If We’re Just A Pure Democracy, Why Do We Need A Constitution?
June 29, 2012, 6:46 pm
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Some of the smarmy commentary from both sides takes the form of saying: You should have known that if you don’t want the government to wield some power via tax, you have the remedy of voting in elections.

True enough. But this makes me wonder: Why the fuck even bother having a Constitution? ‘If we don’t like what the government is doing, we can vote them out’ is one conceivable way to arrange government. But it doesn’t need, or even make use of, a written Constitution. So let’s toss it out, and all the ring-kissing ‘constitutional lawyers’ who make their swank upper-class livings ‘interpreting’ it (to rubber-stamp whatever the current fascists want to do) while we’re at it. What the hell is there to ‘interpret’? The government wanted to do it and so now they are. Enjoy your fascism.

Court Unpacking
June 29, 2012, 6:31 pm
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Part of Roberts’ opinion said something about how he doesn’t think it’s the court’s job to protect people from the bad decisions of their representatives. I guess I agree, as far as that goes. At the same time though, when those decisions are not merely ‘bad’ but exceed the authority that Congress was actually given, well then, it would be nice if there were some way to protect us from such decisions. Roberts’ theory of the judiciary is: well, that’s not the Court’s job.

What the fuck IS their job then? They don’t even want to do that much? Message received. Disband them and call it a day. Worthless, pretentious rubber-stampers in fancy robes.

UPDATE: Let’s not even get started on lawyers who are to the left of the spectrum and then make it to the Supreme Court. It’s striking how the only ‘defectors’ on any contentious issue ever come from the (presumed) ‘right’ side. Leftist lawyers vote in lockstep with whatever current socialist dogma demands, regardless of the facts or argument, and no one comments on it, thinking it unremarkable that leftist justices will automatically vote like ideologue drones. Which, I guess, it is. Unremarkable and reprehensible.

The Totalitarian Consensus
June 29, 2012, 9:25 am
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Fun brain teaser for Obamacare supporters and ‘constitutional lawyer’ sage-priests: Describe a conceivable government power that couldn’t, in principle, be cast as a tax.

I dare you. In fact should go ahead and offer a reward. I’d never have to pay out.

Dear Patrick Gaspard
June 29, 2012, 9:21 am
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No it’s not, fascist totalitarian.

Some Dates
June 29, 2012, 12:47 am
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Been brainstorming on this over email, and this is the initial list I came up with:

1/28/86 (Challenger disaster)

Ground rule – within your lifetime (this would be why I left out something like 11/22/63, etc.)

I trust the unifying property of the date list is clear from context, and from my prior expressed views below.

Anyone got any worthy additions to the list?

P.S. No, I am not joking or exaggerating.

Old Money
June 29, 2012, 12:27 am
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Meanwhile I get a headache trying to understand the Medicaid component of the decision. Here’s what I think is being described:

Congress can condition ‘new’ funding on coercive command X. But they can’t take away ‘old’ funding for not obeying X.

This (if I have it right) sounds like another one of those economically-retarded concepts made up by lawyers. What in the heck is ‘new’ and ‘old’ funding? News flash: money is fungible. There’s no special way to categorize money as ‘old’ versus ‘new’. Nor would it matter if there were.

Let’s say, oh, Texas had been receiving Y dollars per year. This happens presumably via Congress passing a law in which, somewhere, it says (effectively) ‘and pay Texas Y dollars a year’. Now Congress wants to command Texas to do X. They write a law saying: if Texas doesn’t do X, their funding goes from Y to 0.

This law has just been ruled unconstitutional. Fine.

But couldn’t Congress just, like, ‘independently’ change Texas’s funding from Y to 0 (upon seeing their failure to obey, etc.)? Or, change ALL states’ funding to 0 (but then create ‘new funding’ that is conditioned on doing X)?

Is the Supreme Court going to come back and say Hey you can’t do that, you were paying them Y before. Congress can just say So? We feel like paying them 0 now. Supreme Court: but, uh, we suspect you’re punishing them for not obeying that command X over there. We think you’ve taken away their ‘old’ funding Y and you weren’t a ‘sposed to do that. Congress: Naw. We just independently felt like changing their funding to 0 for totally unrelated reasons. Indeed you are wrong to say their ‘old’ funding is Y. Y was their old old funding. We have reviewed this year and revised their ‘old’ funding to be 0. But don’t worry, we won’t condition their ‘old’ baseline 0 funding on any commands or anything. You said we couldn’t. We’re just giving those states who obey our commands some ‘new’ funding, which just coincidentally happens to be Y, the same funding that the old funding used to be. And that’s totally cool, you said so.

What’s the Supreme Court’s position going to be then? Congress must fund states at exactly constant levels for all time? Congress needs SC permission to revisit and adjust state funding on a case by case basis? SC is going to read Congress’s mind and determine whether they adjusted funding downward as punishment for not doing X rather than just cuz they thought that was an appropriate adjustment for legitimate reasons? (Why, trying to make that distinction is almost as stupid-ass as trying to determine if a bank trader did a trade because he thought it would make money on market moves vs because he thought he could capture a bid-offer spread…)

Maybe I’m missing something, but in the future, should we expect a ritual of yearly petitions by states asking the SC to pore over Congress’s funding of them and determine which portion is ‘old’ vs ‘new’ and rule that this or that downward funding-adjustment is an improper ‘coercive taking away of old funding’ rather than a ‘proper exercise of adjusting new funding’? This is, of course, economically moronic but it’s what the SC has seemingly invited and sentenced themselves to.

Or am I wrong? Can anyone explain this concept of prior and new funding in a way that makes sense? Economic sense rather than legalese sense?

Another aspect of this ruling that matches my prediction: convoluted and fucked-up. I can’t even take solace in agreeing with the part of it that my side ‘won’.

Welcome To Jeopardy! Fascist Totalitarianism
June 28, 2012, 9:27 pm
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And remember, contestants: as always, please phrase your fascist totalitarianism in the form of a tax.

Fascism, By A Nose
June 28, 2012, 10:37 am
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So Obamacare is upheld as a ‘tax’. The government can order people to purchase any good/service of its choosing as part of their ‘tax’ power. My opinion of this possibility was perhaps best elucidated here.

What can’t the government order people to do as part of its ‘tax’ power? The answer, clearly, is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Little did we know, the 16th Amendment was a stealth repeal of the U.S. Constitution.

Congratulations, progressives fucking fascists. You won today, fascists.

Why Is ‘Economics’ Simultaneously Fundamental And Violable?
June 28, 2012, 9:15 am
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The left likes to remind us that humans are social animals. No man is an island, it takes a village. The Randian image of the lone wolf individualist is a puerile fairy tale, they say.

Let’s take them at their word then: resolved, that part and parcel of being human, a fundamental and inalienable aspect of human existence, is being part of a group, and obtaining one’s wants and needs via mutual social arrangements with others – in other words, via economics.

Because that’s what economics is, isn’t it?

But so then if this is what the left believes, then why do they diminish the importance of economics when it comes to human rights? Free speech and free conscience are human rights, they would surely say, for reasons having everything to do with the fact that these things are fundamental and necessary aspects of what it means to be human. But so, by their own avowed views, is economics – exchange, cooperation, property, association. Decisions about same.

Yet the left clearly thinks that the government can dictate anything whatsoever that is ‘economic’. Far from having the same sacrosanct status as speech and conscience, once they can convince themselves that an exercise of human action is ‘economic’, to the left that action is tainted and demoted entirely from anything resembling status as a ‘right’. Why is this? Why is ‘economics’ considered to be a second menu item?

Some possibilities:

  • The left doesn’t believe sincerely in any of their ‘rights’ talk. That is just a facile means to policies they favor, which are socialist above all else. When socialism requires violating rights (as it obviously, definitionally does in the economic realm), any consideration of rights naturally goes out the window.
  • The left doesn’t believe in the humans-as-social-animal talk. That is just a means to government usurpation of individuals. If they sincerely believed the social and cooperative aspects of human existence were so fundamental, they wouldn’t be so willing/eager to sever them from other ‘social’ rights for which the left respects above all the primacy of autonomy and free association (such as sex).
  • Left philosophy has been largely constructed and justified by ‘constitutional lawyers’, and similar thinkers who don’t really understand economics, and thus have a fundamentally flawed and superstitious view of its being somehow separable from other aspects of human existence. The rest of leftist autocratic thinking on economics follows from this misunderstanding, this original sin.

Are there any possibilities I have missed? Or am I just being unfair? Because as I have listened to a parade of leftist and lawyers the past year and more justify a policy that is fundamentally totalitarian, that violates individual rights in such a complete and limitless manner, I genuinely don’t see how to reconcile their social-animal belief (i.e. economic actions being fundamental to humanity) with it’s-ok-to-violate-rights-if-they-are-‘economic’.

This is not an irrelevant debate on this particular day, of course.

Let’s Fight Rush Deafness Together
June 27, 2012, 7:05 pm
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Is the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, any good? Only asking because I can’t tell. I dutifully bought it and everything (in fact I’m listening to it now) but I almost feel as if I can’t really hear it. This is a problem that showed up for me around 3-4 Rush albums ago, and it reminds me of nothing so much as those studies showing that as spouses grow older they start going deaf to each others’ vocal frequencies. Does Rush Deafness kick in during the mid 20s? If you move out of the suburbs? Whatever the case, it would be sad if that’s what I’ve got. Maybe I’ll set up a tip jar. I assume it would be tax-deductible.

Heroes In Search Of Quests
June 27, 2012, 5:29 pm
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A number of recent government initiatives, from Bloomberg’s large soft-drink ban, to crackdowns on kiddie lemonade stands, to the various localities mindlessly cracking down on or taxing plastic shopping bags, have helped throw into sharp relief what I now can see is one of the biggest problems we face as a society: A serious dearth of important, heroic things for ambitious, busybody egoists to accomplish.

Where prior successful societies might have sent these people off to be officers in faraway wars, or to go convert savages to the faith, or to captain ships on long explorations, or to slay heathens in the Holy Land, or to the Moon, or something else meaningful and heroic, now we concentrate them into oak-paneled city councils and Roman-columned state houses with literally nothing heroic for them to do all day when they get there. Nothing, other than to try to enrich themselves as much as possible so they will feel good in comparison to the other would-be heroes around them who also have nothing heroic to do. So what do we expect? Of course some of them will run all over the place in search of plastic bags to slay, Mr. Pibb cups to shrink, lemonade stands to angrily overturn in the name of the one true Gov’t.

Something like Obamacare is just a larger-scale instance of this malady, of course. For decades now, an entire faction of people have been obsessed with the pedestrian, insular issue of how to get some people to pay for other peoples’ doctor visits. For some busybody egoists, this single issue has practically dominated their ambitions and hopes for their entire adult public lives! The fact that if Obamacare is struck down they’re not going away only proves my point. They literally have nothing important or heroic to do. This is what they’ve hit upon, it’s all they’ve got and they’re sticking with it: the reshuffling and reallocation of everyones’ doctor bills.

If we as a society could come up with some kind of Hero’s Quest program to keep all these people harmlessly occupied and content with how Heroic they’re being, yet without bothering the rest of us, it would do us all a world of good. Come up with a tiered neverending system of medals for them to collect and pin to their lapel or something. Big ceremonies for each new medal. Whatever it takes, just as long as it keeps them the hell away from the rest of us.

Wait, Wait…Just Say Gaussian Copula Base Correlation
June 26, 2012, 5:40 pm
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I finally got around to reading this paper on models & the Gaussian copula that I’d seen discussed on Dealbreaker and elsewhere. At some point while reading I realized there was basically only one fundamental observation I was looking for in it, a subconscious litmus test I had for whether the paper was insightful or rubbish, and finally around p. 44 I saw it:

…the fact that the Gaussian copula base correlation model was a market standard provided a considerable incentive to keep using it, because it avoided having to persuade accountants and auditors within the bank and auditors outside it of the virtues of a different approach.


…If a trader started to use a model substantially different from the Gaussian copula, then a position that was properly hedged on that model would not look properly hedged to risk controllers, unless the trader could succeed in the difficult task of persuading them to stop using the market-standard model.

In short: Sometimes, models are a way of keeping people off your back.

‘Everyone’ decides and ‘knows’ that such and such model is the ‘market standard’, so as a result to fight the consensus would be such an uphill campaign and so disruptive to daily business that it’s just not worth it. Just go with the consensus ‘right answer’.

I am reminded of the Simpsons episode “Much Apu About Nothing” in which Apu is getting his US citizenship:

Proctor: All right, here's your last question. What was the cause of
the Civil War?
Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious
schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists,
there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--
Proctor: Wait, wait... just say slavery.
Apu: Slavery it is, sir.

Good paper.

My Rosy, Conditional Obamacare Prediction
June 26, 2012, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I still think it slightly more likely than not that Obamacare will be upheld in its entirety. The notion that the US Government can ‘regulate’ any aspect of human existence that can be construed as ‘economic’, i.e. that the US government is totalitarian and limited only by the fevered imaginations of the credentialed busybodies who climb into it, is too deeply entrenched in Smart People thinking for a majority of 9 Smart wealthy and privileged DC-area residents, each of whom rose through the labyrinth of the legal profession, to dare overturning it. When you think of it this way it certainly doesn’t seem the odds are good.

That said, let me make a conditional prediction: if the mandate is held unconstitutional, it will not only be a ‘mandate-only’ ruling (i.e. they will not dare overturn the whole law and endure the wrath of cocktail-party guests for the rest of their lives) but the anti-mandate ruling itself will be done only via such a royally fucked-up and convoluted opinion, with all sorts of hedges and asterisks and attempted this-only-applies-in-this-particular-instance’s shoved into it, that it will actually do damage to limited government and enable the US government to behave in an even more unconstitutional and totalitarian manner down the road.

So, are you looking forward to Thursday as much as I am?

Always Check Your Sample Size
June 26, 2012, 10:39 am
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Great catch by PostLibertarian re: that ‘September banking crisis’ graph.

I Read Stuff, You Read Me
June 25, 2012, 8:16 pm
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  • Where in this guy’s pop-song chord analysis does my new favorite catchy pop song “Beez In The Trap” fit in?
  • Quants, Models, and the Blame Game is an interesting piece but this claim, citing some ‘quants’ quoted in a paper, gives me pause:

    Next, it allowed traders to book P&L on the same day they made a trade:

    “The most important role of a correlation model, another quant told the first author in January 2007, is as ‘a device for being able to book P&L’,”

    I am trying to imagine how a trader of a mark-to-market book could possibly do a trade and Not Book P&L On The Same Day, and failing. They have to mark it somewhere, and that’s the P&L. I guess what this ‘quant’ is saying is that the copula allowed traders to book large positive P&L when doing a trade. True enough I guess. But this would be true of any model used to value Level 3 assets, and has nothing to do with the copula as such. Ultimately I guess the claim here really boils down to saying that the copula allowed traders to mis-mark. Mis-marking is a broader problem and while models might obscure valuation, making mis-marking easier/more likely, it’s far from clear that the solution to that problem is some more complicated, complex, and ‘more correct’ model. Actually it seems to me that simpler ‘wrong’ models have fewer potential fudge factors for risk managers to miss when traders tweak them, indeed the simpler and ‘wronger’ the better in that regard.

  • Via threedonia here’s one of these weird complaints we get about baseball from time to time. The author’s point seems to be that NFL players are tougher than baseball players – which I guess I won’t dispute – and so makes the NFL more entertaining to watch? But huh? Also in this vein is that basketball & soccer players are more athletic because they run continuously/jump/etc. However true these observations are, the gripe is kinda like saying that Jim Carrey is a better actor than Daniel Day Lewis because Jim Carrey is funnier than Daniel Day Lewis who, golly, really isn’t that funny at all. Can people please come to terms with the idea that baseball is a different sort of sport than these other sports, and thus its appeal can lie along different dimensions? Has any baseball fan, anywhere, ever considered baseball players’ Toughness as the main source of entertainment when watching that sport? This is not to say, of course, that I didn’t whine like a 4 year old whenever Barry Bonds would sit out the day game after a night game. But that was different. I had my reasons.
  • Dodd-Frank Causes Much More Harm than Help
  • South Bend Seven on amnesty
  • Good old video on the commerce clause at Reason. Watching this video (in particular, Erwin Chemerinsky, but also others shown there) made my mind boggle at a curious sort of species whose full implications I’m only beginning to consider: the “Constitutional Lawyer” who thinks everything the U.S. government could conceivably decide to do is Constitutional. I mean, just think of it: there’s a whole army of “Constitutional Lawyers” out there; they’re all highly educated and lovingly trained; they are treated like high sage priests of interpretation; they are exceedingly well-compensated; it is largely from their ranks that we’re basically required to draw most of our government. And yet, what is it they do, what is this “Constitutional Lawyering” that is their stock in trade? For the vast majority of them, it appears to consistently solely and exclusively of saying, in response to any and every constitutional objection to an act of US government: “Yup. Constitutional.” Wouldn’t you think that, if this topic were so worthy of so much ‘study’, they would sometimes find an actual boundary to draw outside of which government action wouldn’t be constitutional? Yet they never do. Never.

    At the very least let me just ask, why on earth do we need these people, these yes-man court-fawning ring-kissing “Constitutional Lawyers”? Let me just write a ‘hello world’ style program that accurately replicates their collective output (fprintf "Yes constitutional", e.g.) and we could save on all this money/social capital we’re lavishing on the useless lot of them.

  • Streetwise Professor is not convinced by Luigi Zingales’s version of the return-to-Glass-Steagall popular wisdom.
  • One of the reasons I love Tim Lincecum is he’s such a little kid:

    “I want to feel I’m at a comfortable weight but I know I fluctuate so easily,” Lincecum said. “I know I’m a picky eater, so that’s even harder. When you come into a room and there’s nothing but vegetables, you go, ‘I’ll just have a shake’ or something like that.’

    Heh. It’s like he’s in high school. Anyway, this does seem to go along with my theory (that maybe he’s struggling because he has, since his possession charge a couple years ago, cut down on the pot-smoking): how else did he get rid of the munchies? As a Giants fan though, I have to say, Let Timmy smoke up!

  • When Kevin Drum complains that “only $69 million has been spent on pro-Obamacare ads, most of it bland public-service spots from HHS”, it makes me wonder why we consider it unremarkable that a single cent of public money should be spent propagandizing in favor of a law that already passed. Why is our tax money being used to convince us of the greatness of a law on the books? Oh nevermind.
  • Heh: Breaking: Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys Dig Bicycle Subsidies for Affluent, Well-Educated White Guys. Well why not? Stimulus is stimulus. Actually let’s call it Yglesiastimulus.
  • Brave is the Pixar movie I have looked forward to the least in a long time, and that’s even before reading some of the criticisms. I am sure it is well done with much artistry, but come on, is the story really about a ‘strong girl role model’ who doesn’t like girl stuff and wants to compete with the big boys? For crying out loud, is it 1991?
  • Mish has some amusing consecutive financial headlines.
  • When David Henderson complains about a lousy government that makes a multibillion-dollar decision but doesn’t tell the country what it is for months, the only retort I can imagine coming up with is something about how it’s crucial to the Traditions and Majesty of the Supreme Court. And then I think about how stupid that sounds. And then I get sad.
  • PostLibertarian, Where is that hyperinflation, anyway?
  • Interesting passage from Scalia’s dissent in today’s immigration case:

    Today’s opinion [...] deprives States of what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there.

    The notion that the power to exclude people from its territory is the defining characteristic of the sovereign seems to have escaped many of the recent libertarian pro-immigrant commentators. Indeed, what is a sovereign that ‘doesn’t have the right to’ enforce its borders as it pleases? If you (like Bryan Caplan, et al) dispute that the sovereign has this right, you may as well dispute the sovereign has the right to exist full stop. That’s fine, but then you’re an anarchist, not a libertarian, so please think it through.

  • Matthew Yglesias displays a refreshing numeracy: It’s Very Hard for Cities Grow Without Turning White. I look forward to what I presume will be his related followup, “It’s Very Hard To Reduce Income Tax Rates Without The Net Reduction Going Disproportionately To Higher Earners”.

Infinite TED Regress
June 25, 2012, 8:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I can’t tell you how crestfallen I am to have missed these TED talks about organizing TED talks. I wonder what it was like to be in that audience. Maybe there will be some TED talks about it featuring real live TED audience members. I’d totally sign up to go.

Special bonus at that link: photos of TED organizers talking. ‘Both hands spread wide, like Jesus giving a benediction’ appears to be the prevailing hand gesture.

On Keeping Only The Popular Parts Of Laws
June 25, 2012, 7:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is the other popular line of Obamacare thought: “But some parts of it, like no-preexisting-condition, are popular, so we should keep those (or: the Rs will be pressured to keep those)”. To the extent this offense against logic accurately predicts our future in a post-overturned-mandate world, it is quite sad.

Suppose I continue my hypotheical ill fated yet powerful Congressional term by taking ‘bath salts’ and then proposing a new law, called the Wash Law:

Each year on the day after Groundhog Day the government shall simultaneously (a) tax each person $1 million, and (b) rebate each person $1 million.

Clearly that law, by itself, is a wash, and would have no effect on amything. But it’s also clear that if you breathlessly did a bunch of detailed opinion polling you would discover that provision (b) of the Wash Law is overwhelmingly more popular than provision (a).

So when my law is repealed/overturned and folks run around saying (and even the opposition in Congress plans that) we should ‘keep’ or ‘restore’ only provision (b) of the Wash Law, and describing that as a non-insane outcome, citing public opinion that provision (b) is ‘overwhelmingly popular’, how is a person with a brain and logical faculties supposed to refrain from tearing his hair out?

If you figure that out, let me know. But on the bright side, I suppose baldness is a pre-existing condition.

The K Law
June 24, 2012, 10:55 pm
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A favorite approach to current pro-Obamacare opinionating is to describe in lurid detail how, if the law is ruled unconstitutional, this would have bad effects on a certain subset of the public. While it is certainly refreshing that Obamacare supporters have abandoned all pretenses of actually caring about whether it is constitutional (let alone trying to construct an argument that it is), the offense against logic and good sense still grates.

Let’s say I take over Congress and, in a meth-fueled frenzy, somehow push through a bill promising to give $732,000 from the public coffers on the next Groundhog Day to anyone whose last name begins with the letter K.

The day that bill is signed, all the K people will surely rejoice. Who could blame them? Apparently a quarter million dollar windfall is coming their way. You could write endless op-ed pieces, all of them factual, finding poor K people for whom my K law was a godsend, saved their house, paid medical bills, etc. Essentially, all K people are now richer by roughly that amount, if only in expected-value terms (since they don’t actually get the money till Groundhog Day). Some would even borrow against the coming payout, adjust their life plans, buy bigger houses, and so on.

It follows that if the K law were to be later repealed or overturned, that would indeed harm all those people. So once again you could, if so inclined, trot each of them out for a weekly op-ed on how overturning the law would have “real effects” on real people. All of them factual.

The point being, you can always say, of any law with a nontrivial economic effect, no matter how wise or idiotic the law is, that repealing it will harm some folks. So pointing that out gives us no new information. It is, literally, not news. The question is then, even leaving aside the constitutionality, is ‘repealing it will harm some folks’ a good argument for the K law? Is it even an argument at all? I see now that it is if your name is Ezra Klein, and perhaps that’s why he’s a published columnist and I’m not. My name is not Ezra Klein.

Prometheus Review
June 24, 2012, 10:54 am
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First, I’m really mad that the scientists just took off their helmets and touched aliens and stuff. That’s not science! Scientists in those scenes were supposed to do a whole bunch of stuff differently. And since they didn’t, that rendered me completely unable to enjoy the movie.

Then, there was the fact that Charlize Theron ran in one direction rather than another when something was going to kill her. When I go to see a movie, with Charlize Theron, and something about to kill her, I want to see her running in the right direction not the wrong one. That’s enjoyable to me. Seeing her run in the wrong direction? Is just not enjoyable.

But from a broader point of view, the problem with Prometheus is that it didn’t answer all of my questions for me, about life, the universe, and everything. I have lots of questions like: where did we come from, what is our origin, is there life out there, how did the universe form, what’s outside the universe, etc. etc. Naturally when I heard that British movie director Ridley Scott (White Squall) was making another science-fiction movie set in the ‘Alien’ universe (in which ‘xenomorph’ aliens have eggs that lie dormant for who knows how many thousands of years, and then infect a host, and then hatch to become one kind of thing, which then morphs into another thing, all apparently asexually, and of course with acid blood) my two baseline expectations are (1) absolute scientific plausibility & accuracy, and (2) that it will literally answer all of my existential question for me about life, the universe, and everything. But it did NOT.

And so that is why Prometheus was bad. If other reviews are any indication, I have a lot of company in this verdict, which gives me confidence that it is the correct one.

**EDITOR’S NOTE: I have not actually seen Prometheus yet.

See Emily Play
June 24, 2012, 10:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

British ugly-cute actress Emily Mortimer has some thoughts about Americans she has graciously decided to share:

I do think that there’s a difference in America to where I’m from. There’s so much wrong with England, but I think people are informed in general. I’m going to make a huge sweeping statement, but you just get the news much more [in England]. Listening to radio stations that play pop music all day and all night, the news will come on every two hours, foreign news too. It’s part of your daily routine, being informed about what’s going on in the world. Whether you like it or not, you can’t really escape it. I don’t think the same is true here, and television broadcast news especially seems to me to be a pretty dicey area. You can’t rely on getting the facts, or getting them presented in a way that is actually objective and makes sense and puts people in a position where they can make informed decisions about who to vote for.

I must confess I was unsure who Emily Mortimer was when I first encountered this article. To be precise, I was unsure which bird-beaked ugly-cute dough-faced plainjane brunette British actress she was. Was she the chick who played the crazy British chick that Ross temporarily married on Friends when Rachel didn’t get on the plane in time? Was she the Lois Lane to Adam Sandler’s Superman in Punch Drunk Love? Or was she the plain-looking and naive rich chick who Jonathan Rhys Myers wooed for her money while lusting after Scarlett Johansson in Match Point?

Little-known trivia fact: she is the latter.

It goes without saying then, and I need hardly hasten to add, that in times of need we turn primarily to Emily Mortimer for insights into American politics. So if I may take the liberty of interpreting the above passage, what she appears to be saying is that in England the news is far more lovingly and carefully prepackaged into digestible and state-approved propaganda, and is so much more ubiquitous (even played on pop music stations, etc.), that everyone dutifully knows exactly what to think.

I have no particular quarrel with this observation.

It is distressing, however, that in the course of accusing Americans of being insufficiently ‘informed’, i.e. instructed by state-approved news, she reveals a worrying inattention to paying attention to partaking of her daily news catechism herself:

So you are a person who follows the news, who is up on the news?

I have moments. I stopped being up on the news entirely when I was doing this job. I didn’t read a paper or watch the television news for many months.

Emily, Emily. If you don’t read a paper or watch the television news how can you call yourself properly informed? Everyone knows newspapers and the television news are the best source of proper information. You are becoming too Americanized Ms. Mortimer. Next you’ll be saying you’ve stopped eating “digestive biscuits”.

But it gets worse:

And now it’s been quite hard to get back into it. It’s so loaded now because of this job that I’m doing. Even picking up the New York Times feels kind of loaded with meaning; I feel berated every time I look at it, like”‘Oh God, all these people know what they’re doing and I was just pretending.”

Oh boy. There are too many problems here to go into. What does a person like me do with ‘picking up the New York Times’ being ‘kind of loaded with meaning’. It’s just too much. But you know where I would start?

I would start with the word “was” in that final sentence. The tense is incorrect, dear Emily.


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