Archive for the ‘Aaron's random thoughts’ Category

It’s Been Real

I hope everyone enjoyed the highs and lows of this discussion, but all good things come to an end.

We’d like to thank all of you for your time, thoughts, and input, even when, or rather, especially when it got heated. But there’s some good (ed – ????) news, so turn that frown upside down.

Goodbye ID

If you’ve enjoyed this little exercise, we’re moving to a new space, with a bigger bullpen of writers, and more of the art, music, humor and photography we’ve started to develop here. The new site will be less policy-centric, more frequently updated, and more a celebration of the good life. I hope you check it out. The new site goes live on May 3rd, 2010, and we’ll throw the link up here then.


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Radley Balko’s response to Mori Dinauer’s post is so good it’s worth quoting in full. Testify:

“The American Prospect’s Mori Dinauer is just a hair off in this post.

I don’t promote government failure, I expect it. And my expectations are met fairly often. What I promote is the idea that more people share my expectations, so fewer people are harmed by government failure, and so we can stop this slide toward increasingly large portions of our lives being subject to the whims, interests, and prejudices of politicians.

I will concede that there’s a problem, here. In the private sector, failure leads to obsolescence (unless, of course, you work for a portion of the private sector that politicians think should be preserved in spite of failure). When government fails, people like Dinauer and, well, the government claim it’s a sign that we need more government. It’s not that government did a poor job, or is a poor mechanism for addressing that particular problem, it’s that there just wasn’t enough government. Of course, the same people will point to what they call governmentsuccess as, also, a good argument for more government.

It’s a nifty trick. The right does it with national security. The fact that we haven’t had a major terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 proves that the Bush administration’s heavy-handed, high-security approach to fighting terrorism worked! But if we had suffered another attack, the same people would have been arguing that we need to surrender more of our civil liberties to the security state. Two sides. Same coin.

That Pew poll is also a pretty good indication that the more government tries to do, the more poorly it does it. Your usual caveats about correlation and causation apply, but the federal government certainly didn’t shrink over the period the trust-in-government trend line has taken a nosedive. Note too that during the Clinton administration, federal spending actually shrank as a percentage of GDP, and the federal workforce shrank by nearly 400,000, leaving it at its lowest level since 1960. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s one period in the last 50 years over which trust in the federal government took a sharp climb.

But in general—yes—I think the fact that more people are realizing that government isn’t capable of solving all of their problems is an encouraging trend. Because it isn’t.”

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I bought myself a nice digital camera, and have fallen back in love with my old girlfriend, photography. I hope y’all enjoy the recurring feature.

Four Roses Bourbon Barrel. Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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Seth, in re: your post,


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It’s been awhile since we had a links column. Here’s some of the random internet detritus that’s come across my transom.

Reason Saves Cleveland! Or, how to regulate a great city into a hell-hole.

– As if anyone couldn’t see this coming, there are going to be tons of additional health-care fixes. The problem with “pass it to find out what’s in it”.

Vivid Corvid Photography – awesome photos. Love it.

– All things coffee: drink darker coffee to avoid stomach aches. I don’t like dark roasts. I’ll deal with the stomach issues.

– I’ve always been fascinated by the inherent racism and cultural imperialism of progressivism. Couple that with special interest legislation and it’s a perfect storm of bad ideas.

Five creepy unsolved crimes. Last night I spent two solid hours reading about the Taman Shud case. Gotta find a copy of the Rubaiyat.

Dan Rothschild is willing to make some policy bets.

– If you’re not watching Archer on FX, you can go to hell. You’re in the … uh … DANGERZONE!

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Quick thoughts on a Monday. Springtime is the best season. By far. The first day of sundress season should be a national holiday.

Ahhhhh Sweet Spring

Anyone care to argue any of these claims?

1. The American health system has been broken for a long time.

2. This bill won’t improve quality of service.

3. It won’t decrease prices to patients.

4. It won’t decrease costs to doctors and hospitals.

5. It won’t reduce the deficit. It will follow ignominious history.

6. It isn’t constitutional.

7. The six-month enactment period will give lawyers for all conceivable parties AMPLE time to scout for plaintiffs, jurisdiction shop, and draft briefs and motions. This will lead to a period of litigation, lasting anywhere from three years to a decade.

8. If the Republicans do win control of either the House or the Senate, a bill will be introduced to repeal this law within the first two months of the new Congress.

9. Reihan Salam will be right: “Coming soon: the Democratic Dolchstoss strategy: “Of course it didn’t work. It was a moderate Republican bill! What we really need is …”

On Intrade, the prop bet that Republicans control the House after November has gained about 43% in just over a year. Given that, it’s bizarre that liberals are still haunted by the specter of libertarianism.

I watched the Maryland – Michigan State game in Baltimore in a bar full of Maryland fans, and it was heartbreaking. On State’s last possession, the clock didn’t start for about a half second. The buzzer beater went up with .4 on the clock. Brutal.

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Robin Hanson investigates a new study on antidepressants which shows they don’t really work.

The only reason Menand can imagine resisting such artists is a perverse religious desire to suffer:

What if there were a pill that relieved you of the physical pain of bereavement—sleeplessness, weeping, loss of appetite—without diluting your love for or memory of the dead? Assuming that bereavement “naturally” remits after six months, would you take a pill today that will allow you to feel the way you will be feeling six months from now anyway? Probably most people would say no. … Gerald Klerman once called “pharmacological Calvinism” … the view, which he thought many Americans hold, that shortcuts to happiness are sinful, that happiness is not worth anything unless you have worked for it.

Numbers schmumbers – only uncivilized animals, or religious nuts, would not let eloquent authors soothe their savage doubts, until they accept being comforted by their culture’s conventional ways to show that folks care.

Years ago I read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s uneven but fascinating Prozac Nation and noticed the same dynamic. Despite a long intense and varied regime of drugs, depression haunted her until a personal epiphany. This pattern is repeated in most anecdotal accounts of depression I’ve come across. (I would recommend this book to anyone interested in mental disorders, but at all costs avoid the movie, it’s total shit.)

While antidepressants are based on the hard scientific evidence of brain chemistry, someone could explore the causal relationship between moods and brain chemistry; does depression cause a self-perpetuating change in chemical activity? This kind of sudden shift in both mood and brain activity seems to be strongly correlated.

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