Re: Resolved: Vain People Are Pleasant To Have Around

1

Eh. I think you're forgetting the people who are so vain they are convinced you think well of them regardless of how they dress or behave. George W. Bush, for example.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:43 AM
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This explains why you guys keep inviting me to meet-ups.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:04 AM
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It helps if the vain people have something to be vain about. But then it collapses into 'really hot/smart/funny people are pleasant to have around' which isn't as interesting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:11 AM
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It helps if the vain people have something to be vain about.

Most everyone finds something.

"Woefully inaccurate in their self-assessment" but still vain...consider them an exercise in radical kindness?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:36 AM
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Maybe the second but certainly not the first. Vanity is not an attentive because self-interested concern for what others think, it is an inner conviction that one ought to be be admired and envied by others.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:39 AM
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Let Observation with extensive View,
Survey Mankind from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crouded Life;
Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,
O'erspread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,
Where Wav'ring Man, betray'd by vent'rous Pride,
To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;
As treach'rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,
Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:51 AM
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I think simple vanity is too common and broad a characteristic to reason from. Perhaps we can create some additional variables. A vain person may be open about their self-regard, or they may prefer it go unsaid; call that unabashed vs. subtle. Also, they may have a need to verify people's opinion of them, or they may take it for granted; oblivious vs. reality-based. Putting these together:

Oblivious + unabashed = obnoxious
Oblivious + subtle = laughable
Reality-based + unabashed = tedious
Reality-based + subtle = pleasant (YMMV)

I welcome improvements on this scheme.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:01 AM
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On the dressing well part: I realized about two years ago that I really like looking at well-dressed people. Lightbulb moment! I have dressed better since then.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:09 AM
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Having fabulous eyebrows can really make a big difference in one's appearance.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:10 AM
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10

They probably think this post is about them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:15 AM
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No offense to bob's other comments, but 6 is really well-written.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:27 AM
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As I understand, there's a distinction between vanity (wanting people to admire you) and conceit (admiring yourself and not caring what people think). Conceit shades off into arrogance. Arrogant people can be rude and no fun, but then, vanity shades off into narcissism, manipulation, and charming psychopathy. Choose your poison.

It's vaguely like the shame/guilt distinction.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:29 AM
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11:Oh noes! Plagiarism! I am ruined!

fn1:S Johnson, "Vanity of Human Wishes"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:32 AM
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I skimmed the entire poem this morning, but not closely enough to see if the subject of an aesthetic reaction to other's Vanity is addressed by Johnson.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:56 AM
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10 wins the thread!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:10 AM
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16

Vanity

Vanity


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:22 AM
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17

Vanity


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:24 AM
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Maybe there are different connotations to how we're using "vanity", but in my experience vain people are deeply unpleasant to have around. They tend to be noxiously self-regarding or irritatingly insecure. I don't want people to care about what I think of them. I just want them to be interesting and find me interesting. To use 12's dichotomy, I'd take an arrogant person over a vain one any day, provided they've got the substance and/or or humour to back up the arrogance.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:28 AM
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re: 17

I KNEW someone would link to that topic.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:29 AM
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Vanity


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:32 AM
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21

16.1 includes an early prototype of Blind Faith from the other thread.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:33 AM
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22

Vanity.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:38 AM
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23

I'm with 18. Vain people suck.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:39 AM
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17,20,21:Hey, somebody has to be humble enough to play straight-man around here


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:40 AM
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vanity shades off into narcissism, manipulation, and charming psychopathy

Couldn't have said it better myself. Was chatting with a coworker last night about a certain temperamental partner about whom my colleague made two observations: (1) he is nice only when he wants something and does not feel he has to be after that; (2) if you ignore him, he'll come looking for the attention -- but at least half that time that means he'll come pick a fight because seeing you get pissed off reinforces his sense of self-importance. In short: vain but not pleasant to be around.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:41 AM
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26

Vanity (and bonus)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:43 AM
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27

Oh yes, I'm with Ginger too. Arrogance can be attractive, if there's anything to back it up, or amusing if there's not. I can't really see anything appealing about vanity.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:48 AM
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No, I buy the original post. Vanity and the desire to manipulate others into thinking well of us are key lubricants of social life.

If I were to disagree with it, it would be from the opposite perspective -- since "all is vanity" it makes no sense to distinguish the vain from the not-vain, there are merely different expressions of vanity. Narcissm would be a negative expression.


Posted by: PerfectlyGDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:52 AM
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If there's something to back it up, isn't "arrogance" really more like "self-confidence"? I can't picture the circumstances in which I would find genuine arrogance attractive, and it's not like I have high standards or anything.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:53 AM
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PGD, why on earth should a desire to manipulate others into thinking well of you be considered a valuable social lubricant? The desire to *be* the sort of person of whom others think well I would consider valuable. But just wanting to manipulate them into thinking that? Yuck, yuck, yuckity yuck!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:56 AM
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But why would arrogant/conceited people be bothered to talk with others unless they wanted something? I'm not sure the distinction between arrogance and conceit is broadly applicable-- may fit some people but not all, unless conceited+gregarious is allowed, but then how to distinguish this combination from vain, and which dresses better ?

The core problem I think is that motivation for dressing well or for being outgoing is pretty widely varied, sometimes noxious, sometimes not. In the middle ages, hairsplitting was over the varieties of beauty and of piety. Maybe Seinfeld really was a relevant show.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:04 AM
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29 - nah, there's a difference between being quietly self-confident - having a good opinion of yourself - and being arrogant - assuming (without questioning) that everyone else has an equally high opinion of you. Isn't there? E.g. I consider myself self-confident, but I don't think I come across as arrogant. My eldest is one of the most confident people I know (because she's pretty much oblivious to the concept that other people have opinions), but she's not arrogant or vain. C is often quite shy and lacking in confident, but I'd also consider him arrogant at times.

I'm taking this way too seriously! Must be time to get off the internet and talk to some children.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:05 AM
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Arrogant is assuming that other people should have a good opinion, and not caring much if they don't. Some arrogant people are very reclusive, and unassertive in whatever minimal relationships they need to have.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:11 AM
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34

Yeah, 33 is right, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:13 AM
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35

||
Oh, ha. It has now come out what oh-so-important person is staying at Blair House this week such that the Bushes turned down the Obamas request to move in early. It is John (fucking) Howard. Gah!
|>


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:14 AM
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36

Vanity Smurf was annoying.


Posted by: Byron the Bulb | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:20 AM
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37

Being considerate of others is a necessary social lubricant. This includes everything from white lies on up. The problem isn't the lubricant, it's what hole they're trying to get access to, and exactly how hard they intend to pound it.

That said, if you have any sense, you also want someone around who will give you the straight shit.

max
['As in, 'I love you dear heart, but you're being a complete idiot.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:21 AM
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38

Blair House has 14 or 15 bedrooms, doesn't it?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:21 AM
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39

PGD, why on earth should a desire to manipulate others into thinking well of you be considered a valuable social lubricant? The desire to *be* the sort of person of whom others think well I would consider valuable. But just wanting to manipulate them into thinking that? Yuck, yuck, yuckity yuck!

White lies and social interaction can have a lot in common. Insisting on personal authenticity at all times can be problematic. There are a lot of partial and limited relationships in life that one wants to smooth over.

The skills involved in manipulation -- understanding the needs of another person and working to satisfy them -- are closely related to the skills needed to be kind. Saints are inspired to be kind of everyone they meet, but saints are rare. Sometimes pragmatism is a decent everyday substitute for sainthood. Of course manipulation skills can be turned to evil, but so can any skills.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:24 AM
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40

wow, totally pwned by 37.


Posted by: PGoddamnD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:25 AM
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41

Vanity and manipulation aren't identical. There's just overlap.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:26 AM
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38: Sitcom! Sort of a racist Crocodile Dundee meets Punky Brewster meets the Jeffersons as the Howards and the Obamas cohabitate!

It doesn't look as big as all that from the outside, but it seems sorta difficult to square the statement the the house was already booked "by White House officials, the State Department and its Office of Protocol for various events" when the only occupant is John Howard.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:28 AM
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Wikipedia sez: "Blair House is now a complex of four connected townhouses, including the original Blair House. During the 1980s, Blair House underwent significant restorations, with a new wing added on the north. An adjacent townhouse, Trowbridge House, is being renovated to serve as an official guest residence for former U.S. presidents while in the capital. The combined square footage of the four adjacent townhouses exceeds 70,000 feet, making it larger than the White House."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:31 AM
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Aha! I thought it was just the white townhouse -- but of course it makes sense that they could never let anything else share a wall with it.

Do they ever have people sharing it? I mean, Tony Blair is here to receive the same obscene Medal of Freedom that Bush is giving to Howard -- he and Cherie are not there padding about in their slippies amid the Howard clan, I think.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:35 AM
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45

39 is very nicely put.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:45 AM
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46

If I were Obama, I wouldn't want to be in Blair House with any shady foreigners.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:00 AM
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47

The (unintentional, I believe) tone of the comments is that someone is all one thing or the other, as in "vain people are . . . ." I'm confident about some things & situations, arrogant about others, and a downright delight to be around in still others. I can be quite conceited and genuinely kind (I reject the manipulation=kindness equation wholesale.) at the same time. Ad infinitum.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:02 AM
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48

1) The post topic was originally about the aesthetic reaction to positive self-regard, and seemed to posit that there could be a degree of positive self-regard, that while excessive and likely not wholly admirable, had a remainder that was pleasing to the observer. I have to wonder if what was intended was a question of our non-malicious pleasure at observing others indulging themselves in their minor vices. Can we think of other examples? TV Poker? American Idol?

2) A disacussion of aesthetic Arbitrage might be interesting, as in high fashion, IMS, or tech nerds.

Someone in a thread below found an audiophile's obsession with a precise & powerful volume control interesting and attractive. Someone with an equal amount of interest in audio equipment might find only the technical question interesting; the rest of us react differently.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:03 AM
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49

Kraab strikes me as sadly confused. I hope she figures out who she is before it's too late.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:05 AM
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The skills involved in manipulation -- understanding the needs of another person and working to satisfy them

Okay, this is just wrong. Manipulation isn't about working to satisfy someone else's needs; it's about getting someone else to satisfy yours.

I'm all for the social lubricant of understanding the needs of another and working to satisfy those needs.

Er, IYKWIM....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:08 AM
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49: Forgive me for interrupting. I think I've written some pretty good comments today, if I do say so myself. I don't mean to brag, but I'm a goddamn terrific person and you'd have to go pretty damn far to find someone better than me. Lord knows you lot aren't. Also, I sincerely wish you well, Emerson. I can see why your grandnephew adores you.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:13 AM
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51:I really enjoyed that comment, Sir Kraab


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:17 AM
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53

Sir Kraab for the win.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:19 AM
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54

47: (I reject the manipulation=kindness equation wholesale.)

I know some people that would interpret anything as manipulation, akin to the way 'narrative is everything'. You can go with the narrow version or the wide version, your call, but in the wide version, not all manipulation would be bad. That said:

I don't mean to brag

Now there you go being all manipulative: of course you mean to brag.

but I'm a goddamn terrific person and you'd have to go pretty damn far to find someone better than me.

Resolved: Sir Kraab is spiffy.

Lord knows you lot aren't.

Dumb enough to take the demonstration seriously, are we?

max
['Tsk.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:28 AM
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Soup for the meta-win.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:29 AM
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56

I don't even own a self-regard.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:30 AM
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54: when a comment is as good as Krabb's was, Max, you just have to let it be. Dissection just detracts.

Okay, this is just wrong. Manipulation isn't about working to satisfy someone else's needs; it's about getting someone else to satisfy yours.

skills vs. motivation, Di, skills vs. motivation.


Posted by: PGDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:31 AM
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My grandnephew deigns to offer me the pleasure of his company. That's not quite adoration. He was very pleased with the flashlight and magnifying glass I gave him for Christmas, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:35 AM
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Although the Lee Siegel sockpuppet affair cast the term into a somewhat different light, I think "sprezzatura" captures some of the elements under discussion. Someone who is smooth enough that you only experience the "good parts" of their vanity.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:38 AM
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I've known vain, narcissistic people who weren't calculating at all. They just ingratiated themselves with people and charmed people and got attention and lighted up people's lives, and they gladly accepted anything nice that came their way, but they weren't working anybody for results. They just cruised through life rather thoughtlessly. You can only do that for so long, though, when you're young and attractive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:42 AM
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I think of manipulation as stemming from insecurity. As in, you think you won't be okay if everyone else chooses what you fear they'll choose, and so you feel the need to rig the game.

I'm not sure how vanity is intertwined with security/insecurity. But I think secure people are lots of fun to be around, because they speak their mind without overthinking it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:44 AM
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You can only do that for so long, though, when you're young and attractive.

Or indefinitely, if you have a lot of money or talent (at something a bunch of people value).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:16 AM
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Arrogant people can be rude and no fun, but then, vanity shades off into narcissism, manipulation, and charming psychopathy.

I find that a combination of arrogance and self-loathing works well in the absence of healthy, realistic self-regard. A middle way, pathology-wise.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:34 AM
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64

Blair House: just keeps getting worse.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:44 AM
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65

On a lighter note, Stephen Fry has made a video for ben.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:58 AM
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66

This thread implies that we have a sort of meritocracy of self-esteem.

Also, 39 is the greatest non-funny comment ever.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:01 PM
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67

erm, maybe 65 is audio only. still.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:05 PM
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68

The problem isn't the lubricant, it's what hole they're trying to get access to, and exactly how hard they intend to pound it.

max, it's ok to just come out and say you're not into anal sex.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:05 PM
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I think Pound captured it rather nicely when he said "Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down," especially if you substitute "vanity" for "pants."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:09 PM
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I often find myself attracted to the kind of vain people who don't require ego-stroking. I am terrible at giving compliments, even when I mean them, so the kind of person who pays him- or herself compliments enough tends to get along well with me.

I'm currently friends with a guy who admits to me that he often feels stupid and ugly, which is absurd because he's brilliant and gorgeous by any standard, and any time I try to remind him of this, he's all "You can cut the Dr. Phil shit." I wish him a little true vanity, because his inability to see his own qualities results in him misinterpreting a lot of what goes on around him, both at work and interpersonally.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:09 PM
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||

Obama getting ready to sell out Social Security. Nobody could have predicted, etc.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:16 PM
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73:Dammit, JRoth. I linked in thread above, but you beat me by ten minutes.

The topic at hand was near-term fiscal deficits, so moves toward long-term viability that will not provide immediate budget relief are immaterial.

Obama, on the advice of his crack economic team, seems to believe that tax increases of any sort are pro-cyclical, will hurt the economy. We will still be under full employment, gag, Krugman points to a chart that says 2014-15.

Question:The Bush tax cuts set to expire in 2010-12. Having postponed rescinding them for 2009, do we consider it likely that Obama will ask 535 Congresspersons to raise taxes massively on their best donors in a mid-term year?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:39 PM
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73

Does Bob get his I-told-you-so moment now, or do we have to wait to see what form the changes to Social Security take?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:57 PM
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74

73: It's scheduled for late 2010 at the moment.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 12:58 PM
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It seems fairly obvious to me that the entitlement programs are politically popular. Social Security was the one issue the Dems showed any spine on during Bush's Presidency; I believe projected Medicare spending went up under our recent Republican Presidency/Congress; and even before the economy went into crisis mode in 2008, there was basically zero talk about entitlement reform in the campaigns. Meanwhile, after a 35% drop in the stock market no one will even think about replacing Social Security with private accounts for at least a decade or two, if not longer.

Is the US government expecting to have a harder time borrowing from abroad?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 1:09 PM
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Private accounts are dead for the next generation, I'd bet, but not a good old-fashioned stiff benefit cut. "Blue-ribbon commission" will be our cue to panic.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 1:22 PM
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Is the US government expecting to have a harder time borrowing from abroad?

Uncertain;disputed;complicated;eventually;depends

This is what I was reading while commenting on the Geoghegan thread last night. Dec 08. Global capital flows, Loanable funds theory vs Keynesian liquidity/liquidity preference. I don't expect you to read it.

I have no answer to your question.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 1:25 PM
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When the stock market crashed, someone could have started pointing out that Bush and his crew wanted people to be able to put their Social Security account on the stock market, but that the Democrats stopped him. I suggested this at the time, but the idea got no traction.

By "pointing out", I mean "shouting repeatedly in every imaginable venue".

Death wish? Brain death? Or complicity? Maybe the Democrats all really wanted privatization, but were intimidated by the internet mobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 1:43 PM
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79

I think of manipulation as stemming from insecurity. As in, you think you won't be okay if everyone else chooses what you fear they'll choose, and so you feel the need to rig the game.

I think this underestimates the extent to which many master manipulators have internalized that skill. The kind of people who do it out of narcissism. Manipulating people isn't a conscious decision for them, and they will get really defensive if you try to call them on it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 1:45 PM
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@79 I think it underestimates the variety of why people manipulate others (consciously or otherwise)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:00 PM
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60 - Emerson, that was a very accurate description of my 6 year old.

It's odd actually, I didn't think she was vain (though had no worries about her self-esteem!), but yesterday she was looking at some photos of herself, printed out just on printer paper but put into a frame, and there was a mark on her forehead (not her real forehead, it was just a printer blip, or a spillage, or something) in one. She got really upset about it and wanted that picture removed or covered up so people wouldn't see it and think she was blemished.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:01 PM
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After this stock market pop and what people saw happen to their 401ks, privatization of Social Security is off the table for the next few years. A more likely change is increasing the age of retirement by five years, to account for the increase in life expectancy since the 1930s of people who have survived to 60. I expect that we'll still cover the medical expenses of the 65-69 set, but will start to phase out SS benefits for them.

Medicare spending presumably went up not only because of the baby boomers' edging toward senior citizenship, but also because of the prescription benefit's being added. That's another potential place to cut: cover only generics in the government formulary and make better deals with the pharmaceutical industry.


Posted by: PGofHSM (better? worse?) | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:22 PM
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60/81

Now imagine dealing with a 6 year old of a similar sort of disposition whose been modeling for a largish add campaign. Wandering around to see themselves on a busstop or whatever and say "see, there I am again" in a not quite vain but I don't know how to explain it tone.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:27 PM
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79: I think manipulation can be internalized and unconscious, and that that is still consistent with the insecurity/fear of things not being okay if left to their own course as the driving force behind manipulation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:36 PM
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For what it's worth, Obama's actual comments were basically meaningless. I would like to know who asked the question, though.

http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=news-000003004126


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:37 PM
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and that that is still consistent with the insecurity/fear of things not being okay if left to their own course as the driving force behind manipulation.

I think that can bet the driving force, but need not be. Some people aren't afraid of what will happen (as they expect it) if left alone, they just actively want something else to happen.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:39 PM
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71: "we expect that a discussion around entitlements will be a part, a central part" of efforts to curb government spending is a far cry from selling out Social Security.

Isn't Medicare considered the much bigger problem? Hasn't Obama claimed changing how health care is paid for is a big priority of his?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:42 PM
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Obama's actual comments were basically meaningless

Indeed. There has certainly been a lot of hyperventilation over boilerplate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:42 PM
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Obama's actual comments were basically meaningless

Isn't this baseline for a (successful, high level) politician?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:43 PM
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85: ha, Obama basically said "we have a big deficit, it may get bigger soon, eventually we want it to go down." Nobody could have predicted!


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:44 PM
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PGofHSM (better? worse?)

May we know what "HSM" stands for? I think that would end any confusion with PGD. If "HSM" is a sekkrit, I'll just think of it as "HMS," which makes me think of the HMS Pinafore; thus you will be in my head as Pinafore G.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:46 PM
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High School Musical!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:49 PM
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Some people aren't afraid of what will happen (as they expect it) if left alone, they just actively want something else to happen.

You can have a preference, but not desire to manipulate other people to make it happen. I can't think of a situation off the top of my head where person A is being manipulative, but just out of simple preference.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:50 PM
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91: The tagline for her blog is Half the Sins of Mankind, but I can't figure out if that helps crack the code.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:51 PM
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I can't think of a situation off the top of my head where person A is being manipulative, but just out of simple preference.

I've met several, always looking for an angle. Though some of that may relate to fear of not being/feeling in control, I guess. In one case though, the guy tended to push for chaos so I dunno if that's a fit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:52 PM
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94: "high school musical" == "half the sins of mankind" ?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:53 PM
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My beloved grandnephew isn't vain, but he's used to being a little tin god for nine adults and he has lots of confidence.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:54 PM
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95: That doesn't imply that they're perpetually insecure people? Even (especially?) the guy who's always pushing for chaos. Those people have the most elaborate inner monologues making all sorts of hairy rationalizations, which keeps tons of distance from ever having to acknowledge the underlying problem. (Because of fear of acknowledging the underlying problem.)

Of course, there's a difference between someone who's always looking for a bargain, so to speak, and is mildly entertained by trying to pull someone's strings. But those people tend to shrug if their efforts fail, as opposed to double-down on the scheming. I don't think of those people as manipulative necessarily. Maybe just sort of snake-oil salesmen.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 2:59 PM
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98: well, that guys was odd. They others, yeah, not at all driven by insecurity (though I've met that type to). I've met the 98.last too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:08 PM
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"98.last type too"

I guess what it boils down to is that I've met highly manipulative people who aren't doing this out of what I would call insecurity. More out of a zero-sum approach borne out by their experience, or out of determination, or whatever. But perhaps you would label it insecurity after all....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:14 PM
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max, it's ok to just come out and say you're not into anal sex.

Huh? ITYM 'assrape'.

Obama, on the advice of his crack economic team, seems to believe that tax increases of any sort are pro-cyclical, will hurt the economy.

The missing information here is that Obama's main advisor is Robert Rubin, which is why we have Summers and Geithner (sp) in there where they are. In essence we have exchanged the Goldman Sachs teams for the Citibank team.

Obama then, is apparently intending to follow Lincoln's example: spend two years fucking up before getting the idea that some people (no matter how obstensibly genius-y they are) are not your friends.

max
['Par for the course, really.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:18 PM
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Goddamn DeLong still hasn't given up on Summers, and maybe not on Rubin.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:20 PM
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100: I just have a deep conviction that when people are doing something that smells wonky, there's an underlying fear that they're not dealing with.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:28 PM
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103: Yeah ok. I'm equally convinced sometimes it's not fear, it's anger/rage, or other motivators.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:42 PM
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Goddamn DeLong still hasn't given up on Summers

They're friends. Summers is a 'genius'.

and maybe not on Rubin.

Well, Brad was suddenly all for bringing back the McCain plan: buy mortgages from the banks at face value! So I'm guessing not Rubin either, especially since Rubin is Obama's advisor, etc. So no bank nationalizations, lots of tax cuts, sucking up to deficit-reduction, etc. They very likely see it as the Galactic-sized version of the LTCM bailout.

If you will recall, at the time of the LTCM bailout, we had Larry, Moe and Curly on the cover of Time, so now we've got Larry, Moe and Shemp.

max
['It's a problem of incentives!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:42 PM
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re 103: (perhaps) more interestingly, I'm convinced that our mental models of how people & society work can be to a degree self-reinforcing. Conflicting models may have similar accuracy (if that even makes sense) in different people.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:44 PM
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DeLong is at the left wing of orthodox economics, as I understand, and he's got a broader range of interests and better political instincts than most of the rest of them *Sigh*


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:49 PM
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Yes, Medicare is by far the greater problem, and it's not just from the godawful prescription drug part. Medicare expenses are project to increase at something like 6-7% a year for the foreseeable future, and clearly the Medicare tax isn't.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 3:50 PM
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Rubin's flaws are very obvious after that weird "so bizarre of a defense as to be a hatchet job" article where he talked about his time at Citibank a few months ago. Letting him near economic policy seems to be a pretty big mistake.

Are there problems with Summers beyond his being a giant prick and his covering up for his corrupt/criminal buddy while at Harvard?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:07 PM
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DeLong is at the left wing of orthodox economics, as I understand

Is he? I could see it that way, but he has a house a big house in SF and believes in that creative class/'symbol analyst' horseshit.

I guess I don't see it as a left-wing/right-wing thing (they aren't very right-wing, exactly), so much as a self-dealing thing. Guys that are tight with bankers want to save the banks, Indian dudes want that free trade kept rolling no matter what, guys with big portfolios want the market to go up, and if the regular economy is screwed, oh well, just yell 'buggywhip makers'.

max
['Also: nobody could have seen that coming!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:11 PM
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109: Summers covering up for his buddy and/or being in on that whole 'liquidate the Soviet manufacturing base, the Russians will thank us!' thing and/or doing everything possible to prevent new regulation all sorta adds up to the same thing.

If it was a just him in there or he was a an honest giant prick, that wouldn't be a problem.

max
['But...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:15 PM
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he has a house a big house in SF

Please to not be using "SF" as a metonym for the entire Bay Area, kthxbye.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:20 PM
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Just call it "the Frisco area".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:26 PM
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'Bay Area'.

max
['Sorry for the touching of the regional sore spots!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:29 PM
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Did he touch you in the Frisco area?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:31 PM
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Summers covering up for his buddy and/or being in on that whole 'liquidate the Soviet manufacturing base, the Russians will thank us!' thing and/or doing everything possible to prevent new regulation all sorta adds up to the same thing.

Eh. I view the Harvard guys trying their bizarre and ultimately destructive theories on Russia differently from Rubin blowing up Citigroup and the US economy. Rubin seems more unforgivably cynical - you could imagine the Harvard guys saying "wow, we really thought that was going to work, we should re-evaluate" vs. Rubin with his "I was in charge, I knew nothing, I got paid a lot for knowing everything, but it's not my fault and I'd do it all again."

Summers' covering up for his buddies while theoretically acting on Havard's behalf seems like it's on such a smaller scale...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:33 PM
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never on the first date, F.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:33 PM
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Sachs did repent, I think, though I'm not in a hurry to forgive him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:34 PM
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The Chicago school is certainly right wing, and the almost universal opposition to the minimum wage, and often to unions, is a winger litmus test for me.

My understanding is that the left wing of orthodox economics is at the right wing of the Democratic Party.

"Freakonomics" is glib and cheerful and claims to be apolitical, but it makes many rightwing assumptions. The politics is assumed and implicit, and never even discussed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:38 PM
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Which prominent economists today are in the Chicago school?
Where is the almost universal opposition to the minimum wage? Do I need to trot out that "600 economists including 7 Nobel Prize winners petition in favor of an increase in the minimum wage" story I trot out every time this comes up?
Why are most economists members of the Democratic Party?
Why do career-minded dorks in academia tend to have zero political power, with the exception of some economists? Does it have something to do with the wonderful magic of ideas, or are there other political processes at work?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:45 PM
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90: Obama basically said "we have a big deficit, it may get bigger soon

Here's Dean Baker poo-pooing the hyperventilators, or something. Check Baker's previous post, also. Dean Baker is essentially saying WaPo and the NYT are making shit up about entitlements.

They don't make shit up. They may let "unnamed sources" make shit up, but they will always have sources.

So, in an attempt to be funny, let's posit the NYT prints that unnamed sources say "Obama will invade Canada in the spring." If the next day, Obama, or some public face for Obama says something like:"We will not be intimidated, and always protect our interests with whatever means necessary." it is almost baseless speculation to guess that Obama is going to invade Canada. Almost.

If the NYT and WaPo story had been:"Obama to double corporate tax rates" do you think we'd get a quick firm denial?

This is just a piece of evidence. Most people here know I have other, if not completely convincing, evidence and arguments. The "I told-you-so" moment will come when Obama signs legislation..


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 4:54 PM
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Chicago School: Buchanan (Nobelist), Becker (Nobelist), Lucas (Nobelist), Coase (Nobelist), Stigler (Nobelist), Friedman (Nobelist), Scholes (Nobelist), and Posner. Most of Chicago, George Mason, abd I've been told, Minnesota.

It's my assumption that these Nobelists had some influence within the profession.

Why did Card quit doing research on the minimum wage after his early successes, and advise his grad students not to continue his work? I found that story horrifying.

The Democratic Party has a right wing which controls it. There's plenty of room for fairly conservative economists there. Fucking Rubin is a Democrat, for Christ's sake.

Economics may be changing, but it has a bad reputation which it has earned. There may be wonderful people hiding in their offices and doing wonderful research, but the public face of the profession doesn't include them. It's up to economists themselves to show a better face to the world. Don't whine about how the rabble is misinformed.

The main product of economics is Econ 101, and it's a major source of confusion and disinformation in the political world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:01 PM
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I view the Harvard guys trying their bizarre and ultimately destructive theories on Russia differently

There's a difference between the attempt to apply theories and this.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:02 PM
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116:Mostly in agreement. DeLong & Romer are, mostly, sincere Neo-Keynesians/neo-liberals. I think they are mistaken, and DeLong has admitted at least two mistakes recently.

And "mostly sincere", means, for instance, that if Romer wanted an offer from Harvard she was likely limited to saying stuff Mankiw would not consider beyond the pale. This doesn't mean she lied. These people are brilliant professionals, after all.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:04 PM
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There is also a long, complicated, and fascinating story (to me) about a group of economists whose formative experiences were in the 70s & 80s. They might have worried too much about inflation & deficits and too little about deflation and depression. They might admit that now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:12 PM
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I didn't realize I was portraying myself as a "Chicago school denialist." I was asking about current economists. Buchanan born 1919; Becker born 1930; Lucas born 1937; Coase born 1910; Stigler born 1911; Friedman born 1912; Scholes born 1941; Posner born 1939. Are there any economists born after World War II? I guess not.

Don't whine about how the rabble is misinformed.

This is an interesting response to my pointing out that you are misinformed. Think bad things about the academic discipline all you want; if you believe that the balance of the world power lies in the predilections of a few professors, more power to you. I'm only suggesting that you're barking up the wrong tree.

Now one response is to say, "Why would you tell me this? Clearly if you tell me this, then I can only conclude that this is the *right tree* and you're just an apologist!" That would certainly be unsurprising to me.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:13 PM
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There's a book called "The Changing Face of Economics" which was supposed to convince me that economics is getting better, but what struck me is haow all these brilliant new economists were still begging for recognition, which they still might not get, and that their new ideas are not taught to students, and that (as far as I know) none of them were of a dissident or heterodox tendency. They were all people who did new things within a methodological framework acceptable to the masters of the profession.

It was also noticeable that all of them did their work with reference to a powerful orthodox hierarchy, but none of them said anythging about who was in the hierarchy or how they controlled the profession. In particular, none of them criticized their masters.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:15 PM
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I would certainly never argue that economists are good at thinking about the foundations of their field; that economics isn't plagued by a "publish or perish" mentality that the untenured need to adopt to survive; that economists are generally nuanced thinkers with great appreciation for the messy details of life. The connection between these facts and our government is considerably weaker than you are saying.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:20 PM
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So the ideas of those men are uninfluential? Public Choice, and Philosophy and Law, and Monetarism have been rejected?

And Sachs and Schleifer and Merton and Scholes were not economists, and were uninfluential too, and had nothing to do with the disasters they were associated with? And Clinton's neoliberalism and globalization had nothing to do with who his economic advisers were? And Greenspan wasn't an economist and made no contribution to the problems we're seeing today? And the Federal Reserve Board is not powerful and is not staffed with economists, nor the Council of Economic Advisers, nor the Treasury?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:21 PM
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So why were these ideas influential, and why were other ideas not as influential? That's exactly what I'd like to know.

This idea that the Chicago School was intrinsically powerful, and it unfortunately chose to use its powers for evil, seems way off base to me.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:30 PM
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But apart from this contemporary mood, the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.


Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated
compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.

More plagiarism! I am even more ruined! Ok. JMK,GT.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:31 PM
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It's too bad that the guy who wrote died a nobody, Bob. If only he had been an economist, the world would have been a different place.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:32 PM
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90% of economists in the business school are Chicago school. Finance people are all basically Chicago school. Prescott is another Chicago-school Nobel laureate.

The far left in orthodox economics departments is well to the right of the far left everywhere else, and is well to the right of where it was in 1950. The economists who get access to the levers of power and to the media are to the right of economists as a whole.

So you're both right!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:40 PM
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Start over again, Barbar. You've lost me.

My understanding is that if I go to a distinguished physicist with a question about physics, I can expect a good answer. If I go to a distinguished orthodox economist with a question about economics, I have no idea what I'll get. If the economist is Becker, what I will get will be insane and nasty. If I go to deLong, it will be neoliberal. There's an array of possibilities. In some sense, the profession doesn't exist; no one's ever kicked out of it, and economists say all kinds of obnoxious things (with good things mixed in their too!)

Unfortunately I never have questions about physics, whereas the majority of political questions have an enormous economic component, and economic considerations are always high on the list of considerations whenever a political decision is made, and often dominant.

So to me, economists are like lawyers: talented, knowledgeable mercenaries who are very useful to anyone who can afford them. They're not scientists to go to for unambiguous, usable, correct answers.

But I can't afford an economist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:41 PM
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I think the libertarian movement is, in a totally unexpected and unpredictable move, with a weary sigh setting aside both its anti-police state and pro-climate change agendæ in its stark horror of public investment in infrastructure.

I mean, what the hell is this?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:44 PM
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Or to put my point another way: if you bother to read the academic work of big-shot professors Larry Summers and Andrei Schleifer, there's plenty that you'll be pleased with from a political view. Schleifer wrote a book called "Inefficient Markets" guys!!! He was all over irrational investors and how arbitrage doesn't eliminate mispricings! Summers wrote about how the labor market doesn't fit neoclassical assumptions at all. Yay! Aren't we all so happy now! Milton Friedman sucked!


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:45 PM
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123: The theory there is the same one acted upon by the John Galt Corporation which got contracts to do Ground Zero demolition and rebuilding, and then never even bothered to pretend to do any actual work rather than just steal money and bet that the courts would allow them to keep it.

See, if superior people don't steal money when money is available to be stolen or invested or allotted to worthy causes or whatever, then mediocre people will steal the money instead, which would be bad for the GNP.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:48 PM
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135: From the comments:

Imagine a clueless guy [i.e. Keynes] who puts gasoline in a jet aircraft because he doesn't know any better [i.e. writes his "General Theory" as a joke] , and the aircraft crashes on take-off doing millions of dollars of property damage and injuring a couple of hundred people.

You might give the guy a pass because he sincerely believed that the plane would run on gasoline.

However, if the guy wasn't clueless, and did it on purpose, knowing that the plane's engines would put out only a fraction of the power needed for flight if fed gasoline instead of jet fuel, then one could only view the action as being malicious, or of evil intent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:49 PM
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Vain people demand that you vote for them. You must do it EVERY DAY.

Please? Because I'm doing a lawsuit thing now, and I'm so infuriated by having to that it makes me want to cry. This blog award is the only thing keeping me going, people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:51 PM
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See, we can view the GNP as like altitude. Who wants their altitude to decrease when they're flying in a plane? Certainly not me. Not ever!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:51 PM
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134: I completely agree. Economics should be considered part of the social sciences, just like sociology and psychology, and should not be viewed in the same light as physics or mathematics. (It should also not be viewed as a "set of tools," gag.) This means that values are important, as well as detailed facts (not just far-reaching abstract theories). Absolutely. It also means that lots of questions in economics will have nuanced "that depends" answers.

So what were we arguing about again?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:51 PM
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So why were these ideas influential, and why were other ideas not as influential? That's exactly what I'd like to know.

HET is one of the things I try to do.

Finance went from 8% of the economy in 1980 to 40% in 2005. Or sumpin like that. The Neo-Classicists had a good micro theory of finance. one that was easy to mathematicize and use to bullshit with.

Keynesians, being demand-side, had been more focused on business-cycle and fiscal theory. There was a finance Keynesianism, Kalecki & Minsky, but not so easy to add math and radical in its analysis & implications.

Friedman & Lucas, like Keynes, had some "lucky" timing. Stuff like that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:51 PM
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More confusing yet. Schleifer and Summers are big political players, and I don't like their political work. And they're economists. So they're not Chicago School. Fine, there are lots of economists I don't like.

Remember, I don't like the right wing of the Democratic Party. That's what I started off with here.

Economists may think of themselves as innocent little mice living quietly in their mouseholes, but the rest of us see a lot of eminent, powerful economists running our lives.

I might add that the reason why my Chicago School examples were so old was because I took it from a list of Nobelists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:54 PM
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Is all three paragraphs a quote, in 135?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:56 PM
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143: Sure, you don't like their political work (Summers and Schleifer), and so you connect it to their academic work. Except that you would probably like their academic work, so when you talk about academic economics you mention the Chicago school instead.

My whole point is that the academic work is largely irrelevant. You seem to agree. So what are we arguing about? White men? Politicians? People with power?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:57 PM
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The Chicago School has disproportionate influence because they have ideological cohesion -- they have loyalty to a central idea. Liberal economists subscribe to a diffuse collection of ideas. This allows the Chicago school to set the agenda. With Lucas and Prescott, they successfully overran macroeconomics until the new Keynesian counterrevolution (maybe counter-counterrevolution). The net effect was to move macro rightwards though. (Kalecki & Minski are a good example -- they were part of the old Keynesian mainstream, but are hard to fit in with new Keynesianism.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 5:59 PM
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I've been arguing that orthodox economists are far more powerful than they should be, that many economists are corrupt and/or mercenary and/or arrogant, that few of them are further left than Bill Clinton, that when convenient they overestimate the power of their science, but when put on the spot they display a charming momentary humility, that the profession has weak standards, that economics and undue respect for economics is partly responsible for the present mess, and that it would be a good things either to get entirely different economists or else just downgrade the whole profession.

Not all of that was said on this thread before now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:00 PM
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I mean, my Keynesianism has a great answer to inflation, stagflation, or inflationary recessions.

Tax them til their eyeballs bleed.

That wasn't a great career move in 1983.

To what degree should an economist adjust his theory to the current politico-economic conditions? Is economics part of politics, and an art of the possible?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:04 PM
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144: yes.

Summers is not two different people, Barbar. And I don't say that I'd like his academic work. Possibly he made a tiny step in the right direction.

If economics is irrelevant (harmless little mice) we should just fire them all and fill their offices with potted plants. You're really stretching (Where did I agree that economics is irrelevant?)

Look, everyone who follows politics and contemporary history who's not an economist knows that economists are very influential. We find economists trumping and dismissing our own proposals over and over again. If economists themselves think that the profession is uninfluential, they're delusional. I tremble to think of how much power they think thay should have, more than what they have now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:08 PM
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John, I think Barbar's right that you would find Summers and Schleifer's academic work relatively benign. Summers is an interesting case, in that in public policy positions he has been a much stronger proponent of neoliberalism than what you would guess from his academic work.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:16 PM
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That would fall in the "corruption" part, I guess.

I'm really talking about the profession as a whole, as it functions in various ways, not just about the body of thought. Two me there's one Summers, and he's an economist regardless of what he's doing at a given moment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:19 PM
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Where did I agree that economics is irrelevant?

Let me try again.

Milton Friedman comes along and [praises the free market]. He gets recognition both inside and outside of academia. Governments listen to him, he changes the world. He sucks.

Andrei Schleifer comes along and [explains how markets are inefficient]. He gets recognition both inside and outside of academia. Governments listen to him, he changes the world. He sucks.

Do you really NOT think that the stuff inside the brackets is irrelevant? Because they are nearly polar opposites in these two cases, and yet everything else in the story is identical. In the first case you make a big deal about influential ideas; in the second case you're not even familiar with the ideas.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:19 PM
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Or to be more clear, do you think the differential impact of the stuff inside the brackets is about politics or academia (the profession)?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:26 PM
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Did any of Schleifer's public policy advice have anything to do with his research? The Harvard program in Russia was pretty orthodox neoliberalism, as I recall.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:31 PM
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The performance of economists like Shleifer in the Russia catastrophe of the 90s showed they still had far too much faith in the market as an abstract entity. Forget the scandal where Shleifer tried to privately profit, that's not so important. What's really disgraceful is the Western record advising Russia on economic reform.

Anyway, this is kind of boring now. Haven't we had this discussion like a zillion times already? John has an axe to grind, that's all.


Posted by: PerfectlyGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:32 PM
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As I said, I've been talking about the profession, its ideas, its members, the things its members do, the various ways that the profession and its members function in the greater society, they way they relate to other professions, the intellectual milieu of the field in general (and not just regarding economic questions). It includes a body of thought, but not only that.

But in general, I'll feel badly about any profession which has a lot of unethical members, or which has a generally toxic political effect, regardless of the beauty of the science.

There are other lies of thought saying that because of certain shared methodological presuppositions, economists of any stripe are prone to seriously misunderstanding some important things, but I haven't gotten into it here.

There's a little clue, thoughin what Walt, I think, said. Chicago School economists do form a political united front and do actively engage in political life, whereas other, less obnoxious economists not only don't do that, but actually don't think that they should. Krugman has gotten a tremendous amount of flak from economists who think he's demeaning himself by writing for the Times.

If the Chicago School is the public face of economics, other economists should do something about it. And they should engage in politics and pop writing the way Chicago school economists do, in pursuit of their political goals. In other words, I absolutely deny the separation of the science from the public face. People would feel better about economists if the economists they saw were behaving better.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:38 PM
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If the Chicago School is the public face of economics, other economists should do something about it.

Yes, maybe Larry Summers can try to become the public face of economics instead. Would that help?

PGD is right, this is boring.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:41 PM
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33 gets it exactly right!

Am I too late?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:42 PM
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Nonetheless, PGD, nice guy Delong is still backing Summers, and maybe Rubin too. And so is Obama. And he practically worshipped Greenspan until the shit hit the fan. And he's one of the good guys who might possibly make a difference. I can only sit and watch.

I've already prioritized my family members in terms of which ones will need help, and which ones I'll help first, if I can, when things really get bad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:43 PM
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Well, shut the fuck up then if you're bored, Barbar. You haven't made a point yet.

People don't like economists because they don't like the economists they know and what they do. You have some kind of problem with that, though I'm not sure what it is. To me there's nothing unthinkable about economics as a profession actually trying to have a favorable impact in the world, especially because the Chicago School has already done that in their shitty way. But they don't do that. You seem offended and bored by the suggestion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:47 PM
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You haven't made a point yet.

You: Economists are to blame for the Chicago School representing the profession.
Me: Larry Summers is not part of the Chicago School.
You: What's your fucking point?

My point seems to be that you have a pet idea and are completely unable to even grasp evidence that doesn't fit in with it. Have I made it yet?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:51 PM
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158:Never

But the vanity stuff was getting positively Proustian by 98 & 100. Proust more fun than Friedman, of course.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:51 PM
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"Milton's problem is that everything makes him think about money. Everything makes me think about sex, but at least I leave it out of my papers."

Robert Solow


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:56 PM
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Bah, I toss the 9th and 1oth Feuerbach Theses at both of ya and run off to read Van Gogh on Van Gogh, illustrated by Van Gogh.

I am probably just being vain & manipulative, anyway.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 6:57 PM
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162: But the vanity stuff was getting positively Proustian by 98 & 100.

I see.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:00 PM
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Barbar, your first response was to disavow the Chicago School, in defense of the profession. Then I said something about Schleifer and you said he's not in the Chicago school. QED.

So fine, lots of economists are shits, not just the Chicago school. In other words, your first defense didn't mean anything. OK.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:03 PM
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Sigh.

Why do I point out that Summers and Schleifer are not Chicago School economists? Because I think this fact provides a clue that the Chicago School is not the right thing to blame for the crappiness of today's big-time economists. Do I need to explain this further? Is it too subtle?

What is responsible for Summers and Schleifer's crappiness? Is it their crappy (non-Chicago-School) academic economic ideology? I humbly suggest no, that's not it, that most of their academic work would be unobjectionable from your political perspective.

I'm just trying to point out inconsistencies in your story, John. I know a little (not very much) about this subject; clarifying things is my entire agenda here. What you do next is up to you. Based on past experience, in 5 minutes you are going to write something like "Fuck economists for letting the Chicago School represent them. There's something wrong with a profession that's so entirely dominated by bad ideology. Why don't some economists with reasonable ideology rise to the top of their profession and take high-profile roles? And fuck Barbar, nothing he says is even remotely related to what I'm talking about." And we can do this whole little dance again.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:22 PM
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Yeah, John, but you derailed an interesting conversation to repeat stuff you've said a hundred times. What a vain thing to do.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:28 PM
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Go back to 101. The conversation developed quite naturally. I didn't introduce the topic. Barabar wanted to debate.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:32 PM
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139:Vain people demand that you vote for them. You must do it EVERY DAY.

So I go vote for Bphd without lookin and the instant results show that I have put their blog ahead of Pandagon, 1095-1094. I Do Not want those Pandas mad at me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:38 PM
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169: I came into this "debate" at 120, simply by asking a bunch of (still unanswered) questions that pose problems for your narrow and somewhat ignorant view of the relationship between academic economics and politics.

Since apparently either every bit of your belief structure remains intact or else the entire thing crumbles, we are now having a "debate."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:42 PM
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Barbar, Chicago was first mentioned in 119. It set you off for some reason. My three previous posts had been unrelated. I was giving examples of the way economists are right wing. I was responding to Max, who didn't think that there's an ideological problem with economics. My main point was that DeLong, a relatively nice guy on the left wing of the profession, not a Chicago schooler, is on the right wing of the Democratic Party, which I regard as right wing, period.

Your response was apparently to deny that the Chicago school is influential, which I argued with, and make four other points, which I also argued with. The Chicago school was not my main point except to you. It was pretty incidental.

I think that the economics professions as a whole is corrupt, right wing, and derelict in its duties. They are mistrusted because the let the wrong people represent them to the public, including but not limited to the Chicago school. If the profession feels wrongly maligned, it should improve its public face and give better counsel, rather than grumbling that they're being misrepresented.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:44 PM
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You were goddamn debating, Barbar. For Christ's sake. You chose specific topics you could quibble about and tried to make them the center of the debate. I suppose that was a version of the Socratic method, but what you might have done was just state your own actual opinion about the various things I'd been saying.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 7:47 PM
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I will say this: we should give it two years before a final judgement. Top economists are running this country (domestic policy) right now in an unprecedented way even for economics. Bernanke and Summers are very respected in the profession (I think Summers is far more influential than Rubin now, Rubin is on the outs). For all the faults of economics, it's hard to say that academic economists (as opposed to finance people) were really in charge during the bubble period. But the policy to address this crisis is completely coming from economists and they have almost unlimited funds to do it with. If it works, that will show something. If it doesn't work...ugh. Of course, if it's sometimes hard to tell if stuff works even after you live through it. But if they pull this shit off...

Economic policy is based on a collection of half-truths. The nature of these half-truths changes occasionally. Economics as a scholarly discipline consists in the periodic rediscovery and refinement of old half-truths. Little progress has been made in the past century or so towards understanding how economic policy, rules, legislation and regulation influence economic fluctuations, financial stability, growth, poverty or inequality. We know that a few extreme approaches that have been tried yield lousy results - central planning, self-regulating financial markets - but we don't know much that is constructive beyond that.

The main uses of economics as a scholarly discipline are therefore negative or destructive - pointing out that certain things don't make sense and won't deliver the promised results.

Willem Buiter


Posted by: PGoddamnD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:00 PM
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I have no idea what Emerson's point is, but it is clear what Barbar's point is. It doesn't seem to be a very important point anyway.

This is more interesting. I wonder why Reid's top priority was to try to convince the nation, via a series of announcements and TV appearances, that something he knew he was going to do in a couple days was a shady and unethical thing that he would be embarrassed to do because of basic ethical principles that he couldn't explain because they were so obvious.

To the hog farm with him.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:02 PM
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I realize that I'm revealing my stupidity, but when and why did finance stop being part of economics?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:04 PM
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Just to be clear, I'm not at all sure we're headed in the right direction, and have limited faith in our leadership. But I can't control it, they're in charge, so all I can do is wait and see.

Bernanke really thinks he knows how to tackle this kind of crash, he's been preparing for it since forever. Fuck it, let's see if he's right.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:05 PM
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All any of us can do is watch.

I don't trust either the ethics, the politics, or the science of a single one of the big players. I'm at the point of praying to fucking Jesus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:08 PM
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176: I meant finance the industry. Yes, economists have played a major role in that industry. But what was driving things was the massive amounts of money being made by the industry, just the raw power that generated. Of course, that's contributing to the unwillingness to exercise more control over the banks now.

Economists are more directly to blame for certain things that happened in developing and ex-Soviet bloc countries, they were really more in charge there.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:09 PM
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what a vain thing to do
i recorded a word at forvo and hope people 'd check that out
the background noise is terrible, that's a stretch mashin pump is working, my webcam at home does not record for some reason
and else, i have learned today that the first and only Mongolian who's been to Antarctica with the Russian-Bulgarian expedition is one of my relatives, a geologist, i've never met him though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:12 PM
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What word, read?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:18 PM
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Is it дөчин долоо?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:20 PM
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i thought you could deduce and find me there
very vain of myself
well, Mongolian word of course, number


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:22 PM
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The HSM is short for "Half the Sins of Mankind," but I probably deserve for it to be "High School Musical." I like many cheesy Disney musicals -- I realized recently that my skepticism of big unions probably derives from getting my first exposure to organized labor through "Newsies." High School Musical doesn't fit the mold, though.

I agree that Blinder's warning young economists off following his footsteps is very depressing, but Card's recent work on immigration also is very worthwhile. And not everyone takes the advice, as people are still studying the positive effects of higher wages. I think this recent research on the effect of localized higher wages is the most interesting, as individual states ought to take responsibility for setting appropriate minimum wages instead of just resting on the federal floor.


Posted by: PGofHSM (better? worse?) | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:24 PM
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I'm not sure if this is OT, but Alexyss K. Tylor has some advice for men and gets pretty specific as far as procedures are concerned, and it seems nice to pass it along for the new year.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:28 PM
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182 bingo!
the reward will be posted shortly
the voice is not very melodic :) i was told once it sounds like an old man's voice
and the pump was working so loudly i couldn't stay longer in the lab


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:33 PM
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Actually, I was going to say you have a very sexy voice, read.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:35 PM
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175: should really make people mad

Reuters: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yielded to Republican threats and agreed on Monday not to immediately seat fellow Democrat Al Franken." ...Reuters via Hamsher

The Impact of Two Missing Senators ...OpenLeft

So the absence of both Franken and Burris lets McConnell demand an extra 10 committee seats. Admit either one of them, and he only gets 1 extra seat (on the largest and probably most important committee, Appropriations so even then it does matter a lot).

Of course, I blame Obama


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:40 PM
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||So a certain vain person is really pissing me off.

A certain vain person also, not long ago, drunkenly confided that he was cheating on his wife with a high school nemesis several states away.

A certain drunken vain person showed me various naughty emails such that I know specifically who the mistress is.

Certain vain person is really, really pissing me off.

Oh, let better wisdom prevail over vindictive spirit.

|>


Posted by: Linda Tripp | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:47 PM
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175:I wonder why Reid's top priority was to try to convince the nation, via a series of announcements and TV appearances, that something he knew he was going to do in a couple days

Now you know why. The Senate does the biannual organization immediately upon convening.

Reid & Obama have washed McConnell's nuts for him. Maybe he'll play nice now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:48 PM
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i'm flattered, thank you, AWB!
if i'll fix the problem with my webcam perhaps i'll post some other words without mashin pump sounds
the reward as promised


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:51 PM
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Actually, I was going to say you have a very sexy voice, read.

I concur, your voice is very nice read. I also agree that there was a lot of background noise.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:55 PM
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It's funny that no one at Hamsher's in comments figured it.

The Committee numbers and staffing and budget shares are important to everyone, and insanely important to Senators.

Adding Burris and Franken probably would mean McConnell would have to fire two staff members from every committee. Two extra votes on Intelligence or Justice? Fuck yeah, this is what is going on.

Only OpenLeft seems to get it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 8:56 PM
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I like your voice too, read. What Unfogged needs is a recording of a conversation between read and nattarGcM.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:01 PM
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194: becks-style, I assume.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:07 PM
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sorry, correction, not the first one it seems
well, he's my kin that's like more important for me


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:13 PM
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170: thank you, bob.

The rest of you ingrates better do it too, or I will cut you.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:19 PM
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I did, B!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:21 PM
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What this "lawsuit thing," B? Are you the plaintiff or the defendant? Is this related to the stupid house?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:29 PM
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Rereading the OpenLeft post, I have apparently exaggerated the member numbers per committee. Who knows about budgeting and staffing.

I can find nothing on the blogs or web about the Senate Organizing Resolution.

I will bet the OR gets passed before Burris & Franken get seated. This may be why DiFi wants to seat Burris. Things are moving rapidly.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:30 PM
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The "Best Science Blog" category on the Weblog awards is disturbing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:31 PM
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Can our completely aboveboard and legal bots get to work on B's case?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:35 PM
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This thread is much too confusing to skim. Can somebody summarize?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:35 PM
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293:Senator DiFi is acting like a vain 6-yr-old, and I plagiarized that from Obsidian Wings, by googling for a term paper.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:39 PM
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Skip the part between 120 and 179, and you'll be happy, happy, happy!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:40 PM
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Vain people are either good or bad. Economists are bad, but economics isn't.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:40 PM
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206 to 203.


Posted by: PGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:41 PM
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Alright, some happy news for you people: Kai, on his third encounter with "solid" food, wolfed down 2 bowls of rice cereal this evening. He loved it, gumming it with a big, cereal-eatin' grin.

Also, at a book store today, Iris made an employee think she could read, because how else would she be able to identify all the gods on that poster?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:41 PM
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203: read has a sexy voice. That's all you need to know.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:44 PM
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Wouldn't it be more useful if Forvo told you what the word meant?

Not to quibble with the somewhat thrilling experience of hearing read's voice.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:45 PM
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Damn, now I wish I had sound.

206: Economics is bad. Some economists are even worse.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:49 PM
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Hooray for 208

When will you teach Iris about Marpessa, the only human female to resist the sexual advances of a god and survive with her life?

I remember that one from Edith Hamilton's book, which fascinated me around age 10 or so.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:56 PM
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211: you know who really sucks? Lefties who can't even win control of a political party whose leadership gets rolled over by brain-dead Republicans.

I can't help it.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 9:57 PM
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Marpessa Dawn, the exotic star of the Franco-Brazilian film Orfeu Negro (noted for introducing the world to bossa nova), died last year at the age of 74. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Her obituary is notable for having two different corrections of the spelling of the name of her co-star.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:04 PM
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Alexyss K. Tylor has some advice for men

Following her recommendation of Clorox wipes for nether bits maintenance, I'm beginning to question the soundness of Ms. Tylor's advice.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:09 PM
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||

Whatever happened to Carob?

It's like the whole world realized it was digsusting all at the same time.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:12 PM
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All those blog awards would be more fun if they let you vote for the worst blog in a given category, too. They should also allow write-in candidates.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:13 PM
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Following her recommendation of Clorox wipes for nether bits maintenance

AAAAAAAAAHHH.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:13 PM
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I don't think you sound like an old man.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:17 PM
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I hope all those votes for "Watt's Up With That" are from bots, and not representative of the size of its readership relative to Real Climate.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:21 PM
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How did I not know about Forvo? Forvo is awesome. And read's sexy voice and mashin pump make it even awesomer.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:35 PM
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221: I sent it to eekbeat (who's studying linguistics) just now. She was an instant big fan. I hadn't heard of it either.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:41 PM
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206: Economics is bad. Some economists are even worse.

I was trying to summarize the group consensus view, John.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 10:50 PM
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216: Are you commenting from 1987, Mr. Seinfeld?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:27 PM
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224: it's like a chocolate bar made of airplane food!

I dunno I think I just totally forgot about Carob in 1981 or so and it all came back to me right before I made that comment. Came back to me in a terrible wave of shitty dessert.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:33 PM
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And what's the deal with blue raspberry? It's like these guys at the food companies were looking at the Blow Pops and the jelly beans, and thinking..."there's a color missing! Which one is it...oh, blue! If we combine the irresistible appeal of blue...with some random flavor...then we'd really have something." And now everywhere you see blue raspberry. It could just as easily be blue prune. Blue peach! Blue kumquat."


Posted by: Sifu Seinfeld | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:39 PM
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But really, what the fuck happened? It just disappeared. It's not even the butt of jokes. People still make cracks about jell-o molds and key parties and disco, but it's like Carob has been wiped from the face of the earth. And meanwhile, chocolate supports child slavery?

I smell a conspiracy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:40 PM
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"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:40 PM
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Needless to say, this mollifies me not one iota.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:43 PM
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It's a rare and precious thing when something famous becomes neither loved, nor hated, nor even dismissed, just totally forgotten. I try to hold a few of those things in my mind, for special occasions.

For example, when's the last time you heard this?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:44 PM
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I make fun of carob all the time. It's a stock joke for me, like the Rimbaldi document. Shh, just hold me now.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:45 PM
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230: never?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:47 PM
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231: indeed, you are the first google result for the Rimbaldi document. No sign of you in the carobsphere, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:49 PM
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I try to get a feel for the totally forgotten things of other eras too, so I can amaze my parents' friends by making off-hand references to Charlene Tilton, or using words like "confab". Old collections of newspaper comedy columns and vaguely topical cartoons are good for this.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:50 PM
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Also it's apparently the Rambaldi document.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:50 PM
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234: clorophyll chewing gum is a particular favorite of mine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:52 PM
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235: See, that's how forgotten it is. As for 233, I'll be happy to write a blog post about carob, if you'd like. But I'd rather you just hold me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:52 PM
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Seriously, Erma Bombeck used the word "confab" all the time. I don't think I've ever read a book including that word that didn't also contain a lot of speculation as to whether the ERA would be ratified by enough states to pass.

What does it mean, anyway? Just, like, a conversation?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:55 PM
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You could do a whole forgotten foods thing, maybe cook up some carob-coated Quorn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:55 PM
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238: it probably isn't this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:57 PM
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We are become Seinfeld, destroyer of thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 7-09 11:58 PM
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232 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 12:13 AM
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So, can someone explain why it is not OK for Blagojevich to cynically use his power to appoint a senator, but it is OK for Reid to cynically use his power not to seat an elected senator?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 5:29 AM
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When will you teach Iris about Marpessa, the only human female to resist the sexual advances of a god and survive with her life?

Actually just got to that passage in the Iliad, but it was a portion I was reading on my own.

So far we've been soft-peddling the general topic of rape, so Marpessa's example may not stand out all that much. Or maybe it will. We'll see.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:07 AM
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243: No, because everyone thinks Reid is being A. a tool and B. legally unsound.

It's really breathtaking how bad he is at this.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:09 AM
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Blagojevich cynically used his power to appoint a carob Senator. That's not OK. Senators are supposed to be vanilla. In the whole history of the US Senate, there have only been 5 Senators who weren't lily-white, and the most recent one just became President. There should now be a six to sixty-nine year gap during which the Senate remains all-white. That's tradition.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:10 AM
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I don't recall Possum Dixon at all. On the one hand, it's kind of a fun throwback to that period in my life, when interesting new bands were popping up all the time, because the record companies were just guessing what might be the Next Big Thing; on the other hand, I can see why they've been forgotten. The intros are far more interesting than what happens once the singing starts.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:21 AM
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238: Yes, it's synonymous with conversation etymologically, though we use it to mean more like conference or palaver.

Amazingly, the OED cites a use of the abbreviation "confab" in 1701.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:41 AM
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Reid needs to step down. He's from a red state, so anything genuinely progressive that he does will cost him in the next election. If he's to remain viable as a candidate he has to stay on the right of the Democratic party, which completely hobbles any chance at genuinely progressive legislation. The incompetence in dealing with Blago/Burris is just icing on the cake.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 7:58 AM
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246 is funny, but, for the record, I don't buy that motivation one bit. The Senate (and Obama, for that matter) were very explicit that Blago shouldn't appoint anyone, and that, if he did, that person would not be seated.

In the event, the choice was entirely reasonable, and Reid should have said something stern but ultimately conciliatory, and let it drop. Instead, he thought, "Aha, here's a chance to show some spine - beating up on a (black) Democrat no one's ever heard of! Now maybe Mitch McConnell will be nicer to me."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 8-09 8:17 AM
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251

thread is a mess of stereotypes and noone defining what we mean when we use these terms like self-esteem, vanity, yada yada. I think this topic is quit einteresting, don't know why the thread failed to explore it well.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 01-10-09 2:22 AM
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252

i mostly agree with 249, but NV is a red state? Obama won it by 13 point.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 01-10-09 2:24 AM
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