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November 2003

The bad news is Matt Savage has a form of autism. The good news is he is amazing.

Matt Savage launched his jazz career by attempting to improve a Schubert sonata. His piano teacher told him that the G-sharp he just played was supposed to be a G-natural. "It sounds better my way," he protested. She replied that only when he wrote his own music could he take liberties with a score. Keen on taking liberties, he became a jazz composer. He released his fifth album this year, making guest appearances on the Today show, 20/20, and NPR. Recently, his trio booked two shows at the Blue Note in New York City.

In May, he will celebrate his 12th birthday.

Hey, econometrics teachers: tired of using the same old examples to introduce the identification problem? Supply, demand, market prices as equilibria, yadda yadda, zzzzzz. Headline writer for Time gives you a pretty good new example: "Why is America so polarized? Partisan punditry is a good place to start."

Mark Steyn concludes his useful and entertaining history lesson with this:

It's one thing to dislike Bush, it's one thing to hate America. But it's quite another to hate America so much you reflexively take the side of any genocidal psycho who comes along. In their terminal irrelevance, the depraved left has now adopted the old slogan of Cold War realpolitik: like Osama and Mullah Omar, Saddam may be a sonofabitch, but he's their sonofabitch.

Brad DeLong opines that the recent apex of the American political system was . . . Bill Clinton:

Andrew Sullivan despairs when he contemplates the future of America:

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: I know I'm a broken record on this but we truly need some kind of third force again in American politics - fiscally conservative, socially inclusive, and vigilant against terror...

It was called the Clinton Administration, Mr. Sullivan.*

And you and your friends spent a decade trying (unsuccessfully) as hard as you could to wreck it.

*As Madeleine Albright has said, the lack of seriousness with which the incoming Bush administration took their briefings on terrorism in the winter of 2000-2001 was very disappointing.

As the Church Lady used to say, "Well isn't that special! Who gave you this deep insight? Could it be . . . Satan?!"

Remember when David Stockman, Reagan's OMB director, was predicting "$200 billion dollars deficits as far as the eye can see"? A little more than a decade later, he proved to be wrong, real wrong. I predict the critics who are now shouting "fiscal irresponsibility" will be in the same boat. And I further predict that if a Democrat is president then, he or she will take all the credit for it.

As for Madame Albright, she was quoted in a lot of newspapers--not that they get everything right--as asking, when she wanted us to get involved in the Balkans, "What's the good of having this huge military machine if we can't use it every once and a while?" But let a Republican president use it, with much better justification than we had in bombing Kosovo, and . . .

Never mind. It's almost Thanksgiving. One of the things I'm thankful for this year is that those people are not running our government now.

John Dvorak, often wrong but never in doubt, thinks blogging is so over:

Let's start with abandoned blogs. In a white paper released by Perseus Development Corp., the company reveals details of the blogging phenomenon that indicate its foothold in popular culture may already be slipping (www.perseus.com/blogsurvey). According to the survey of bloggers, over half of them are not updating any more. And more than 25 percent of all new blogs are what the researchers call "one-day wonders." Meanwhile, the abandonment rate appears to be eating into well-established blogs: Over 132,000 blogs are abandoned after a year of constant updating.

Perseus thinks it had a statistical handle on over 4 million blogs, in a universe of perhaps 5 million. Luckily for the blogging community, there is still evidence that the growth rate is faster than the abandonment rate. But growth eventually stops.

The most obvious reason for abandonment is simple boredom. Writing is tiresome. Why anyone would do it voluntarily on a blog mystifies a lot of professional writers. This is compounded by a lack of feedback, positive or otherwise. Perseus thinks that most blogs have an audience of about 12 readers. Leaflets posted on the corkboard at Albertsons attract a larger readership than many blogs. Some people must feel the futility. . . .

I'm reminded of the early days of personal computing, which began as a mini-revolution with all sorts of idealism. Power to the people, dude. IBM was epitomized as the antithesis of this revolution. But when IBM jumped on board in 1981 and co-opted the entire PC scene, it was cheered. Welcome, brother! Apple even took out a semiflippant full-page national newspaper ad welcoming IBM. Actually, the ad reflected Apple's neediness and low self-esteem. IBM represented affirmation about as much as Big Media is affirmation for the hopeless bloggers.

Another so-called revolution bites the dust. Big surprise.

UPDATE: a couple of Dvorak's fellow PC journalists also think he's really wrong about this.