Re: Various

1

To be honest, it's really the presence of grandparents that is preventing me from being online, and not the new baby.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:58 AM
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You have to feed them every couple of hours at that age.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:59 AM
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And change their diapers.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:02 AM
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Invite them to the blog, heebs!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:02 AM
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The search by year function is clearly where it's at - because it's not curated (or, more accurately, curated by many, each with distinct agendas/mandates), you get an unpredictable cross-section of what was considered important at a moment in time - some of them documenting the moment, others documenting the past that the people of the moment wanted to preserve.

OTOH, at the moment it's so fragmentary that it doesn't have the cracklike qualities of Wiki.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:11 AM
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Just today, I found myself on the Wikipedia page listing German cannibals. I was surprised by how short the list was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:14 AM
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Heebie!

How are the claw marks on your uterus? Are you feeling well?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:19 AM
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You have to feed them every couple of hours at that age.

In my experience, grandparents eat pretty little.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:23 AM
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9

Maybe you only serve them shitty food.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:26 AM
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In my experience, grandparents eat pretty little.
So maybe that solves the diaper issue too.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:27 AM
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The stuff in the little jars isn't as good as what you can make in your own Cuisinart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:28 AM
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I bought some of the baby food in pouches, which I hadn't seen previously, and found out it's somewhat controversial.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:35 AM
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---Insert breast joke here---


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:35 AM
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I like the second game -- work related skills that don't fit nicely on a CV. I would like to be able to represent myself as a reliable drama sink: when I've got co-workers getting emotionally revved up about something, I am highly capable at calming everyone the hell down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:44 AM
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I am reliably even-keeled.
I'll listen respectfully to any idea, no matter how stupid, and try to give some form of positive feedback before criticizing it gently and in a way that preserves the dignity of the person whose idea I'm trashing.
I make jokes that people actually laugh at sometimes.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:57 AM
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"When the copier runs out of paper, refills the whole tray with as many reams as it holds, rather than just putting in one ream to complete his job."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:57 AM
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The DPLA thing is similar to some other big projects that are out there, e.g.:

http://www.europeana.eu/

European has a LOT of data in it, though. The methodologies are basically the same. Harvest a bunch of metadata, chuck it in an index (Solr/Lucene, presumably), provide an API.

e.g.

http://www.europeana.eu/portal/search.html?query=mine+shaft&rows=128

[Europeana has all kinds of things, including books.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:58 AM
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"Can drink 1 and 1/2 bottles of wine before saying inappropriate things."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:03 AM
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Yeah, the DPLA already has an app to search Europeana and itself. I'd expect more convergence in short order.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:04 AM
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re: CV thing

I will genuinely try to be helpful, even when your request is stupid, not my problem, and likely to involve lots of work.

I am calm, not demanding of other people's time, and don't generate stress for other people. (See LB's 14 and togolosh's 15.]

I make good coffee.

I am usually good for an interesting conversation about books/music/art/whatever.

I tend to prefer the practical over the conceptually elegant.

I won't make everyone else look back by spending lots of time in the office.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:06 AM
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re: 19

I'm part of some similar projects to create APIs that will enable better delivery of images across cultural institutions (libraries, museums, etc). With the idea being that they can run alongside the metadata aggregation APIs to drive better open access to digital objects/stuff.

I also feed data (not very well at the moment, tbh) into Europeana.

The DPLA implementation looks quite nice.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:08 AM
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22

"look BAD by spending lots of time in the office."


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:09 AM
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23

22 is the slogan of the least effective job placement agency ever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:14 AM
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24

I finally put some pictures from Easter in the photo pool. The girls with characteristic expressions and showing full outfits (sans sweaters) for clew.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:46 AM
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25

I'll root for your team if you bring me along to the game, even if I didn't go to your school. (Not valid when your team is playing my team: I'm not a total whore.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:49 AM
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And I just spent forty minutes I couldn't easily spare calming a coworker the hell down. I've been in his shoes -- where you see a legal problem with a position the client wants to take but no one agrees with you and so you dig your heels in -- but it was a bit of a mountain out of a molehill. He's still not happy, but I think he no longer thinks it's all that much of a worry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:57 AM
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27

Picking at sunburned tissue is a great way to get people out of your office quickly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:01 AM
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Especially if it's their tissue.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:03 AM
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29

I don't bother people and I get my fucking job done, and done well. I used to listen to my coworkers' problems more, but I hit the level of what I could tolerate.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:04 AM
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"When the copier runs out of paper, refills the whole tray with as many reams as it holds, rather than just putting in one ream to complete his job."

Earlier today I was in a hurry and just grabbed a stack of about 10 pages lying nearby to finish my print job instead of going to the next room to get a ream of paper. I'm a bad person.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:09 AM
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Has this been linked yet? Who the hell reads about a bunch of workers dying in an unsafe factory and writes a blog post titled "Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's OK"?


Posted by: Boston Lurker | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:16 AM
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32

Resume skills:
-Thinking of exactly the word you're looking for if you give me the sentence
-Choosing my battles


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:17 AM
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33

"Once stopped my boss just before she mailed several hundred letters that mentioned the importance of 'pubic schools.'"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:18 AM
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34

When they ask my greatest weakness I usually just want to say "I'm a serial rapist" or something, but my other fantasy is to just be completely honest and tell them the things that actually will annoy or anger them when I work for them. "I sometimes forget things. They just totally slip, and I'm semi-organized so sometimes I catch things and sometimes it's just a complete train-wreck." Or "I am simply a very lazy person who manages to hold it together because the alternative seems unpleasant."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:22 AM
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I get along with everyone. I don't actually like or befriend most people, but I get along with them.

I'm unflappable. Like, freakishly calm. Whether I should be or not. Try not to be offended by my flat aspect and perpetually bored demeanor, because they're a small price to pay for having a cool head in a crisis.

I don't mind being micromanaged. Prefer it, in some cases.

If this were an actual job interview I'd try to think of a way to make those sound more appealing, but bluntness is another trait of mine that's sometimes useful.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:24 AM
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31: Cripes. I assumed that title was another one about US/UK egg standards.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:24 AM
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37

I'm unflappable.

The box factory wouldn't hire you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:26 AM
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38

31 -- a person who can't ever even imagine that they personally would die in a factory fire, is who.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:34 AM
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39

Buildings that don't collapse into rubble are a luxury good. Once they are wealthy the workers will change their preferences.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:39 AM
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40

31 -- I mentioned this in the endless thread.

Last line: Sure, everything we wear smells like barbecue, but you like your shirtwaists triangular, don't you?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:40 AM
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41

Continuing 38:

an economist
a columnist for Slate
an economically-minded columnist for Slate
St/e/v/en L/a/n/d/sbu/r/g


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:41 AM
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34.2: Not only is this me, this is me right now. I am displaying calm unflappability in a crisis that I largely created by not getting things done earlier, and am hoping like hell that people notice the calm unflappability rather than why we're in trouble at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:42 AM
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31: The answer is Tyler Cowen.

I'm not sure why he's using Matthew Yglesias as a pseudonym.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:44 AM
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44

41 is a good answer too.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:45 AM
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45

"Very polite about blowing off obligations when there's other work to be done"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:45 AM
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46

If I had to be honest it would be very hard to come up with good reasons to hire me.

The best I could do would be something like, "I'm not that stupid all the time."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:46 AM
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47

I'm guessing he's not coming to unfoggedycon this time because you people are all so mean.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:49 AM
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My 100% honest case would be "I'll figure out what you're doing very fast, and assuming I find it interesting will probably get to an adequate level of performance quickly. Also, I know a lot of random shit that might be helpful, who knows."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:51 AM
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49

That linked piece is great. And by great I mean it's the best thing I've read all year and I just frightened my office staff with laughter.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:55 AM
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50

That linked piece in 40 I mean.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:56 AM
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51

"I am competent enough in areas outside what you hired me for that lots of people will think I'm smart and trust me to do lots of things."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:01 AM
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52

51 works for me if you add "at first" somewhere.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:03 AM
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31: Jesus Christ. I've experienced Yglesias as callous before, but never actually monstrous.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:07 AM
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"Can be relied upon to let the office know when Opening Day happens by leaving at noon."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:07 AM
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"I am incredibly earnest, and come across (accurately) as well-meaning and harmless."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:11 AM
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56

And when you leave the office every day at noon, you can use the aphorism, "Even a broken calendar is right once a year."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:12 AM
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53: I have a theory that there's something about being an economist that really fucks with a person's moral center.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:13 AM
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58

Obviously your theory is wrong or someone would have paid you to think of it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:14 AM
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59

Only fair-weather fans go and see the Pirates on opening day. The real fans wait a week or two for them to be mathematically eliminated.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:16 AM
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I've experienced Yglesias as callous before, but never actually monstrous.

I recently experienced first-hand just what a monster he can be: a couple months ago he launched himself at my girlfriend's barstool the instant she got up to go to the bathroom, studiously refusing to notice that her drink, coat, purse, and boyfriend were all still there; and gave me a petulant look when I stopped him. This article is, admittedly, nearly as bad.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:23 AM
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61

If you'd acted as you should have, pot, he never would have had the opportunity to write this piece.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:26 AM
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Again, I recommend to all the piece linked in 40.

Sociopathy comes cheap these days, but Yglesias, despite looking like someone stuffed a Van Heusen Oxford with ostrich eggs and then hastily crayoned a face onto the one sticking out of the collar, has the vision to take it to new plateaus. Yglesias champions one of the most horrifying and widespread implements of oppression and misery yet conceived--factories taking advantage of cheap labor, lack of environmental regulations, and a disregard for human life by those who profit most from having those factories in their countries--then pretends that it exists in a vacuum, where people in "those countries" are happy for these jobs, instead of acknowledging the closed system of the global economy, where those conditions are not only systemic, but inevitable and structural, in order for the wealth and prosperity of the "first world" to exist at all.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:27 AM
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If you want to indicate that a stool is reserved you have to leave $5 on it.
Or maybe he was just trying to make a move on you.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:27 AM
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60: Wait, seriously? Fuckers like that need to be punched in the throat.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:29 AM
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60: How to you know it was Yggles and not a Van Heusen Oxford stuffed with ostrich eggs?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:37 AM
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32: If you also clean, I would hire you as my life manager. (Also, if that's not actually a job title yet, it very much ought to be.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:40 AM
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66: Like a personal assistant who makes all the important decisions for you? I could benefit from one of those.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:42 AM
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See? There's a market!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:44 AM
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62: Great piece, indeed. (Though mocking the way he looks is annoying.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:48 AM
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This actually reminds me of something that happened a couple hours ago here at work. ("This" being the odd-styles-of-helpfulness thing, not the Yglesias thing. Wow, he's gone from bad-but-witty to just plain horrible.)

When I started working here I was told that I should not work on anything except projects I'm assigned to, as directed by those project managers. I do sometimes, when it's something that only takes 10 minutes just because why not, or when it's something that a project manager obviously would direct me to do if we bothered to ask, but apparently there's been a problem with people not understanding the limits of my job description. I've never encountered any really obviously wrong things, like being asked to polish someone's resume, so I'm not entirely sure where to draw the line.

Today, someone asked me for help with a table that was printing out with roughly a third of it missing. It took me 10 minutes to figure out what the problem was (the document was set up for a legal-size piece of paper and she was printing it on a letter-size piece) and to fix it. I spent a little of that time trying to decide whether I should just fix the formatting or anything else. I noticed one typo in the very second line. Nothing besides that, but it was five pages, so seriously reviewing the document could have taken longer than fixing the formatting. In the end, I e-mailed a version on a letter-sized page back to her, and ended my e-mail by saying that I "didn't make any further edits."

She might have got the hint that it needed more work, but if she didn't, well, she can't say I warn her. This is definitely not important either way - it was a minor typo in a minor document - but I think it's a bit weird how much thought I put into being helpful but not too helpful.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:55 AM
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You should have fixed the typo, you moral monster.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 11:59 AM
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Re: economists, I liked this observation from a recent Brad DeLong post:

One major potential flaw is if we do not like the distribution of wealth. Another is that, even when the distribution of wealth is right, the market system can provide the wrong incentives. The brilliant Ronald Coase of the University of Chicago--still productively at work as an economist even though his age is now in the three figures--said that any arrangement of property rights will do about as well as any other. He adduced as his canonical case the locomotive that occasionally throws off sparks that burn the nearby farmer's crops. If the railroad has a duty of care not to burn the crops, Coase said, the railroad will attach spark-catchers if it is cheap and makes sense to do so and pay damages if it is expensive and doesn't make sense to do so. If the railroad has no duty of care, Coase said, then the farmer will offer to pay the railroad to install spark-catchers, and spark-catchers will be installed if the potential damage to the crops is greater than the cost of the spark-catcher. Thus the same decisions will be made whatever the property rights are, as long as there are property rights. If there aren't--then the crops burn, and lawyers grow fat.

This seems to me to be wrong. If there is no duty of care on the part of the railroad, it doesn't just asked to be bribed to install a spark-catcher. It builds the most spark-generating engine it possibly can to cause as much of a chance of fire as possible. And then it demands that the farmer become its serf before it will install the spark-catcher.

Getting institutional property rights wrong in details can be immensely damaging.

That seems like a really important argument and one that makes me think DeLong has been listening to his various critics over time.

(also, I am sick and everybody should feel sorry for me today).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:02 PM
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57: Yglesias is so talented he managed to lose his moral center just by pretending to be an economist.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:04 PM
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74

Can't say I didn't warn her, obviously. And in a comment complaining about someone else's typo...


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:04 PM
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75

Totally off-topic: Laura from Little House on the Prairie married Elliot from ThirtySomething??? What kind of a fucked up crossover is that??


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:17 PM
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I do all sorts of work that is probably outside of my job description, but I'm not really sure because I've never seen my job description. Maybe I should ask for one, but by this point I'm fairly certain they'd just write the job description to say "Consulting as needed, 5%."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:19 PM
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Is this the place to bitch? I had to take over a big case for a friend who has some personal issues going on. I am already behind. My new assistant is really slow and keeps messing stuff up. Bonus: my silly child keeps having health issues that require me to pick her up from school.

waaa waaa waaa


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:21 PM
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77: Sorry will! I'm already busy feeling sorry for NickS.

Between that and writing a few comments here, I've pretty much reached my capacity.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:24 PM
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75: No, no. Laura from Little House married Almanzo from Farmer Boy. And it's a pretty reasonable crossover, IMO.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:27 PM
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75. Also, Laura's husband Almanzo married Donna's mom from 90210.

Sorry, will. That sounds rough.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:29 PM
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Bitchtime: I thought I had narrowly skated through several financial perils, but instead my bank totally fucked me and I think I'm getting whacked with multiple perils. It's egregious enough that I'm actually going to go complain in person.

Reality check: am I correct to assert that it's complete bullshit to both charge me an overdraft fee and a return check fee after they refuse to pay the check? I mean, it's one or the other, right?

PS - I don't necessarily mean in terms of bank practices, which are of course bullshit as a matter of course. I mean morally.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:31 PM
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80: Which book was that in?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:32 PM
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75, 79, 80

A Little House/90210 crossover sounds like it has more entertainment potential than a Little House/30 Something crossover.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:33 PM
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81.2: It is absolutely routine to charge both fees.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:34 PM
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Maybe they paid just enough of the check to cause you to overdraft, then they refused the rest of the check. There's an extra fee for that kind of special service, though.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:34 PM
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75: She almost married Sodapop.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:35 PM
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The dickhead I almost roomed with sophomore year? That's weird.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:38 PM
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83 - An even better crossover would be Little House, M.D., about an ornery country doctor in a 19th century frontier town.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:39 PM
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Less jarring but still surreal: I saw Laura introduce Billy Bragg. (She was SAG president and he was playing a small gig at the AFL.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:42 PM
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I'm just saying, if you don't have a responsibility to correct her typos, what's to prevent you from inserting new typos, maybe even hidden with the font color set to background, and telling her that unless she becomes your serf you won't take all the typos back out for her?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:42 PM
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Sodapop? From The Outsiders? Things are getting weird around here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:42 PM
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92

This morning I witnessed a really shitty thing on the subway.

I was sitting there reading when Man A approaches the guy in the seat next to me, Man B, and demands to know why Man B was taking his photo. Man A is dark-skinned, maybe of southeast Asian origin, and speaks with a slight accent. Man B is a pudgy middle-aged white guy. After some back and forth about whether it's his right to take a stranger's photo, Man B says he was taking the photo in case Man A got off the train and left his bag behind. They had an all out screaming match. Man A kept saying, who are you to think these things of me? Who are you to invade my privacy, to take my picture? and Man B finally said, "An American citizen." Man A said, "I am an American citizen too. And you are an asshole." They kept screaming until the next stop, where Man A ran out of the car and out of the station. (That's where I got out, too.)

It was horrible. People around the car were smiling and laughing in amusement at the spectacle, which I found beyond appalling. No darker-skinned people were smiling.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:43 PM
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Little House, M.D. about an ornery country doctor in a 19th century frontier town.

Dr. House: Medicine Woman


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:44 PM
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92: Holy crap. That's shocking and terrible. You should have started taking pudgy white dude's picture and saying, "In case you're a racist dickface" or "In case you molest that kid over there."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:46 PM
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I'm hoping man A didn't forget his bag in all the confusion.
Incidentally, who requested the war criminal perp lineup at the Bush library dedication?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:47 PM
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But 94 has it almost right, Man A should have started taking his picture right back.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:48 PM
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97

I've tried to start the Little House books once or twice with my kid, and they just haven't taken at all. Part of the problem is that unlike all of your fucking kids she's probably not a supergenius so they're kind of too old for her. But part of it is that the books just kind of seem to suck and be boring. Yet I remember liking them as a kid and my sister loved them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:48 PM
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Actually, as you may recall, there was a black doctor in (one of?) the Little House books - he would be an interesting central character, although he'd need some sort of sympatico group around him, or it would just be an endless series of encounters with settlers who were either overtly racist or pretty good at hiding it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:48 PM
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"In case you molest that kid over there."

Didn't think of that one! I kept wanting to pronounce the guy an asshole and dramatically get up and move, but there wasn't a moment for me to get a word in.

Another gem from the exchange: as Man A was moving toward the door when we came into the station, he was shaking his head and saying "Nazi pig." Man B yelled out after him, "How could I be a Nazi, I'm Jewish!"


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:52 PM
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"Nazi collaborator!"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:53 PM
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92: Wow, that is beyond awful.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:53 PM
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97: How old is your kid? I thought she was younger than what I would think of as a good age for them. Also, the first two are kind of boring. Better to start with On the Banks of Plum Creek, I think, and go back and pick up the others later.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:54 PM
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73: Cf. GC Lichtenberg, "A clever child brought up with a foolish one can itself become foolish. Man is so perfectible and corruptible he can become a fool through good sense."


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:58 PM
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"How could I be a Nazi, I'm Jewish!"

Practice, practice, practice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:58 PM
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She's 5 1/2, so we're really at the pretty early stages of reading chapterbooks aloud. Still, the Little House books don't seem way more difficult than the ones she's liked -- Ivy and Bean series, you are awesome -- and I'm surprised at how boring I'm finding them. I hadn't thought to start with the later books and then work back, that's a good idea.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 12:59 PM
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God help me, but I never liked the Little House books. I hated everything that involved people living in rural-ish/frontier/mudfarmer conditions.* I liked my fictional kids knowing and urban. (Things like Harriet the Spy.)

Yes, yes, I will pre-empt all of you and pronounce myself of bad character.

*This kind of persisted. I have a very limited taste for westerns. When I saw it as a teenager, the ending of My Brilliant Career nearly sent me over the edge.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:01 PM
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Man B says he was taking the photo in case Man A got off the train and left his bag behind.

Yikes. If you're gonna be the self-appointed racial-profiling undercover transit police, at least come prepared with a decent cover story, like "I'm the Sartorialist."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:01 PM
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It took me until comment 107 to realize that Man B's excuse wasn't meant to have the import "if you (forgetfully) leave your bag behind, having your photo will help me be able to return it".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:04 PM
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107: Yeah no, he was really proud of himself.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:07 PM
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Everyone knows the Sartorialist is secretly funded by the FBI.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:08 PM
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If I had to be honest it would be very hard to come up with good reasons to hire me.

This is why I've only managed to send out a handful of applications for "real" jobs over the last few years.

It resulted in a pretty fun interview awhile back--I think I mentioned it--where both the CEO (it was a small startup) and I were admirably frank with each other. He thought I'd be able to play all sorts of roles that weren't the job I was interviewing for, but he had no idea what to pay me, and wanted to know how likely it would be that I'd stay even a full year there without getting bored or quitting--"what is it that would make you happy?", and noted that he knew some PhD students got into habits of being happy just kind of coasting along for years. To which I responded that, just pulling some random number out of nowhere, it might well be true that I'd have, say, a 20% chance of leaving, but, c'mon, what's the base rate?--I know this position has had three occupants in 3 years!; and that while I did indeed coast along without doing anything as a grad student, I certainly wasn't *happy* that way, and indeed I have had no real experience of being happy.

I've felt pretty vindicated that they ended up firing the person they did hire after only a month or so, and they've been hemorrhaging employees ever since.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:15 PM
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I think your kid is probably too young, Halford. You have to be at least seven or eight to appreciate the supreme boringness that is Little House. I loved those books to death when I was a kid, but what I loved about them were the incredibly methodical descriptions of daily life, e.g., "There is a knack to cutting corn kernels off the cob" (insert endless description of exactly how this is done) or about how to color butter with shredded carrot during the winter because the cow milk isn't yellow enough when they're not eating fresh grass.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:18 PM
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"Sir Talis Infernalis" would be a good pseud if there are any lurkers in need of one.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:18 PM
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112: God, that sounds like the Georgics.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:20 PM
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???

What's wrong with the Georgics?!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:21 PM
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115: I like the Georgics! I just start to hyperventilate a little remembering exams where I had to translate endless passages about olive presses and all their different parts and how they go together and how they work and the kinds of olives one might put in them.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:26 PM
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111: But, you don't have to be honest! No one expects you to be honest in that situation!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:26 PM
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I'm pretty sure the year that Iris and her BF were arguing over who got to be which daughter* while we stayed at a cabin in the Cook Forest was the year they were 4.5.

That was also the only year they were worth shit for chores up there.

*amusingly, they both wanted to be Mary - their desire to play Big Sister overwhelmed their desire to be the protagonist


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:27 PM
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I don't remember anything about olive presses in the Georgics, but I didn't read all of them.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:30 PM
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111: But, you don't have to be honest! No one expects you to be honest in that situation!

Eh, it was kind of fun, and I think I actually made a good impression; my friend, who works there, seemed to think they were seriously considering hiring me in a different capacity (than the office manager position I was applying for). But yeah, I should probably aim for more like Tweety's 48.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:32 PM
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Interviewer: What was it you liked about bartending?
Me (shifting in my seat and waving an American flag): Well, I think it was the people contact ...
Interviewer (taking his American flag out of his desk drawer and waving it vigorously while speaking with strained enthusiasm): Yes, maybe we have something for you. I'll definitely call you this week.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:35 PM
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120: That sounded like an unusual situation and the way you handled was probably fine. I was more concerned about the first part -- honesty shouldn't be preventing you from applying for jobs.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:35 PM
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48 is not a good thing to say. It is a good impression to give, probably.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:37 PM
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115,116: Is there a potential bestseller there? Something like Vergil's Guide to the Mediterranean Diet or Locavorism, the Vergil Way?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:39 PM
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57: The fact that economics training makes you lose your moral center is a documented phenomenon. By economists. Because the world is one harmonious whole.

Here's a survey of the research.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:42 PM
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I hated everything that involved people living in rural-ish/frontier/mudfarmer conditions.

Whereas, I loved everything to do with self-sufficiency and farm life. Farmer Boy was my bible. Even when I started reading things like Clan of the Cave Bear, I cared more about the bits on how to build mammoth bone homes and forage then even the sexy times. To this day, one of the mind-calming things I do when I can't sleep is planning out an ideal small farm circa 1840 or so. However, I'm pretty hopeless at actually doing anything related to farming. My farming ancestors (which is pretty much all of them) passed down the drive but not any skill.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:43 PM
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Halford: Is she into the American Girl books at all? I probably would have loved learning about history regardless, but those books were my gateway drugs.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:45 PM
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123: Yeah, I have often wondered how to convey "I can do an adequate/high-end-mediocre job at almost anything. If you give me something fairly easy, I'm probably going to annoy you by doing it imperfectly, but if you've got stuff that you have a hard time finding people who can do it at all, I'm your woman," without sounding both like a lazy sack of shit, which I am, and incredibly egotistical, which I also am.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:46 PM
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I saw the Yglesias nuttiness and thought it needed to be abhorred, and am happy to see that you all are self-entertaining.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:55 PM
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. . . if you've got stuff that you have a hard time finding people who can do it at all, I'm your woman

How does one get the the point of believing that?

I've got plenty of ego, but I'm not good at selling myself. The same caution and dislike of making mistakes which makes me good at my job also inclines me towards a mindset of, "I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know what I've done, some of which I'm very proud of, but I'm also acutely aware of what I haven't done, or what I'm not sure I could do."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:56 PM
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127 is a good idea. I've been trying to avoid the AG products, for purely selfish reasons, since I don't want to have to spend $149 to buy Samantha's spinning wheel and butter churn or whatever every few months for the next four years. But those books are a really good idea.

Currently, her favorite historical thing is the story of Napoleon, who comes up in a picture book she has. His life really fits with a five-year-old's sensibilities. I'm going to conquer the world! Ha ha you thought you had me beat and put me on an island but hey guess what I ESCAPED and now I'm going to conquer the world AGAIN!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 1:59 PM
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He just gets sent to a shittier island and dies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:00 PM
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OT: Megabus pointed me to the wrong bus from New York and now I'm in goddamned Providence waiting to continue a tedious detour through the rest of New England. I hate travel because I hate people, places and things.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:01 PM
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Yes but who cares because of the awesome good times before getting there. He also TAKES THE CROWN which is pretty awesome for the under 6 set.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:02 PM
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I loved Napoleon as a kid for essentially the reasons described in 131. My wife told my daughter about this, which lead to an awkward conversation that started with my daughter asking me out of the blue "Why do you love Napoleon so much?"

The first Little House book isn't that boring. Every few pages or so, one of them almost gets eaten by a bear or a panther.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:04 PM
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I hate people, places and things.

Likes: Animals, abstract concepts, and the void.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:07 PM
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Yup!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:08 PM
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135.2 Yeah you thought so, but remember, the bear turned out to be a tree stump. Ha ha, boringness totally wins. I loved that story.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:08 PM
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Last summer, my son was out in the woods with grandpa and they saw a bear. My son still thinks he saw Bigfoot as that's who they went into the woods to search for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:11 PM
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138: The dog chases the mom and kids into the house, and the mom thinks that she's going to have to have the dad shoot the dog, but it turns out the dog was protecting them from a bear. The dad always takes his gun because one time his father was chased all the way home by a panther, which lands on the back of the horse before the father can get his gun to shoot it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:12 PM
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Yeah you thought so, but remember, the bear turned out to be a tree stump.

Hey, we're talking about Little House on the Prairie, not Mimesis as Make-Believe


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:20 PM
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The dog chases the mom and kids into the house fell down.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:20 PM
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I hate travel because I hate people, places and things.

Sometimes I think we're as different as two people can be and then you type something like this.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:26 PM
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140. I only kind of remember that story. Here's the fascinating story of Pa and the bear:

"Then I came again into an open place, and there, right in the middle of my road, I saw a big black bear. He was standing up on his hind legs, looking at me, I could see his eyes shine. I could see his pig-snout. I could even see one of his claws, in the starlight.

My scalp prickled, and my hair stood straight up. I stopped in my tracks, and stood still. The bear did not move. There he stood, looking at me.

I knew it would do no good to try to go around him. He would follow me into the dark woods, where he could see better than I could. I did not want to fight a winter-starved bear in the dark. Oh, how I wished for my gun!

I had to pass that bear, to get home. I thought that if I could scare him, he might get out of the road and let me go by. So I took a deep breath, and suddenly I shouted with all my might and ran at him, waving my arms.

He didn't move.

I did not run very far toward him, I tell you! I stopped and looked at him, and he stood looking at me. Then I shouted again. There he stood. I kept on shouting and waving my arms, but he did not budge.

Well, it would do me no good to run away. There were other bears in the woods. I might meet one any time. I might as well deal with this one as with another. Besides, I was coming home to Ma and you girls. I would never get here, if I ran away from everything in the woods that scared me.

So at last I looked around, and I got a good big club, a solid, heavy branch that had been broken from a tree by the weight of snow in the winter. I lifted it up in my hands, and I ran straight at that bear. I swung my club as hard as I could and brought it down, bang! on his head.

And there he still stood, for he was nothing but a big, black, burned stump!"


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:31 PM
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Currently, her favorite historical thing is the story of Napoleon, who comes up in a picture book she has. His life really fits with a five-year-old's sensibilities. I'm going to conquer the world! Ha ha you thought you had me beat and put me on an island but hey guess what I ESCAPED and now I'm going to conquer the world AGAIN!

xoxox.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:45 PM
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Sweet Christ, Pa is a stupid man.


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:46 PM
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Count me in as a Little House lover. Have people who would like it seen Little House After the End?

"Laura liked to help Pa plant the mushrooms. They were pretty and smelled wonderful. But she must be very careful, and watch out for the undead at all times. Here by the fence, even a big girl, almost grown as Laura was, might be snatched by the undead, and her father would have to let them take her, for there would be no way to save her. So Laura was "


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 2:49 PM
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143: Fist bump of brolidarity.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:06 PM
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Halfordo, the AG dolls proper are supposedly for ages 8+ but I got our girls the mini versions for Easter anyway. We haven't read the stories yet. Bedtime is mostly about me telling Princess Chipotle and Princess Sillybelita stories or reading picture books with the beginning readers chiming in as appropriate. We did My Father's Dragon, Pippi Longstocking, some Moominm stuff, the basic baby chapter books.

We started Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle but then one of the girls misplaced it, which I guess means I should have made sure it was the one with a story about how to avoid losing everything you touch, which would be useful for the girl who promised to find her missing sweater at school today and ended up not only not doing that but also losing her shirt. (She had another, so no nudity scandals imvolved.)

If she likes wish-fulfilment stuff, she might enjoy Edward Eager's books. Half Magic seems perfect for a pint-sized Napoleon fan. I loved Narnia at that age but haven't pushed it on the girls yet because each book has something that gives me pause.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:39 PM
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from the OP "moral hazard ("Do you want a bunch of old people running around killing each other?")"

I suppose this is one solution to our projected medicare/extended life expectancy woes. . .


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:40 PM
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Sorry, last.1 was supposed to say that the books, too, are aimed at independent readers but would probably be enjoyable for her anyway. You can always choose some books where the doll's been discontinued so that even if she begs for the doll you can't get her one, or at least you can plausibly claim you can't.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:41 PM
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woops, wrong post


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:44 PM
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Sweet Christ, Pa is a stupid man.

OMG, remember the time Pa got caught in a snowstorm and survived by digging a burrow in the snow and hid there for days, drinking melted ice and EATING ALL THE CHRISTMAS CANDY, and then when the storm ended he looked up and discovered that he was only like a hundred yards from home?

Poor dumb Pa.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:52 PM
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I think I was just on an elevator with Henry Kissinger. Apparently he's still alive and kicking.


Posted by: Ulysses S Grant | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:58 PM
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"So Laura was WARY." God. And now no one will read it!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 3:59 PM
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155: I thought the original formulation was intentional, to signal that Laura had, in fact, just been snatched by the undead.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 4:01 PM
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"Do you want a bunch of old people running around killing each other?"

Yes?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 4:04 PM
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153: Having been out in a plains snowstorm, I don't find that stupid at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 4:39 PM
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I've been lost in a tropical rain forest overnight a hundred yards or so from the edge where my house would have been visible. It was great -- that was normally the sort of thing the students would have mocked us relentlessly for, but they simply couldn't believe that anyone could literally not have been able to find their way out of the bush that close to home, and decided that saying we were lost in the bush was some weird teacher cover story for something inexplicable, and didn't make fun of us at all.

Not a comfortable night.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 4:48 PM
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62

... instead of acknowledging the closed system of the global economy, where those conditions are not only systemic, but inevitable and structural, in order for the wealth and prosperity of the "first world" to exist at all.

This is wrong, the wealth and prosperity of the first world does not depend on the third world being poor.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 5:28 PM
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125

The fact that economics training makes you lose your moral center is a documented phenomenon ...

How about legal training?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 5:31 PM
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Makes your teeth sharp and your coat glossy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 5:39 PM
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|| When people talk about leadership, they are full of bullshit what percentage of the time? My inclination is "100%" but it may be a sour grapes thing since people who talk about leadership make more money than I do.
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 5:50 PM
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100%.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 5:58 PM
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Since the is the American Girl thread, take a look a the picture in this article and ask yourselves who's brilliant idea it was to sort them by ethnicity. Yes, lets model not mixing with people who don't look like us!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:02 PM
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Way late, but the piece linked in 40 is good. Not enough people bother to take down Yglesias.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:07 PM
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76 but I'm not really sure because I've never seen my job description

Do most jobs actually have written descriptions? I've never had one that did.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:10 PM
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92 is horrifying!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:12 PM
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163: it's not 100%. The vast majority of talk about leadership is bullshit, but having worked in places where it's been missing, it really really sucks not to have any.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:16 PM
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154 I think I was just on an elevator with Henry Kissinger. Apparently he's still alive and kicking.

I hope you kicked back, hard.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:21 PM
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166

Way late, but the piece linked in 40 is good. ...

Actually it isn't. High on insults and moral posturing low on ideas for changing anything.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:26 PM
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170: *POW*, right in the peace prize.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:29 PM
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I was feeling like this talk I'm giving tomorrow is going to be super-boring until I realized I could incorporate some of José Canseco's highly on-topic tweets into it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:32 PM
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That rules.

I have to give a talk (short, but important for grad school) in two weeks and have to decide if I want to drop some highly relevant marathon bombing content into it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:35 PM
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The vast majority of talk about leadership is bullshit, but having worked in places where it's been missing, it really really sucks not to have any.

It sucks to work in a place missing talk about leadership?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:36 PM
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I hope you kicked back, hard.

I resisted the urge.

The best part was that he walked onto the crowded elevator (together with a giant, bodyguard-type goon), with a "hey, I'm motherfucking Henry Kissinger" vibe, as if expecting everyone to recognize him. But people were otherwise engaged in conversation and collectively ignored him. So he fucked around with his blackberry for the duration of the ride.


Posted by: Ulysses S Grant | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:47 PM
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171: Okay, correction: it's enjoyable. Offering ideas for changing things wasn't the task of the article.

The other thing! About Yglesias, which I've always found sort of curious, is that no one I know in real life has ever heard of him (aside from members of the Unfoggedtariat I've met). True, I don't know many academicians any more -- though I guess there's no particular reason they'd have heard of him either -- but I encounter enough people who, say, read the NYT and/or Washington Post, maybe the Economist or NYRB, watch or listen to CSPAN, listen to NPR, and otherwise read widely and are comparatively quite well-informed, and they're all like, "Matt Yglesias? Nope, I'm drawing a blank here."

That's sort of good, but also sort of bad: the bloggers who insist on semi-regularly linking more or less congenially to "Matt" aren't doing anyone any favors by promoting him: it gives him influence in the background.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:49 PM
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Working in the vast federal bureaucracy, I have a three paragraph long job description all rendered a bit moot by addition of "and other duties as assigned."


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:50 PM
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Them as talks about leadership aren't spending that time leading. `Once more into the breach' is talking about the task itself.

`leadership' and `classy': self-destroying speech acts?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:51 PM
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177: I think he looked as if he were on a sharper upward trajectory before the Slate gig -- as a general politics/foreign policy pundit, which was sort of where he was aimed in his early blogging years, he appeared to be heading for one of those major paper editorial columnist/TV talking-head careers where you'd expect politically interested people to be aware of him. Since the Slate thing, though, (or earlier?) he's kind of diverted into this business-friendly-liberal/vaguely-socially-center-left-libertarian Andy Rooney kind of thing: it's not that no one reads him, but he's clearly not someone that you'd expect people to be generally aware of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:55 PM
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It's fascinating that Ezra has gone farther and higher, and also seems to have done a better job evading pundit capture. Yggls is the better writer, but Ezra is... hungrier? Better looking? Dunno.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:58 PM
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I see Yglesias mentioned occasionally by some of my planning friends on FB who live in DC.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 6:58 PM
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Yggls is the better writer, but Ezra is... hungrier? Better looking? Dunno.

Much more gregarious and ingratiating in person, IME and FWIW. I bet that's a skill that's more important for that sort of career than you might think.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:01 PM
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My dad, not a blog reader, is definitely aware of Yglesias. He sort of half crossed-over. It's like his career ceiling now is Andrew Sullivan, maybe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:01 PM
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I don't even have an FB planning friend.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:02 PM
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185: Well, you probably didn't go to planning school.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:03 PM
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I don't even know what to think about Yglesias these days. Stuff like the link in 31 suggests he really has gone off the deep end ideologically into some variety of libertarian nuttiness, but then he also has plenty of perfectly reasonable centrist posts and quite a few that are notably left-leaning.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:06 PM
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181 -- much harder working.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:06 PM
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Although agèd persons mostly wouldn't like to play Assassins, it would be a fine Dave Barry novel. Or the other Florida gothic guy.

We could hedge retirement without geriatric assassins by grouping everyone into tontines of unknown membership. There would have to be a central ledger of impeccable probity and secrecy. Pulp novel again, either defending or attacking the ledger.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:07 PM
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It's like his career ceiling now is Andrew Sullivan, maybe.

There ought to be some kind of media personality rotisserie/fantasy game, where you can draft and trade young bloggers and see if they pay off by joining major media organisations or something. Not sure how you would score something like that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:08 PM
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Yggls is the better writer

? I don't see this at all.

Ezra is better-looking for sure (not that that matters!), but he's also just plain less dumb.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:08 PM
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188: very true.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:14 PM
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188

181 -- much harder working.

This seems a little implausible considering how much Yglesias produces. I could believe Klein is smarter about working on important things.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:16 PM
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I was shocked when Obama (or his aide talking about what Obama reads, whatever) name checked Ezra. I read that guy when he was a college punk! My life is going nowhere!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:17 PM
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I also describe myself as oddly calm when in conflict situations. I used it recently on an application for a student board (whose previous members had gotten into a bit of drama, which sort of thing I suggested I'd be helpful in calming down and figuring out). I wonder if overly-calm-in-crisis is a characteristic overrepresented in this blog's commenter population.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:17 PM
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I wonder if overly-calm-in-crisis is a characteristic overrepresented in this blog's commenter population.

It certainly describes me. Huh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:19 PM
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||

OT -- clew, a while ago you recommended Finder. I picked up a volume and have been reading it on and off today. My initial reactions are (a) very entertaining. (b) a little too complicated for me to follow completely in my current state of fogginess (sick) -- though improved by reading the endnotes and (c) that it's general tone and sense of humor seems to match that of your blog-persona quite closely -- I find myself smiling at various points thinking, "of course clew would like this."

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:21 PM
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I wonder if overly-calm-in-crisis is a characteristic overrepresented in this blog's commenter population

Perhaps it correlates with introversion/social detachment?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:22 PM
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183

Much more gregarious and ingratiating in person, IME and FWIW. I bet that's a skill that's more important for that sort of career than you might think.

From the New Republic profile:

"Ezra is an incredible operator," says one prominent Washington editor. "He is always looking upward at things. You only have to watch him work a party. He moves right to the most important people there." One friend saw Klein and his wife, New York Times reporter Annie Lowrey, at an event for last year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, and noted that they spent most of the night talking to Gene Sperling, Obama's economic adviser.

Also:

... "I had no conception of, or ambition of, trying to run a multimedia empire," says Matthew Yglesias, a good friend of Klein's who was also the closest thing he had to a rival. "He obviously wanted much, much more."


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:25 PM
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Anyway, if this is the thread where we complain about things, I'll just note that I've been feeling kind of sad and lonely lately.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:29 PM
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Perhaps it correlates with introversion/social detachment?

But there's an extrovert component, too. I feel pretty comfortable taking the lead in those heated moments. Other times, however, I do hang back a bit.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:30 PM
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I like to think that being a public school kid focused Ezra on doing what he had to do; Yggls kinda coasted while Ezra was kissing hands and shaking babies. Jesse Taylor was (is? Dunno.) twice the blogger of either but only the good go do other things, as they say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:30 PM
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200: Hey, me too. High five!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:31 PM
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I'll just note that I've been feeling kind of sad and lonely lately

What? A young, single dude in Alaska? I never.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:32 PM
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Okay for Stanley I have no facile explanation. Law school is terrible? Not sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:33 PM
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202

... Yggls kinda coasted ...

He wrote two books which is a lot of work although perhaps misdirected.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:34 PM
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Stanley's in law school? Did I know that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:35 PM
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I am also overly calm during crises.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:35 PM
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I'm cranky because I'm still at work on a stupid-ass case where opposing counsel is just ripping off their client for fees bringing a hopeless proceeding. I suppose that's a reason not to go to law school, or at least to make different life choices than I did, kids!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:35 PM
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What? A young, single dude in Alaska? I never.

Heh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:38 PM
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I'm not cranky but holy crap this code is taking forever to run. Come on, code.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:38 PM
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Law school is terrible? Not sure.

No, I actually love what I'm doing there. My romantic life has been very blah-tastic of late, is what I was attempting to commiserate with teo about.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:39 PM
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I'm sorry to hear that. Thundersnow no longer sweeping majestically across the plains as she was wont to do?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:43 PM
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188 gets it right. Klein is a journalist -- he wanted to talk to Gene Sperling for very good reasons -- and I'm afraid Yglesias isn't much more than a hack journalist at this point.

It is unfortunate, in the abstract, that you have to kiss hands and whatnot in DC circles, or really in any political circles, but without access to sources, you can't speak to what's really going on. I don't read Yglesias very often, but when I do click through, I don't see much discussion of actual reporting. I may just not have seen it.

I just don't think ill of Ezra for what he does. He may be a little too he-said/she-said about things at times, but I mean, come on, he subs for Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell, and Chris Hayes before Hayes was promoted, and that's just not bad or wrong.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:43 PM
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213: We still hang out, and I adore her to death. But it just wasn't working.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:45 PM
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I wondered, when Stanley spoke of moving to the carriage house, whether Thundersnow was no longer in the picture.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:47 PM
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214: Yglesias is not a journalist and makes no effort to pretend that he is one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:48 PM
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Given that you're single, I think that means you're stuck representing the front page posters by staffing the metaphorical sex grotto at Unfoggitynittygrittygreatbirdcon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:49 PM
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metaphorical?!?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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Aw, sorry to hear that, Stanley.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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Wait, metaphorical sex grotto?! I may have to reconsider my plans for this thing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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217: Would it be irresponsible to speculate that he occasionally writes "Press" on an index card, sticks it in the band of a fedora, and looks at himself in the mirror wearing it? It would be irresponsible not to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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Dammit, Tweety.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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And my sympathies to Stanley as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:50 PM
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This kvetch thread finds me in rather a good mood. Isn't it Alanic?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:51 PM
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We're on the same page, young teo. You, because you will be there, and me, because I will not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:51 PM
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225: well you should be in a good mood all parading around your mid-century furniture in your underwear for Bave like that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:52 PM
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226: I'll make sure there's plenty of liveblogging.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:53 PM
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Oh, Stanley. Sorry.

If this is the complaint thread, my dread 'skin eruption' -- drug eruption apparently due to severe dermatological allergic reaction to penicillin -- has re-emerged. Yeah, no, I'm not weeping about it yet, but I've been doing a job on my skin, scratching. Appt. with dermatologist again in 4 days. It's hard to describe the frame of mind this puts me in. Everything normal is in the background.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:54 PM
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There's never been a thread where someone liveblogged sex, has there? Seems like something urple should have done at least once.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:54 PM
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230: Are we really certain of how to categorize the egg thread?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:55 PM
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215: I kinda figured, but didn't want to pry. Sorry to hear it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:56 PM
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Why is this thread reloading so slowly? Is this hotel's internet that crappy, or did our recent 2000-comment extravaganza break the blog?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 7:56 PM
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It's reloading plenty fast for me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:00 PM
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Ladies of unfoggidycon: teo's single, he reloads fast, and he knows how to liveblog.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:02 PM
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ITYM laydeez.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:03 PM
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202: Agreed.

Someone who's really been great at evading pundit capture is Chris Hayes.

Heebie, I don't think I said in the other thread--Ace is ridiculously adorable. She doesn't even look newborn.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:04 PM
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I propose, without having read the thread or the original post or even the name of the post author, that the next thread that would be called "various" be called something like "matters divers & varied".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:05 PM
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Oh, you're talking about the dp.la today? I don't really have time to get into the discussion.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:06 PM
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That's okay. There isn't really much of a discussion.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:07 PM
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Well in that case, something something not wikipedia, something something Europeana something.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:13 PM
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237: thanks!!

And sorry to hear that, Stanley.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:16 PM
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199: For the record, DeLong really excoriated that profile in large part based on the vacuity of the quote about Sperling - the idea that überwonk Sperling is the guy that a vacuously ambitious "operator" would glom onto is profoundly dumb.

That's not to say that Klein isn't ambitious, but that TNR piece really didn't produce the goods. Or at least, it didn't have the goods to show that he was ambitious in the absence of talent.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:22 PM
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She doesn't even look newborn.

That's because she was conceived like 15 months ago.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:24 PM
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On the honest job pitch front, 48 speaks to me:

My 100% honest case would be "I'll figure out what you're doing very fast, and assuming I find it interesting will probably get to an adequate level of performance quickly. Also, I know a lot of random shit that might be helpful, who knows."

My version: I'm a fast learner. (Translation, egotistically speaking: I'm astute. I'm a good mimic. I can learn the system and language/jargon you're speaking quickly, I'm self-taught that way, and will be able to add value to the system if you let me, fairly quickly.)

But good god, you can't *say* that! Although I think I did once say "I'm a fast learner."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:25 PM
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And now I see Ttam has the Europeana stuff covered already.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:33 PM
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And my brief is off to the client, so I can go home.

They really don't pay me enough for this. (Not that it happens as much as it did in private practice, but I'm still cranky.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:48 PM
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Erik Loomis at LGM points to David Atkins' response to Yglesias at digby's place. Good stuff, if you haven't seen it already.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:51 PM
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I do also stay steady in a crisis, although that's about the only thing I bring to the table - I can't claim I'm very useful except as an exemplary Calm Person.


Posted by: joyslinger | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 8:54 PM
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Sorry about the romance thing Stanley. Let me know if you need her car egged or anything. Anything except emotional support. I'm told I lack skills in that area.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:07 PM
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I wrote an honest resume once. I live in fear of accidentally sending it out instead of the by-the-book one. Freud said fears were inverted wishes.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:33 PM
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It's fascinating that Ezra has gone farther and higher, and also seems to have done a better job evading pundit capture

Really? I don't read either of them regularly, but I didn't think the last-mentioned attribute was regularly assigned to Ezra over Yggles.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:44 PM
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I propose, without having read the thread or the original post or even the name of the post author, that the next thread that would be called "various" be called something like "matters divers & varied".

Both "miscellany" and variants being spoken for, of course.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:48 PM
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Given that you're single, I think that means you're stuck representing the front page posters by staffing the metaphorical sex grotto at Unfoggitynittygrittygreatbirdcon.

As long as I'm serial commenting, uh, what am I, chopped liver?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 9:57 PM
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I guess she's assuming you won't be single a month from now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:06 PM
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It is hard to imagine what could possibly lead someone to think such a thing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:13 PM
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There's never been a thread where someone liveblogged sex, has there? Seems like something urple should have done at least once.

Trapnel did it once, gloriously drunkenly.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04-25-13 10:33 PM
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As a counterpoint to my mopeyness earlier in the thread, I'll note that I accomplished a lot this evening. I cleaned my whole apartment and assembled the desk I bought two weeks ago. So now I have a much cleaner and slightly more furnished space in which to mope. Woo!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 12:04 AM
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I didn't liveblog any sex, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 12:04 AM
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Am I suffering from early onset dementia, or wasn't Yglesias broadly regarded as one of the good guys, back when Truman was president or thereabout?

Also this: Jesse Taylor was (is? Dunno.) twice the blogger of either but only the good go do other things, as they say is very true. I believe he still has the keys to Pandagon and drops in every year or so.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:01 AM
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Whether Yglesias is one of good guys has always depended on what specific issue you're talking about, as well as your own ideological position, of course. In general, though, his reputation has cratered among the left-of-center set since he started at Slate.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:03 AM
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I've been lost in a tropical rain forest overnight a hundred yards or so from the edge where my house would have been visible. It was great -- that was normally the sort of thing the students would have mocked us relentlessly for, but they simply couldn't believe that anyone could literally not have been able to find their way out of the bush that close to home, and decided that saying we were lost in the bush was some weird teacher cover story for something inexplicable, and didn't make fun of us at all.

Not a comfortable night.

Definitely. IIRC it happened to some Singapore army guys a few years back and two of them died. They were on a jungle exercise and got separated somehow and just wandered around for several days (never more than four miles from the rest of the unit, but that's a long way in jungle).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:59 AM
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I'm good with crises too, but then once everything is safe and normal have to curl up to cry and shake for a while. That's never been pertinent in my job, although i guess it has if you consider fostering a job.

Speaking of fostering, court was yesterday and Nia's mom called for the first time since Christmas to talk to me and let me know that they'd ruled to stop providing her services and that the trial to terminate Nia's parents' rights is in early summer. It was pretty much a given that this was the way things would go, but it was so strange to be having that conversation with her. I had to explain how TPR works while also reassuring her that Nia's hair has grown and is cute and so on. I sort of hedged when asked whether Nia will repeat first grade since her mom has been opposed to that, but talked up all the positive reasons for it and got a supportive response.

Her top preference would be to have Nia go to a cousin on her dad's side who has expressed interest to us but not yet to the caseworker even though I made it very clear it would be better to do that before court, but if not that then us. I'm guessing the state will follow that priority list too, but I'm not sure if they'll be inclined to help the cousin (other side of the river, so not our state) do what would be needed to prepare, like I think move to a bigger apartment, or if they'll just refuse on those grounds.

None of this really lent itself to Burma-Shaving, but I had some morbid Call Me Maybe parodies in my head while thinking about the conversation. I'm glad Nia's mom was handling what is for her a crisis well. (Oh and heebie, since you want to be useful, could you googleproof my fictional princess names above?)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:49 AM
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254: I didn't mean Stanley had to staff the grotto alone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 4:53 AM
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On Yglesias, I don't think his politics have changed all that much (and while I don't think much of the stuff he's writing lately, my guess is that his actual politics aren't nearly as bad as the stuff he's writing makes them look. Not that this matters unless you're personally friends with him). Back when he was generally recognized as a good guy, he was mostly reacting to Republican craziness, and he was really good at a glib, off-the-cuff analysis of why their latest craziness was crazy -- cutting through the bullshit.

But he's not much for actual analysis of even moderately complicated facts, and he's pretty committed to a coolly unemotional, joky tone about everything. The central point of his ghastly Bangladesh post -- that how much you're willing to spend on safety is a function of how rich you are, and so it can be reasonable for poorer people to accept bigger risks than richer people -- isn't actually wrong, and isn't an immoral thing to believe. If the factual situation he'd hooked it to were something like, I don't know, high levels of scooter/motorbike ownership in developing countries, people wouldn't have gotten hostile about it. In the actual post he wrote, though, the commitment to the joky tone (which is a great one for cutting through other people's bullshit, but not universally useful) led him to be horrifyingly callous about a terrible disaster. And the laziness about analyzing facts rather than doing finger exercises and thought experiments led him to discount the fact that no one other than the factory owners chose the safety standards applied there, because it was unsafe by Bangladeshi legal standards. The workers weren't participants in a transparent market where they chose to work under dangerous conditions, they were essentially murdered.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:46 AM
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265

... people wouldn't have gotten hostile about it. ...

Not as hostile probably but there are certainly people who think it (different safety standards for rich and poor countries) is an immoral thing to support.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:33 AM
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Yglesias responds.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:47 AM
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The jokiness is key. Recall that his Gosnell post was all about economic incentives for how different pregnant women respond to their situations, and how different regulatory regimes combined with different levels of societal inequality result in a different ratio of infanticides and murders to safe procedures and so on.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:50 AM
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267: Christ.

I have to say that my overwhelming personal response, as a writer and as a human being, is to be annoyed by the responses that I'm getting.

He's certainly not changing my conclusion that he is a callous asshole.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:07 AM
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By standards used in Bangladesh, he's a considerate asshole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:26 AM
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Oh, hi Moby. I had a dream last night that I was at Thanksgiving dinner, and seated at some satellite table in a different room from the main table. Also at my table were Tweety, my dad, my sister, you, and Jesus McQueen.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:43 AM
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I hope I didn't take all the stuffing like I do at non-dream Thanksgiving.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:45 AM
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269: Yeah, that's really not a good apology at all. IIRC, he wrote something not long ago about how he's aware that the joky tone offends people sometimes, but he really isn't capable of writing any other way. But if you've gotten to the point where you're aware you need to apologize, a grownup should be able to do it without digging the hole deeper.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:16 AM
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As long as we're talking various: NMM to George Jones.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:16 AM
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I can't think it would take all that much effort to learn how to write another way.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:18 AM
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That falls under "People I didn't know were still alive."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:18 AM
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Every single person I know* on FB has "He stopped loving her today" as their status.

*Slightly exaggerated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:19 AM
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He explicitly writes that he's not interested in details. How will his boss respond upon reading this clear description of "work" style?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:20 AM
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He stopped loving details today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:22 AM
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George Jones's boss gave up on getting him to follow orders a while ago.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:24 AM
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Does anybody have plans to organize a memorial trip to the bar on riding mowers? Because that should be a thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:28 AM
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my guess is that his actual politics aren't nearly as bad as the stuff he's writing makes them look

Also, Wagner's music isn't nearly as bad as it sounds.

As you suggest, it depends on what standard you're holding him to. I hear McArdle is a pleasant person to pass time with, but I don't much care.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:31 AM
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Not as hostile probably but there are certainly people who think it (different safety standards for rich and poor countries) is an immoral thing to support.

I think Yglesias's rebuttal of this sentiment was weak and foolish, and his non-apology, in which he accuses unnamed people of not responding to his actual argument, shows how far gone he is.

Yglesian logic is the Original Sin of neoliberalism: When you prize markets above all, the race to the bottom is part of the natural order.

When confronted by a group of people coerced into entering a building that was known to be unsafe, Yglesias find an opportunity to talk about how workers choose to take risks.

in a free society it's good that different people are able to make different choices on the risk-reward spectrum.

To Yglesias, Sophie's Choice is merely Choice - there's nothing interesting at all going on regarding the terms of that choice. It's not merely regrettable and necessary that people are forced into appalling choices, in the words of Yglesias, "It's good."

I mean, the clueless fucker actually wrote this:

There are also some good reasons to want to avoid a world of unlimited choice and see this as a sphere in which collective action is appropriate

In a situation where hundreds were killed after being coerced to enter a structurally unsound building, he sees this as maybe - just maybe - a case where people are being given too much choice. What the fuck?

But surely there's no way that Yglesias would apply this argument to Bangladeshis, right?

Bangladesh is a lot poorer than the United States, and there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans.

But hey, Yglesias is a liberal, and a nice guy in real life. So he's compelled to make a nod in the direction of decency:

Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules ...

What the fuck?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:19 AM
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Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules ...
Well, I think his point there was that they already have the rules and in this case they were ignored. But that also sounds a lot like the NRA "enforce the gun laws we have" dodge.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:22 AM
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284: American regulators had available to them the rules and laws they needed to stop housing fraud. The fact that they didn't do so means that, by any sensible real-world standard, those rules and laws were insufficiently "tough."

As you say, the NRA is engaged in a dodge, and so is Yglesias when he adopts a pose of open-mindedness about the efficacy of Bangladeshi regulation.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:28 AM
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283:

In a situation where hundreds were killed after being coerced to enter a structurally unsound building, he sees this as maybe - just maybe - a case where people are being given too much choice. What the fuck?

You don't think some restrictions on workers' legal right to consent to employment under unsafe conditions might be warranted?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:34 AM
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285: Is there evidence that more restrictive rules cause better enforcement? I would have expected the opposite.

Of course better-designed rules can make enforcement easier to do and harder to avoid, if that's what you mean. But there is significant variation from country to country in how well and how consistently the regulations on the books are enforced.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:37 AM
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How about: Less corruption causes better enforcement. Factories are in Bangladesh because the factory owners are oligarchs and can do whatever they want no matter what the rules are. This is an integral part of the globalization process. "We had no idea our subcontractors would break the laws that everyone breaks. Sounds like the voters of Bangladesh needs to fix something, not us."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:42 AM
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You don't think some restrictions on workers' legal right to consent to employment under unsafe conditions might be warranted?

I think framing this in terms of restricting workers' choice is a stupid way to look at it, and will likely lead to the sort of conclusions that Yglesias draws. Taking away workers' "right" to be forced to enter unsafe buildings would have the effect of increasing workers' freedom.

I am grateful that U.S. law discourages people from holding a gun to my head, and don't have the slightest regret that I am not legally permitted to choose between giving up my wallet and being shot.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:48 AM
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289 is me, if that needs to be said.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:51 AM
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I wanted to write about something I know about (the sound basis for globally differentiated regulatory regimes) and people wanted to read about the news (a scandalous breakdown of Bangladeshi law and basic concepts of informed consent) and mixing them up has done no good.

"To the extent that my comments were actually relevant to the occasion for the article, they make me look crass and callous. Therefore, you should in no way read me as talking about the news event I describe in the article. Really I was just discussing the Bangladeshi habit of riding three to a motor scooter."

he wrote something not long ago about how he's aware that the joky tone offends people sometimes, but he really isn't capable of writing any other way

Come On, Lighten Up, I'm Just Being A Total Asshole


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:51 AM
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But he's not much for actual analysis of even moderately complicated facts

Ding ding ding ding. Tell her what she's won, Don Pardo!


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:52 AM
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One of the problems with Yggles' original piece is that the general argument he's making has nothing whatsoever to do with the specifics of the building collapse in Bangladesh. He begins with the example of people in the U.S. who choose dangerous jobs that pay high salaries as a result of the danger inherent in them. But there's nothing inherently dangerous in sewing garments together. The danger for the Bangladeshi workers arose not from the work itself but from the structural problems with building where they were working. And the workers may or may not have known about the problems with the building, and even if they were, it is unlikely the workers in the dangerous building were getting paid a higher wage than the workers in the safer building down the street. So . . . WTF?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:53 AM
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In a way, Yglesias is now screwed, because that Et tu Mr. Destructo post was so mean, yet so perfectly accurate* in its overall assessment of him, that he now has to walk around with it pretty much forever. It's like Tom Friedman when he was taken down by Matt Taibbi/the Moustache of Understanding cartoon, or the response to McMegan's 2x4 comment. None of that precludes mainstream professional success for him at all, of course, but he's now pretty much permanently set into "asshole pundit" mode and not "thoughtful young blogger" mode. Whatever he says, [many] people will now think of him as the callous asshole who tosses off dismissive, poorly thought out lines about workers in Bangladesh while looking like someone stuffed too many eggs into a Van Heusen shirt.

*It's possible, if rare, for something to be unfair, personally mean and unnecessarily appearance-focused, and yet in the overall picture totally and precisely accurate.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:59 AM
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I see at the other place a fundraising appeal to send MY on a visit to Bangladesh.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:02 AM
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294: Screwed in a sense perhaps, but maybe he's found his permanent niche. His time playing the enfant terrible was up. Now, maybe, he can takes Mickey Kaus's place as the liberal that liberals love to hate. Being passionately hated can get you a lot of clicks, and clicks are all that counts, right?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:13 AM
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||

We previously discussed this artist's work photographing people staring at her in public because of her weight. I remember people then saying that it just didn't work as street photography, and that people were possibly staring at her for reasons other than her weight, like that she was standing in the middle of the sidewalk blocking their way.

This new piece in Salon hints at some of these criticisms. She says "I've learned I get more successful reactions if I am "doing" something." I'm not sure if this counts as an admission that she's deliberately provoking people to mock her. She also talks about composition and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The picture of the policeman making fun of her looks even weirder now that I see it again. I can't see the hand that is holding up the hat. Is it just floating there? Did he throw it?

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:35 AM
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I can't say the article makes me any more sympathetic to her project, or her art. And the reference to Cartuer-Bresson seems misplaced in the extreme. The methods couldn't be more different.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:43 AM
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Yeah, I thought the Salon piece was going to help me see what I was missing, but it didn't at all. I could totally see it if her point was, "This is what the world feels like to me." And she is saying that -- a little. But she also wants the documentary aspect of it -- the idea that, in fact, all of these people are sneering at her in disgust. And since most of the time (so far as these pics go) I don't buy that, and since the pics just don't strike me as interesting photographs, I'm meh on the whole thing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:55 AM
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Now, maybe, he can takes Mickey Kaus's place as the liberal that liberals love to hate.

More likely the new Kinsley: the idiosyncratic liberal that liberals can safely ignore.

Looks like pain perdu wasn't imaginative enough.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:59 AM
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Knecht, do you have some kind of management consulting type secret for remembering every detail of the archives? Because frankly I'm forgetting things all the time and maybe that would be useful.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 11:18 AM
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301: How can you be sure he hasn't told you already?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 11:21 AM
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288: So that would suggest interventions like penalizing corporations in good-enforcement countries for violating the law in poor-enforcement countries, right? Like the recent regulation requiring US corporations to disclose foreign bribes?

I am for that sort of thing, but it's not at all the same as Bangladesh itself writing tougher regs.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:01 PM
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Pain perdu moonwalked with Einstein.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:03 PM
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289: That's turning an argument about substance into an argument about definitions, which is rarely a faster way to get to the truth.

Of course there are different ways to define "freedom" and "choice." It's obvious that in the Yglesias piece "choice" is used in the strictly formal sense of the right to assent to any contract, and that his point is that even a perfectly rational actor might be in a better negotiating position if they were relieved of the right to certain choices.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:08 PM
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Connotations are part of the meaning of a word -- this is a natural language rather than an artificial system of symbols. "Choices", as naturally used in English, are good things, that make you freer if you have more of them. A regulation that deprives workers of the "choice" to work in a firetrap without exits may net out to benefit them, but it's excitingly paradoxical that restricting someone's choices might benefit them, and you'd certainly need strong evidence to convince yourself of the fact.

If you don't describe the regulation as "restricting choices" but as "requiring factory owners to meet safety standards", suddenly it's not a paradox at all that it might be a good thing for the workers, and it's a lot easier to accept that it's the case.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:15 PM
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306: It seems like you're assuming that the choices can be bad phrasing was chosen as a first move in an argument, without any history: "Regulatiing factories is good because it forbids harmful choices."

It seems at least as likely to have been meant as a third move in the sequence:

"Regulating factories is good because it requires factory owners to meet safety standards."
"But that forbids a work arrangement that is freely chosen by all parties involved."
"Yes, but that doesn't automatically mean it's wrong to forbid it. The right to choose these unsafe conditions can actually be bad to the factory workers in question. [Something something desicion theory something something Schelling something something information asymmetry something something power differential something something humans are not perfectly rational anyway. Therefore it can be disadvantageous to have the right to choose certain things.]"

But what's really interesting is the question - how can we tell the difference between a language where a word has a positive affect, and a culture in which the actual concept has a positive affect?

My guess is that the latter applies here. It's not an accident that the most common word we use for the availability of an option has a positive connotation. Rather, American (and perhaps most Anglophone) culture actually thinks that the thing itself is basically always good. But I'm not sure what I'd expect to see different in the world if I were wrong.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:51 PM
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The whole point of certain employment and labor standards is that you can't contract around them. You can't have an employment agreement that pays less than minimum wage, or that allows the employer to ignore OSHA standards. It's a restriction on both employers and workers, with the idea that worker "choice" to agree to less than minimum wage is usually not really much of a choice.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:58 PM
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Here You Go

The only interesting informed comment on the Matt Yglesias post I have seen yet. By John Halasz at CT.

Now in principle, the FX value of a country's currency should reflect the overall level of productivity in its economy so ppp and nominal values should align. But that is precisely what doesn't happen under the current global system of trade and FX with floating exchange rates, which results instead in an endemic gap between overvalued 1st world and undervalued 3rd world currencies, which MNCs are free to strategically arbitrage. That means for a country like Bangladesh, its labor is internationally cheap and must be worked all the harder to gain FX earnings from exports, while imported capital goods that could raise its level of labor productivity are proportionally dearer, re-enforcing the tendency to rely on cheap low productivity labor over capital investment.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 1:58 PM
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I'm arguing that a better third move in the argument you describe would have started "No -- those working conditions weren't freely chosen by all parties involved."

On your last two paragraphs, I think your use of "the thing itself" is questionbegging. I think people in America think of undefined "choices" as good things to have, so if you describe something as a choice, that implies that it's good. But there are plenty of "choices", like the choice to work in a factory without safety equipment, that Americans generally strongly prefer not to have. Is "the thing itself" the concept of choice generally, or the specific set of facts being described?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:02 PM
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308.last: Also that you damage society as a whole by allowing individuals to make that choice even if it is a real choice for them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:04 PM
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That's turning an argument about substance into an argument about definitions,

Nonono. Yglesias and I are using the same definition of "choice." The problem is that Yglesias is discussing the phenomenon of choice stupidly.

Compulsion, Yglesias and I agree, is anti-choice - by definition. Yglesias appears to be blind to the fact that these factory workers were laboring under compulsion, but his stupidity has nothing to do with definitions.

Yglesias and I aren't alone in our definition of "choice," either. People who want to outlaw abortion are correctly understood to be "anti-choice," and it would be idiotic to assert that anti-abortion legislation makes it impossible for a woman to choose to be forced to bear a child.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:22 PM
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300.last: Good Lord, did I get good and pissed at strasisland rail in that thread. That reminds me that Obama has proven him spectacularly, staggeringly wrong about Social Security. If the little jerk had any integrity, he'd come back around and admit it.

OTOH, boy were we all wrong about MY's trajectory. I think Ezra's path is within the overlapping part of the ranges we all offered, but I don't think anyone in the thread anticipated dreck like MY's Bangladesh piece - not even iir, who was by far the most down on him.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:33 PM
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312: Well this is the influence of all of his libertarian buddies in DC - to a libertarian, only governments can limit choice. It's literally impossible to a [typical American] libertarian for a private actor to limit another private actor's choice. Even if there's force involved, there's always hand-waving about the victim of the force somehow being able to get around it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:37 PM
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310.1: Better in what sense? That seems like a much more confusing argument to have, because it implicitly introduces a different notion of what "freely chosen" means. To explain that, you have to explain the facts that support your position, plus get someone to accept your new (to them) definition of "freely chosen."

Most people understand what "your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins" means. Nobody construes this argument to mean that prohibiting punching people in the nose is bad because it limits your liberty. Instead, even though "liberty" has a generally positive connotation, it's easy to understand that in this case there would be an adverse consequence to extending liberty beyond the point where the fist encounters the nose.

310.2: I am saying that when we evaluate a policy, the fact that it removes options is, in itself, a salient factor. People don't like the idea of working in a dangerous place, and they also don't like the idea of someone else telling them what they can't do. The fact that eliminating dangerous things also means reducing the number of things people are allowed to do is a point against that policy.

When you bring to someone's attention one of the things they like about a policy, such as that it lets people make a broader variety of legally consensual contracts, they will be more positively disposed toward it. If you bring to their attention one of its (in this case often much more important) disadvantages, like people being more likely to die in horrible accidents, then they will have a more adverse outlook towards it. This isn't due to some sort of conceptual confusion, or being fooled by the positive connotations of the word choice, it's just the availability heuristic focusing on a pro or a con.

It seems to me that the straightforward thing to do is simply to admit that the policy of forbidding dangerous workplaces does have the minor flaw of reducing the range of tradeoffs between pay and working conditions that people are allowed to negotiate, but that it has the much larger benefit of making workplaces safer.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:37 PM
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312: Agreement that choice is the absence of compulsion and vice versa is not the same thing as agreement on the definition of choice. (Unless you agree perfectly on the definition of compulsion as well.)


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:41 PM
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313: Hard to do better than Inaccessible Island Rail when it comes to calling people you agree with moral monsters for not agreeing for the right reasons, or calling people you agree with on 99% of issues moral monsters for disagreeing on (or not knowing anything about) the other 1%, or just calling everyone morons because they say things that are derivative of other things. I wonder if he was a pseudonym for Freddie De Boer.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:48 PM
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I think it's less the influence of libertarian buddies, and more the effect of reading a bunch of economics. I think he reacted to getting the Moneybox job by learning more about academic economics, which is pretty much the worst thing that someone with his personality can do. His metier is being the glib undergraduate, and Econ 101 is designed to indoctrinate glib undergraduates.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 2:52 PM
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Better in what sense? That seems like a much more confusing argument to have, because it implicitly introduces a different notion of what "freely chosen" means. To explain that, you have to explain the facts that support your position, plus get someone to accept your new (to them) definition of "freely chosen."

Right. It does. Because accepting that unwarranted assumption made that the "choice" to work under unsafe conditions that you have not been fully informed about because you're impoverished is a "choice" that is "freely chosen" brings an awful lot of bullshit into the argument that it is best not to accept up front.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:00 PM
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Trapnel did it once, gloriously drunkenly.

Wait, I did? If you're talking about the woman I met at the Hold Steady concert, the one that ended up on my lap in a Miata while my father drove us downtown to catch our respective trains/subways, I don't think we actually ended up having sex. I suppose I could check TFA.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:09 PM
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That's what they're there for, X.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:10 PM
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Incidentally, LB, I thought your 265 was one of the best summaries of what was wrong with Yggles's post--mind if I post it at the other place in response to someone asking what exactly was wrong with what he wrote?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:11 PM
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I don't think we actually ended up having sex. I suppose I could check TFA.

Nunc dimittis. The blog has served its purpose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:11 PM
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||

Holy God I could not give less of a crap about the NFL Draft. I certainly understand being curious about your own team's best new players. But that's not what this hypestorm is all about. Late imperial decadence, I tell you...

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:13 PM
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324: The Bears took a Charlottesville native. That made me happy.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:15 PM
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322: Nothing could be more calculated to feed my vanity. Go for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:16 PM
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I'm just waiting to see if any of Heebie's students get drafted.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:19 PM
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Meanwhile, I skipped the middle of the thread and only just discovered that MY "apologized". I agree that 265 is a great capture of MY's essence, and I think that Halford's 294 nails the situation as well. As I said above, rereading the thread from (almost exactly) 4 years ago, the discourse about MY is almost unrecognizable.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:22 PM
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317: I don't miss said commenter, but I do occasionally succumb to nostalgia about his feud with bob, which I enjoyed in a Hitler vs. Stalin kind of way.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:25 PM
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Oh, and Stanley, my sympathies.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:25 PM
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As I said above, rereading the thread from (almost exactly) 4 years ago, the discourse about MY is almost unrecognizable.

I was amused to see that I made the following observation:

the thing that occasionally bothers me about MY is that he seems better at covering politics than the details of specific issues.

For that to have been an observation worth making* It seems likely that not only has MY changed but that the blogosphere in general** includes more detailed policy debate. There were always good discussions about untangling difficult philosophical problems, but I think there's more specific policy coverage now.

* Assumes facts not in evidence.

** I suspect that Democrats being in power makes it feel more valuable for the left-blogosphere to have policy conversations.

*** Honestly, wonkblog is a significant part of that. I have my feelings of ambivalence about it, but I do get more policy information from wonkblog than any other blog I read.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:33 PM
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That's what they're there for, X.

Okay, I don't see anything from that thread to overrule my vague impression that all we did was make out. OTOH, wow, upon rereading, the shame really comes rushing back, even 2.5 years later.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 3:37 PM
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Only half-way through the thread, but here's another vote for overly-calm-in-crisis.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 4:47 PM
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Yeah, my over-anxiety probably serves to inure me to crises... or something. At least that's how I justify the undoubtedly dire effect the serum cortisol levels are having.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 4:54 PM
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MY has always been an economics 101er, but since his blog is now called "moneybox" that is all he does. He doesn't blog on other politics issues so it looks like he is more conservative.


Posted by: lemmycaution | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 4:56 PM
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329: Aw. I miss stras.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 4:57 PM
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Are people saying that Stras and iir are/were the same person, by the way?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:18 PM
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I thought so, yes.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:38 PM
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|| These Astros don't seem all that good. Why'd they switch? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:53 PM
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Huh. It hadn't occurred to me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:57 PM
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337: I figured that out comments ago, and am already well on my way to convincing myself I always knew.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:57 PM
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Of course the Astros are not good. How could that not have occurred to you?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 5:58 PM
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339: MLB required it, I think, as part of the team's last transfer of ownership. Now we have a beautifully symmetric two leagues, each with 3 divisions, each with 5 teams.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:03 PM
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but I do get more policy information from wonkblog than any other blog I read.

Don't. Try Thoma's blogroll.

Typical

Yglesias is a lazy disinterested contrarian asshole, but he is all talk and no influence.

Ezra Klein is much much worse. Klein knows how to push the DLC neoliberal agenda in ways that flatter you. Klein will actually do great damage to the vulnerable.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:05 PM
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Odd number of teams is dumb.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:08 PM
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I love it that 344 is unsigned. Gosh, who could that be written by? I'm going to say Thorn.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:14 PM
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Borrowing from the other thread, Bud Selig would probably reply thus:

These Astros don't seem all that good.
[Silence.]

Why'd they switch?
[Smiles.]


Posted by: joyslinger | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:30 PM
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Don't. Try Thoma's blogroll.

You underestimate the force of habit and inertia in my blogreading. If I stopped reading wonkblog I most likely wouldn't replace it with anything, I'd just read less news.

Gosh, who could that be written by? I'm going to say Thorn.

Maybe Flippanter?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:30 PM
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It annoys me that I keep worrying this Yglesias thing, but when ned mentioned his Gosnell post up at 268 earlier, I actually went looking for it out of curiosity. I didn't search, figuring that it would be a recent post, but the man is prolific, and I didn't get that far. Instead I got held up by his post on the congressional response to the FAA furloughs.

I just can't make sense of why Yglesias would seemingly care about the effects of the sequester on the poor in this country, but pretty much shrug over the circumstances of Bangladeshi workers.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:34 PM
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346:Damn. How did that happen

Democrats Have Lost on Sequester preceeds the post in 344 "It's All Republicans Fault, Dammit!"

Democrats had other choices, of course. As Politico's Glenn Thrush pointed out on MSNBC Friday, President Obama could've vetoed the FAA bill while standing at a Head Start that's about to throw needy children out of the program*. He could've vetoed it from the home of an jobless worker who just saw her benefits cut. Democrats could simply have insisted that the powerful can't get out of sequestration unless the powerless can, too. But they didn't -- and they show no signs that they'll start.

But that's game, then. Absent the willingness to accept the pain of sequestration and use it to overturn the whole policy, Democrats have no leverage to end it.

*No, actually Ezra, you apologetic evil hack, Obama could have not signed the sequester bill that cut the fuck out of HeadStart

Obama sent a message in his budget by restoring the sequester military cuts but not fixing Head Start.

Obama is getting exactly what he wants.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:39 PM
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I just can't make sense of why Yglesias would seemingly care about the effects of the sequester on the poor in this country, but pretty much shrug over the circumstances of Bangladeshi workers.

This sort of thing is exactly why I find him so mystifying these days. It would be one thing if he'd just become a straight-up rightwinger, or a straight-up libertarian. But he hasn't! He still writes plenty of reliably liberal posts just like he always has, but now they're mixed in with weird tone-deaf Econ 101 crap. I think Walt in 318 has what is probably the most likely explanation for the change, but it sure makes it hard to discern any coherent ideology or worldview.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:47 PM
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Writing for Slate was probably a childhood dream of MY's. wh makes me feel rather old and even more amused.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 6:50 PM
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319: It was freely chosen in the Kantian sense that the workers arrived at work today of their own free will, in the sense that they took a calculated risk when agreeing to factory work in Bangladesh, in the sense that they might have gotten upset at you if you'd tried to keep them away from work, and in the Hobbesian sense that they didn't actively and forcibly rebel.

It was not freely chosen in the privation-as-coercion sense that they may not have had other viable economic options, in the sense that they were physically prevented from leaving at that moment, and in the deterministic sense that nothing is ever freely chosen.

The word "choice" doesn't refer to a single universally well-defined concept, there are a bunch of partially overlapping types of choice, so much like "freedom" it's not on its own really a good word to lean on in statements of universal principle.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:38 PM
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And different usages have different connotations.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:39 PM
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It was freely chosen in the Kantian sense that the workers arrived at work today of their own free will

Please say more about this.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:41 PM
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I smell a trap!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:48 PM
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I mean, if your claim is that the workers were free in the supersensible realm and were not entirely determined by their desires and affections, then ok I guess, but it's hard to see why you'd bother mentioning it.

Also should "today" be "that day"? Because of course on that day they were commanded back into the factory.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:51 PM
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in the Hobbesian sense that they didn't actively and forcibly rebel.

Even though they walked out of the factory and had to be compelled to return?!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:53 PM
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NTM I'm not sure that the conception of "choice" you attribute to Hobbes *is* a conception of choice at all.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:53 PM
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349: I think the basic form of the argument is: Americans are pretty rich, with a low (by world standards) marginal utility of extra money. So you can reasonably assume that if an American takes an unsafe job for a little more money, they're getting a bad deal.

Bangladeshis are really poor, which means that they need the money a lot more than we do. This suggests that some work arrangements that are obviously bad deals for Americans might still be good deals (in a relative sense) for Bangladeshis.

That doesn't mean that it's OK that Bangladeshis are much poorer than us; we should fix that. That also doesn't mean that the disaster in the news was the result of a rational expected-utility-increasing tradeoff; it seems more likely that it was the result of corrupt government colluding with a wicked factory owner.

What it does mean, though, is that we should be wary about forcing Bangladeshi safety standards to match ours, without doing anything else to address poverty in Bangladesh. Doing something to help Bangladesh enforce the laws it already has seems like a good idea, though; presumably Bangladeshi law is an expression of Bangladeshi preferences.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 7:55 PM
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357: If I drop something off a balcony voluntarily, but change my mind before it hits the ground, did I choose to drop it to the ground? If so, then choosing an action with foreseeable consequences means choosing the consequences. Even when I was powerless to stop it from happening.

Even if we exclude completely unforeseeable consequences from the chosen consequences, how do we treat foreseeably possible but uncertain consequences? Probable ones? Improbable ones?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:01 PM
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So does anyone know what the relevant safety standards in Bangladesh are, or how the compare, de facto or de jure, to the relevant standards in America?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:02 PM
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I should make one of my assumptions explicit here: I am assuming that if this turned out to be a case of withheld information, and that in fact no one had been physically prevented from leaving, that few if any of us would change their minds and think that this was A-OK stuff going on.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:08 PM
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You'll have to expand on 361, since I don't see how it addresses any part of 357.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:10 PM
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362: I don't know, but press accounts seem to indicate that the Bangladeshi police believe the factory owners' actions to have been criminal, and that the building was three stories taller than was permitted by law.

Also, holy shit, I didn't realize there were still people trapped in there. I hope there's a successful rescue. I don't have the heart to nitpick other people's nitpicking of other other people's use of the word "choice" anymore.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:16 PM
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360: Doing something to help Bangladesh enforce the laws it already has seems like a good idea

Indeed. Doing things that actively encourage Bangladeshi capitalists to ignore the law seems like a bad idea, and that's what our patronage of their factories and labor does.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:23 PM
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365: and there was a creche -- a child-care center -- on the first floor for the children of the workers. They're probably not doing so well. It is really quite difficult to listen to people blather about this situation being a good choice for poor Bangladeshis.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:31 PM
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361: I did mean "that day," not "that day."

I can see how 361 isn't clearly a direct response to all of 357. Sorry for any murkiness there.

I'm clearly not convincing anyone or being convinced otherwise, and meanwhile people are still trapped in there, so I'm going to shut up now and hope they make it out OK.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:36 PM
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367: OK, to be clear, if by "this situation" you mean a bunch of people dying and a bunch more being trapped in a collapsed building, then no, I do not think this situation is a good outcome for poor Bangladeshis. I don't think Yglesias thinks so either, but if he does, then he is wrong. If I said anything that sounded like I think this is a good thing, then I'm sorry I somehow communicated exactly the opposite of what I meant.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:42 PM
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360

That doesn't mean that it's OK that Bangladeshis are much poorer than us; we should fix that. ...

How is fixing that our responsibility?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:50 PM
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370: I don't know what you mean by responsibility, but it would be better to help in the ways we can than not to help.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:52 PM
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HRW is focused on Bangladeshi workers' right to organize without being beaten up or murdered, which makes sense to me. Google Aminul Islam (labor leader who was murdered & it's not been properly investigated), Kalpona Akter (very brave lady, still alive), Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. Democracy Now interviews them every time there's some disaster like this: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/25/survivor_of_bangladeshs_tazreen_factory_fire There was a fire that killed 100+ a few months ago & the gov't was being ominously credulous about industry's claim that labor agitators & saboteurs were responsible.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:53 PM
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Also seems to be consensus that if the big Western. retailers got serious about this, it would change.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:55 PM
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Good backgrounder here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/25/bangladesh-tragedy-shows-urgency-worker-protections


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 8:58 PM
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Katherine, thanks.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:06 PM
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Another Democracy Now piece on this: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/25/over_200_killed_in_bangladesh_factory

Disquieting reading.

Well, Bangladesh now is the second-largest garment exporter in the world, right after China. And as a matter of fact, the Chinese garment factories are moving to Bangladesh because of the low wages, 14 cents an hour up to about 24 cents an hour. The workers are hard-working; they work 14 hours a day. They'll work often seven days a week. Bangladesh is sacrificing all of these young women, who are just being brutalized, starvation wages. There is no right to organize in Bangladesh. There are no unions with collective contracts. Every time the workers try--like Kalpona mentioned, every time the workers try to organize, they're beaten. They bring in gang members. They threaten them. Something has to change

That's one person's testimony, and I suppose it could be false, but I sort of doubt it. He's Charlie Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:14 PM
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God, the world really is depressing lately, isn't it?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:17 PM
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369: Benquo, I didn't think that's what you meant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:19 PM
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377: Aren't the increasing hours of daylight supposed to make you cheerful up there?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:23 PM
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379: You'd think so, but the amount of daylight has never had much of an effect on my mood.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:27 PM
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Hahahaha, I've been gradually perusing the Wonkblog piece on this, which Yglesias pointed to as instructive,

In fact, there's a human resource management argument here for better conditions and labor standards improving productivity, and therefore improving the bottom line. There's a project just started up by the ILO in Vietnam where they're trying to be more rigorous in comparing better-work factories with similar factories not in the program, and get even better data than what's come out of Cambodia. The work that has been done does not find a negative correlation, and maybe even a positive one. It depends on the circumstances in which they're being done, but there is a business case for treating your workers well.

Yes, that's just it! There's a business case to be made for treating your workers well!

Hahahhaha. Man, I should go to bed. Sorry for all the long-form quoting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:32 PM
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376: Does that mean that wages have gone up in China? If so, that's very good for a lot of Chinese people, though they still have a long way to go.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:33 PM
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371

370: I don't know what you mean by responsibility, but it would be better to help in the ways we can than not to help.

Responsibility, obligation, duty. There are a lot of problems in this world that have nothing much to do with us and we can't fix them all.

I think we have an obligation to try to not actively make things worse but that is about it.

Probably most people would support modest amounts of aid but I doubt there is much consensus on what the most effective ways of helping are. And intervention always has the risk of making things worse, particularly in far away places about which most of us know little.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:33 PM
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Like, what's the deal with that? Owner-capitalists are asking "What's the argument for treating workers well?" So people are casting about for an argument for it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:36 PM
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382: I believe so, yes. Cheaper labor was found.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:38 PM
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Does that mean that wages have gone up in China? If so, that's very good for a lot of Chinese people, though they still have a long way to go.

My understanding is that wages have in fact been increasing in China and that this is part of the reason industries that rely on extremely low wages have increasingly been shifting production to other countries.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:39 PM
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383: Direct transfers, at least, seem unlikely to do much harm, and we should have at least a weak prior that they're helpful.

Giving What We Can, GiveWell, and the Gates Foundation have all put a lot of work into assessing net impact of different charities, and AidGrade is a promising new entrant.

None of these is specifically targeted toward helping factory workers in Bangladesh, but I'm not sure that matters.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:40 PM
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Like, what's the deal with that? Owner-capitalists are asking "What's the argument for treating workers well?" So people are casting about for an argument for it?

Pretty much, yeah. Not just any argument, though, but a business case, i.e., an explanation of how they can make more money by doing this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:42 PM
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My impression was that stras came back twice, once as iir and once as another pseudonym that I don't remember. One of the two times, I speculated that the person of being stras, and they disappeared. I felt guilty about this, so I didn't say anything the second time.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:42 PM
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386: I hope that exploiting super-cheap labor proves once again to be a self-limiting strategy in Bangladesh.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:43 PM
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390: I think we're seeing some evidence right now that it is.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:44 PM
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390: How would it be self-limiting? The exploitation only begins to slow if still cheaper labor is found elsewhere. This isn't a case of nations slowly bootstrapping themselves out of poverty through sheer hard work or something: it's a case of stepping up on the backs of others.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:50 PM
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Oh! 392 before seeing 391. True, many thousands of Bangladeshis are protesting. That may get safer building regulation, but it's probably not going to raise wages, unfortunately.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 9:55 PM
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392: I think it's the other way around. Wages in China rose because more employers were trying to hire the same population of laborers. Bangladesh only acquired the cheap-labor "advantage" when the increased price of Chinese labor craeated a wage gap between China and Bangladesh.

Assuming the supply of Bangladeshis is also finite, and Bangladeshi governance is not much worse than in China, the same supply/demand dynamic should happen.

The mass protests are a good sign for labor, they suggest that Bangladeshi workers think that they have some bargaining power.

Unfortunately in this kind of development pattern, awful things seem to happen a lot during the phase before the price of labor rises.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:07 PM
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Well, I mean, safer buildings are good just on their own.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:08 PM
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The beginning of 394.2 is worded poorly, it's inappropriately flippant, please pretend I said it more gracefully.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:10 PM
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395 to 393.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:10 PM
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394: I believe rising wages in China have also been associated with increasing labor activism. Remember the outrage over the abuses at Foxconn.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:13 PM
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That is true. I'm going to go to bed before my head explodes with how disgusting this level of exploitation is, and has been for quite some time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:13 PM
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how disgusting this level of exploitation is, and has been for quite some time

Centuries. The locations have changed, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:14 PM
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Is 395 a response to 394.3? Because obviously if the outcome of the protests and walkouts is just safer buildings, that's good on its own. But the protests themselves are additionally encouraging as a symptom of Bangladeshi workers' assessment of the strength of their negotiating position. IOW as a sign that Bangladeshi workers think it's likely that they can get better working conditions by demanding them. And if they're right then thibgs are about to get a lot better for a lot of Bangladeshis.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:14 PM
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397 to 401, with which I agree completely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:16 PM
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401 was me in case that wasn't completely obvious, which it was. I missed 397, should have previewed first.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:20 PM
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387

Direct transfers, at least, seem unlikely to do much harm, and we should have at least a weak prior that they're helpful.

Not that unlikely. The locals can become dependent on the transfers and be worse off than before if they stop.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-13 10:24 PM
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389: I have a recollection that stras started commenting under another name, and several people figured this out and started pressing him on it, and he eventually more or less 'fessed up. He seemed to be under the impression that people were just prejudiced against his pseud, and that if he said the same things with a different name more of us would agree with him.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 5:01 AM
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I liked Stras. Excitable, I obviously didn't agree with him on anything, and would certainly get hostile in an argument. But a reasonably high percentage of his substantive positions were interesting, and while he was certainly insulting and hostile when arguing, I don't remember him being unpleasant outside of the context of a particular argument.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:01 AM
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that should have been "agree with him on everything".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:02 AM
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406. Agreed. Anybody know if he's doing OK?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:03 AM
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Generally to Benquo: I'm not trying to beat you up for being a bad person, you have been absolutely clear that you think the situation in Bangladesh as it actually is is a tragedy. But I think you're doing exactly the same thing Yglesias is doing (and honestly, while I'm beginning to think he's a bad blogger, I'd still guess that if pressed, his political beliefs aren't nearly as bad as his writing makes them look).

Generally, at the margins, in a transparent, properly working market, rich people will spend more than poor people on safety, and requiring poor people to buy as much safety as rich people has the chance of immiserating them because they have things they need to spend their money on more. This is a reasonable thing to say, and you could talk about it without making people terribly irate.

But using the Bangladesh disaster as a news hook to bring it up is a real mistake. First, of course, it's godawful insensitive when people are still in the process of dying to say that maybe they were killed by the invisible hand of the market and that interfering with its net beneficence is always a mistake. Invisible Moloch needs sacrifices!

But substantively, there's no reason to think that this event is a good illustration of the (not unreasonable) claim in my first paragraph: you don't know anything about the actual cost of complying with the safety regulations that were ignored, you do know workers were driven back into the building, you can guess that they were not transparently given information about how unsafe the building was, and so on.

So by insisting that we should be thinking about the disaster in light of the possibility that the safety levels were a free choice of the now-dead workers, the rhetorical effect is to say that your default reaction to a terrible disaster like this shouldn't be "how can we stop this from happening again" but "We must be very cautious to make sure that stopping factory owners from burning their workers alive isn't a net loss for the workers welfare." And while I sincerely doubt that either you or Yglesias believes that, I also think it's a terrible, terrible way to frame the discussion.

You want to talk about rationally chosen different levels of safety, find a real world example that actually is reasonably informationally transparent and uncoerced.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:20 AM
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409 sounds about right to me.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 7:12 AM
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409

Generally, at the margins, in a transparent, properly working market, rich people will spend more than poor people on safety, and requiring poor people to buy as much safety as rich people has the chance of immiserating them because they have things they need to spend their money on more. This is a reasonable thing to say, and you could talk about it without making people terribly irate.

I am not sure that avoiding making people irate is such a good thing here. You are doing so by discussing policy at such a high level of abstraction that the actual consequences in the form of dead poor people are obscured. Sort of like keeping a discussion about going to war as far from possible from the reality of people dying miserably.

Now maybe society functions better when the true costs of decisions are hidden but it seems like something is being lost.

But substantively, there's no reason to think that this event is a good illustration of the (not unreasonable) claim in my first paragraph: you don't know anything about the actual cost of complying with the safety regulations that were ignored, you do know workers were driven back into the building, you can guess that they were not transparently given information about how unsafe the building was, and so on.

This event is the sort of thing that it is reasonable to expect more of given less safety regulation. There will always be people willing to cut corners and push the envelope on what is acceptable. The lower the legal standard (and societal norms) the worse the sleazy operations will be. I think reducing this sort of thing requires tightening up in general with the associated costs (which may or may not be worth it).

You want to talk about rationally chosen different levels of safety, find a real world example that actually is reasonably informationally transparent and uncoerced.

I think the rational choice (if any is to be found) is generally going to be at a higher level than the individual worker.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 7:38 AM
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401: If working in unsafe conditions has been a rational choice made by the Bangladeshis in the ordinary course of capitalistic bargaining, then they are being irrational by protesting, unless something has changed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 7:53 AM
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409: But using the Bangladesh disaster as a news hook to bring it up is a real mistake. First, of course, it's godawful insensitive ...

You provide two critiques of Yglesias - a factual one and a prudential one - and I dislike the prudential one, the one that says it's the wrong time to talk about this sort of thing. Cost/benefit analysis of policy is useless if you can't squarely face up to the costs. I agree with Yglesias's initial impulse to want to discuss costs and benefits in the context of this tragedy.

Bangladeshis, Yglesias argues, exist in a regulatory regime that might represent a serious effort at optimizing their well-being. I guess you're right that one problem with this argument is that it's insensitive, but (as you recognize) the real problem is that it's bullshit.

Yglesias will take away the lesson on sensitivity, and be more careful in the future to frame his bullshit arguments more carefully, and I don't think this will be an improvement.

He'll also learn (if he hasn't already) to resent people who use tragedies as an occasion to think about tragedy-minimization. "The wake of a massive school shooting is not the right time to think about gun policy."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 7:55 AM
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iI am not sure that avoiding making people irate is such a good thing here. You are doing so by discussing policy at such a high level of abstraction that the actual consequences in the form of dead poor people are obscured.

Holy shit! I've been completely pwned by James!

I don't think I understand 411.last, but the rest of 411 is dead-on.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:02 AM
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There are a couple of facets underlying the prudential critique. First, I think that for most people, their emotional reactions are a valuable check on the solutions they come up with by cold logic, because we're better at considering all the relevant aspects of a situation as an emotional gestalt rather than by consciously enumerating every important fact and making sure they're accounted for in the logical thought process. If you coldly reason your way through a situation, and come up with an answer that disgusts and horrifies you (or that you recognize would disgust and horrify most decent people) like "Maybe Bangladeshi workers are better off when no one stops their bosses from chasing them back into collapsing buildings", I believe the sensible reaction to have isn't "My emotional reaction is stupid and should be suppressed" but "What am I missing in my logical analysis that makes me feel this way about the answer?" Here, once you apply that rule of thumb to Yglesias's post, it's obvious what he's missing: not an informationally transparent situation, not a free choice, and no information on the actual costs of the neglected safety standards.

It's a rule of thumb, not an analytic truth: at least sometimes the best answer from a humanitarian point of view is going to initially look horrifying. But it's a really good rule of thumb, and so if you've got something horribly insensitive you want to say, it behooves you to go back through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it really is justifiable. Yglesias didn't.

Second, I genuinely don't think that what I am sure Yglesias thinks of as his actual point, that marginally varying safety standards might be appropriate in different countries, actually is bullshit. As a thought experiment, if the government of Venezula issued a report saying:

LocalCorp wants to open an electronics factory here. If they build and operate it to a safety standard that will lead to 10 deaths per 100,000 worker-years, it will be profitable and the project will go forward. If they build it to the US standard of 5 deaths per 100,000 worker-years, it won't be profitable (including factual analysis of what the additional precautions would cost, and how that would affect profitability) and so they won't build it. The factory will employ 10,000 workers who would otherwise be employed as subsistence farmers, a profession with a rate of 50 deaths per 100,000 worker years, For that reason, we believe that the people of Venezuela are better off from a humanitarian point of view if our legal standards for factory safety are lower than those in the US.

That might be absolutely the right thing to do. The horrifying thing is taking it as a default assumption that the invisible hand of the market is doing the risk-benefit analysis for you rather than insisting that the facts be examined.

By using the insensitive example, Yglesias is poisoning the well against the possible case where his general point might be right. It's a form of crying "Wolf" -- if you make a decent point in a disgusting way, you're not going to convince anyone even when you should.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:24 AM
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Further to 415.5, it wasn't the invisible hand that got USians our labor protections, and they were won when the country wasn't as rich.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:37 AM
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414

I don't think I understand 411.last, but the rest of 411 is dead-on.

I was trying to say you can think about an individual making choices for themself or some higher authority making choices for a group. And the decision making process of the higher authority might at least look more rational and informed.

For example I recently bought a CO detector not because I had made some careful calculation of costs and benefits but because the law requires it. Hopefully the legislature did some sort of objective analysis indicating that this is beneficial on average. It doesn't really make sense for each individual to try to analyze this for themselves.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 9:07 AM
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415

Second, I genuinely don't think that what I am sure Yglesias thinks of as his actual point, that marginally varying safety standards might be appropriate in different countries, actually is bullshit. ...

But by bringing it up at this time Yglesias is in effect arguing that current safety standards in Bangladesh are just fine. Something it is hard to believe he has an informed opinion on.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 9:14 AM
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I agree with 406 and didn't really understand why people got so up in arms over him, but I guess that's sort of a theme with people getting up in arms over others here with me. Except some of them, I do understand about the up in arms gettingwith some people.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 9:16 AM
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415

By using the insensitive example, Yglesias is poisoning the well against the possible case where his general point might be right. It's a form of crying "Wolf" -- if you make a decent point in a disgusting way, you're not going to convince anyone even when you should.

This is only bad if in reality third world countries are currently widely suffering from excessive safety standards.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 9:20 AM
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415, 420: Exactly, that's what made this a bad post -- because there was no real-world situation where the possibility that high safety standards might make people worse off was likely enough to be worth talking about. But by making this bad post now, he's ensuring that if a realworld situation like my imaginary example in 415 did come up, people are going to be reluctant to listen to a possible good post from him on the same subject.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 9:42 AM
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415 -- On the planet we inhabit, the factory owner says it's .3 having paid some consultants to come up with that result, the bribed bureaucrats decide that under 2 is probably ok, and the reality is that it's 15.

There are instances when people make rational choices -- I'm shopping for a TV and will probably look at 4 or 5, from a few different stores, before I just say 'fuck it' and pick one that seems ok -- but these cover only very small portions of our lives, because what the economists call transaction costs, and other externalities, end up outweighing so many of the facets that a rational actor is thought to consider. That is, human societies, and human beings, overwhelmingly do not act as if the rules of Econ 101 would have it -- because Econ 101 assumes away the factors upon which people are actually making decisions. This leads me to a (rebuttable) presumption of bad faith* when people speak in Econ 101 generalities about public policy or human behavior.

* (I wish I had a good collective term that would include people who focus on rational person analysis because they are sociopaths, or have Aspergers, or some other mental or physical condition that leads them to misunderstand human behavior.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 10:02 AM
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That's not to say that particular individuals aren't capable of robot logic.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 10:06 AM
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422.1: I absolutely agree that you've stated a good rule of thumb by which to evaluate any evidence someone offers you on a subject like that. But I still want to hold on to the possibility that, even correcting for the all the biases people are going to try to introduce into the evidence, marginally differing standards for safety are the sort of thing that could possibly make sense.

422.last: You have to include the decent-but-misled. A reasonable college freshman who sits through an Econ 101 indoctrination might believe a lot of idiotic stuff without being worse than credulous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 10:20 AM
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422

...This leads me to a (rebuttable) presumption of bad faith* when people speak in Econ 101 generalities about public policy or human behavior.

If by "bad faith" you mean people are making arguments they don't believe I think you are greatly underestimating people's ability to believe absurd things when it suits them.

As for econ 101 arguments in general many are bad (or at least incomplete) even within an econ 101 framework but opponents often prefer to denounce economics in general rather than make specific objections. Like responding to a claim that 2+2=5 by saying only psychopaths do arithmetic.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 10:24 AM
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This thread has petered out, but I have an idle and rather ignorant question: is economics taught in such a way that Econ 101 is not particularly followed by Econ 201, 301, 410, and 668?

I am so not an economist in any way, but taking Yglesias' apparent embrace of rational choice theory as an Econ 101 thing, well, shouldn't he be moving on to 201, etc.? I realize he's not taking a formal course in economics, but if he were, would he be moving on next to what's wrong with what he just learned in Econ 101?

I'm not putting this well, but I can't help but recognize that training in something like philosophy, say, proceeds in that way. You become familiar with a given framework, see why it's appealing and so on (this gives you a vocabulary for discussion), and next you're introduced to what's actually wrong with it, and how people have moved on. Does econ not do that?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:01 PM
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Ok, yes, also exceptions for the stupid and the young. to 425.1, I don't think willful ignorance is compatible with good faith. Economics has its uses, to be sure. But it should be kept in the lab, and engaged in by people trained to respect its nuances.

I can read a years worth of pop science in Time Magazine, but if I started to spout off, based on only that, about astrophysics, or molecular biology, or some other thing, people would correctly think me a moron. And if I used those spoutings to argue that I and mine should be given more wealth or whatever than someone else, moron wouldn't be good enough as a description.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:11 PM
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I miss the presence of both Stras and Emerson quite a lot. I also fear that their absence has created an asshole vacuum that I may unintentionally have filled. Yet another thing about which I can loathe myself!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:27 PM
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Also, can "facets" be said to "underly" something?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:27 PM
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Yes. I find they add texture to a hoard.


Posted by: Smaug the Golden | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:30 PM
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429: Yes; e.g., a diamond in the rough. Play through.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:31 PM
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Second, I genuinely don't think that what I am sure Yglesias thinks of as his actual point, that marginally varying safety standards might be appropriate in different countries, actually is bullshit.

Right! Neither do I! But unlike you, I think the Bangladesh incident - and the LGM post that Yglesias was riffing on - offered a terrific opportunity for this sort of analysis. Yglesias's problem, I say again, is that he wanted to discuss it stupidly.

Maybe Yglesias means well. I don't care. My interaction to him is limited to his crappy work product, and I'm dismayed that every time I think he's hit bottom, he proves me wrong.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:38 PM
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But unlike you, I think the Bangladesh incident - and the LGM post that Yglesias was riffing on - offered a terrific opportunity for this sort of analysis.

Walk me through what you're thinking a good post would have been? All I can come up with is something like: "While it's possible that lower safety standards are sometimes going to be appropriate in poorer countries, that's never going to mean chasing workers back into a collapsing building, and anyone saying it does is a sociopath." Was that what you were thinking, or something else?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 12:55 PM
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If you just exclude chasing workers back into a collapsing building prior to negotiation, the owners won't have a fair field.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:02 PM
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Chasing workers into a building that's already collapsed is totally like herding cats.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:03 PM
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412: We need to distinguish between two possible claims here. The first is that we should be cautious about trying to change Bangladeshi practices, which were presumably crafted by people with more information about the needs and desires of Bangladeshis than we do. The second is the claim that this particular factory collapse is just an example of the accepted system functioning normally.

I (weakly) believe the first, but since it seems like the factory owners probably broke the law and Bangladeshi laborers are trying to make sure this doesn't happen again, the second seems obviously false.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:19 PM
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413 is similar to what bugs me about this whole thing. It seems like when something bad and emotionally salient and well publicized happens, it is OK for people to immediately propose solutions. Well, if people start proposing solutions, then some of those proposed solutions will be misguided. In particular, some of those proposed solutions will be costly out of proportion to the harm they avert. So people will reasonably want to point that out. But then this group of naysayers are in the position of making the case that whatever horrible thing just happened isn't really all that important, which understandably upsets people who are still worked up about the most recent horror.

Each of these things makes sense in isolation, but jointly they compromise our ability to think through well-balanced responses to horrible things.

Now, maybe this is not really a big problem, and the problem is that Yglesias and people like him are just tone-deaf and idiosyncratically infuriating. But it seems like there are always people saying right things badly, and saying wrong things badly, no matter the topic.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:39 PM
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The new Loomis piece at LGM is very informative on how we've gotten to where we are.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:41 PM
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433: That about captures it, yeah. That theme can be explored in a lot of different ways. The post that Yglesias was rebutting - Loomis's piece at LGM - is certainly one legitimate effort.

But okay, I guess your question is that, assuming that we disagree with Loomis and that such disagreement is not inherently foolish, how do we go about it?

One approach would be to note that there are legitimate market reasons why some people are paid more than others, and that in a world of finite resources, everybody can't have everything.

Life is sometimes cruel, and tough choices have to be made. The proper tough choice here is that Americans - even poor Americans who can't afford it - need to be paying a bit more for clothing, and demanding that the corporations that sell to us enforce higher standards on their contractors.

What you can't do is talk about the "choices" of people who, as a matter of deliberate policy, lack choices.

What you can't do, if you want to maintain any kind of credibility, is say that this is just the way the world is: "Those Bangladeshis are the victims of impersonal forces that are - at least possibly - configured to produce the best available outcome." That's the sort of analysis that I'm calling "stupid."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 1:48 PM
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But okay, I guess your question is that, assuming that we disagree with Loomis and that such disagreement is not inherently foolish, how do we go about it?

That wasn't really my point -- I actually hadn't read the Loomis post yet. I'm not sure what he means by 'applying US labor law to all American corporations', and it doesn't sound particularly practical (e.g., what's an American corporation? Any brand of any size is probably owned by an agglomeration of multiple corporations, at least some of which are not incorporated under US law. And so on and so forth -- by US labor law is he including OSHA, which sounds relevant, but who isn't going to be inspecting factories on foreign soil?) But generally, if his point is we should be doing what's legally and politically possible to raise safety standards in factories producing goods for consumption in the US to at least approximately US levels (in the absence of a well-supported factual case that a particular level of safety regulation would actually be a humanitarian loss), I agree rather than disagreeing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 2:06 PM
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More of 440: And generally, I'm agreeing, and have been saying all along, that Yglesias's post was stupid in the context of the Bangladesh disaster.

(And while I have also been saying that marginally varying safety standards might be a good idea depending on the factual circumstances, I should caveat that by saying that it's a good idea that really rarely needs an advocate -- poor societies don't, as far as I'm aware, cause themselves trouble by raising safety standards beyond what they can afford. It's a theoretical possibility that doesn't in practice need much guarding against.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 2:17 PM
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See, I think everything we know about how industries and government in Third World societies work, and how global capitalism works, indicates to me that the presumption in 436.1 is utterly unfounded. And that claims/arguments made based on that presumption -- absent some sort of real evidence that their system is driven by 'needs and desires of Bangladeshis' rather than power and influence of global capital -- is headed right into the bad faith territory I mentioned above.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 4:04 PM
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427

... I don't think willful ignorance is compatible with good faith. ...

This reminds me of the recent thread in which it was asserted that anyone not aware of some alleged outrage was morally deficient.

People are wired to interpret the world according to pre-existing mental models. This leads them to discount contrary evidence. Calling this willful ignorance and bad faith isn't very accurate.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 5:31 PM
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440: I'm not sure what he means by 'applying US labor law to all American corporations'

See the newest Loomis piece I linked in 438: the Fair Labor Standards Act adopted in 1938 underwent debate over whether the standards should apply only to companies operating in the US, or also to their operations elsewhere. The former formulation won.

The Roosevelt Administration made sure the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 would not cover foreign manufacturers importing goods to the United States. There was a fight over which version of the FLSA would pass. The Roosevelt Administration's bill, originally sponsored by Senator Hugo Black before his Supreme Court appointment, applied it domestically only, but a House bill introduced by William Connery of Massachusetts eliminated the word "state" from the bill, which would have opened the door to international standards on any product imported into the United States.

Now, these 75 years later, a great deal of American business is constructed precisely to take advantage of the disparity in standards, so it is difficult to see how implementing such a change would be laid out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 5:42 PM
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433

Walk me through what you're thinking a good post would have been? All I can come up with is something like: "While it's possible that lower safety standards are sometimes going to be appropriate in poorer countries, that's never going to mean chasing workers back into a collapsing building, and anyone saying it does is a sociopath." Was that what you were thinking, or something else?

But it could mean that. This is like drone strikes. If a country engages in drone strikes it is inevitable that mistakes (or worse) will be made and innocents will be targeted. One can nevertheless support such strikes as being in the national interest. Similarly you can support laxer safety policies knowing it increases the chances of mass tragedies like this one. Which is not to excuse the factory owner but it is disingenuous to pretend that a laxer attitude towards safety won't tend to produce such owners.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 5:49 PM
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439

Life is sometimes cruel, and tough choices have to be made. The proper tough choice here is that Americans - even poor Americans who can't afford it - need to be paying a bit more for clothing, and demanding that the corporations that sell to us enforce higher standards on their contractors.

The trouble with this is that it might lead to Americans paying higher prices for clothes made in South Carolina.

What you can't do, if you want to maintain any kind of credibility, is say that this is just the way the world is: "Those Bangladeshis are the victims of impersonal forces that are - at least possibly - configured to produce the best available outcome." That's the sort of analysis that I'm calling "stupid."

I think the argument is that it isn't obvious how to improve things. Stricter safety standards might just cause production to move out of Bangladesh.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:17 PM
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441

... poor societies don't, as far as I'm aware, cause themselves trouble by raising safety standards beyond what they can afford. ...

I believe many poor countries have the problem that they have great difficulty enforcing any sort of regulation in a fair and evenhanded way. Unrealistic safety standards can contribute to this but are probably not the main source of difficulty.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 6:25 PM
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443 -- I hear you Shearer. But, you know, there were people in the 50s and before saying that Jim Crow laws adequately and accurately reflected the needs and desires of all Americans, white and black. I'm sure some of them believed it, but, well, I don't think we have to be afraid of having some standards, even if the threshold is pretty low.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:19 PM
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Further information

Labor groups argue the best way to clean up Bangladesh's garment factories already is outlined in a nine-page safety proposal drawn up by Bangladeshi and international unions.

The plan would ditch government inspections, which are infrequent and easily subverted by corruption, and establish an independent inspectorate to oversee all factories in Bangladesh, with powers to shut down unsafe facilities as part of a legally binding contract signed by suppliers, customers and unions. The inspections would be funded by contributions from the companies of up to $500,000 per year.

The proposal was presented at a 2011 meeting in Dhaka attended by more than a dozen of the world's largest clothing brands and retailers - including Wal-Mart, Gap and Swedish clothing giant H&M - but was rejected by the companies because it would be legally binding and costly.

At the time, Wal-Mart's representative told the meeting it was "not financially feasible ... to make such investments," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.

(h/t The League of Ordinary Gentlemen)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:21 PM
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442: 436.1 was slightly ungrammatical, but all I meant is that Bangladeshi decisionmakers have more information about Bangladesh than we do. Not that they are necessaroly driven by a desire to meet the needs of Bangladeshi laborers.

However, I don't understand why we should assume that decisionmakers elected by Bangladeshis would be driven by that to a lesser extent than the global elites with the power to enforce global standards.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04-27-13 8:44 PM
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