May 19, 2013
May 18, 2013
Rex Kramer approves
Last night, the pilot of US Airways Express Flight 4560 was having some bad luck. The landing gear on his turboprop twin-engine plane just wouldn't go all the way down. So with some quick thinking and righteous piloting skills, he went in for a wheelless, sparky touchdown, and pulled it off without a hitch.
May 16, 2013
I'm not a fan of takedowns
They're negative and WHOA Kinsley's going to have to have his head sewn back on! Did you see THAT?
May 15, 2013
Like crack, only free
Guess where you are. Never sleep again...
WTF I don't even...
Disney World is looking into reports that some wealthy visitors are hiring disabled people to pretend to be family members so that they can skip lines.
The Dambusters raid wasn't as awesome as you thought...
It was awesomer:
Experts such as Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland - the official historians of the Strategic Air Offensive - believed that it was oversold, its achievements exaggerated and other Bomber Command raids unfairly ignored...
[But] in James Holland's recent book, Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the Dams...he points out that every bridge for 30 miles below the breached Mohne dam was destroyed, and buildings were damaged 40 miles away. Twelve war production factories were destroyed, and around 100 more were damaged. Thousands of acres of farmland were ruined.
Germans instantly referred to it after the raid as the "Mohne catastrophe". Even the cool Speer admitted that it was "a disaster for us for a number of months". German sources attribute a 400,000-tonne drop in coal production in May 1943 to the damage caused.
May 14, 2013
Chuck Muncie passed today. (link)
I talked once with a guy who played against him in both college and the pros. He said: reputation and numbers aside, Muncie was the best back he ever played against.
May 13, 2013
How About Human?
A rise in multiracial births is confusing the Census, as children are beginning to check more than one box as they no longer identify with one particular race
May 12, 2013
May 11, 2013
How do I say this politely, Melanie...?
We have more free time than ever before, but why do feel like we never have enough? Melanie Rudd explains...
Well, for one thing, enforced idleness, combined with poverty and no reasonable hope for the future, is bound to negatively affect your mood...
Those who are employed typically have little true leisure because men and women both work, and so "free" time is often dedicated to catching up on household chores, childcare, etc. Even with two people working, most families still have trouble making ends meet because incomes are falling:
You know what these people are doing in their leisure time? Working the third job. Playing the lottery. Begging. That's why they feel busy, helpless, stressed. Watching a nice sunset is not going to change these basic realities in their lives, however affecting it might be.
So, please, shut up about all the free time Americans have and how sad it is that they don't properly appreciate it. Your argument is an ignorant disgrace.
Pitching (poorly) in a pinch
History is not always written by the winners. Take, for example, the climactic one-game playoff between the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs that decided the 1908 National League Pennant race - regarded by many as the greatest ever. Was it a big game? Well, says Bill James in his New Historical Baseball Abstract:
To give a modern fan the sense of it, the National League pennant race in 1908 was like the American League race in 1967, only with one of the teams being in New York and the other in Los Angeles, and with Kerry Wood or Livan Hernandez being called up by another team in September so he could make four starts against one of the teams that was trying to win the thing, and with one of the key games suddenly erupting into a major controversy which would necessitate the New York team making a special trip to Los Angeles for their 162nd game, which Roger Clemens is to pitch against Pedro Martinez, with a few odd death threats, riots, attempts to fix the game, fights between players and fans, and some loose talk about a strike thrown in for good measure. The world has never seen the like of it.
The estimable Christy Mathewson was the losing pitcher, and dedicates a full chapter to the game in his fine Pitching in a Pinch. James calls it "as fine a 5,000-word piece about baseball as has ever been written." James can be a bit hyperbolic, but after reviewing the claim...yeah, this is right up there.
It was hard for us to play that game with the crowd which was there, but harder for the Cubs. In one place, the fence was broken down, and some employees were playing a stream of water from a fire hose on the cavity to keep the crowd back. Many preferred a ducking to missing the game and ran through the stream to the lines around the field. A string of fans recklessly straddled the roof of the old grand-stand.
Every once in a while some group would break through the restraining ropes and scurry across the diamond to what appeared to be a better point of vantage. This would let a throng loose which hurried one way and another and mixed in with the players. More police had to be summoned. As I watched that half-wild multitude before the contest, I could think of three or four things I would rather do than umpire the game.
Pitching in a Pinch is unusually well-written for a sports autobiography, and well above the level of the typical sports journalism of that era, or any era. I wondered if Mathewson had written it himself, as he was one of the few college men in the game back then. But no, James and John Thorn say a fellow named John Wheeler (must be this one?) ghosted the book. Thorn comments:
Could Mathewson write? No, probably not...one reporter wrote [of a Mathewson journalistic effort]: "For a college man, Mathewson . . . uses about as poor language in his review of the Giants' games as any respectable newspaper will stand."
It is Wheeler's craftsmanship we observe, then, so accomplished that Mathewson's voice comes through as if over a microphone, real as life, 101 years later.
Kate Upton, liberator
Putting Upton on [Vogue's] June cover is a two-pronged victory: It's symbolic of the high fashion world adopting more of a men's magazine mentality (which, for better or worse is geared toward fleshier, more realistic-looking models), and a step toward fulfilling a promise the magazine made in 2012 to promote images of healthier looking models.
May 10, 2013
One of the few certainties in life
No matter where I go, or how long I live, I know I will never meet a person with a cooler name than Strobe Talbott.
A court in Guatemala has found former military leader Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
A three-judge tribunal sentenced the 86-year-old to 80 years in prison.
Rios Montt was convicted of ordering the deaths of 1,771 people of the Ixil Maya ethnic group during his time in office in 1982 and 1983.
May 09, 2013
He was saving the last three feet of runway for an emergency
I wouldn't read too much into this...
...except that we are obviously living in the twilight of empire, doomed by our own decadence to failure as a civilization; and deserving of only a slight nod from history, which will surely note with approval the idealism and boldness of our forefathers, but equally hold in contempt the cynicism and selfishness of those who came after, and, weighing up the balance, find that in our era we fell far short of greatness, and tragically short of what we could have been.
Infographic: Is Your State's Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably)
May 06, 2013
Dr. Kapital Question Time: Re The Magic Freigeld
Dear Doctor Kapital,
This seems right up your alley, and it has all the marks- get it?- of great economic anecdotes.
Great Depression. ☑
Subversion of Monetarist Norms. ☑
Keynes quote. ☑
Arcane German Names. ☑
Romantic Crushing by External Forces of Successful Radical Social Experiments. ☑
A Mysterious and Compelling Document with Gothic Lettering. ☑
The question is: why not the Freigeld, a currency which loses its value over time in a controlled manner? The incident in question was in Worgl, Austria in 1933, when as a desperate measure in the Depression and collapsing national currency, the Mayor by the unimpeachable name of Michael Unterguggenberger, issued the Freigeld. Legend has it that everything got better. Everything.
From the wiki on demurrage..
This led some such as German-Argentine economist Silvio Gesell to propose demurrage as a means of increasing both the velocity of money and overall economic activity. On the other hand, influential British economist John Maynard Keynes contended that Gesell's proposed demurrage fees could be evaded by the use of more liquid competing forms of money and that therefore inflation was a preferable method to achieve economic stimulation.
So, was Keynes right or wrong?
May 04, 2013
Another 'Major Mental Disease'
Orwell used the phrase to describe a "thinker" whose modus operandi was to...oh right, this is the Internet, so I'll copy, paste, and link:
It will be seen that at each point Burnham is predicting a continuation of the thing that is happening. Now the tendency to do this is not simply a bad habit, like inaccuracy or exaggeration, which one can correct by taking thought. It is a major mental disease, and its roots lie partly in cowardice and partly in the worship of power, which is not fully separable from cowardice.
So I'd like to propose another one. This one happens when you're discussing something, like, say, macroeconomic policy, and (when losing) go "yeah, but he was gay." That happened just now. Twice.
There is no there there. These guys have lost, badly, the argument about future generations. Krugman re-re-re-addresses the substantive material here. He is right, they are wrong. But nevermind because Keynes = gay.
In our civilized society, these people are still employed and even "eminent". People pay to go to Harvard to learn from them. Can anyone tell me why?
On a more positive note, Krugman (appropriately) says some kind things about Rogoff here.
May 02, 2013
This is the legacy of the Bush administration
May 01, 2013
Best game trailer, ever, from my favorite publisher, Paradox Interactive.
$10 for Mac or PC, $5 for iPad or Android tablet, cross-platform multi-player. I'mma get it.
Yglesias on Marxism
Read the whole thing here.
In summary, I'm not a Marxist. But I worry that political conservatives are going to turn me into one. My view is that full employment and robust systems of redistribution from the more fortunate to the less fortunate are possible. I see real evidence for this in the world. The Obama administration has actually enacted a lot of redistribution programs, and the government of Australia has maintained consistent full employment policies for a long time now. But the collapse of the Soviet Union, a good thing on its own terms, has had the bad consequence of breeding massive complacency among the upper classes in the West. It used to seem important to people in the rich countries to prove that market economies not only could but in fact would lead to broadly rising living standards. But today we're living in a 401(k) world.
See also It's a 401(k) world and It Basically Sucks.
April 30, 2013
The uncanny Borowitz
Lies strangely like truth.
April 29, 2013
This is useful
What for, I'm not exactly sure.
Dawn breaks over Marblehead
So how can we move toward a society in which educational success is not so strongly linked to family background? Maybe we should take a lesson from the rich and invest much more heavily as a society in our children’s educational opportunities from the day they are born. Investments in early-childhood education pay very high societal dividends. That means investing in developing high-quality child care and preschool that is available to poor and middle-class children. It also means recruiting and training a cadre of skilled preschool teachers and child care providers. These are not new ideas, but we have to stop talking about how expensive and difficult they are to implement and just get on with it.
April 28, 2013
Should've been done long ago
Prairie Home Companion went to Lubbock this week. Apart from its notable cultural significance, Lubbock's a nice place. There's a big university there, and good people, near as I can tell.
Keillor knocked out a little tribute to George Jones as well.
I was also happy to learn that Garrison is sound on wind chimes.
April 27, 2013
Thanks, Fox, for reminding me how much you suck
Why Americans are Miserable and Broke
Want to know why the gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps growing? Because the haves live within their means. They don’t waste their hard-earned money on all the crap that Americans spend billions, maybe even trillions, on each year.
American consumers seem to have an almost insatiable appetite for just about any type of useless garbage that anyone decides to make in China for a few bucks and sell here for a few hundred. Which is probably why nobody has any savings and everyone complains they don’t have enough money to live on.
I was a little surprised by this. I'd have thought, if you wanted to convince Americans of the validity of conservative views, you might point out how their lives could be better in a more conservative policy framework. They used to be pretty good at that, convincing America that deregulation and NAFTA would "make everyone better off." But then I remembered Republicans like income inequality. They want to keep it. One way to sell it is to convince people it's their own fault they're poor, and if they really want their pain to stop they're going to have to cut back on cat toys.
I'm sorry, that is really evil, man.
April 26, 2013
Respect the Satellite
Normally I'd be like "what a waste of resources" but...whoa, sweet ride.