...It is as old as Robinson Crusoe; as old as man. Our race has not been strained for all these ages through that sieve of dangers that we call Natural Selection, to sit down with patience in the tedium of safety; the voices of its fathers call it forth. Already in our society as it exists, the bourgeois is too much cottoned about for any zest in living; he sits in his parlour out of reach of any danger, often out of reach of any vicissitude but one of health; and there he yawns. If the people in the next villa took pot-shots at him, he might be killed indeed, but, so long as he escaped, he would find his blood oxygenated and his views of the world brighter. If Mr Mallock, on his way to the publishers, should have his skirts pinned to the wall by a javelin, it would not occur to him - at least for several hours - to ask if life were worth living; and if such peril were a daily matter, he would ask it never more; he would have other things to think about, he would be living indeed ... ...
--Robert Louis Stevenson, from the essay The Day After Tomorrow
The poor Swedes sure are a muddled bunch. (Except my various Swedish relatives, who are very sensible folk) First they made sex into just another form of exercise -- no guilt or inhibitions -- so now they are bored with sex. They made life cushioned and safe from cradle to grave, and so they are bored with life. The birth-rate has fallen below the death-rate and their population is shrinking.
FOOLS! That will be the last straw; people will not only be bored by sex, they will come to be positively repelled by it. The Swedes are on the road to EXTINCTION!
What they need to do is outlaw sex. Perhaps with occasional painful public punishments for anyone caught indulging. Also outlaw pornography, and make modest clothing mandatory. Also young people should be taught that sex is sinful and shameful.
If they will follow this simple plan, life and sex will once again be exciting, fun, spicy. I would also recommend some fairly serious danger. Guess which of the developed nations has the highest birth-rate? Israel. You never hear of Israelis needing their juices stirred to regain interest in sex, or anything else.
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The frustration level is boiling over again at Krugman HQ. In "The Bully's Pulpit" (09/06/02) he throws some wild haymakers in the general direction of Bush administration officials for engaging in what he calls "Orwellian doublethink." He then tries to parlay these haymakers into yet another attack on Social Security privatization. Overall, this column is an embarrassment for everyone connected to the NY Times Op-Ed page.
Since the Squad has already commented on the substance of this topic, and since Krugman offers nothing new, we refer readers to Squad report #21.
If you are interested in Macintosh OS-X, you gotta read Ken Bereskin's Radio Weblog. Ken is Apple's Product Manager for Mac OS X, and also a blogger. He's posting interesting new features of OS-X every day. Here's one: the "paper tape" on the calculator is "live"--you can edit it and it recalculates. Plus, the currency converter is connected to a web-service; rates are up-to-the-minute.
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In the old days of the Soviet Union, the leaders were always desperate to convince their people (and themselves) that things were worse "in the West." They would gleefully distribute Hollywood movies that portrayed gangs and crime and such -- but sometimes the message conveyed was not what they hoped. "Is teenagers, Natasha, but is owning own cars!!!"
WHENEVER I HAVE A COMPUTER PROBLEM, I receive a lot of email saying "get a Mac." Well, read this.
So I clicked on the link, nervously expecting to discover how much we really suffer in the "so-called Free World;" some horror story of a life ruined or a business bankrupted. I found this:
I upgraded my office computer to Mac OS X 10.2 (also known as "Jaguar") last Friday night, reinstalled Microsoft Office X on Tuesday morning, and have had nothing but trouble since then. In particular, my Mac has locked up four or five times a day in Microsoft applications, eating class notes, PowerPoint presentations, and, yes, even blog posts in the process. This is a brand new experience under OS X, which has been rock-solid for me ever since I made the full transition from OS 9.2 in January—I've had programs crash, to be sure, but never the hard freezes that I've been seeing this week.
[emphasis mine] You be the judge.
(If you are installing 10.2, click here for an install option that should avoid these problems. Also, the custom install feature will let you avoid installing the gazillions of foreign languages and printer drivers.)
It was interesting, right after that, to read Lileks on the same subject:
... One of the advantages of having a computer used by 5 percent of the market, incidentally, is this: when you call tech support, you get right through. I had a problem with installing 10.2 on my iBook, thanks to a Microsoft geegaw stuck in the OS’s gullet like a fishbone...
...Do I recommend an upgrade? Depends. I chose it for the simpler wireless networking - the machines now sniff each other out and show up without getting your hands dirty configuring the network. The main program is much better. The Find function built into every window is very, very nice. But the look of text in 10.2 is incredible. Just incredible. If only you all knew how lovely your websites look now...
He also added a Firewire Hard Drive:
... Bought it, went home, read the instructions. The Windows instructions were three pages long, and advised that you go to three different websites, find a driver on a page whose url was as long as an NBA player’s shinbone, sacrifice a songbird to the Santeria deity of your choice, and give it a shot. The Mac instructions were: plug it in. Turn it on.
(and my own experience with OS-X 10.2? Rock-solid. No system freezes so far.)
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
#38: So many villains, so little time!
In "Bush on Fire" (08/27/02) Paul Krugman tries to strike simultaneous blows for environmental protection, and against corporate welfare and the Bush administration. But somehow he manages to muddle all three. So many villains, so little time!
The target of his ire in this column is the Bush plan to reduce incident forest fires by enlisting the aid of timber companies to clear away flammable underbrush in return for expanded logging rights on public land. In opposing this idea, Krugman pulls out all the stops in his anti-business ravings. And along the way there are a good number of "howlers" and a raft of distorted and unsupported claims and charges.
Let's start with the howlers:
1. Krugman says that the mature trees that loggers prize most are also the trees that usually survive forest fires. He's obviously never seen the aftermath of a major forest fire. Some big trees around the edges of the fire might pull through, but in the main path everything dies but lodge pole pinecones. These little cones are heat activated, which is how western forests naturally reseed themselves after a fire.
2. Krugman says that the loggers will take trees "that shouldn't be removed", but he never gives a hint as to his criteria for tree cutting. Is he joining the tree-huggers who think a tree should never be cut? Is the cutting of trees a sin or crime against nature? Does he dispute the idea that trees on public lands offer valuable natural resources that should be exploited? Or does he think mature trees should left unused on public land until they die a natural death? We'll probably never know.
3. Krugman comes up with a timber-for-brush analogy that has loggers equated with hypothetical Staten Island toxic waste dumpers. Clearly this means that he believes the timber industry has an overall negative impact on the economy. Hmmm. Not only is this patently absurd, but Krugman has just built a house in Princeton that is composed of wood. We wonder where he thinks it came from? The lumberyard? And now the distorted and unsupported claims:
1. Clearly Krugman would like to portray loggers as corrupt plunderers of our precious timberlands who, with campaign contributions placing the Bush administration snugly in their pocket, would now expand their operations on public lands by way of corporate welfare. But wait a minute! The national income and product accounts clearly show the timber industry is a substantial contributor to the GDP. They are major employers and contribute importantly to the vital housing sector. Timber is also a competitive industry. As long as there is competitive bidding for logging rights on public lands, how can this be corporate welfare?
2. Actually, Krugman tries to buttress his claims of a corporate welfare giveaway by claiming that "the measured costs of timber sales capture only a fraction of the true budgetary costs of logging in the national forests, which is supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies, especially for road-building." But if he is going down this road, then Krugman cannot stop with the timber industry. Publicly financed transportation and other infrastructure supports many industries with roads, bridges, tunnels, harbors, airports, power, communications and educational facilities. Are all industries that use transportation and other services to be tarred with charges of corporate welfare? We think it is better to recognize that we have a mixed economy and, if competitive balance is maintained, it serves our interests very well. We should reserve the term "corporate welfare" for obvious boondoggles that favor particular industries with noncompetitive subsidies, e.g., the farm bill, steel tariffs, etc.
Finally, we would like to point out that while the forest products industry is a favorite whipping boy of the environmental extremists (and Krugman piles on happily whenever it suits his ax grinding), the fact is their faults are often exaggerated. For one thing, timber itself is not a limited resource and the timber industry has not recklessly abused our forests. They try to make a profit, obviously, but they are not stupid. Replanting of felled acreage is a major part of their business strategy with the result that timberland in the U.S. is growing not retracting. In fact, then, timber is a renewable resource. None of this matters to Krugman, of course. He'll slander any industry for private greed and profit making IF they lean Republican.
By the way, we haven't heard much from Krugman about CitiGroup lately, have we?
Iain Murray has written an article scrutinizing those statistics of "more blacks in jail than in college..."
... Moreover, it is misleading to compare the number of African American men who are incarcerated with the simple number of college students. It is a simple fact that a man can go to prison at any age, but is far more likely to be in college between the ages of 18 and 24 than at any other time in his life. The more meaningful comparison here is to look at how many men of college age are enrolled in college or under custodial supervision. When the figures are broken down by age, a much different picture emerges, one that is much less helpful to the Justice Policy Institute's case. There were 469,000 African American males between the ages of 18 and 24 who were enrolled in college in 2000, compared to 180,000 in prison or jail. An African American male of college age is therefore over two and a half times as likely to be in college than in prison. That is a significant difference.
What is perhaps most annoying about the way the Justice Policy Institute chose to present its figures is that it helps perpetuate the stereotype that a young African American male is likely to be a troublemaker or a jailbird. In fact, as a careful look at the figures shows, he is much more likely to be carrying books than a gun. Tremendous advances have been made in crime reduction in the African American community (the rate at which African Americans commit murder has halved since 1990), which should not be hidden by presentation of statistics that, however well intentioned, show that community in a negative light ...
"Passing the Buck" (09/03/02) by Paul Krugman would be better titled "Mr. Cheapshot Takes on the Fed." A more outrageous collection of Krugmanisms would be hard to find in one column. The best refutation is to simply let Chairman Greenspan speak for himself. The attached link goes to the text of his remarks at Jackson Hole last Friday. It's only four pages and we urge all Squad readers to take a look. It is as reasoned an assessment of the U.S. economy over the last 30 years as we have read.
One further point. We do not know of ANY economists who believe the Fed should target asset prices as a matter of monetary stabilization policy. This makes Krugman a minority of one. There is nothing wrong with that, but he should at least acknowledge his lonely status and make some serious arguments for his position. He does neither.