And they're geeky about their elaborate horny perviness.
New York Times columnists, pithily skewered.
We finally watched Tim's Vermeer tonight, and it's superhighlyrecommendedexpialidocious. A fine way to spend 80 minutes, and the impression from the early write-ups was correct: an intriguing detective story, and a fascinating protagonist with a quirky mind and phenomenal patience and dedication. Not, by any means, a balanced view: no dissenting voices are heard, but as a prima facie case that Vermeer used optics and probably also a contraption like what Tim invented, very strong, and lots of fun.
(As an aside, I just read Manohla Dargis's review of the movie, and I guess I assumed that, unlike book critics, movie critics actually see the movie they're reviewing (it only takes a couple of hours, after all), but her review really made me wonder.)
Clew writes: Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado: too racist to perform? Actors acceptable, poster tacky? Opinions of 18th c. Japanese diplomats; relevant or not?
Heebie's take: Sure seems like a bad idea!
Is Heebie stranded in a ditch somewhere yet? Has she strangled her children? Have they strangled her? While we wait for news, allow me to try to fill the gap with this bit of old, outsourced trolling. The 100 Greatest Writers of All Time, which takes itself entirely seriously and includes gems like "maybe the most important Chicago Jew of all time" and "he fucked well and seriously" and perhaps my favorite, "It is now assumed that he was gay, but how, really, could a poet of his time not be."
This seems not quite kosher, but I'm no lawyer.
Jailhouse conversations have been many a defendant's downfall through incriminating words spoken to inmates or visitors, or in phone calls to friends or relatives. Inmates' calls to or from lawyers, however, are generally exempt from such monitoring. But across the country, federal prosecutors have begun reading prisoners' emails to lawyers -- a practice wholly embraced in Brooklyn, where prosecutors have said they intend to read such emails in almost every case.
Tomorrow night I'm setting off on a four day, 1800 mile drive to Montana with Hokey Pokey and Hawaiian Punch. (Jammies and Ace will join us halfway there.) We've done a two day drive before.
I've been reading up on all internet tips for how to make the drive bearable, and they amount to common sense, snacks, activities, and treats. The "treats" is the one that I'm confounded on - they recommend wrapping up little presents to open along the way, having fun snacks (like marshmallows and pretzel sticks - kids build little creatures and then eat them. Which does sound like fun.) The thing about "treats" is that the existence of them always seems to turn our kids into monsters who are preoccupied with the next treat, and if they are off the table, then the kids aren't obsessed and are just regular people.
I won't be wrapping any presents, because come on, but activities and snacks seem reasonable. The thing is that it's hard to dole something out slowly without it being a treat, and it's unrealistic to give a three year old four days worth of activities at the beginning, and expect it to last. I'm torn on the schedule for administering activities and snacks. (Like, do I establish a schedule? Or do I hoard activities and marshmallows in secret, until the prisoners become restless, and then dole them out as though each one were the last?)
Also the minivan has a TV and that basically makes all other planning moot. Mostly I'm just overpreparing out of anxiety, I suppose. Also I barely ever wrote parenting posts before Ogged returned.
I have known some realtors who were not slithering reptiles. They are not the norm. My wife and I are haphazardly looking at houses that strike our fancy, in case we see a deal on something we love. Something apparently nice and relatively cheap just a few blocks away came on the market yesterday. Let's relive my brief, glorious interaction with the seller's agent, shall we?
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Any chance I could see 6 Hell Hill tomorrow (Tuesday)? I live in Hell so I can be there anytime-whatever works.
Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, I could have my husband show the house sometime tomorrow, what time would work for you? There is road construction in front of the house so at the moment it is difficult to get to the house. Please give me an idea of the time you might like to go and I will check with the owner and get back to you.
Do you have an agent that is representing you or currently working with you?
Great. 10am? I'm pulling that out of a hat; I can really do any time. My wife and I drove by tonight, and getting there wasn't bad.
I sort of kind of have an agent-I would certainly have one if we decided to make an offer (tangentially, I'm across-the-hall neighbors with Hellion, who I think works in your office).
One question that I don't want to forget to ask: since this is a somewhat older home, and we have two toddlers, do you know what the lead situation is?
Thank you, but I am not able to accommodate you 10;00 request as I have an open house at that time. I am holding 6 Hell Hill open this Sunday from 1 to 3 you are welcome to come to the open house or if you wish to see the home before perhaps you could have your agent cotact me set up an appointment with the office.
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Confidential to chronically ill reader Mr. Sm------e: it sounds as if you might have mycoplasma, or what is sometimes creepily referred to as "walking pneumonia." It's called this not because you become a zombie roaming the earth filled with vile hunger for the lungs of other humans, but rather because you are up and about, still walking around, on the go, etc., despite the fact that you have fucking pneumonia. I have had it, and both my girls. Like everyone at least twice or something. It's really common in Narnia on account of it being always Christmas and never winter (as ajay has observed).
Mycoplasma flourishes in warmer weather; the decorations go up on Orchard Rd in late October and stay till end January, much to my profound irritation. I LOVE. Christmas. I yield to no man or woman or trans Martha Stewart in my efforts to have themed trees (all cookies [N.B. valid within U.S. only as tree would be carried off entire by inch-long soldier ants]! All hand-sewn ornaments! Only gold and vintage glass bird ornaments from Germany!) and go each year to the cold rooms of Far East Flora to spend hundreds of dollars on a tree flown in from Oregon, pine rope of same provenance, holly, peonies, and every damn other thing. I got one so tall one year in my black-and-white house I just moved out of in October, that had 14-ft ceilings on the upper floor, that when the men came to dispose of it they just threw it out the second-story window rather than bother trying to get it down the turn of the stairs again without scraping every single framed picture off the walls. NONETHELESS to every thing there is a season, and one wishes to hear "O Come O Come Emanuel" only during Advent as it is in part by being rarely heard that the hymn stabs your heart with terrible, mysterious grief.
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When Girl X was four she went to a pre-school about four blocks from our house. Even at 8:45 a.m. the walk was unbelievably hot, but pretty: we walked on a small road that was hemmed on rising wall on one side and had a green field ticking with life on the other. We often saw a kingfisher there. Then the field gave way to a patch of jungle where it was naturally almost too loud to talk with the continuous "skree ree ree ree" of the cicadas buzzing out of it like a terrible engine of nature. Dark green, all those plants. I find them very unrestful to the eye. So tall, and so dark green, and so dim beneath, and so loud, and sweat trickling down into your eyebrows.
She didn't want to walk. She was tired. She wanted to be in the stroller. Sometimes I gave in and I would push her and read The Economist open on the handlebar (no I don't know why.) Other times I would make her. How would she ever learn to be a big girl if she didn't walk to school! Mommy and Daddy couldn't carry her forever! But she was so tired, and the teachers said that at certain points they could see her turn grey and wilt. Finally we had her sputum cultured at the suggestion of a fellow expat mom. She had had mycoplasma for more than four months, since the last time she had bronchitis. I cannot begin to tell you how bad I felt. Now, doctors in the U.S. never test what is wrong with anyone. They just give you antibiotics and guess. They don't culture shit. (Well, I suppose the gastro-enterologists may, but the point stands.) So, hie thee to a doctor and tell them than your imaginary friend on the internet says you might have mycoplasma. They probably still won't culture your sputum to see what bacteria you have. They'll just say, "eh maybe" and give you a nuclear course of Cipro. Whatever, but you have to take something for like 10 or 12 days, for real. I straight up had it for two months, took a six-day course with steroids, and still had that joint up in my biz afters, until I took another, separate, 12-day course of different antibiotics. And then I only paid $5 ND for it, because Narnia's health-care system is awesome.
UPDATE: I realize two medical threads adjacent to one another is perhaps de trop, but being the people you are I believe in your power to go off topic after the first 15 comments (is that heeb's rule or is it 25?) and talk about something else. Like my bad parenting, maybe. Or this lady.)
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Christ Y sends along this enjoyable ditty:
which is apparently entertaining those in China and pissing off those in North Korea.
One thing that always cheers me up is complaining, and most of my complaints du jour are medical, so let's make this thread about that. Complain away! (Mine are embarrassing, so I'm not sure whether or not I'll go into detail.) Medical complaint thread: go.
Powerful piece by a Palestinian writer with an interesting life story.
Twenty-five years that I am writing and knowing bitter criticism from both sides, but last week I gave up. Last week something inside of me broke. When Jewish youth parade through the city shouting "Death to the Arabs," and attack Arabs only because they are Arabs, I understood that I had lost my little war.
I listened to the politicians and the media and I know that they are differentiating between blood and blood, between peoples. Those who have become the powers that be say expressly what most Israelis think, "We are a better people than the Arabs." On panels that I participated in, it was said that Jews are a superior people, more entitled to life. I despair to know that an absolute majority in the country does not recognise the rights of an Arab to live.
Short enough that you can, in fact, read the whole thing.
Chris Y is scheduled for Chapter 12, and we've got an issue with Chapter 11 as fake accent is no longer available. Volunteers for 11, and 13 and later are solicited, but I'll cover 11 if no one else pops up.
Rob Helpy-Chalk slanders Eva Gabor under the fold.
Prior reading group posts:
Piketty Reading Group Setup
Initial Scheduling Post
Introduction and Chapter One -- Robert Halford
Chapter Two -- Minivet
Chapter Three -- Essear
Chapter Four -- Unimaginative
Chapter Five -- X. Trapnel
Chapter Six -- Conflated
Chapter Seven -- LizardBreath
Chapter Eight -- Lw
Chapter Nine -- Bave D
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Had I known Chapter 10 of Piketty would be so crucial, I might not have volunteered to recap it at the other place. I thought it would just do for wealth inequality what chapter 9 did for income inequality--give a historical overview. In fact, this chapter includes two of the most important features of the book: the argument that r>g drives wealth inequality, and the use of The Aristocats (an "animated cartoon") as his literary example.
As for the argument that r>g drives wealth inequality, it has three main components. The first is the pattern of wealth inequality over time. This is an empirical, historical observation, derived from a variety of documentary sources. The second is the relationship between the return on capital (r) and economic growth (g) over time. This is also an empirical, historical observation. The third and most crucial part is the claim that the later relationship is the best explanation for the former pattern.
The first historical observation is on pretty solid ground. He and other people collected data from estate taxes and probate documents for four countries—France, Britain, Sweden and the United States—going back to 1810. The results can be seen in charts like this one for the French data. We see that wealth inequality was high at the beginning of the 19th century, and kept going up until World War 1, when it started falling dramatically. Importantly, unlike a lot of the other graphs he shows, this does not follow a U-shape. There has been a slight increase in wealth inequality after 1980, but it hasn't been as dramatic as the return of income inequality we see after 1980 in charts like this one for the United States
Piketty's second historical observation seem to me to be on shakier grounds. This graph shows the levels of r and g from the year 0 projected out to the year 2100. Obviously there is a lot of filling in missing data when it comes to the years 0 to 1700, and a lot of assumptions made in projecting out the future. Still, a lot of this information was established in Part 1 and Part 2. Basically, for most of human history, there was almost no growth and the rate of return on capital was around 5%. The 19th and 20th centuries saw massive increases in growth, and the 20th century saw a big decline in the return on capital.
The crucial argument is that charts like the one we see for r and g can explain the charts we see for wealth inequality. The primary argument here is simply that there is a plausible mechanism. As he says repeatedly, if the rate of growth is 1%, and the return on capital is 5%, capital owners only need to save a little more than a fifth of their income from capital in order to earn money faster than people who work for a living. This simple mechanism seems to be his major point. I was expecting something more technical here, like references to ANOVAs or best fits or something that I would need help understanding, but there really wasn't much of that.
There are two points where his explanation of the changes in wealth distribution get more detailed. He says that his model can specifically explain why the French Revolution and the end of primogeniture didn't affect wealth distribution. And he says his model can explain differences on either side of the Channel in wealth distribution. I looked in more detail at the first of these. He says can show mathematically that once the gap between r and g is wide enough, random variations in the fortunes of wealthy families wind up leading to stable levels of inequality, and these equilibrium points are robust enough to survive changes in inheritance law. For the details of this part of the argument, he sends you to his technical appendix, but I found the information there to be unhelpful. In fact, he doesn't actually talk about primogeniture at all in that section. In general, I wish I had more detailed and quantified picture of his proposed explanation, but maybe that level of precision is not possible in this kind of macroeconomics, and if he did provide more quantitative detail, I wouldn't understand it anyway.
As for the literary examples, in this chapter Austin and Balzac are joined by the Disney classic
The Aristocrats The Aristocats. The example is primarily used to show that turn of the 20th century wealthy owners of talking cats were wealthy.
There are a few other points in this chapter. Pareto was a fascist twerp. Wealth inequality has not yet returned to 19th century levels because it takes time to accumulate wealth, and we still have capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, and progressive income taxes. Indeed, these taxes were a major reason along with the wars, why wealth distribution got better in the 20th century. (This also shows us how and why Grover Norquist's Club for Growth is misnamed. I have long thought it should be called the Club for Growths, because Norquist resembles some kind of tumor. Really though, it should be called the Club for Returns, because Norquists endless campaign for low taxes focuses like a laser on the thing that is preventing the complete dominance of the rentier class.)
The chapter ends with some normative conclusions wrapped up in predictions about the future. Inequality will get worse in the 21st century, but not as bad as the 19th, because growth will not go down to zero and returns won't be all that big. But all this depends on us sticking to or even strengthening the institutions that reduced inequality to begin with, which can now clearly be seen as a moral imperative. In any case, he concludes, mainstream economists are clearly delusional if they think market forces naturally decrease inequality or tend to stability.
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