The value of a good editor

A psychologist once said that there are two kinds of people afraid of heights: people who worry about falling, and people afraid of a little voice that says ‘jump’. Here today in front of all of you good people, I am finally prepared to come out of the closet as an acrophobic of the second kind. Every once in a while I have to resist this weird impulse to do something I know I will regret like click through a Newsmax link, fart in an elevator or post the Star Wars Holiday Special on autoplay because it would piss you all off and give John an aneurysm. It was this evil little voice that interrupted me this morning while I was reading something Charlie Pierce linked to and said, I wonder what Megan McArdle is up to these days? Ignoring a credible counter-argument from the voice of reason (this must be what going crazy feels like he muttered, stealing a line from Whedon) I said what the hell and clicked over.

You know what? It was not so bad. In the ten or so posts I cared to skim I found not one significant reason to get angry. Maybe I am losing my mind. Alternatively, perhaps it really does help to have a managing editor who gives a crap about fact-like things published under his or her masthead. The new McMegan reads something like Yglesias on a slightly off day. My take on her last nine posts follows.

* Think hard about starting a Ph.D. if you already have a mountain of student debt. No argument there.

* Best Buy made a mistake trying to match Amazon’s prices. No kidding. You only know it’s McMegan because she elides the advantage that Amazon accrues from Walmarting its workers.

* We should rein in overzealous prosecutors who throw excessive charges at defendants to force a guilty plea. The entire political internet seems more or less agreed on this general point: liberals because they generally support defendants’ rights and abuse in criminal justice disproportionately punishes minorities, and conservatives because it involves government officials abusing their power. Maybe our great legislative bodies should take note.

* A study shows that a tiny bag tax drops the number of people taking plastic shopping bags by half. Not surprising to find that incentives drive behavior, but good to know.

* Obamacare’s demographic trends: not great but not the end of the world. With charts. She responds to Ezra Klein saying that things look ok but not stellar without putting any significant daylight between her point and his. It strikes me as questionable that Bloomberg’s editors let her keep harping on the cancellation issue when for the most part it just involves the usual churn in healthcare policies, but overall the point is not terribly controversial. If younger and healthier people sign up in greater numbers then Obamacare will do fine. If they stay out then it will do less fine. She and Ezra ultimately say the same thing but put their emphasis on a different syllable.

* Netflix has a screwy business model. Anyone want to take the other side of that argument? No? Moving on.

* McArdle or Yglesias? Bolding mine.

To be sure, we had a boom after World War II. But that boom followed almost two decades of suppressed consumption and a labor crunch during the war that had driven down unemployment to effectively nothing. People had stacks of money saved from war work and war bond purchases, and soldiers getting demobilized had the GI Bill. We’re unlikely to repeat that phenomenon.

Not to pick on Matt specifically, but this idea that government programs can help give a hand up to people otherwise facing a tough economic struggle and thereby boost the economy strikes me as middle of the road centrist Democratish. Atriosish even. Maybe it was a typo.

* More on Obamacare’s demographics: signup profiles look more like the CBO projections as time goes on. In which case the law is doing fine.

* Responding as we all must to that Amanda Hess essay about women and the internet, McArdle strikes a middle ground between extreme sexism denialists (that is to say, her readers) and people who she thinks use anti-sexism as a weapon. She proposes a sample conversation that incorporates what Ta-Nehisi Coates often says: label the behavior and not the person. I would suggest that using the sexist/racist label at all will get a person’s back up, and barring hopeless cases you will have more luck just telling the person why it is what they said or did made you feel angry / hurt / belittled. Though an annoying case of jerkykneed both-sidesism when taken by itself, you have to consider that Megan has her work cut out convincing the charmingly retrograde comment section that sexism exists at all.

And that is as far as I was willing to read, not because it sapped my will to live like the old McMegan would have but because I got bored. I have plenty of wonky centrist blogs on my RSS reader that provide the same informational content with more insight and less vague prose. But overall and if you discount the 91-octane crazy that still rules her comment section, I would say the new McMegan is if not terribly nutritious, at least palatable. Who would have guessed.






89 replies
  1. 1
    lol chikinburd says:

    Is “people afraid of being pushed” a type?

  2. 2
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    * A study shows that a tiny bag tax drops the number of people taking plastic shopping bags by half. Not surprising to find that incentives drive behavior, but good to know.

    So did McMeghan think this was a good thing or a bad thing? I ain’t getting out of the boat to find out.

  3. 3
    Belafon says:

    The Abbreviated McMegan Roundup.

  4. 4
    Ripley says:

    Traitor!

  5. 5
    muricafukyea says:

    Jesus titty fuking christ. 2+ McMegan posts in 2 days. Can’t you people find something better to post about than that wingnut grifter.

    Obama gave a speech of NSA data collection today. Maybe you heard. That’s all a lot of you have been whining about for months so how about posting something about the response to your whining from the one guy who can try do something about it.

  6. 6
    Amir Khalid says:

    @lol chikinburd:
    I think they’re a subset of Tim F’s type 1.

  7. 7
    Belafon says:

    @muricafukyea: How about a link to your post on the topic.

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    My take on her last nine posts

    uh, no.

  9. 9
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Did you see Mark Kleiman’s “Leave Britney Meghan Aloooooone!” post?

  10. 10
    jl says:

    @lol chikinburd: I think I am a little of all three types. Almost as clumsy as Cole, little voice in my head, and wondering whether there are people as clumsy as me standing to my rear.

  11. 11
    brantl says:

    Saying that she can spout mealymouthed nonsense because she has attracted an audience that is preldominantly full of morons, because they have been attracted because they have historically agreed to her moronic arguments, is a pathetic excuse for a poorly reasoned writer, Tim. Her audience of dung beetles were attracted because she was spreading dung. She has to dance with those that brung her, Tim, but we don’t have to excuse it. NOR SHOULD WE.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    raven says:

    who cares?

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Ben Franklin says:

    The 4th Amendment (due process) is a bug not a feature. Traitors need not apply for habeus corpus.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyj.....owden-dead

  16. 16
    jl says:

    Brooks has a truly hackish piece out today which attacks the recent interest in income and wealth inequality. I guess Brooks got a text from his paymasters that he needed to quit writing noodling goofy columns about his self-disillusionment, or mid-life crisis, or tiny glimpses of what an fraudelant empty mess he has become, or whatever he has been emitting recently.

    Time to get hacking! for Brooks.

    I made some notes on my reactions his NYT column.

    Strategic and misleading use of an arbitrary percentile of income distribution is a basis for his whole argument.

    False history of evolution of income distribution. It has not grown steadily due to assertive mating, but in spurts due largely to tax loopholes that have favored certain kinds of income and financial deregulation that has encouraged rent seeking and fraud by the financial sector.

    And Brooks is so careless, he does not seem to notice that his use of the arbitrary income threshold to frame the whole issue implicitly condemns the whole lower 95% of the income distribution to living on the margins and being losers due to government help induced social pathology. Asshole and lazy fool.

    Brooks accuses those who are focusing on income inequality as having a zero sum mentality, which is a false generalization. Even rather unsophisticated economists like Robert Reich note research that absolute income over the long term grows more rapidly for all income percentiles when the economy as a whole grows more rapidly (though that is not true for income shares).

    Dishonest and very selective use of literature on minimum wage (cites one study with outlier results as representative of the whole literature).

    Confusing individual and household incomes and relationship to official poverty status in his discussion of who benefits from minimum wage. This section is so confused and vague it is difficult to understand his point, or whether he is so confused that he is in ‘not even wrong’ territory.

    Brooks tries to be all sophisticated about complex social pathologies that result in low income. But hidden in his analysis is very simple and naïve assumption, which is that low income itself plays not role at all in the emergence of his list of social pathologies that produce low income. That gets in fail in everything from sociology to demographics to standard microeconomics.

    And one of the people who probably is an unnamed target of Brooks column, got her start by doing very good empirical research on how changes in practices of corporate rent seeking, price discrimination and contract design permitted by deregulation has produces an income squeeze on all but the highest percentiles of the income distribution, and how that has affected behavior.

    Complete historical ignorance or dishonesty about U.S political history. Brooks says “Some on the left have always tried to introduce a more class-conscious style of politics. These efforts never pan out.” Sure, tell that to Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Truman and (for a perverse examples) Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and the whole GOP Southern strategy).

    Dean Baker makes other good points, and some similar to my reactions:

    David Brooks’ Primitive Defense of the Rich
    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/.....f-the-rich

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Predicted temperature in Moscow today: 6 degrees
    Predicted temperature in Honolulu today: 77 degrees

    I’m perfectly happy to let Fast Eddie sit through at least five or six Moscow winters and think about what he did.

  18. 18
    catclub says:

    @jeffreyw: I was hoping for a picture of gingersnaps.

  19. 19
    chopper says:

    her last nine posts

    did we do something wrong, tim? why do you hate us?

  20. 20
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Amazon may Walmart its warehouse workers, but Best Buy in its heyday was arguably a worse place to work than Walmart. Both had low pay but Best Buy expected hourly employees to hawk useless service plans to customers at the register without compensation. Said compensation went to the managers. A culture of pervasive sexual harassment has also been reported there. Best Buy hourlies seem to be to be typically young with high turnover, sometimes on one of their first jobs.

    Walmart may suck but ten years ago the place gave a buddy of mine with severe mood disorder a job with some shitty health insurance that was sufficient for him to see a psych regularly and get prescription meds to normalize his mood. It was all good until he had a meltdown with a manager one day who tossed him into a department he didn’t know and used his subsequent anxiety attack as grounds to fire him.

    Whereas Target, particularly Best Buy, and Walgreens back in the day (I think they’ve improved, unless you’re a pharmacist) all come straight from the pit of hell. I worked at CVS and it wasn’t that bad but post Caremark they’ve become unrecognizable and I actually flipped from CVS to Walgreens for 99% of my drug store purchases. (After the Misleading Coupon Incident. I was Done.)

    Target might have been an okay place to work but then they started their own credit card and required cashiers to pitch the damn things like robots to resistant and even belligerent customers.

    When I was in retail (in New England!) they told me in training to read names off of credit cards and address customers by their first name. Believe me, in New England this tactic backfires more often than not!

  21. 21
    Tom Levenson says:

    There’s an alternative theory that the merging of McArdle with Yglesias is not so much a positive reflection on the former as it is an indictment of the latter.

    Plus, the underlying virus is still there, as seen in the clip John posted last night: libertarian shibboleth’s may be under the surface in print, but that’s still where she goes when pressed.

    I am slow to either forgive or forget. But I will say that I am glad to see the general diminishment of her influence. She’s just not driving much conversation anymore…and I for one am happy to move on to more important targets.

  22. 22
    Schlemizel says:

    If I may paraphrase: I used to occasionally drop an anvil on my foot and comment how painful it was. But recently the anvil was given to a shop that shaved it to a manageable size so it is now only as heavy as a bowling ball. Dropping that on my foot is no worse than dropping a 15 LB dumbbell on my foot so we should all be very pleased and excited.

    ummmm, no thanks?

    Yes, this bit here:
    There’s an alternative theory that the merging of McArdle with Yglesias is not so much a positive reflection on the former as it is an indictment of the latter.

  23. 23
    jeffreyw says:

    @catclub: How about a nice fresh loaf of bread, warm from the oven?

  24. 24
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @jl:

    But hidden in his analysis is very simple and naïve assumption, which is that low income itself plays not role at all in the emergence of his list of social pathologies that produce low income. That gets in fail in everything from sociology to demographics to standard microeconomics.

    (emph mine)

    You mean the vile and pernicious assumption that undergirds all of American conservative “thought” since the 1980s at least, surely the 1960s in fact. The “culture” argument of a know-nothing, that societal ills are due to culture as a first-order phenom, when in fact income distribution is THE first order phenomenon in sociology, and culture per se is incredibly malleable. It’s a farce but it appeals to tribalistic butt-munchers who don’t want to be fair to the other side.

    My theory is that Brooksy had one of his College Republicans pretty much provide all the info for the article and he strung it together. It’s just a Gish Gallop of stupid RNC PR BS talking points.

    ETA: y u eat my “u” tags, FYWP? Millions of typewriters can’t be wrong. If they’re wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Is there some special ‘sploit out there that uses underlining to p0wn a–wait, this is too silly a thought to even complete.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: Hey Tom, it turns out that Deborah Blum’s dad came over to our house to collect lubbers years ago!

  26. 26
    Ruckus says:

    She has better editing?
    How about better thinking? Has she got any of that?

  27. 27
    catclub says:

    @Another Holocene Human: “stupid RNC PR BS talking points.”

    ReiNCe PRieBuS !

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @Tom Levenson: I read neither Yglesias nor McArdle an regular basis. I stopped reading Yglesias because the chaff to wheat ratio become too high. I think Yglesias has a very arrogant attitude, and thinks his undergraduate philosophy and economics larnin’ adds up to more than it really does (perhaps because as far as I can see, he saw no reason to augment it after graduation).

    From what I have seen lately, Yglesias is much better than McArdle when facts and figures can decide an issue, since Yglesias more or less knows how to navigate them, and McArdle seems to lack that ability, or when his memory of undergraduate philosophy or economics is sufficient basis to provide an interesting relevant argument.

    But when Yglesias dips into deeper waters, like for example, trying to argue about the economics of human capital and safety regulations in Bangladesh, and historical relationship between economic development of different countries and real income of workers, without thinking to check the facts of economic history, he can produce arguments that are just as shallow and fact challenged as McArdle.

  29. 29
    Tim F. says:

    @chopper: Would you prefer the Star Wars Holiday Special? Give a guy some credit, I am working through issues here.

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: lol, inorite? In other news, water is wet. This may be a good thing or a bad thing for chemical companies who leak contaminants, so let’s wait for Roger Ailes to weigh in with our opinion. //

  31. 31
    raven says:

    @Ruckus: In the mail.

  32. 32
    scav says:

    Speaking of a good editor, I just had to snort at the headline I saw whiz past about the possibility of getting 3D chocolate in the near future. So, just what is this catastrophic 2D stuff we’ve been struggling with forever?

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    That’s it. Kleinman has a tumbrel reservation.

    No mercy for those who in any way collaborate with the Kochs.

  34. 34
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I feel certain you’d never sacrifice your pampered lifestyle for anything less than a Pink’s quarter-pounder.

  35. 35
    raven says:

    @jl: Does anyone here actually read this McArdle? I guess to keep up the constant bitching someone must.

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jl:

    It really will be a joyous day for humanity when the exsanguinated, broken body of David Brooks is found in some back alley.

  37. 37
    chopper says:

    @Tim F.:

    excuse me, but i already know what you can get a wookie for christmas when he already owns a comb. give me some credit here.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    I remember now that I stopped reading Yglesias shortly after he announced, just as the Washington consensus, neo-liberal vision of economics (both macro and micro) was crashing in on itself into a smoking crater of ruin, that he saw neo-liberalism as the Vision of the Future. He had an epiphany that his life’s mission would be to nibble around the edges of existing social and economic structures, accepting their overall worldview, pressing for gradual incremental improvements, since that was the very best that could be done.

    As I remember, this was a vision that to him, was something on a par with William Blakes vision of multitudes of bright angels in a tree that called him to poetry and art.

    So, I though ‘yeesh, at this time of all times, Yglesias sees the future, and wants to be Micky Kaus’. But, in retrospect that judgment was a little (just a little) too harsh.

  39. 39
    NonyNony says:

    @jl:

    I think Yglesias has a very arrogant attitude

    Yah think?

    and thinks his undergraduate philosophy and economics larnin’ adds up to more than it really does

    Yah think?

    Actually it’s worse than that with Yglesias – I think he commits the cardinal sin for a pundit/columnist of being horribly intellectually incurious. He has no desire to expand what he knows beyond what he already knows. He has no desire to experience life beyond how he has already experienced it. He was raised with a nice, upper-middle class lifestyle, attended an Ivy League university, leveraged his connections into a nice sinecure, and has stopped bothering to learn anything new.

    McArdle followed the same trajectory. The major difference between Matt and Megan is that due to how Matt was raised and the kind of education he received, and how Megan was raised and the kind of education she received, I agree with Matt’s values more often than I agree with Megan’s. But that doesn’t really give me any reason to read Matt’s stuff. Hell it gives me more reason to read Megan’s stuff, since her work has a long track record of being full of unintentional comedy and so at least provides entertainment value. Yglesias just gets infuriating to read after a while because you come to realize that almost everywhere he’s wrong he could educate himself and realize the world doesn’t work the way he thinks it works, and it wouldn’t take that much effort to do so. But he chooses not to because he doesn’t really have it in him to challenge himself.

  40. 40

    @Tim F.: What you did there, I sees it.

  41. 41
    jl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Sometimes, I sense unresolved anger management issues in your comments.

    For Brooks, simply being discredited as anything but a humbug and a hack, and dumped from the gazillion talk shows he preens on each week would be a worse fate. That would be a better wish, with a more salutary outcome.

    My parents, mom, in particular, watch people like Brooks on the talky shows and fume. I say “Turn that damn TV off, it wastes your time and just irritates you to no good purpose”

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    Dude, have you seen the traffic on Highland lately? I don’t even bother to leave the Valley anymore.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    @NonyNony: These days I only read Ygelesias when some one else links to him with a recommendation that he has put together some numbers or graphs that are useful. And he does that well from time to time.

  44. 44
    Yatsuno says:

    A little something for Betty: there’s a Gator connection to the Seahacks, and not from where you might think.

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Kinda blows the “beaches and mountains” shit I get from my brother in Sherman Oaks now doesn’t it?

  46. 46
    Lynn Dee says:

    You left out the little voice that tells you to stick your hand down the garbage disposal.

  47. 47
    Anoniminous says:

    People had stacks of money saved from war work and war bond purchases, and soldiers getting demobilized had the GI Bill.

    And the fact the US and Sweden were the only major industrialized nations that didn’t have their manufacturing infrastructure blown to smithereens, stolen, or blown to smithereens and then stolen.

    @jl:

    Good comment. Thanks.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @raven:

    The fact that I don’t go to the beaches or mountains (very often) doesn’t mean they stop existing as an option. And it is kind of cool to think that I could theoretically go from a sunny day on the beach to skiing in the same day, even if I never do it.

  49. 49
    raven says:

    @Anoniminous: I’m reading about the war in Italy right now, the Germans did a great job wrecking shit on their way out.

  50. 50
    jharp says:

    In my old age I am starting to suffer from vertigo when in high places.

    Has something to do with my vision I think. Never had a problem until I starting wearing glasses in my late 40’s.

    Recently went up in the Sears Tower in Chicago and felt nauseated as soon as I stepped off the elevator and felt that way the entire time I was on the top floor.

    Also been boating a thousand times and got sea sick twice. Now I get it all the time.

  51. 51
    Anoniminous says:

    @raven:

    They would have done the same thing in France if they had the time.

    The US and British bombing of Berlin did a great job of wrecking as well. It just took longer and at a higher cost in lives.

  52. 52
    Fuzzy says:

    @Yatsuno@Yatsuno: Good for Blitz. That from a staunch 49er fan but may he flop to the earth this Sunday.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    aimai says:

    @cleek: Yeah. I agree. No.

  55. 55
    tBone says:

    Netflix has a screwy business model. Anyone want to take the other side of that argument? No? Moving on.

    They sell subscription access to movies and TV shows, with exclusive prestige series as a carrot to lure new customers. Seems to have worked OK for HBO.

    Anyway, McCardle’s argument is that Netflix streaming used to be a good substitute for a local movie rental place (never true, their streaming movie selection was always pretty shitty), and she makes a factual error about the whole Qwikster debacle (Qwikster was going to be the name for the DVD service, not the streaming service).

    In short, McCardle is still a fucking idiot, even on matters of almost no consequence.

  56. 56
    aimai says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: But think of the vampire who he must have poisoned.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jharp:

    IIRC, it’s your inner ear. You’re probably more sensitive to motion now and were probably picking up the natural swaying of the building you were in (all tall buildings sway, they’re designed to do it). That’s why you’re also more likely to get seasick. This was just a super-fast Google, but apparently there’s a potential that the change in your vision was precipitated by an inner-ear problem rather than the other way around.

  58. 58
    Thlayli says:

    @muricafukyea:

    Is someone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read this site?

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @aimai:

    There is that, true.

    Endless chains of consequences. Why must everything be so damn complicated!

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Thlayli:

    Yes. The specter of Tunch compels him.

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jharp:

    I’m sure this is a ripe field of study just waiting to have papers presented. My mother has balance issues now as she moves toward her ninth decade on this planet, that she never had before.

  62. 62
    Yatsuno says:

    @Thlayli: Durfs always gotta Durf. He thinks he’s holding us honest, or something. Mostly he’s a one-note joke who lost his edge a long time ago.

  63. 63
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: Cool! I’ll tell her.

  64. 64
    Cephalus Max says:

    The entire political internet seems more or less agreed on this general point: liberals because they generally support defendants’ rights and abuse in criminal justice disproportionately punishes minorities, and conservatives because it involves government officials abusing their power.

    I call b.s. on this framing, whether it comes from McBargle or any other conservative commentator. (And when it comes from a liberal commentator too, which it all too frequently does.) It drives me nuts.

    The liberals I know are as concerned about government abuse of power as they are about individual rights, including those of defendants. This framing is a part of the conservative portrayal of liberals as pro- government waste, taxes, etc. NO. We’re for effective government, efficient and appropriate expenditures of tax dollars, and so on.

    The difference between liberals and conservatives regarding government power rests not in its presence or absence, it’s in how and where that power is applied.

  65. 65
    sparrow says:

    @maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor:

    My suspicion is that the bag tax works because it reminds you, constantly, that you’re being a wasterful doofus everytime you go to the store and need a plastic bag. Most people don’t give a crap about 5 cents, unless they’re REALLY OCD. But for people who are always forgetting bags it’s a regular reminder/push. I know that’s what happened with us. Like “oh, now we are supposed to really be going this reusable bag thing”, even though we had them for years before.

  66. 66
    jharp says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Only thing is I too get nauseated on mountain tops. And believe it or not I do get to a few of those a year. Got it in the Smokies and got it in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan

    Any posters ever been there?

    And by the way it really isn’t that uncomfortable. It’s just there. And thanks for the link.

  67. 67
    jl says:

    @sparrow: It constantly reminds me of the times I have ended up with a gazillion paper and plastic bags around the house, falling out of one or more kitchen cabinets and I had to go some some trouble to clean them out and get rid of them.

    Much more convenient to keep a couple of used bags with me now to use when I go to the store.

  68. 68
    Bob2 says:

    Tim F.

    You are forgetting the first rule of McArdle.

  69. 69
    Joel says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Target provided a decent career for one of my in-laws who happens to be developmentally disabled. They also provided (and continue to provide) health insurance and retirement as part of her compensation package.

  70. 70
    Yatsuno says:

    @jharp: I’ve told this story before, but it fits here:

    A friend of mine was doing some work in eastern Tennessee (loved the area but is still based out of WA even though his wife could get work down there easily) and wanted to see the top of the Smoky Mountains. So he drove for awhile on the road that led to one of the peaks, then passed a sign that said the summit was the other way. He was so used to mountains like we have on the Left Coast that he drove right past the summit. So a mountain can really be a matter of perspective.

  71. 71
    jl says:

    @Yatsuno: I love those quaint little subtle niche boutique mountains they have in some part of the country.

    Though, in So Cal, you might miss some summits because they are often smogged in, and signs telling you to turn around and go back would be a good idea.

  72. 72
    Yatsuno says:

    @jl: One time when I was flying into LAX I was enjoying this bright beautiful sunny day. From the plane you could see the mountains and the ocean. It was a stunning view. Then I noticed this big orange mass on the ground. I was trying to figure out what that was, then I realised we were flying into the big orange mass. That was a nice exposure to LA smog. That was way back in 2003 however and it was much better when I flew into Long Beach in 2009. Environmental laws WORK??? THE INVISIBLE HAND LIED TO ME!!!

  73. 73
    PST says:

    @Tom Levenson: About Yglesias. I read him every day, and one thing he says over and over again is that the best way to help the poor is to give them more money. He makes other sensible points as well. I don’t think he’s in much danger of becoming McCardle.

  74. 74
    PST says:

    While we are talking about people who don’t get much love around here but seem to be making some sense these days, take a look at the latest from Conor Friedersdorf on Rush Limbaugh

  75. 75
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Every so often, I would pick up a print copy of the ol’ Atlantic Monthly, and so help me, McMegan’s column was, more often than not, OK. It’s gotta be the editing.

  76. 76
    Felonius Monk says:

    If it comes down to a choice between reading McMegan and rearranging my sock drawer, the socks win every time.

  77. 77
    ellie says:

    I’m one of those people who are afraid of the voice that says “jump.” I wonder what that means.

  78. 78
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Tom Levenson: I don’t get the hate on Yglesias. He’s responsible for some howlers, but what I like about him is that he can take the economic principles that conservatives claim guide them, and notice that they lead to conclusions that conservatives fervently oppose.

    Of course, economics, like military affairs, is one of the areas where Serious People assume conservatives are correct, regardless of all evidence to the contrary.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    @raven:
    Got em! Thanks

  80. 80
    raven says:

    @Ruckus: Wow, that was fast!

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yatsuno:

    The Appalachians are, to us left coasters, foothills of the High Cascades.

    If you want real mountains, you must go well west of the Mississippi to see them.

  82. 82
    Aimai says:

    @Tom Levenson: perfect. Just what i was thinking.

  83. 83
    jharp says:

    @ellie:

    Me too. And I also fear I will forget I am up high and walk off the edge.

    Scared shitless of heights and I did the Sidney Bridge Climb in Australia. 440 feet over the ocean.

    http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

    Makes me nauseated thinking about it to this day. Still wonder what in the fuck I was thinking.

  84. 84
    Yatsuno says:

    @jharp: I’m an acrophobe with the best of them. But…I might just do that. Two rails and stairs kinda help there. Then again the only way I got across this was by grabbing the side rail with my eyes shut. I recall this being actually in Stanley Park, but apparently there isn’t one there. I don’t recall paying to go over either.

  85. 85
    jharp says:

    @Yatsuno:

    No way. That looks horrifying.

  86. 86
    Seanly says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    One’s a quasi-liberal libertarian sh1thead hipster and the other is a libertarian sh1thead would-be foodie who can’t cook. Merge them & you still wind up a libertarian sh1thead.

  87. 87
    different-church-lady says:

    @maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor:

    A study shows that a tiny bag tax drops the number of people taking plastic shopping bags by half.

    Is this a tax on the market or the shopper? Because I can’t get those creeps to stop trying to give me bags, no matter how many I bring in the damn store with me.

    Many more times than once I have bought a single item, had a clerk put it in a bag so quickly I didn’t have time to say I didn’t want one, have said clerk take item out of bag, hand me item, and then ball up the bag and put it in the trash, thereby completely obviating my reason for not taking a bag in the first place. There are not enough slack-jawed looks of amazement in the world to handle such situations.

  88. 88
    Monty says:

    A psychologist once said that there are two kinds of people afraid of heights: people who worry about falling, and people afraid of a little voice that says ‘jump’. Here today in front of all of you good people, I am finally prepared to come out of the closet as an acrophobic of the second kind.

    This is fascinating stuff to me. The justifiable fear of McArglebargling aside, the compulsion “to jump” off is fairly common. While its generally considered a subset of acrophobia, several elements of agoraphobia are indicated.

    Although some of these fears can be overcome: for a mere $500 you can jump from an airplane at 10k feet (1.89 miles; 3 km for the haterz), I’m not sure whether the experience would eradicate the underlying impulse that some feel.

    Possibly a Thanatos death wish, although I’d say it has more to do with control issues; specifically, the abdication thereof.

    it t even has its own name: catapedaphobia.

  89. 89
    Tehanu says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    You mean the vile and pernicious assumption that undergirds all of American conservative “thought” since the 1980s at least, surely the 1960s 1660s in fact.

    FTFY
    @Mnemosyne:

    I could theoretically go from a sunny day on the beach to skiing in the same day,

    Not this year, alas, unless the drought breaks. Our lawn already looks like the Mojave, and not in a good way.
    @jl: Yeah, imagine my surprise when we visited the Cotswolds and discovered that they’re basically just little rolls in the ground, about a tenth as high as the Hollywood Hills — though I’ll admit they aren’t smoggy like the HH used to be; I can remember walking to work on Sunset Blvd. and being unable to see the hills 5 blocks away.

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