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January 2006

It's been quite some time since I've linked to James Lileks. Deficiency corrected: "Simple Rules for Making a Fool of Yourself on the Internet".

Swear angrily. Not just the classics, but the ones relating to excretion and genitalia. Nothing shows you're a serious thinker like a torrent of obscenities. It's the reason Courtney Love is invited to speak to the U.N. so often. Added bonus: Lots of cursing means no one will suspect you're a Christian.

Eduwonk instructs Anna Quindlen.

She then turns to the NEA's cynically unserious proposal to create a national minimum salary of $40,000 for all teachers. "Why not?" she aks. "surely we can do the math to get them a decent wage," preferably through "a tax on corporate profits." The price tag on that proposal is tens of billions of dollars in year one and skyward from there, but hey, the corporations don't need it, they're just using it to create huge mountains of money on which fat-cat executives can go sledding, Scrooge McDuck-style. If only more Americans had the conscience of Anna Quindlen, if only more people cared like she does, we would have long ago grown a money tree that could painlessly solve problems such as these.

Ring the bell, Anna. School is out. (Link via my older daughter.)

Support Kinky Friedman for governor of Texas.

"Politics is the only field in which the more experience you have, the worse you get," says Friedman. "And I think musicians can better run this state than politicians. And, hell, beauticians can better run the state than politicians."

When he was reminded that musicians are not known for their excellent work habits, Friedman replied, "OK, so we're not gonna get a lot done early in the mornings. All right? But you know what [musicians] are? They're honest. They're honest. And I want people, in this administration, that don't care about the Republicans and don't care about the Democrats, but care about Texas. That's what I passionately care about."

Tick-tock on Andrei Shleifer and the Russia Project

David Warsh at Economicprincipals.com summarizes a longer article about the mishaps that can occur when an economist--at least when a Harvard economist--tries to create a country's financial markets almost single-handedly. Warsh states that the economist in question, Andrei Shleifer, has cost Harvard between 35 and 40 million dollars.

My first thought on reading that was "Wow, what kind of sanction does a professor get who costs his university $35 million?" But then I remembered that for Harvard, $35 million is just a few days' interest. (They probably have that much in lost change underneath the couch cushions in Littauer.)

Is the demand for The Great Zucchini perfectly inelastic?

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post thinks he's uncovered a perfectly inelastic demand curve. For The Great Zucchini, DC's leading entertainer of pre-schoolers, "It turns out that the fundamental principles of economics are no match for the fundamental desperation of suburban parents."

Not really, of course, but a beautifully-written, very bittersweet article nonetheless. (Link via Lileks, via Dave Barry.)

Excellent piece by Arnold Kling

Very, very well done: in "Stuck on 1968" Arnold Kling reminds us of the conventional wisdom of well-educated Liberals in 1968 and then reviews what's happened in the nearly 40 years since. Economics fans should find the part about Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman especially interesting.

I have just one quibble and one thing to add.

Kling asserts that liberals think that anyone who is not a liberal must be "incorrigibly stupid". Not quite. As we know from A Conflict of Visions, imperfect intelligence is what conservatives tend to attribute to liberals. Most conservatives would quickly note, however, that they, too, are imperfectly intelligent: social and economic institutions are not easy for any single person to understand.

Liberals, on the other hand, believe that institutions and their workings are usually quite easy to understand. So easy, that even non-liberals must understand them, too. Liberals thus tend to believe that non-liberals are not merely stupid, they are evil. Liberals do refer to conservatives as stupid, of course, but especially these days, angry allegations of bad faith--of evil character--dominate.

And I'd add this brief review of 60's lIberals. They were right--to their great and everlasting glory--on civil rights. They were right to oppose the draft. Some parts of their safety and environmental programs were reasonable. (Taking the lead out of gasoline and car seatbelts, for examples.)

But IMHO two generations of experience shows they were wrong about almost everything else. From education to crime, from welfare to tax rates, and on each and every aspect of our foreign policy. The Liberal worldview is perhaps well-intentioned, but everyone knows what the road to Hell is paved with.

(Yeah, yeah, this post is partisan. But also read this cry from the heart from a good Liberal: "Just when will it be ok to say that the liberals from the generation of the 1960s have no idea what they're doing and never did? . . . When can it be said that a NASCAR dad can be trusted as much as a college professor to know what's good for himself?" Via Vox Baby.)

When I was a kid there were a lot of comic impressionists. More recently, outside of SNL--Carvey and Hartman and others--I see very few of them. Where did they go, and why?

Here's clip of a very good one, Frank Caliendo, on Letterman. (Though for maximum benefit, you need to have listened to John Madden.)

Some gadgets and humor for your Friday.

Cool-looking way to listen to your MP3s through your car's stereo system. (If your car has a cigarette lighter.)

Catalog your books online and share your catalog with other readers.

Links to Web 2.0 applications.

Software that will supposedly name a tune you can't identify.

The Onion: "Marital Frustrations Channeled Through Thermostat".

All 13 of the Saturday Night Live "Celebrity Jeopardy" episodes.