Saturday, October 17, 2009

Superfreaks Revisited

Krugman spanks 'em again. For not doing their homework.
But that's not what selling books is about these days.

Those Freakonomics Guys? Scratch 'Em Off The List

 I loved the first book, but didn't follow up much in the critique category. Now, it seems, not so much good. And their climate change crap is just that. Shit.

 Says one commenter:

Two of Levitt’s most famous papers are false: i.e. his key findings evaporate once elementary programming errors are corrected. This includes his controversial paper with Donohue that claims that the Roe vs. Wade decision was a cause of the signicant reduction in crime in the U.S. in the 1990s.
I guess I just got carried away with the romance of Levitt's story, Dubner's good writing and the whole notion of contrarienism, which is my ego taking over for, um, actual thought. Mine is a classic American human story. I am so disappointed in myself. But I can take it. Lesson learned.
BTW, I got this from Sullivan, where you can get some other links. And if you really want to burrow in, take a look at commenters on the first link.
Me? I've got This American Life's big health insurance story to attend to. Anybody got any Prozac?
UPDATE: Okay then. We're screwed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is It The Moon, Or Is It The End Of Western Civilization?

I've been glued to breaking political news on my favorite internet sites for more than two years, but I just popped over to TPM after the Weeds interlude and I swear I have never seen such bizarre.
Josh Marshall wonders if wrestling and necrophilia have ever played a role in a political campaign before this year's Chris Dodd race in Connecticutt, the NRA thinks Hillary and third-world dictators want to take away somebody's (not mine) guns, Obama spokesman notes that biracial background don't seem to have adversely affected either his boss or himself despite what some Louisiana justice of the peace thinks, and some COP (Crazy Ol' Party) folks make news for the second day in a row in their quest to find Muslim plots teeming in the halls of Congress. So far nothing new on ballooon boy, but the day's not over.
I'm almost afraid to check HuffPo, which had headlined Arianna calling for Biden's resignation, a story I studiously avoided.
Was she kidding or has she jumped the shark? Dunno.
Back to Weeds, I guess.
This would all make more sense if I really was high.
And to top it all off, Andrew Sullivan found this:
Fewer people joined the Army this year than last year. The Army exceeded its recruitment goals not because recruitment went up but rather because recruitment goals were lowered. The Army is the service that has been having the hardest time finding new recruits in recent years, in part because it has borne the heaviest burden—and suffered by far the most casualties—in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Don't trust anything you hear or read, ever.
Love,  Former  reporter

Complete This Sentence

If I could be any fictional character, I would be...
Nancy Botwin. 
Seriously, not a single character in fiction has appealed to me this much since Scarlett O'Hara who, I don't believe, had as much fun in bed as Nancy.
They both have the same resilience, cunning and beauty and they are both wonderfully imagined characters written by women with, at least on paper, my secret agenda.
Edgy, risky, flawed. I know Glenn Close and Holly Hunter have some good roles, and The Mirren was another all-time favorite with at least occasional satisfaction, but their characters live real lives and so must suffer alarming consequences.
Nancy, like Scarlett, will always come out okay. And so will her kids.
Misspent my morning watching the middle shows to Season 4. Oh, that Estefan! Whew!

For those of you who haven't heard me say this, for a taste of what else Mary Louise Parker can do with a great role, rent Angels In America, the best American film ever.
In both cases, nothing without the writing.
Happy Friviality Friday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Smart Guys Finish...Us

 Krugman thinks Trillin nailed it.

Obama's Race Speech

After a day of travel to and from Seattle to hear Nicholas Kristof and think about the 100 million missing women, I needed something hopeful to think about.
Andrew Sullivan picked it up at The Dish:

[L]ast March 13, when the incendiary sermons of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, blew up all over the cable networks, Obama had spent the entire day and evening in the Senate. That Friday, after enduring a series of tough interviews, Obama informed Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe, “I want to do a speech on race.” And he added, “I want to make this speech no later than next Tuesday. I don’t think it can wait.” Axelrod and Plouffe tried to talk him into delaying it: He had a full day of campaigning on Saturday, a film shoot on Sunday, and then another hectic day campaigning in Pennsylvania on Monday. Obama was insistent. On the Saturday-morning campaign conference call, Favreau was told to get to work on a draft immediately. Favreau replied, “I’m not writing this until I talk to him.”
That evening, Saint Patrick’s Day, less than seventy-two hours before the speech would be delivered to a live audience, Favreau was sitting alone in an unfurnished group house in Chicago when the boss called. “I’m going to give you some stream of consciousness,” Obama told him. Then he spoke for about forty-five minutes, laying out his speech’s argumentative construction. Favreau thanked him, hung up, considered the enormity of the task and the looming deadline, and then decided he was “too freaked out by the whole thing” to write and went out with friends instead.
On Sunday morning at seven, the speechwriter took his laptop to a coffee shop and worked there for thirteen hours. Obama received Favreau’s draft at eight that evening and wrote until three in the morning. He hadn’t finished by Monday at 8 a.m., when he set the draft aside to spend the day barnstorming across Pennsylvania. At nine thirty that night, a little more than twelve hours before the speech was to be delivered, Obama returned to his hotel room to do more writing. At two in the morning, the various BlackBerrys of Axelrod, Favreau, Plouffe, and Jarrett sounded with a message from the candidate: Here it is. Favs, feel free to tweak the words. Everyone else, the content here is what I want to say. Axelrod stood in the dark reading the text: “The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made.… But what we know—what we have seen—is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope—the audacity to hope—for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”
He e-mailed Obama: This is why you should be president.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Contrarienne, Paris

From The Sartorialist, of course, still my favorite eye candy.

Health Bill Petition O' Teh Day


Anna Deavere Smith

NPR did a story on her new theater piece today and there's a YouTube up, but I think the audio is better. She's also an artist in residence for the Center for American Progress. I've admired her for years.
Let Me Down Easy began eight years ago, when the Yale School of Medicine invited Smith to be a visiting professor and interview patients, doctors and administrators — people like Ruth Katz, who was being treated in the hospital and was told by an oncology fellow that her medical records had been misplaced. He doesn't seem to think that's an unusual occurrence — though when he asks Katz about her employment, and she tells him she's one of the medical school's deans, her files turn up within half an hour.

Here's Terri Gross' interview with her.


In 1963, my dad gave me albums by my two newest music enthusiasms, Joan Baez and Barbra Streisand. Joanie abides. Barbra, not so much.
The American Masters show tonight was great.

Why Is Baseball Like Insurance?

They're both exempt from anti-trust legislation.
A condition that may not last much longer and got a much-needed push this week when AHIP, big I's front group, released the flawed report on the Baucus bill.
Perhaps Democrats are mad enough now to include anti-trust in the health reform bill.
Shumer says it will be there.

Good TeeVee

No, not an oxymoron. I love TV.
Just a reminder, the Joan Baez doc is on PBS at 8 and my new fave, Modern Family on ABC at 9 tonight.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bad Econ 101

Okay, never mind that reserve currency thingie. That was so last week.
Today both Taplin and Jerome A Paris over at Daily Kos have highlighted this very, very bad news.
Taplin wants a lot of innovative government investment in green stuff to save us. Jerome, whose expertise is green technology, just wants a lot government investment. Like, yesterday.
Second stimulus, anyone?
It is my considered opinion that most of the country is still expecting to see those mall stores back open. Except in Michigan, of course. Still don't know what hit us.
I'm going to see Capitalism next week.

Petition O' Teh Day

Some piece-of-shit Dem senator is being protected by leadership in his intention to hold up a public option. My money is on North Dakota's finest.
Anyway, for what it's worth, let Harry Reid hear from you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Random Thought

Watching the PBS special on the history of Latin music in America, it became obvious from a short clip (which was the closest TV in the 50s came to simulating female orgasm, but you better be sure the adults picked it up) that Desi Arnez played a huge role in breaking the color barrier in this country.
Add to that West Side Story and Elvis, the mop tops weren't going to turn it back no matter how white and fresh-faced and Aryan.
Of course there were important marginal players — I owe my soul to race music from Detroit radio summers on the Lake Erie beach outside Cleveland.
But my gut tells me I've got it right here.

Wait A Minute

It's about dominating the news cycle (smacks head, spits).
How could I have forgotten?
White House secretly gives the go-ahead on a public discussion of a state opt-in on the public option and AHIP is caught unawares. Or maybe the White House had nothing to do with it, maybe it's Shumer's game after all.
Then, on top of it all, Obama gets a Nobel.
Two-three-four days in a row with no one badmouthing health reform in the news. The ship is sinking, the ship is sinking. And Baucus' committee is about to vote.
Quick, pull out the rabbit.
Here, see, this is a bad, bad, bad bill.
Get President McCain back up there to say so.
News at 11.

Kabuki, I Tells Ya

Pull back the curtain on the AHIP (insurance industry) report, which blasts the Baucus bill just a day before his Senate Finance Committee is due to vote on it, and you get all kinds of speculation.
TPM is closely tracking, but in the meantime, consider this comment:
Nate Silver has an interesting observation that may play a role in this "report". Insurance company shares are down an average of more than 11% since Labor Day. In dollars and cents, that's $10B in lost value. In a month and a half.

Over the same time period the S&P500 is up almost 7%, so the insurance companies underperformed the stock market as a whole by some 18%.

Nate Silver runs 538, highly respected liberal polling blog.

Followed Me Home, Honest

Elinor Ostrom: Honorary Contrarienne

And the others, too.
I know it's a hackneyed phrase, but we've come a long way, baby.

Ostrom was the first woman to win Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences since it was founded in 1968, and the fifth woman to win a Nobel award this year — a record for the prestigious honors.
Random Thoughts Dept.
Elinor Ostrom looks like my Gramma Bertha.

I, on the other hand, am often mistaken for Angelina Jolie's sister.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wanda On Viagra

"I think if you're over 75 and you want those pills, you should have to bring a note from three women who want to fuck you."

Random Thoughts

Liz Cheney, Mary Cheney. I get the two mixed up. Which one is pregnant? Which one is the — gasp! heterosexual?
It doesn't matter. They both defend a war criminal parent.

Linkins Talking Heads

Jason Linkins' take each Sunday morning on the talk show blathering is an acquired taste. I have acquired it.
I would call this Sunday Friviality but somehow that sounds lame.
WARNING: Afghanistan is discussed at times.
Meanwhile, Panel Time! Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize, for albatrosses! Liz Cheney says that it's premature, but that maybe he can send the mother of a fallen American soldier to Oslo to participate in what she calls a "farce." She is concerned somehow, that Obama does not believe in "American dominance," whatever the hell that is. Juan Williams offers that it is a repudiation of Bush-Cheney foreign policy of pointless bellicosity which then leads to failed military strategies. Bill Kristol calls it an "anti-American" award, that should have been refused, but that the second-best thing to do is to go to Oslo and give a "pro-American" speech on American exceptionalism. Exceptional fast-food and exceptional dance moves. And Nina Easton thinks it will hurt him, political, because pundits say it will hurt him, like Nina Easton, who just did so.
...While we're FLOWING, maybe someone on this panel would be so good as to FLOW ME UP an explanation of how the 40,000 additional troops will be used. Because right now, it seems like an article of faith that this magic number of troops will somehow win positive-sum outcomes through...I don't know....SHIT THEY LEARNED AT HOGWARTS? See. This is where you'd prefer a general to say, "Hey, we just had an election go south, we're having trouble outcompeting the Taliban on governance, we probably need additional resources, but what we really need is a new approach with a significant magnitude of change." OH WAIT. WE ACTUALLY DO HAVE A GENERAL SAYING THAT.