Saturday, April 30, 2011

These Are The Women Your Father's Father Warned About

Susan B. Anthony famously said "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world" and Frances Willard structured her book on feminist activism around learning to ride a wheel. While others have shown how the bicycle threatened patriarchal control and gender norms. This picture, I think, tells the whole tale:

The women are about to ride off on their own leaving behind kid and dad in pursuit of their own ends and by their own means. They are moving forward and the men in their lives are standing still. In just a few short pedals they will be free. And now bicycles are inexpensive enough for all.

It's The End of The World As We Know it and He Feels Fine

The people responsible for hiring and firing people have been firing them at a decent clip and not hiring them at a slightly faster pace. The people responsible for getting or giving wages and dividing wealth have, for some time now, decided that fewer people with preposterously large incomes and ridiculous levels of wealth is better than seeing to it the vast majority of Americans have decent wages and any wealth.

Matthew Yglesias thinks that this if "fine."

And then asks, what he sees as,
[t]he real question is: Why are policymakers satisfied with FINE?
Two points: The economy isn't fine; after 30 odd years of Yglesias' Neoliberalism it's broken. Policy makers are doing the wrong thing because right now Neoliberalism reigns supreme.

If he actually wanted to fix the problem, he attack Neoliberalism and admit that it broke the world in the first place.

Oh For Dumb

Adnrew Sullivan insists that
[t]his should piss off some liberal readers. Robin Hanson calls the above video an example of "natural hypocrisy":
Most people believe that redistributing money within a nation is good, but that redistributing GPA within a school is bad, and if asked why these should be treated differently, have little to say.
First there is the difference between taxes, paying for civilization and all that, and GPA, showing how badly or well as student is doing. Secondly, has anyone involved in thinking that this is an example of "natural hypocrisy" ever taught or taken a class? Students and teachers participate in creating an education as a group. Kids who do well at some aspect of education, say math or science, help raise other kids scores through group work, class discussion and so on.

The only way something this silly would piss anybody off is if they fail to recognize that all group activities "redistribute" the good or benefit created by group effort. It's the crooks who take more than they earn and the liars who insist that such crookedness is not only natural but necessary and good.

Friday, April 29, 2011

They've Been at it For a While

From WIIIAI when learn that what we now call Neoliberalism has been waging it's war on people for sometime now:
Taylorism. Frederick Taylor holds a demonstration of “scientific management” at Carnegie Hall. He showed how 30 girls in a bicycle factory can do the work of 100 in less time. Taylor bemoans the short-sighted trade unions for opposing putting 70 girls out of work through scientific management. For example – and watch out for one of the greatest phrases in the history of the English language – “When my friend [Frank Bunker] Gilbreth worked out his philosophy of bricks he ran against the unions.”
Enjoy the weather.

David Brooks is an Annoying Such And So

An aside from his recent op-ed:
The purpose of the meeting was to see which regions were doing a good job of getting the veterans treatment and housing vouchers, and which weren’t. (Democrats seem to feel comfortable using vouchers to address housing problems but not education and health care problems.)
Because providing housing is different from providing education and health care. Consequently, people who prefer to get things done right rather than mindless follow some failed ideology do different things to resolve the problems.

Also, too: "seem to feel comfortable"? How about: concluded after looking at the evidence?

And as well:
Unlike some political appointees, Donovan and Gould are deeply involved in the intricacies and are powerfully driving policy.
Name the rapscallions, you passive aggressive such like. The whole thing is a master class is insinuation, faulty logic, and unsupported conclusion. It is, in other words, Brookstastic.

Three Things

Apparently, many folks think that the Royal Wedding is just like any other junk tv or entertainments, which is -- of course-- true if the junk tv or other entertainments shore up a reactionary political system in which birth and religion determine suitability for office and, equally as of course, if the junk tv or other entertainments cost the British public 20 million pounds per episode, which is all a way of saying: no it's not.

Jonathan Chait's suggestion that Trump is a "serious" candidate for office ought properly debar him from commenting on political issues.

Despite the attempts by the Republicans to inflate the "damage" done to the Capital here in Wisconsin, it's clear that it was trivial.

Also here in Wisconsin, let's all give a cheer for this:
Another [Democratic senator facing recall] Mark Miller recall group run by Utah-based activist Dan Baltes has a deadline of May 4. Jeffery Horn, organizer of the local group that missed its deadline, told supporters in a Facebook post that his group would not merge signatures with Baltes' group due to concerns over its tactics and motives.
Locavor: it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Trump Meant

There's a post a with a really powerful video over here concerning what Trump was really saying.

Books and Food

This looks to be a great cookbook for free yet.

Books and Music

From here I found out that Continuum has a whole series of shortish books on specific musicians. Looks very interesting.

Royal Wedding

In the absence of Fred Astair, I think it's fair to say that far more people don't care or have an active dislike of Wills and What's her name, than are willing to awake at 4 am to watch a bunch of rich twits whose wealth is totally unearned and whose social role could be filled by Snooki and political part played by Berty Wooster. And yet the whole disgraceful mess is on the tv all the time. Why?, you ask.

Well I'll tell ya. It beats working. Think about all the other stories and all the work necessary to understand them and then to try and tell these more complicated stories in simpler language, because you only get 10 second or whatever, and who wouldn't want to take a week off in order to discuss the marriage of two people very few people care very much about.

It's like the birther thingy, easier to cover that without pointing out that it's false then to, for example, explain why Trump's version of invasion wouldn't work or why Ryan's budget wouldn't work and pointing out that attacking the weak in the way it does isn't an act of bravery. And so on.

Homo Economicus

If people took and kept jobs solely because for monetary reason, Chris Rickert's marginally coherent column in today's WSJ wouldn't be the insulting bit of nonsense it is. People work at whatever for reasons of social stature, sense of personal fulfilment and so forth.

Consequently, teachers are taking early retirements because for years now the Conservative and their flim flam educational "reformers" have been attacking teachers for years now.  And now armed with the power granted them by a mendacious dope and unopposed by administrators who ought to know better, they are harassing teachers by arbitrarily changed conditions at work, like start and planning time, and, in general, pursuing a series of policies designed to destroy moral.


I was looking for A.C. Grayling's new humanist manifesto and found instead his Very Short Introduction to Wittgenstein. According to Grayling Hitler and Wittgenstein attended school together at Linz. I've never heard anything like that; however,  while searching the intertubes I found this:

And a discussion here.

The world is weird, ana.


No one involved with planning and justifying the kidnapping and torture of foreigners in Gitmo and elsewhere will ever face a tribunal; no one involved with the fraudulent sale of credit defaults or other bizarro financial instruments will ever face a judge. If, on the other hand, you are a single mother who "robs" a school district of education for you son by moving your van to a different city, the hammer of justice falls swiftly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh For Dumb

So Matthew Yglesias understands that all the promises of charter schools are a nonsense. But he can't bring himself to reverse his position on choice and the perfection of the market. He, consequently, moves the goal posts from charter schools and choice creating better outcomes to charter schools and choice increasing human happiness because of illusions.

On the other hand, when confronted with something that all profession educators understand as a necessary first step to improving outcomes: class size. He denigrates it.

It's almost like he doesn't care about ends so longs as his means are put into place.

Enlightenment: German Edition

One of the enduring myths of old regime Prussia was the White Lady. Allegedly when a Prussian monarch was slated for death the White Lady appeared on a stair case. German speaking enlighteners hoped upon hope that proving there was no such thing as ghosts despaired of their failure to purge this mythic vision from the popular imagination. They didn't, however, quit trying to purge this mythic vision from the popular imagination because, they correctly thought, that purging this mythic, which is to say incorrect, vision from the popular imagination would benefit the population at large in two ways. The first would be the specific falsehood and the second would be the general. It was an optimistic  assessment of humanities ability to learn the difference between fact and fiction. Despite the specific failure, humanistic optimist like me support this kind of action. Fictions need to be shown to be fictions.

Today President Obama released his "long form" birth dealio proving he is an actual American citizen. Many on the Intertubes and its related nets are baffled by this decision. Their argument is, essentially, that these birther yahoos can never be satisfied and, therefore, Obama was wrong to try and show that their fictions were, in fact, fictions.

For me, Obama's decision was one more of the many ultimately successful attempts of making facts more powerful than fictions. So, I say, well done young pirate and way to continue the endless and necessary commitment to truth's triumph over lies.

This Is Ridiculous

Over to Balloon Juice, we learn that the newly-installed administrator of Benton Harbor MI wants to lead it back to solvency by
Mr. Harris began paying debts, laying off workers and considering a plan to merge the fire and police departments into a single unit where firefighters could ultimately answer burglary calls and police officers could put out fires.
If you go to the NYT and read the whole thing this startling factoid leaps out
One commissioner glowered at Mr. Harris (whom the city is required to pay $11,000 a month under his state contract) when they crossed paths in City Hall.
12x11= 132k per annum. Nice work.

Natural Law

Ronald Dworkin, natural law enthusiast -- not that there's anything wrong with that, has two essays up on the LRB on why the Roberts' Court is such a disaster. His overarching point is that Conservative wing, he includes Kennedy,
continue to revise our historical constitution and two new cases show that the arguments they offer continue to be embarrassingly bad.
I think he's on to something.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When Lies Aren't Really Lies or; The Limits of Oral History

It what can only be called a profound misunderstanding of the meaning of "fabrication," Megan McArdle muses on people lying about their pasts that
[t]his isn't necessarily fabrication; it's just that we pick and choose what we recall, and those who are happy will selectively recall the best parts, while those who are unhappy will accentuate the negative.
It is necessarily fabrication when you pick and choose this and that to create a false picture of the past. This why oral history is limited use.

If The Facts Are Against You Ignore Them

America is right now a richer society than it was at some point in the past. For quite a while now lowering labor costs through machines/robots/computers and other "productivity enhancers," which is another way of saying doing more with fewer people or more jobs in low wage areas with little or no "burdensome" regulations, led to stagnate wages and under- and un-employed people because an economy so structured doesn't create jobs with the added benefit of increasing income/wealth inequality. If you don't believe me, look out the window. Still, Matthew Yglesias argues
[t]hat’s not to say the robo-waiters of the future doom us to endless mass unemployment and immiseration. If labor costs related to waiting tables falls, over the long run that’ll mean more and better restaurants with more jobs for people with specialized skills. More sommeliers and more chefs, in other words. Consumers will also buy more things in other sectors of the economy, so there’ll be more jobs for nurses and yoga instructors. On average, replacing labor power with technology makes us better off. But the specific people who are made better-off will be the people with the complementary skills.
 Just because the world is the way the world is because of a mindless commitment to Neoliberalism, he is suggesting, doesn't mean that continued mindless commitment to Neoliberalism won't fix the problem Neoliberalism has created.

What is equally appalling is his argument that if only workers wouldn't ask for more money then none of this would ever have happened. Yes, we should all just accept whatever the market demands instead of trying to end economic inequality by putting people over profits.

Manly Men: Governance Edition

If you're the sort of person who thinks being all manly man and riding roughshod over your opponents when in the majority and conversely using every trick in the book to forestall when in the minority are signs of being a serious politician, you might consider Scott Walker's recent career. He ran roughshod over opponents, insulted voters, workers, and citizens because of the roughshod riding and procedural trickery. And, finally, he discovers that actions have consequences as a broad-based coalition forms to remove members of his cabal from office.

It would seem that as a practical matter playing winner-take-all politics in a stable democracy means that you if you win and you are wrong, and manly men are nearly always wrong regardless of their alleged "ideological" commitments, you lose.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ross Douthat: Boy Theologian

Recently Ross Douthat weighs in on the issue of hell. Not surprisingly, he's for it. I'll leave it to others to debunk the biblical warrant for hell. Instead, there is this:
Atheists have license to scoff at damnation, but to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices. If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our no’s have any real meaning either. They’re like home runs or strikeouts in a children’s game where nobody’s keeping score.

In this sense, a doctrine of universal salvation turns out to be as deterministic as the more strident forms of scientific materialism. Instead of making us prisoners of our glands and genes, it makes us prisoners of God himself. We can check out any time we want, but we can never really leave.
This is sadistic and sadism is a sign of imperfection. If God assures that salvation is within the grasp of anyone who does as Christ wanted, caring for the least among us, etc, regardless of doctrinal orientation, it does not follow that everyone obtains salvation because some, like Conservatives, are actively violating these principles. The punishment is death everlasting while life everlasting is the reward. Beyond this God needn't go unless, of course, you think God is a sadistic bastard, in which case I'd say buy a nice coffin you'll be there a while.

Jonah Goldberg Asks Another Question

Jonah Goldberg wants to know why, if Conservatives are right about everything, Liberal ideas and ideals are spread. He makes a variety of nonsensical attempts at answering the question: migration, Conservatives can't indoctrinate their kiddie winks, etc. The question is easy to answer: Conservatives are mostly wrong about the best way to organized humanity in a social situation and Social Conservatives are small-minded bigots, whose desperate lies about the dangers of full equality have, time and again, been shown to be small-minded bigotry.

Lucky Duckies

Over to Crooked Timber they're discussing the role of luck versus merit in economic success. In the comments, some one argues that
You have got to be kidding [about luck being more important merit]. If my parents push me to work harder at school, surely I can take at least some credit for rewriting essays while other kids are watching TV? 
 This is true if and only if you are the onliest person in the cohort of people who applied for your job who "merited" it. There are almost always more applicants then there are positions, something that is truer now then ever. The person who gets the job all those others want is the most meritorious but rather the one who got lucky that the hiring committee/individual picked them rather than the other equally qualified and meritorious applicants, or even one who was less so but went to a better school or what have you. It's luck all the way done.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Andy and Ian Memorialize D-Day

Sunday Times

I am more convinced then ever that
1) the time has come to remove memoirs from the non-fiction category.
2) nobody needs to know what David Stockman thinks about the federal budget. I know; I know:  he recanted but still.
3)Conservative "intellectuals" who praise Ryan's deeply dishonest budget and promise to improve it with more tax cuts really don't deserve space in the NYT
4)Jill Lepore is a national treasure.