Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Cut + Run = Kerry
Why Let Duke Have All the Fun?
Ray C. Fair's model is predicting Bush 57.7 to Kerry 42.3.
Also, your tax dollars at work: Bush might win! K. Grease can't really complain, tho, since we just went and ate frozen yogurt outside. At least these people at Labor wrote a memo....
Finally: the theme song for Tuesday night may be .....Osama enchanted evening. (With apologies to Perry Como fans)
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Third Time, You Answer
If someone asks a question three times, you have to try to answer it.
My pal, The Dread Pirate Gryphon (his friends call him "The," for short*) has asked this question in three very similar ways. I will use the most recent phrasing.
Would the Chronicle have published an article entitled "The Blacks" that railed against their unfair over-representation in jazz music and professional sports? (And a corollary - would Prof. Munger have defended its publication on the same grounds?)
Answer to primary question: Probably not. Hard to say, because the newspaper is independent, and run by students. The editor of the Chronicle, Karen Hauptman, is herself Jewish, and was (IMHO) bending over backwards to be fair to this view. She might not have done the same for an article (mutatis mutandis) on "The Blacks." She also might have. My speculation: no.
Answer to corollary: Of course K. Grease's pussweiler friend, "Professor Munger," would have defended it on the same grounds. Yes. Absolutely. He already did that in the case of the Horowitz ad a few years ago. But so did Nan Keohane, bless her. In spite of abuse.
Unsolicited Bonus Answer: (And the reason I think "The" is such a cutie...) The reaction, among the faculty, to the Kurian piece has been negative, but not outraged. The reaction among the faculty to the Horowitz ad was outraged, and organized. Protests, meetings, ass-whuppin. Mea culpas.
What conclusion to draw? In my opinon, the Kurian piece was more of a personal assualt on Jewish people than the Horowitz ad was on African-Americans (this is obviously a subjective assessment, but I would defend it). Yet, the reaction to the Horowitz ad was much stronger than the reaction to the Kurian editorial. This means....that "The" has a point, much as I would like to deny it.
*His line, not mine. I can't take credit. But it did make me laugh.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Well Hung Chads
In preparation for understanding chad categories, in anticipation of weeks of arguments about how and which votes count, K. Grease has some categories for you. (Pronounce this with a fake Brit accent: "Ca-TEG-er-ees")
Ballots were categorized according to evidence of voter intent:
* Blank (no mark seen); Also called virginal chads;
* Dimpled chad, no sunlight;
* Dimpled chad, sunlight;
* Dimple with or without sunlight, off chad, within borders;
* Dimple with or without sunlight, off chad, on border above;
* one detached corner;
* two detached corners;
* three detached corners;
* four detached corners.
This is written so you can draw a line. Everything above the line, not a vote. Everything below the line, not a vote. Try it! It's fun....
A postscript: I was going to suggest that the Duke Poli Sci Men's Basketball Intramural team should be called the "Well Hung Chads." But having seen them play, perhaps the "Virginal Chads" would be a better name.
Reason, Journalism, and Kurian-ism
A terrific post from Dan Riehl.
He published an overtly anti-semitic letter in the student newspaper he edited, in the early 1980s. Got vilified by the academic left. Journalism professors burning newspapers. Very nice. Very leftist, in favor of protecting all speech they agree with. ATSRTWT.
This is why, IMHO, the Duke Chronicle did the right thing publishing the Kurian letter. In spite of what WEEKLY STANDARD said. Because, in fact, there are LOTS of faculty (not just students, I'm sayin'; FACULTY) on the left now that do believe, in more nuanced and camouflaged terms, exactly what young Phillip spurted.
Here's the thing: Everyone is acting like Duke U is the only place this is true. Here's what Protein Wisdom had to say about what he calls "this little pleasantry from Duke (the University, not the former Klan leader—though, is there really a difference these days? You decide):"
This is the point where the WEEKLY STANDARD loses the thread, and wanders off into the blackberry bushes. "Assuming Karen Hauptman is correct about this--that some significant body of Duke opinion shares Philip Kurian's disapproval of the "exorbitant Jewish privilege in the United States"--isn't that kind of a problem?" Well, yes, Mr. Scrapbook, that would be a problem. How would the problem have been solved by preventing this scabrous view from being expressed, and scrutinized? Now the FUCKING RIGHT is committing the sin of the left, and only allowing views they agree with? I expected better from you.
Wake up, you dolts! Brown, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago, Stanford: lots of faculty at all those places belive that Israel has no firm right to exist, and that oppression of the Palestinians is a new Holocaust, with the Israelis ("The Jews") playing the role of Hitler.
What the editor of the Chronicle, Karen Hauptman, said is this: In retrospect, perhaps she should have taken time to "edit some of [Kurian's] language" or use "an alternate headline." Overall, she said, "I believe we were right in printing the column," Hauptman concludes. " To not print the column because the opinion presented is offensive would be to ignore a debate that is present around us. . . . [E]ven if the Chronicle had rejected the column, the ideas Kurian expressed would still exist."
Don't blame Duke. The issue is out here in Durham, because of the Chronicle, and people who hold the views Kurian expressed so clearly now have to decide if they are really going to believe this crap, or change their minds.
At all those other universities, the boil hasn't been lanced yet. But it's festering, and swelling, under the brittle skin of forced, censored civility.
Karen Hauptman, Duke Chronicle Editor: K. Grease says--Good on ya!
Use ATSRTWT: Because Otherwise People Can Still Understand You
Help K. Grease in the crusade to reduce clutter by compressing one of the most trite phrases in the blogosphere to a single, unintelligible and unpronounceable acronym:
ATSRTWT: "As they say, read the whole thing." Pronounced "ATS-ER-TWIT".
ATSRTWT Users' Hall of Fame:
Why do this? If you GOOGLE "as they say, read the whole thing", you will find nearly 500 exact instances. And that doesn't count all the time it appears in posts that have now been archived.
End web clutter. And be truly obscure. Use ATSRTWT!
Email K. Grease about other brave souls fighting for justice, opacity, and truth (JOT).
Monday, October 25, 2004
Osama Votes for Bush, Absentee
I like Al-Jazeera's English-language site. I do.
But some of their columnists appear to use LSD as eyedrops.
Consider this. An excerpt:
...[The] week after the Madrid attack [by Al Qaida], the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claims to act on behalf of al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the bombing and declared a truce in Spain to see if the new government would withdraw its troops from Iraq, but warned that it was gearing up for new attacks.
This part of the declaration was widely reported. However, very few mentioned the more ominous part of that declaration, short of excerpts which were reported by the BBC and Reuters.
"What is a cause for concern is that half the American people still wrongly believe that Iraq had links with al-Qaida and a hand in the 9/11 attacks"
The declaration turned its attention to President Bush, saying: "A word for the foolish Bush. We are very keen that you do not lose in the forthcoming elections as we know very well that any big attack can bring down your government and this is what we do not want.
"We cannot get anyone who is more foolish than you, who deals with matters with force instead of wisdom and diplomacy.
"Your stupidity and religious extremism is what we want as our people will not awaken from their deep sleep except when there is an enemy.
"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation.
"Because of this we desire you [Bush] to be elected."
A political tactic of this calibre should have perhaps appealed to pundits and political scientists in the media.
However, al-Qaida gravely underestimates the likely political result of an attack against the US in the months leading up to the election. It would lead to a landslide victory for Bush as it would resonate with the American culture's "circle the wagons" mentality and take orders from John Wayne.
Such an attack would play to Americans' deep inner insecurity and violent reaction to any threat has had disastrous effects, and not only to the American Indians.
Of course, I may be quoting out of context. ATSRTWT*!
On the other hand, lots of journalists (and some soldiers) have started to refer to Baghdad's "Green Zone" as Fort Apache. Maybe the LSD has some clarifying effects...
*"As They Say, Read The Whole Thing." I'm trying to get it started as a new web word. Pronounced "Ats-er-twit". Spread the word. Atsrtwt.
Card's Busch Stadium, Red Sox Bush League
Quincy? Have you ever been to Quincy, Mass? Yikes.
Nice accomodations, Red Sox. A question: has it been so long since the 'Sox won a World Series that they forgot that there would be an....OPPONENT? Home team is supposed to ensure accomodations. Here is an excerpt from an article in the St Loo Post-Dispatch.
Hotel, transportation snafus rankle Cards
By Joe Strauss Of the Post-Dispatch
BOSTON - The Cardinals might license a fresh slogan for their three-day experience in Boston: "I went to the World Series, and all I got was this lousy bus ride." Relying on housing suggested by the host Red Sox, the Cardinals found themselves put up at the Quincy Marriott, about 15 miles and, depending on traffic patterns, as much as 45 minutes from Fenway Park. The inconvenience caused manager Tony La Russa to express his team's disappointment over its accommodations before Sunday night's Game 2. "I understand the home team has the responsibility for making the hotel accommodations," La Russa said. "It was a real bummer to the point where a lot of us were upset and embarrassed." The weekend included a lack of late-night room service, a lack of alternative transportation to team buses and a complicated exit from Saturday's four-hour, 11-9 loss.
The hassle was enough that traveling secretary C.J. Cherre and general manager Walt Jocketty inquired at Boston hotels about availability, only to discover none could provide a large enough block of rooms. The Redbirds' travel party of about 100 includes owners, sponsors and family members in addition to team personnel. "For most of these guys, this is their first World Series experience, right?" La Russa said. "When the game is over ... if you're here, there are all kind of restaurants here. In Quincy, there wasn't anything except for the hotel that stayed open for us. We shouldn't have had this problem."
The Quincy Marriott had never housed a major league baseball team until this weekend. Its room service shuts down at 11:30 p.m. La Russa lauded the facility for putting out food for the players but was equally disappointed the spread consisted of nothing more than bar fare. "I suggested they put Boston in a hotel in Jefferson City," La Russa said, mindful that the downtown Adam's Mark is the Red Sox's team headquarters in St. Louis. Hotel availability in The Hub was at a premium over the weekend because of the World Series and the annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Since the Cardinals did not play in Boston this season, they did not have a guarantee of October hotel space typical within league cities. The Red Sox at first denied any involvement in the Cardinals' predicament before director of public relations Glenn Geffner explained the club was prepared to make 100 rooms available at the downtown Hyatt until the hotel could not guarantee such a large bloc two weeks ago. Major League Baseball also lost a bloc of 250 rooms. Without another alternative, the Red Sox steered Cherre to the Quincy hotel. Saturday's problems were compounded before the club returned to its hotel when the last of four team buses - the one carrying La Russa, some coaches and several players - became separated from the first three and a police escort.
The La Russa bus was forced to idle for more than 20 minutes until Boston police could locate the owner of an SUV blocking its way. The final bus pulled into the team hotel at 2 a.m. "I think our response should be the Red Sox buses, just because of major league security, have to get off at the Arch," La Russa said. "And they walk from the Arch to the ballpark." He added, "This is the World Series, the event of a lifetime. It's not what the World Series is supposed to be."
Don't Challenge Him!
From the Des Moines Register, via (in my case) Ed Cone:
"Yes, Kerry is liberal. But what's to fear from a liberal president? That he would run big deficits? That he would increase federal spending? That he would expand the power of the federal government over individuals' lives? Nothing Kerry could do could top what President Bush has already done in those realms."
Me, I say don't make it sound like a challenge. Kerry may be up to doing all those things and more. Nothing is more scary than a man who is convinced he knows the truth and wants to help other people based on that truth. Am I talking about Kerry, or Bush? Yes.
As for the challenge, I bet that ten years ago, Kerry and some other guy were drinking in a bar, and Kerry got dared to go marry some incredibly rich crazy woman. And you see how THAT worked out. So don't challenge him to be a bigger putz than Bush: I think Kerry could do just that.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Playing the Assassination Card
Golly. From the Guardian.
"On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?"
If you are going to invoke assassination fantasies against a sitting American president, there ought to be certain standards. How "civilized" can you be if spell the word like some narrow-backed Brit bed-wetter?
Saturday, October 23, 2004
O wad some Power the giftie gie us...
An election prediction, from an Arab journalist in Washington.
Interesting. An excerpt:
Given the regional nature of the US and the differing political philosophies of the two parties, each presidential candidate has a natural base and certain regions to work with.
For John Kerry, he has the north-east corridor and progressive coasts while Bush has strength in the confederacy, the deep south, the old west and the farm belt.
The areas up for grabs are Appalachia, the industrial north, and the upper Mississippi basin.
I would have said the only "Appalachia" up for grabs was WV, and one might want to mention FL. But, otherwise this is a good a summary as one could get in 500 words or less. Makes me think of Robert Burns:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
Of course, that poem was "To a Louse." Why did that make me think of Al Jazeera?
...A Dabba Doo Time, We'll Have a Gay Old Time
If the Flintstones made political ads, they might make them like these. They'd have a gay old time. (Special bonus: Play the Flintstones theme, loud. Now THAT is music! I just never get tired of it.)
First, the "John Kerry/John Edwards don't hate gay people, so they must be gay themselves" argument. It's all good, but the shot of Bush at the end, standing in front of an eagle and holding a football, looking not so presidential but very heterosexual...that's the best.
Then, the famous George Bush / Tony Blair bit.
Question: why do BOTH SIDES like to make homosexual jokes about men trying to work together?
Yabba dabba doo.
Friday, October 22, 2004
O Daniel boy, the Pipes, the Pipes
A question: How come Duke (and my department in particular) is getting blasted for supporting the Palestinian Solidarity Movement?
In the same week, we also co-sponsored Daniel Pipes, Students Against Terror, and Gary Bauer.
If there is a bias there, it is TOWARD a pretty extreme pro-Israeli perspective (both Pipes and Bauer), or at least leaning that way (since SAT was the group organizing counter-protests to PSM). Then, just for fun, we sponsored Barney Frank. (HEY! AIN'T WE GOT FUN!??)
Several people (including the estimable, and reportedly cute, Dread Pirate Gryphon) have asked why I didn't advertise that we also supported Pipes, et al when I was "crowing" about free speech. (I have to admit, I am warming to the Dread Pi. He makes actual arguments, and the Princess Bride riff is very nice. Plus, he's a gun nut, and what's sexier than a Southern transplant living in New York, packin' heat?)
LOOK! The whole point is that I am not trying to give equal time, or organize debates, or control issues. My job in sponsoring speakers is simply to support discourse on the Duke campus. I will sponsor ANY group that (in my considered judgment) does not overtly advocate violence, and is invited by a legit Duke student group. I have gotten about 12 gagillion flames (though admittedly not from the Dread Pi) saying that refusing to renounce violence (what PSM did) is the same as advocating violence (what PSM didn't do). It's not. It's just not the same.
My advice? Learn to make better arguments, using actual logic, and then still don't send me any more emails. Pull the wings off flies, or something constructive like that.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Phillip is Winning
Several people have asked me (apropos the earlier post) if I thought Kurian "won" an argument.
Not yet, but he is doing pretty well. Of course, he is taking the ass-whuppin he deserves (in my opinion, and according to Saunders' Law) for his remarkably poorly argued and bigoted column.
But the response has not been "What a stupid argument you made!" (Though this one is pretty close; well done, Dave!)
It has been "The Chronicle should be closed down for publishing this," or "Kurian should be arrested, or punished." Or, even "Duke should be boycotted by all Jewish students and alumni, because an independent student newspaper published one editorial by one student seeking attention for making an outrageous argument."
(Full disclosure: I know PK well, and consider him a friend. He's a good guy, smart and concerned about the welfare of others. He recently won a Melcher, for excellence in journalism , as well as a Truman.)
Here's the way that academic freedom works, for faculty and students, IMHO.
1. All opinions can be expressed, and publicly evaluated, if even one person wants to do so. I mean all: racism, sexism, even a claim that pro wrestling and the NBA are fake. All opinions.
2. All opinions must be supported by an argument, which will be judged by its use of logic and evidence. Judging arguments by "I'm offended" is ruled out.
Kurian violated #2, as I see it. His column was ad hominem and poorly argued in the extreme.
But the critics are violating #1 when they say that Duke, or the Chronicle, or even Kurian should be punished for allowing this opinion to be heard. He can certainly be abused in print or in person for expressing a view that is nonsense, but he cannot be sanctioned for having violated the rule against saying something stupid or offensive, because there is no such rule.
It seems to me Kurian has done a great service. We at Duke are now going to have a conversation about the view he expresses, which in my opinion is fairly widely (though secretly) held by lots of people on the left. Since (again, in my opinion) this view simply does not bear scrutiny, it may force people to rethink that view, which until now they have been able to maintain without challenge.
So, yes, Kurian is on the verge of winning, since one of his claims was that some shadowy conspiracy of fear prevents alternative views from being expressed. To the extent that a heavy-handed response makes him a martyr, rather than just a person who holds an opinion supported by neither logic nor evidence, he wins.
If all we do is call him an Anti-Semite, he wins. For an array of responses, see this. The original post is perfect: the worst thing you can do to bad arguments is quote them verbatim and in context. Way to go, LGF! But then if you look at the responses, you see that the desire is to blame the Duke faculty, the larger University, the newspaper, and probably the state of North Carolina, for the fact that one badly argued and patently incorrect view was held up to full scrutiny by publishing it in a newspaper.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Barry Saunders, of the N&O in Raleigh, has an interpretation of freedom of expression, in the press and at colleges. He says, "freedom of speech means you can say what you want. But you still gotta take the ass-whuppin'" if people disagree with you. Is that so hard?
Look at what is happening to Phil Kurian, because he wrote this. People are offended. Our Prez takes a hand.
I have come to believe that nobody but Barry Saunders (and, of course, your own K. Grease) understands the nature of freedom of speech in private universities.
First, 1st Amendment pretty much doesn't apply. It says "CONGRESS will make no law...." Nothing about Larry Moneta. Universities have "in loco parentis," like it or not.
Second, even if you get to speak, you are not guaranteed an audience, or agreement from whatever listeners you do get.
Finally: you have no formal protection against getting offended, or upset. People go nuts if they get offended, and act like their own (nonexistent) "rights" against being upset somehow trump other people's rights to express their views. A commitment to freedom of expression, as a means to improving education, means that sometimes people are going to get offended.
Which made me think of this handy Name-Calling List. Since nothing is more upsetting than an opponent who is making a better argument than you are, using logic and evidence and that sort of thing, your best bet is to be a big crybaby and act all hurt. Call the person beating you in an argument names! These will come in handy; make sure you commit them to memory:
- Person winning an argument with a conservative--A godless communist
- Person winning an argument with a liberal--A heartless fascist
- Person winning an argument with a black person--A racist
- Person winning an argument with a Jewish person--Anti-Semitic
- Person winning an argument (accented speech) with a white person--A foreign terrorist (use "Islamic extremist" if they look Arab.)
- Person winning every argument with me--Dear*
(*I call her "dear" because she's my wife. And, yes, Snookums, you are right!)
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Patrick Buchanan Slides Home
Wow. The Arian Heresy.
If Bush loses, his conversion to neoconservatism, the Arian heresy of the American Right, will have killed his presidency. Yet, in the contest between Bush and Kerry, I am compelled to endorse the president of the United States. Why? Because, while Bush and Kerry are both wrong on Iraq, Sharon, NAFTA, the WTO, open borders, affirmative action, amnesty, free trade, foreign aid, and Big Government, Bush is right on taxes, judges, sovereignty, and values. Kerry is right on nothing.
Here is the whole piece.
(Nod to NC)
K. Grease took the heir to the Mungowitz fortune to see Playmakers' production of Richard II. Did a review for WUNC's TSOT. Here is the text.
In October 2000, Richard II might have been just a curiousity, worth only a frivolous review. I might then have assigned moral qualities to the characters, made the 2000 version allegorical. Or maybe Georgebushical; I might have had Bolinbroke say “New-cue-ler”.
In 2004, I don’t think anyone will say the play is frivolous. Richard II is not about politics; its subject is leadership. Tragedy, in its Aristotelian sense, is the fall of a highly renowned man or woman, someone admirable, who falls from a position of great esteem to a position of utter disgrace as a result of a tragic flaw.
Richard II is a tragedy, then, only if we can admire Richard himself. Chandler Williams, as Richard, gives a remarkable, mannered performance, twisting into fury and shame and delight, dominating the stage and then shrinking all of space around himself like a shroud. His embodiment of kingship at the beginning is nearly perfect. His movements are languid, unhurried and sure. He is an island of easy repose in the face of the fury of Bolinbroke and Mowbray’s quarrel.
By the end, when Richard is opened for our inspection, all the certainty is gone. We pity him. We may come to feel we understand him. But there is little to admire in Richard. Yet tragedy this is.
The tragic blight here is on humanity itself. The play raises questions about civil life, and leadership. We hope that great challenges embiggen our kings…our presidents. In Richard II…no. No leader is big enough to face the challenges he is presented with. The choices are epic, but the choosers are puny and flawed.
Your reviewer is tempted to shoe-horn current events of our day into the plot of the play. We see, after all, a ruinous foreign war, disastrous tax policies, and truly polarized politics, with strutting men flinging their gauntlets of honor, doing battle over tiny slights, real or imagined.
But that would misunderstand the message. Not in policies, but in people, should we see reflections of Richard II. When George Bush had that, “How dare you? I’m the President!” look in the first debate. When John Kerry becomes angry at reporters, sure that they are out to skewer him, or ruin him, traitors all to his cause. I can easily imagine Richard II windsurfing for hours.
And who among you have not felt the pain of John of Gaunt? The lines of his soliloquy are often quoted out of context, and robbed of their meaning. Listen, as an American in 2004, to his rage:
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,… Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,Renowned for their deeds as far from home,For Christian service and true chivalry,… Dear for her reputation through the world,Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,Like to a tenement or pelting farm:… That England, that was wont to conquer others,Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Though I have seen the play before, I was moved here to tears. It was partly by Kenneth Strong’s powerful performance as Gaunt. But it was more that I heard, or understood, Gaunt’s speech for the first time. I recognized America. Our leaders fall tragically short of what the people need, of what the nation, in its greatness, deserves.
Richard II has been called “the most subtle piece of psychological analysis” in all the history plays. (The Meaning of Shakespeare, vol. 1 [University of Chicago Press, 1965], 148). It is unsettling to see wretched Richard laid bare, stripped of his conceit. But the real laying bare happens when we confront leaders not as we imagine them, but as they are. We endow our kings with a sense of majesty, imbue them with infallibility, and then we scorn their hubris. We, the people, have met the tragedy, and it is us.
Go…see Richard II at Playmakers. Take your children. Take their high school classmates. And then go, and sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the dearth of leadership.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
I never MetaAnalysis I didn't like
Jon Stewart also has a book out now.
A sample review:
Great!, October 17, 2004
Nicole "Jem" (New York, New York) I thought it was good. I guess thats my opinion. I would definitely recommend this book if you have a sense of humor!
K. Grease would recommend this book if the above is how you talk. I guess that's my opinion.
(nod to AWV, who is on a roll)
Dems Gone Wild
Here are two wild and crazy liberal guys, doing whatever it is that men do instead of lifting up their shirts.
Jon Stewart showing it for free. Must be hard to know that much. How does he fit his head through the door? A genius. And he called Tucker Carlson a "dick." Also a connoisseur of insults, apparently.
Tim Ryan, rappin' with a sound track. Courtesy of a fan. Bless the hip-hop generation.
You won't be able to sit still, I guarantee. I think K. Grease needs a sound track for his life. I was thinking of the Shaft theme. Or else Pee Wee Herman's "Tequila" bit.
(Look, I looked for a version of the Shaft theme that did NOT try to load 3 or 4 aggressive spywares, but couldn't find it. If someone can suggest something....)
(Nod to MP, via AWV (with friends like that....?). And a nod also to SdM. Now practice your defense against that slow near side draw.)
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Deja Flu All Over Again
It is not an accident that "it" (flu vaccine shortage) has happened again. Government has set itself up as a monopsony buyer, to keep costs down. They did this in Poland, in the 1980s. Set the price of pork at 5 cents per pound. Of course, there was no pork, but golly was that nonexistent pork cheap!
So now no one can make money making vaccines. Hardly a big mystery that no one does make vaccines. Maybe we can force people to go out to the countryside for reeducation camps, and then shoot them if they won't work for the common good. Grubby, greedy capitalists.
This from Dec 9, 2003 WSJ. Note that like causes produce like effects.
Where's My Flu Shot?
A few weeks from now, when the country has run out of flu vaccine and people want to know why, we suggest they knock on the doors of Senators Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee. Perhaps the three Republicans can explain when they intend to honor their promise to hold an open debate about the tort liabilities facing vaccine makers.
The only two suppliers of flu shots reported Friday that supplies are running out. The Centers for Disease Control is now urging health-care providers to reserve the shots for those most at risk. That leaves millions worrying that someone in their family might be next to die from a bad case of flu.
The reason for today's shortage -- as well as seven previous preventive vaccine shortages since 2000 -- is that there are just five vaccine makers. This lack of suppliers is partly thanks to Hillary Clinton, who as first lady turned government into the majority buyer of vaccines and pushed prices so low as to make business unsustainable. (This price-control approach, we'd note, is what Democrats would now like to inflict on the new Medicare drug program.)
But just as worrying to manufacturers is an explosion of class action lawsuits. Vaccine makers are supposed to be protected from suits by 1986 legislation, but tort lawyers have found loopholes and filed more than 200 cases. The Republican leadership fixed this by including a liability provision in the Homeland Security legislation of a year ago. That is, until Ms. Snowe, Ms. Collins and Mr. Chafee objected to its "dark of the night" insertion and forced Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist into repealing it.
In return for their victory, the Senators promised an open debate on broad liability reform within six months. That would have been ... June. But the Senate canceled a markup on a reform bill in April and the Senators have gone quiet. Apparently, making sound vaccine policy isn't as politically rewarding as preening before the media by standing up to "special interests" (vaccine makers). So what's your solution for the flu-shot shortage, Senators?
Sinking Llike a Stone in the River
The John Kerry movie/festschrift "Going Upriver" is sinking fast. A total of $481,000 cumulative, nationwide. Some movies gross that much in Cleveland, in one weekend.
I still want to see it; better hurry before it disappears into the mud on the bottom of the river.
"What are you wearing?" Factor
Our Fox guy gets some attention.
In which, among other things, a "little short brown woman" asked to see his penis and "was amazed."
I bet she was. I'm amazed, too. But not surprised.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
More on NV as Swing State
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I Think This Means They are Reproducing
Check the Conservative Match site. "For Sweet Hearts, Not Bleeding Hearts."
Some things to notice:
- You can't be gay. All you get to do is put in your own gender, and the site chooses "matches" for you. All of the opposite sex. That's not a PROBLEM, is it?
- Basically anything you want to look at requires registration.
- There's a big "Remember Ronald Reagan" ad. I guess if you find that romantic, then this is definitely the site for you.
As for K. Grease, he has to stay far away from these sites, even the most basic browsing. If you are married to an Italian woman, you have to worry about waking up and finding your OWN bloody severed head in the bed beside you.
Oops! I did it (again)
A kid in Wilmington, NC may go to jail for bad language.
Not clear from the story if he actually made any threats.
We have criminalized so many actions that we invoke the nanny now for things that make no sense.
Suspend the kid. Hell, expell the sum' bitch! But don't use the violence inherent in state incarceration unless the action being punished involves direct violence or the explicit threat of violence.
(heh. heh heh. heh. He said "Hell." and "bitch". Heh huh heh. Arrest him).
"If the election were held today...."
Awfully close, but Bush might still win. But, maybe not, same site, different method.
How can that be? Why isn't Kerry ahead by 50 EC votes? More optimistic for Kerry, but less accurate. Kerry may win Ohio and Penna, but he hasn't won them yet. (And I did predict that NV would get "play" before the end).
Of course, there's also this.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Kydland and Prescott
Markets are pretty cool. "Information" (see this graph) or else information, had it right.
But I was wrong. Barro didn't get the Prize. A little surprising that Kydland and Prescott got it together. Nonetheless, very important work.
(UPDATE: Until you have kids, you don't really understand time consistency problems.)
Saturday, October 09, 2004
K. Grease: Your Man in St. Louis
Was here to do discussions on the Prez Debate at Wash U. Walked around the Alma Mater early this morning. Felt just like New Orleans on Ash Wednesday (that's the day AFTER Mardi Gras, for those who are both non-catholics and non-drinkers).
After Mardi Gras is over, the streets are all dirty and damp, the expensive hookers are all still asleep, and the cheap hookers are doing the walk of shame back to their apartments. This morning at Wash U, I had the feeling that Tim Russert was fast asleep, and the guys with still cameras and follow-up deadlines were walking around feeling self-important, and hoping that someone would notice. The happiest person I saw was a young woman taking a picture of some trash. She was happy because another guy was taking her picture taking the picture of the trash. Presumably, the story would be, "Here, look, the day after Mardi Debate, all we Media ho's be tired, but here is a picture of someone taking a picture of trash." Made me wish I had a camera. How far can you push a regress?
Some other highlights:
- The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus (No, I'm not kidding. WTF?) It had more cables leading up to it than a heart bypass patient. "And if we don't, we're gonna blow a 50 amp fuse."
- The Rock the Vote androids were making merry, putting out bottles of Dasani in ice tubs, and getting ready for the show (noon to 4 pm, day after the debate, Dan Dyer, Shelley Fairchild and Wylde Bunch with St. Juste). The RtVers looked bright and cheery. I hated them; I hated them all. Look, people: I'll deny this if you quote me. But you go to college to drink strong spirits and get laid. You might even consider recreational drug use, though of course I'm opposed to that. No matter what, though, here's one thing for sure: If you and 100 other people are wearing identical t-shirts and putting water in tubs at 8 in the morning on a weekend, you MIGHT be a nutjob. Get with the program.
- Right in front, tucked nearly under the bumper, of the RtV bus was Scion xB from FCUK.COM. It looked for all the world like vehicle sex of the canine sort. It struck me that the issue of this unholy union would be a Volvo full of extremely earnest young people. They would wear overpriced clothing and whine incessantly about how they identify with working people who couldn't afford either the Volvo or the clothing.
- Two signs I saw sticking in the ground, unmolested, presumably reflecting either consensus among the WU community or fear of offending the hegemon: (1) "Give Bush the Pink Slip: Vote or Die!" and (2) "Religion is for the WEAK!"
Great debate, though. Most of the time the candidates made at least some effort to address the questions. I thought the last question was a little strange, though: "Mr. Bush, can you name three mistakes you regret? Now, Mr. Kerry, can YOU name three of Mr. Bush's mistakes that you regret?"
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
TtwbC comes through
Rick, You Blew It
Rick Martinez wrote in his Oct 6 N&O column that Duke was cowardly, caving in to "political correctness" by allowing the PSM conference.
Even a moment's thought reveals this is absurd. It would have been much easier for us not to host the conference. There would have been less debate, fewer heated discussions, and fewer unsettling disagreements. In fact, we could just not have any discordant ideas at all, and never argue with each other. Duke could look like this.
But debate, discussions, and even unsettling disagreements are the reasons we have universities. True, if Duke had denied PSM, we would not have violated the 1st Amendment. It is also true putting PSM off would have denied our students, our faculty, and the larger community an opportunity to learn, and to speak out in opposition if that is their desire.
As a fellow conservative, I generally enjoy and appreciate Mr. Martinez's commentaries. But as a conservative in the academy, I recognize just how important a universal commitment to real freedom of expression can be. You are dead wrong on this one, Rick.
When I was asked by PSM if my Department would co-sponsor, I readily agreed, and gave money. Nonetheless, if you come to Duke's campus, you will find me outside, joining those protesting PSM's message. I disagree with PSM vehemently. But I defend Duke's decision to sponsor the conference just as vehemently. Note to Rick: C'mon over! You'll get angry. And you might even learn something.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
University Administrators Make Loco Parents
Article on new nannyism in student affairs "administration."
Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key
(Nod to TtwbC)
Shujaat on the Presidential Debates
Monday, October 04, 2004
[[uber update: i did put a warning below, but let me be clearer: NOT WORK SAFE. NOT RETINA SAFE. SAFE SEX, THOUGH, BECAUSE THIS WILL DESTROY YOUR LIBIDO FOR SEVERAL HOURS. A kind reader's suggestion for vision balm. ]]
How Berkeley Can They Be? Very, it turns out. Yikes.
(UPDATE: As has been suggested, quite rightly, two warnings should be issued. (1) this site is NOT WORK SAFE. (2) if you have any aesthetic sense of the beauty of the naked human form, looking at this site will rob you of it. These are truly remarkably unattractive people, in every way.)
(And, in spite of his protestations, I have to give the nod to JB. I suspect that these are really not his people)
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Two Random Things
1. Zogby on how the race is Kerry's to lose. Hard to dispute. But it is also hard to dispute that he is well on the way to losing it. Not irremediable, but how can Kerry possibly be trailing Bush in so many states where he should be ahead by 5-8%
2. You know who is really great? Chris Lawrence is really great. I've said it before, but there is no one more pissed off than a pissed off Libertarian. (In the post I've linked, note the comment that suggests the Libertarian solution be implemented by passing a law. That's why we are all so pissed off.)
Debated Rhymes With Overrated
Good lord. The people on the left are so happy they are touching themselves about the "results" of the Prez debate.
I have been trying this analogy for a while, and it seems more and more true to me.
I think we can all agree that the Cubs lost today. Braves beat 'em, 8-6.
But that doesn't mean that any Cub fans are going to become Braves fans. (If you have followed those pitiful losers this far, you are innured to pain and immune to reason).
The fact that Cubs lost certainly doesn't mean that people who pay no attention to baseball are suddenly going to say "I love the Braves!"
Here's the thing: in baseball, the games matter. We keep score of the scores, and if you win games you win the big prize. In politics, "winning a debate" only matters for the glasses-wearing nerds who wore pocket protectors and couldn't get dates in high school. These people, now Democratic wonksters and blog-roarers, only talk to other people as isolated from reality as they are. And they are calling each other up on their cell phones and saying, "Hey! What are you wearing?"
Most voters don't care at all about the debates. And for those who do care, they may be glad their guy won, or that their guy lost, but it won't change anything.
Sure, Bush may lose, but not because of the debate. Besides, Kerry still has that image problem.
Update: I agree with CJOB's Charles Adler (pointing to James Taranto of WSJ). He pounded Kerry for his wimpout answer to the question about being "the last man to die for a mistake." The question was, are men dying now in Iraq for a mistake. Kerry: "No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering." Which is it? They won't die? It won't be a mistake, if Kerry does exactly the same things Bush has done? That answer, as Charles says, really does show that Kerry just can't stand the idea of taking a real position.
Update again: I do NOT agree with my friend (and PhD student) Tom Schaller, of Gadflyer. A perfect example of what I was talking about above. You can almost HEAR the self-gratification going on in between keystrokes.
Cutting That Baby in Half
Most interesting and strangest twist on the Electoral College:
Colorado's ballot measure (Actually a proposed Constitutional Amendment, #36) to change the allocation system in the Electoral College, will be voted on Nov. 2, the same day as the 2004 Prez election.
But, because the certification of electoral results, and "convening" of the EC, takes place weeks after the election, Amendment 36 would actually affect the outcome of THIS ELECTION. (Although...)
The bottom line is that under the current system, whoever wins Colorado on Nov. 2 gets all the EC votes, because in all the states except two (Maine and Nebraska) there is a "winner take all system." Colorado has 9 votes this year, based on the national reapportionment after the 2000 Census. IF the Amendment passes (and it may), in other words, the winner (right now, looks like Bush) would get 5 EC votes, and the other "loser" would get 4 EC votes.
1. Interesting strategic voting experiment: suppose you favor Bush (recent polls give Bush at least 3%, sometimes 8% or more, lead). Would you vote for the Amendment, knowing that the Amendment's passage would likely hurt Bush? Or would you vote strategically, voting "no" on the Amendment even though you favor a proportional system in principle? On the other hand, suppose you are a Democrat, but oppose the amendment. Given that the overall EC race may be close, would you vote for the Amendment, strategically, hoping that it would cost Bush 4 EC votes? Obviously, taking four EC votes for Bush and giving it to Gore would have made Gore President in 2000, with Gore receiving 270 and Bush 267.
2. I was on a radio show with Colorado's Gov the other night, and he made an excellent point. Even if the proportional system were a good thing, as a national system, Colorado is giving up all its leverage if it (to use Owens' words) "unilaterally disarms."
3. People seem to think that the Maine / Nebraska system (allocate the two Senate seat EC votes at large, and then split the rest of the votes based on who wins within each of the state's geographic Congressional Districts) is a compromise. But this is dead wrong. Our congressional districts are so gerrymandered that less than 10% of districts are competitive. In fact, only about 30 of the 435 districts are really and truly up for grabs. Why would we want a system that locks in the political cartoon drawing that redistricting has become? Maine / Nebraska is an absolute disaster.
4. Since there is no movement toward a national transformation, we are probably best off with the current system. Colorado may fall on its sword, but when other states see that Colorado has simply taken itself out of the game (if #36 passes) then that will be the end of it. No national movement, no big transformation at the state level. I had a long conversation on email with Betsy Newmark, and she convinced me this should just be a nonissue, no matter excited I am (was) in principle about the proportional system.
a story, and another, and another
Friends and Family
I was in papers (eg and eg) and on several live news shows this week (eg, and eg, and eg), and so was seen and heard by quite a number of people I know. In this situations, it is always useful to have friends and family remind you that media exposure is just balloon juice, and that you are still the same pinhead you have always been.
Two examples, of many such comments this week:
1. My son, responding when someone else asked me if appearing on TV is hard: "Um, if my dad can do it, how hard can it really be?"
2. My older son's baseball coach, a former football player at UNC, a man of few words and truly mammoth size: "I saw you on TV this week." Me: "Oh, thanks; how was it?" Him: "I thought it must be watching the sci-fi channel. Why don't you get a haircut?"
Friday, October 01, 2004
The Sleepy VP Race
Edwards and Kerry are being used in EXACTLY the same way: Send them out, and let them give some face-to-face love to the base. Small speeches, small crowds, red meat content, no big TV splashes to take attention from the main guy.
Both campaigns have settled into what now appears to be their true strategy: nurture the base. For months, Kerryistas went after undecided voters, but there weren't any (there are undecided people, but they decided not to vote!). Now, Kerry is going to try to turn out the faithful. This has been the strategy of Repubs/Rove since May or so.
Neither Edwards nor Cheney are effective headliner campaigners. (Edwards could be, perhaps, but he is no longer trying, and has accepted his good soldier role). Both are good at delivering ideological wet kisses to the hardcore supporters, though. People have been saying that Edwards, in particular, has disappeared. But that's not true. If Kerry can get 75% of the people who honestly prefer Kerry to Bush to vote, he can win easily.
Senate Fun--Repubs Maintain Control
I have it 50 for R's, 46 for D's, and 4 toss-ups that will take more discussion...
1. Alaska. What a long, strange trip it's been. On one hand, AK is a strongly R state. On the other, Daddy Murkowski has really made voters angry, both because of the nepotistic appointment of his daughter to his seat and because the econonomy has tanked badly. BUT: Can't imagine that when it comes to be Nov. 2 the voters will really yank the "D" lever. If Babs Murkowski has Daddy to worry about, the D canidate (Knowles) has Kerry to worry about. The ANWR project, which Kerry opposes, is hugely popular as an employment creator in AK. And Bush is sure to win AK by 25 points or more. I can't imagine that people are going to split their ticket enough to toss Murkowski out. SO: AK GOES TO THE R's-- 51 R, 46 D
2. Colorado: R Pete Coors vs D Ken Salazar. This stays too close to call. CO is drifting toward Bush on the national race, going from tied in the polls to Bush leading by 3-5 points, or even more. Coors has big money, but Salazar is not fading. One of the most interesting races in the country. (This is an incumbent R seat, Campbell, so even more important).
STILL 51 R, 46 D
3. Oklahoma: Larry Sabato (UVA) has claimed that Republican Tom Coburn has severe foot-in-mouth disease, saying the race is a battle between good (Coburn) and evil (Carson). Just for kicks, Dr. Coburn is being sued by a a young lady who claims that years ago he sterilized her without her permission during an operation. Even though it seems impossible (there is really no state more Republican than OK), a Democrat might win here, unles Coburn can be fitted with a muzzle. I have to leave this as a toss up, though. STILL 51 R, 46 D
4. Louisiana: Bush, for reasons that are hard to explain, now has a significant polling lead in LA. This bodes ill for the Dems. However, because of LA's truly arcane electoral system, there will probably be a run-off, and coat-tails wouldn't count then. I am going out on a limb here: Neither Kennedy (D) nor Vitter (R) gets a majority on Nov. 2, and then Kennedy wins the run-off, keeping LA in the Dem column.
SO: LA GOES TO THE D's (after run-off)-- 51R, 47D
(NOTE: my original 46 in the D column include my assumptions that Daschle wins in SD, though not by much, and that Bowles wins in NC, maybe by 6-8 points).
(ON FLORIDA: Florida voters give Bush a 50 - 47 percent approval rating, up from a 54 - 44 percent disapproval August 12. Voters approve overwhelmingly (78 - 14 %) of the way President Bush has responded to recent hurricanes. So, Martinez beats Castor)
(SOUTH CAROLINA: Def'ly Republican win. Dems are dreaming if they think they can win here. Kerry at top of ballot hurts them, but Dem candidate Inez Tennenbaum probably could have lost all by herself. Campaign imploded). (On the other hand, maybe not: see this).
OVERALL: This is strange. Repubs are not very exposed this time, with fewer R-controlled seats up for reelection. But the Dems are running well. It is still hard to imagine the Dems retaking control, however. One scenario is to have either FL or SC go to the Dems, and then have both toss-up states (OK and CO) go to Dem side also. Then, it would be 50-50, and Vice President Edwards could cast the tie-breaking vote for Dem control. Not saying it will happen, but it sure could.