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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%.”

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Paul is dead?

[ 18 ] September 17, 2010 |

The SSA has a nice site that lets you look up all sorts of statistical info on naming patterns. Among other things it allows one to predict that 70 years from now very few baby girls will be named Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, or Emily (people who study this kind of thing have noted that girls’ names associated with the generation of women who are now grandmothers tend to be very unpopular, apparently because they’re now strongly associated with old age. Hence the current scarcity of Doris, Ruth, Shirley, Jean, Betty, Dorothy etc.).

But what about Paul? Paul was a remarkably consistent name for the first seven decades of the 20th century, always coming at between 12th and 20th in popularity. Then in 1969 it began a steady decline, to the point where it’s now outside the top 150.

My theory as to why:

Abbey Road

Nobody wants to associate their newborn with a dead guy.

On Mass Murder…

[ 19 ] September 17, 2010 |

The only modification that I’d make to this argument is that the responsibility does not wholly lie with Mao Zedong.  The Great Leap Forward had the early support of a depressing number of CCP elites who  really should have known better (Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi).  To be fair, both Deng and Liu used the failure of the Great Leap Forward to push economic policy towards decollectivization, but when the policy was conceived they were largely on board.  Much later Deng tried to pin responsibility for the Great Leap Forward entirely on Mao, exculpating the rest of the CCP leadership.  However, while the Cultural Revolution can be profitably interpreted as the outgrowth of intra-CCP conflict, the failure of the Great Leap Forward had many fathers.

Deficit Hawkery Defined

[ 9 ] September 17, 2010 |

Evan Bayh: “[t]here’s no bigger deficit hawk in Congress than I am.”

So, of course, he must favor letting Bush’s unpopular upper-class tax cuts expire, right? Ha ha, just kidding.

In fairness, there’s not necessarily a contradiction here; Bayh didn’t, after all, define his terms.  If we define “deficit hawk” by inference, I think Bayh fits the bill:

Def·i·cit Hawk (adj.) 1. A political figure who favors deeply regressive tax cuts, unlimited defense spending irrespective of efficacy, and high deficits that can be used an excuse to cut (or, better yet, to oppose the enactment of) any program that might possibly help a poor person. 2. A loathsomely pompous fluffer of plutocrats.

I think we can all agree that there are indeed few bigger deficit hawks in Washington than Evan Bayh.

see also.

fairness can wait!

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Lazy Blogging

[ 9 ] September 16, 2010 |

Eventually, you just have to cut your losses. Stories I wanted to blog about this week but ran out of time, what with school, sick children, cats on the lam, and business travel:

1) Some great blogs I recently discovered on humanitarian aid: here, here and especially, especially here.

2) Regarding that last, latest story is about a new study demonstrating that withdrawing aid from developing countries can cause armed conflicts. More at the Monkey Cage.

3) Court case to watch: lawsuit against the USG filed by two civil liberties groups on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki’s father to obtain an injunction to prevent the USG from summarily executing his son. White House is weighing its response.

4) Harvard’s latest webseminar on humanitarian law took place today: theme was “Criminalizing Humanitarian Engagement” and discussion centered on Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. Interested readers can access a number of supporting documents here.

5) Turtle Bay speculates on former head of state Michele Bachelet’s appointment to head the new UN Women’s Agency, and her possible future in the UN.

6) A great end of summer read.

7) No sign of my cat yet, but I did catch a possum in the trap this week. Read more…

Believe it or not, I’m with D’Souza on this one.

[ 30 ] September 16, 2010 |

I have nothing to say about Dinesh D’Souza’s highly praised article in Forbes because it’s predicated on the claim that

Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anticolonial.

If you make the above claims after debating the relative merits of the “neocolonial” and “anticolonial” positions, you need to re-read your own article to see that the only thing “dead” about colonialism is your capacity to understand that it is logically implicit and historically complicit in its own legacy. Go figure. But as long as I’m on the subject of being stupendously wrong, I should note that the previous is not the central objection to D’Souza’s argument at the American Thinker:

As much as I admire D’Souza, however, I must take issue with his argument. Yes, Obama does seem to espouse a certain inchoate anticolonialism, but the “dreams” do not come so much from his father as from his mother, and they have been given voice by Obama’s muse, terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers.

What Cashill has done to that poor horse is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, but not entirely unexpected. He’s banked his career on the possibility that his claims are true and has no choice now but to continue to compile “evidence” to support them, such as:

D’Souza cites “Frantz Fanon” as one of “Obama’s acknowledged intellectual influences.” What he overlooks is that in Fugitive Days, Ayers misspells Fanon’s first name as “Franz,” exactly as Obama does in Dreams. Also on the anticolonial front, both Ayers and Obama misspell in the same fashion the site of the South African massacre, Sharpeville.

Wait a minute! I remember addressing this argument when it concerned prepositions:

[B]oth Ayers and Obama misquote the opening line of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago,” substituting “hog butcher to the world” for “hog butcher for the world.” This mutual error would be significant (an “A-level match”) if Ayers and Obama were the only two people who ever made it, but according to Google Book Search—a secret search engine to which only I have access—the same mistake has been made by Nelson Algren, Alan Lomax, Andrei Codrescu, H.L. Mencken, Paul Krugman, Perry Miller, Donald Hall, Ed McBain, Saul Bellow, S.J. Perelman, Nathanaël West, Ezra Pound, Wright Morris, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress. (To name but a few.) According to Cashill, I have now proven that Dreams From My Father was written by many a dead man of American letters, a living mystery writer, a New York Times columnist and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress.

That said, since unique misspellings represent an entirely new line of argument for Cashill, I should give him the benefit of the doubt and fact-check this too. Let’s see:

Google results for “Franz Fanon”: ~70,000
Google results for “Frantz Fanon”: ~416,000

Google results for “Sharpville”: ~94,200
Google results for “Sharpeville”: ~510,000

For most people, the fact that the correct spellings vastly outnumber the incorrect ones wouldn’t constitute evidence that only Ayers and Obama have ever misspelled those names that way, but Jack Cashill isn’t most people. Like the Donalde, Cashill’s acquired the reputation of a man who will do anything to acquire a reputation. Admittedly, he hasn’t demonstrated the “tactical elan” of an “unmatched competitor” by closing down the comments on posts where he might be challenged to back up his fightin’ words with their arguin’ kin—but remember that the Donalde is a special sort of stupid, the likes of which we almost don’t deserve.

Mad Men: Picking up “The [wrong] Suitcase”

[ 5 ] September 16, 2010 |

[I know I’m a week behind, but I had to take an emergency vacation when I realized the quarter starts next week.  Expect one more post on this episode before I get to the most recent.]

In the first post about “The Suitcase,” I concerned myself with the way Getzinger’s camera conspired with blocking to frame the characters oppressively, and I want to build on that at the beginning of this one, but need to backtrack a bit first.  In that post I noted that Getzinger switches to a medium shot and opens up an abyss beneath Draper that terminates in his office.  I was spectacularly wrong.  At the beginning of the episode, Draper’s office sits atop an abyss, as the shot after the aforelinked one clearly demonstrates:

Read more…

Is Donalde Douglas Real?

[ 46 ] September 16, 2010 |

I lean more towards the “clever, very detailed, if now a little too implausible parody developed by Tom Tomorrow” theory.

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At Least Before the Fact, the Incompetence Works In Our Favor

[ 2 ] September 16, 2010 |

I applaud the strategic acumen of the New York Republican Party, granting the consequences of a fluke win would be particularly horrible.

Oooooh, My Arm!

[ 14 ] September 16, 2010 |

Even granting that if a Slappy Rodriguez or Milton Bradley had done it they’d be getting raked over the coals, I don’t blame St. Derek of Pasta Diving for his acting job — I blame the umpires for yet another ridiculous blown call, which fortunately ended up not costing the Rays the game. Not just Barksdale — although I can’t believe he didn’t hear the ball squarely hit the bat, the home plate umpire really doesn’t have a great angle on that play. But wasn’t anyone else paying attention?

I’ll grant that being an Expos fan gives one a special bitterness in this area, but I note that this game between the two best teams in baseball — and with countless local Yankee fans to inflate the gate — was played to about 80% capacity, and the Rays are 9th in the league in attendance. (They are only about 200,000 ahead of the Pirates, a genuine small market that hasn’t had a decent team since the first Bush administration.) Funny, but I don’t remember seeing a lot of stories about what a horrible baseball market Tampa is and when they’re going to be contracted. For the record, the 1983 Expos — after one (heartbreaking) post-season appearance and enduring their second straight bitterly disappointing season, and in a park at least as bad as the Trop — were second in the league in attendance. I’ll have more to say this weekend, but let’s just say that there’s substantially more evidence that Montreal could support a well-capitalized team in a decent stadium than there is that Tampa could.

Bandidos Yanquis

[ 16 ] September 15, 2010 |

I have to say that I am shocked, shocked by the general level of evil and ill will demonstrated by Yankee partisans:

A curious phenomenon has emerged at the intersection of fashion, sports and crime: dozens of men and women who have robbed, beaten, stabbed and shot at their fellow New Yorkers have done so while wearing Yankees caps or clothing.

One of the three suspects in the gym break-ins wore a blue Yankees cap. A security camera photographed the man who tried to rob the Bronx bank, and though his face was largely obscured, his Yankees hat was clearly visible. The Queens robbery suspect was last seen with a Yankees cap on his head.

In some ways, it is not surprising that Yankees attire is worn by both those who abide by the law and those who break it. The Yankees are one of the most famous franchises in sports, and their merchandise is widely available and hugely popular.

But Yankees caps and clothing have dominated the crime blotter for so long, in so many parts of the city and in so many types of offenses, that it defies an easy explanation.

I can see at least two problems in the above text:

In some ways, it is surprising that Yankees attire is worn by those who abide by the law. That Yankees caps and clothing have dominated the crime blotter for so long, in so many parts of the city and in so many types of offenses, is easily explained by the evil nature of the Yankees fan.

Fixed it for you.

UPDATE: I used to think that this picture was cute.  Now I worry that Miriam is just looking for something to steal.

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Annals of Self-Promotion

[ 1 ] September 15, 2010 |

For those in or in some proximity to New York’s capital region, tomorrow evening I will be delivering a free lecture for Constitution Day that may well be worth at least that much.