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Know Your Enemy

Posted by Stanley
on 08.18.12

In case you hadn't heard, Paul Ryan's favorite band is Rage Against the Machine. No, really. It's great.

Even greater is RATM's Tom Morello penning a response:

Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.

Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.

I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!

Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

Full disclosure: I was once in a shitty punk band that did a shitty cover of "Fuck the Police".


 

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Heel the World

Posted by Stanley
on 08.18.12

In terms of heroics, jumping up in the air and coming down funny on a Nylabone is somewhere near the bottom of the list of ways you can break your foot. And maybe it's not broken. I landed square on my heel and it really smarted, but the pain subsided. Now, after playing a four-hour gig last night, it's sore again and seems to be swollen.

The major point here, folks, is: (1) be careful around Nylabones and (2) getting old sucks.


 

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Guest Post - Nick S

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.12

Nick writes: I saw this on G+; a pretty amazing story.

"Here is the headline: United was flying Phoebe as an unaccompanied minor on June 30th, from San Francisco to Chicago, with a transfer to Grand Rapids. No one showed-up in Chicago to help her transfer, so although her plane made it, she missed the connection. Most crucially, United employees consistently refused to take action to help assist or comfort Phoebe or to help her parents locate her despite their cries for help to numerous United employees."

Heebie's take: pretty appalling.


 

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Lights

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.12

It's healthy for you to stay up-to-date on my favorite pop music:


 

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Things I learned at faculty workshops

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.12

Standards are changing for federal financial aid, and IMO it's a bit shitty. For a student on financial aid, they have to show good progress towards a degree in order to keep their eligibility. What's changed is how fast you can get on probation and suspension. You must maintain a 2.0 and complete 75% of the classes you attempt, which is fine. However, you go on probation after one semester and suspension after two semesters.

What this means is that an 18 year old can dig themselves in such a deep hole in a semester, that they can't even dig themselves out the following semester. There is an appeals procedure, which all faculty at Heebie U are learning about, but who knows if that happens at State U. Or if a suspended student is aware that there is an appeals procedure.

Thoughts:
Pros: Doomed students won't acquire as much debt.
Cons: It takes a lot of students a year to get their bearing in college, and this makes the stakes really high. Especially so for first generation, low income students who have the least understanding of the expectations of college.

Overall, I find this really frustrating. I know it's a cost-cutting measure, but rich kids can try, fail, and get picked up and dusted off over and over again. Students need to be able to fail with some safety.

Finally, this is just another example of "let's make the stakes higher in order to get compliance!" and that just doesn't work, and it's infuriating, and argh. It's well-understood that first generation, high risk students need support services, small classes, etc, and that they succeed quite well if they get sufficient support their first 1-2 years. This is the opposite of that.


 

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The Classics

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.16.12

Free books! Free books! Courtesy of Sifu.


 

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¿Quién es más macho?

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.15.12

Obama : home-brewed beer :: Romney : Caffeine-free Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi

Extra credit: were the beverages reversed, how many hours would Fox News have devoted to this story by now? Show your work.


 

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Coogi Sweaters

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.15.12

Snarkie sends along this delightful gem: art from Cosby sweaters.

Buried within the article is a link to this site, which I am unable to stop reading: clothes posted on E-bay where the seller rambles about the sentimental value they attach to the item. On corduroy pants:

You cant buy them unless you like that corduroy swishy sound when you walk because I do not care for it, but I forgot about that when I bought them & then I never wore them. sad story.

 

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Do You Promise Not to Have Sex With Anyone Else, Ever, So Long As You Both Shall Live?

Posted by Alameida
on 08.15.12

A few months back, the upcoming celebration of our 14th wedding anniversary led to a kind of funny conversation between me and Husband X. Well, the more funny for us not ever having had it, really. We were discussing some friends, now getting divorced--the husband had been cheating on the wife. I said to Husband X that I'd take him back if he cheated but I'd make his life so awful it could never have been worth it, even if she was the hottest 22-year-old Filipina on the planet. I would remind him of it with ruthless glares when we were with our children but they had looked away for a moment, so that he had no chance to respond in any way, and just felt his stomach knotting up in anticipatory panic all the time.

As I have had occasion to mention, Husband X is a very charming and lovely person and believes that all my male friends have crushes on me. He is not, however, jealous of them. (He loathes drama club mercenary, but not because he doubts my virtue.) He is serenely confident. I tell him when I'm having lunch with a friend. (My health has been so bad for so long now it would be exciting if I were having lunch with anyone and I think I would be questioned on the basis of whether I felt well enough to go to a restaurant, but that's a separate problem.) It has happened that he said, "hey, why aren't we having a nice lunch in the middle of the week?" but the solution then has been just to schedule lunch with him also.

Anyway, I was curious about his views. "Would you take me back, if I cheated on you?" He deflected the question with talk in some other direction. I had to ask him three times to drag it out of him, but then the answer was a flat no. "No." "I couldn't earn back your trust?" "No." So now you know! Husband X is confident I wouldn't cheat on him (which I won't!) so he doesn't make a fool of himself hassling me over my friends. But on the other hand if I did fail him, he'd kick my ass right to the curb. I realized I find this combination of attitudes...super sexy in a guy! Lucky me, since I promised not to have sex with anyone else until I die, and/or he dies, right in front of God and everyone. Have the non-poly but partnered among you had such talks with your (then-) beloveds? Have any of you learned by experience and been surprised? Go presidential and drop science like Galileo dropped an orange.

UPDATE: I'm interested in what poly readers have to say too; I was just thinking, they did have this conversation, and it turned out OK. But I'm still fascinated, so please talk on.


 

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Somebodies that any of us used to know

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.12

From Sifu: next up, Fun. releases a supercut of ten thousand people being douchebags in bars


 

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Out-of-state students

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.12

J. Robot writes: Frankly, California was one of the few states that I wrote off entirely when I was on the market.

From Heebie: The allegation is that California schools are rejecting in-state students because out-of-state students bring in more revenue.

University of Michigan actually got in trouble for this in 1995, and several of my friends were summer admits who were admitted in a wave of in-state admits to correct the imbalance, after the legislature got mad at the school. So it's not a new ploy, although obviously Cali schools are in some rough straits.


 

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Let me be the first to blindly recommend...

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.14.12

Sounds perfect for the next NYC meet-up.

EaterAK: So now that you've had a night to sleep on it: Was this in fact the worst experience you've ever had in a restaurant?

EaterGM: After much thought and reflection, I can say that dinner at Dans Le Noir was the worst experience I've ever had in a restaurant. You?

EaterAK: Same. I'm sure I've had worse food, worse service, worse company, but I've never felt the same desperate need to flee.

EaterGM: Agreed. I'll just say that I've never come so close to having a panic attack in my entire life.


 

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Could we please get nationalized car insurance, while we're at it?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.12
With a title as provocative as "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court," comedian Matt Fisher's Tumblr post was bound to get attention.

The screenpic of twitters from Flo is particularly dark.


 

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Correct horse battery staple

Posted by Ben
on 08.13.12

Kaiser Permanente has this to say about passwords:

Complex passwords are safer. At a minimum, your password:

must be between 8 and 50 characters long
must contain at least one letter and one number or special character (!, @, #, etc.)
must not have four or more of the same character (aaaa) or a sequence of four or more characters (1234 or abcd)

Good: sanfranc1sco
Better: $anFranc1sc0
Best: "I went to San Francisco last summer!" becomes Iw2SFls!

But "I went to San Francisco last summer!" is fewer than fifty characters long. You could just use it. (If it had a number.)


 

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Guest Post - Nick S

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.13.12

Nick writes: I recently saw somebody say, in the comments on a Brad DeLong post, "We also need to close the $600B/yr trade deficit. That's also a lot of money leaving the working class to never come back as wages." I've seen comments like that, as part of the background debate about what effect it has on the American economy to loose manufacturing jobs.

However, I was recently reading something which offered an interesting and different perspective on that number. A couple links and then some thoughts at the bottom.

I was reading a book about China by James Fallows, but the basic idea is captured in this article

...American customers might pay $1000 for a "made in China" laptop computer, but less than $100 of that would end up in any Chinese person's hands. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal had a story, by Andrew Batson, about a new study from the Asian Development Bank Institute that dramatized this issue. In normal US-China trade statistics, Yuqing Xing and Neal Detert of the ADBI said, the entire cost of the "made in China" product is counted as a Chinese "export" to America. This grossly distorts our picture of the trade relationships, they say -- making China's surplus look bigger than it "really" is, and disguising exports from Japan, Korea, and elsewhere, plus what is really "US" content.

He's talking, in part, about an idea that he's encountered living in China -- the frustration that, in becoming a global manufacturing power, China has ended up building jobs in the low value-added portion of the development chain. See, for example, this story

The fast pace of industrialization, however, has not been accompanied by a rapid increase in China's national income in dollar terms as it has been forced to sell at lower and lower prices in international markets.
Thanks to modularization of production, in many industries the profitability at various stages of production has come to follow a U-shaped curve - high at the upstream and downstream processes and low at the midstream processes. Stan Shih, chairman of the Taiwan-based Acer Inc, is said to have first coined the term "smiling curve" to describe this phenomenon of U-shaped profitability. Regarding personal computers, for example, value added is high at the upstream, which includes the development of operating systems and central processing units, and at the downstream, which includes maintenance services. Profitability is lowest in the midstream process, which involves such labor-intensive processes as assembly.

This leads to the WSJ article that Fallows cited:

Trade statistics in both countries consider the iPhone a Chinese export to the U.S., even though it is entirely designed and owned by a U.S. company, and is made largely of parts produced in several Asian and European countries. China's contribution is the last step--assembling and shipping the phones. So the entire $178.96 estimated wholesale cost of the shipped phone is credited to China, even though the value of the work performed by the Chinese workers at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. accounts for just 3.6%, or $6.50, of the total, the researchers calculated in a report published this month.
The value-added approach, in fact, shows that sales of the iPhone are adding to the U.S. economy--rather than subtracting from it, as the traditional approach would imply. Based on U.S. sales of 11.3 million iPhones in 2009, the researchers estimate Chinese iPhone exports at $2.02 billion. After deducting $121.5 million in Chinese imports for parts produced by U.S. firms such as chip maker Broadcom Corp., they arrive at the figure of the $1.9 billion Chinese trade surplus--and U.S. trade deficit--in iPhones.
If China was credited with producing only its portion of the value of an iPhone, its exports to the U.S. for the same amount of iPhones would be a U.S. trade surplus of $48.1 million, after accounting for the parts U.S. firms contribute

Or, if you prefer, The Economist

According to a study by the Personal Computing Industry Centre, each iPad sold in America adds $275, the total production cost, to America's trade deficit with China, yet the value of the actual work performed in China accounts for only $10. Using these numbers, The Economist estimates that iPads accounted for around $4 billion of America's reported trade deficit with China in 2011; but if China's exports were measured on a value-added basis, the deficit was only $150m.

Or this editorial from Forbes

America has been running a trade deficit against China for a long time. It is importing from China lots of Apple iPhones, Dell computers, Gap shirts, Hasbro toys, Mattel dolls and Nike shoes. The list can go very long. Careful eyes may immediately spot that those are all American companies. In fact, a San Francisco Federal Reserve study has found that 55% of the value of American imported goods from China actually goes to American companies and workers. In comparison, American companies and workers only capture 36% of the value added of the import from all countries combined. Buying from China gives America a much better deal than buying from other countries in the world.

Here are my takeaways:

I'm convinced that the commonly cited trade deficit figures are almost useless, by themselves. I'm also convinced that the move of manufacturing to China (and East Asia in general) hasn't moved high-wage manufacturing jobs from the US to China, it's destroyed them. It doesn't sound like anybody, anywhere in the world, is making a high wage assembling mass-market consumer electronics, and that isn't going to change soon.

Obviously high-wage manufacturing jobs still exist, both in the US and, famously, in Germany, and I don't have a good sense of what separates industries which do pay a high wage from ones which don't, but I'm inclined to think that those are two different types of jobs.

Finally, it struck me, when I was looking up those links, that other than James Fallows, the sites talking about this were all right-wing publications. That's partially because this line of argument does serve as an apology for globalization. Consider the line from the Forbes piece about money going to, "to American companies and workers." There's a big difference between money paid in wages and money accumulated as corporate profits. If the trend is towards destroying manufacturing wages and boosting corporate profits that's hardly a reason to feel encouraged.

I do think it's an important question for leftists to consider -- that we should be asking, "how does cheap Chinese manufacturing fit into an economic picture in which workers in both the US and China can make more money?" Rather than just asking, "how, in the face of off-shoring, is it possible to improve the economic position of
American workers." Because, as James Fallows's book makes clear, it's a question that many people in China are asking themselves -- how they can occupy some position in the global economy other than cheap manufacturing for the world, a position which comes with real costs to them.


 

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Slow cooking

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.13.12

Opinions on crock pots? Do you like them? Do you feel uneasy leaving them unattended all day? I mean, however low they are, it's still converting electricity to heat all day long, which seems like a fire hazard. But they also seem like a magically easy way to produce dinner on the table.


 

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Everybody likes cover albums

Posted by Ben
on 08.12.12

The fine people at metafilter music do a challenge every month, and recently the challenge was: record a (randomly assigned, I think) track from OK Computer. It is, therefore, possible to create an all-metafilter cover album of that album:

I think the first half here is stronger than the second, to be honest.

Here is an interesting asymmetry. Several of those tracks bear little relation to the originals musically; the lyrics are the same (or the same except for being translated), but the melody, instrumentation, etc., are different. Another instance; or consider John Cale's covers of "Heartbreak Hotel". We don't refrain from calling them covers. But when someone provides new lyrics for a tune, keeping the music the same, we often do not call the result a cover. Weird Al is not generally thought of as a cover artist.


 

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Actually, I suspect bus tours suck.

Posted by Stanley
on 08.12.12

Aboard his campaign plane Friday evening, Romney told reporters: "Bus tour, it's great! It's great to be out campaigning. . . . Campaigning is the most fun, is the most enjoyable and rewarding." Romney then clapped his hands and returned to his seat at the front of the plane. "Back to my yogurt," he said.

So, so awkward.


 

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