Friday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. “Pragmatism” … in a politician it seems to me pragmatism is another way of saying one’s word is not one’s bond.
  2. Going down the toilet (near you coming soon?).
  3. Misplacing blame.
  4. Four Tea party myths held by the left analyzed from the left (HT: MP).
  5. Speaking of the Tea Party … a candidate and his bike.
  6. There’s a reason why a really badly edited book was on my “book of the year” list a few years back. It has a lot of important and striking ideas in it.
  7. Church architecture and Romania.
  8. Really bad use of statistics.
  9. Of party and politics (HT: neo-neo).
  10. Of Physics envy. So … is economics a 4 (or a 5)? Do economists think they are in a 2 regime?
  11. In which Mr Krugman is shown to misuse statistics as badly as the people in #8.
  12. A hunger strike of which I was completely unaware. How about you?
  13. The Church in India.
  14. Not stopping to pee.

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23 comments

  1. With regard to the bad editing in A Secular Age – I’m very tempted to [sic] all sorts of things the quotes.

  2. Of party and politics

    Jesus, Mark. Really? Do some research on that nutjob.

  3. […] Mark Thompson on October 29, 2010 John Judis takes an honest look at the Tea Parties. (Via Pseudo-Polymath). Random Posts…More on the NFL and concussionsSome Real “F”ersIn Defense of Casting […]

  4. Mark says:

    JA,
    Mr Dujan? He’s a figure of some prominence?

    BTW, My mother left the Democratic party over the Hillary thing.

  5. Boonton says:

    In which Mr Krugman is shown to misuse statistics as badly as the people in #8.

    Notice that the blogger takes Mr. Krugman’s graph of 2005-present and ‘expands it’ back to 2000. But the Krugman’s graph is of actual dollars of spending and revenue while the ‘expanded’ graph is % of GDP.

    Both ways of looking at a time series has its use but not here. The author’s purpose is to try to allege that the trend line Krugman depicted was deceptive because it started only in 2005. You can dispute a trend line by asserting that more data should be included but you can’t just change the way you measure that data.

    The author states that % of GDP represents how much spending is happening ‘relative to the underlying economy’. That’s fine but no one gets a check from the gov’t that says “0.00001% of GDP”. They get a check for nominal cash.

    In other words, if you spend $100 a month on cable every month your spending isn’t increasing. If your income goes from $3,000 a month to $1,000 a month, your spending has tripled in terms of % of income. The ‘% of income’ metric has its uses but in this case it’s not useful if you’re trying to tell if your problem is a sudden increas in spending.

    It also works in reverse. If you went from spending $100 a month on cable to $300 a month, that’s a big incrase. But if your income went from $1K to $3K it wouldn’t register as a percentage. Statistics are being used in a deceptive way here but not by Krugman.

  6. Mr Dujan? He’s a figure of some prominence?

    Well, online a little bit, and then FOX/Limbaugh turned him into a cause celebre’ so they could pretend the PUMA movement represented a lot of people. He was the blogger behind Hill Buzz and is a general crazy person.

    Especially noteworthy was a screed about how we should bomb a mosque in Mecca, Jerusalem, etc. for every terrorist attack. It sounded like a Swiftian satire only it wasn’t satire.

    BTW, My mother left the Democratic party over the Hillary thing.

    What “thing?” That she lost? Where did your mother go?

    My mother was a Hillary supporter until an Obama guy convinced her he had a better chance at the general election, which was a very good point, IMO. I was for Obama from the beginning.

  7. Boonton says:

    BTW, My mother left the Democratic party over the Hillary thing.

    What Hillary thing?

  8. Mark says:

    JA,

    What “thing?” That she lost? Where did your mother go?

    That “thing” … did you read/skim the Dujan piece? The Michigan Hillary delegates to Obama and consequent PUMA movement. Where did she go? Are you serious? Let’s put it this way, not to the Green Party.

  9. Well if she went to the Republicans, it means that she wasn’t supporting Hillary based on anything Hillary stood for, obviously. Hillary and Obama are pretty close together ideologically.

    I know you value anecdotal evidence and despise “cricket races,” but let me ask you this: what percent of Hillary supporters do you believe voted for Obama in the general and what percent voted for McCain? This PUMA thing is a few outliers dressed up by the GOP’s propaganda wing to look like a movement. It totally wasn’t. And this guy is a Big Time outlier.

  10. Mark says:

    JA,

    Well if she went to the Republicans, it means that she wasn’t supporting Hillary based on anything Hillary stood for, obviously. Hillary and Obama are pretty close together ideologically.

    Betrayal moves people. They might have been “close ideologically” but she was angry.

    OK. For the guy who loves cricket races and hard data, you claim

    This PUMA thing is a few outliers dressed up by the GOP’s propaganda wing to look like a movement.

    based on what evidence?

    And how would I know “how many” moved that way? as you note I don’t trust polls.

  11. based on what evidence?

    How can you ask for evidence and simultaneously say you don’t trust polls? What other evidence could there be for such a claim? Do I have to introduce you to every former Hillary supporter personally so that you can gather enough anecdata to get an accurate answer?

  12. Boonton says:

    Betrayal? The DNC voted to strip Michigan of its delegates because it moved its primary date up (the RNC likewise punished states that tried to challenge Iowa and NH’s lock on early primaries but they reduced delegates). The candidates all agreed to this, they all, including Hillary, agreed not to campaign in Michigan and other states. So going into the race the rules were that Michigan’s delegates wouldn’t count and the candidates wouldn’t campaign there and everyone agreed on that. When Hillary saw she had won Michigan but was losing the overall election she suddenly discovered it was wrong to ‘not count’ Michigan. If anyone was betrayed it was Obama since he didn’t campaign there in accordance with the pledge all the candidates took. If was wrong to not count Michigan the time to have spoken on that would have been *before* the votes had happened, before the candidates knew who won and who lost the state. Betrayal…hmmmmph.

    Anyway, the point is moot because Obama later won enough delegates to take the nomination even if Hillary was given her way on Michigan.

  13. Boonton says:

    This PUMA thing is a few outliers dressed up by the GOP’s propaganda wing to look like a movement.

    The PUMA’ s were indeed marginal. One of the ideas behind picking Palin was that Hillary supporting woman would flock to the GOP to vote for a young woman VP….I even remember a commercial aiming directly at Hillary supporters. In the end, though, Obama won the woman vote and the Democratic woman vote dramatically. Palin shifted to the ‘red meat conservative’ vote. I’m not saying there were no PUMA’s, just that they were marginal in terms of the election.

  14. Boonton says:

    There were, however, a distinct set of Hillary supporters who I would classify as Republicans. Some of them, I think, supported Hillary as a strategic choice thinking it would be easier to beat her in the general elections. Rush Limbaugh was explicit about this tactic.

    Others seemed especially horrified at Obama and figured since the Republican was a sure loser they might as well try to get the best Democrat they could live with. I’d toss one set of my inlaws into this mix. They would normally never vote for a Democrat but Obama esp. angered them that they suddenly became Hillary supporters. (Curiously years before Hillary was the epitome of left wing evil on the right…but then again the right has always been good with their abiilty to use the Orwellian ‘memory hole’).

  15. There were also a lot of racists. I know the right wants to pretend that racism simply vanished from existence or that the real racism is against whites, but something like 20% of white Democrats in Appalachia admitted to pollsters during the primaries that they wouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s black, iirc.

    But not Dujan, of course. Nobody who suggests bombing random mosques as retaliation against terrorist attacks could possibly be racist. Especially if they go on and on about being constantly accused of RAAAACISM. Especially if they join forces with Rush “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back” Limbaugh. Never.

  16. Mark says:

    JA,
    Polls!? are your evidence that this was a GOP backed movement? How the heck does that work. It was a PAC. For it to be GOP backed there would, one would think, be a money trail that you might cite. How are polls evidence of GOP backing?

    Boonton,
    Anger and betrayal, justified or not. Doesn’t matter much to me. I’m not defending the PUMA movement or even my mother’s identification with them.

    You do realize both of you are doing (yet another) really bad job of putting yourselves in another persons shoes.

  17. Polls are evidence that Hillary->McCain voters are rare.

    I never said the movement was GOP-backed. I said the GOP propaganda wing (FOX, Limbaugh, etc.) blew the PUMA “movement” out of proportion.

    You do realize both of you are doing (yet another) really bad job of putting yourselves in another persons shoes.

    You keep on saying that, but it’s only true if we’re getting it wrong, which you haven’t demonstrated at all.

  18. Boonton says:

    You do realize both of you are doing (yet another) really bad job of putting yourselves in another persons shoes.

    Aside from what you say is your mom’s stance on the matter, do you have serious evidence of a ‘Hillary was robbed’ meme that survived after the election?

  19. Boonton says:

    Of Physics envy. So … is economics a 4 (or a 5)? Do economists think they are in a 2 regime?

    Economics is probably in a 2-3 zone. What’s interesting about economics is that it’s physics backwards. Take water. A physicist, when all else fails, will hold water at a constant pressure (1 atm) and heat it slowly. At 100 degrees C he discovers it evaporates. Hence evidence slowly builds up into very nice mathematical theories.

    Economics goes in the opposite direction. Take the nice supply and demand curve. They are perfectly sketched out in theory and you can keep them simple or make them very mathematically sophisticated. The fact is, though, you can never observe them in real life. Operating a coffee shop and you vary the price up and down by a dime every day and graph your sales? Sorry you won’t get the demand curve. Between Monday and Tuesday tastes, the prices of substitutes, even incomes have changed. The law of demand holds, no one doubts it, but life as an economist is less about mapping out the demand for coffee by price than it is about figuring out why observed coffee sales do not correspond to the Law of Demand and explaining how this does NOT refute the theory.

  20. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Economics is most assuredly not in a 2-3 zone, but I think you’ve confirmed that it is highly likely that they think it is.

  21. Boonton says:

    So you don’t think supply and demand are real?

  22. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I think there’s a big gap between a theory which just needs some refinement (e.g., orbital mechanics of more than 2 bodies is unsolveable but … numerical methods can refine to the point where we can dock spacecraft). This is category 3. You think economics is also category 3? Supply+Demand. Demand for what? Demand for particular products can disappear or hit with a storm of public mania. This is amenable or described by what theory?

    And besides you’re the one claiming supply and demand are disconnected, e.g., health care costs.

  23. Boonton says:

    Ask how a craft a bit bigger than a large SUV landed on the moon in 1969? Physics will say several million gallons of fuel was set off in a controlled explosion on earth which sent a small bit of the original craft onto a path that ended up on the moon.

    But how did that happen? Well physics isn’t really going to explain the political dynamics that lead humans to assemble millions of tons of explosive fuel in one spot with a small craft on top….even though ‘in theory’ all this is just matter and energy subject to the laws of physics.

    The Law of Demand does not explain ‘where the demand came from’ but describes a relationship between quantity and price. But no economist that I’m aware of would say economics aspires to do what physics does. Say put a Starbucks in Moscow out of business by changing the price Dunkin Donutes in Dallas Texas charges….. This is what I mean by economics approaching questions ‘backwards’ relative to physics. While there is some forecasting in economics it’s not take anywhere near the level it’s taken in physics. When forecasting is used, it’s usually used not to ‘end up’ in a precise location but used more to make a ‘rational decision’.

    Forecasts have been done to provide some estimates of the responses (what is the general willingness of workers to accept jobs without health benefits? what is the demand in states that have community rating? what has been the preference in unions for high end plans over pay increases etc.). The purpose is a bit different from the moon shot, though. The moon shot’s ‘forecasts’ were meant to land a craft in a specific shot on the moon. These forecasts are less like that and a bit more like the forecast yo make when you close your pool in the fall. You are ‘forecasting’ cold weather, lots of leaves that all make it unworkable to keep a pool open. Precision may be employed (“I should close it the weekend after labor day”) but precision in the forecast is only pulled to help you make a rational call (closing it a week after labor day gives everyone time for one last swim, but will get it covered before the bulk of the leaves fall).

    It’s easy to see why economists might have ‘physics envy’. They can be seen, after all, making precise forecasts just like flight control for Apollo 11. And we see that those forecasts are almost always off the mark. But it’s an error to assume the intention and motivation of the forecast is the same. The Apollo forecast would be considered a failure if, say, the craft landed 1,000 miles form its intended spot. The pool forecast wouldn’t.