Re: Boring but important.

1

I'm pretty happy with this.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:27 AM
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All I can suggest is, don't hurry the testing, 'cause the discomforts don't necessarily appear immediately.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:28 AM
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Based on the previous discussion I got a leap chair, which I like, but that is (a) not cheapish and (b) five year old information.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:33 AM
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What's your budget for this sucker?

I found a heavily used but serviceable Aeron for $400, the dough for which I shelled out with joy.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:36 AM
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Yay me. I could go on in this vein. For example, one time I found five dollars.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:37 AM
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I just looked up the chair I'm sitting on in my cube right now and holy crap but office chairs are expensive.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:38 AM
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1 looks intriguing.

I've been happy with my $80 Ikea chair. Three years of daily use, still holding up nicely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:44 AM
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I found a heavily used but serviceable Aeron for $400, the dough for which I shelled out with joy.

Just to mention, it looks like you can get a Steelcase Leap, without arms, for $220 on ebay, and $300 for one with arms.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:47 AM
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I recommend strongly against a Eames replica Manager Chair. They are handsome and can be had for significantly less than your Aerons and Mirras, but the arms are unpadded and unadjustable, and I was happy to unload mine and get a proper expensive chair (the Girsberger Presto, $466 with university discount) that made me stop hurting.

But I sure was hurting.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:51 AM
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You can have a good chair, or you can have a cheap chair. You cannot have a good, cheap chair.

That said, I'd look for a used Aeron. Just make sure you get the right size (they come in three different sizes).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:03 AM
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Make sure you get the color Aeron you want, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:04 AM
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I find the silver ones slightly more comfortable.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:07 AM
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I had an Aeron before entering the world of public-sector office furniture and didn't find it especially wonderful. But maybe it was just the wrong sort of Aeron.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:09 AM
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It was black. Maybe that was the problem.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:11 AM
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I now have the NPR announcer guy's voice in my head. Please don't start talking about the new color, "True black."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:14 AM
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A good chair will last a very long time. I bought an Herman Miller Equa chair (somewhat cheaper than an Aeron) 8 years ago and, modulo some cat hair, it's as good as new. A few hundred bucks for 10+ years of sitting comfortably every single day is not such a big deal.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:18 AM
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Crikey!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:22 AM
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Shit, now we have to start another war.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:27 AM
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18: Against the 'baggers? Can we at least airlift bob out to a safehouse in, say, MPLS first?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:28 AM
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I don't know what you mean by cheapish, but get a proper office chair, not one like Jroth has. They'll fuck up your back eventually (and/or groin muscles or something), and possibly within a few months.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:30 AM
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like Jroth's


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:31 AM
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I had an Aeron chair at one job, and I have no idea what the big deal was.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:33 AM
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21: What you had was fine, too.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:34 AM
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Now I'm imagining that my back hurts because of my inadequate chair. Thanks David!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:35 AM
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use a fitness ball or a spinning chair to work your core.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:36 AM
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In my experience, Aerons don't feel exceptional as much as they fail to cause heap big discomfort in the dorsal and buttal regions. Its virtues are negative.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:38 AM
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Donald Rumsfeld didn't need a chair, heebie. You don't either.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:39 AM
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Sorry. I'm like that too, can get serious pain just from reading about the possibility of whatever.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:40 AM
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My principal endophora don't agree as to number. Sob.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:41 AM
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'Like a sunken T-Rex"?


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:41 AM
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The fitness ball is a good idea. Rory's math teacher last year lets her class choose between fitness balls or standard chairs. The bouncing supposedly helps stimulate their little minds, in addition to training the core and encouraging better posture. I want one for my office.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:42 AM
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so I type like a sunken T. Rex.

So that's what those tiny little arms were for!?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:43 AM
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Brad!


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:44 AM
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The fitness ball will eventually explode with you on it. E.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9A7ACL_n5Y It has happened to me, and not with a slow leak as warning either.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:46 AM
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A fitness ball is okay, but even better than a fitness ball is just raising your desk to standing height. Sitting is bad for you.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:47 AM
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I heard that if you look at porn standing up you can't get fired.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:49 AM
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34: If I am injured by an exploding fitness ball at work, but I rather than my employer supplied the fitness ball, is it still covered by workers' comp?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:53 AM
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I've been trying to come up with a Mott the Hoople or Marc Bolan alternative to 32, but no luck so far.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:53 AM
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36: it's not a fireable offense in its own right, but it's not an absolute shield to being fired (which is what your phrasing seemed to imply).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:54 AM
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I really like the Amia. Not cheap, but (a) worth it and (b) Steelcase is the only furniture purveyor for which my institution will issue reimbursements.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:54 AM
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If you do get caught watching porn while sitting down, you can prevent termination by doucheing with a Coke.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:59 AM
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||
Does anyone know more about this case?

It creeps me out something fierce, and I'd very much like to see some of the administrators doing jail time.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:03 AM
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42: Holy crap. Creeped out isn't strong enough. Also, I'm suddenly less excited that my new work laptop comes equipped with a built in webcam...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:08 AM
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43: webcam exploits (and webcam enabling malware) have been around for over a decade. The panopticon is glad you finally noticed it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:12 AM
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What Sifu's trying to say is that he's been watching you for years, Di.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:16 AM
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"A fitness ball is okay, but even better than a fitness ball is just raising your desk to standing height. Sitting is bad for you."

Not true. Standing for a few hours of desk work, maybe half the time, is better than always sitting, but standing all the time is bad.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:16 AM
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Bizarre synchronicity! I just had lunch with a bunch of professors who are moving to a different building next year and discussing the questionable merits of the office furniture that is being forced on them. It was, um, not the most stimulating lunch conversation ever.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:20 AM
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43: Band-Aid across the webcam. Keeps glue off the lens, plus you can use one of those cool ones with pictures of teddy bears on it to liven up your drab computer.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:23 AM
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42: The crazy thing is that whole thing came to light when the administrators tried to use pictures they took on the kids webcam as evidence that he had been misbehaving at home.

"We know you did it! See, we took this picture of you in your home. Well, yes, we are spying on you with your computer's webcam. Wait, there's a problem with that?"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:28 AM
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48: Plate of shrimp! Just last week I happened to notice that the car in front of me had a Black Flag bumper sticker in the rear windo. I thought "now there's something you don't see everyday," and not a second later a Black Flag song came on the radio. It was pretty stimulating.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:32 AM
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Um, "window".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:33 AM
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The song that came on the radio was not "TV Party", however. That wouldn't have been believable at all.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:35 AM
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I really like the Amia.

Awarded Gold Best of NeoCon 2007 in the ergonomic seating category.

??


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:36 AM
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Standing for a few hours of desk work, maybe half the time, is better than always sitting, but standing all the time is bad.

Standing all day is better than sitting all day. And unless your desk is equipped with a machine lift, those are usually the relevant options. (Granted, this does not apply to Heebie because she teaches classes, but my original comment was in response to Di.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:37 AM
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Also, I was unable to determine whether the driver of said car was behind on his car payments.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:40 AM
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so I type like a sunken T. Rex

Doesn't the latest research reveal that the T. Rex was actually an excellent typist?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:58 AM
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Doesn't the latest research reveal that the T. Rex was actually an excellent typist?

Well regular T. Rex sure, but sunken ones were horrible.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:01 PM
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17, 18 - The IRS clearly baited him into crashing a plane into their office. We must not allow the taxman's perfidy to go unpunished!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:10 PM
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58: I'm adding you to our audit list as we speak, snarkout.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:15 PM
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58: How much play do you think his Marx shout-out in his manifesto gets?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:15 PM
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I wish crazy people would write their manifestos more clearly. Simple, declarative sentences, messianic loons. You're trying to make your point effective, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:17 PM
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Here's his suicide note according to TPM.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:17 PM
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I wish crazy people with a bent for manifestoes would stick to making peppermint soap and stay away from explosions and suchlike.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:19 PM
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53: I have no idea what that's about.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:26 PM
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||
NYT reports that, at his sentencing, Bernie Kerik sat impassionately at the defense table.

How's that again?
|>


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:33 PM
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Huh. It didn't seem particularily confused or crazy; just frustrated and a bit grandiose (but only a little bit).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:34 PM
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21: What you had was fine, too.

OK, first of all, no it wasn't - capitalization is important, people.

Second of all, while I readily acknowledge that it's a cheap chair and am, in fact, a huge fan of good quality chairs - you're spending a couple thousand hours a year in it - that doesn't mean that cheap chairs can't provide decent performance. My back is fine, for example. By contrast, I have been forced to use shitty (yet more expensive) chairs that did fuck up* my back.

So there.

* for a pretty mild value of "fuck up"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:34 PM
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Just last week I happened to notice that the car in front of me had a Black Flag bumper sticker in the rear windo.

Did a little voice inside your head say "don't look back, you can never look back"?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:35 PM
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It's supposed to say Bernie Kerik sat like a passionate imp.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:36 PM
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Of course, I thought the Unabombers manifesto wasn't unrealistic in its criticisms.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:37 PM
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+'


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:38 PM
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Odious ex-commissioners sit passionately.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:39 PM
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34: My ball also exploded with me on it - while I was holding baby Iris in my arms! (she loved being bounced) I held her safely, but that meant that I went straight down on my ass. Ouch.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:46 PM
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68: Heh.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:47 PM
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68 made me laugh out loud.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:50 PM
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53, 64: The office furniture industry is referred to as the "contract furnishings" industry.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:50 PM
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Neocontract furnishings being the application of warlike foreign policy to office furniture.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:52 PM
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"Although mistakes were made, I do not regret having devoured the malicious spirit that was haunting this Benenise village near the border of Togo," Tom said impassionately.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:55 PM
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Lest too many people back nervously away from the blog, I should say that they take their malformed ideas too seriously, and their solutions are cruel and pathetically ineffective. I just find it interesting that people who take extreme, abnormal actions don't seem much more disconnected from reality than the average American.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 12:59 PM
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Contract furnishers are always intense!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:00 PM
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Lest my "Heh." be interpreted as too impassive, let me make clear that I also laughed out loud at 68.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:01 PM
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34: If I am injured by an exploding fitness ball at work, but I rather than my employer supplied the fitness ball, is it still covered by workers' comp?

I believe this is a state-dependent issue!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:05 PM
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I believe this is a state-dependent issue!

What if she wasn't high at the time?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:15 PM
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Also, all this talk about exploding balls is making me uncomfortable.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:16 PM
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84: What do expect if you go around sitting on them?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:22 PM
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66, 79, etc.:

For instance, that screed would be in the top quarter of sane, reasoned descriptions of government on Slashdot. I armchair-diagnose* a big case of geek systems thinking: 'they claim to have purpose X, this is not optimized for purpose X, THEY ARE LYING LYING DOES NOT COMPUTE'. I would want some details of what exactly he was asking for and how before deciding if the poor guy was nuts before the fiery suicide decision. (E.g., it may have had one of those gold-fringe-on-the-flag arguments, in which case, nutty; or he could have been badly dinged by venal H1B rules, in which case, merely unsanguine.)

*This ruins one's back.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:25 PM
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53, 64, 76: There's a NeoCon conference thing every year at the Merchandise Mart. The first time I saw the banner, I was really annoyed that neo-Cons would feel so comfortable proclaiming their presence in my fair city. Once I figured it out, though, I was just annoyed that they doubled the length of the lines at my usual lunch spots.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:36 PM
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Lest my silence be interpreted as evidence that I am rolling on the floor laughing (and hence cannot type), let me make clear that I did not get 68.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:37 PM
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88: Really? Can I explain the joke to you?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:40 PM
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That's it! One more person makes a "lest" joke, someones balls are gonna explode!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:42 PM
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89: Yes, really. Would I make a joke about not getting a joke? And no, you can't explain it to me. I need to suffer the consequences of not getting it or I'll never learn.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:43 PM
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I would assume, however, that "don't look back, you can never look back" is a Black Flag lyric?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:44 PM
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That's it! One more person makes a "lest" joke, someones balls are gonna explode!

Blest balls are a real problem.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:47 PM
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91: I'm sorry, but I just can't stand to see you suffer.

There is a song called "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley, and..........well actually, I now realize I don't get it either.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:47 PM
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It's a fucking Don Henley reference? Fuck that.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:47 PM
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nosflow's balls are safe, as I can't tell if that's a joke.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:52 PM
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And peep, I really like you and all, but I must say that one of my top pet peeves is the use of more than three periods for an ellipsis. Just so you know.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:53 PM
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Maybe that wasn't "an ellipsis", Otto.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:57 PM
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97: Sorry, Otto, but I precisely count out the periods to indicate how long the pause should be. To restrict myself to only three periods would be like telling a jazz musician to only play in one time signature.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:58 PM
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21: What you had was fine, too.

Huh. Thanks.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 1:59 PM
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99: 11/8 or you're through in this business.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:06 PM
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You know what bothers me a little bit? The use of ellipsis to indicate a pause. I don't know


quite why.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:08 PM
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It didn't seem particularly confused or crazy; just frustrated and a bit grandiose

The "AMERICA IS A TOTALITARIAN STATE. I'VE BEEN SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!" bit was crazy. The rest was just really, really unfortunate.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:11 PM
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people who take extreme, abnormal actions don't seem much more disconnected from reality than the average American.

A few times a week I see a quartet of fifty-ish guys at my morning coffee shop. They're always just a little too loud for the time of day and they're usually talking about either the Bible or politics. One morning they were all talking about how government is really just another kind of mafia; this morning I heard one of them, the one who looks a little like a gray-haired Ned Flanders, say "What we need is a new revolution!"


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:23 PM
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If only he had said, "Hiddley-ho, neighbor! The tree of liberty must be refreshedarino with the blood of tyrants!" Populuxe would have signed up.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:29 PM
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95: RTFA.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 2:29 PM
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Based on the previous discussion I got a leap chair, which I like, but that is (a) not cheapish and (b) five year old information.

c) only usable once every four years.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 3:28 PM
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42: Togolosh, you can read the formal court complaint here.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 3:55 PM
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Kobe went to Lower Merion. Just sayin'.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 3:58 PM
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As did several of my cousins, but not at the same time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 3:59 PM
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This was a really good movie.

http://akas.imdb.com/title/tt0332831/


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 4:48 PM
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I don't think I've ever wathced winter olympics before.

Sarka Pancochova is adorable.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 5:17 PM
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Sarka Pancochova is adorable.

Fact.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 5:24 PM
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I just find it interesting that people who take extreme, abnormal actions don't seem much more disconnected from reality than the average American.

It's too soon to talk about the Tea Partiers again ... isn't it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 5:34 PM
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First we get comments about understanding how someone might want to kill a bunch of academics, now I'm reading comments about how a homicidal tax protester isn't all that crazy.

Pretty soon, Unfogged is going to show up on RedState's blogroll.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 5:42 PM
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Aw, crap. She started so well.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 5:45 PM
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Glad to see politicalfootball still shows absolutely none of the political savvy his nick would imply. Consistency is important!

Joe Stack really wasn't crazy, quite obviously. If you actually read his rant, it's no species of fringe right-wing jabber about Obama and jackboots and the New World Order. It's just a regular guy, with a fairly ordinary mixture of circumstances and fuckups and issues, frustrated at a government and society that seems to expect him and people like him to foot the ongoing bill for a failing plutocratic society. And frankly, he's precisely the kind of result you'd expect from a situation in which the elite expects to go on blithely and endlessly dumping on its middle class as though there's not going to be any consequence.

Anyone who thinks there aren't multiple ticking bombs like Joe Stack out there is in for a rude shock in the coming years. What people should really be worried about is what happens when other Joe Stacks start talking to each other and organizing and stuff. It's likely to happen.

Here's a general direction-of-Unfogged question that feels a bit nasty, and I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings by asking this, but... I've got to ask it. As fascinating as the state of Heebie's office furniture is, why is it that I have to dig through the comments section to find this kind of discussion on Unfogged these days? I don't want to dictate anyone's blogging style to them, but you know... this place was more interesting when the front page was a mixture of the trivial and the profound, rather than 95% the first and 5% the latter. Please be in no doubt that I still love y'all, but to be honest I don't read y'all very much these days on account of this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:02 PM
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117:Shit, have I been outsourced by a Canadian?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:11 PM
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115: Well, obviously this blog is objectively pro-terrorist homicidal maniac.

(And 117.2 is dead on, I think).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:12 PM
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The idea that discussing some nut would be more important or "profound" than avoiding back pain is ridiculous.

Political discussions here are rarely very profound, to be honest.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:13 PM
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121

As fascinating as the state of Heebie's office furniture is, why is it that I have to dig through the comments section to find this kind of discussion on Unfogged these days?

Because Unfogged doesn't exist to satisfy your, or anyone else's, personal preferences. It is what it is, it's changed and evolved over time, and it will continue to do so as long as it exists.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:21 PM
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My wildly speculative guess is that profound and challenging political posts require quite a bit more intellectual energy and investment of time, and such things as time and energy can be in short supply when people have other non-blog commitments to attend to.

Also, I though the Google privacy discussions were nontrivial.

Also, I don't think pf was *really* suggesting this has become the pro-homicidal maniac blog.

Also, I'm enjoying Opera much more thanks to SB's #3 trick.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:23 PM
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121: teo, unfogged was created by god in his image. Enough of your heresy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:28 PM
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Speaking personally, I've been reading Unfogged a lot less than I used to, for reasons that are pretty much the exact opposite of DS's. It's quite true that there's less serious political discussion here than there used to be, but there's still quite a bit, and it can get quite heated.

Over the years, as I've come to understand myself more, I've come to realize that I really just hate conflict and argument, and arguing on the internet is an extremely upsetting and emotionally draining experience for me, which doesn't seem to be true for most of the people who comment frequently here. Which is fine; I have no interest in forcing my preferences on them. I can always just walk away and not read the threads, and I've been doing that a lot lately. I do like the people here, though, and I like interacting with them in threads that don't get all political and/or argumentative, so I keep coming back. But I sort of fade in and out, depending on circumstances both here and in my real life.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:31 PM
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Speaking personally, I've been reading Unfogged a lot less than I used to, but I come back when I have something like a giant bird turd on a Google street view camera to share with the group.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:36 PM
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124: Though there are things to discuss politically that don't necessarily engender heated conflict and argument.

The recent NYT piece on the Tea Party movement as it's incarnated in the Idaho area was sobering and freaky.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:41 PM
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Though there are things to discuss politically that don't necessarily engender heated conflict and argument.

Theoretically, yes, but more often than not that's where it ends up when they get discussed here. Or so it seems to me, at least.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:44 PM
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117: has it right. The refrain of "the system is working" has become a predictable bad joke. There will be more of these sort of incidents.

I do wonder why Stack didn't buy the fancier versions of TurboTax though. I've done the independent contractor bit and it's not all that complicated.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:55 PM
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Unfogged never prospers, and what's the reason? For if there's cock jokes, none dare call it treason!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:55 PM
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Also, wouldn't it be funny if lots of little girls showed up at the Tea Party rallies thinking that they were like, actual tea parties? Everyone would be so confused!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:58 PM
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130, I lol.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:59 PM
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127: Personal tastes differ. I tend generally to be in agreement with DS's sentiments, but I realize this is a matter of personal taste. I do find it difficult when large parts of the country are having a very hard time financially -- and appear to really be freaking out about the elites -- to read extensive discussion of the ways in which one might best spend one's money or leverage one's career.

And yes, I love y'all but it seems a bit deliberately blind at times.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 6:59 PM
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"Leverage one's career"? The hell?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:05 PM
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See what I mean?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:06 PM
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I'm going to leverage my career into leveraging more glasses of beer -- from the bar to my mouth!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:07 PM
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Seriously, though, the way I feel about parsimon's remarks is that there's no shortage of places on the internet to argue about politics, complain about current conditions, and organize for change. I see Unfogged as ideally being a place to escape from all that dreariness and enjoy life once in a while. But as I say, tastes differ, and I don't begrudge anyone their opinions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:08 PM
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As fascinating as the state of Heebie's office furniture is, why is it that I have to dig through the comments section to find this kind of discussion on Unfogged these days? I don't want to dictate anyone's blogging style to them, but you know... this place was more interesting when the front page was a mixture of the trivial and the profound, rather than 95% the first and 5% the latter. Please be in no doubt that I still love y'all, but to be honest I don't read y'all very much these days on account of this.

Because ogged sought out, and posted, stuff like that, and ogged doesn't post anymore. Also, the commenters bring this stuff up in the comments, and I suspect that that discourages the posters from (a) seeking it out in the first place and (b) then making a post about it when there's already a conversation going.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:09 PM
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121, while bitchy, is nevertheless not the actual reason.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:10 PM
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138: Fair enough.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:12 PM
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Personal tastes do differ. As may be clear, my tastes certainly lie on the frivolous end of the spectrum. I don't think those are going to change, but I do consider it unfortunate that the balance has apparently shifted so far to the trivial that it has led quality folks people like DS to not stop by so much.

I like reading serious discussions, and even an occasional argument at times, but I'm unlikely to make a concerted effort to be serious myself because 1. I've got enough stress and time commitments in other arenas, and look to this place as a stress reliever rather than a stress-generator, and 2. I lack confidence that I have the well-developed opinions and argumentative chops that I'd need to go up against some of the people who might argue here (to the extent that they are still around).

I believe this is where LizardBreath promises to start posting again.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:15 PM
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Guys, I think you're missing an important implication: I was part of a conversation DS liked!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:17 PM
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THIS IS REALLY SERIOUS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:17 PM
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Hmm, that may not help his position.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:18 PM
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You know what the best Unfogged threads are? Not political arguments, not frivolity, but discussions of what Unfogged threads should be. Those are great. Let's have a really long thread like that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:19 PM
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Though really I blame the decline of this place on the appearance of frequent but mediocre commenters like me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:19 PM
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142: I'm pretty sure I've seen that before. Maybe not here, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:20 PM
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Meta-thread!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:20 PM
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They can't really be this stupid, can they? Via yggles. Read the comments for extra bonus fun/despair.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:21 PM
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I fucking hate political discussions on here anymore. This may be obvious, but there it is. So I ignore them! Which is fine.

Also I'm not interested talking about how hard things are for the many people without jobs because I'm one of them and, really, I'm not on the internet to talk about my problems.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:21 PM
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I think unfogged should focus more on political extremists. Otherwise its readers will find themselves emotionally unprepared for the redneck apocalypse.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:23 PM
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Let's have a really long thread like that.

Not necessary.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:26 PM
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Oh. 144 was sarcastic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:27 PM
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Shorter DS - more cock jokes, please.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:27 PM
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149: Like you have any real problems, Brahmin Boy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:28 PM
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||

In the Olympics coverage on TV, I keep hearing people saying something like "Trina" and wondering what the hell they're talking about before I realize they slurred "Torino". Yggles was right, just say "Turin", people.

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:28 PM
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154: point taken. My life is pretty much awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:29 PM
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I think unfogged has shown it can sustain more than one conversation.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:31 PM
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Okay, if we're going to be talking about political extremists, I might as well chime in. I started to read the article parsimon linked, but quickly decided there was no point in continuing. I've heard enough of the Western anti-government ideological perspective in person to easily last me for the rest of my life. There's nothing new about it, and it's not going away any time soon. I guess it's best to be aware that it exists, but beyond that I don't see much reason to pay attention to it. But that's just me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:31 PM
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155: As a general rule, Americans should avoid trying to speak in foreign languages unless they actually speak those languages. And indeed, there are few things more annoying than listening to an American speaking American English as s/he abruptly transitions to a heavily accented foreign language in order to say a place name. I think Jimmy Smits covered this point years ago on SNL. So please consider this comment a concurring opinion.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:32 PM
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The question, teofilo, is are they increasing and cohering.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:36 PM
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156: We could talk about how awesome your life is, what with all the hobnobbing and deprecating of the hoi polloi you and your ilk must surely do in your off hours. Your on hours, of course, being consumed by sailing America's Cup class vessels and complaining about racial decay.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:36 PM
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Not that I've noticed, no. But I haven't been paying especially close attention.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:36 PM
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more cock jokes, please

What's pendulous, pretty, scented with roses, outfitted in the latest fashions, impeccably groomed, and coated with sugar?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:38 PM
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161: goodness yes. And then we can take the Duesy into the city and make a good-hearted bootblack our terrified, pathetic puppet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:38 PM
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158: The thing is, teo, they've already turned the tide to an extent by supporting Scott Brown's Senate race in Mass. They appear to be having some effect. They may burn out, but when you have the governor of Texas supporting secession, and some jackass state Rep. in South Carolina calling for a refusal to acknowledge the US dollar as legal tender, and Fox News's Glenn Beck serving as their nationally-televised voice, I think we might want to pay attention to it.

But I won't argue. I ignore it most of the time as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:43 PM
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154: You mean Brahmin Frat Boy. College may be over, but Sifu isn't about to forget his brothers.

And really, if Rome is going to burn anyway (as certain commenters here hav convinced me), then why shouldn't I bust out my fiddle? I always wanted to become proficient at an instrument...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:44 PM
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166: Brahmins prefer secret societies to common fraternities (see above about the hoi polloi), Mr. Secret Agent.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:46 PM
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166 was I.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:47 PM
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I blame the typos and the inadvertent anonymity on my commenting from the toilet.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:49 PM
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166 was I changes everything. An heir to the von Bisquick fortune has special status in this conversation!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:49 PM
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What political topic would be talking about at the moment, if talking about politics? I feel like all the big-picture issues I'm interested in are sort of out-of-focus at the moment. Health care is in some sort of limbo, there's no new momentum behind cap-and-trade in the Senate, despite a little hope a few weeks ago I doubt the Senate will make any effort to change their supermajority requirement anytime soon.... I feel like our government has collectively decided to just do nothing of interest, so I'm stuck at a sort of resigned depression about government.

I wonder how many times ari can write "the hoi polloi" before some pedant complains. (This is not a complaint.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:49 PM
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I mean, I really don't mean to commit Meta-Thread, and I get that contemporary politics is a theatre of despair that none of us especially feel like chatting about. Stipulated. I'm not asking anyone to not be themselves, I don't have some specific request for more posts on X ('cept that more cock jokes are indeed always welcome, teraz knows where it's at).

But just by way of reader feedback, you know... I do prefer it when a blog feels like the people writing it actually, themselves, care about what they're posting, and a whole lot of Unfogged just doesn't feel like that to me these days. It often feels more like people are putting up posts because they feel duty-bound to fill the space. Maybe I'm completely wrong and maybe it's just drifted out of tune with my tastes, whatever, that's fine. I'm not asking for 1200 comments about it, just wanted to register what I'm seeing when I click in.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:50 PM
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I spelled Deusy wrong. I'm really, really sorry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:50 PM
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171: Because of the double "the"? Whatevs, man, it's a living language.

172: Ogged left. Blogging on anything like a consistent basis is actually incredibly hard. He was very, very good at it. So good at it that his enormous talent was probably underrated while he was still here. Decline, therefore, was close to inevitable. Also, blogging died the day Hilzoy retired. You can look it up.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:56 PM
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Could I get someone to tell me I'm wrong thinking this guy's rhetoric is not uncommon and that presents a real problem?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:56 PM
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I should be clear: I'm not making any claims about causation with regard to Hilzoy's departure and the death of blogging. But it happened. That's just the way it is.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:57 PM
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Also, blogging died the day Hilzoy retired.

Very, very true. I meant to do a post saying that Hilzoy's retirement post was also true for me, but didn't because blogging was dead.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:57 PM
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175: It's common. It's a problem. 'Twas ever thus.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:58 PM
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175: Who, DS? Nah, man, his tone is very mild.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 7:58 PM
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Teo could have used this a long time ago.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:04 PM
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I miss Ogged. And then Apo went and had another kid, and now there's no one to give us crucial topics like rolling Krauthammer off a pier.

http://www.unfogged.com/archives/week_2007_10_21.html#007685


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:04 PM
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Hilzoy left for reasons she articulated, but it's clear by now that the need for blogging remains (all is not well after all, even remotely; by some measures it's worse).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:05 PM
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I think DS is right in 172, as well.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:05 PM
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Or this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:06 PM
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Oh weird, I actually hadn't meant to post that (182). Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:06 PM
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184 to 180.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:07 PM
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the need for blogging

Tee-hee.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:07 PM
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178: Thank goodess. I don't even own a canned food.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:14 PM
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Indeed, we should all thank the goodess.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:16 PM
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For the record, 115 was intended as a joke. I do not think that the Unfoggetariat views tax collectors unkindly, nor do I anticipate a Red State/Unfogged alliance.

It is my belief that if the assembled commenters found an academic shivering in the cold, they would take the scholar in, give her hot chocolate with marshmallows, and not shoot the poor dear in the head, not even a little bit.

I will also add that I was relieved, after the plane crashed in Texas, to see bob put up a fresh comment. (I'm kidding!)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:19 PM
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185:I liked 182. Whatever reasons hilzoy gave for quitting blogging, as in the world was saved and perfected with the election of Obama, (No more Americans dying in foreign wars! No more detentions!) are not necessarily her real reasons. I trust her not, but I am unlikely to trust a 4th generation trust fund intellectual.

But I am staying out of this thread. Political and economic conditions are approaching such a miserable permanent equilibrium, thanks to Obama, that the horror is silencing me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:21 PM
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they would take the scholar in, give her hot chocolate with marshmallows, and not shoot the poor dear in the head

If you take one in and give it hot chocolate with marshmallows, you really should be prepared to shoot it in the head afterward. Otherwise, it's never leaving.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:22 PM
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I feel like our government has collectively decided to just do nothing of interest, so I'm stuck at a sort of resigned depression about government.

Exactly.

I should go get ready for work. I got bumped to graves this trimester. What I need is a little lapel camera for streaming video somewhere when things get interesting.

"Everyone, place your bets on just how many weeks this dude has been laying here in his apartment. What would you say the color of his body most closely resembles? Cooked spinach?"

Or, "sir, could you tell our viewers about this grapefruit sized abscess on your hip that you apparently tried to drain with a kitchen knife? No, you will not be going to jail tonight on your heroin distribution warrant, because there's no way jail will take you. Wow, that abscess sure gives off a lot of steam in the winter air."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:29 PM
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I got bumped to graves this trimester.

Not like Tim Tebow!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:30 PM
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hot chocolate with marshmallows

Speaking of which, have we discussed those giant marshmallows they sell nowadays? The ones that are maybe 4 oz. in volume? Is this the final straw on the path to wretched excess? If so, does that mean we are getting close to wisdom as a nation? And how long have those giant marshmallows existed, anyhow? I had never seen them prior to 2009. Is it Obama? Is he creating the giant marshmallows?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:38 PM
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I am unlikely to trust a 4th generation trust fund intellectual

This is uncalled for. Her stated reasons were probably not fully her real reasons, no. I'd have liked to see what she had to say about current affairs, but people have a right to leave when they wish to.

In any case, Hilzoy's retirement did not kill blogging, for god's sake.

And bob, you know, it's really not all Obama's fault. It's not at all clear to me how he could have mitigated the rise of the Tea Party movement (not being black might have helped, I suppose). It's the economy, and free trade, and the intermingling of government, finance and multinational corporations. C'mon. There's a decades-long story here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:38 PM
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In any case, Hilzoy's retirement did not kill blogging, for god's sake.

I didn't say that. In fact, I explicitly said otherwise. I said blogging died when she retired. Also, I'm right.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:43 PM
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Someone here has confessed to a liking for marshmallows. Pretends that he buys them for the children, but they're actually on his personal shopping list. He may know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:43 PM
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I wish this blog had more fake-ass populism for me to mock from the comfort and security of my aristocratic station.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:46 PM
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Also more marshmallows, obviously.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:47 PM
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I'm stuck at a sort of resigned depression about government.

Yeah, this post by Ian Welsh pretty well sums it up for me. We're fucked, and my kids are fucked even worse.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:47 PM
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117: Politics? Profound topics? Triviality?

1. Some dude from the Wire is interviewed by the Guardian about his new music album. Seems thoughtful enough.

2. The US Dept of State is raising passport fees. Boo hiss.

3. It's really quite disburbingly entertaining to play around with keywords to see what Google would charge you for one of their little thumbnail ads. (Unfogged is just 5¢/click! and the suggested other search phrases are "girls bravo unfogged" and "unfogging the future")

I could also post more about the census...is anyone sick of that yet? We've got a few weeks yet before most of you start to get forms in the mail, although rural Alaska has been Census-ing for a while now.

And no one over at CT attempted to answer my empirically-answerable questions in the gun-control thread. I guess trolly mctroll was too distracting. Aren't there any actuaries here?

Ooh, wait, I know. Controversial sex.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:48 PM
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196:You know I consider the Tea Party about as relevant as the John Birch society. That is not what I am about. It wasn't the Brownshirts that empowered Hitler, it was the military and industrial elites. And it is always so.

GSE Losses as Shadow Bailout Forget TARP, trillions of subprime and other bad real estate loans were moved from bank's ledgers to the taxpayers. This will doom our children, and their grandchildren to a lower standard of living, and increase the wealth and power of elites. And Obama did this, even as shadow President in the fall of 2008.

Violent Backlash Starting ...Yves Smith on Joe Stack, the guy in the airplane.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunders can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of GM executives, for scores of years) and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has not difficulty coming to their aid within days, if not hours? Yet as the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country's leaders don't see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet the political "representatives" (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around year after year and debate the stat of the "terrible health care problem".

Yes, it is all Obama's fault. He has an airforce. He can tell Goldman Sachs to shape up or die. Thing is, as with FDR, mostly it just takes the will and commitment. The threat works with comfortable elites, they know they can afford to give half.

But Obama has Larry Summers at one shoulder, Tim Geithner at the other, and Ben Bernanke behind him.
He has sold America down the river, the evil SOB.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:55 PM
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But I am staying out of this thread. Political and economic conditions are approaching such a miserable permanent equilibrium, thanks to Obama, that the horror is silencing me.

Thank the nation of morons you dwell among. "Thanks to Obama" is one of the stupidest things you've ever written here.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:56 PM
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I am staying out of this thread too. Stay tuned for all my beliefs.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:57 PM
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201: I read that and thought, "Well, that seems right enough to me. But without even the beginnings of a road map from here to there, I'm not sure what to do with this." I've started seriously thinking about leaving the United States again. But I don't want to be a quitter. And Canada's in huge trouble, too. So I'm kind of stuck in neutral. You?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:57 PM
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More Census blogging!!

Like, how the "scandal" of recent days is not a scandal at all. Those people showed up for training and were paid for their time taking the training. Do we want the Census to be like Walmart?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:57 PM
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From the link in 201:

the problem in the US right now is that virtually nothing of any significance works.

This seems so nonsensical as to be humorous to me. Really? Nothing works? 308 million people have roads to drive on, fresh water to drink, food to eat, clothes to wear, reliable telephone and electrical service, enforceable contracts, generally safe currency, a largely predictable and stable political and social structure in which it's possible to make reasonable predictions about business and personal transactions....

I think this guy needs to go spend some time in Russia, or Albania, or even Mexico.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:57 PM
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Like, how the "scandal" of recent days is not a scandal at all.

Have I mentioned lately that I love you?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 8:59 PM
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I think it's remarkable how shitty a lousy economy can make even reliably upbeat grownups feel.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:00 PM
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204: "Thanks to Obama" is one of the stupidest things you've ever written here.

That's an awfully high bar to clear. Witness:

Thing is, as with FDR, mostly it just takes the will and commitment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:00 PM
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Some dude from the Wire is interviewed by the Guardian about his new music album.

I first read that as "some dude from Wire" and was very curious.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:00 PM
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Have I mentioned lately that I love you?

/blush

That story seemed poised to take off, but hasn't. The initial spin, even in the major papers, was wrong and mean. It was only after reading deeper into the stories that I saw that people were getting paid for their time. (Also the amount of money "wasted" is, as my boss says, budget dust.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:05 PM
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I feel like national politics is pretty much a lost cause. If I didn't have children and had a more marketable skill set, I'd be looking for some way to relocate to the bottom of South America. But I don't.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:07 PM
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206: The only problem with Canada is it's cold - and that problem looks like it's going to be solved.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:09 PM
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214, 215. I feel a song coming on.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:11 PM
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IT'S MOLE.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:13 PM
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the bottom of South America

Really? Tierra del Fuego? It's fucking cold down there.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:14 PM
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Well, ari, IT'S MOLE!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:16 PM
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204:I think you need to read the 1st FDR Inaugural again.

Or do you think 1933 was a infinitely more progressive time than today? Maybe you also need to read the Chicago Tribune ca 1933.

Obama really did have the power to shift wealth and power one way or the other, just as FDR totally changed the country for generations. Obama chose the side of Larry Summers.

Now it is more complicated of course, you need millions of people to change history, but the millions are out there ready to go, and Obama has told them to fuck off and die.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:17 PM
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I suppose I could pretend to have the first clue what you mean. But I'm not sure how I'd go about doing that.

Heh. Right, totally. Bitchin' Camaro!

Something else?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:18 PM
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221 to 220.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:21 PM
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I like the cold. But I meant the Southern Cone generally.

Witt, we're certainly starting from a much richer place than Russia, Albania, or Mexico. But shit is crumbling and our government is too dysfunctional to even begin to address any of it. I also suspect we're entering a period of political extremism and random violence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:21 PM
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I feel a lot of sympathy for angry crackpots, myself-- doesn't justify crime obvs, and I don't see an easy way to turn that sympathy into short bits of topical writing. I also don't see a way to turn political anger into anything constructive.

Getting pissed at people here for being insular or argumentative seems beside the point.

The US is unfortunately not alone for being stupid
http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2010/02/18/la-ville-de-roubaix-porte-plainte-contre-quick_1308216_3224.html


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:23 PM
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(Not that random violence hasn't always been a hallmark of American society, but still.)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:24 PM
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Although every single sovok I talk to is very pessimistic about Russia, they haven't had Cholera for 15 years.

I am curious about what Mexicans think of Bolano. 2666 was an incredible book, but I don't know how to read the politics. The handful of central americans I know here haven't read it, too busy raising their kids.

Definite signs of serious decay will be dead journalists or political assasinations. Both of these are alien to the US.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:27 PM
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I also suspect we're entering a period of political extremism awesomeness and random violence ponies.

See, this is what I mean about economic downturns making people crabby. Things really do feel like they suck a lot these days, but I'm not sure, relatively speaking, that they actually do. The Age of Obama: Perhaps Not as Bad as Other Really Horrible Periods of American History!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:27 PM
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Deposing and imprisoning a governor is not a bad start, though-- anything approaching Siegelman this year?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:30 PM
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On the divergence of perspectives in 201 and 208's I think this guy needs to go spend some time in Russia, or Albania, or even Mexico:

I think a far greater number of Americans than one might expect are finding themselves freaked out by the prospect of the end of what we call the American Dream. Shared by members not just of the lower and lower middle classes, but by the middle middle on up as well.

It seems to really be shocking to us. That narrative was, and is, a hell of a lot more powerful than those us of with, you know, educations, who knew it was just part of the American mythology, part of our national self-portrait, might have thought. What do you mean, we might wind up unemployed (underfed) and dying of treatable illnesses? Outrageous, unacceptable.

In a perfect world, it is outrageous.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:30 PM
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The Age of Obama: Perhaps Not as Bad as Other Really Horrible Periods of American History!

But aaaaaaari, it's the Singulaaaaaaaaarity!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:30 PM
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our government is too dysfunctional to even begin to address any of it.

See, this is the part I don't get. Sure, we've got gargantuan problems. I can't even think about Wall Street without wanting to throw heavy objects. But my primary experience of government -- local, state, and federal -- on the daily level is one of unevenness, not unmitigated catastrophe.

I also suspect we're entering a period of political extremism and random violence.

You'll get no argument from me on that front. We are absolutely in the downswing in those areas.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:31 PM
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My cup will overfloweth with cock jokes and online profundity when California legalizes pot in November. Should help the economy too.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:33 PM
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208: This seems so nonsensical as to be humorous to me. Really? Nothing works?

Here's the most upbeat the ASCE can manage to be about the American infrastructure, which forms half of your complaint. Obama, of course, has given some really first-rate speeches on the issue, and a few communities here and there are doing neat things.

America's "generally safe" dollar was based on a financial sector that inspired confidence and on its supremacy as the world's reserve currency. The first condition is, to put it mildly, no longer true. The second is an increasingly rickety illusion spackled together by foreign investment, and that probably not for much longer.

"Largely predictable and stable political and social structure"? The American right wing is now literally sprouting armed militia groups every time its representatives lose the White House. A change in government has failed to reverse epoch-making assaults on basic civil liberties that took place during the Bush years. The paramilitarization of law enforcement is ongoing, with measurable consequences for America's people and its reputation. The prison-industrial complex is a steadily growing cancer on the body politic. If there's one thing all of that is not a recipe for, it's a "large predictable and stable political and social structure."

Oh, and everybody has food. You know what struck me most in Joe Stack's suicide letter? The part where he talked about living on bread and peanut butter for months at a time... and how he remembered feeling sorry for a retiree he met who was living on cat food because it was the healthiest option she could afford.

CAT. FOOD.

Wouldn't it be nice to believe that was a crazy, deranged invention on his part? Except it's not at all implausible, is it?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:34 PM
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It's not that things suck now, Ari. All in all, I'm living comfortably. It's that eleventy-plus enormous crises are coming over the horizon, and the country appears wholly unwilling/unable to deal realistically with any of them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:34 PM
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See, this is the part I don't get. Sure, we've got gargantuan problems. I can't even think about Wall Street without wanting to throw heavy objects. But my primary experience of government -- local, state, and federal -- on the daily level is one of unevenness, not unmitigated catastrophe.

Okay, what would you disagree with about the following statement:

Everything is getting worse.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:35 PM
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235 is a really, really stupid comment, in a way that's pretty uncharacteristic for Ned.

Also, bye for now!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:36 PM
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I just want to know what things are unquestionably not going to be worse in the future. Damn you Ian Welsh!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:37 PM
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the bottom of South America

I have a friend who just got back from a stint in Uruguay. She says that a lot of the ex-pats there are dot-commers taking advantage of the lost cost of living and excellent communications system. (Another, smaller group of ex-pats are those seeking a developing-world country that succeeded in wiping out pretty much the entire indigenous population, but she said that those people mostly kept to themselves.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:39 PM
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The only thing I think Ian Welsh is kidding himself about is the prospect of Canada's going down with the States. Which is to say, he seems to think this can be avoided.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:39 PM
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my primary experience of government -- local, state, and federal

Local government is where I'm turning my attention now. I feel like there can actually be a difference made there and I like my city, even with all its problems. National politics just makes me want to punch walls.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:40 PM
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Further to 229: I don't mean to suggest that it isn't awful: I don't mean to say that we should suck it up because other people in other places routinely have it worse.

I'm interested in our -- the varieties of American people's -- responses to this. Picking up arms in preparation for civil unrest? Abolishing Medicare, Medicaid and so on? Or, leaving the country? Talking about marshmallows instead?

These seem extreme responses to a challenge to our well-being and our self-conception; might we not attend to the situation(s) at hand, continue to push forward legislation (yes Obama should do more arm-twisting if his head is in the right place to begin with)? This is not going to go away.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:43 PM
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It's that eleventy-plus enormous crises are coming over the horizon, and the country appears wholly unwilling/unable to deal realistically with any of them.

But this is the part that has almost always, save for very brief moments, been true. And that's why I think it's possible we're just feeling much worse right now because of either status anxiety or some other something having to do with the downturn. Really, I have no idea if I'm right. It's just that things have been very bad before, even worse than they are right now. Also, I'm not advocating complacency. But as usual, I think despair is overrated.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:43 PM
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Probably I'm just feeling relatively good for the moment because Fargo is on my teevee.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:45 PM
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Oh, and everybody has food. You know what struck me most in Joe Stack's suicide letter? The part where he talked about living on bread and peanut butter for months at a time... and how he remembered feeling sorry for a retiree he met who was living on cat food because it was the healthiest option she could afford.

Wasn't the statistic recently published that 1 in 8 Americans is receiving some form of food assistance? According to the local NPR affiliate, NYC's food assistance program has recently seen a huge jump in subscribers---but a good amount of that may have been due to a more aggressive informational program. More people qualify than apply, even with 1 in 8 on the program! (I can't believe that the cat food lady wouldn't have qualified for assistance, frankly.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:45 PM
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And I'm back!

And I read 237, and now I feel bad.

Lots of things, Ned. Lots of things. The killer robots, for one, will be much, much cooler than they are now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:48 PM
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I'm also having a real hard time believing that cat food is a cheaper, healthier food source than, say, beans and rice made from scratch.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:48 PM
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246: well, some of those government handouts programs are only gonna give a person food if they're a cat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:49 PM
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242: "Things have been very bad before" is a bit of a panacea. It holds out the illusion that America can fix its problems without doing anything too radical politically, or without adjusting accustomed lifestyles, and it's on this that Welsh is right: it can't. America has faced crises before either while holding the status of the world's major industrial and financial power, or being on the way to that status. That is no longer true. Ergo thinking it's going to fix itself like it done before is false.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:49 PM
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Fucking ASPCA ad just came on, interrupting Marge and the gang. Sad and hurt puppies. Now I want to open a vein. No time in history has ever been worse than right now.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:50 PM
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"This routine is called 'Fallen Angel,' and is a reflection on his career since the last Olympics in Torino."

Oh, Johnny.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:50 PM
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What struck me most in Joe Stack's letter was that apparently he really, strongly, deeply felt that he should be able to evade taxes and get away with it. Most of the rest of it was window dressing and self justification surrounding this point.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:51 PM
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249: Do you guys get the one with Tori Amos? That one is the worst.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:51 PM
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It fixed itself? That's a puzzling reading of history. We can be expecting things to just resolve themselves nicely like they did during the Civil War, no sir.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:52 PM
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251: did Wesley Snipes crash a plane? I rest my case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:52 PM
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248 gets it right. The American era is ending and some other era is beginning. This is a psychological phenomenon, I guess.

I feel like the Homo economicus specimens in the government have been wondering for a while why there isn't a whole lot more outsourcing of labor, accompanied by mass emigration, to places with lower standards of living. Corporations act in the service of economic efficiency, but why can't the rest of us?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:53 PM
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The American right wing is now literally sprouting armed militia groups every time its representatives lose the White House.

But this is mostly just a handful of crazy people, right? At least from vague awareness of news coverage, it seems like there was more of this under Clinton, but it hasn't involved that many people ever, as far as I can tell. They're isolated weirdos who are mostly harmless. I see this as a much more minor problem than the general disconnect from reality of the conservative fraction of the population.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:54 PM
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(Weir really did skate beautifully. He got a little bit robbed on Tuesday, so fingers crossed.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:54 PM
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231: It's the trend that seriously bothers people, even those still employed, housed, and covered by medical insurance. We're headed towards some version of a 1950's South American two class society, and the middle class knows it's not going to get promoted, and the politicians either don't give a fuck or are too incompetent to change anything.

Lots of people still have a bit to lose. When they THINK they don't (the comparative reality to some other part of the world be damned) they're going to be very, very dangerous.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:55 PM
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257: yeah, but those roses. Oh, and robbed again!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:55 PM
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257: And underscored again.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:56 PM
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248: The problems never fixed themselves, DS. Things just changed, and usually not without a lot of pain: a Civil War after decades of increasing sectionalism prompted by slavery; urban violence and the rise of an industrial labor movement after endless exploitation of workers; progressive reform after absurd socio-economic stratification during the Gilded Age; a New Deal and fucking World War after the Great Depression; church bombings and a civil rights movement in the wake of centuries worth of inequities (including, it should be said, a failed reconstruction of the South after the Civil War). Again, I'm not advocating complacency, just suggesting that despair might be misplaced.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:56 PM
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So this guy skating now is like the comic book supervillain of ice skaters, is that what I'm to gather?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:56 PM
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Wow, I feel like Pollyanna.

No, I do not think that everything is getting worse.

America's "generally safe" dollar was based on a financial sector that inspired confidence and on its supremacy as the world's reserve currency. The first condition is, to put it mildly, no longer true. The second is an increasingly rickety illusion spackled together by foreign investment, and that probably not for much longer.

Dude, I just do not believe we are going to turn into Zimbabwe.

"Largely predictable and stable political and social structure"? The American right wing is now literally sprouting armed militia groups every time its representatives lose the White House.

Yes. And that upswing in violence is scary and horrible, especially for people who aren't white, straight, and Y-chromosome-possessing. But even given the assassination of medical professionals, surge in hate crimes, etc., the daily impact of that violence is still remarkably contained.

I'm hard pressed to believe that things are worse now than they've been at many points in the American past. I mean, even during the height of the New Deal, FDR couldn't get anti-lynching legislation passed. Or consider the paroxysms of social unrest that were convulsing the US 1918-1919.

A change in government has failed to reverse epoch-making assaults on basic civil liberties that took place during the Bush years.

Agreed. It's horribly distressing and I give to the ACLU and proselytize to my friends and neighbors and fight every way I can to restore them...and yet, prior to the major SC rulings of the 1950s and '60s, these rights barely existed in practice, and the country managed. I don't want to live this way, but I don't think it means civilization is doomed.

If there's one thing all of that is not a recipe for, it's a "large predictable and stable political and social structure."

I agree, and yet -- the US has a long history of crazy, extreme issues that constantly bubble to the surface here or there, while most of the rest of the populace goes serenely about its generally optimistic, forward-looking business.

You know what struck me most in Joe Stack's suicide letter? The part where he talked about living on bread and peanut butter for months at a time... and how he remembered feeling sorry for a retiree he met who was living on cat food because it was the healthiest option she could afford. Wouldn't it be nice to believe that was a crazy, deranged invention on his part? Except it's not at all implausible, is it?

Actually, it is. I don't live in a rural part of the US, but most Americans don't. Where I live, there are a phenomenal number of helping mechanisms in place to make sure people get food. Government programs like food stamps, WIC, free breakfast and lunch at school. Government-funded nonprofit food banks and food pantries. Private charitable soup kitchens run by churches, synagogues, and mosques. Personally and ideologically committed groups like Food Not Bombs.

I'm not a social worker, but over the years I've helped a lot of people track down access to food and food programs. I've never yet encountered a hungry person that couldn't get regular access to food, unless there was a gigantic external issue (such as major untreated mental illness) that was acting as barrier.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:57 PM
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244: One in eight Americans is reportedly in need of food assistance, but receiving food assistance does not of course mean that you don't go hungry, as that article makes quite clear. Emergency hunger relief is a partial stop-gap solution.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:57 PM
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Again, I'm not advocating complacency, just suggesting that despair might be misplaced.

Extraordinary despair, anyhow. You're welcome to be very despairing of the fact that things could get as bad as they used to be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:58 PM
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But this is mostly just a handful of crazy people, right?

More than a handful, but it doesn't take that many to cause real problems. And if we're saddled with long-term mass unemployment, I expect those numbers to rise sharply.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:59 PM
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262: Yep. I think of him as one of the impossibly blond henchmen in Die Hard. Someone should check to see if he's filed off his fingerprints.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 9:59 PM
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Now watch him get a better score than Evan. I will stamp my little feet!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:02 PM
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268: on the other hand, the play-by-play has moved on to the cartoon sound effect stage, so it's not all bad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:02 PM
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266 is a good reminder.

Although it is getting kind of hard to explain to myself why that group is called "Southern Poverty Law Center" instead of, say, "National Hate Group Monitoring Center".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:03 PM
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Yay!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:04 PM
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271: on to the Skeleton!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:05 PM
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the root beer float I just drank washed the taste of the ASPCA commercial right out of my mouth. These are great days indeed!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:06 PM
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272: Hee -- at first I thought you meant that insane Belgian figure skater who wore the crazy skeleton outfit on Tuesday.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:07 PM
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Anyone know where I can find video of Lindsay Vonn's and Shaun White's runs from yesterday?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:09 PM
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on to the Skeleton!

Ruddy marvellous Shelley!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:09 PM
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"Things have been very bad before" is a bit of a panacea. It holds out the illusion that America can fix its problems without doing anything too radical politically, or without adjusting accustomed lifestyles

Er, what? For the record, I'm not saying this. I'm saying things have been bad before, in many ways worse than they are now. I'm saying that I think things that are currently bad will get better. I do NOT think they will get better without radical changes or adjustments to lifestyles. We're already doing that in some areas: The era of home-as-savings-account is over for a generation.

At least from vague awareness of news coverage, it seems like there was more of this under Clinton, but it hasn't involved that many people ever, as far as I can tell. They're isolated weirdos who are mostly harmless.

Yes and no. I am certainly aware of a lot more daily harassment and random assaults of people who look different or what-have-you.

Part of that may just be that I was doing different work in the late '90s, and a lot of is undoubtedly that people weren't as economically scared in 1998 as they are in 2010. But I do think that the anti-Obama rhetoric has opened up space for racial assaults and racialized hatred (towards black people, towards Mexicans, towards Middle Easterners, towards non-Christians) in ways that were far less common a decade ago.

258: Aaaand Biohazard manages to come up with the one read on the situation that actually depresses me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:10 PM
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America is a large country, rich in natural resources, and protected by oceans. These factors are the primary reason for its success as a nation, and none of these factors are likely to change. While it is true that America is chock-full of idiots and governed by immoral plutocrats, this, too, has always been the case.

It took Rome centuries to fall; I don't expect that America would be different in this regard.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:11 PM
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263: Dude, I just do not believe we are going to turn into Zimbabwe.

I just do not believe you are unable to think of any intermediate scenarios between "America at the peak of its prosperity" and "Zimbabwe."

The "oh you're forgetting historical context" discussion is one I've had many times before. And yes, it almost always seems Pollyannish to me. Usually the context it occurs in is somebody pointing out the series of problems America is facing, somebody else saying America has virtually no problems and the complainers should try Albania, and then responding to counterexamples by cherry-picking examples of worse stuff from multiple other eras of American history.

I think that is Deeply Un-serious. I get really impatient with it. I think America has faced plenty of situations with the complexion of the problems it faces now, but that the situation where this combination of problems is happening all at once and while the nation's financial and industrial power is waning has not happened before. I think putative appeals to historical context that attempt to obscure are, in fact, precisely attempts to ignore and downplay real historical context. I think that before you can fix problems you have to admit they exist, and that they exist on their actual real-life scale, and that avoidance is the very poison that's produced the current situation.

ari: I am not counseling despair. I do apologize for imputing a naivete to your remarks that I know you don't possess; I was being hasty. The two-paragraph rant above is aimed at Witt moreso than you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:12 PM
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266: Hey, score. Last time I looked at that map PA was #2. Now we're #7. Yay!

And on that note, I'm off to swim sleep.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:13 PM
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The name "Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing" strikes me as comic. Am I alone?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:14 PM
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I think putative appeals to historical context that attempt to obscure

What about actual appeals to historical context that attempt to illuminate? Those seem to go right past you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:17 PM
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279: Sorry, the Zimbabwe comment was flip. Since I know almost nothing about what makes for a stable currency system, I'm going to bow out of that part of the discussion.

On the rest of your comment, I suspect that you're arguing more against a general (and undeniably common) line of argument than one I was actually making.

I certainly don't think that "America has virtually no problems," or anything close to that. I would be (am) equally exasperated when I hear somebody making that argument. (Well, actually, I normally just roll my eyes and decide that they're living in a bubble.)

I do think we disagree about whether the US has faced a large combination of serious, simultaneous problems before. But I'm not sure there is more to be said about that.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:20 PM
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282: Wow, so like, what if I'm wrong because you totally say so? Great point.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:20 PM
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I doubt he thinks actual appeals to historical context that attempt to illuminate are, in fact, precisely attempts to ignore and downplay real historical context.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:21 PM
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More than a handful, but it doesn't take that many to cause real problems. And if we're saddled with long-term mass unemployment, I expect those numbers to rise sharply.

I doubt that all of the groups on that map are relevant. A lot of them are KKK, for instance, and while the people in them are contemptible, I doubt they're all that dangerous these days. I'm thinking of some distant relatives I encounter now and then who are likely to be in some of those groups. They're aging pretty rapidly, and they can't go to a family gathering without running into people who are in interracial marriages and people who are openly gay. They still drive their pickup trucks with guns prominently visible in the back and Confederate flags plastered all over, but they know even their own children disapprove.

I don't want to generalize too much, but the mere existence of a lot of hate groups is very different from militarized groups who are a real threat to the people around them. This isn't to say that the hate groups aren't a serious problem -- they are -- but I think the tone of DS's remark about militias was much more dire, and I don't see the justification.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:22 PM
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I do apologize

No need, Golda. I didn't take it too hard. I guess my point is pretty simple: things are bad right now. But things have been bad before. In fact, they've been worse in many eras of US history. Does this mean we'll recover our mojo? I honestly don't have the first clue. But I do think it suggests that we shouldn't all pick up stakes and move to Tierra del Fuego. I mean, I wish I had some useful prescription; I don't. I'm just a mediocre historian who can't forget that, unless one was relatively wealthy, male, and white, things have pretty much always sucked ass in this country.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:24 PM
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This is the first night I've watched the Olympics, and I have to say that I'm sort of stunned by all of the T&A in the coverage of the women's events. I mean, I'm all for T&A, but I don't actually care what Gretchen Bleiler looks like really made up and in a bikini. I suppose I might care more if she were hotter...


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:28 PM
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Also, DS, well fucking played, my man! You got your serious conversation about politics and shit!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:29 PM
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284: from what I gather, you aren't willing to accept historical comparisons because OMG EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT, so we're sort of operating on a third grade level of argument in any case.

But I'm not really annoyed at you, I'm annoyed at the job market, and going to bed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:34 PM
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I'm really confused about what your doomsaying entails, DS, if you think everyone else is a Pollyanna. What exactly do you think will happen? If it's something like "the gap between rich and poor will widen even more, more Americans will lose their jobs and lack proper health care, another city or two will go the way of Detroit, scattered random violence will increase", then yeah, this seems likely. But even if all of those things are true, most people in the US will still be living objectively better lives than in all but the most prosperous bits of American history, and many people will see essentially no change at all. If you're thinking something more like "total economic collapse, vast numbers of people starving, roving armed militias killing people at will", then, um, that's a little nuts. But from your comments, it's a bit hard to tell which you're closer to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:34 PM
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283: I certainly don't think that "America has virtually no problems," or anything close to that. I would be (am) equally exasperated when I hear somebody making that argument.

Fair enough. I just got that impression because you seemed to be talking up the American infrastructure, the dollar, and the supposed lack of hunger in America, as though these were in fact not problems, and then in a more recent comment because you sort of seemed to be implying that because right-wing violence is relatively "contained" right now that it's not that big a concern. (One of the more annoying habits of the Pollyannish sort of conversation that I was criticizing there is a frequent indifference to whether the commentator in question is talking about trends, and the prospects for repairing bad trends, as opposed to making an absolute declaration that every single aspect of life is the worst it has ever been right now at this moment. Obviously the concern with the electorally-linked flare-ups of militias is the fact a) that it has become a pattern at all, and b) what that pattern can develop into if movementarianism continues on its forty-year ever-further-rightward trajectory.)

I do think we disagree about whether the US has faced a large combination of serious, simultaneous problems before.

We don't. If we disagree about whether it has faced such a large combination while also facing its waning as an industrial and financial power... well, there aren't really two sides to that question. It just hasn't, full stop.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:36 PM
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What about facing all of those issues before it became an industrial and financial power?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:39 PM
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We hope that the Tea Party-style activists are a mere blip, nothing we haven't weathered before, but can I ask people to keep an eye on the issue anyway? Read the piece I linked in 126 if you haven't. It's not just the rather small actual Tea Party that's involved. It's also good to note the CPAC proceedings. Yes, they're normally a joke, but this feels different.

Maybe it's just a blip; it will be great if we can ignore them, but they're stocking arms, after all. They have websites from which they're organizing! Seriously; remember what the internets can do for organizing and dissemination of information and mojo.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:39 PM
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293 is just to say that we haven't been a dominant world power forever; perhaps the earlier period doesn't count because the world has changed too much but we certainly faced terrible crises of banking, unemployment, etc, etc pre-ascendancy of the American empire and survived.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:46 PM
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289: I'm sneaky that way.

291: Everyone isn't a Pollyanna, essear, though I think there's a good chance that hiding behind terms like "doomsaying" would be symptomatic of the tendency. Where do I stand on the question of "more of mostly the same with a couple more Detroits" vs. "absurd Mad Max / Somalia scenario"? Neither, it's a false binary. I'm sure you've got the synaptic juice to figure out that there are some intermediate possibilities between the two.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:46 PM
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293: Like I said earlier, America's historical experience consists of either being the world's leading power or being clearly on the upswing toward that status. Its historical experience does not include anything like the current situation, which will therefore require different remedies from those it's been willing to try historically.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:49 PM
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Of course there are intermediate possibilities. I was just hoping you could be more explicit about what you envision. It's not actually clear to me that people have substantive disagreements in this discussion, without more explicitness and less abstraction. But for now I'm off to bed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:51 PM
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The whole idea of people responding to the trend, as in 258, is being ignored by most people here. When people are getting richer they feel better. When people are getting poorer they feel worse. The fact that people far away or many decades ago were worse off may mitigate those feelings a tiny bit.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:51 PM
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or being clearly on the upswing toward that status.

Um, really? I guess the first 40 years or so just don't count.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:51 PM
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Waning as a world power isn't that bad, if you do it right. Sometimes it seems like every third comment on this blog is about how great things are in an imperial power that has actually declined, if not fallen. I think most people would rather live in Manchester or London now than in 1880.

The US was a bit depressing in the 00s, and it's hard not to be disappointed about a blown opportunity in national politics, but there's a good case to be made that from an overall increase in human welfare perspective, the 00s were the best decade in world history, thanks to China and India.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:51 PM
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I don't know anything much about Spain, but I would give living in Spain a shot.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 10:58 PM
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America's historical experience consists of either being the world's leading power or being clearly on the upswing toward that status.

That's just, at best, an incredibly ill-informed statement.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:00 PM
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We're only speaking of America's historical experience relative to Canada, guys!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:02 PM
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Neither, it's a false binary. I'm sure you've got the synaptic juice to figure out that there are some intermediate possibilities between the two.

I'm hoping you have the synaptic juice to actually state an opinion as to where you think things lie along that spectrum.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:02 PM
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304: In that case, I'd like to know what sort of upswing we were on when the Canadians burned DC.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:03 PM
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Also: 284 to 284.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:03 PM
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Great Celtics/Laker 4th quarter going on right now, btw.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:08 PM
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There's some piling on going on here that's a bit unfair.

I believe DS's point -- though god knows he can speak for himself -- is that reducing our current situation to any of those we've experienced in the past is deeply problematic. Can I see a show of hands from those who disagree?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:09 PM
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298: More of the same is off the table. Mad Max and Somalia are off the table; America isn't any likelier to stop being a great power in the near future than Russia is.

I doubt the trend toward a South American-style two-class society pointed out by Biohazard in 258 will be reversed anytime soon. Given the various trends undermining the rule of law and civil liberties, the growth of oligarchy, the likelihood of the Joe Stacks of American society to start getting pissed off and violent in a more organized way, the equally high likelihood that right-wing hate groups will ferociously defend the ever-receding pocket universe of movementarian reality, the effort the Republican Party has expended in politicizing the officer corps of the American military, the general shocks likely to be associated with the loss of global economic supremacy and the impending demise of the dollar as the reserve currency, and the evident unwillingness in liberal America to really come to grips with much of the above... given all those things, I also rather doubt that America will be spared some of the more violent and authoritarian consequences of that kind of two-class society. If some kind of genuinely "radical" progressive movement gets to the levers of power early enough, it could be that some or all of that might be avoided. If that doesn't happen, it's more a question of exactly how deep the trouble goes and how long it lasts, which is anybody's guess. I haven't the slightest idea.

300: No, they entirely count. The sense of destiny and optimism with which America started, at independence, was IMO very real and a huge contributor to the sense of exceptionalism that's been part of the country's identity ever since. At the time of the Revolution, the seeds of Manifest Destiny were already there and most American leaders were in little doubt that the country would eventually span the continent. There really was mostly a question of how quickly America would become a leading power, not whether it would happen.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:09 PM
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297:I have gotten into arguments with Ian Welch about America's coming relative decline.

"50 percent of the world military capability" actually understates the case, because of the technological superiority. I remind everybody that Saddam supposedly had an impressive military machine before Gulf War I. What is interesting to me is not only how much we spend, but how little competition we have. That smells like empire accepted, rather than resisted. A deal the Chinese and Russians elites feel us in their interests.

Of course this will be a different kind of empire or hegemony. But I can imagine something that looks like Golden Age Rome:finance, military aid and assistance protecting and facilitating trade, plenty of local independence abroad, and panem and circenses at home. For decades, if not centuries.

Why exactly would China want the headaches of int'l power and hegemony? Why would the oilarchies? What would they pay for us to keep peasant movements in resource states under control?

Of course, as in Rome, we will have a two-tier domestic economy, with most of us slaves or soldiers.
It can be very stable.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:10 PM
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309 is totes correct.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:12 PM
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I'm afraid 303 is, OTOH, completely wrong.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:15 PM
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313: I'm afraid that your fears don't actually count as facts.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:16 PM
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310.3: We have very different reads on the early years of the Republic.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:17 PM
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314: Luckily, however, historical facts do count as facts.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:18 PM
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reducing our current situation to any of those we've experienced in the past

First, I hope I'm not one of the people piling on on Slack. I think his point about trends is an important one. But absent lots of data, both current and historical, it's pretty hard to measure the relationship between the past and present, especially I'm not sure what we should be measuring. That said, who's doing what you say above? I haven't heard anyone making the claim that the here and now is just like the there and then.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:19 PM
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I believe DS's point . . . is that reducing our current situation to any of those we've experienced in the past is deeply problematic.

That might be part of his point, but it's not primarily what I'm objecting to, or what others of the "a bit unfair" club seem to be disagreeing with.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:19 PM
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Part of Welch's argument is tat the US can't be a power without a strong industrial capacity.

So China sells us the plate for our carriers, the engines for our jets, and the guidance systems for our missiles. Why can't that work?

The nationalism that made it impossible in 1900 is long long dead.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:22 PM
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Luckily, however, historical facts do count as facts.

Which is why I wish you'd start paying attention to them instead of just mouthing generalities.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:22 PM
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If you'd add the word "since" to the relevant portion of my earlier comment, that would be super-duper.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:22 PM
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321: Revisionist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:24 PM
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315: And long may we celebrate our differences. But I don't think there's anything very eccentric about my particular read on it in terms of consensus among historians.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:24 PM
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322: That's what brings in the big bucks. And now, to sleep. I have to wake up early and do violence to the past.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:25 PM
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317, 318: Fair enough.

Nonetheless, 312 made me laugh. Altogether it made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:26 PM
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320: You know, I hadn't considered that I must be totally wrong because you say so. Sifu made a similar point above, and it was totally great then, too. Thanks for your contribution.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:26 PM
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There's some piling on going on here that's a bit unfair.

Really? DS is stating his opinions strongly and shouldn't be surprised that numerous people feel moved to respond. And there are plenty of responses that agree with him. It's not like it's a coordinated effort either way, at least as far as I know.

I mean, if there's a cabal, I'd love to join, but I've yet to receive an invitation.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:29 PM
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One of the more annoying habits of the Pollyannish sort of conversation that I was criticizing there is a frequent indifference to whether the commentator in question is talking about trends

Dude, if we're talking about trends, by 2050 we're all going to be Mormons in jail, so I don't know what you're worried about.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:30 PM
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But I don't think there's anything very eccentric about my particular read on it in terms of consensus among historians.

Nor was I aware that I was seriously out of step with my fellow members of the profession.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:31 PM
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You know, I hadn't considered that I must be totally wrong because you say so.

I'm glad you're considering it now though. But seriously, dude, nothing you've said has risen above the level of you just saying so, so I don't see where you get off accusing others of that tactic.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:32 PM
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To clarify, I'm delighted that people feel moved to respond and I'm not the least concerned about "piling on." The people who've been able to respond with more than one-sentence declarations about my supposed ignorance and mouthing of generalities are even more impressive yet!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:32 PM
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Are we seriously supposed to take 310 seriously? Because I'm pretty sure that you could have written the same set of handwavingly despairing predictions about the future for literally any industrialized country at any point I'm the past 15 years. Which, who knows, it's the future, so maybe your guess will come true. But it's a little silly to trot it out as some sort of sustained analysis that we're supposed to respond to.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:33 PM
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327: I withdraw my remark. Caballist.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:33 PM
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The people who've been able to respond with more than one-sentence declarations about my supposed ignorance and mouthing of generalities are even more impressive yet!

I've yet to see you provide anything beyond declarations. So the burden is on us to provide full citations to refute you? You're the one making broad assertions.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:34 PM
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But I've got to go to bed.

And, frankly, heebie's furniture is much more interesting.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:36 PM
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15 was supposed to be 150, in that comment above But I have no idea why I'm entering into this conversation. Maybe your right about the future -- who fucking knows, but I do know this isn't a particularly fruitful conversation. Honestly, chair ergonomics is both a more interesting and more productive topic.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:37 PM
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329: Well, it was your profession what taught me something about the history of continentalism as a precursor to Manifest Destiny and the role it played in the aspirations of the American revolutionaries, the First Continental Congress being so named for a reason and so on. But I'm hardly a specialist, just an interested amateur, so if I'm way off base in this I'd appreciate a correction.

330: So, it would appear that you're composed of a distinctly rubbery substance, and I should start investigating my adhesive qualities. I can tell you've really put a lot of thought into this, well done.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:40 PM
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Clearly, Mitch implanted a microchip in my brain, and is controlling my fingers as I type. Oh shit, he's sending electric shocks to punish me for telling you. . . .


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:40 PM
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So, it would appear that you're composed of a distinctly rubbery substance, and I should start investigating my adhesive qualities. I can tell you've really put a lot of thought into this, well done.

Devastating.

But should you decide to argue seriously, I haven't argued that you're totally wrong because I say so. Nor has anyone else in this thread. What's being asserted is that you're not necessarily right just because you say so. Yelling "you haven't proven I'm wrong!" doesn't actually establish that you're right. You're the one making assertions. People questioning those assertions don't therefore assume the burden of proof.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:45 PM
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But now I really am off to bed. If you really have put a lot of thought into this topic, DS, I'd love to see the evidence.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:47 PM
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332: It seems to me a bit silly to ask someone their opinion on what will happen, accuse them of evasiveness when they're not specific enough for your tastes, and then accuse them of expecting everyone to respond to their "handwaving" when they provide specifics. (No, you weren't involved in the asking; you were just too lazy check the context.) I'm not composing an academic monograph in a comments thread, sorry; if you choose to therefore believe that I'm pulling my positions out of my ass, as M/tch has been attempting to imply, that's entirely up to you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:51 PM
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if you choose to therefore believe that I'm pulling my positions out of my ass, as M/tch has been attempting to imply, that's entirely up to you

YOU'RE CERTAINLY ONE TO TALK!


Posted by: OPINIONATED KETTLE | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:54 PM
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340: But should you decide to argue seriously

M/tch, I'm not accepting homework assignments from you, sorry. I'll "argue seriously" with someone who doesn't seriously think that what you've been doing in this thread counts as argument.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:56 PM
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(Huh. And I don't know if 342 would be more depressing if it was M/tch, or if it wasn't.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-10 11:57 PM
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341 -- I confess 100 percent to laziness -- it's what keeps me coming back here, after all. And I have a strong preference, which may just be aesthetic, for thinking that we're better off talking about the known and immediately predictably bad consequences of, say, rising inequality, rather than constructing master narratives for the future, of which I am personally extremely skeptical. So that's where I'm coming from, it's not so much that you personally are pullin things out of your ass as it is that I feel like the whole "I have seen the future course of world history: let me tell you it" is inherently a kind of ass-pulling exercise.

Aggh, that also sounds more dickish than I intended. Anyhow, I have no problem with the worldview that says we are all inevitably condemned to DOOM unless we do something about it right now, if that's what works you up to doing good work in the hear and now; it's clearly a kind of thinking that a lot of good people find useful.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:02 AM
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You know, spelling.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:04 AM
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345: "I have seen the future course of world history: let me tell you it" is inherently a kind of ass-pulling exercise.

Of course it is. Note the sentence that ends the paragraph you were responding to.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:04 AM
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337.1: the history of continentalism as a precursor to Manifest Destiny and the role it played in the aspirations of the American revolutionaries, the First Continental Congress being so named for a reason and so on

This is interesting, but I admit I've lost track of the argument in this thread.

I want to say: DS, are you suggesting that the US's self-conception was (always already) toward a continentalism that prefigured imperialism? But I've lost track of the thread enough that I'm not sure.

If so, though, it's worth noting that American exceptionalism was, or is, equally about a certain pastoralism, religiously inflected: see numerous early tracts written and sent back to the continent celebrating the wondrous bounty, a veritable Eden, here to be found. Yeah. You may say these amount to the same thing, but that does need to be spelled out, even though I can see the lines.

How did we get here from discussion of whether we're all doomed?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:08 AM
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348.2: I want to say: DS, are you suggesting that the US's self-conception was (always already) toward a continentalism that prefigured imperialism?

The point about continentalism was just a part of the point about the US having been at conception a rising power on its way to becoming a leading power, and that in large degree it conceived of itself as such. (I do think the pastoralism is very much part and parcel of all that, you're exactly right.)

Since I was a little mean to M/tch about this, I'll explain why. AFAICS this really is pretty much bog-standard American history, which is why I was finding "cite! cite!" demands unimpressive. It's like being asked for a cite about whether there was slavery in the antebellum South: there is such a thing as a stupid question.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:15 AM
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Master narratives are important, Robert Halford. They need not be master narratives, but one really needs to have an understanding of what's going on and has been going on in order to address things. No? Otherwise you're just a technician applying bandaids.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:16 AM
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Will the country rise up again? Will the country break? Will you break the country? And what about Naomi?


Posted by: I am truly helpful | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:25 AM
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Ok, I was supposed to go to bed too, but my read on the early years of the Republic really is pretty different. Post Revolution, the leaders of this country were acutely aware of their precarious situation - America was a backwater; there were huge inequalities in trade (see totally ineffective trade embargo); no standing military; they had hordes of unhappy Native Americans at their backdoor and of course they were essentially at the mercy of the British. They couldn't agree on how best to develop the country. Politics were fractious. They experienced devastating periods of recession. Angry, starving farmers put together mobs and assaulted courthouses. Washington had to be sent out to put down a rebellion.

Dreams of continental domination were mixed in there too, but I'd argue that they were exactly that - dreams. Your take on it to me sounds as though you've bought the political rhetoric of the country's boosters without thinking about the very real problems they faced (and were trying to efface with their rhetoric) and how unlikely it seemed to most that they would gain real power in the world. They were striving to be a nation that didn't collapse - and they succeeded at it. But I personally really wouldn't say that there were no doubts about whether or not they would manage to make it.

Perhaps my take on it is entirely too negative, and I know that it's not exactly how it is taught in your entry-level books (this sounds snotty but I don't mean it to be, I really did check a text book before writing this comment).



Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:28 AM
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I don't really want to get into this, but telling stories to make sense of the world is fine, if you're careful to keep an open mind. Extreme confidence that you can use those stories to accurately predict the future on a grand scale, not so much, and you should probably be as skeptical of the theory that predicts doom in 50 years as the one that predicts utopia. There, now that I've solved all problems of the philosophy of history, our knowledge of the future, and the relationship between narrative and reality, I'm off to sleep.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:30 AM
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349: this really is pretty much bog-standard American history

The stuff about pastoralism and a new Eden and inevitable expansion across the continent going hand-in-hand with Americans' idea of themselves as exceptional seems bog-standard.

The part about "the US having been at conception a rising power on its way to becoming a leading power, and that in large degree it conceived of itself as such" -- I'm not sure. A leading world power? That seems a stretch. I'm not sure whether its being a leading world power was important to your point.

I declare comity. Let's all go to bed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:32 AM
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139 is very well done.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:38 AM
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I seriously have no idea why I picked the 139 number. I meant that ()'s comment was nicely put.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:40 AM
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354 before reading 352, which is well taken.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:42 AM
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I know it's super-late, but perhaps this can be picked up tomorrow: when or how would you (Parenthetical and others knowledgeable about the details about the country's founding) say that the notion of American exceptionalism found a footing?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:46 AM
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I think that all of the above fears and worries co-existed with American exceptionalism.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:50 AM
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359 is somewhat opaque to me as a response to 358, if that's what it is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:54 AM
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Unless American exceptionalism (the belief that America is special) is being used differently here.

Like I said, I think my take is probably on the too negative side (and too influenced by the 1780s); obviously America did start engaging in real commerce, etc. during this period. But I suppose I just don't buy the idea that many, beyond a minority of Americans, really believed that America was on its way to becoming a dominant world power in 1791 in a way that makes DS's above claim about America always, ever, being a world power or on its way to world power true.*

*I mean, it is true of course that the 1780s-forward had to happen in order for America to become a super power, but I just think that's a little overly teleological.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:55 AM
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Sorry, parsimon, I am not sure I understood the question and now I really do need to go back to bed and stop thinking about this.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 12:57 AM
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Right, I'm off too: but the question was when America started thinking of itself as a nation, or community or gathering, of special people -- a special polity, exceptional. That's distinct from DS's suggestion, if he even made that suggestion (I'm not sure he did, beyond gesturing toward a slippery slope), whether it conceived of itself as a world power as early as the 18th century.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 1:19 AM
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352: No snottiness taken. I'm strictly undergraduate about the early Republic after all. However, one doesn't need to see the Founding Fathers as completely untrammelled by uncertainties to notice that the very step of breaking with Britain had to bespeak a reasonable amount of confidence about prospects; otherwise "taxation without representation" would have been a small price to pay for continued security.

And after all:

- America was a backwater with a huge, huge amount of exploitable land to the west of it, and therefore immense growth potential to set against its early imbalance with Britain.

- It had hostile Indians nearby, but then the colonists were not exactly slouches at running Indians off the land -- one of the resentments against the Brits was that they'd tried half-heartedly to stand in the way of that process.

- It was "at Britain's mercy," excepting of course a prominent European ally who'd helped fight the Revolutionary War -- a set of events that illustrated why Britain had problems closer to home to worry about, whatever the subsequent ups and downs of Franco-US relations.

I don't think it needs uncritical acceptance of the founders' self-boosting rhetoric to see that there might have been more than just hope and prayer behind the leap that their break with the British required. If continentalism was a "dream," it wasn't exactly a pipe-dream.

Now, all this might well fall prey to the entry-level-textbook curse. (After all, entry-level Medieval history textbooks have yet to catch up with the obsolescence of the construct "feudalism" some decades after the fact.) But I'm not prepared to discount something because it happens to be the standard textbook version, either. I remember the epoch in the Nineties during which skepticism about "migration" reached its high watermark among Classicists (to the point where it became increasingly passe to talk about barbarian "invasions" of Western Rome)... and the entry-level textbooks turned out, as it happened, not to have done too badly by comparison.

353: Extreme confidence that you can use those stories to accurately predict the future on a grand scale, not so much

Since this "extreme confidence" is being imputed to me with such extreme confidence and on such a grand scale, I'll be specific about just how much handwaving is going on from my viewpoint in 310:

"various trends undermining the rule of law and civil liberties"
Statement of fact AFAICS. I don't need to rehearse the whole litany, right? Torture, imprisonment, supension of due process, Gitmo, Obama's minor tinkering with each of same.

"the growth of oligarchy"
Also statement of fact AFAICS. "Growth of plutocracy" would be more accurate. Government bailouts of banks while large numbers of people go hungry, homeless & c. Demonstrable ability of private industry to hamstring something like, say, health care reform.

"the likelihood of the Joe Stacks of American society to start getting pissed off and violent in a more organized way"
Total speculation. No way of knowing how large this likelihood really is, and if it does come to pass, to what extent it will do so or how effectively. Not a very unreasonable amount of speculation, though, I don't think, in that it's exceedingly common for frustrated and angry populations to organize and to have recourse to violence when other means are frustrated.

"equally high likelihood that right-wing hate groups will ferociously defend the ever-receding pocket universe of movementarian reality"
And there's an unspoken assumption here that such hate groups will grow more prominent rather than less. Also speculation, but not unfounded: ex-conservatives, directly familiar with movementarianism from the inside, tend to be the most vociferous about the movement's likely drift toward greater extremism -- so this boils down to whether you take someone like e.g. Chris Hedges seriously or choose not to.

the effort the Republican Party has expended in politicizing the officer corps of the American military,

The politicization is a present fact: two-thirds of officers ranked Major and up skew "conservative." (Jason Dempsey via Ezra Klein some time back.) The "effort... expended" by the GOP isn't as easy to demonstrate directly, on account of it's part of all that complicated culture wars stuff. However, Nixonland's passages touching on the military (and paramilitary) illustrate the dynamic prety well.

the general shocks likely to be associated with the loss of global economic supremacy and the impending demise of the dollar as the reserve currency
Speculation, but not wildly so: the impending demise of the dollar isn't exactly a daring out-on-a-limb prediction, it's indeed rather a commonplace in economic commentary today, and for very good reasons (like the ongoing massive Chinese investment required to keep the current status quo wheezing along). I'm very vague about what form the "general shocks" would take or how severe they would be.

The irresponsible, ridiculously overconfident conclusion I draw about this is that all of these factors will likely expose America to some of the more volatile consequences of its increasing stratification and vanishing middle class, but how and to what extent I have no idea. Crazy! Oh, and also taking into account one further factor:

and the evident unwillingness in liberal America to really come to grips with much of the above
To wit, the pissy defensiveness witnessed in parts of this thread, and with the modification that liberal America is perhaps a little overspecific.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 1:49 AM
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I'm amazed that a topic with a title like "Boring But Important" could manage to stay on-topic for 364 comments.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 1:55 AM
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I'm amazed that a topic with a title like "Boring But Important" could manage to stay on-topic for 364 comments.

Which part of 364 was about office chairs?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 1:59 AM
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364 before I saw 354. I've gotta crash too.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 2:00 AM
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A couple thoughts. America as the eternal world power? Let's just say that from the central and east european perspective it barely registered except as the occasional vague place with democracy, or, later, as a place for a better life. But as a factor in world affairs, until the turn of the century it was a complete non-entity.

Industry has disappeared, America is doomed as a dominant power as a result, and so is any chance of broad based posperity. No. We do need a decent sized industrial sector, and we have one. We don't need that many people working in it - think agriculture. Nor is there any reason that I can see, other than elite hostility, why the service sector couldn't go through the same sort of evolution that led to the postwar prosperity for industrial workers. Before that, life for the industrial workforce plain out sucked.

American exceptionalism: I subscribe to the every major countries, is their own special snowflakes with distinctive tropes and historical developments that deeply shaped then and the outlook of their populations. True of lots of minor ones too, we just don't know about that because they're minor. Quick, who here is aware that a formative phase in the development of Poland's national identity was a half century where its progressive elites, and many of the not so progressive ones, saw Poland as the Christ of Nations, whose resurrection would bring redemption to the world and the oppressed. That really was how they phrased it, except with lots more flowery mystical-religious-revolutionary phrasing.

Also, among progressives there sometimes seems to be a certain other form of American 'exceptionalism' that forgets that countries routinely act horribly, with big powerful ones having more opportunity for such stuff. I imagine that most people here are aware that the Algerian war was ugly, how many know that in the space of a half dozen years the war killed off one in twenty Muslim Algerians. Or the kind of shit that went on before - in 1945 the French opened fire on demostrators, a rampage followed with dozens of whites murdered. The French responded by exterminating a number of villages wholesale with on the order of ten thousand dead. French national icon, Charles de Gaulle was in charge the, ditto for the early sixties when peaceful Parisian demonstrators' bodies were thrown into the Seine by the truckload, under the aegis of a Parisian police prefect who'd been a major cog in Vichy's holocaust operations. The General wished to reassure his military that just because he was looking for a way out of Algeria, it didn't mean he had turned into a softie.

Let alone that right before the Algerian war, the French war in Vietnam was conducted in an even more brutal and bloody fashion than its American successor - when ex-Waffen SS soldiers form a major part of your special counter-insurgency forces, you get what you paid for. That latter experience has been completely airbrushed out of France's national memory, while French conservative governments have increasingly pushed for teaching children how wonderful French rule was for Algerians. You can come up with similar stuff everywhere - I'm Polish, ask me about the Germans and Russians; I'm a DFH liberal Pole, ask me about how Poles behaved and thought when they had the whip hand.

Finally, not only does a relative decline vis a vis China et al. not mean that America won't remain a very, very, powerful state, but it is quite imaginable for it to do so with far nastier income disparities than today - a Brazil with fifty percent more population and two or three times the per capita GDP would be a major player. Furthermore, the rising states aren't exactly models of economic equality. China's Fini coefficient is rising steadily, India has ridiculous wealth disparities. Russia has all that plus an infrastructure gone to hell.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 2:06 AM
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One more:

368.6: I'm not sure who this is meant as a response to. If to me, I was specific in not talking about America's demise as a great power.

I'm also not sure who 368.4 is meant to be a response to, if anyone.

On 368.3: Every country has its exceptionalisms. Not all of them are equally justified. Poland as "the Christ of Nations" looks quaint in retrospect. America's self-image was validated, to a point, by real power. (One could say the same about Russia's self-image as "the third Rome.") America was a nonentity in international relations before the 20th century out of choice, not because it wasn't powerful.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 2:24 AM
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Other than .2 and .3, and .6 not addressed to anyone in particular here, and in large part a reaction to many conversations with non-American leftists, specifically Europeans, who tell me how much better a place the world would be with an American decline. I always ask them what makes them think that whoever fills the vacuum will be any better, or that alternatively, no countries will seek to do so.

368.6 was partially addressed to you. Yes, you do note that America isn't going to stop being a major country, but I think you still exaggerate the likely relative decline. Think more a combination of present day China's economic clout with the above economic weight military power a la Russia. Plus, I think the looming death of the dollar is much exaggerated. The Europeans don't want the overvalued currency and huge trade deficits that a shift to the Euro as top reserve currency would involve, and the Chinese don't want the greater financial openness that they would need to make their currency the one of choice. The latter could change, since between their good infrastructure and low relative wages I don't see them needing to worry about major trade problems, it would primarily mean economic development fueled by rising domestic living standards rather than rising exports.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:13 AM
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I've only skimmed this quickly and I'll be off-line most of tomorrow and will probably miss the rest of the thread before it fades, but I think DS is right about the US always either seeming on the upswing as a country until it was recognized as a world leader, but that there's a difference between being on the upswing and being on the upswing towards being a world leader. The latter didn't become clear until at least after 1812.

Americans certainly wanted to span the continent as early as the 18th century, but there was a a bit of French and Spanish territory a few mountain ranges in that it wasn't clear they'd be able to take or defend just yet. To the extent that there's a historical consensus professionally about the post-Revolutionary period, it seemed to me when I was reading that stuff it was that Americans were confident in their goals (especially their perceived rightness of them), but insecure as to their means of achieving them. The Age of Federalism*, which is just about the 1790s, repeatedly makes the point that Americans thought they were important, but the European powers tended to have a different opinion, which could lead to situations where a treaty that played a huge role in American politics domestically, could be a near afterthought to the British or the French, who had bigger wars & stuff to think about at the time.

You can see the insecurity even in things like the Lewis and Clark and other early scientific efforts documenting animal sizes and trying desperately to prove that the comparative lack of megafauna in the Americas was not a sign of environmental inferiority.

*The book also makes the point that things like the Whiskey Rebellion are not quite analogous to anti-government movements today, as conceptions of the state and of what constitutes threats to the state were different. Actually, I don't remember if they make this point explicitly, but they should have.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:34 AM
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specifically Europeans, who tell me how much better a place the world would be with an American decline.

The trouble with wishing for the "decline of x" is that you can't control the trajectory of it in advance. A world in which the US was reduced to and economic and military nullity would not, at the moment, be a good place to live ("at the moment" because in principle I'm all in favour of a world in which all large states become economic and military nullities, but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime).

However, from the point of view of a non-American, some limitations on its perception of power would be welcome. As a European, I'm personally concerned more with the American tendency to economic aggression, backed by Congress's proclivity for passing laws which are intended to apply outside its jurisdiction. If I came from anywhere else in the world of course, I'd be more worried about the actual tanks on my actual lawn.

The question is how to achieve this without causing an uncontrolled implosion, both economic and social, in the United States. If there was anything like a revolutionary or even radical movement (hello Emerson?) in place to pick up the pieces, I'd be quite sanguine about that, but there's not - there are a fair number of well intentioned but completely disorganised individuals and a few hundred superannuated Maoists, so fuck it. I have no answers.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 4:17 AM
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Oh, there's a radical movement to pick up the pieces; it's just on the wrong side of the spectrum.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 5:18 AM
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I wasn't thinking about those people picking up the pieces so much as kicking them around the floor. One of the few things that gives me much hope of dying in my bed is that AFAICS the American right is so disorganised, self-obsessed and individualistic that if it ever seriously got its hands on the levers of power it would immediately let go in order to start punching itself in the face. But maybe I'm too optimistic.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 5:34 AM
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374: With an eight-year hiatus from '92-'00 when the erstwhile Rockefeller Republicans managed to win plurality victories, they held it from 1980 to 2008. Which is how we got to the current sorry state of affairs. Barry freaking Goldwater (correctly) considered the Reagan people loonies. Right-wing nutcases have been running the Fed and the Supreme Court for quite some time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:00 AM
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Naomi seems to be doing OK.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:06 AM
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370: I think you still exaggerate the likely relative decline.

I don't see how I'd go about exaggerating something I didn't talk about.

Plus, I think the looming death of the dollar is much exaggerated.

I, on the other hand, think it has basically already happened and that what we're currently witnessing is an attempt to stave off that realization, one which in fact mirrors the propping-up of zombie versions of a recently-deceased banking establishment and globalization doctrine that are still shambling about. Whether Europe and China want it to happen is hardly the point. If anyone wanted it to happen, the current heroic battle to keep the dollar afloat wouldn't be happening. There simply happens to be a point past which you can no longer keep pretending.

If you want a currency whose death has been pronounced prematurely, I'd go with the euro, which is apparently supposed to be old news with the kerfuffle over Greece. It would be a big surprise of Greece's woes prompted the dissolution of the EU.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:13 AM
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I've lost track of what DS is arguing, but as an imperial power the US is not in any sort of decline. The US is still the world's leading manufacturer, and the world's leading financial center. Why would any of those change? We're moving to a two-tier society where 99% of us wait tables for the other 1%, but how would that lead to any change in the level of US power? Once the populace has been completely subdued, it might even become easier.

The US dollar being the reserve currency is of very little positive value for the US, and lots of negative value. China is only able to expand its exports by manipulating the dollar's status as the reserve currency. If the dollar lost that status, then manufacturing jobs would move back to the US.

The reason why politics here is so depressing is not because of a loss of US power, but we're one turn of the political wheel away from being Germany in 1936.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:23 AM
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I wish Ogged was here to mock all these hysterical rants.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:34 AM
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378: Very hard to argue that there has not been a relative decline since the late '50s/early '60s when the US was its peak of "free world" dominance due to the various advantages it gained from the way WWII played out. But I agree that the perceived decline is overstated and that fact is one contributor to the problem with how this is playing out in the internal politics of grievance. Here we pay for this big, dominant military, and it has not delivered what many want--WWII-style victories that keep us "on top".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:41 AM
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as an imperial power the US is not in any sort of decline.

Mmmm-hmmm.

The US is still the world's leading manufacturer

Look at trends. Is the US' share of world manufacturer's expanding? If not, whose is? (You get three guesses, the first two don't count.) Also, what is the US leading in manufacturing? If it was the kind of thing that was in enough demand worldwide to keep its economy afloat, why is it consistently running massive trade deficits? (Hint: it isn't leading in anything that's in massive demand. That's what people mean when they say that real American production has fallen.)

Put briefly, I still find Emmanuel Todd's analysis of this situation more convincing by far, and more consistently borne out by actual events, than the analyses of those who disagree with him.

The US dollar being the reserve currency is of very little positive value for the US

Except that it's what makes it possible to keep financing those enormous trade deficits and all that military spending.

we're one turn of the political wheel away from being Germany in 1936.

Correct. And what was a major factor in Germany of 1936? One that's missing from all the talk of "American fascism" to this point? The double-whammy of economic crisis and a sense of national humiliation.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:45 AM
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365 wins. You're all banned.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:59 AM
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The latest moves are accelerating the U.S. manufacturing economy's longer-term decline, as well as its shift away from heavy sectors, such as automobiles and basic chemicals, toward higher-tech products like super-fast computer chips. In some cases, as with auto makers, companies are shrinking to adjust to diminished U.S. demand or investing in smaller, more efficient facilities. In others, companies such as chemical makers are relocating labor-intensive operations to countries where workers are cheaper.

During 2009, the nation's capacity to produce motor vehicles and chemicals shrank 4.4% and 1.7%, respectively, the largest such drops since at least 1949, according to Federal Reserve estimates. Its capacity to produce semiconductors, by contrast, grew an estimated 10.4%. Overall, U.S. industrial capacity declined by an estimated 1% in 2009, the largest year-to-year decrease on record, while goods-producing businesses shed more than 2.3 million jobs.

As a result, economists expect unemployment to remain high for many years as millions of American workers in the hardest-hit sectors struggle to find new jobs. And while some economists see the restructuring as necessary to make U.S. industry leaner and more profitable, others worry that the sheer scope of the cutbacks could doom companies that ought to survive.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 6:59 AM
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Barry freaking Goldwater (correctly) considered the Reagan people loonies.

Well, props to Barry freaking Goldwater, but I still wouldn't let him move in next door and marry my daughter.

The point is that if America went into free fall, it would be the people in the White House and at the Fed who would be seen as responsible, and the odds are they'd be post-Reagan types, since even right wing Democrats like Obama have the sense to keep half a finger in the dyke. So the people who would be picking up the pieces would be the even more sinister factions currently waiting noisily in the wings. Or is that wrong?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:00 AM
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It would be a big surprise of Greece's woes prompted the dissolution of the EU.

It was pointed out somewhere I can't find right now that the Euro was in fact designed to do exactly what it's doing in Greece, and is working entirely to plan. Central bankers are not nice people.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:06 AM
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382: At least I go out on a high note.

It's running massive trade deficits because the US dollar is the reserve currency. Countries like China horde dollars. How do they get dollars? They trade goods for them.

Your argument makes no sense to me, DS. If the dollar remains the reserve currency, then the government gets to borrow money to expand American power. If the dollar ceases to be the reserve currency and plunges in value, then US manufacturing becomes much more competitive versus Chinese manufacturing, and manufacturing jobs move back from China to the US. These are very different outcomes, but which of these lead to a loss of US power?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:09 AM
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oh yeah, well I wish ogged were here to say that girls who wear mascara are gross and horrible.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:12 AM
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||

Are we having a meet-up in Brooklyn tomorrow?

|>


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:14 AM
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I wish ogged were here to bring us cargo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:17 AM
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Should we build mock-ups of German luxury cars and put them on the front page of the blog?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:22 AM
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If we all shower in our clothes, maybe he'll come back.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:23 AM
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Look, I made Jessica Biel out of coconuts!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:24 AM
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386: If the dollar ceases to be the reserve currency and plunges in value, then US manufacturing becomes much more competitive versus Chinese manufacturing,

Divesting yourself of exporting capacity is easy. Rebuilding it, not so much.

Of course, it would be a very practical thing for the US to retrench from all the things that require its dependence on a strong dollar (entrenched culture of consumption-and-debt, massive military spending) and focus on rebuilding exports. I believe Obama has delivered some really first-rate speeches about this. Actually making it happen would be one of those "radical" things -- which is to say, perfectly practical things that are unspeakable in the current political climate -- that I've alluded to as necessary to fixing the current problems. (This whole discussion started with Ian Welsh's list of such obvious, practical and politically-unlikely items cited by apo in 210. It's a long list.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:27 AM
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One reason I get less utility out of political conversations these days is that I generally agree with everything everybody says on my general leftish end of the political spectrum - and disagree with everyone else.

Witt/ari are certainly right that a little perspective should inform the conversation. Did anyone notice that Obama is still black? That's pretty cool! Gay people are getting married in the US. Legally! Also pretty nifty - and mind you, gay marriage and a black president are genuinely important things, and unimaginable in the very recent past.

Of course, DS/apo are certainly right that the macro trends are ugly. Sarah Palin - or someone just as bad - could be our next president. We could be looking back at George W. and saying - as we now do about Reagan - "well, it could have been worse."

As far as national politics goes, the upside is that Barack Obama - or someone just as bad - will be elected president in 2012. That sucks.

Moreover, the Republicans have stumbled onto a dangerous negative feedback loop, and aren't the least bit shy about exploiting it. Time after time - starting with Reagan but really accelerating with Clinton's impeachment - Republicans have profited politically from sabotaging the US and the world. If torture, for instance, helps promote Islamic terrorism, well that's just win-win for the Republicans.

We've still got a lot to lose - and that's good! - but it's an extraordinarily dangerous time.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:27 AM
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Look, people, ogged will never be back. Unfogged will be a discussion of the US's trade deficit in ergonomic chairs... forever.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:28 AM
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So if building manufacturing capacity is so hard, how did China manage it? How did Japan and Germany manage it despite being bombed into rubble?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:33 AM
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I do agree with 394.1. Like I said, I do understand why people don't feel like talking politics these days. Politics alone will not bring back the Golden Days of Ogged.

Quick, Standpipe! Say something funny!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:33 AM
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396: Pretty much a walk in the park by all accounts. I think they twirled around three times, clicked their heels and said "Arbeit macht frei! Arbeit macht frei! Arbeit macht frei!" That oughtta do it. Adjusted for local language, of course.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:35 AM
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395: Which is why good lumbar support is so important.

And 394 is about where I am at. And it would be nice if we did not go about dismantling really nice strengths like the California's* (and other states) system of higher education.

*Best in the history of the world in its day, and still pretty damn good.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:36 AM
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it's an extraordinarily dangerous time

Yes it is, and Yeats' line about conviction and passionate intensity seems particularly apt. I can link to far gloomier pieces, people. Don't tempt me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:40 AM
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I want so badly to shave Apolo Anton Ferret's Chin-Ohno. But since I cannot, I have posted this.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 7:46 AM
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A professor once told a story about Saul Bellow being asked why these are the worst of times. Bellow's response that it was because these were the only times in which we were going to die. I've never been able to find a source for this story.

Also I recall writing a little song way back when I was in college with a catchy chorus that went, "The end! The end! Again! Again!"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:09 AM
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This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.


Posted by: OPINIONATED JIM MORRISON | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:13 AM
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The snake is looooooooooooong, Jim.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:16 AM
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403: Yes, that was a different song. And, well, even if there is a slight resemblance, there's no point in suing, Jim, because I only sang the song to myself, and I never even paid myself a dime.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:16 AM
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the Joe Stacks of American society

I do want to object to using Joe Stack as a symbol of anything. Spike gets this right in 251. When the proletariat rises up, they aren't going to burn down the homes they share with their wives and daughters. The victimized middle class doesn't protest by crashing their personal planes into buildings.

Joe Stack was articulate, and he hated George Bush - I'll give him props for that. But I honestly don't see what separates him from any other asshole on a shooting spree. I mean, if he'd crashed his plane into one of Hank Paulson's summer homes, then maybe ...

Also: I am amused to see the general relief being expressed that, hey, at least this wasn't a terrorist attack.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:34 AM
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When the proletariat rises up

So, we still do believe???


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:39 AM
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The victimized middle class doesn't protest by crashing their personal planes into buildings.

This made me laugh.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:39 AM
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Also I recall writing a little song way back when I was in college with a catchy chorus that went, "The end! The end! Again! Again!"

peep was a nihilist Tellytubby?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 8:42 AM
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Now I'm a little sorry that I turned in fairly early last night.

W/r/t the historical context debate, I think there's a number of ways to look at that. I've mentioned before that cover of the Baffler which had the graph of bombings in Chicago during (alcohol) Prohibition. It was pretty insane. Can you imagine if there was a major US city that had 30 bombings a year right now? And what about the period from 1954 to 1974? Huge amounts of both rightwing and leftwing political violence, absolutely dwarfing what we see nowadays. And yet, everyone is perfectly comfortable with the continuation of the Drug War, which has essentially outsourced political violence into our internal and external colonies. From a procedural liberal standpoint, I think it's important to focus on something that Witt mentioned above. Namely, most of the 1st Amendment rights we're worried about didn't exist in any real form before the 1950s. The time when you couldn't publish something like "Howl" is still within living memory.
I dunno, overall, I'm feeling guardedly positive about things, but not because I think the US is doing so great. I think the social movements in Latin America are massively ahead of anything people are doing here. Let the American Nightmare die. It was stupid in the first place. I never wanted to live under the Pax Americana, and if you're saying we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, then I think that's reason to rejoice. Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:03 AM
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400:Thanks for the link, apo.

407:The controlling structures looked all-powerful in 1890. You have to be positive and hopeful like ari in 261 and say:

"Hey after 2-3 depressions, foreign wars that kill hundreds of millions, civil wars that kill tens of millions, things will get so much better. Maybe."

Can't give in to despair, you know.

The victimized middle class doesn't protest by crashing their personal planes into buildings.

Actually, if you look at history again around 1900, like the anarchists (who weren't from the starving peasants), and as a metaphor...some of the middle class does exactly that. And other crazy stuff, like antu-semitic communities in the Amazon From the right or the left.

It's the individualism, the myth. This is why the communists focused on the proletariat instead of the bourgeois, because the bourgeois can't be organized toward the left.

But the geniuses of capitalism have disappeared the proletariat in the industrialized nations, precisely to make revolution impossible. We are all serfs who believe ourselves entrepeneurs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:12 AM
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Let the American Nightmare die.

The nightmare is just beginning.

I still say the future of America is as the global oligarchy's cops, mercenaries, and bank.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:17 AM
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409: This was about 15 years before the Teletubbies. Perhaps, I was a nihilist proto-Teletubby.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:19 AM
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I still say the future of America is as the global oligarchy's cops, mercenaries, and bank.

So, the future -- much like the present!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:21 AM
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some of the middle class does exactly that

I think the point was that middle class people don't generally own planes, not that they wouldn't engage in violence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 9:46 AM
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I was a nihilist proto-Teletubby.

This is actually how I think of James Howard Kunstler.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:05 AM
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I missed most of this conversation, but I have to say that I'm inclined to Witt's point of view, because I think absolute conditions matter as much as relative conditions.

The US may be heading in the wrong direction in a variety of ways, but we are, for all of that, as rich or richer now that we have ever been as a society (yes, I am aware of the figures that show that inflation adjust median income hasn't changed much since 1973, but I'm inclined to believe that the real improvements in technology and infrastructure mean that the USA is wealthier now than it was then).

I think there are a lot fewer people eating cat food now than there were in the early 70s.

I do think there are some very scary trends and that, in addition to socio-political trends that global warming and peak oil will start to cut into the standards of living soonish. But I also believe that it will make a huge difference whether those changes happen quickly or slowly.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:11 AM
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Worth linking in this discussion, Brad DeLong's view from 1900. Unless other people are still interested in this conversation I don't want to make too much of it -- I don't pretend that it unambiguously supports my position, but I think it's a relevant bit of history.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:13 AM
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This is good, from the previous post by Delong.

For example, in 1905 an anonymous American college professor--"G.H.M."--wrote a four-page article for the Atlantic Monthly in which he pleaded for more money for college professor salaries, and claimed to be vastly underpaid. The first thing to note is his salary:... $2,000 was four times average of GDP per worker at the turn of the century. In order to match turn-of-the-century professors in terms of income relative to the national average, a professor today would have to make an academic salary of $300,000-a height rarely attained, and far above any average.
The second thing to note is that our professor sees himself as a reasonable and badly underpaid man. He is not asking for what he would see as the "large salar[y], commensurate with what equal ability would bring in other lines of work ($10,000 to $50,000)"-or 20 to 100 times the then-current average level of GDP per worker. Today, 20 to 100 times average GDP per worker would be between $1,600,000 and $8,000,000 a year: the salaries of CEOS. At 60 times average GDP per worker (roughly the mid-point of G.H.M.'s range, corresponding to a salary of $2.5 million a year), we are down to less than 45000 households in today's United States.
That an ordinary professor could feel that his talents ought, in some sense, to earn such an enormous multiple of the average income is a sign of how unequal an economy and society the turn of the twentieth century U.S. was. We have not yet meade it back to Gilded Age heights of inequality. Yet as this professor goes through his budget, he expects his readers to understand that his family is indeed strapped for cash and cannot support an appropriate and tolerable lifestyle. And what strikes us is how poor that start of the twentieth century century upper-class genteel lifestyle is. G.H.M.'s feeling of being sharply constrained by material necessity is real: ...

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:21 AM
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OK, professors were better paid. On the other hand...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:29 AM
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420: Yes, of course, executive compensation is, literally, scandalous, these days.

That said, two things strike me about that graphic. The first is that it really only started shooting up after 1992. Which makes me think that the state of affairs may not be permanent, it might represent a specific moment in time/politics. The second is that the specific measure being shown in that graph, "three highest paid officers at companies that were among the 50 largest" is not neutral across time. As there are more large companies you would expect the largest to separate from the pack more (my intuition may be wrong on this but, statistically, I would expect greater inequality between the very top and the average is a country of 300 million than in a country of 100 million).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:36 AM
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Coda: Iris just walked in from school belting "We shall overcome."

See? It'll all be ok.

PS - DS is totally right


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 1:54 PM
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I can link to far gloomier pieces, people.

This isn't gloomy so much as hilarious:

"No act of resistance is useless, whether it is refusing to pay taxes, fighting for a Tobin tax, working to shift the neoclassical economics paradigm, revoking a corporate charter, holding global internet votes or using Twitter to catalyze a chain reaction of refusal against the neoliberal order."

Twitter v. the neoliberal order: isn't that like Freddy v. Jason?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 2:23 PM
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I admit that when I read that line, I did think, "No, actually, Twittering is pretty goddamn useless."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:07 PM
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Jesus Christ--I don't have time to read all 424 of these comments. Someone please just tell me if there was a consensus about which office chair to buy. Like Heebie, I'd like a new one. (And, contra 35, I can't raise my desk. Sadly.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:33 PM
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I can't raise my desk. Sadly.

Ask your doctor if Cialis is right for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:37 PM
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Someone please just tell me if there was a consensus about which office chair to buy.

There was not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 3:55 PM
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Damn.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 4:32 PM
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OK, I'm finally back. I know the thread is over now, but for the record:

you sort of seemed to be implying that because right-wing violence is relatively "contained" right now that it's not that big a concern

That is not at all what I meant. I assume you're referring to my 231, where I said the daily impact of such violence is relatively contained. I stand by that.

But as noted in my 231 and 277, I absolutely believe that we are doing badly and headed downhill when it comes violent assaults against people who are nonwhite, non-Christian, non-straight etc. It's not an academic belief, either; I spend a fairly significant part of my activist life dealing with exactly this issue.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-19-10 10:00 PM
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