen, the intellectual driving force of the modern left.

Megan Has Died of Dysentary

Megan's super important QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"When the people who built this country got bitten by bedbugs, they didn't go whining the the nanny state for a chemical fix. They scratched." ~ Mark Kleiman
Tell it to your inhaler, you idiot.


Oh I had forgotten how many nuggets a quick perusal of her blog yields. On computer instability:
I've done all the obvious things--not only tried new browsers, but uninstalled all my add-ons, cleared my cache, even switched computers (which didn't help). I just lost a post that I spent two hours writing, and this isn't the first time it happened--yet it's something that virtually never used to happen to me.
Hmmm, did you try holding down the control key while pressing the "S" key? The one in the lower left and right labelled "Ctrl." "S" is in the middle on the left hand side...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

McArdle: We Are Not Bonobos!

I'm pretty much at the point where it's easier to find commentary about Megan than it is to visit her & deal. Probably not a good sign for my mental health, but the increase in "How can this person be so ob-fugging-tuse?" items recently is an indication that our mission here has not been completely in vain.

I'm not familiar with Ms. McArdle's work, but if she's got a gig at The Atlantic, which is one of the most respected magazines in the country, presumably this is far below her usual intellectual standard.
Benefit of the doubt. Those scientists/academics do live in one hell of an ivory tower, don't they?
Wonderful as it would be if Ms. McArdle's opinion of our book were to change when/if she gets around to actually reading it, I'm not holding my breath because I don't think she's responding to the substance of the book at all; she's responding to what it makes her feel, which is something entirely different.

Friday, September 3, 2010


so yeah, I was hit by a cab on my bike late Tues nite. I'm actually remarkably ok, a few deep cuts (they could see the tendon in my knee), many, many stitches, but nothing broken, no concussion, and all primary functions work as intended. But my face is a bit of a mess, and even after the stitches are out and the scabs fallen off I'll probably need a bit of plastic surgery to reduce the scarring. Meh. (Hopefully the cab company will be picking up all the bills but I'm not gonna get ahead of myself.)
The result is I'm basically going to be a shut-in for the next month or so, and I need ideas on how to keep sane. I'll probably end up posting here more than I have been, but reading Megan is not exactly a sanity aid. Good non-fiction book recs that I can get via the Apple iBook store in particular are most welcome.
Thanks for your well wishes. In truth, I'm incredibly lucky. I wasn't wearing a helmet (I know, I KNOW), and aside from a stiff knee that gets exponentially better every day and a jammed thumb I'm pretty much physically fine.


That's a composite steel frame, gives some idea of how hard the fucking cab hit. Should be good evidence for the lawsuit.

Update II:

I'm made of tough stuff. Every day has featured significant improvement. I might even be in shape to go outside soon, tho I'll have to keep my forehead covered. Takes more than a cab to get rid of me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Pot Slave is Also a Good One

My boy Zach VandeZande, who's a writer that I first found out about through AHPT, has fun Facebook statuses:

Zach VandeZande may have told his students a parable that ended with a four-year-old Columbian girl saying "Daddy, why are we so poor?" and the father answering, "Because, dear, there are students in America who need coffee so that they can get up early enough to take an elective creative writing class.”
Which is the kind of brilliant shit that makes me swear that one day I'll eventually buy something he made. (Crap, sorry man.)

But it occurred to me that even that was not taking it far enough, so I told him that "I like the slaves that pick my bananas the best. Bananas are REALLY easy to eat!"

Slavery: Because we couldn't have a ton of useless crap if it weren't dirt cheap!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shorter Megan

The Romance of Teaching:

Susan has handled the meat of this post, I'd just like to point to and chortle at Jane Galt writing the following;

What blows me away about this, beyond the obvious--20 years?--is that an educated person spent that 20 years reading romance novels. All bad genre fiction is formulaic, of course, but...
but she's an elitist and prefers Ayn Rand glibberish, or Proust, of course. Megan clearly enjoys having her intellect challenged. (Just in case Megan reads this, I'm not mocking Proust there.)

Forecasters on Stimulus:

This is one of those posts that amount to genius work in psych-ops. Megan, who we all know has gotten every major issue of her lifetime wrong, does not believe in listening to the carefully researched predictions of trained experts who show a remarkable degree of agreement because they do not mesh with her ideological biases have not always been right.
You see, in order to learn from making mistakes, you have to make as many of them as possible and build up a critical mass. Megan and Bill Kristol are on a race to enlightenment which will revolutionize human evolution.
It's brilliant tho, because the proper response to a post like this from a person like Megan is an incoherent stream of profanities, which she can safely ignore as mean and uncouth and just not how civil Villagers do it.

Shorter Douthat

Roger Clemens went back in time and made Mickey Mantle be an alcoholic in the 50s, ruining baseball for Billy Crystal and Bob Kostas forever.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


this is the only half-decent poem I've ever written. The end changes every time I look at it, tho.

I threw my shit at a wall,
and it stuck.
So I made a career out of it.
Every day, 9 to 5, throwing shit at a wall.

Eventually, flies found the wall.
Their buzzing annoyed me at first,
but then I found a way to make them
part of my job.

For every hundred flies I managed to kill
by smothering with shit,
I got a cookie.

More time passed, and my wall became a hill.
The hill smelled so badly it attracted tourists.
"Gosh darn, Jim Bob,
ever seen something like this before?"
"Surely haven't, Sue Bob."

Now, the hill is becoming a mountain.
And I'm beginning to wonder,
how will this shit get cleaned up?

Dunno why, just felt like sharing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's Have A War! And Maybe Another One, Too!

We're sure McArdle fans have seen the ginandtacos item wherein Mlle. McA.'s firm beliefs vis-a-vis the invasion & continuing occupation of Iraq are deservedly mocked.

Settling for scraps, I went to the source, & noted this bit that no one else I've read has yet mentioned.

Thus, Eric Alterman is enabled to claim that the cost to the US taxpayer will be over $2t, even though most of the larger costs cited by Galbraith aren't going to be borne by Americans either directly or indirectly, but by Iraqi oil.6 That's the oil that will be able to flow freely for the first time in ten years because of this war -- and the revenue from which will flow to the Iraqi people for the first time in a decade.
The footnote:
6 Am I suggesting that the Iraqis should pay for occupation expenses? Nope. We can afford it, and there's something repellent about making impoverished Iraqis pay for a war foisted on them by an evil dictator. But most of that $2t, if it is any sort of a real number, will be stuff for Iraqis: roads, schools, hospitals, government buildings, power plants and sewers and all the good stuff that lets us live like citizens of the 21st century. That stuff should come out of Iraqi oil revenues.
Our emphases. She knows from "real" numbers, doesn't she? And how's all that "get the oil money to the Iraqi people" worked out, seven yrs. into the occupation? More electricity, to run all the "good stuff?" Well, no.

What a horrid, awful, fucking bitch. From what dark, disturbed part of her ugly mind did something like: "there's something repellent about making impoverished Iraqis pay for a war foisted on them by an evil dictator" come? Foisted on them? Or is she referring to Bush when she types "evil dictator?" The "foisting" was done by people like her, stenographers for the unelected gov't. of the usurper Bush.

Elements of Style©: How could a graduate of Podunk State Normal School, let alone an English major from Penn, type "stuff" twice, & "good stuff" once, in any context, let alone in two sentences?

And an outro from DougJ at Balloon Juice:
Doubt this will make it into Conor Friedersdorf’s li'l round-up of mistaken Iraq War predictions.
Probably not. Fuck Friedersdorf, & the horse he rode in on. Remember this?
Tell us, Friedersdork (He really shouldn't type under his own name.) how's that True/Slant site where you used to type working out for ya? We still exist. You got fucked by a corporation. Learned anything yet?

If he's still on the "under your own name" thing (What possible difference does it make? Malignant Bouffant isn't anyone else's name, & it bloody well is my own name.) he can shoot me a fucking email, we'll meet somewhere, & just before I cram his teeth down his throat, I'll let him know what my legal name is, & who's a "coward."

(Really, what is he talking about? Should I reveal my legal name, address, 'phone # & other contact info to prove something? Something along the lines of how many hateful lunatics read McArdle & would try something physical if they knew where to find me? What's your address, Conor, if that's your own name? It isn't, of course, it's his parents name for him, & like the pathetic sheep he is, he accepts it, along w/ the conventional wisdom he swallows whole. Asswipe.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Random Open Question/Rant

since I can't find out for myself via a quick and lazy googling, does anyone know if the (not at) Ground Zero (not a) mosque of so much debate is going to include an actual mosque, with an Imam and services, or if this just prayer space in an otherwise mixed use space cultural center? It's not an entirely loaded question, I remember reading that the mosques already in the area are small and overcrowded, so it would be serving an actual need by holding services, but I don't know if it's going to. If it is just providing prayer space to meet the call at the proper times that makes a building a mosque then suddenly there are mosques all over the city, and I can say with near certainty, which is to say without checking, that under our newly expanded definition the Towers themselves were mosques. The church at my boarding school was an unquestionable mosque, it housed services for the tiny number of Muslims attending.
I realize this is a very small part of the many layers of stupidity necessary to find issue with this planned project, but I still marvel and wonder at the idea that housing any kind of Islamic religious services in a building automatically makes it a mosque. I'd ask if roughly half our hospitals are now going to be considered churches by movement conservatives, but they'd just respond with that cringe inducing "I don't know if Islam really is a religion" crap as an excuse for this obvious indication of prejudice and outright fucking stupidity. I think I'm going to go to the planned protest on 9/11 and remind myself how ugly humanity can be. Plus I haven't seen Newt Gingrich speak downtown since the first NYC Tea Party. I have to practice scowling tho, they could smell me last time because I was smiling and laughing the whole time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One of the Best

Wanted: Make out partner (quick session)

Date: 2010-08-12, 11:41AM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Hey there,

I'm just looking for a nice girl for a quick half-hour/hour make out session. About me, I'm 33 yo, 5'10, 210 lbs, easy going, educated and just an overall good guy.

If you're interested, drop me a line with pics, a description about yourself, your availability and your location. Thanks so much and hope to hear from you soon.
Emphasis Mine.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Comment Of The Day

so I'm bored and reading the "I quit" stories in the comments of this lil piece about a JetBlue attendant who escaped an abusive passenger at the tarmac by activating and going down the emergency inflatable slide, and what do I see? This;

My Last straw was when Obama got elected, I can’t stand socialism, the government keeps stealing my money to give to my neighbor and I’m tired of it. I got so tired of it that I went around the office and asked for $5.00 from each person, they asked me why I needed the money, I said my car payment was due.
— kerry
I wish they'd had a blog address attached to their name, I really do.

Friendly Fire

Ladies and Gentlemen, even the liberal Paul Krugman:

Long ago — basically when I started writing for the Times — I decided that I would judge the character of politicians by what they say about policy, not how they come across in person. This led me to conclude that George W. Bush was dishonest and dangerous back when everyone was talking about how charming and reasonable he was. It led me to conclude that Colin Powell couldn’t be trusted, back when everyone said his UN speech clinched the case for war. It led me to conclude that John McCain was unprincipled and self-centered, back when everyone said he was a deeply principled maverick. And yes, it led me to conclude that Barack Obama was a good man, but far less progressive than his enthusiastic supporters imagined.

1) How convenient that the party he doesn't identify with is only run by bad people. Definitely judging on character there, guy.

2) While it is regrettable that Obama doesn't completely agree with Kruginator, he shares his party affiliation so he's a good man. He drops the good bombs. He tortures the good torture. He assassinates the good assassinations. He's the good kind of murdering sell out.

This is why I hate everyone now instead of just the right wing. Looking back, I have no fucking idea how it took me this long.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


It's simple, really:

I don't think there's anything wrong with Michelle Obama vacationing in Spain; they have the money, so why not?
Indeed. Nothing more to know or ask.
Yes, yes, I know--mean Republicans would make hay out of a vacation no matter where it was. Probably so. But no one would be much interested in those charges, while this does seem to have some grip. And while characters in novels may improve their lives immeasurably when they learn to stop worrying about what other people think and just be true to themselves, this is not a life path that is open to political figures.
I wish I had access to the economic knowledge that allows her to determine the relative effectiveness of "those charges" & the "this" that "does seem to have some grip."

Elements of Style©: And I wish she'd stop w/ using "grip" for "traction." You could all stop using "traction" in that context, as far as I'm concerned.

Cross-posted at Whiskey Fire, where I (A pathetic web log-pimp.) am guest-blogging this wk.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grudging Credit

I hate to admit it, but Megan got not one, but two issues more or less right in a single post.

Will Wilkinson names Michael Bloomberg "Hero of the day" for pointing out that there's no legal way to stop the Cordoba Initiative from using private property to house a mosque near Ground Zero. All I can say is, I'm glad to hear that Michael Bloomberg has suddenly discovered that there are some restrictions on the government's ability to dictate the uses of private property.

Update. No, I don't approve of the furor over the mosque; I understand why others are troubled by the symbolism, but it seems to be that the important bit of symbolism is that America does not collectively punish minority groups for the sins of a few members--no, not even in trivial ways.
Links and formatting not reinserted.
Now, yes, she does give the anti-mosque bigots a small nod, but at least she didn't use it as an excuse to again talk about how 9/11 happened to her, personally. And she got the Atlantic Yards issue right, amazingly. I assume it was for the wrong reasons, like her father being part of a competing plan for the area, but she's actually coming out against rich people being allowed to act as they please, I'm shocked.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Late to the party, as usual, but as a Jew let me just say that if I were in charges of Israel's cruise missiles I'd shove them straight up the ADL's ass.

Then I'd say that while legally it may not be allowable to act like that, morally it was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Open Question

not to pick on Susan in comments below, at all, but when did getting high become a bad thing on the left?
Every time I read Balloon Juice or S,N! or any number of other places the commentariat, if not the bloggers themselves, are making cracks about wingnuts or glibertarians being high. Well, I'm often high when reading those things.
Y'know who else got high? George fucking Carlin. It's dirty fucking hippies who smoke pot. Most glibertarians got high once in high school and couldn't handle it, and now either do coke or, like Megan, some sort of prescription pill. Plus they mostly want legalization so they can create a new market and commodity to mentally masturbate with.
And, no, you're not "too mature" to get high now that you have a job/kids/a prison record, you chose to enter a situation which now, possibly, precludes it. Please stop pretending having done so makes you somehow more morally virtuous, thanks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

She Actually Fucking Did It

The BP Spill: How Bad Is It, Really?

I could just post the link and title and you know all you need to already about what she said. Basically, she's letting BP lie to her and is glad they are. Something like 2 billion million gallons of caustic, toxic dispersant along with many multiples more of oil are obviously no biggie. Us stoooooopid alarmists see, say, untold acres of already vanishing wetlands coated in tar balls and crude and think they're gonna die. Megan wonders if maybe they'll just turn into lil natural refineries and sell gas to fishermen.
However, it will turn into a catastrophe when gulf shrimp become prohibitively expensive just in time for cocktail party season.

And of course, even if the worst hasn't happened, the results of the spill have been quite horrible enough.
All Megan is doing is trying to remind a rape victim that they weren't also murdered, you've got to find that silver lining.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Something Completely Random

It's possible you've seen it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beneath it All

We got some real good laughter going on about McMoron, our beloved Morbo informs us. Even fellow libertarian Angry Bear is calling her a goddamn idiot. Apparently she's arbitrarily getting her panties in a bunch about some mortage crap that I don't give a fuck about. Something something she's dum then she shows up in comments and says the following in defense of her position:

Sigh. The point was that the product was created with heavy government interference/subsidies, not that the CFPA should be keeping banks from making loans they want to make.

Then there's a pile on:
Susan of Texas
Using that logic we should not use the internet, because it was created with "heavy government interference/subsidies." Yet, here we all are, voluntarily buying the service that others voluntarily provide.

Or highways, railroads, piped water, sewers, electricity, airports...

Granted, highways have had some fairly ugly consequences, such as Houston suburbs.

And global warming.

Sighhhhh. Banks only exist due heavy government influence.

Central banks are a threat to liberty, just like standing armies.

Libertarians are opposed to manipulating money, whether by the government or by a semi (hardly) independent federal reserve.

Do prepayment penalties make small banks want to sell the notes to big banks? And does the prepayment penalty make fannie and freddie bigger? and is that the libertarian angst against prepayment penalties?

Also are libertarians agnostoc pacificists, not being against war just the instrument of war? Or do they just want Cincinnatuses around to drop the plow and save the republic, which is so small as to not need saving..................?

ilsm will not change

I am no libertarian.

ilsm will not change

Oooooooooooooooo, just shy of the goal line, huh Meggers?

SIGGGGGGGGGGGGH. I think I'm in love.

Update: It occurs to me that I saw (in what little of this I did read) her mention that the 30 year mortage thing she's complaining about became popular in 1945ish, or somewhere just after WWII. So apparently it's such an insidious, lurking evil, it lays dormant for 70 fucking years or so.

Seriously, I just jizzed my pants.

Update2: AHHHHHHHHHHHH. i'm fucking hyperventilating, here. In the comments to her own original post she says:
I, too, am in the process of applying for a 30-year fixed . . .
Oh lord, I hope she gets her divorce soon so that I can marry her next.

Save The Corporations!

Megan lives in an alternate universe where corporations are constantly being victimized by over-empowered villainous bureaucrats of the type seen in such masterworks of storytelling as Transformers 2. In our reality the US treated one horrible wound, slavery, with a Constitutional amendment that eventually created another; the era of corporate empire, and the rest of the world, especially including the US government, has been playing a generally badly unbalanced game of catch-up since. The dice are loaded, and Megan should know it, because she's one of the countless people employed to help drill them and add weight. She's paid to (dishonestly) place the interests of crony capitalists disguised as noble corporations accumulating wealth for their shareholders above the interests of humanity, and in a sense she's good at it. Megan fits into the disinformation machine, giving her the chance to pull herself up by her own bootstraps tongue, one asshole at a time.
And now to Meganworld;

A few days ago, I wrote about employers using FICO scores to screen potential employees. One thing that neither I nor Kevin Drum really answered is: why are employers using them? They're at best a weak proxy. Of course, corporations do stupid things all the time, because they're not infallible. Still, it's a question that bears asking.

Over at CoyoteBlog, an employer offers one possible answer: because we've made other forms of information gathering illegal. IQ tests are out, as are any other tests that have disparate impact on minority groups. And references have become useless...
Links not reinserted because I don't care.
I love that she needs to remind herself that corporations aren't infallible. Anyway, you can see where she's going with this, I'm sure, so let's skip to the obvious conclusion;
I'm not sure why credit reports should fall into the category of sacred information that no one else has a right to see. The amount of money someone has is private--but not paying your bills is a very public action with large repercussions for others. Why do you have an absolute right to keep others from knowing that you've stiffed a third party?
What matters here is whether a person paid a corporate interest everything the corporate interest wanted, and that corporation's right to badmouth you to anyone who will listen. Perhaps we should make wearing a yellow star a condition of filing bankruptcy. (Hi Godwin, how's yer summer going?)
Back to the glibberish;
We seem to be in a situation where we are systematically depriving employers of any potential information about employees. This is both bad for businesss, which end up with unnecessary turnover, and bad for employees, because it results in the use of less accurate proxies that aren't banned. As Alex Tabarrok pointed out, banning inquiries about criminal history is likely to result in (illegal, but harder to detect) racial discrimination. Imposing liability for truthful bad references results in the use of things like FICO scores. And banning FICO scores--well, it may not be a good proxy, but what are bosses likely to use instead?
The question is not "how much should a potential employer be able to know about you beyond your employment history and competency at your job?", that's something a libertarian might ask. The question is "if you don't let your potential employer fuck you in that hole, which one will they fuck you in?", and don't you forget it, wage-slave.
One thing that seems clear to me since returning to occasional posting is that Megan is evil, not stupid. She ain't bright, being smarter than Jonah Goldberg is like saying you have better personal judgment than a meth addict; not an achievement, but she knows she's lying and doesn't care. She wants to get hers and keep it, full stop. Megan knows her arguments are dishonest, though she may be in denial as to the degree, because she cannot make her actual argument, which is that the obscenely rich are simply superior beings who deserve an even more disproportionate share of the world's resources, as proven by the paychecks and added perks David Bradley gives her. She's one of his favorite pets, and he gives her yummy table scraps to keep her tongue wagging.

< / rant >

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


ain't it retro?

Could We Stop Employers From Running Credit Checks?:

Here's the problem: your doctor will indeed release your medical records if you've signed a release form. It is already illegal to let anyone see your credit history without your permission, and one hopes it will remain that way--call me un-libertarian, but I don't like the idea of either a government or a corporation maintaining a secret dossier on people that those people can't look at.
Employers get permission to run the credit check the same way they get permission to run a drug test. No one (except law enforcement) can make you pee in a cup against your will. But if you don't do it, you don't get the job.
And really, why would a libertarian have a problem with a drug test or a comparable mandatory 'voluntary' invasion of personal privacy? Corporate rights are being completely respected, what's the issue?

Tenure in a Nutshell:

Remember when the Freakonomics guy wasn't a total asshole? Me neither.
If Megan and her allies ignore tenure review hard enough, it'll go away. Why can't tenure advocates fix a problem that doesn't actually exist, huh? Answer that, punks. She has us now.

The Government's Role in the Housing Bubble:

If you're willing to even listen to Megan make any claims of new, revolutionary discoveries of unrecognized economic truths, then I have a seminar on tax law and sovereign citizenship you MUST sign up for. Did you know the government has a secret bank account in your name with $250k in it? For only $300 I'll teach you how to get that money.

The nice thing about shorters is I barely have to read her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Thought

if you haven't read Tom Levenson's latest vivisection of Megan, go do so.

I'm just realizing, after reading it, that we all may be going about this the wrong way. Megan doesn't listen to her critics because we, in a certain sense, genuinely don't get it.

It takes real effort to create false narratives with such careful, cautious, weaselly methods. Instead of laughing and calling Megan dumb we should be wowed by how well she lies. It takes focus to remain that ignorant, maintain a veneer of professionalism via constantly tonguing the asshole of anyone within 50 feet of you (though she seems a bit more... royal since her princess day) and still be a shallow materialistic yuppie.

Ok, not really, but she is loathsome enough to believe some variant of that as a final guard against genuine self-recognition.

Also, for some reason Megan seems to be responding to Levenson's criticisms in this post, probably because its author sits with her at lunch and has her back. Her comments start here, and she basically repeats the same glibberish again and again hoping to wear those responding out.

Back to Not Being Back

I dunno about you guys, but I'm sick of brad sullying this place up with this new character he's created, Megan McArdle. C'mon, how can we possibly believe she exists? A woman who claims expertise in economics with no formal training in it and who can't even use a calculator? A professional writer that doesn't proofread? And she's six-four? ANNNND her name is fucking Megan McArdle? Shit, I've seen more believable characters in a Marvel comic.

No one is buying it, brad.

Let's go on to something more believable. Someone on Facebook says that this is terribly exciting. Sure.

Now, I've become far too fatalistically apathetic to read long articles filled with the gory details of the bombs bought with my money and dropped on foreigner's heads, but I managed to get far enough in this one to read this fine excursion into political philosophy from our soi-dissant intellectual compatriots over at The New Republic:

Nation-building is a painstakingly slow enterprise. At least some Pakistanis are playing a double game. NATO forces continue to kill non-combatants, despite universal acknowledgment that doing so alienates the people whose affections we are desperate to win.
Because if there's one thing years of war have taught us about the middle east it's that everyone would love America if only their bombs were somehow more accurate. Oh, and they have to be "liberal" bombs.

And if any of you fuckers refute my arguments with facts from the rest of the article, or tell me that The New Republic doesn't call itself liberal or some shit, I'm gonna make you listen to more of brad's "Megan McArdle: The Magical Made-Up Mathematicians Meandering Market Based Solution." I hear the next chapter involves a love interest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More On Tenure

....... breaking news .........

You have to pay tenured professors money, every year, without fail. Megan uses her elite math skills to argue this makes tenure more expensive than a purely contractual system would be.

One interesting response I've seen from a lot of people is that tenure is a non-pecuniary reward that enables us to keep the cost of teaching lower. That's one way to think about it. But I think of it not in terms of annual salary, but as an accounting cost. And in accounting terms, hiring someone on a five year contract at $80,000 is much less expensive than hiring them on a forty year contract at $65,000. One is a liability of perhaps $350,000; the other, of millions.

Is that a ridiculous way to think about it? After all, you'll have to hire another professor at the end of the contract. But you may have to anyway, if, say, their area of specialty won't attract the top students. You also lose the very valuable option to downsize if you run into financial trouble. Fixed payments are what turn cash flow problems into catastrophes. Option value and opportunity costs really matter.
Yes, the stupid is obvious. Megan's ideological biases are literally making her hallucinate (and maybe the Ambien). Fortunately for me, commenter Lisa A spared the need to provide my own response;
Yes, but what most people fail to consider is the cost of hiring and salary inflation. For example: Six years ago, a university hires an assistant professor at a salary of $57k. Said university does not give annual COLA adjustments, only "merit" raises. Not eligible for the first year, the professor gets a 3% raise halfway through the first six years, increasing the salary to $59,850. The professor is tenured, and given a "large" raise for promotion and tenure, increasing said salary to $65,835. Now, you have an associate professor with tenure making $65,835. However, if you were to hire a new *assistant* professor six years after hiring the first one, the new starting salary will be at least $65k.
In short, there's no way that I, as a professor, would accept a renewed contract for anything less than current market salary. For me, as an associate professor, my salary would go up over $10,000 (I've been at my current institution for ten years, and with tenure, 15 years of being in the profession, and two books to my name, I make less than the newly-minted Ph.D. who my department just hired this past spring).
Tenure may be "permanent" employment, but not if the university decides to eliminate your department. People often leave (usually to get a salary increase), and few people today stay at the same university for their entire career.
As for tenure encouraging mastery, there's this little thing called "post-tenure review." Between that and no COLA, if you're not producing scholarship and actively engaged with students, your salary will never go up, and you could actually be fired.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of her commentariat ignore reality and riff on Megan's wishcasting. If we assume that at least one tenured professor somewhere, at some time, has committed rape, then clearly the system facilitates it and must be abolished. One commenter even seems to believe that for-profit colleges, which presumably means private institutions, don't offer tenure. Or maybe he means DeVry. He also seems to think it's metaphysically impossible to fire someone with tenure, because he hasn't the slightest clue what he's talking about, like his heroine.

Shoot me before I post again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fuck Me

it begins again, I made the mistake of reading something by Megan. This piece on tenure is just so monumentally wrong in every imaginable way I have to write a long ranty response, to be read by potentially dozens. The assault on academia and education in general inherent in it is just... no. It's amazing she can write so many words about how she doesn't like anyone who actually knows anything. Megan depends on ignorance, both general and willful, as the basis of her work, so I suppose it's natural for her to hate teachers as a group. But in the past she seemed mostly concerned with high school teachers, who are, primarily, government employees. That makes ideological sense, but her words about college and university professors sound almost personal, as if she hates them for having told her she's wrong or inherently mediocre so many times. People who are informed about their subjects and trained to craft concise, coherent arguments seem to piss off Megan the same way hot girls piss off /b/tards; they want, but will never have.
Anyway, let's get to the stupid;

The arguments for academic tenure have always struck me as pretty weak, and more to the point, transparently self-serving. The best you can say of the system is that it preserves a sort of continuity in schools that is desireable [sic] for the purposes of cultivating alumni donations. But the cost of such a system is simply staggering.
I almost wonder if she consciously placed that huge steaming pile of projection at the very beginning to be a stumbling block for anyone who will criticize her. Yes, tenure is an imperfect system and yes it is abused by some granted power in it and yes it can shield incompetents, but all that and far worse can be said for fucking capitalism, especially the corporate crony based variety currently dominant which Megan considers the most important and sacred thing humanity has ever created. But concern troll needs something to shift concern onto, and as always her ideological blinders help lead the way. Problems in academia aren't due to endowments shrinking in the economic meltdown or American society being profoundly anti-intellectual in character leading to a general bias against knowing what the fuck you're talking about because the economic meltdown was a blameless act of God and/or poor people who bought houses and, as said, Megan depends on ignorance in order to sound plausible. That only leaves tenure.
I had to read the following, so you do too;
Consider what the academic job market now looks like. You have a small elite on top who have lifetime employment regardless of how little work they do. This lifetime employment commences somewhere between 35 and 40. For the ten-to-fifteen years before that, they spend their lives in pursuit of the brass ring. They live in poverty suck up to professors, and publish, for one must publish to be tenured. It's very unfortunate if you don't have anything much worth saying; you need to publish anyway, in order to improve your chances. Fortunately, for the needy tenure seeker, a bevy of journals have sprung up that will print your trivial contributions. If nothing else, they provide a nice simple model which helps introductory economics professors explain Say's Law.
How this differs from Megan's career path and context is, of course, not something you should think about. In no way does becoming a Village Pundit resemble being granted tenure, move along. This is not Megan whining about her own life after the bursting of the tech bubble killed her financial sector job before it ever started a decade and change ago, so shut up.
At the end of the process, most of the aspirants do not have tenure; they have dropped out, or been dropped, at some point along the way. Meanwhile, the system has ripped up their lives in other ways. They've invested their whole youth, and are back on the job market near entry level at an age when most of their peers have spent ten years building up marketable skills. Many of them will have seen relationships ripped apart by the difficulties of finding not one, but two tenure-track jobs in the same area. Others will have invested their early thirties in a college town with no other industry, forcing them to move elsewhere to restart both their careers and their social lives. Or perhaps they string along adjuncting at near-poverty wages, unable to quite leave the academy that has abused them for so long.
Meanwhile, every MBA is guaranteed either an executive level position at a Fortune500 company or a small successful business of their own to run. "Adjuncting" (which we're pretending is a word) is in no way comparable to corporations firing employees then rehiring them as temps or independent contractors so as to avoid paying benefits. And there are no non-financial personal benefits to choosing a life learning about and sharing a subject you love, so being an adjunct prof of English at a community college is exactly as dreary a life as working in a cubicle processing paperwork for who the fuck cares what purpose.
Back to Megan;
Is this producing better education? Doubtful; there's no particular relationship between scholarship and the ability to teach. How about valuable scholarship? Well, define valuable--in many liberal arts fields, the only possible consumer of the research in question is a handful of scholars in the same field. That sort of research is valuable in the same way that children's craft projects are priceless--to their mothers. Basically, these people are supporting an expensive hobby with a sideline business certifying the ability of certain twenty-year olds to write in complete sentences.
Go look for yourself, she actually wrote "there's no particular relationship between scholarship and the ability to teach". She thinks she's saying the biggest expert isn't always the best teacher and adding a non-sequitur empty tautology like "statistics can be uncertain" in place of a premise in a valid argument, but she couldn't even manage to do that much coherently. She might as well have said there's no particular relation between a knowledge of human anatomy and the ability to operate.
Moving on;
And what about the people who do get tenure, and are producing scholarship in areas that other people care about? Doesn't tenure protect free intellectual inquiry? Diversity of thought? Doesn't it allow teachers to be more demanding of students?
Ummm, yeah, it does.
Perhaps--but the question is, at what point?
I'm going to go kill 50 people and see if it calms me down at all.
She admits the best arguments in favor of tenure, namely academic freedom and the ability to respond appropriately to ignorance in pupils, are valid, but irrelevant. Why, you ask?
Most scholars in their sixties are not producing path-breaking new research, but they are precisely the people that tenure protects. Scholars in their twenties and thirties, on the other hand, have no academic freedom at all. Indeed, because tenure raises the stakes so high, the vetting of future employees is much more careful--and the candidates, who know this, are almost certainly more careful than they would be if they were on more ordinary employment contracts. As a result, the process of getting a degree, getting a job, and getting tenure has stretched out to cover one's whole youth. So tenure makes young scholars--the kind most likely to attack a dominant paradigm--probably more careful than they would be under more normal employment process.
Yes, it's because old people are dumb, and forget how to read. And they make everyone in the department pretend their faulty memories are accurate, which is why I always thought Hamlet said "To be or to buy new socks?" until I saw the play performed.
Megan is actually demonstrating intellectual insecurity to think the liberal arts portions of academia are intellectually monolithic and discourage new and challenging interpretations. All institutions have structural inertia, which is no excuse when it's found in academia, but the ratio of bad scholars unwilling to or incapable of recognizing the flaws in their own arguments to stifled geniuses is high enough to break Megan's calculator.
The same is true of diversity. Academics within the tenure system are probably more careful about weeding out heresy, because they'll be stuck with it if it manages to sneak in. Tenure can easily be used to entrench the ideological or scholarly commitments of a department's powerful members, reducing diversity rather than enhancing it.
Granted, this is anecdotal, but in my undergrad philosophy dept there was a legendary tale of an actual fistfight breaking out after a dept meeting between two tenured professors over how to interpret Plato's Republic. Groupthink is a genuine danger, but the type of professor who tries to force their views on an entire department isn't going to be eliminated with tenure, or even necessarily changed in the least. Bullies are bullies, and they'll use whatever means they can to be what they are.
The current tenure system only protects revolutionary, dangerous ideas to the extent that they spring full blown from an academic's head after he has secured tenure, startling the hell out of everyone who hired him. Or perhaps after he's secured his full professorship. Or after he's managed to move to a better class of research institution with a nicer salary.
This is quite simply wrong. Any scholar worth their weight can probably name half a dozen doctoral theses at least which made major impact on their fields and were subsequently publicly published to even greater impact. Even knowing Megan's stupidity as well as I do I can't understand how she could make this claim. It's like saying rookies are prohibited by Major League Baseball from winning the batting title. You have to be deeply, deeply seeped in movement conservative anti-intellectualism to even consider this claim plausible. In other words, you have to be as ignorant as Megan to agree.
Since I don't know of many cases where this has happened, I find it hard to believe that tenure is crucial to preserving the spirit of free inquiry at our nation's colleges. I'm sure it's protected more than one scholar from getting fired after making stupid remarks to a class. And we would all of us--not just academics--like to be immune from getting fired for making stupid remarks. But what's not clear to me is that this has, in any instance, protected Very Important Scholarship from being censored for the benefit of Mrs. Grundy.
Yes, irony just died again, Megan made a stupid remark indicating her lack of awareness of her own insulation from the consequences of making stupid remarks. But there's a second layer of shading to the irony you might miss, of the corporate propagandist questioning whether the honest scholar needs protections from the "market forces" which placed her hack self in a position of false authority. Megan has to believe she rose on talent, lest self-awareness creep into her head and the cookie crumble.
Thanks Jebus, we're almost done.
Even if it were, I'd want to know if all that Very Important Scholarship were worth the enormous cost of this outmoded system. And advocates would have a steep uphill battle to convince me that it is.
The "enormous cost" demonstrated by Megan being that people have to work hard at their career with no guarantees of eventual success, and that academia sometimes struggles to be open to new ideas. This is her actual argument against tenure, and she's damn well pleased with it. I can't go on, and thankfully don't have to. I hope this doesn't mean I'm going to start doing this regularly again, she's really fucking stupid.