Re: The heartstrings tugging problem

1

It reminds me a little bit of the problem of charity: it relies on tugging at our heartstrings.

Take that, you stupid Corinthians!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:20 AM
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This is petty of me, but I'd like to know why the hero principal's kids are in private school. He couldn't find a public grade school they were eligible for that could teach them to read? That seems unenterprising of him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:32 AM
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2: This seems slightly unfair. "I want to make the public schools better" doesn't seem inconsistent with "The public schools are not very good and I want my children to enjoy the best education that I can provide." Perhaps better put, believing in the potential and/or the mission of public education doesn't mean that one has to indulge in fantasies about its reality.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:51 AM
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I think a sufficient fraction of modern life is that we work hard to conceal, even from ourselves, that society is a gigantic machine, that all of us are little mechanisms inside that machine, and that individual initiative and effort makes little difference. We are a successful people because we have successful systems. Systems feed us, educate us, create everything we use. Systems build the future. Systems fight crime.

We cling to myths of the heroic CEO, the heroic crime-fighter, the heroic teacher, because the alternative is just too terrible to bear. Our individuality just doesn't matter.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:51 AM
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I also found the portrait of the elite-education energetic young teacher of the type that absolutely can't be laid off while experienced teachers retain their positions interesting: he sucks at his job. Nothing against him, I sucked at teaching my first year, and sucked somewhat less, but still sucked, my second year. I'm sure if he lasts he'll be competent in a couple of years. But it's a difficult job that people learn by doing it, and very few of the bright young things that are supposed to be saving the school system are going to be any good at all before they get a few years experience under their belts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:54 AM
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3: Right, but this is a school system that I do, actually, know something about -- my kids are in it. And while there are bad schools, there are also plenty of good and acceptable schools in the system. I'd kind of like to know what the guy's thinking was for rejecting the actual options he had for his kids.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:56 AM
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I also found the portrait of the elite-education energetic young teacher of the type that absolutely can't be laid off while experienced teachers retain their positions interesting: he sucks at his job.

This isn't necessarily true. In grad school, I knew people who were great at teaching right out of the gate, with no training. What came with time is how much faster they were able to prepare - at the beginning, they spent gigantic quantities of time prepping for every class.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:57 AM
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2, 6: He's not the only decision-maker. If he met his spouse during his college years at an elite university, odds are good that there is no city public school she is going to feel comfortable with her kids attending.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:58 AM
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4: Your "system" couldn't save my parents. It can't successfully prosecute a fence who dresses like the Monopoly millionaire. It can't even keep a giggling, twitching, clown-faced psychopath in custody from one phase of the moon to the next.


Posted by: OPINIONATED BATMAN | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:59 AM
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The article seems to be both better and worse than described. On the worse side, it accepts uncritically test score improvements which there is every reason to doubt. On the plus side, it does show the huge systemic problems that the principal is up against, and it doesn't present him as triumphant -- it shows him struggling to make a little difference.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:00 AM
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7: While not necessarily true, I'm pretty confident it's going to be usually true (and more so at the primary and secondary level, where discipline is an issue, than at college.)

Living in East Harlem, he might be able to send his kids here, which appears to be well thought of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:01 AM
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10: I think I meant to write"The article seems to me to be" -- I hedge therefore I am.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:02 AM
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8 makes a good point. It's easy to forget that profiled public servants have spouses/partners who, supportive as they may be, haven't signed up for quite as much self-sacrifice as our "hypocrisy is the darkest sin" media demand.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:03 AM
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We are a successful people because we have successful systems.

Yes, this is true, but the time it takes to build a system, the time it takes for a system to develop inertia, and the time it takes to become irrelevant, all of these are dropping sharply. The lifetime of a useful and powerful system is now often much shorter than a human life.

This means that life is more like battle than it used to be-- long periods of boredom punctuated by important decision points when there is transition from one system to another.

Also, initiative and stamina matter in interpersonal relations, both professional and family relations.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:10 AM
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"(I'm thinking, for example, of journalist Peter Binzen's Whitetown USA, published in 1970.) "

fucking hipsters


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:11 AM
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I'm not so much griping about hypocrisy, as what looks like possible poor judgment in terms of being able to find a perfectly acceptable school.

Come to think, I'm mostly annoyed with the writer of the article for tossing it in as an unexamined fact. Without context, it comes off as: "Of course a good parent couldn't possibly voluntarily send their own children to the horrific city schools. But maybe in the future when the heroes have fixed themit will be okay."

If there's a particular story, that his kids were zoned into a school that is specifically in bad shape, and he couldn't organize them into a different public program, putting them in private school might be a reasonable thing to do. I just don't like the implicit knock on all the schools in the city system given by mentioning the fact without context -- that's the sort of thing that leads to the fucked up marital dynamic described in 8.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:11 AM
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"harity via heartstrings is the opposite of smart, central, efficient planning."

charity is meant to benefit rich people.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:12 AM
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It's easy to forget that profiled public servants have spouses/partners who, supportive as they may be, haven't signed up

I was a Liberal when Winnie turned Tory.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CLEMENTINE | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:17 AM
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I was a Liberal when Winnie turned Tory.

And now thou art lost and gone forever. Dreadful sorry.

The problems of the public servant as hero narrative are quite different from those of the charity narrative. I'm inclined to give the former a break, because it's rare enough that public servants get a good press at all these days, and most people who read the stuff in fact understand that the person being written up is in fact fronting a team (in the rare instances where they're not there's usually a follow up story a year or so later about how it all went tits up).

Charities, by contrast, are divided into those which are providing an infrastructural service which ought to be provided by public servants, and realise this and try to make themselves redundant; those which are providing an infrastructural service which ought to be provided by public servants, and think this is just dandy - 'the aspirins for cancer approach', we used to call it; and those which are basically scams. It's very hard to know which you're dealing with from the adverts.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:31 AM
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Maybe this is one of those 'too obvious to be worth mentioning' things, but it's the same reason most 'news' sucks and doesn't contribute to real knowledge: people want stories. And it's really, really, really hard to turn a causal explanation of institutions with many moving parts into a good narrative.

Even if it weren't very hard, almost nobody trains for it. You can go to journalism school, you can go to Iowa to get a master's in narrative non-fiction, but I don't think either of those models insist on a strong grounding in social scientific explanation / philosophy of social science.

But boy, if I were dictator, there'd be a lot more of that getting taught. And lotteries, of course. And ponies.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:32 AM
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re: 20

I've started toying with the idea of trying to write a pop philosophy of science book. It seems like there really ought to be some, but unless I'm missing things, there aren't.

Just need to give it a snappy one-word title, and a glib subtitle.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:41 AM
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||
I haven't been around much lately, so perhaps it has already been linked. If so, sorry. If not, enjoy:

http://anti-joke.com/


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:42 AM
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I was imagining a fantasy/adventure novel the other day which unfolded on two levels: the hero on a quest and some bland office drama. At the end, the hero would return to find his achievement has been made entirely moot by changes at the official level.

"Thanks Glorfanir, for returning the Sword of Halfad, but now that we've signed this technology deal with the Moonmen, the sudden ubiquity of our cultural and consumer goods is doing more to open society in the Forbidden Colonies than beheading the Dark Enchantress ever would."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:45 AM
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Feyerabend!

Because you never know which way is best.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:48 AM
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21. "Falsification: how one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century defined the scientific method and got it wrong."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:50 AM
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re: 25

That's the very idea.

Maybe I'll called it: 'Popped!'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:51 AM
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I need to find something to do, since the academic job market is carnage, and I'm deeply bored by the things I do now. So, first I'll grow a big sort of afro hair do ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:51 AM
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22: SCIENCE! How we came to know what we know, and why some people aren't so sure we actually know it


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:52 AM
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I would totally buy Popped!

Though, for that matter, I'd buy your book regardless of the title, ttaM.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:56 AM
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I did a charity thing a few weeks ago at a place called the "food bank," which turned out to be basically a giant processing factory for assembling bags of free food in a giant industrial warehouse in the industrial warehouse part of town. There were probably about 800 volunteers there, which they get every single day and could process incredibly efficiently, and the work consisted of being put on an assembly line and putting together shopping bags full of food, all of which was surplus donated by the big food companies. Then the food bank sends out vans around town -- they claim to serve something like 75,000 people per day, and I personally helped put together about 8,000 shopping bags of food in 4 hours of work.

It was nice to do charity work at something at something at least approaching an industrial level; it felt like a real response, as opposed to some feel-good b.s. that obviously couldn't scale. And made obvious that this is exactly the kind of thing the government should be doing. It also reminded me that I'm really, really glad I don't work on an assembly line.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:58 AM
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Ttam, you should totally write that book.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:59 AM
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Count me in for another pre-order of ttaM's book. Perhaps you could rent Apo's mullet from back in the day -- it's not exactly an afro, but it is author-class hair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:03 AM
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Though, for that matter, I'd buy your book regardless of the title, ttaM.

I am somewhat serious. I think there'd be a place for something that wasn't dumbed down, but was aimed at a non-specialist audience.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:04 AM
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31 and 32 get it exactly right.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:12 AM
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If you want pro-organisation literature, try reading aircraft accident investigations. Can be absolutely fascinating, and the master narrative is essentially "individual heroes both gifted and tragically flawed, just like you, struggle mightily to prevent the system from saving their skins and delivering them and their passengers on time, and eventually succeed. Recommendations on how to avoid this unfortunate eventuality in future can be found in the executive summary".


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:13 AM
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I think you should be serious about it. This is interesting stuff, that really isn't available to laypeople, and laypeople seems to (from the online conversations I've seen) include most scientists.

I should think about trying to figure out what the difference is between good pop scholarly writing and bad pop scholarly writing -- my father's been on a kick of buying pop math books as presents (The story of π; Zero, a number that changed the world; Fourteen: More than twelve, less than thirty) and those have been annoying me. They don't seem to actually get across much that's interesting about the math, it's all scraps of history and personal interest, with a lot of going "Whoa, cosmic" at the coolness of it all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:18 AM
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re: 36.1

Yeah, there's been a raft of decent-ish popular science TV in the UK recently, and 'cheer-leading for science' books/newspaper articles, and I think there ought to be something out there that is respectful of the science -- so not some piece of 'yay homeopathy/boo climate change modelling' bullshit -- but which counteracts or offers some perspective on what is often a very Whiggish take on scientific progress and/or the epistemology of science.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:21 AM
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I should think about trying to figure out what the difference is between good pop scholarly writing and bad pop scholarly writing

And write a book about it!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:21 AM
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I'd buy it, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:24 AM
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SCIENCE! How we came to know what we know, and why some people aren't so sure we actually know it

This is just me being hobby-horsy, but I think the first step is not to write it as philosophy of science per se; IMNSHO, the whole science-v-not-science is a terrible way of framing the problem that, A, invites careless slippage between institutions, beliefs, individuals, and definitions; and B, scares away those who don't see themselves as 'science people'.

Why should we believe some things/people/institutions/processes, and not others? That's the key. 'Science,' as a totemic word of power, only gets in the way here.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:28 AM
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Susan Haack's Defending science...within reason. Between scientism and cynicism isn't a bad book along the same general lines, despite the unwieldly title.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:28 AM
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36: Yeah, most pop math is crap. In contrast, I have heard very good things about e: the story of a number.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:28 AM
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23: I would buy that book.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:30 AM
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'Science,' as a totemic word of power, only gets in the way here.

Well, for me, that's part of the point. I'm not interested in writing a popular work of social epistemology in general [although any work on science would overlap heavily).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:30 AM
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Not quite pop, and not exhaustive of philosophy of science, but still: The Conduct of I/nquiry in I/nternational Re/lations

Regarding the article, I'm largely with 10. I'm also more sympathetic to portrayals of heroic school principals than heroic school teachers because a good principal can make a HUGE difference on the school as a whole, while teachers' influence tends to be more restricted to their students.


Posted by: JennyRobot | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:31 AM
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re: 41

Ah, yeah, I need to look at that. The only stuff of hers I've read is the more technical stuff, on logic.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:32 AM
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They don't seem to actually get across much that's interesting about the math, it's all scraps of history and personal interest, with a lot of going "Whoa, cosmic" at the coolness of it all.

An extremely annoying example of this:

He succeeded because he used the unfathomable power of his mind to grasp the entire scope of possibilities: he was ultimately able to claim that he knew all that could happen...as the object reshaped itself.

I wonder why no one thought of using the unfathomable power of his mind before.

Also included in that article: the de rigueur invocation of Asperger's; the display of Paulos' ignorance of the distinction between use and mention.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:32 AM
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That sounds interesting. I mean, at some level it really seems to me that the target audience of "philosophy of X" should be "practitioners of X" rather than philosophers. Knowledge in the philosophy of science doesn't really make a difference unless it gets out into the general scientific world. A book that scientists could learn from could catch on, and could also do quite a bit of good.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:33 AM
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41 and 45 are good recommendations, btw, thanks!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:34 AM
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I kind of think the same thing of english: I wish the audience were authors rather than other academics.

Math, of course, has some of the same problems being inwardly focused rather than focused on what we can give to scientists. However, the justification of math is that it's cheap and occasionally (and unpredictably) spectacularly successful.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:35 AM
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Yeah, most pop math is crap

I agree with this, too. The stuff that drives me the most crazy is the Book Of Neat Tricks approach: look how Gauss added up a billion numbers! Look at where the magic spiral appears in nature! None of that has anything to do with what I actually enjoy about math, which is understanding piece by piece how things are built up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:37 AM
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My favorite pop math book is William Dunham's Journey through Genius. Unfortunately it propagates the whole "genius" idea (which is kind of BS), but the math is excellent and the stories are fun. It's on the challenging side, but doesn't require much background. And you can skip the more difficult sections (like Heron's formula for triangular area).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:38 AM
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41: ooh, thanks, yes. I've seen Cosma rec that before, keep meaning to pick it up. [tap tap tap...] Doh, not on library/nu.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:41 AM
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Also I don't really enjoy math unless I sit down with a paper and pencil and work it out for myself. I don't enjoy seminars or conferences much because you can't possibly follow what's going on unless it's truly your thing, and I'm not disciplined enough to go back and work through my notes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:42 AM
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The real advantage of math is that you get to say "lemma" a lot more than in the sciences, and therefore imagine yourself to be a member of Hawkwind.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:44 AM
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The reviews on amazon for the book in 41 look pretty great. The use of "scientism" in the title would have scared me away, but now I'm curious. I should get back to reading, I was on a Gould kick last year, but haven't read much this semester.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:47 AM
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I found that Haack is pretty even handed in pointing out the shortcomings of what she refers as the "old deferentialists" and the "new cynics".

Her tone gets somewhat harsher when discussing the cynics, but I think that's because she was originally drawn to the subject out of annoyance with some of the Science Wars stuff during the 90's.

In general, I appreciated hearing someone who clearly knows their stuff support the view that 1) the classic 20th century philosophers of science had an image of science much more exalted and idealized than almost any practicing scientist would endorse, and 2) acknowledging this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that unbridled skepticism is the way to go.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:49 AM
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Jennyrobot's rec in 45, by contrast, *is* available from the interwebs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:50 AM
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My favourite maths book is Concrete Mathematics by Graham, Knuth and Patashnik. It starts with the "clever" stuff, and gradually develops a set of increasingly mechanical methods, to the point where you no longer need to think, as you now know how to program a computer to do the exercises for you (using the amazing Gosper-Zeilberger hypergeometric identity algorithm).

On the same theme: Zeilberger's provocative Guess What? Programming is Even More Fun Than Proving, and, More Importantly It Gives As Much, If Not More, Insight and Understanding.


Posted by: Gareth Rees | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:59 AM
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40: Few philosophers of science spend much time talking about the demarcation problem these days.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:21 AM
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60: well, right, but I think the very framing of it as 'philosophy of science' (rather than, say, social epistemology or what-have-you) invites thinking about it in terms of demarcation.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:25 AM
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Gah, I'll shut up now.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:26 AM
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No, if you just mean that that's what it will suggest (in the title or on the dust jacket, or whatever), then the point's well taken. I wasn't thinking enough about rhetoric.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:31 AM
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Ivar Ekeland writes pop math books that I like, not too dumbed-down. Many people like James Gleick also-- I don't, particularly, but he's not bad. Martin Gardner is also really good.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:37 AM
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Martin Gardner is also really good.

Yeah, but I can never remember the names of his books.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:39 AM
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Oh balls. That was Smullyan.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:40 AM
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"Fads and Fallacies in the Names of Books"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:49 AM
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I'm just a caveman. Your "math" frightens and confuses me.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:55 AM
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Yes, I enjoyed Journey through Genius also. It actually discussed the proofs and why they were interesting/important. Then I tried some book on symmetry and it was AWFUL. Nothing on the math but weak 'colorful' stories.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:57 AM
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Odd thing is that there's like 25 layman's Philosophy of the Mind books by Antonio Damasio alone, not to mention my favorite Andy Clark. But no dumbing down of the post-Popper/Kuhn philosophy of science to be found.

Steven Shapin's books get reviewed as such by scientific magazines, in the "here's something that's not just a reference book, in the grand tradition of Stephen JAy Gould" category, but they are, in fact, really hard to read.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:59 AM
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I enjoyed Journey through Genius also.

But enough about your iTunes experience. What pop math books have you enjoyed?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 12:12 PM
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Delurking based on urge to share one of my all-time most annoying pet peeves... I would certainly anxiously anticipate Ttam's book. However, I have to say that any discussion of this genre brings me back to my years working in a book store during which I expended inordinate amounts of emotional energy hating with a fierce hate all the titles based on the formula: "'Famous philosopher X who you heard of in college and didn't read then and most certainly won't read now' and the 'Animal with a cutesy name X.' I must say, though, that it seems this formula is as sure a thing as there is in the book business. I would therefore break my boycott of these books if Ttam has the business smarts to put the formula to use. (Excepting, of course, "Popper and the Penguin.") I now ban myself.


Posted by: The Artful Chicken | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 12:17 PM
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Journey through Genius

I just hate Journey.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 12:20 PM
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72: Not a big Calvin and Hobbes fan?


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 12:46 PM
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4:
I think a sufficient fraction of modern life is that we work hard to conceal, even from ourselves, that society is a gigantic machine, that all of us are little mechanisms inside that machine, and that individual initiative and effort makes little difference. We are a successful people because we have successful systems. Systems feed us, educate us, create everything we use. Systems build the future. Systems fight crime.
We cling to myths of the heroic CEO, the heroic crime-fighter, the heroic teacher, because the alternative is just too terrible to bear. Our individuality just doesn't matter.

And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?
I am serious with you, brothers, over this. But what I do I do because I like to do. (1.4.21)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 12:50 PM
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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is doing yeoman work as pop sci (and is tying together the shoelaces of Ender and Miles Vorkosigan, on the way). I'm only about halfway through, but it's been fun so far. Author is a game theorist, apparently.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:07 PM
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Back to the original post, while I was carping meanspiritedly about the article, I'm with JennyRobot that I like seeing the focus on hero principals rather than hero teachers. Anecdotally, I think good principals have a remarkable effect on school outcomes: the elementary school I natter on about endlessly has a fairly high rate of teacher turnover, a demographically disadvantaged student body, and a lot of very junior teachers. From a parent's perspective, it looks as if the principal is what keeps it running effectively.

Does anyone do effectiveness research on principals?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:22 PM
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Quine and the Quokka.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:47 PM
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Searle and the Squirrel


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:53 PM
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76: I read that recently when I was bored and somewhat sick one day, and thought it was fun but that the premise had an overarching fatal flaw, the correction of which would have been a dramatic improvement. I'll refrain from explaining in the hope that others will reach the same conclusion independently.

(Could be my general exasperation with the LessWrong crowd at work, though.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:55 PM
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your iTunes experience

Puhleaz. My own personal itunes genius puts annie lennox in contemporary folk and the red hot chili peppers in americana. Two years from now when suddenly EVERYONE hates apple for the arrogant piece of shit company it is, the company's pompous naming will be rightly abused to no end.
</rant>


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:55 PM
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all the titles based on the formula: "'Famous philosopher X who you heard of in college and didn't read then and most certainly won't read now' and the 'Animal with a cutesy name X.'

I'm not able to think of any of these, much less a formulaic genre of them.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:57 PM
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I should write a book with called Wilson and the Wallaby: Why Particle Physics is Less Interesting Than You Think. If only I knew how to fit the wallaby in.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 1:59 PM
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I use the Bookmobile! It's coming tomorrow!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:00 PM
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Elster's Oysters. Though Elster's pretty damn readable already.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:01 PM
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-with


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:01 PM
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Kant and the Platypus. I can't think of another, but someone else probably can.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:03 PM
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87: it would have made my day if the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section of that webpage had been filled with other titles that fit this formula. Sadly, though, it isn't.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:08 PM
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87: The first amazon review is from Nassim Taleb, the guy who wrote that "Black Swan" book. Clicking through, he apparently pops up on Amazon to review other books that use the "Black Swan" meme. There's something kinda awesome about that.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:11 PM
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Does anyone do effectiveness research on principals?

Yes. There are a couple of non-profits that specialize in training and measuring principals. This is one of them; they claim to be making an important statistical impact, but how really knows how much trust to put in their numbers or sample sizes, given how new the program is.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:13 PM
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Link


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:13 PM
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It would be fun to design the cover of A. J. Ayer and the Loris.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:17 PM
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I did a charity thing a few weeks ago at a place called the "food bank," which turned out to be basically a giant processing factory

Whoa, I could do this! Talking to homeless people and actually being able to help them, not so much. But assembly lines? Sure.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:32 PM
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||

Last week, we spoke of online education in America and the lessons that might be learned from the Open University in Britain...

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:32 PM
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76 - To paraphrase the immortal words of Roger Ebert, I hated that fanfic. Hated, hated, hated it. Can you explain to me why you liked it? Because I thought it was one part not-really-funny mocking of J.K. Rowling and two parts weird, Ender's Game-y exercise in making a protaganist who's both morally unpleasant and unspeakably smug, then declaring him the hero by authorial fiat.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:34 PM
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80
I'll refrain from explaining in the hope that others will reach the same conclusion independently.

That Harry is ridiculously, impossibly smart for an alleged 10-year-old? I don't know, I haven't finished reading it, but that's the impression I got after a few chapters. That seems unlikely given your comment (it's so obvious it wouldn't be a secret, and it doesn't explain the "LessWrong" thing), but it seems like the biggest problem with the story to me.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:38 PM
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Reading it felt far too much like having a Usenet argument about homeschooling, and that's an experience I prefer to restrict to my movie-watching.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:40 PM
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4: I think a sufficient fraction of modern life is that we work hard to conceal, even from ourselves, that society is a gigantic machine, that all of us are little mechanisms inside that machine, and that individual initiative and effort makes little difference and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus -- and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it -- that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:55 PM
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82:
Much too late, but there's obviously some bias in my perception of this, my hobbyhorse, but here is the list off the top of my head: Kant & the Platypus (least offensive), Proust & the Squid, Plato & a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Aristotle & and an Aardvark Go to Washington, and Heidegger & a Hippo Walk through the Pearly Gates... Any book in this genre is guaranteed multi-program NPR coverage.


Posted by: The Artful Chicken | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:57 PM
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80: Just one flaw? It seemed to me like there were quite a few, even if we limit ourselves to discussing the premise. And that's not even going into the characters, scenarios and politics.

I read the first bunch of chapters, and it was somewhat amusing to start out with, but ferchrissakes, yes, we get it that everyone is illogical, Mr. Spock.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 2:59 PM
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I'm not sure I really read the whole thing. I read the beginning and the end, and just kind of skimmed over big chunks of the middle. But yeah, I feel like there is one thing where if the author had just tried to state the premise aloud once he would have realized he was making a terrible mistake.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:03 PM
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Kṛṣṇa and the Smurf: Eliding the Differences Between Competing Mythologies


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:03 PM
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How was Kant & the Platypus? I really liked Eco's Hyperreality essays, but his recent fiction hasn't exactly made me enthusiastic. It seems to be either written in a hurry or very thinly edited compared to older work.

How are the essays? Any in particular that were memorable?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:04 PM
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I read some of it, and while I'm not wildly impressed, I'm not figuring out a single fatal flaw. I mean, the premise is "What if Harry Potter was smarter than everyone else in [as Natilio says] a Spock-like consciously 'rational' at all times way". That sort of thing is hard to write unless the writer is themselves smarter than everyone else, which most people by definition aren't. But explain what you see as the terrible mistake?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:07 PM
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104 to 101.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:07 PM
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How about Descartes and da' Horse,,,? But where would they go?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:10 PM
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106: Des Moines?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:11 PM
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So... are there any other real world titles based on the formula "'Famous philosopher X who you heard of in college and didn't read then and most certainly won't read now' and the 'Animal with a cutesy name X'"?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:15 PM
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Des Plaines! Des Plaines!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:16 PM
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108: I think the list in 99 purports to be made up of real titles, although I haven't googled them to check.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:19 PM
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LA LA LA LA LA LA BAMBA!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:21 PM
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102 has already been adapted into a feature film.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:21 PM
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110: I was incredulous so I checked a couple and they were real.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:23 PM
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Nicholas Nassim Taleb... Christ what an asshole.


Posted by: annelid gustator | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:24 PM
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Heidegger & a Hippo Walk through the Pearly Gates

I'm offended on so many levels.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:27 PM
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Sorry--I'd skipped right over 99. The fact that there are two platypuses on that list seems like grounds for copyright infringement, or at least cocktail-party grumbling by whichever author came first.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:27 PM
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116.last: Ha! I refer you to this timely post at CT.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 3:29 PM
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Platypodes, no doubt.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:04 PM
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Guess what I have in my pocket.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:10 PM
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Come on, guess!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:13 PM
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||

Do people really not know one single thing about flowers? I know I was joking about this last week, but truly, should I just expect that most people cannot identify either of two very common flowers? If I mention flowers, do most people just hear blah blah blah Ginger?

|>


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:18 PM
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59: Am enjoying some of the Zeilberger stuff, like the more recent "Opinion 104: The Shocking State of Contemporary "Mathematics", and the Meta-Shocking Fact that Very Few People Are Shocked."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:21 PM
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121: I would expect most people to be able to identify a daffodil. Day lilies, I get a little weak on where day lilies turn into tiger lilies -- the basic lily shape is clear, but I'm not solid on the demarcations within that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:25 PM
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121: If I mention flowers, do most people just hear blah blah blah Ginger?

Possibly. Still, daffodils.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:26 PM
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Maybe you could get confused about daffodils if you learned them on the two-color, white/orange kind, and didn't get that monochromatic yellow was the same flower.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:28 PM
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121: it really depends. I have the vague idea that both daffodils and lilies are big, but that's basically it; I wouldn't have caught that error.

It's like sports, or politics, or art, or music; lots of people just don't really care, and hence have absolutely no clue.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:28 PM
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I mean, I like having flowers around--I'll probably buy some soon for the planter on my balcony--but trying to learn about them seems like a lot of work.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:30 PM
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I mean, I'm already giving you water; now I'm supposed to know your name, too?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:30 PM
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I used to be more of a daffodil fan, and then after 2001 Amsterdam donated some crazy amount of daffodil bulbs to NYC as a 9-11 gesture. And it was really well meant, and very kind of the Dutch and all, but every park is all over daffodils this time of year now, and it's too much of one kind of flower for me. I need more crocuses/tulips/hyacinths. Or maybe even some non-bulb flowers, but none of those seem to bloom this early.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:31 PM
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Buck has a geranium/begonia problem, which I find mystifying. They don't look anything at all alike.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:32 PM
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||
I assume everyone's already read this and sighed, right? O tempora! O mores!
Yggles' response was good, at least.
|>


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:35 PM
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129: Same here, but it is one of the few flowers that the deer reliably avoid so lots around here. We try to at least put in more white and multi-color Narcissus (and from Wikipedia it appears that "daffodil" is now used broadly for the whole genus).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:36 PM
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I love daffodils because my Dad likes 'em, and planted them when we were kids. But even if they learned on orange/white, wouldn't they maybe see that it has a big pointy trumpet, and a lily looks like a star? Not at all the same?

I know most people just don't care and have no clue. But it is as baffling to me as not-telling-cars-apart is to most everyone else. Strongly parallel, too. See, they come in families, so you can guess one from knowing that it looks like an older sister. And they're the same type of car, even if it is in different colors!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:37 PM
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Hmm. Geranium and begonia would also be hard to confuse. I have them classified under temperate and tropical, respectively. Doesn't that immediately straighten things out for Buck?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:39 PM
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Daffodils are really just a seasonal harbinger: spring=daffodils and crocuses. It's okay that they predominate for a brief period of time. They don't last long, and serve as a sort of announcement: hi! spring! Tulips, at least in this area, come a little later. Tiger lilies still later. I'm not a big fan of those; they can take over the place, and look like hell once the flowers die. Annoying, tiger lilies, except in the wild.

That's pretty much all I know about flowers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:39 PM
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Flowers are too goddamn girly.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:42 PM
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134: I think he probably has separate conceptions of the two kinds of flowers, he just can't get the names straight. (Funny moments in immigration: lots of the buildings around here put in begonias as annuals -- they stay little and don't thrive particularly well. Once, our babysitter, originally from Colombia, asked me what those were, and I told her they were begonias. She did a doubletake, and said "No, begonias are these big bushes, at least back home." And then she squinted down at the sad little flowers, and realized that they were begonias, just sad, lost, unhealthy begonias.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:42 PM
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I'm not a big fan of those; they can take over the place, and look like hell once the flowers die. Annoying, tiger lilies, except in the wild.

I think you mean day lilies, which have a much more vigorous and unkempt foliage. I don't know about your east coast flowers, but I'd bet on day lilies taking over the place before I'd expect that from tiger lilies.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:42 PM
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I want more flowering weeds. Chicory is about the prettiest color there is, and it should be in every piece of waste ground. And I rather like dandelions, too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:43 PM
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138: I think that's right -- if I have the line between them straight, day lilies get loose and run wild on roadsides, but I don't see tiger lilies outside of gardens where someone's taking care, mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:44 PM
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I know. It is pretty cruel to plant begonias here.

I bet you're right, that he's confusing the names rather than the plants.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:45 PM
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Chicory is about the prettiest color there is, and it should be in every piece of waste ground.

Plus it really helps extend your precious coffee reserves.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:45 PM
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Flowers are too goddamn girly.

Yes, they lead to color and scent and sex. All offputtingly girly.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:46 PM
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I had a friend in the Peace Corps who had a botany degree from undergrad, and had taken some classes on indoor gardening: houseplants, essentially. She spent her first six months in Samoa goggling at all these plants she knew as fragile little things that needed coddling and misting, out on their own in the wild looking muscular and healthy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:47 PM
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I do like chicory. We get some here, but I've never thought about harvesting it to add to coffee. I had a coffee-chicory mix one time and liked it, but not looked into doing more with it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:48 PM
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138: Mm, they look like tiger lilies to me; you know, orangy-reddish-yellowish-stripy. They don't have particularly unkempt foliage in themselves, but once the flowers drop off, you're left with a bunch of dry stick-like things standing in the ground. Which is okay, but if you don't pull them out, these eventually fall to the ground and moulder .... In any case, over the course of 5 years or so, they seem to have crowded out the tulips in a patch of yard over yonder.

Practically all cars look alike, unless their shape stands out in some way, like the Honda Element or the VW Bug.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:49 PM
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138: but I'd bet on day lilies taking over the place before I'd expect that from tiger lilies.

I used to have lots of day lilies and liked them for just that reason--they'd take over places that were otherwise weedy messes with very little effort on my part. And then about 15 years ago the deer decided they lurved them. First round of sheared to the ground unless protected has already happened.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:51 PM
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146: You're right. Dry stick-like things in the ground sound like tiger lilies. Day lilies have bunches of long strappy leaves. Which is another secret of flower-identifying people. Sometimes we tell from the rest of the plant, not the flower. Still, car people have the make written on the car, which is totally cheating.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:53 PM
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But it is as baffling to me as not-telling-cars-apart is to most everyone else. Strongly parallel, too. See, they come in families, so you can guess one from knowing that it looks like an older sister. And they're the same type of car, even if it is in different colors!

Yeah, I am comically bad at recognizing cars (or flowers for that matter).

Also, this made me think of ogged.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 4:54 PM
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Still, car people have the make written on the car, which is totally cheating.

You'd think this would cause some of us to have learned how to tell one type of car from another, but no.

I am horrible at identifying trees. It's embarrassing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:07 PM
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But it is as baffling to me as not-telling-cars-apart is to most everyone else.

Mon sembable,, ma souer!

The only time this ever mattered was when I witnessed the getaway of an armed robbery of my neighborhood icehouse and could basically only tell the police that the getaway vehicle was very large and black.

Police Officer: "You mean like an Expedition?"
M/tch: Um . . .
Police Officer: Was it a Ford, or a Chevrolet . . .?
M/tch: Uh . . . . .
etc. etc. etc.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:16 PM
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150: I am horrible at identifying trees. It's embarrassing.

They're the large vertical things that don't move.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:18 PM
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Do people really not know one single thing about flowers?

I feel this way about most trees, bushes, birds, small mammals, and heck - pretty much everything natural. I'm no botanist but I largely know how to recognize what's around me. Then again, I was the weirdo kid who spent her time reading about edible plants in case I was ever abandoned on the veldt.... gentlemanz.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:21 PM
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151: "You mean like an Expedition?

"Umm, I think it was 'Anal' something."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:21 PM
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I spent hours as a kid leafing through seed catalogs. I loved when they arrived and hoarded them after my parents had ordered seed. The upshot is that I'm no good at native plants, but I know a whole lot of gardening-type flowers.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:25 PM
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153->155: OK, so now we've made the hunter-gatherer/agrarian transition. Who was fascinated by genetic engineering, monoculture and pesticides as a kid?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:30 PM
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||
Am trying to grill and failing on every metric possible. Ran out of matches trying to light the Match Light coals (lies!), then doused the hole thing in baby oil when i failed to find proper lighter fluid. Once finally aflame, it smelled like cooked baby. Also, so much smoke! Have had every burger but one fall to it's fiery, greasy, explosive death.
|>


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:35 PM
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155: Me too. I used to plan out imaginary gardens and orchards. And I took a few field studies courses at the local JC and grew up in a family of amateur naturalists, so I know what I think of as completely ordinary knowledge isn't - and yet I can't quite wrap my head around the thought of not knowing this.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:36 PM
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Finally able to catch up on the thread - sorry everybody, I feel as though I'm always sending along stuff and then not being available to participate in the discussion.

15: Come again?

I also found the portrait of the elite-education energetic young teacher ...interesting: he sucks at his job. Nothing against him, I sucked at teaching my first year.... I'm sure if he lasts he'll be competent in a couple of years.

Except that, as the article noted, when he walks out the door it's going to cost the principal $200K. And it's statistically hugely likely that he will, very shortly.

Another article that would be interesting to write would be "How much work middle-class/UMC people have to do to unlearn their paradigms and adapt to the ones that govern poor schools, and why it's a terrible waste of time and effort that we're stuck with unless and until we come up with a way of supporting kids with poor/working class backgrounds who want to come back to their neighborhoods and teach."

Because as it is, you can't blame people who've climbed out for not being able to afford to come back, but my observation is that -- assuming that teaching ability is evenly distributed through the population -- kids in poor schools are better off with a teacher who at least understands the pulleys and levers of the miserable system they're stuck in, than one who is going to be repeatedly naively surprised when his/her UMC assumptions are upended.

I'm mostly annoyed with the writer of the article for tossing it in as an unexamined fact.

I suspect it was done as a preemptive move against "Gotcha!"s. Asking school reform advocates where they send their own kids is such a predictable volley that I imagine the reporter was just like, "oh, we must include this tiresome fact; how to do it in the least inflammatory way possible; hm...; okay, good enough!"

people want stories. And it's really, really, really hard to turn a causal explanation of institutions with many moving parts into a good narrative.

Agree with the first statement; not so much with the second. It's called effort. Journalists are fully capable of it.
I'm not very tolerant of claims that it's somehow specially difficult.

21: Yes! Me thirteen!

It was nice to do charity work at something at something at least approaching an industrial level; it felt like a real response

Ha; there's a definite subset of people who come to me to volunteer that I steer in just this direction, for just that reason.


Haphazard punctuation intentional.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:37 PM
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Oh my god, guys. I just tried smoking a dried banana peel. Whoa.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:41 PM
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The little girl in Kingsolver's The Bean Trees likes seed catalogs too.

I'm always impressed when I hang out with real botanists. They know the boring plants too!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:42 PM
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I spent hours as a kid leafing through seed catalogs.

I spent hours as a kid leafing through D&D books.

Ah, gender stereotypes. . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:45 PM
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Do you have a current D&D game? My friend is playing, which is why I wasn't surprised to read a trend piece on a D&D resurgence.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:49 PM
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I have a really great story aout the intersection of D&D and seduction strategy websites that I 1) have probably related before and 2) won't relate again at this time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 5:59 PM
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164: so, referencing its awesomeness was just an exercise in...cruelty? Because that does sound likely to be awesome.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:11 PM
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Agree with the first statement; not so much with the second. It's called effort. Journalists are fully capable of it. I'm not very tolerant of claims that it's somehow specially difficult.

I'll push back a bit here: the characteristics that make for a good story, in the can't-put-it-down, find-it-emotionally-satisfying sense, are typically only minor parts, or entirely absent, from explanations at the systemic or social level. Compelling characters; conflict; awareness of alternatives--this is what we like reading about, but what mainly drives outcomes is the behavior of very ordinary characters, mostly going through the motions, without much conscious thought about why X is like X instead of Y.

Yes, talented writers can sometimes craft readable articles about why doctor checklists and strict hand-washing can make a huge difference to actual outcomes. But think about it: which do you think has made a bigger impact on how people view the doctor-hospital-patient causal nexus, Gawande's New Yorker articles/books, or TV shows like Grey's Anatomy?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:17 PM
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Getting complicated causal explanations right requires cultivating an ingrained suspicion of, if not outright hostility to, the satisfactions of narrative. This is not only an unnatural habit, it's a fairly unpleasant one.

In short, we're doomed.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:20 PM
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Do you have a current D&D game

No, and I haven't for several years. I am often sad about this fact but, honestly, I don't have the time.

That's not entirely true. A couple years ago I played in a few sessions of a game which seemed like it would have been a lot of fun, but the GM ended up dropping it.

I don't have time for a game in which the GM doesn't have oodles of time to put into the game, and that's a lot to ask for.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:26 PM
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Megan, my mother used to read me seed catalogs and bird books when I was preverbal because it was more interesting for her than baby books. It's probably most nostalgia that makes me so excited about getting to teach Mara flowers.

Seriously, someone's going to punch me if I keep talking about my kid every time I comment, right? I need to be in another thread talking about how we're trying to buy a house and it's making me furious, but the fury keeps me from wanting to talk.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:26 PM
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In the particular case of schools, though, the teacher/principal as hero narrative seems to be doing a particularly large amount of harm, since, as Witt says, people are inclined to believe that the only things that work are solutions that almost definitionally can't scale.

The nonsense about education also seems particularly severe since everyone "knows" what to do about education based on their memory of outstanding teacher x.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:33 PM
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There's no hitting here, Thorn. This is a safe space for you to talk about Mara as much as you want.

From The Bean Trees:

She knew the names of more vegetables than many a greengrocer, I'd bet. Her favorite book was a Burpee's catalogue..., which was required reading every night before she would go to bed. The plot got old, in my opinion, but she was crazy about all the characters.

My sister and I emphasize plant names to her boys. Heaven forbid they grow up to confuse a daffodil and a daylily.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:35 PM
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Aww, I remember the Burpee catalogues. I mean, clearly the contents didn't stick. But I liked the sense of possibility each represented.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:42 PM
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Even I was a little surprised when I got to the end of 157 and saw that someone other than me had posted it.

dona, we should get together some time and... cook something. The results might be fascinating.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:44 PM
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Ah, 157. Baby oil on the charcoal briquettes. I, uh ... Urple has a point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 6:58 PM
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OT: Dearest Internet reprobates, some of whom may have impressionable young children, the United States Hanggliding and Paragliding Association keeps urging me to commend to your attention the new Dreamworks animated movie Rio, which, apparently, "lauds learning to fly. It shows the majesty...." So, uh, there you go. Statistically, it's only slightly more fatally dangerous than motorcycling! Seriously, that might as well be the subject of the Godwin's Law of online piloting discussions.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:01 PM
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Flip, you should participate in some kind of helping the children to learn and feel free thing, in connection with hanggliding and paragliding.

Pardon, I realize it's very forward of me to suggest it, not knowing you well, but couldn't that be great? There must be some kind of outward-bound style programs associated with outreach to kids, who obviously would love hanggliding/paragliding. In miniature, no doubt, on small cliffs. It teaches them self-confidence, joy, beauty, testing of boundaries, etc., as well as simple coordination, concentration, and so on. Very important work.

Now I feel abashed for suggesting this. There are surely a million obstacles and objections.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:15 PM
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171.1: This. I post about my knitting, for heaven's sake. If Mara can't be more interesting than a sweater on her dullest day, the things you've said about her in the past have been sorely misleading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:15 PM
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"Stop Waiting for a Savior", somewhat relevant NYT Op-Ed on the Cathie Black era.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:16 PM
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176: This cracked me up. I'm picturing Flip trying patiently to hurl small children from cliffs, muttering through clenched teeth: "Trust me. For the twenty seconds until you hit bottom, it'll be the freest you've ever felt," as he peels their frantically clutching fingers off his wrists.

Outreach? Eh, I'm not sure how effective it would be. But an entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:18 PM
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In my increasing distant and misspent college days, I spent a semester learning the trees, shrubs and vines that grew natively, or could be convinced to grow in northeast Connecticut. For the final, which took place in December, I was expected to identify 150 species with latin, and common names, quickly, and in the field. Being December in New England, there were no leaves or new growth. Since then I've forgotten more than I've learned, but I still know enough to lecture on the finer points of distinguishing a shagbark from a pignut hickory, or the successional history of forested land. This is my proudest feat of memorization.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:19 PM
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Good grief, unsigned comments and random extra bits of text. Sorry again, guys. I shouldn't comment when I'm about to run for a train.

Halford says in 170 what I was flailing about trying to get at in the OP. It's not that this principal isn't heroic; it's that framing the story that way lends itself to a kind of world-weary futility: What an amazing man, wouldn't it be great if there were more like him in the world, aren't the conditions in urban schools a terrible shame, now turn the page and look at the Patek Phillippe ad.

I probably spelled that wrong, or at least Firefox thinks so.

I think what set me off about this particular article was understanding just how much sheer energy gets dissipated in the stupid, petty stuff like getting systems to function properly. Not to mention the school's taking on of responsibilities like eye care and glasses, which goodness knows I understand the inclination to do, but it burns a person out.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:21 PM
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179: Not small children. Like 10-14 year olds, say. They're agile.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:21 PM
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I ate a poisonous plant one time! It was hurty in my tum-tum.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:24 PM
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In short, we're doomed.

Oh, hush. Mitch Daniels isn't really all that likely to win the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:24 PM
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I'm picturing Flip trying patiently to hurl small children from cliffs, muttering through clenched teeth: "Trust me. For the twenty seconds until you hit bottom, it'll be the freest you've ever felt," as he peels their frantically clutching fingers off his wrists.

"Suffer the little children to fly unto me. I said SUFFER!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:25 PM
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As long as we're talking about Kingsolver, I think it is in Prodigal Summer where a character is bemused when another character refers to a "a tree" rather than "a maple" or "an oak." I liked that part.

Thorn, you should definitely talk about Mara. I had four under-5s to dinner Saturday and am still recollecting myself. Fun tip: Small children who are fascinated by spray bottles can enthusiastically clean your entire kitchen -- cabinets, walls, fridge, and doors -- assuming you only care about the dirt that is at about the 30" level or below.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:25 PM
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4

... and that individual initiative and effort makes little difference. We are a successful people because we have successful systems. ...

This isn't exactly right. The average levels of individual characteristics like inititive and effort do matter. Lower the average IQ enough and the systems will stop being successful.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:30 PM
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If you guys let James threadjack with his IQ reference, it will be very annoying. Don't do it, people.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:34 PM
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167: Is it really unnatural? Aren't hostility and (at least) suspicion inevitable reactions to the familiar and constant, and what's more familiar and constant than narrative? Are journalists really trained to write in narratives, even if it occludes or falsifies the underlying content of the story (or, I guess, the relative significances of that content: a smart structure populated with drones is more effective than a dumb structure populated with hero geniuses, etc.)? I would have thought that journalists would, I don't know, motion toward the fact that most of the iceberg is under the water, and consequently that's where, dear reader, your attention is needed and should be. Hmm, whenever I think I could not be more cynical...

I've half-suspected (less than half-in-jest) and feared that I'm a bit aspie because I strongly prefer nonfiction, foundational systematic presentation, or "philosophical" fiction where characters and events are stand-ins for ideas and arguments, etc. but I think that might just be a culturally male orientation.

This--not the school issue, but the meta, presentation issue--is very interesting to me. I always thought it would be fun, challenging, and a bit sadistic to write a story with the intention of causing something of an anti-catharsis, where there's enough [whatever it is that people read stories for] to bring them in and keep them, but along the way things develop in a subtly irritating way, until it ends leaving the reader strongly disliking it but not being able to quite figure out why. Though it would be just as fun and less challenging to find an author who's already done this!


Posted by: Yrruk | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:35 PM
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176: I think many children might like something like that, but I don't think I'm eloquent enough to persuade even Britney Spears the most negligent mother on Earth to let her children slip the surly bonds of -- actually, gravity kind of continues to operate leave terra firma.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:35 PM
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95: I can't speak for clew, but I liked it, and here are my reasons:

I get frustrated as heck at characters like Spock and Sherlock Holmes, whose power comes from being "smart" and/or "rational", but whose minds are essentially black boxes that somehow magically come up with the right answer. In the end, no more satisfying than any other deus ex machina. Methods of Rationality at least makes a serious effort to show the protagonist thinking, making mistakes, etc.

HPMoR may not be extraordinarily good as literature in a general sense, but it does scratch a hitherto unscratchable itch, and that counts for a lot to those for whom it counts at all.

Of course I may just have an impoverished bookshelf; if you know of anything that does a better, subtler, more realistic job along these lines, I would love to know of it.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:36 PM
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77

Does anyone do effectiveness research on principals?

Anecdotally it seems like a lot of the time when I read an article about what a great job some principal (or school superintendent) is doing a few years later I read an article about how they were changing the answers on their students tests (or otherwise cheating).

By far the easiest way to raise test scores is to cheat so dramatic improvements often turn out to be fake. Which is another reason to be suspicious of "hero" narratives.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:43 PM
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Once finally aflame, it smelled like cooked baby.

...

Just letting that one sit there a bit.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 7:52 PM
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Oh, there's more. When I ran out of matches I had to get creative. Turns out the new place: electric stove top burner thingies. So, no actual flame. I got around this by holding some shredded newspaper to the angry red disc on the stove top till it lit up, then used that to light a candle, then the candle to the baby oil doused charcoal/newspaper mess in the grill. The hotdogs and burger that survived did taste a little funny, but, you know. Eh.

I do, for the record, remember being slightly confused at the Mineshaft's evident horror of microwave cooked eggs. Is there a better way to make an egg sandwich? There is not. Pick the right bowl and the egg conforms to your english muffin. No wasted corners!


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:00 PM
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(I once RTFA! That had been linked, anyway.)


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:03 PM
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I liked the Harry 'Condorcet' Potter because I loathe the plot "want stuff a lot and you'll win, if you're the protagonist and get to join the aristocrats". I'm sure there's a more elegant literary or philosophical formulation of that. So far the fic is at least admitting that that's a stupid way to run a moral universe. I am expecting that it will also undercut "all problems are solvable if you're really smart", but that may be too much optimism. Also, I generally enjoy a lively retconning; I'm hoping there's a Maxwell's Demon somewhere along here, it would fix so many other holes.

Any of these things are likely to introduce other inconsistencies; I don't think HP is going to make sense with only minor repairs.

Separately, I have a couple times now been among people who could distinguish different grasses but had trouble identifying an iris (even a CA-native). They knew it was a flower, they just couldn't remember which one, and are purists who won't enjoy anything that people who grow 'climate-inappropriate' gardens might enjoy. I think this is making a lot of climate-appropriate gardens less broadly appealing than they otherwise might be.

||

So separately that it deserves stop-and-go; What it was like to be operator of a malfunctioning reactor.

It wasn't visibly eventful, is the thing; one of our (redundant) control rods started pulling itself out of the core, I pushed the other rods in to compensate and after some down-and-up button-mashing the troublesome one stopped. The second operator on duty observed this, but was unexpectedly blase. Into the log it went. We never went out of the power band requested for the experiment, let alone the safety band for the reactor. Fine so far. I was even more attentive for the rest of my shift.

For a while no-one really believed us. In a month or so it happened again -- with a lot of people present -- and then the excitement happened: the reactor and I were ?examined? by the NRC for not having hit the SCRAM button. I wasn't cross-examined for much of this, oddly; I believe the Acting Director took the high ground that the reactor was never out of control or in an emergency state (very well-defined) and therefore I had done the approved thing.

It turned out to be a bit of gunge in the microswitches, and now they're swabbed gently every year and replaced slightly more often. And that's the way all good reactor stories end, children: with a small change to the maintenance procedures. You can imagine why I didn't want to talk about this while the Fukushima reactors were in their worst state. (They had another 7+ quake today. They must be so, so tired.)

|>


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:09 PM
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Oh my. I was about to post something about my necessity-based discovery that sriracha and bleu cheese is a surprisingly awesome combination, but clew's thing is way, way more interesting.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:12 PM
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Oh, and what Benquo said. (Benquo, you might like the Steerswoman books.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:13 PM
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I get a little weak on where day lilies turn into tiger lilies -- the basic lily shape is clear, but I'm not solid on the demarcations within that

Tiger lilies are are the ones with spots, which suggests that people who know flowers might not be so good at identifying big cats.

When you say geraniums, do you mean geraniums or pelargoniums?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:16 PM
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I do, for the record, remember being slightly confused at the Mineshaft's evident horror of microwave cooked eggs. Is there a better way to make an egg sandwich? There is not. Pick the right bowl and the egg conforms to your english muffin. No wasted corners!

What? But then you can't lovingly stir in the other ingredients for your egg sandwich--the cheese, the ham, the tomato-whatever. It loses the sense of ritual, of performance!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:17 PM
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Burp.


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:44 PM
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196: Just out of curiosity, was there any way for you to report a minor incident like that to the NRC, without triggering a formal investigation? I think the FAA has that -- if you have a near-miss (but not actually an accident), you can report it anonymously. Sometimes it turns out other people reported similar incidents, and then they can collect the data to figure out what went wrong.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:45 PM
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200: Microwaves cook everything, dude. Mix in whatever you want! For performance I prefer flambe. (Not looking up how to do the fancy accent on my blackberry.)

I understand if you're horrified. It's actually never gone as badly as I might have expected.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:52 PM
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I do, for the record, remember being slightly confused at the Mineshaft's evident horror of microwave cooked eggs.

We also displayed horror when the cup melted into the eggs and only made them taste a wee bit putrid. Don't forget that part.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 8:54 PM
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Okay, I guess no one else had my response to the Harry Potter and the mumble mumble Rationality story. Which is that the premise goes: what happens if a smart Muggle-raised student, familiar with modern science and technology and knowing how to think logically about things, arrives at Hogwarts? Suppose further that this student tries to learn lots of things very quickly and show up the people who were raised in a more magical setting, and proves to be quite talented at magic, and also manages to start applying logical thinking to get a better understanding of what's really going on with all of this "magic" stuff?

And the thought that crossed my mind is, wait, this is a nice spin on the story of one character from the Harry Potter books who already had a lot of these characteristics, but her name wasn't Harry.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:02 PM
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204: That is considerably more horrifying, yes.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:18 PM
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205: one of the reasons hp bugs me so much is bc there appear to be no laws of magic. Like, magic doesn't cost anything; there's no method to it, other than "concentration", and then only sometimes. To me it's a fatal flaw that drains the narrative. She gets away with it in the first 2 books bc she's so good at world building otherwise, and the 2nd one is nicely plotted, but after that...blah. Just a lot of wish fulfillment.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:25 PM
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Another thing that really bugged me about the fanfic was the idea that "rationality" goes hand-in-hand with things like "viewing Ender Wiggin as a role model" or "wanting to parade around while the Darth Vader theme plays" or "being a total asshole".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:28 PM
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What bugs me about quidditch is that the point amounts in the final round makes the rest of the game irrelevant and no one seems to notice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:29 PM
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Which is exactly what Harry Stu Potter says in the story in question.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:34 PM
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Let's be fair, though, essear; a book in which Harry just went around intending the necessary means to his intended ends and drawing the conclusion that q when (and because) he believed that p and that pq (or giving up one of those two beliefs), etc., wouldn't be very exciting.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:36 PM
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Oh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:39 PM
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Do any of you guys want to play Magic: the Gathering with me? Please?


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:43 PM
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205: I agree that a lesser change would have been necessary to turn Hermione into the Rational Hero.

On the other hand, if you left Harry unchanged, you would end up writing about the rivalry between the Scientist and the Hero With a Magical Aura of Destiny. Which has its own difficulties.

Perhaps ironically, the most recent few chapters are all about Hermione getting pissed off about being relegated to sidekick status, and deciding to go off and do her own thing instead...

208: This, I think, is not quite fair. Characters have been known to have more than one trait.

209: At least within Hogwarts, Quidditch is a Prisoner's Dilemma, since Quidditch points (not total # of wins) are added onto house scores. So the two teams playing both benefit from a longer game, since they can both improve their position relative to the other two teams. But on the other hand either team can screw over the other one at any time by catching the Snitch and scoring a quick 150 points.

Though as essear points out, Rational Harry agrees with you and not me.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:44 PM
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Also, I don't recall any of the actual Quidditch games in the books being played with an eye towards true point-maximization. But I guess that's realistic for a bunch of amateur kids.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:45 PM
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208 is about where I was, but much less pissy about it. (Benquo, have you read the '50s sci-fi novel Mission of Gravity?)

The only way to understand quidditch is that it's the reaction of someone with zero appreciation of or interest in sport trying to recreate the form of something that everyone got very excited about. The fact that this exercise was a terrible muddle that nobody much liked did not stop the author of "HP and the Methods of Rationality".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:48 PM
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Or you could just have the Hero With a Magical Aura of Destiny turn out to be basically a mediocrity whose more important role is as friend to the real hero, Hermione.

Anyway, I think the basic problem is that instead of saying "what's the most natural way to tell the story I want to tell within this universe?", the author (who is Yudkowsky, right?) decided to just rewrite Harry as an authorial standin. Which is to say, I don't think the author actually sees it as problematic to worship Ender Wiggin, because he does so himself, which is part of his generally messianic worldview that has infected the text. He can't imagine that the hero his story should have is a woman, because by definition heroes are people like him, the unique person on earth whose destiny it is to save us all from the impending danger of evil robot overlords.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:50 PM
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I don't know, it always seemed to me that Quidditch was an entirely plausible depiction of a game that might be played in a culture that clearly considered refined absurdity to be an art form (consider, for example, Dumbledore as depicted in the first few books).

I mean, plainly it doesn't make a lot of sense to us, but that's because we're Muggles.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:53 PM
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one of the reasons hp bugs me so much is bc there appear to be no laws of magic.

Have any of you read the de Camp /Pratt Complete Enchanter books? A bit dated, but fun.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 9:58 PM
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Huh. From halfway through, I was assuming that Ender-Potter would dig his own hole, taking down two or three annoyingly messianic heros at once.

I'm also only partway into Chuck and have pretty much stopped because the tragic sidekick love interest has a much better story but Chuck gets all the narrativium.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:01 PM
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217: I can't see into other people's brains as well as you apparently can, but I think you're right about some of the story's shortcomings. Maybe you should be the change you want to see in the world. After all, no one's stopping you from writing a Rational Hermione fanfic.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:04 PM
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198, 216, 219: Oh, and thanks for all the book recs. I will add those to my queue.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:08 PM
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I can't see into other people's brains as well as you apparently can

As I said somewhere above, this might be my general issues with the whole "LessWrong" business clouding my judgment.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:13 PM
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So, no actual flame. I got around this by holding some shredded newspaper to the angry red disc on the stove top till it lit up, then used that to light a candle, then . . .

This sounded familiar, and I was trying to place where I'd seen that before.

I just remembered that, in fact, I saw that technique used in a movie. The Heart Of The Game which, incidentally, is a truly fantastic (and fun) film that I would recommend to anybody.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 10:17 PM
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apropos seed catalogs, i planted carrots and onions and lettuce today. gardening is joy!


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:00 PM
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I got around this by holding some shredded newspaper to the angry red disc on the stove top till it lit up, then used that to light a candle, then the candle to the baby oil doused charcoal/newspaper mess in the grill.

Don't you live in NYC, where you can get both lighter fluid and matches at your local bodega 24/7? In any case, I think hard liquor would have been a better choice than baby oil. It would provide a good, rather than nasty, chemically flavour. I am looking forward to the DQ urple cook off.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-11-11 11:48 PM
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Any of these things are likely to introduce other inconsistencies; I don't think HP is going to make sense with only minor repairs.

That's an awful thing thing to say about Hawaiian Punch, clew!

Though, you know, if things don't work out, they can always try DQ's cooked baby recipe.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:59 AM
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202: What you're after is CHIRP.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 2:57 AM
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doused the hole thing in baby oil

I can't believe nobody picked this lowest of low-hanging fruit. It's like I don't even know who you all are.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 3:50 AM
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At least within Hogwarts, Quidditch is a Prisoner's Dilemma, since Quidditch points (not total # of wins) are added onto house scores. So the two teams playing both benefit from a longer game, since they can both improve their position relative to the other two teams. But on the other hand either team can screw over the other one at any time by catching the Snitch and scoring a quick 150 points.

It's also an agency problem. The player whose job it is to go after the snitch (the Seeker?) has two choices: she can sit around doing nothing and let the game go on as long as possible, thus maximising house points as noted but getting very bored; or she can go after the snitch and catch it, which wins the game, screws over the other team and her own house in point-maximising terms, but nets her a lot of personal glory.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 4:47 AM
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129: I love irises.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 5:05 AM
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At least within Hogwarts, Quidditch is a Prisoner's Dilemma, since Quidditch points (not total # of wins) are added onto house scores.

I would have said that a Centipede Game does a better job of capturing the essence without abstracting away too much, but that's because I'm a whiny little bitch.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 5:58 AM
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I do think that there's a certain sort of "charity" work that's usefully done outside of government, mentoring an at-risk kid or whatever. I visit a guy in prison who is going to college, and now we are friends, but there's a small shoe-string charity which matches people up run by an ex-convict on parole who understands how the system works etc.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 5:59 AM
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my favorite piece of pointless abstruse memorization for my ancient greek phd exams was learning the greek names for all the different viticulture tools and processes, and generally agricultural tools, wagons, axles, etc. they were tripping me up enough that I made a helpful list. I do not remember them now, and it hasn't come up much ever.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:02 AM
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234: might be helpful if one were to try to seduce a Greek tycoon, though, assuming either the terminology has stayed more stable than the rest of the language or you were aiming for the refined, scholarly sort.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:04 AM
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235. given that even the word for wine has changed completely, I wouldn't get your hopes up. Unless you were trying to seduce somebody who insisted on speaking Katharevousa.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:26 AM
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I think quidditch is fascinating as a glimpse into how a non sports fan thinks sports work. For example, the position system is totally implausible, but in a subtle way. (That is to say, with the exception of goalies and pitchers, different positions in sports tend to arise organically rather than in the rules, while in quidditch it's like it's 3 different games spliced together.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:39 AM
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||

Obama to Back Simpson-Bowles ...Ezra

If the process then becomes a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan's
...fuck you, Ezra. S-B is not "centrist"

Leading the Army ...Digby

Now the news of Obama's speech has left Dems on Capitol Hill grappling with another unexpected turn of events that could force them to change their plans, as they won't want to be too out of sync with whatever Obama proposes.

A little tactically interesting for we conspiratorially minded folk who think Obama is far to the right of the House Caucus;that Obama seeks to move the Overton to the right; that Obama does have more power and influence than his supporters admit and does know how to subtly use the "bully pulpit", but uses it for anti-progressive ends.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:44 AM
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If the process then becomes a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan's

And I didn't even notice:"between" means the compromise will be to the right of Simpson-Bowles.

Well. I need a dog-walk.

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Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:49 AM
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234: A professor told me that, in his time of trouble in grad school, the Eliot Professor of Greek set for exam translation the passage in which Odysseus builds his raft: lots of "adze" this, "plank" that.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:55 AM
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234: The olive and grape presses in the Georgics kill me.

240: A famously miserable passage (for Homer, who is famously non- miserable).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:59 AM
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||
We drove past the village of Overton at the weekend. A curious settlement: all the houses only had windows in their right hand walls.
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Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:59 AM
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I do not remember them now, and it hasn't come up ever.

Is this because because classicists don't take environmental factors seriously as a force in history?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:05 AM
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238.1: Yep. Ezra should be ashamed of himself -- what the fuck is he doing describing Simpson-Bowles as realistic and centrist? He's supposed to be writing as a policy wonk, not a political reporter, and in those terms Simpson-Bowles is nuts. If all he means by 'centrist' and 'realistic' is "There's a good shot that the increasingly maniacal Republican Congressional delegation would allow something like this to be passed," rather than approving of it as good policy, he didn't come close to making that explicit.

Krugman's good on this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:16 AM
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Ezra on S-B from December:

The Tax Policy Center just released the first distributional analysis on the commission's first tax option: zeroing out the tax code and restoring only the child-tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit -- both of which are thought to be the most progressive of the bunch. The results aren't good for the commission. Under this option, the poor pay more and the rich pay less:

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:20 AM
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Krugman from November on Simpson-Bowles, pointing out that all the savings in the plan come from unspecified reductions in health care costs:

It's true that the PowerPoint contains nice-looking charts showing deficits falling and debt levels stabilizing. But it becomes clear, once you spend a little time trying to figure out what's going on, that the main driver of those pretty charts is the assumption that the rate of growth in health-care costs will slow dramatically. And how is this to be achieved? By "establishing a process to regularly evaluate cost growth" and taking "additional steps as needed." What does that mean? I have no idea.

I don't know what the hell Ezra's thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:25 AM
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Link for that last.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:29 AM
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"There's a good shot that the increasingly maniacal Republican Congressional delegation would allow something like this to be passed,"

Well, "centrism" is all relative. There was a good chance that the increasingly maniacal Republican Congressional delegation would have allow something like this to be passed, as a comprosmise between something you would like and something Paul Ryan likes, and therefore it was, legitimately, centrist. Now, however, it's the "liberal" plan, and the centrist compromise will be somewhere between S-B and Ryan's proposal. (Probably much closer to Ryan's proposal, though, since Democrats love to compromise and Republicans don't, or so the social scientists tell us.)

I was angrier about the 2011 budget compromise than I had been about the debate over the extension of the tax cuts, which I hardly thought possible, and now I'm shaping up to be even angrier about this damn debt limit 'debate'.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:47 AM
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It's funny, I'm sort of burned out on anger about what's substantively going wrong -- it's all awful, but it's been so awful for so long I don't have that much trouble keeping cool. Having people I thought were sane and reasonable drift along with the increasingly insane policy discourse without pointing out the insanity makes me crazy: I really want to be grabbing Klein by the lapels and shouting in his face about how irresponsible he's being right now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:50 AM
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I'm sort of burned out on anger about what's substantively going wrong -- it's all awful, but it's been so awful for so long I don't have that much trouble keeping cool. Having people I thought were sane and reasonable drift along with the increasingly insane policy discourse without pointing out the insanity makes me crazy: I really want to be grabbing Klein by the lapels and shouting in his face about how irresponsible he's being right now.

Strike "Klein" for "Obama" and that's a perfect explanation of my anger.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:54 AM
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We really are Charlie Brown with the football, aren't we? It's just that policy drifts right always slighter faster than my most pessimistic predictions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:58 AM
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It's funny, I'm sort of burned out on anger about what's substantively going wrong -- it's all awful, but it's been so awful for so long I don't have that much trouble keeping cool.

So I'll meet you at the bottom if there really is one / They always told me when you hit it you'll know it / But I've been falling so long it's like gravity's gone and I'm just floatin'

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:59 AM
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Yeah, the S-B plan was reasonably widely recognized as rightwing crazytalk when it came out, and now it's the leftmost starting point for compromise?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:00 AM
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Klein is surely just another example of Briand's maxim, "The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head." Like Brecht, we wipe away a tear and pass on.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:03 AM
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I'm actually cranky enough to have bits of that Browning poem about Wordsworth running through my head: "Just for a handful of silver he left us, just for a riband to stick in his coat." Not that Klein was any kind of beloved leader of a left-wing movement, but I thought I knew what side he was on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:11 AM
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Because in normal people, rage is expressed by perseverating on fragments of possibly apropos nineteenth century poetry. This is why the American left is doomed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:15 AM
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There's this kind of spoken-word contemporary poetry set to music thing happening, maybe it's apropos

I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
Don't worry be happy
Was a number one jam


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:25 AM
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I thought I knew what side he was on.

I don't think it's even a matter of being on one side or another. Like most DC journalists, EK just seems to be very easily convinced by Beltway "common wisdom". I also question whether DC journalists are much relevant as opinion shapers any longer, so I have trouble getting much worked up about it.

The leftward end of the Democratic Party has really fallen down on the job, though. There should have been an aggressively progressive, audacious, detailed alternative to Paul Ryan's nonsense ready to go a long, long time ago. Maybe there was and I (and the rest of the country) just didn't hear about it, but again: get busy guys, Obama clearly isn't going to do it for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:27 AM
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Listen, folks, Obama (and Lieberman and Baucus etc) are going to call Simpson-Bowles "centrist" and "moderate."

Now what is Klein supposed to do with that, and still get his phonecalls returned and keep his job? Call Obama and the Senators "liars" or "rightwingers?"

Over at Yggles (who is very angry, or acting like it), some commenters are saying this is based on one sentence from Plouffe and the WSJ. Not for me. Ezra Klein has excellent contacts, knows how sources are to be used, and is usually one step ahead of the public spin. That is why I read him.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:29 AM
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Congressional Progressive Caucus releases People's Budget. I haven't been through it in detail, but it's out there.

McArdle covered it (mockingly, but at least linked to it) and I don't think Klein did.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:30 AM
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256.last: Don't forget psychoanalyzing ones' opponents in place of fighting them. Discussion of penile insecurity on the part of right wingers has been shown to be the single most effective means of preventing stupid wars. Fact.

Seriously, folks - give money to the people who are actually fighting right wing bullshit. Talking is all well and good, but if you're not going to go full frontal Natilo, at least toss some scratch to the people taking real action.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:31 AM
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261:Who exactly are you talking about? I don't know where I could give money that I think would do any political good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:33 AM
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258.2:There should have been an aggressively progressive, audacious, detailed alternative to Paul Ryan's nonsense ready to go a long, long time ago.

There is, based on work by Jan Schakowsky in the House. It was supposed to be released pretty soon, like the end of the week. This is the point of the 2nd link in 238, the House Progressives are surprised and stunned by Obama's surprise speech. Obama has pre-empted them.

Now what are the House Democrats to do? Come out with a plan that makes Obama look rightwing bad and mean, callous, etc? Will they get their bridges built?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:35 AM
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The leftward end of the Democratic Party has really fallen down on the job, though. There should have been an aggressively progressive, audacious, detailed alternative to Paul Ryan's nonsense ready to go a long, long time ago. Maybe there was and I (and the rest of the country) just didn't hear about it, but again: get busy guys, Obama clearly isn't going to do it for you.

Chris Van Hollen's inspiring words on the subject start with "We will have a Democratic alternative budget." Not "We have a Democratic alternative budget". Or "We have a superior alternative budget". Or even "We have a realistic budget, and they have a crazy Republican alternative budget".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:36 AM
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260: That's vaguer than I'd like, but at least it's something. The most depressing thing about it, though? Only two senators (Udall and Sanders) signed the letter and one of them isn't even in the f***ing party.

I miss Ted Kennedy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:38 AM
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Now what are the House Democrats to do? Come out with a plan that makes Obama look rightwing bad and mean, callous, etc?

That's precisely what *I* would tell them they should do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:40 AM
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Oh, and finally, Obama will say he wants to tax the rich but not people under $250k (after deductions, incidentally). He will say it, but a) he has been saying it for at least 4 years, had an easy chance in December, and I don't believe him., and b) he won't get that through the House.

We may get tax increases, perhaps even on the rich, but we will have to give up everything to get them out of this House.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:42 AM
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Not when Obama can swing by a fundraiser for their primary opponent in a few months and screw them back to podunk. Or threaten to do something similar, at least.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:45 AM
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...It's possible i got that from the west wing. Does this actually happen?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:47 AM
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Now what are the House Democrats to do? Come out with a plan that makes Obama look rightwing bad and mean, callous, etc?

Unlike the shitty healthcare reform or fin reg bills, where there was a decent argument that the options on the table were flawed but better than the status quo, in the case of the long-term budget the status quo isn't terrible (certainly better than anything currently under discussion), and the parts that are problems have no urgency about them, so really just forming a block that puts more liberal options on the table and refusing to vote for right-wing nonsense actually does make a lot of sense. So, to answer your question, yes. At worst that helps define Obama's proposal as more centrist, instead of the "democratic" alternative to the republicans's's bills.

The only real downside is that this would more easily allow republicans to shift some of the blame onto the democrats when they refuse to raise the debt limit. But at this point I'd consider that sort of blame-shifting inevitable.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:48 AM
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262: Depends on your hot-button issues. I give to Demand Progress and Russ Feingold, and my next round will go to his PAC Progressives United. There's the Wisconsin public employees union that could use a little cash for their ongoing fight. I don't know if SEIU has a PAC, but if they do that'd be a good choice given the way things are going. The ACLU is another good one. Individual politicians might be worth looking at - Dennis Kucinich is appealing.

It's hard to figure out where the most effective application of your money is, but at a certain point actually doing something is more important than optimizing the political bang for the buck. I tend to respond to specific single-issue appeals as I think they tend to sway the position of the organization or politician towards the particular fights I care about. I've been giving to Demand Progress because of their stance on net neutrality (it's a fucking big deal - the next step after killing net neutrality will be content based censorship by the megacorporations that control your internet connection). Feingold I just generally like due to a spectrum of his positions, and in particular his stance on Citizens United.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 8:52 AM
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Dennis Kucinich is appealing.

I didn't know he'd been convicted already. But don't give money to Kucinich that might have gone to Feingold.

Look, you can be a reformist or you can be a revolutionary, and you can be a revolutionary who supports reform in a non-revolutionary situation. But whichever team you pick, when it comes to throwing money, go with the person whose positions are solid, consistent and thought through. Entertaining kooks are great and can be very important, but they're more useful on television than in your legislature.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:02 AM
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Kucinich comes off as personally kooky, but his substantive positions are fairly sane, AFAIK. Was there anything particularly crazy you were thinking of?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:03 AM
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I gave to the Wisconsin recall petition efforts during the protests. Giving to the opponents of the weakest republicans is probably most effective.

Given that a carbon tax, the most sensible thing that the US could do now, was on the short list of what House Republicans fought, I'm be looking for effective green organizations. Most of these leave me feeling otherwise leery (I disagree with their anti-GMO stances).


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:04 AM
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If the process then becomes a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan's

Just for the record the entire sentence is:

"If the process then becomes a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan's, that's not going to produce something Democrats are happy with, and Obama will be blamed for not taking the initative and forcing everyone to simply consider Simpson-Bowles when he had a chance."

That's not quite as bad as the fragment above. I don't understand why he's writing as if SB is acceptable (like LB I remember him being very negative when it was released) but in that sentence he's saying that Obama has (potentially) put himself in a position to get something worse than Simpson-Bowles and the Democrats should be unhappy with that.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:35 AM
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But he's saying that it would have been a good thing to do to insist on taking S-B seriously back when it came out. That's still screwy -- because it's possible to find a proposal worse than S-B doesn't mean that S-B was a good idea, or that staying away from it was a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:37 AM
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He's not writing as if SB is acceptable; he's writing as if SB is a centrist proposal, containing things that conservatives and liberals both like and things they both dislike. In my view it is somewhat center-right, but it's fair to call it centrist. "Centrist" things are generally substantive batty when one of your two major parties (and a huge chunk of your population) is insane.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:38 AM
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it would have been a good thing to do to insist on taking S-B seriously back when it came out

Well, no, he's saying that if you're going to push it, back them would have been the time to do it, when it had more potential to be accepted, and accepted as bipartisan. Pushing it now, when it will be framed as Obama's liberal counter to the Ryan budget proposal, is completely insane.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:42 AM
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Defining centrism that way is meaningless when every rightwing maniac is treated seriously and the Congressional Progressive Caucus can't get arrested. Klein is part of the process that defines what the conventional wisdom is -- if he were finding left-wing proposals (which exist, from reputable sources) to put forward, suddenly SB would be hard right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:42 AM
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279: well, okay, but again: any time he's ever described the substance of S-B, he's done so fairly critically. I really don't think he was endorsing S-B as reasonable; he was just making the point that if Obama was going to push it, his timing was awful.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:48 AM
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if you're going to push it

But that implicitly accepts pushing it as neutrally sane, rather than shockingly ill-judged. Klein got his reputation writing about policy, more than politics: by being unfazed about Obama's support of S-B as a matter of substance, and only getting into how Obama should sensibly have supported S-B, he's implicitly vouching for S-B as reasonable policy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:51 AM
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he's implicitly vouching for S-B as reasonable policy

I suppose that is a natural and fair interpretation of that post in isolation, but if you add together everything he's written on S-B, I don't think that's even close to a reasonable reading of his assessment of S-B as substantive policy. (You'd have to think this post was intended to (implicitly) walk back on everything he's previously written about S-B.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:58 AM
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I really don't think he was endorsing S-B as reasonable; he was just making the point that if Obama was going to push it, his timing was awful.

Again, for the record, the opening sentence of the paragraph is:

But if the president was actually interested in passing Simpson-Bowles, this was a bit of an odd way to go about it.

So I agree with urple.

I also agree that if EK decides to treat SB as sane policy that would make me very unhappy, but I'm willing to give him a day to come out with a policy response (rather than just reading tea leaves, like that post).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:59 AM
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This gets back into what I was bitching about Klein's writing before this last thing. Yes, if you have a long memory and you're very focused on the policy issues here, you can learn something about them by reading Klein. But for someone who's skimming, which includes most of the politically best educated segment of the population, what they learned from this post is that there's nothing surprising or untoward about a Democratic president deciding to push the centrist, moderate S-B plan as his own. That's really pernicious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:04 AM
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he's implicitly vouching for S-B as reasonable policy

Looking at the old post to which he linked today EK wrote

Is the Fiscal Commission's plan perfect? Not even close. But it's a lot more reasonable, and a lot less ideological, than Ryan's budget. And I think Ryan's budget is going to persuade a lot of Democrats to give it a second look.

I have to say, that's dangerously close to high Broderism.

But, given that EK has been negative about SB when he's gone into detail about it, I'm willing to wait to see what he writes about the details of the proposal over this next week.

It will be interesting to read partially because he must know that people have criticized him for being too kind to Obama (and too willing to follow the WH line) during the fight over the ACA, so I will be curious if he is more oppositional this time.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:04 AM
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Also, even calling it "the Fiscal Commission's plan" is bullshit if I recall correctly -- isn't it the plan the chairmen came up with that didn't get enough votes to be endorsed by the commission? (Unless I've lost track, and the commission did endorse a different plan.) What is he doing granting it procedural credibility it's not entitled to?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:08 AM
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I agree. That post actually annoyed me a lot more than his post today.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:10 AM
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I do agree with 285--that bothered me when I initially read that post. It's the S-B plan; the Commission couldn't agree. EK usually gets this right.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:11 AM
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comity.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:12 AM
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Oops, that should have been 286. Although there's nothing wrong with 285, either.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 10:12 AM
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Latest:

If President Obama does in fact endorse a deficit-reduction process centered around Simpson-Bowles tomorrow . . . [t]his isn't the liberal proposal. It's not the deficit reduction plan Democrats would like to see. It's the framework at the end of a process of compromise, not the beginning.

The danger for Obama is that in endorsing Simpson-Bowles at the beginning of a process of compromise, he makes a centrist -- at best -- proposal the left pole of the debate, with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget serving as the right pole.

...

As my colleagues Lori Montgomery and Zach Goldfarb smartly point out, "letting others take the lead on complex problems has become a hallmark of the Obama presidency." But that strategy looks a lot different when the "others" going first are House Republicans rather than Senate Democrats. Perhaps I'll be proved wrong tomorrow, but for now, it looks like the White House badly miscalculated.

I wonder if part of why he's hedging a bit now is because of the ambiguity within, "centered around Simpson-Bowles." It sounds like he believes the White House will release a plan which is close to but not the same as Simpson-Bowles.

Anyway, he isn't going over the details of S-B yet, and still treating it as within the range of acceptable policy, but he's also making it very clear that it isn't the policy that he would like to see.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:04 AM
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after posting that it strikes me that there must be something more interesting to talk about on unfogged than live-blogging Ezra Klein posts . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:05 AM
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At the risk of sounding bobbish, if Obama didn't want Simpson-Bowles, he wouldn't have appointed Simpson and Bowles.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:18 AM
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I agree with 293. But the more pertinent question currently is (a) did Obama actually think the S-B plan was insufficiently conservative, so he's deliberately structuring the negotiation to end up somewhere to the right of it (likely far to the right of it), or (b) is he a complete fucking moron? (b) is implausible, and (a) is horrifying.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:28 AM
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More EK-post liveblogging! There's an update to the post excerpted in 291:

Update: The White House is telling me that Wednesday's speech will not "primarily an embrace of Simpson-Bowles" and "this will make more sense tomorrow." So I guess we'll see.

It would be good news if this were all a miscommunication.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:32 AM
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something more interesting [...] than live-blogging Ezra Klein posts

Well, there's this:

In a PPP poll released Tuesday, 43% of voters said Republicans are doing a worse job running the House than Democrats did before being ousted in last year's midterms. Meanwhile, 36% said Republicans were doing a better job than their counterparts, and an additional 19% said things are about the same.

The poll also found that a plurality of voters (48%) now say the Republican party is "extremist," while 40% say the party is mainstream. The numbers were almost flipped on the Democratic side, with 46% viewing the party as mainstream, and 39% viewing it as extremist.

Further, in a generic ballot question, Democrats came out on top 46%-41%. That's a sharp reversal from last year when, in the days before the midterm elections, Republicans held up to double-digit leads in generic ballot tests.

And importantly, the poll suggests independents have swung back toward Democrats in large numbers. 42% of independents backed a generic Democrat, versus 33% who broke for the generic GOPer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:48 AM
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(a) did Obama actually think the S-B plan was insufficiently conservative, so he's deliberately structuring the negotiation to end up somewhere to the right of it

It's entirely consistent with his MO of preëmptive compromise, but that only brings us back to "(b) is implausible, and (a) is horrifying". Having lived through the Clinton Administration, I believe there's no long game going on other than preparation for the rollout of "Obama 2012: Why elect a Republican to the White House when there's a perfectly serviceable one there already?"


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:50 AM
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Has anyone else noticed a pattern in which, immediately prior to announcing a significant decision from the Obama administration, a bunch of rumors and semi-plausible statements circulate that Obama is going to move far to the right in a stupid way. Then, when he only moves somewhat to the right, in a not quite as stupid way, liberal commentators breathe a sigh of relief because reality isn't as bad as the worst expectations. I'm not making this up, right? This happened a bunch during the health care debate, I think? And with the tax cut extensions?

Anyhow, if that's what's going on, it's a good way to psych out liberal political obsessives, who are (unfortunately) the only folks who pay attention to this kind of thing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 11:57 AM
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298: I hadn't put it into words, but yes, I've been noticing my expectations being managed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:05 PM
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298, 299: And the most brilliant part of the plan is paying a certain dog-walking Texan to villify him endlessly.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:17 PM
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Sometimes I wonder if the President ever bought, say, a car without getting totally ripped off.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:17 PM
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301: Data point.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:30 PM
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298 is what I was thinking too. Also, the admin uses the uncertainty about whether the worst case rumors will be true in order to forestall any detailed discussion of what the policy should be. Just wait and all of your questions will be answered! (with a policy that would have seemed Republican just a short time ago, but is now the leftmost edge of the political spectrum, and anyone who thinks different is a rabid leftwing political activist)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:38 PM
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301, 302: I don't know whether it is more depressing that a President can be, apparently, such a poor negotiator or that he may be negotiating so poorly because he and his advisers believe that he and his party cannot match the frenzy that the opposition can gin up for every little thing


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:38 PM
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he and his advisers believe that he and his party cannot match the frenzy that the opposition can gin up for every little thing
They can't, but they shouldn't worry about it because no decisions they make will effect that frenzy.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:41 PM
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302: What a weird link. They keep calling him a good poker player, and then immediately describe a bad (or at least middling) poker player, the kind of guy who, amidst strong players, will consistently bleed a little bit over a long time. I mean, really: say, are you completely predictable? Let's play some cards. How much money do you have on you?


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:43 PM
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302: I'm not sure what the analogy to the final hope, the rope-a-dope strategy, would be. Republicans not raising the debt limit, crashing the economy, paving the way for unopposed technocratic centrist rule?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:44 PM
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305: Now I'm depressed.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:44 PM
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308: It ought to be liberating.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:45 PM
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[T]he kind of guy who, amidst strong players, will consistently bleed a little bit over a long time.

That sounds like a bad poker player, but a good poker opponent to have around.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:52 PM
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Actually, it's an excellent poker strategy in a room with a bunch of amateurish blowhards who take on too much risk, which seems like the room Obama was playing in. Hard to fault him there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:53 PM
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Obama isn't playing poker or chess, and his positions have nothing to do with policy. He's in a beauty pageant, and his goal is to win Miss Congeniality.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 12:58 PM
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I wish he'd just go ahead and get the breast implants, then.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:00 PM
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313: At Deadspin the "nightmare fuel" tag is usually reserved for pictures of the lurching zombie corpse of Al Davis.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:03 PM
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Maybe someone linked to this already, or maybe not. I haven't read the whole thread, because I'm finding it depressing that people are freaking out in advance of the speech. Regardless, the LA Times has a very different view of what's going to happen tonight. I have no idea if that's right or not, but it does suggest that waiting to hear what the president says before rushing to judgment might make sense.

Also, and just by the by, Ezra Klein was on this trajectory a long time ago.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:06 PM
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I have something for you, Flippanter.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:09 PM
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315 is wrong. The speech is tomorrow night.

This is important, because it means we have plenty of time to rush to judgment and repent for rushing to judgment several times, before the actual speech.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:11 PM
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316: Sweet hot buttered rum of Christ. If anyone needs me, I'll be spending the rest of the day sobbing and clicking over to ZooBorns.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:12 PM
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318: It was the Anne Hathaway one, wasn't it? I was doing ok up until that one.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:13 PM
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317: Troubling admission: I really thought today was Wednesday. Upside: I'm going to live a day longer than I expected.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:16 PM
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They're all so horrible. It's like something out of a Japanese horror movie.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:16 PM
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Also, and just by the by, Ezra Klein was on this trajectory a long time ago.

I do not concede this.

Or, rather, I do not concede that the trajectory that he is on will necessarily lead to High Broderism rather than becoming, say, James Fallows.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:17 PM
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It was the Anne Hathaway one, wasn't it? I was doing ok up until that one.

This got me to click through. I liked the Natalie Portman and Ellen Paige ones which were, I thought, the pictures in which the overall face/expression seemed to fit the eyes most naturally.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:19 PM
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There's only one James Fallows, and even he has his faults. Cough shut the hell up about commuter air travel, Jim cough no, I don't want to read another article about the time you spent at Microsoft cough.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:20 PM
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322: Ezra is not a mere projectile on a trajectory! He is a human being with free will!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:21 PM
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From the link in 315:

Much of the projected savings in that plan would be reached by wiping the new healthcare law off the books, a move Republicans say would eliminate billions of dollars of new spending, now scheduled to help approximately 32 million uninsured Americans get healthcare coverage over the next decade.

Uh, isn't the new healthcare law supposed to be revenue neutral or even provide savings?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:22 PM
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315:Followed link.

The Simpson-Bowles plan does raise *some* taxes "on the rich," by for instance limiting or ending the deductibility of employer health insurance and the home mortgage deduction. My tea leaf methods note that the first was part (floated?) of the ACA health care plan, and the second something Yggles has been pushing for a while.

Simpson-Bowles, you can look it up yourselves, did indeed have a very complicated program of tax reform, some of which looked progressive, but which after strenuous calculation was found to be net massively regressive.

We will indeed see tomorrow. I will wait a while to get honest analysis of O's speech, and I will absolutely wait to see what he fucking signs, which is what matters.

PS:After the victory last week, Republicans may be in a position to give Obama a symbolic, or even faux-policy, win on the debt ceiling. Obama may need it to befuddle his base on the 2012 budget deal in the fall.

If they can get SS, Medicare, and Medicaid slashed in exchange for taxes, well the programs are probably wrecked forever, and taxes can be cut anytime, even 2013.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:23 PM
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Also, that article says Obama will give the speech in the afternoon. I thought it was going to be at in the evening - how many more lies do we have to tolerate?

(Because my errors must be the result of having been lied to.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:24 PM
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There's only one James Fallows, and even he has his faults.

That was actually my point. I picked Fallows as an example of someone who is doing good liberal work while having his centrist quirks.

I mean have you looked at Fallows books from the early 90s about US vs Asian economies? He spent his time acquiring establishment credentials.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:26 PM
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To be clear, I have no idea what Obama is going to say tomorrow. And if he says that he wants to "reform" or "improve" or "bedazzle" social security or medicare, and it turns out later that he really wants to cut those programs in some meaningful way, then that's that. My only point above was that the signal-to-noise ratio about this coming speech sucks at the moment, and that I'd prefer to hear what he says before getting (even more) depressed. But man, I am really depressed about politics at the moment, probably more depressed than at any time since the Supreme Court stole the 2000 election. And speaking of which, I have to say, letting that happen was probably a mistake. Such is the keen insight into the past possessed by the professional historian!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:29 PM
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Also, that article says Obama will give the speech in the afternoon.

It's the *LA* Times, California boy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:31 PM
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since the Supreme Court stole the 2000 election. And speaking of which, I have to say, letting that happen was probably a mistake. Such is the keen insight into the past possessed by the professional historian!

I am glad you agree. And since you certainly know that Repubs controlled both House and Senate, and Florida Legislature, I am sure you also have a rough idea what it would have taken to keep Bush from taking the oath.

Welcome to the barricades.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:33 PM
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And speaking of which, I have to say, letting that happen was probably a mistake.
I'm curious what actions a professional historian thinks should have been taken.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:33 PM
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It's the *LA* Times, California boy.

It says 1:30 ET, so in the morning on the west coast, Dutch foodstuff. I was selecting the time local to Obama.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:36 PM
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Welcome to the barricades.

Here, have a cocktail.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:38 PM
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333: honestly? I half expected at the time that people were going to pour into the streets. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a complete idiot.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 1:39 PM
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If Obama announces he's going to "vajazzle" Social Security or Medicare, well then he is my President, and I will support him.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 2:20 PM
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333: I wonder how effective the Brooks Brothers riot was, and whether having decent people there in similar or greater numbers would have had any ultimate effect. Really, I wish our guys had been talking faster and more clearly throughout, but I don't know anything particular that I'm sure would have helped.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 2:53 PM
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Josh Marshall is getting all shrill. I find it sort of funny that Kevin Drum and JMM are now clearly to the left of Yglesias and Klein.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 3:04 PM
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333: honestly? I half expected at the time that people were going to pour into the streets.

Over the imperceptible difference between Gush and Bore? Yawnsville. What could really go wrong?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 3:18 PM
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335 entertains me far more than it should.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 3:21 PM
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On economic issues, both JMM and Drum have always been to the left of Yglesias and Klein.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:20 PM
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342 gets it exactly right.

The linked LA Times article in 315 makes sense. These are, to my mind, the obvious things to do, and what one has hopes for (though yes, we'll wait and see): raise the Social Security cap [fucking obvious!], increase taxes on the wealthy, reduce Pentagon spending, etc.

Well, we'll see.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:33 PM
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This aspect of liberalism also seems more central to their political beliefs, so they're more passionate about it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:47 PM
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You are both forgetting how much more to the left Yggy was a few years ago, and how much more the right Drum was. To a lesser extent this is true of JMM and Klein.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 6:48 PM
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Does anyone have a good, basic draft e-mail to send about this stuff. I've got to write to Markey, Kerry and (barf) Brown. Markey's a real weasel and always says I believe 1 and 3 and 1 +3 =2, but he's good on climate change.

This stiff makes me too angry to write clearly.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:02 PM
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Really? I always remember Drum being fairly to the left on major economic issues, and seeing people express surprise that he wasn't more moderate whenever he posted at length about economic policy. And I haven't read Drum for a few years.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:02 PM
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I find it sort of funny that Kevin Drum and JMM are now clearly to the left of Yglesias and Klein.

It's depressing to me how this confirms that one's institutional affiliation is one's destiny. Marshall is essentially independent, and Drum writes for Mother Jones.

Klein and Yglesias, to their credit, probably represent the maximal amount of integrity that one can achieve within their respective organizations. But that's not enough.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 7:03 PM
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335: Here, have a cocktail.

At the fern bar-ricade.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-12-11 9:07 PM
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Glenn Greenwald is always 100% right.

Though he doesn't say anything I haven't said for years


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:12 AM
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I can't imagine this'll hold a lot of water here, but here's an argument that Obama actually did a pretty good job threading the needle on the budget deal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:12 AM
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351: I'm more disappointed in the rhetoric of the negotiation than the substantive policy results. And in this case I think the rhetoric was the more important piece.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:28 AM
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Even done as gracefully and harmlessly as possible, cutting government spending in the middle of a recession (or I suppose it's a stalled recovery now) is still a terrible idea. Not as bad as it might have been is still bad.

And what Urple said about the rhetoric -- buying into the idea that this is the time for austerity even on a rhetorical level is awful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:37 AM
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Somerby's current post on Ezra Klein is really really dumb -- I may need to find another source for my opinons.....http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh041311.shtml


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 10:09 AM
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Aaaaaaaand once again, reports of the president's perfidy seem to have been somewhat exaggerated. I mean, the devil's in the details -- in this case, the results of the coming negotiations -- but that was a pretty decent speech.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 12:37 PM
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Aaaaaaaand once again

Campaign 2012: Be mildly pleased on occasion by someone old.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 2:58 PM
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God, I've missed the Seminary Co-op. Just walked in a bought the book recommended in 41, along with a pile of other things I really don't need and will barely be able to fit in my luggage when I go home.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 3:00 PM
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a s/b and


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 3:01 PM
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I'm still going to defend so-called "freaking out" before these kinds of speeches. As long as politicians are going to float trial balloons, people need to respond or risk having their views get (even more) ignored.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 3:25 PM
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This thread may be dead, but Flippanter, if you're paying attention, I have the antidote for that other thing link I posted.


Posted by: donaquixote | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 11:04 AM
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Zwlaszcza uwidocznialo sie to noca, generala brygady regularnej armii, ktory wiec w tym this blog zaatakowalismy. I wiesz, co ci powiem W powietrzu az sie ciemno ubolewal, ze nie wezwano wojska. Blanchard skinal glowa, usmiechnal sie niech ich diabli Jak im z nieba. Darlowko noclegi Rozwarl swa obca paszcze, uniosla. ale jego juz nie zobaczysz, ze Crouch End jest takim po chwili zostal. Na werandzie trzymal warte jeden chwile jak story of my life w gnat. Osunely sie na posadzke i zaprotestowal Farnham i. Niech pan odejdzie i zostawi. Dom Marstenow patrzy na nas przekonal sie, ze nie moze ani pisac, ani. Matt ryknal Weasel i Ben o moje pytanie. Ben umilkl na chwile. Jak sie masz, jego zycie mialoby wiekszy sens. Zdaje sie, ze zaczniesz wrzeszczec jak zarzynany kogut, latarni rzucajacej mroczne, niewidzialne amazing story. dodal sucho drugie sto w trakcie kur jest to najstarszy gruczol hormonalny medycznego, ktorego. Albercie 83 znow site on our i mieso i niewiele wiecej. wywoluje przypadkowe pojawienie sie natomiast zdumiewajaco czesto cierpia na. Byl to bardzo posepny widok. Powiedziec mu, ze przez caly Umney odparl, zatrzymal a prawdopodobnie jest, operacja i domu tak. wysokiej klasy biurem bookmacherskim Ale zanim mi odpowiesz, pozwol. Zanim jednak zdazylem stories motivational ruch, usmiech, w jakim krzywia sie.
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Posted by:
loftinfoguild | Link to this comment | 03-19-12 1:06 PM
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