Re: Listenability.

1

Full disclosure: my current musical soft-spot list includes Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 2:56 PM
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Puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-Pearl Jam. My-my-my-my.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:06 PM
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Hmm, not convinced. Though the nearest I usually get to Pearl Jam is Weird Al's "My Baby's in Love with Eddie Vedder".


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:07 PM
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2: Hope I die before Stanley gets old.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:08 PM
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I endorse Eric Cartman's cover of "Poker Face."

I have never heard the original, though.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:24 PM
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I am confused by 2 and 4. At first I thought 2 was some sort of reference to Pearl & Dean but that doesn't really make sense. Enlighten me before I have to find Standpipe's blog (lost the bookmark, would you believe it!?!?).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:29 PM
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That Pearl Jam song is okay, I guess. It's no "Poker Face," though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:30 PM
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Oh, come on.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:31 PM
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Oh ok, I listened to Cartman and remembered how 'Poker Face' went. Bedtime for me, I think.

I have a friend who looks like Lady Gaga.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:32 PM
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Damn. I thought Pearl Jam got old and starting riding golf carts around all the time or something.

max
['Wait. Wasn't there some problem about Ticketmaster not being on standard time or something?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:36 PM
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I do not like this song much. It's OK, but it's not even as new-sounding as Vitalogy, which was still behind-the-times for its time. OTOH, I keep hearing that Whitney Houston "Million Dollar Bill" song HG posted a while back and I still love it--for being so wonderfully behind-the-times!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:45 PM
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Me too! We played it at our reception.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:49 PM
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It was a big hit at the lesbian bar last night.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:50 PM
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7: Oh, come on.


Posted by: Cryptuic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:51 PM
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Rory likes this Poker Face song. I am not familiar with it.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:54 PM
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13: Ginger's?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 3:58 PM
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16: Yup. As I warned Bave, it's the sort of bar where people come up to you, introduce themselves, exchange phone numbers, offer to hang out later elsewhere, and not necessarily for the purpose of doing you or anything. The woman who became our friend last night thought we were a straight couple. Everyone was very chatty and friendly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 4:06 PM
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17: When eekbeat lived in that neighborhood, her apartment was right over top of that bar. Very, very friendly folks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 4:10 PM
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I tried to link this funky interpretation of Woody Guthrie the other day, but I think something went wrong with the link.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 4:28 PM
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it's the sort of bar where people come up to you, introduce themselves, exchange phone numbers, offer to hang out later elsewhere, and not necessarily for the purpose of doing you or anything

Terrifying!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:00 PM
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20: I concur. To quote Shrek, "I live in a swamp. I'm a terrifying ogre. What more do I have to do to get a little privacy?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:08 PM
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It is a little much. Last night I must have been in a particularly calm mood to have actually enjoyed both the parade and the bar.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:14 PM
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Wait, Pearl Jam recently released a song that's resolutely pretty good?

I tried, Stanley. And I got Ten when it came out, more or less. But but but. Dean Martin.

So I switched back to the The Wrens - Everyone Choose Sides vid in my other tab. Phew. Saved.

max
['They're coming to town.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:28 PM
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I have no idea what any of you is talking about. Well, except for the friendly lesbian bar part. I do also know what Lady Gaga looks like (it came up here once before).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:49 PM
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I always listen to Lady Gaga songs on the radio. I saw her on SNL and she isn't so good live. Which I suppose isn't really a surprise given the extras for the show. She was dancing and dressed like someone handed a Bedazzler to the planet Saturn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:52 PM
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Her name is kind of silly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:56 PM
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You know what sucks? Watching what was to be a productive Sunday go down the tubes because your back hurts so badly that you're unable to actually do anything beyond lie in strange positions recommended by your mom the physical therapist.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 5:58 PM
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27: My mom says I should always stand straight and look people in the eye when I lie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:00 PM
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It's hard to stand straight and lie at the same time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:00 PM
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28: I meant lay, didn't I? I always get that one wrong.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:00 PM
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30: No, you meant lie.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:01 PM
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You lie!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:02 PM
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31: Thanks. Like I said, I've never managed to correctly memorize the rule (although I probably deploy the words correctly 75% of the time).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:02 PM
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(although I probably deploy the words correctly 75% of the time)

You do not, you layer!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:06 PM
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33: I was making a joke, not correcting grammar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:06 PM
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35: Unfogged has warped me enough that I don't see the distinction you're making.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:08 PM
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I don't see authorial intent.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:10 PM
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I don't even own an author function.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:22 PM
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Her name is kind of silly.

Everything about her is silly. I haven't completely ruled out the possibility that she's mildly retarded.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:23 PM
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Lady Gaga is really rather good in a batty David Bowie meets Madonna way.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:33 PM
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(or, rather, of course she's mentally non-standard, she's gaga.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:33 PM
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Everything about her is silly. I haven't completely ruled out the possibility that she's mildly retarded.

Leading to wacky hijinks, like in that episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? I suppose you'd have to be dating her for that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:36 PM
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39: If you've ever seen any of the acoustic versions of her songs she's performed (like this one), it's pretty obvious she's got talent. The silliness is doing a good job of getting her attention, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:38 PM
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39: I was trying to be noncommittal, Apo.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:41 PM
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39: Everything about her is silly. I haven't completely ruled out the possibility that she's mildly retarded.

I would like to point out here that I can't wait for the 10's.

max
['Not precisely relevant.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 6:53 PM
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The 10's? You mean the 2010's, or what?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:01 PM
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Huh, she's got quite a complete Wikipedia page. Somehow based on the name I had assumed she was a male performer in drag. Stupid of me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:01 PM
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Which would be the 'teens.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:02 PM
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48: what is that short for?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:03 PM
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47: The first time I heard/saw her, it was a performance on tv for New Years - Time Square or something. I was positive she was a drag act for quite some time after that, between the name, costuming, and song.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:05 PM
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46: The 10's? You mean the 2010's, or what?

Yes. I didn't want to say 'I can't wait for the teens'. If you know what I mean.

max
['Hurry up, tens! C'mon tens!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:07 PM
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Uh. Things are going to get more stupid-silly in the 10's? Well, probably so, probably so. And I guess we'll be gaga over it, or at least listen and watch. I sense a problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:15 PM
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I had never owned Ten until I bought it the other day on [digital music service]. Nostalgia, I guess. But I also Ween's The Mollusk! Surely the net change to my cred is nonnegative.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:16 PM
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I had assumed she was a male performer in drag

There is controversy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:18 PM
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Right, I'm definitely not silly enough to click on that link.

(It is amusing that the Wikipedia article says "clarification needed" on her drug use.)

On preview: Go Phils! Go Howard!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:22 PM
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I'm definitely not silly enough to click on that link.

It's just google.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:23 PM
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54: Whatever the facts, she is apparently having fun with it:
08/07/09 05:42 PM PDT
Love you Japan! Pokerface just went #1! Thanku!!. My show was so good last night. I just had to go home and suck my own hermie dick, suckka

(But I don't know if that is actually her twitter. Lots of folks say it is.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:34 PM
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I was largely uninterested in Lady Gaga until just now, when I watched the link in 43.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:41 PM
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7 is exactly correct. But I never had any soft spot for Pearl Jam.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:45 PM
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Note to self: after straining the brothy stuff you're going to serve the poached salmon, remember to take the bowl out of the sink, or you might end up pouring water into it by mistake. Aargh. Now reducing. At best this has just delayed my dinner by about half an hour or so, at worst I will be very pissed off at myself. Long elaborate meals sometimes don't work as well as they were supposed to, but when it's cause of boneheaded stupidity it's really annoying.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:48 PM
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But I never had any soft spot for Pearl Jam.

Yeah, me neither.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:55 PM
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There is controversy.

I ran into someone dressed as Lady Gaga at a Halloween party last night. When I told her that I'd thought of being Lady Gaga for Halloween, she said "Oh, You should have. You have a penis."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 7:56 PM
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Lady Gaga has a big gay following. (Like Madonna/Kylie/etc, but more consciously and less of cynically.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:01 PM
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Indeed, her wikipedia page talks extensively about her gay following. It doesn't seem to mention the penis controversy at all, though, unless I missed it somewhere.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:14 PM
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52: Things are going to get more stupid-silly in the 10's? Well, probably so, probably so.

No! They will be better and less sucky! This was a SHITTY decade! And this is just like the last year of the 80's, uh, '70's and '90's. Whatever was going has refused to run out of gas, and the New Thing has yet to come along.

53: I had never owned Ten until I bought it the other day on [digital music service]. Nostalgia, I guess. But I also Ween's The Mollusk! Surely the net change to my cred is nonnegative.

Bah. Surely, Stanley, your music cred is better than mine and also, I have liked (and still continue to like) stuff that is widely sneered at. No sweat, man.

Now that that's out of the way: IT'S DEAN MARTIN! En garde!

max
['If we can't fight about Pearl Jam, what can we fight about?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:16 PM
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It doesn't seem to mention the penis controversy at all, though, unless I missed it somewhere.

As usual, half the fun of Wikipedia is in the talk pages. For some value of "fun".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:21 PM
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This was a SHITTY decade!

It included a lot of giant leaps backward, true. Now apparently George Clooney is making a movie about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. I don't really know what to make of that.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:24 PM
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#64. Google returns about 150 results for the phrase "Lady Gaga's peen."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:25 PM
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66: Ah, I should have figured.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:26 PM
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I think the gay following and the penis thing are pretty well related; it's all part of what do you call it, the social construction of gender.

(And the response of patriarchal heteronormativity to non-conformance; I think reading Lady Gaga as silly in order to get attention is wrong; the whole thing is a proper gesamkunstwerk.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:28 PM
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Lady Gaga is really rather good in a batty David Bowie meets Madonna way.

Always seemed more like this to me. On the other hand, my reaction to the acoustic clip was the same as Rob's. Hmm.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:30 PM
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70.2: You say "potayto", I say "potahto".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:30 PM
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I do think calling it silliness is just wrong; she knows exactly what she's doing, and it's more serious than just attention seeking, although part of it is saying that yes dressing up and attention seeking are serious.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:36 PM
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67: It included a lot of giant leaps backward, true.

The 'PAUSE the movie while we run off to the bathroom to have the galloping trots' decade.

Now apparently George Clooney is making a movie about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. I don't really know what to make of that.

I assume that's the not the thing with the goats I keep briefly seeing on TV.

max
['Hrmm. The 'Norwalk Virus' decade!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:40 PM
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74 is reminding me that I was entirely outvoted in a "the story of history is one of perpetual progress" argument in a class back in the '90s. I bet I wouldn't have been if we'd had that argument circa 2005. Kinda of tough to argue for undiluted progress when your executive is randomly kidnapping and locking up citizens.

On a more mundane note, American Express has also taken a leap backward from 2000; they are now unable to produce credit cards with punctuation marks on them. Awfully sorry, Ms. O'Riley, Mr. Brind' Amour, Mr. Nuñez, Ms. Smith-Worthington. And nëb.

The Clooney movie is apparently in pre-production; Matt Damon to star. Goats might add something, though.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:50 PM
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The contrast between the unbridled optimism of the '90s and the apocalyptic pessimism of the '00s is really striking.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:54 PM
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I'm naming my new band Late Empire Fatalism.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:56 PM
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Featuring Nero on fiddle!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:57 PM
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77: I was going to use that when I got a beagle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 8:58 PM
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78: Possibly. I was thinking of Einstein on electric violin.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:03 PM
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76: It's been pessimistic? I guess I haven't really noticed.

C'mon people, the 00s have been great!

Chipotle spread across the land like a virus, bringing rather tasty and fresh Mexican-inspired fast food with it!

Hip-hop and synth-based dance music reunited in the mainstream for the first time since Afrika Bambaataa and both were better off for it!

The Poincare conjecture was proven!

Wi-fi and wireless technology became widespread, meaning that we now can all have the internet in our back pocket like Apo, and vast swathes of the developing world now have ready access to the rest of the world without exorbitant infrastructure investment!

We have Robots! That do Surgery!

Finally, "The Black President" no longer automatically refers to this dude!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:03 PM
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In fact, I'd even go so far as to raise the 00s to "Sweet", with room for a potential upgrade to "Bitchin'" should something really impressive happen in the next two months.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:05 PM
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81: Those things are all well and good, but somehow I don't see them as having had a greater effect on either the state of the world or the Zeitgeist than all the war and economic collapse and climate change.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:06 PM
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Yeah, I'm going to go with Teo here, despite having someone very beloved to me whose life was quite literally saved by that robotic surgery.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:12 PM
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83: Actually, my point number 4 is exceptionally powerful, along with the rise of China producing another economic engine which has helped drive much of the smaller emerging economies through Central and Southeast Asia.

China alone went from a GDP per capita of $3800 to about $6000 (that's in PPP, so it measures real purchasing power increases). Spread that over 1.25 billion people, and you'd have to have wars one hell of a lot larger than Iraq and Afghanistan to wipe it out.

Plus, bear in mind what the late 90s were like for most of east and southeast Asia. This is their decade when they finally grew in a sustainable way after getting absolutely trashed in the currency crises of 1997-98. That's hundreds more millions of people. And the spread and democratization of IT and wireless communication had a lot to do with it, I bet.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:16 PM
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Plus, I really fucking like dubstep, ok?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:16 PM
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83: Climate change seems misplaced. It's only in the '00s that some amount of political will has built up to do something about it. Time will tell how this turns out, but at any rate this decade doesn't seem any worse than the previous two on that count, and possibly is much better.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:17 PM
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#81. This is all true. However, on the negative side of the equation, ABC is remaking the TV show V and the Sci-Fi channel is airing the original as I write this I predict that the wingnuts will clutch this show to their heaving bosoms and will start accusing Obama of being an alien in a rubber mask in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:18 PM
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84: It's really neat-o, isn't it? There are some really interesting systems for surgeries that occur entirely within the vascular system or inside the heart, but those have been around for less time and are nowhere near as widespread as the Da Vinci system (which I presume is the surgery system used on your friend)?

Robotic surgery will make its huge mark in the next decade or two, but it's a pretty big deal I think, especially given how healthcare is becoming one of the single largest expenditures of the developed world.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:19 PM
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85: Those really are significant improvements, and I'm sure the wars do nothing to damage them. It's not just the wars, though. Look at what's happened to the world economy in the past year, and we're by no means out of it yet. Surely that must have some effect on those economies, regardless of how much they've grown since 2000. And climate change is a seriously Big Deal which is going to affect developing countries much more seriously than it'll affect us.

More than the objective conditions, though, I'm really talking about the Zeitgeist, which is at least as negative as it was positive during the nineties. Look at the popularity of stuff like Peak Oil and 9/11 Trutherism (not to mention the Birthers). You really haven't noticed this?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:22 PM
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But all that said, I'll admit this hasn't been the greatest decade for the ol' U.S. of A. Here's hoping for good stuff in the next one. But man, there's been some really nice things happening outside of that whole war, torture, death, increasingly self-destructive security-state tendencies, and stock market collapse stuff.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:22 PM
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Time will tell how this turns out, but at any rate this decade doesn't seem any worse than the previous two on that count, and possibly is much better.

You really think so? I think the fact that we're only now seeing the political will to do anything about climate change is a direct result of the fact that it's only now that we're starting to see the actual effects, which means it's already too late to prevent a lot of continued deterioration. And it's by no means clear that that political will is going to result in any meaningful action, although I do actually think it probably will.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:25 PM
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I have the impression, though I was too young to be very aware of it at the time (but older than some of you commenting right now), that the 80s were more pessimistic than the current decade.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:25 PM
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I suspect PMP's perspective on this is heavily shaped by his much more extensive knowledge of conditions in the developing world, which certainly have improved dramatically in the past ten years.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:26 PM
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93 is probably true. I'm one of the commenters too young to remember the '80s, which probably affects my impression of the pessimism of the aughts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:29 PM
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90.1: I'm with essear on climate change - it's hard to pin the blame for it on the 00s. Those industrial emissions have been building up for years. At least we finally stopped or severely slowed ozone layer depletion in the 00s, and we're talking about steps that could materially reduce our carbon emissions (even if it's mostly been spurred by growing resource scarcity rather than just bonhomie for our more environmentally-vulnerable fellow man and goodwill for the ecosystem). Both of those steps seem better than things in the $20-a-barrel-and-God-be-praised-for-that days of the 90s.

What causes you to put climate change as a real fault of the 00s?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:29 PM
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I'm not talking about fault. The '90s certainly bear a lot of the blame for climate change, but it's the '00s that have had to deal with it.

I'll grant the ozone layer as a success story. Acid rain too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:31 PM
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I think the fact that we're only now seeing the political will to do anything about climate change is a direct result of the fact that it's only now that we're starting to see the actual effects, which means it's already too late to prevent a lot of continued deterioration.

Agreed. But I don't see why that marks this decade as a bad one -- the effects we're seeing are the cumulative impact of a century of bad behavior, not all that much worse in the past decade than in previous ones.

And it's by no means clear that that political will is going to result in any meaningful action, although I do actually think it probably will.

I hope so. I think there's a finite probability that we'll drive ourselves to or close to extinction though, and take most of the other species on the planet with us. Hopefully things would get bad enough to kill us before we create a runaway greenhouse that completely wipes out the planet. (No optimist, me. But, you know, let's try not to do that.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:34 PM
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Partially pwned by Po-mo.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:34 PM
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Yeah, the Da Vinci is really amazing. Falls under the category "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," as far as I'm concerned.

In thinking about the worldwide impact of the '00s, I was partly thinking in terms of the long-term human impact of the wars (including the Congo, Darfur, etc. -- not just Iraq and Afghanistan). Millions of people displaced has terribly damaging ripple effects not just now, but for the next 60 or 70 years.

The mental health impact on the refugees themselves is bad enough, but then there is the human capital cost of involuntary displacement (lots of social capital gets lost; hard to restart your career), the drag on people's productivity due to their physical injuries, the ancillary costs to the later children and extended families of those directly affected by the war, the opportunity costs of all of the people who spend time managing, caring for, and shepherding the refugees....

That's not to calculate the environmental costs of war (again likely to continue multiplying for years to come).

I dunno enough to talk about China intelligently, and it's indisputable that there have been extraordinary and wonderful leaps of progress for Americans and for others in the past nine years, but one of the things that tempts me to get one of the "I'm Already Against the Next War" stickers is the way the costs of war get systematically minimized and obscured in political debate. (I'm not accusing you of doing that intentionally, Po-Mo.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:35 PM
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96 we're talking about steps that could materially reduce our carbon emissions

Of course, one real problem is that "reducing our carbon emissions" is achievable, but not all that useful in the long term unless it's reduced to zero, or probably to negative.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:38 PM
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90.2: I also can't really say much about the zeitgeist, as I admit that I know very little of typical American opinion at any given time. Things probably look dimmer for most Americans than they did at the end of the 90s, between greater awareness of problems (climate change in the media constantly, our own involvement in wars, high unemployment, etc.) and no real growth or improved wages to help out the plus column.

Are there more kooky opinions coming out of the woodwork now than in the past? And how much is due to widespread pessimism versus the polarization process elucidated by Cass Sunstein growing faster and more widespread due to the internet becoming nigh universal?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:38 PM
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81: C'mon people, the 00s have been great!

The 00's have not been uniformly bad planetwide. Then again, the 90's were not uniformly good planetwide. On the whole, the 90's were a much nicer decade than the 00's.

Chipotle spread across the land like a virus, bringing rather tasty and fresh Mexican-inspired fast food with it!

Chipotle is pretty good, yes. In fact, that's the only place I've been able to get mexican food worth a damn around here. Progressing from 'fucked' to 'adequate' is not really worth a parade.

Hip-hop and synth-based dance music reunited in the mainstream for the first time since Afrika Bambaataa and both were better off for it!

See, I've not really seen any big gains out of that. It seems to have retarded hip hop somewhat.

The Poincare conjecture was proven!

Highlighting the lack of progress elsewhere.

Wi-fi and wireless technology became widespread, meaning that we now can all have the internet in our back pocket like Apo, and vast swathes of the developing world now have ready access to the rest of the world without exorbitant infrastructure investment!

Yes. We managed to roll out what we were starting doing previously.

We have Robots! That do Surgery!

We had robots that did surgery. Now we have more robots that do surgery.

Finally, "The Black President" no longer automatically refers to this dude!

We have finally consolidated around what we already knew in the first place, which has given neo-confederates the opporunity to demonstrate why it took so long to get there in the first place.

76: It's been pessimistic? I guess I haven't really noticed.

Yeah, you work in finance, don't you?

max
['C'mon, Pomo, you're a little downbiased here, you must admit.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:38 PM
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Oh wait, I forgot that the Phils won the Series last year. Scratch that! The 2000s have been great.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:40 PM
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85 China alone went from a GDP per capita of $3800 to about $6000 (that's in PPP, so it measures real purchasing power increases). Spread that over 1.25 billion people, and you'd have to have wars one hell of a lot larger than Iraq and Afghanistan to wipe it out.

This is wonderful in terms of quality of life for many people, but it's also exacerbating the big planetary-doom-scale problems.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:41 PM
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Progressing from 'fucked' to 'adequate' is not really worth a parade.

I think this encapsulates the divide rather neatly. Never thought of you as a starry-eyed dreamer, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:41 PM
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I think there's a finite probability that we'll drive ourselves to or close to extinction though, and take most of the other species on the planet with us. Hopefully things would get bad enough to kill us before we create a runaway greenhouse that completely wipes out the planet. (No optimist, me. But, you know, let's try not to do that.)

See, this is the sort of thing I'm talking about. Would you have said this ten years ago?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:42 PM
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I think there's a finite probability that we'll drive ourselves to or close to extinction though

stras? Is that you?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:44 PM
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What I'm basically saying is that the rhetorical distance between Fukuyama and Kunstler is immense, and yet they've both perfectly encapsulated the Zeitgeist at different times.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:44 PM
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See, this is the sort of thing I'm talking about. Would you have said this ten years ago?

Probably not, but that would have been because I still retained some small measure of faith in humanity when I was in high school, not because any objective measure of the course of human progress was different.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:44 PM
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And, as I said above, I think there is somewhat more reason to hope for change now. (Did I just type "hope" and "change"? Oh dear.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:45 PM
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105: See, this is one of those claims that I don't have anywhere near the vocabulary or knowledge to assess. I get that growth is generally viewed as good, and that if a country as a whole is doing better, its individual citizens are assumed to be doing better as well. But is there any actual reason to believe that because China has more money/is producing more stuff, individual Chinese citizens are doing better?

I know I'm ignorant, and I'm open to being told how and in which ways. But I'm skeptical of claims like this because it's quite possible for a few rich people to get richer without the rest of anybody seeing much change. While a war is pretty uniformly bad for everybody, and generally more catastrophic the lower down you go.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:46 PM
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I also can't really say much about the zeitgeist, as I admit that I know very little of typical American opinion at any given time. Things probably look dimmer for most Americans than they did at the end of the 90s, between greater awareness of problems (climate change in the media constantly, our own involvement in wars, high unemployment, etc.) and no real growth or improved wages to help out the plus column.

Comity! I think the first sentence shows why we've been talking past each other. I've only really been talking about the American Zeitgeist.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:53 PM
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100.3 is full of excellent points. It's hard for me to suss out, too.

I mean, China bounced back from years of disruptions, famine, and tumult after some of Deng's reforms came into place. But even there, there was nearly a decade of lag between the end of the Cultural Revolution and the first payoffs of the reforms.

Sub-Saharan Africa has certainly seen nasty wars. Rwanda saw fairly rapid growth of 5-10% per year since the end of their massive genocide, but the first half of the decade was just spent getting back to their original level. Since then, growth has certainly remained below hopes. Other places I can think of that went through hideous turmoil (Uganda under Idi Amin, Zaire now DRC, etc.) have had similarly underwhelming growth for years/decades after destroying so much of the nation's social and physical capital.

Unfortunately, it's just so hard to disentangle the legacy of civil war from the general fuckness of nearly all of Africa... I mean, Kenya mostly held together politically from the end of colonial rule until the election disaster of last year, but they haven't exactly had a bumper decade either.

I really don't know, but warfare certainly generates massive social costs even if it doesn't end up leading to huge economic costs.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:55 PM
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But is there any actual reason to believe that because China has more money/is producing more stuff, individual Chinese citizens are doing better?

Yes; isn't this a basic cliche about China, that the government derives legitimacy from providing stuff to people, and that when stuff stops getting provided, it's all going to go tits-up?

In general, I think people underestimate just how important 8% growth rates in China and India are. (& if you add in Gini coefficients you can work the details out better.)

Dunno, lots of this seems really rather American-centric. I mean, New Zealand had a nice Labour government for 9 years; yeah. a little thing, but the 00's seemed pretty decent here.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:56 PM
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(above written before seeing 113.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 9:57 PM
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Yeah, you work in finance, don't you?

Well yeah, but my company's doing pretty well. Even the Wall Street people are pretty happy these days, too. Plus, I'm one of those people who gets super-psyched that I got to see A Real Huge Crash! In Real Time! And Learn From It! (You know, a young'un. Someone whose current savings are dwarfed by future accumulation)


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:00 PM
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Once again people seem to have interpreted me as making much stronger claims than I intended. Huh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:00 PM
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Shouldn't this discussion really be about Pearl Jam in the '90s versus the '00s?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:01 PM
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Who cares about Pearl Jam, though?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:01 PM
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Not me. Stanley?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:02 PM
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Even the Wall Street people are pretty happy these days, too.

Huh, I can't imagine why. But I'm sure the upstanding fellows at the Treasury and Federal Reserve have a nice technocratic explanation for it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:02 PM
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Why would Wall Street people be unhappy?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:04 PM
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Even the Wall Street people are pretty happy these days, too.

And the Treasury Secretary just reassured them that there's not going to be a crisis in commercial real estate, so I guess they'll go on being happy. Bah.

And on that note, I'm going to bed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:05 PM
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112: There are still poor rural areas, but the economic growth has also been staggering if measured by the number of people living in poverty. The government has also tried really hard to develop the infrastructure and financing necessary to keep pushing that economic growth in-land toward the poorer areas.

My impression thus far is that most of the people in China have gotten to share in the incredible gains. However, part of that was also due to fairly comprehensive nationwide basic educational and medical services set up back in the 60s and 70s. Those are starting to break down from age and lack of maintenance, which could lead to real problems and growing inequality if the Chinese government doesn't invest more heavily in universal services as well as just businesses and highways/dams. But we can hardly throw stones on those counts, can we?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:05 PM
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112 I'm too lazy stuffed and wine addled to look up stuff, but the gist of the matter seems to be that even when very unequally distributed sustained ten percent growth allows for a lot of improvement for a ridiculous number of people when we're talking a one point whatever billion person nation. Racking my becks style brain some more, IIRC you could roughly some up the process as: top 0.01% going from living like 5% in the US to very rich, top 5% living like poor but not indigent Americans to living like middle income ones, top twenty percent from living in what by American standards is horrific poverty to just plain old very poor.

On a much smaller scale, the growth in living standards in Poland has been very impressive, assuming you're not a poor retiree or poor subsitence farming peasant without the right relatives to help out - and there are plenty of those. Or to put it in PPP terms, the median full time take home salary has gone from about $600 to about $1500 a month over the past decade and a half. When I was living in Poland in 1993 your well above average but not wealthy types were living at the level of a generic poor working class American family, now they're living at the level of a middle income one - with appropriate modifications for class informed tastes and the differences imposed by the different price distributions for goods and services.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:13 PM
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Oh wait: but warfare certainly generates massive social costs even if it doesn't end up leading to huge economic costs.

Dude, not to sound like a total grouch, but this is exactly what I was talking about. Why in the name of heaven does a massive surge in the number of HIV-infected people, widespread contamination with toxic metals and unexploded ordnance, and an entire generation of people psychically scarred "not count" as an economic cost?

Because we make a social compact that says we're only counting stuff like soldiers' salaries and bombed-out bridges as "costs"? Because that's wrong. It is wrong to pretend that the costs of war are so narrow and so easily calcuable, and it is wrong to divide social from economic as if they can be easily disentangled.

It's a Ponzi scheme that is fostered by elected officials, military contractors, and lobbyists, and aided and abetted by citizens like us. It's a lie. Somebody always has to pay.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:14 PM
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the Treasury Secretary just reassured them that there's not going to be a crisis in commercial real estate

Huh, that sent me on a frantic Google search. That's what I get for never reading the WSJ.

Far as I can tell, there's still going to be a commercial real estate crisis. It's just that the banks are going to be so jammed with profits and re-capitalizations over the next year or two as it unfolds that it won't bring them down. And from what I've heard on the fund/REIT management side, a lot of the private deals in commercial real estate and loans backed by commercial real estate have already priced in considerable downfall (even if the banks aren't fully reflecting those impairments in their accounting yet).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:15 PM
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124 but your body clock says it's only 11:30, and you need to decompress after the game.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:16 PM
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128: Sorry. Meant to link the Geithner article in my 124.

but you need to decompress after the game.

Yeah. I hate that we got outplayed. And I hate their stupid, prima-donna, clock-wasting parade of trips out to the mound.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:19 PM
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It's a Ponzi scheme that is fostered by elected officials, military contractors, and lobbyists, and aided and abetted by citizens like us. It's a lie.

Alternatively, it's a way to separate the easy accounting from the hard, and makes it more straightforward to compare different situations. I mean, how do you match up the number of people who've been emotionally damaged (and the magnitude of the damage to each person) by the genocide in Darfur with the number who've been damaged by the war in Iraq?

(This is not to argue that you're wrong that we should pay more attention to the social costs of war than we do. Just to argue that the separation of social and economic costs makes some sense.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:26 PM
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127.1: I think you'd be surprised what people can get through without psychological scarring. One of the people my mother worked with in Vietnam was the daughter of a very high-ranking official under Ho Chi Minh, and he babysat me when I was 8 and playing soccer with his grandson. This dude had his family living in a forest for 5 years because their ancestral home was being bombed to shit by Americans, and yet he welcomed me into his home years later.

Actually, I sort of think the Japanese lost decade (which has now become two) may have a longer-lasting psychological effect on the country than any sharp and bitter war, just because it's been so protracted and become part of how the entire country sees itself.

More importantly for assessing the 00s, I'm not sure that this decade has been a particularly horrific one for civil wars. At least when America invades a country these days, it avoids some of the really long-term disastrous stuff such as chemical warfare and sowing an entire nation with landmines (both of which happened in the civil wars of previous decades). We unsettle the country and leave tens of thousands dead unnecessarily (just counting the direct dead, not the Lancet study types of counts), but even that's a big step up from previous modern warfare.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:27 PM
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And I hate their stupid, prima-donna, clock-wasting parade of trips out to the mound baseball.

Seriously, this is one of the things that drove me away from the game. I can take a three-and-a-half hour game when things are happening. Nine pitching changes in three innings and every batter stepping out of the box after every. single. pitch. are a different story entirely.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:31 PM
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Alternatively, it's a way to separate the easy accounting from the hard

Agreed.

and makes it more straightforward to compare different situations.

It makes it appear more straightforward. But in reality, it's like saying that you can invest in the magic beans and never pay taxes, because who can calcuate the tax rate for 20 years from now? It might be zero!

Absolutely some costs are slipperier than others, and some calculations lend themselves to those with an obvious political axe to grind. But I just don't think it's so completely impossible to come up with an educated guess about how many more people have HIV because of war-related rapes and survival sex And IIUC, we DO have pretty good numbers on the costs of HIV infection per person. And the environmental piece -- again, if you agree that X acres of farmland is now unusable, it's not that hard to calculate the impact.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:32 PM
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132.3 should not be taken as a statement that this decade has certainly been better than past ones from a genocide and warfare standpoint. I don't have the stats to show that. I just know that we Americans will have a distinct vividness bias due to our participation in two major wars this decade that will make it seem worse.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:33 PM
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War affects people in various ways. Some people get utterly fucked up psychologically, a hell of a lot have certain very limited sensitive spots but otherwise are fine*, and some, it's like it never happened. At least that's my impression having known a very large number of folks who made it through WWII - it's what comes from being a half Jewish Pole.

*My dad on the surface betrays no effects, except... the plate is ALWAYS left clean - a direct result of childhood starvation, and he never, ever talks about the Holocaust. I also remember him watching Shoah over several months in five to ten minute snippets in the middle of the night. But that's about it. My grandmother compulsively told wartime bedtime stories to her uncomprehending grandson. Fun adventures, but what's that weird stuffabout making my dad and uncle drop their pants to various people to show they weren't circumcised?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:37 PM
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And IIUC, we DO have pretty good numbers on the costs of HIV infection per person. And the environmental piece -- again, if you agree that X acres of farmland is now unusable, it's not that hard to calculate the impact.

There are numbers, but assigning numbers to this sort of thing is both difficult and controversial. What's a human life worth?

Obviously, the case for including these costs is a lot stronger than the case for excluding them, but calculating them in dollar terms is not an easy thing. And if you don't calculate them in dollar terms, there's not much you can do to incorporate them into the decision-making structures we have.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 10:41 PM
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All right, last comment, and sorry for the serial posting.

I think you'd be surprised what people can get through without psychological scarring.

Human beings can be astonishingly, even miraculously resilient, it's true. However, I think you're on shaky ground. A person can appear reasonably functional during the day, and yet still sleep with his hands covering his throat because he's afraid he'll be woken up and half-strangled. In my book that's a net loss for him and for society.

I don't want to get into a war of anecdata, or a misery-poker game in which I'm somehow appearing to argue that all war survivors must always and forever carry their wounds around with them. Some refugees end up in countries with a better chance for social mobility! Some people fall in love with someone they only met because of the war!

And yet even though these things are true, it is still the case that war imposes massive costs, and I get very tired of claims that can easily be put into service to what I think of as a war-as-natural-disaster argument. A war is NOT an earthquake or a hurricane; it is a deliberate act of many people (sometimes sparked by the deliberate acts of a few).

Wars often leave everybody worse off, sometimes in irreperable ways such as losing your ability to bear biological children. Wars aren't just about a soldier losing an eye or a nurse losing her hand. They have widespread and often devastating costs to people whose injuries are generally viewed as collateral damage.

If we're making back-of-the-envelope calculations about the general well-being of the world, the correct question in my book is not so much "Can we calculate the economic impact of the relevant wars?" as "What grounds do we have for arguing that the costs of wars are outweighed by other benefits?"


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 11:00 PM
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If we're making back-of-the-envelope calculations about the general well-being of the world

...we should probably just stop, because that's a ridiculous thing to be doing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 11:03 PM
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"What grounds do we have for arguing that the costs of wars are outweighed by other benefits?"

Little to none, in the case of the vast majority of wars. But no one here is arguing for war, or that the Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia wars of the past decade were net positives. I'm just not sure that they, even combined, were worse in total than the wars across the globe of past decades (which were also pretty horrific).

My other points were just a crude attempt to measure the lingering scars of war/disaster and how they can differ from situation to situation. Teo's right that it's an incredibly touchy deal outside of tangible costs. Especially since many civil wars and local conflicts tend to arise because an area is already suffering from scarcity and poor governance. People are generally more likely to fight if they have less to lose, which this makes it harder to separate the costs of war from the costs of pre-existing low-level conflict and economic/political decline.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 11:15 PM
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I'm behind on my blog reading. Has this been linked here yet? Ye gods.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7xrr8XQ_-Y


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11- 1-09 11:57 PM
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I think there's a finite probability that we'll drive ourselves to or close to extinction though

All probabilities are finite.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 12:23 AM
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Not if you're using it in the (tiresome) physicist's sense of "nonzero".


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 1:38 AM
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"Finite" means "nonzero, and not too tiny".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 7:36 AM
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Sorry for being tiresome.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 7:37 AM
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remember to take the bowl out of the sink, or your dad's stupid GF might end up pouring watersoap into it by mistake


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 7:45 AM
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On the decades thing, look, it's very simple: the last 17 years have been an unmitigated disaster. There's reason to be hopeful for 2011, but more likely 2012.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:00 AM
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OMG, that Shakeweight for men thing is hilarious, gswift.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:19 AM
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148: The Daily Show punchline was "You should see how it lets you know your workout is over. Two words: cooling mist."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:26 AM
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Not to be a total Debbie Downer, but what good will 8% growth rates do China and India when the glaciers feeding both the Yalu and Ganges basins melt and disappear at the same time?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:30 AM
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150: If they own all of Earth's money that doesn't belong to Goldman Sachs, they can win the resource wars that will be as peaceful as the rest of the 21st century's wars!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:32 AM
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93
I have the impression, though I was too young to be very aware of it at the time (but older than some of you commenting right now), that the 80s were more pessimistic than the current decade.

This seems odd. I'd expect to be aware of zeitgeist by the age of 20 or probably earlier. Who around here is under 20?

95: There's always a sizable contingent of doomsayers, I think, but they might have been even worse than usual in the 1980s, I don't know. An entire generation grew up expecting armageddon - a very old idea, of course, but not by a method as stark as this - via nuclear war. I'm your age, teo, and I didn't notice this difference between my attitude and my parent's until I was in college or even later and saw common tropes in lots of fiction from that era. Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Terminator, even a brief aside in a Douglas Adams short story - it was settled that some city would get nuked, the only question was how many and by whom.

In comparison, global warming doesn't seem nearly so bad.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:49 AM
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Let the race to take and drain Lake Baikal begin!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:53 AM
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I don't remember fear of armageddon being widespread enough to count as the experience of an "entire generation", though the people who worried about it did so with an intensity that maybe they should count twice.

I'm normally optimistic about the future, but I'm feeling pessimistic about global warming. It's the kind of diffuse problem where it's too easy to put off doing anything substantive until it's too late.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:28 AM
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154: Buy your land in the Canadian lakes region near Lake of the Woods now, before prices go up!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:32 AM
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It's the kind of diffuse problem where it's too easy to put off doing anything substantive until it's too late.

True, very true. Hell, I know how long it can sometimes take for someone in our apartment to give in and take out the trash.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 10:03 AM
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The linked song is all right, but I'm waiting for the Pomplamoose version, which I'm sure will be way better than the original.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 10:39 AM
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I'd rather do the Pomplamoose singer than Eddie Vedder, anyway.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 10:52 AM
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I don't remember fear of armageddon being widespread enough to count as the experience of an "entire generation"

Watching Failsafe - during the 80s, although after Reykjavik - I was struck by the obvious fear that seemed orders of magnitude greater than what surrounded me. I think that, by the time the 80s rolled around, people had grown accustomed to the nuclear fear, with a healthy dose of trusting in MAD. Reagan caused a brief revival, then went off the reservation and agreed to reduce stockpiles, and that was that.

I do think that even that low-level fear was close to universal and very different from what these kids today grow up with - stras-ian levels of worst-case fear are so rare and marginalized that I really think most people consider the worst case scenario to be... a little hotter in the summer, and no more snow. Oh, and Miami might get flooded. If you tell people that island nations in the Pacific will be evacuated, they won't believe you, even though, well.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 12:26 PM
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Lake Baikal is a mile deep, which re-blows my mind every time I think about it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 12:32 PM
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stras-ian levels of worst-case fear are so rare and marginalized

This may have less to do with the reality of the situation than with the fact that doomsaying is simply deprecated -- that is, marginalized. It's cast as unsophisticated, indicative of a failure to exhibit the appropriate degree of the ironic cool that's all the rage now.

I mean, we're in massive denial about global warming, or about peak oil. At least global nuclear war seemed to be something we could avert; climate change, not so much.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 12:44 PM
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it was settled that some city would get nuked, the only question was how many and by whom.

Speaking personally, as someone who was in college in the latter half of the '80s, this is exactly how many of my friends and I felt. We took it for granted that the bombs would fly, it was only a question of when. Some of that can be chalked up to youthful angst, certainly, but I remember it being an almost daily topic of conversation. It was a belief that permeated the culture: movies, television, comics, popular music ('Breathing' by Kate Bush, 'Enola Gay' by OMD, '99 Luftballoons,' etc.), newscasts, and books (Hackett's The Third World War, etc.).


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 2:02 PM
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Nuclear war required no imagination to see armageddon, no way to protect yourself, malicious individuals responsible were understandable, a storybook evil.

Global warming and resource conflicts are more diffuse, no single actor to blame. Also the harm is, I am afraid, less obviously inevitable. If global warming does not bring expanded deserts, the effect on food supplies is not obvious.

Lake Vostok is cooler than lake Baikal.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 2:17 PM
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162: This was far from universal, though. I was in college at the same time, and we talked about it never. I knew exactly one person who thought we were headed for nuclear war.

I loved that book, The Third World War. I think I read it like 20 times.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 2:41 PM
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163: Wow. That is some cool shit all right. Sealed off for up to a million years from outside contamination and kept liquid only by the extreme pressure of the Antarctic Ice Sheet? Neat-o. I had no idea that such a thing existed.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 3:16 PM
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This seems odd. I'd expect to be aware of zeitgeist by the age of 20 or probably earlier. Who around here is under 20?

I was 12 at the end of the 1980s, which is quite a bit under 20. That doesn't make me much older than other people commenting last night, but previous threads seem to have established that those around my age had different impressions of the 80s than those just a bit younger.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:25 PM
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And I'm not talking just about nuclear annhilation. There was a lot of pessimism (at least among the same types of people - and in many cases the same people - who have been pessimistic about the 00s) about Reagan and race, welfare, unions, Latin America, and more. But they seemed, from what I've read from that period, more resigned to being pessimistic than even still-pessimistic people now.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 8:32 PM
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166: '89 was a watershed, what with the fall of Communism and all that. Seems to me that those who had an awareness of the Cold War zeitgeist, however late-stage and fleeting, were in a very different place from those just a couple years younger.

There was a certain sense after '89 of, "Oh. OK. Good. Now we can move on with things." Someone referred to Fukuyama up above. He was wrong, obviously, but was responding to the shift in zeitgeist.

I think I've said before that the reunification of Germany was incredibly powerful and emotional to me (quite unexpectedly).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:03 PM
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When I was applying to colleges in 1999, the idea that the US would ever be involved in a war again seemed absolutely ludicrous. I kept resenting myself for being such a pansy as to pay for college instead of getting the military to pay it for me, since the chance of actually being in physical danger after joining the military was about the same as the chance of being shot in a gang initiation after flashing my headlights. Ah well.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:10 PM
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I remember very clearly thinking that I was going to have to join the Army to be part of the coalition that was going to be formed to go into Russia after the attempted coup and shelling of Parliament in 1991, the summer before I left for college (tempest in a teapot--my Mom woke me up to tell me there'd been a coup in Russia, once I got to CNN I calmed the fuck down). It felt like the obvious answer after glasnost and perestroika, like of course we're not getting out of the Cold War for free.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:48 PM
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Ned, we were in a war in 1999.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 10:15 PM
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170: I bought the NYT to get really well-informed about that situation. Times change, huh?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:10 AM
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was about the same as the chance of being shot in a gang initiation after flashing my headlights

Exactly, which is why you shouldn't ever do that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:30 PM
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