Out of the sun
Under the boardwalk
We'll be having some fun
Under the boardwalk
People walking above
Under the boardwalk
We'll be making love
Under the boardwalk
One big difference between discussing policy on Unfogged and discussing policy elsewhere is that on Unfogged it is a nonstarter to consider an argument which screws over the bottom 2-3%*. Elsewhere people are quite willing to argue that a policy is better for 85% of the population, neutral for 10% and worse for the least-well-off, and that the gains for the 85% offset the pain for the bottom 5%. The argument usually goes that those people are so screwed for such a broad multitude of reasons that it's not worth throwing them this one bone, this policy which would be better designed if we didn't have to consider a few people falling through the cracks. Or that, well, there may be a rogue teacher/neighborhood/community which abuses the policy, but those will be sufficiently few and far between to not worry about.
It's not exactly a liberal-conservative distinction - I know liberals who are willing to throw a few under the bus for the good of the broad middle population. Is it ultimately just a preference? I prefer to live in a world where no one gets left behind? What underlies that preference?
(* This was salient in the voluntary school conversation, where I got blasted for abandoning the bottom quintile, when in fact the conversation that I was interested in having was how might a voluntary system work if your goal was serve the bottom quintile. It's okay, I'll get over it.)
I know old-timers invented sex long before I'd knew what it was, and that they claim to have done all sorts of nasty things I can't imagine. Here's one - I'd like to see someone snapping their fingers while shaking, sexily, with Eddie Money. I think sexy snapping is just plain out of style. Maybe even a lost art.
(And to be clear, hipster Tom Waits style snapping is not what she's accomplishing, in that song. She is clearly writhing around on a corvette while snapping her fingers. Hot.)
If gas goes up $.50/gallon, and you fill up your 20 gallon tank once a week, then you're spending an extra $10/week. That is a hardship if you're poor, but not if you have enough discretionary income to eat out for fun 1-2x a week.
Given that we, as a society, rarely care about things being expensive for poor people, it seems annoying that the price of gas gets harped on daily in the news. It is just not that big a deal, and if you are actually concerned about poor people there are some easy big gigantic costs you could readily address. Feel free to develop your public transportation system, Texas. For example.
Obviously gas gets harped on because the it gets drawn to our attention weekly when we have to shell out $40-$60 at a time, and because it fluctuates constantly, as opposed to your rent, which does not fluctuate at the same moment for the entire country, and can't be packaged as neatly into a news soundbite. Still, it's annoying and distracts from good arguments that the price of gas should be allowed to rise.
Oh man, now THAT'S a shortcoming! I was in the middle of a (seemingly successful) experiment, testing whether or not I could post from my iPad with sufficient ease to justify going without a computer for 10 days, starting Friday. The key is that I've got a little bluetooth portable keyboard that Jammies got me last summer. It seemed perfectly adequate.
BUT! When I went to get the link for the keyboard, for your reading pleasure, the browser lost the already written entry. That is a flaw. Also I don't have any of my bookmarks. Also there is some kid here at Hawaiian Punch's gymnastics who is reallly in to shrill leaky-balloon screams, and that got old about twenty minutes ago.
What this will mean is a lot more real-time edited posts, as I just post what I've got, and then edit it as I get a little more. Obviously I could just save the post behind the scenes, as opposed to live, but whatever, it will be a game we play.
A distant friend, assuming I was a non-leather-wearing vegetarian (which I'm not), asked me for non-leather dress shoe recommendations. For reasons complicated and mysterious, I don't have much more to go on than (a) non-leather and (b) for an adult male. But given the Mineshaft's proven prowess with shoe suggestions, I'm confident you won't let me and, by extension, him down.
So, what's good? And while we're at it, let's open the floor to any and all footwear questions looming out there in the quiet.
Can we compile a concrete list of examples of when capitalism leads to inefficiencies? I'm thinking things like:
- Company A buys up company B in order to stop producing a slightly different product that rivaled Company A's product.
- All companies in X industry have phenomenally bloated marketing departments and are just wildly trying to out-peacock each other.
I don't have any ulterior motive, nor do I think these should/would be solved in an ideal world. I just want to have a reference list that refutes this idea that capitalism is gloriously efficient.
Buck and I went out to see a kid from our building (he was a kid when we moved in - I suppose he's more of a grown man now) play guitar in a club last night. Mellow music: a little incongruously country for a bunch of kids from Upper Manhattan, and a little incongruously about hard-drinkin' and lost love for a bunch of well-scrubbed twenty two-year-olds, but they were competent.
But good lord was it loud. I'm comfortable listening to music at a level where speaking in a normal conversational tone would be audible. This was loud enough that I could have shouted at the top of my lungs and not interrupted anything. I could see how maybe some types of music you'd want that sort of overwhelmingly aurally assaulted feeling, but this was sad songs about waking up on the floor after the best woman you ever knew punched you in the face, which seems like the kind of thing you could complain about more quietly.
But literally no one seems to agree with me that live music would be pleasanter if it didn't make your ears hurt -- every year or two we go out to see a band someplace, and guaranteed, I fail to enjoy it because I find the volume level unpleasant. It's not a major problem, but I am completely unable to empathize with normal people who want the music to be that loud. Anyone want to explain to me what makes that fun?
What exactly does Saran Wrap stick to? Besides itself. Glass? Anything else? I need a rule of thumb so that I can stop tearing off pieces of worthless Saran Wrap and just preemptively reach for the tinfoil.
I was talking to a friend who posed the idea to me that the problem with American schools is that it's mandatory, at least at the 7th-12th grade levels. That being in a classroom and teaching kids who do not want to be there is what makes teachers burn out in short order. That kids are masterful at sabotaging a classroom.
My two counterarguments were:
1. What about the kids that drop out? We'd be condemning them to, at best, economic insecurity, and at worst, homelessness.
2. What about having a literate voting population?
Her answer was that we're not achieving either of those right now. Furthermore, historically, each time we've increased mandatory education, the good jobs have all artificially jumped a level, to stay out of reach of people who complete the mandatory minimum. And that the American upper class is masterfully brilliant at sabotaging any effort to level the playing field - make high school mandatory? Fine, we'll invent an Honors track. Honors track becoming mainstream? Invent AP classes. And Kaplan. Etc. In short, that mandatory 7-12 education has failed at what it is intending to do, and it wrecks the classroom to have students who do not want to be there.
I will cop that I would rather teach 50 students who want to be in my class than 15 students who don't. I would rather teach the 50 students for less pay and longer hours. You could not pay me enough nor support me enough to make me want to deal with students who are being forced into my class, against their will. Being a cheerleader-prison guard is a sorry distortion of what teachers enjoy.
If school were opt-in, starting in 7th grade, you'd need to spend a lot of energy in two areas:
1. Providing avenues to meaningful, non-exploitative employment for kids until they're 18. (Presumably we'd keep it mandatory that you have to show up somewhere on a daily basis? Maybe not? What do you do with kids that just want to live on the couch, and will immiserate anyone who tries to get them off the couch?*)
2. Thoroughly deal with barriers to re-entry into the educational system. First, logistically - schools available to everyone. Second, financially - you'd need to earn minimum wage or better for attending school, because otherwise anyone with dependents can't afford to return.
We spend a lot of energy teaching unwilling kids a year's worth of geometry which could be boiled down to a month, if kids were interested in being there. We spend a lot of energy on testing and all kinds of prison-guard tactics to ensure that school is as miserable as possible. Perhaps all that energy could be better harnessed.
I'm half-proposing this, and half just vetting it to see where the mineshaft goes with it.
* This is the real, intractable problem. I have no idea. What do you do with miserable, unhappy teenagers who will oppose anything and everything that gets them off the couch? Are you doing their parents a favor or disservice by interfering? What's best? I have no fucking clue.
It seems as if it's become much more common lately than it used to be for people to refer to the "plate o' shrimp" scene from Repo Man when talking about the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
I want to punch this woman:
But if a person with a 4-year degree can only get a job at Starbucks, McDonalds or a relatively low-level clerical job, they should take it. Where on a college diploma does it provide a guarantee of a certain caliber job? University is not trade school.
Because they're saddled with $50K+ of debt, you nitwit.