Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
This makes me want to talk to my therapist.
UPDATE: I posted this item before I saw Rob's post below. So what do you think? Is the television establishment racist, or do journalists look too hard for racism?
Sunday, July 29, 2007
So there's no need to spend a lot of words on Emmy's cluelessness about the show. But I do have a question. Is there any explanation for this that makes sense besides simple racism?
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
The lineage that includes the domestic cat as well as several wild relatives originated much earlier than previously thought, more than 100,000 years ago. Furthermore, it seems that domestication occurred in the Near East in the region of the Fertile Crescent, and not in Africa.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
One Brooks tells us there is no inequality problem, and the other Brooks acknowledges growing inequality and tells us it’s no big deal.
Of course there’s plenty wrong with the presidential candidates’ rhetoric on these and all things. But what about the underlying issue?
Arthur says: Did you know “millions and millions of Americans climb out of the ranks of poverty every year”?
Their newfound ability to earn more than $10,210 per year is truly a testament to our current economic miracle.
Arthur says: Did you know a colossal “one fifth of the lower quintile will climb to a higher quintile within a year and one half will rise within a decade”?
This clearly debunks the insidious liberal myth that nobody ever earns more money than they presently earn. But have you seen the quintiles lately? The lowest quintile includes the 23.4 million Americans (including their dependents) who earn less than $17,579. One-fifth will earn more? It’s morning in America indeed.
Arthur says: Did you know the middle quintiles actually got much richer between 1993 and 2003?
If you insist, Arthur, I'll have to agree that Clinton presided over the most pants-moistening expansion of the economy in modern history betwixt albeit loathsome extramarital fellatios. But what about between 2003 and now? According to the non-partisan and uniformly-respected State of Working America report:
In short, I contend that Arthur is not to be trusted on this matter. Furthermore, I am aghast that Democrats have suggested taxing these poor, poor creatures at a higher rate.
David says: average wages keep rising!
But of course that has nothing to do with equality whatsoever. Averages are averages. He wants us to know that the lowest quintile, those who currently earn less than $17,579, increased their earnings by 80% from 1991 to 2005. Bill Clinton et al accept your praise.
Finally, David says: the wealthiest among us often “work like dogs while those down the income scale have seen their leisure time increase by a phenomenal 14 hours a week.”
Ah, the ol’ “they’re all lazy down there” argument. If the dirt poor would only work instead of vacationing wherever those people vacation (Reno, perhaps?).
Arthur and David would like us to know that people claim to be happier today than they did thirty years ago. That’s nice, but there are very real, very well-documented issues with inequality that carry much more weight than arguments about self-perceptions of happiness; higher (non-rich) mortality rates, lower (non-rich) graduation rates, higher (non-rich) rates of health decline, and higher rates of crime (for both) to name a few.
It’s here, it’s a problem and we ought to be talking about it.
"the city of some 30’720 citizens owns 88 restaurants and bars. Based on the US average data, this would mean that at least 1’150 Springfielders earn their living in kitchens or behind bar counters. Addi-tionally, there are 23 hotels, which sta-tistically would mean another 700 jobs....
'The quality of the local school system seems poor,' he analyses. There are higher education institutions, but they also show questionable qualities. Spingfield A&M College was founded by a cow, for example."
David Brooks, "A Reality Based Economy," New York Times, July 24, 2007. (Non-gated summary here).
Arthur Brooks, "The Left's 'Inequality' Obsession," The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2007.
[Bonus: For the nerdiest among us, Linda Hirshman's recent essay in The New Republic, "Liberals' Misplaced Love of John Rawls."]
The new round of "Trapped" videos finds Kelly portraying an old man named Randolph, complete with a pot belly and a fake white beard that nearly falls off mid-scene, as well as a preacher in a gray Jheri-curl wig and garish orange suit. In one of the final chapters, Kelly's Sylvester character talks business with a "Sopranos"-esque mobster who is eating a giant plate of spaghetti.Why oh why can't it be Aug. 21 today?
Thanks Natalya for the tip!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
And what the hell, here is another favorite, "Inner City Pressure":
"The manager, Bevin, starts to abuse me/ Hey man I just want some Mueslix."
Go here, there are more!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
1. From last Wednesday in the WaPo: "Economists see aid to poor nations as ineffective"
"We find little evidence of a robust positive correlation between aid and growth," wrote Raghuram Rajan, who stepped down as IMF chief economist at the end of 2006, and Arvind Subramanian, who left the IMF this year, said.2. From yesterday on the Freakonomics blog: A Freakonomics Quorum: How to Save the African Rhino? (This marks "the inaugural Freakonomics quorum" in which they "decided to put the question to a set of diverse, smart people we know or tracked down, who might have particular insights to this particular problem.") A reader asks:
"We find little evidence that aid works better in better policy or institutional environments, or that certain kinds of aid work better than others," they added.
We are raising funds and there is internal debate on whether we spend the money in a corrupt, economically distressed country like Zimbabwe, where rhinos are under severe poaching threat, or Botswana, a neighbouring stable, well-run, minimally corrupt country where poaching stresses are less high. Are there any tools we can use to make the decision as to which would ultimately protect more rhinos?An economist member of the quroum begins:
But where is the incremental impact of an aid dollar greater: Corrupt but very needy Zimbabwe, or relatively clean but comfortably well-off Botswana? This is a question that development economists ask not just about rhinos, but development aid generally, and different economists reach very different conclusions. One view is that the incremental benefit of a mere penny of aid money is greater to a poor Zimbabwean earning less than a dollar a day than a dollar would be for his relatively rich neighbor in Botswana.
So even if 98 percent of assistance is stolen, we’re still better off channeling our aid dollars to Zimbabwe. Most academic economists would take issue with this view: by continuing to channel resources into corrupt countries, not only are we failing to maximize the impact of our aid dollars; we may even be encouraging the continuation of corrupt regimes, who see no punishment for bad behavior. The idea of rewarding good behavior is motivation for the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Account, which gives aid money to poor countries that meet certain conditions of government honesty and functionality.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
See also, the article's parting shot from a Columbia law prof and former colleague of Fitzgerald's, how Chicago is a "target-rich environment." Boy is it ever...
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Also of note:
But by the time that our paths met, Timbaland had already been Timbaland and done all the cool weird shit. He's sampled babies and cows and things, and I was making tracks sampling chickens. And he was like, "I'm done being cool; I want to work with Celine Dion." And I was like, "So you just want to make Titanic?" And he's like, "Yeah, that's what I want to do."
My friend Dan's initial reaction: "If I were the intellectual alter-ego of George W. Bush, I think I’d avoid comparisons with Nixon, given the current president’s similar, awful domestic policy track record."
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Across the country, shoes, clothes, toiletries and different kinds of food were all swept from the shelves as a nation with the world's fastest shrinking economy gorged itself on one last spending spree.
But it's moments like this that both want me to entrench him into Hall of Fame for Awesomeness status, and chide him for not putting his talent to better use doing something else. Where are the Democrats on earmark reform, by the way? And lest you think I'm being strictly partisan, it's performances like that, and the utter antipathy from the R's in response, that ensure Flake will likely never rise into any kind of leadership position (or even become a ranking committee member).
"We don't even know if the group receiving the appropriation exists!"It's really a shame.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Fortunately sanity, if less glamor, comes in the form of ex-World Bank grenade thrower William Easterly. He has turned himself into a one man think tank pointing out the flaws in the incumbent development regime, supported by many, championed by Bono. But Easterly's urgency isn't motivated by the prospect of rich countries and international agencies wasting money, per se -- if that were the only problem, urgency need not apply. The fatal flaw (and I don't use the word fatal heedlessly) is that direct aid is not always just unproductive, but counterproductive.
But Easterly took a right turn with his latest op-ed in the LA Times. This time he takes dead aim at the notion that, wait for it, Africa is really all that bad off. Okay, his indelicateness notwithstanding, he means only to point out what actually is working and focus readers on the real problem. Take this graph:
What percentage of the African population would you say dies in war every year? What share of male children, age 10 to 17, are child soldiers? How many Africans are afflicted by famine or died of AIDS last year or are living as refugees?His point is that the challenges of the Dark Continent are less mobilizing, but equally catastrophic. Africa, he contends, needs more in the way of clean water, roads, and international trade channels than they do peacekeepers. And of course, as an academic, he's afforded the luxury to be impolite about it. He doesn't get away without throwing some pot shots in at Bono naturally:
In each case, the answer is one-half of 1% of the population or less. In some cases it's much less; for example, annual war deaths have averaged 1 out of every 10,800 Africans for the last four decades.
Perhaps Bono was grouchy because his celebrity-laden "Red" campaign to promote Western brands to finance begging bowls for Africa has spent $100 million on marketing and generated sales of only $18 million.In the mean time, one could say Bono still hasn't found what he's looking for (I couldn't resist).
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It's been a slow week in a hot era. I found myself Thursday watching President Bush's news conference and thinking about what it is about him, real or perceived, that makes people who used to smile at the mention of his name now grit their teeth. I mean what it is apart from the huge and obvious issues on which they might disagree with him.
I'm not referring to what used to be called Bush Derangement Syndrome. That phrase suggested that to passionately dislike the president was to be somewhat unhinged. No one thinks that anymore. [...]
As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president's seemingly effortless high spirits. He's in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude. He doesn't seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president's since polling began. He's in a good mood. Discuss.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Edwards and Clinton were caught plotting against Kucinich (and Gravel, presumably?). From the LA Times:
In an exchange captured on camera and open microphone by broadcasters after an NAACP forum in Detroit, Edwards approached Clinton onstage and whispered in her ear.And later on:
"We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group," Edwards said, and Clinton agreed.
"Our guys should talk," Clinton said, complaining the format had "trivialized" the discussion.
In New Hampshire, Clinton seemed to lay responsibility on Edwards.
"I think he has some ideas about what he'd like to do," she said, adding she liked participating in the forums.
When Rod Blagojevich jumps in the water, Rod Blagojevich doesn't get wet. Water gets dishonest and incompetent.Sure glad he's not the governor of my state, that must be horrible.
"Downtown square's users divided on improvement plan," 7/13/07
"Big, old maple trees fall to Fifth Ave. reconstruction," 7/12/07
"Should fireworks crackdown continue?" 7/11/07
Over the weekend I'll have a piece about a pro-immigration rally and one gauging reaction to Vatican statements about Catholic primacy. In the next couple of weeks they will set up a blog for me and I'll start interacting more with online readers. I'll definitely link to that blog here once it exists.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
UPDATE [7/4 5:37pm] ... Looks like Eric Zorn was thinking the same thing. He adds that Hillary Clinton is like the Blackberry, and a commenter chimes in that John Edwards is like the RAZR. They may be getting carried away with the pols-to-phones analogies... Although actually all three of those sort of do make sense...
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
So I went and watched the YouTubes of Burr, and the performance really is something to behold. Here is part one, here is part two. Beware, the language is quite graphic. But it is also kind of like a symphony of profanity, the superconcentrated hostility is remarkable.
I'm not embedding the videos though. This is a family blog.
Monday, July 02, 2007
UPDATE [7/2 8:01pm] ... Statement from Patrick Fitzgerald's office:
We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.
We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as "excessive." The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process."
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Keller deflects criticism by claiming she's trying to start arguments with her readers. Mission accomplished! Bret Easton Ellis should not be on anyone's list of great anything. (Email her your outraged disagreement at email@example.com.)
I do agree with Keller that Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian is a contender. In my book so are Gatsby, Invisible Man, Huck Finn and Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom! Nabokov's Pale Fire is one of the great works of the 20th century, but I am not sure it does what you want a Great American Novel to do. I haven't read any Willa Cather, whose My Antonia Keller mentions, and I haven't read her 2003 pick, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, either.
But that's neither here nor there! The Great American Novel is Moby Dick, period. Isn't it obvious?
No? Please offer your own nominees and never-in-a-million-years choices, with Julia Keller and with me, too.