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Faith maintenance

[ 37 ] September 20, 2010 |

It turns out Dan Riehl is as adept at reading words as situations:

I should apologize and confess to having previously torn off a quick, mostly hyperbolic and silly rant in response to this by Michael Gerson. I read through it, but right over my name, as well. So, I didn’t think Mr. Gerson was genuinely interested in what bloggers might actually think until now. h/t Newsbusters.


Until someone else pointed out that he’d quoted me, I didn’t think he was interested in what people like me have to say.

That’s a remarkable confession when you think about it, and says quite a bit about the current state of conservative blogs: everyone assumes they know what everyone else is thinking, so they stop reading what they actually write but continue to attack each other anyway. As far as I can gather—it’s rather confusing—it seems like the purity test of the week is not whether conservatives will be pragmatic and advocate voting for Christine O’Donnell, but whether they will hold their tongue or speak their piece about her obvious flaws as a candidate while doing so. Were I a fiscal conservative, I’d be bothered by the disconnect between her life and her professed ideals to the point of questioning whether the latter were nothing more than lip service; but as I am, for the most part, just chuffed that the Republicans of Delaware selected an unelectable candidate, I don’t feel the need to weigh in.

Not even on the Donalde’s latest self-deflating argument, because I’m increasingly convinced that he’s engaged in some sort of performance art. No actual human, much less a teacher, could consider this an invitation to debate, or respond to its inevitable (and quite reasonable) rejection by issuing the following complaint:

There’s a word for this: Anti-intellectualism. And that stance marinates in a devilish sauce of hard left-wing hubris and deceit. It’s further soaked in hatred, for to hate one’s enemies is to categorize them as beyond the pale of reason and civilization.

The worst thing about this cooking show? The Donalde spent all night writing the script. So my choices are “sad, sad little man” or “brilliant performance artist,” and because I want to maintain my faith in humanity, I’m going with the latter.


The Politics of Resentment

[ 7 ] September 20, 2010 |

(What is often inaccurately perceived as) pissing off liberals — it continues to be the glue that holds the Republican coalition together:

The ballot also included a vice presidential question, which Pence also won, with Palin coming in second.

“What a dream ticket,” said FRC president Tony Perkins. “Mike Pence and Sarah Palin! That would give liberals heartburn.”

Hey, Palin may be a historically unprecedented drag on a ticket, but liberals will be really mad! That’s what matters!

I note at this point that if you haven’t read Nixonland, you should.

People who make 400K A Year: Very Affluent

[ 49 ] September 20, 2010 |

Prof. Brad Deling has an excellent post on a particular type of rich person rage, i.e. “$400,000 a year isn’t really that much money, so any increase in marginal tax rates is outrageous.” In this case the argument seems to be that if you don’t have an unlimited budget for luxury trinkets and vacations after buying an extremely expensive house in a good neighborhood in a terrific city and sending your kids to extremely expensive schools, you’re not really rich. I trust that this is self-refuting.

A central problem with the idea that 300 or 400 grand a year doesn’t go as far if you live in a desirable urban location is that living in a desirable location is something you’re getting with your money. If it’s really important to you to have money left over for ivory backscratchers, you can move to the periphery of the urban area; being very affluent doesn’t mean not having to make any tradeoffs. This goes double for Manhattan, where a status cost above and beyond actual amenities is built into the price of real estate. I mean, if you’re paying a huge premium to live on the Upper West Side instead of Brooklyn or Queens, it sure ain’t for the restaurants.

…Fallows has more.

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The World Of High “Revelance-to-Recent-Accomplishment” Ratios: An Update

[ 22 ] September 20, 2010 |

This was sweeter than sweet. Which is sweet.

2. Notre Dame Another 1-2 start from the team Charlie Weis restored as a national power. However, both of their losses have been at least respectable, so for this year I think they rank behind…

1. Dallas Cowboys When you somehow not only to manage to decisively lose a battle of the ludicrously overhyped to Jay Cutler but make him look like Peyton Manning, now that’s ludicrously overhyped.

I considered adding the Jets to the discussion last time, deciding not to in a close call because of their second banana status and the fact that anyone outside of Queens expecting them to be good is a new phenomenon. Obviously, thumping the Pats largely without Revis gets them off the hook for now, but…bears watching.

Channel Surfing

[ 0 ] September 19, 2010 |


A Methodological Note

[ 5 ] September 19, 2010 |

Essentially all quotes — whether of text or video excerpts or whatever — are literally “out of context.” If you’re going to try to imply that a quotation or excerpt is “out of context” in the sense of being misleading or unrepresentative, however, you actually have to explain why the quote is misleading; it’s not enough to say something is taken “out of context” as if that proves anything.

Admittedly, the underlying issue is so trivial it’s the kind of thing that Althouse would have written at least 10 posts about it if it involved the Clintons, but she who lives be religious identity politics will die by religious identity politics.

New Sunday Series?

[ 56 ] September 19, 2010 |

I receive more than a few e-mails that run roughly as follows:

Sundays are a little less special without your Sunday focused posts, but the twins (and time spent on paid gigs) are more deserving of your attention, and your priorities are well in order.

Sunday Battleship Blogging and Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging ended because of the above reasons, but also because I felt that the point of diminishing returns had been reached; there were fewer and fewer interesting battleships, and the monarchs became increasingly obscure. Continuing to write on those subjects became less and less of a learning experience, and more of a chore. I had intended to replace those series with a Sunday Book Review, but haven’t done a good job maintaining that, in part because I feel a greater responsibility to the material. If I mess up a post on SMS Nassau, I may get a chiding comment or two, while if I seriously misrepresent a book the author will send me angry e-mail. This means that while the book reviews are valuable, they’re less fun and more time consuming than the battleship or monarch posts.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed running those weekly series. The correspondent above is correct about the other demands on my time; obviously the twins, but also a book on abolishing the Air Force that I’m trying to write, and a weekly column at World Politics Review that I’ll be starting on October 6. However, I’d still like to try to make time for a Sunday feature. So here’s my question; anybody have any good ideas on the subject for a weekly Sunday LGM blog feature? Has to be enough material to spend at least a year on it, and has to be something that I would be kind of interested in. E-mail, or leave idea in comments…

Creeping Reasonableness

[ 19 ] September 18, 2010 |

I’ve been wondering when the Locke/Demosthenes effect would manifest itself through the faux political rivalry of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Could this be their moment?

Stewart on the need to return to a deliberative ethic in American democracy – best if viewed starting @ 2:10 below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Colbert’s response @ 3:54 below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

A modest prediction regarding this twin set of rallies: Stewart’s will draw a significant number of moderates, for precisely the reasons he hopes, but Colbert’s will also draw Americans on both the far left and far right. If so, that will be an interesting pot in which deliberative democracy can, momentarily, stew – and I wonder what exactly they’re planning to stir it with come the day.

Hope to see you there on October 30th at 8:00 a.m.!

Learning and E-Learning

[ 22 ] September 18, 2010 |

With the academic semester upon us, a rash of news articles about classroom learning have hit the press. First, the NY Times reviews recent reviews of research to remind us that some of what we know about how we learn is wrong. For example, it seems that students retain information better if they alternate rapidly between different subjects while studying and study in differently places.

Bill Petti has more. These studies remind of Nicholas Carr’s thesis on the effects of new media on memory, detailed in his book >The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Either he is wrong that our brains ever learned more by “reading deeply” during the era of the single printed text, or it proves his point that our multi-tasking, hyper-linked information economy has radically changed the way we read, absorb and retain information.

Which brings me to another interesting observation: seems like a quiet IPAD revolution is happening in some college classrooms:

Traditional textbooks have prevailed — until now. The game changer, according to Matt MacInnis, may be a little thing called the iPad.

MacInnis is the founder and CEO of Inkling, a company that designs textbook software for the iPad. He says the iPad has allowed for the reinvention of the textbook.

“We give guided tours through complex concepts,” he says. “So rather than seeing a picture of a cell dividing and then having a big, long caption, you can now tap … through all the different phases of cell division and see those things unfurl in front of you.”

He says that changes things because, until now, e-textbooks have basically just been bad imitations of their paper counterparts.

“When you just copy the stuff that’s on a page and slap it onto a computer screen, you really don’t get the same effect that was intended for what you have on paper,” he says.

Alex Montgomery-Amo, a professor of political science at Reed College in Portland, Ore., couldn’t agree more. Reed College is one of a number of universities around the country that have been experimenting with the iPad, turning Montgomery-Amo’s nuclear politics course into something of a laboratory for electronic readers.

Last year they tried out the Kindle and this year they’ve been given free iPads to test. Montgomery-Amo says they’re hoping to have better luck with the iPad than they had with the Kindle.

Of course, I’m not sure the privileged students at Reed really need free IPADs (how about running these “experiments” in some community colleges or low-income high-schools)? Still, it’s useful to think through the implications and opportunities of each emerging technology as it proliferates from the consumer market to traditional learning environments.

Friday Nugget Blogging

[ 13 ] September 17, 2010 |

Mom, do animals menstruate?

Read more…

Your Moment Of Bobo

[ 6 ] September 17, 2010 |

It sure is lucky that David Brooks’s apocryphal nameless liberal friends make their otherwise sound points with such specific, problematic details! The strawman-burning would be a lot harder otherwise. It’s also a shame that he seemed to file the thing before the results of the Delaware primary were announced…

Lickspittles, Start Your Word Processors!

[ 52 ] September 17, 2010 |

During the upcoming NFL labor negotiations, I’m either going to have to avoid reading much about it or be careful to watch my blood pressure.   The journalists who cover all sports (with a few honorable exceptions) seem to seem their role during labor negotiations as pretending that the interests of the owners and the interests of the fans are one and the same no matter how absurd or self-serving the arguments the owners put forward, but as Pierce says given the career and life expectancies of NFL players the inevitable sucking up to NFL owners is especially grotesque.

I’ve written this before, but as I public service I would like to note the following, which seems to escape both a majority of fans and a majority of sports reporters.

Distribution of money that comes from reductions or artificial limitations on player salaries:

  • Teachers, cancer researchers, Haitian orphans, and other comparative groups often cited as more deserving of money paid to athletes in order to justify owners screwing players:   0%
  • Extremely wealthy, usually lavishly taxpayer-subsidized owners: 100%

…And, as NonyNony reminds us in comments, “Amount that ticket prices would be reduced by if players were payed less: 0%.”