What have you done for me lately?

by Ted on October 7, 2003

Polls have shown public opinion toward President Bush souring over his handling of the economy and Iraq. But an item tucked away in last week’s CBS News/New York Times poll adds insult to injury. Despite three tax cuts in as many years, only 19 percent said Bush’s policies made their taxes go down. Forty-seven percent noticed no effect, while 29 percent perceived that their taxes have gone up. (my emphasis)

Wow. I would have thought that the “taxes went down” number would be at least 40%, which seems to be a floor for conservative/ Republican opinions. (The precise wording of the question is “Do you think the policies of the Bush Administration have made your taxes go up, go down, or have the policies of the Bush Administration not affected your taxes?”) Here’s a story about the poll, and here are the details.

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Capitalisme sauvage

by Henry on October 7, 2003

For heartless capitalists only: the Financial Times advises us that “stuffed kittens”:http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=031004000901&query=kittens&vsc_appId=totalSearch&state=Form may be a sound investment. As long as they’re high quality stuffed kittens, of course.

Literary discovery

by Chris Bertram on October 7, 2003

From the “Guardian’s profile”:http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,9061,1057511,00.html today of Tory Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin:

bq. On his extensive office bookshelves there are enough volumes of Socrates … to suggest he is someone who thinks about politics using rare quantities of abstract nouns.

Shome mishtake surely? (Thanks to John Kozak in comments to an item below for the heads-up.)

Evidence (and global warming)

by Chris Bertram on October 7, 2003

Suppose there are two possible states of the world, S1 and S2, and we don’t know which of the two states the world is in. An event E occurs which is consistent with the world being in either S1 or S2, but is more likely in S1 than it is in S2. We should surely say that, given E, the world is more likely to be in S1 than in S2, and that _to that extent_ E (though consistent with both possible states) is evidence for the world’s being in S1.

Such evidence isn’t, of course, conclusive. After all, by hypothesis, E is _consistent_ with both possible states. But evidence doesn’t need to be conclusive evidence to count as evidence.

That sensible view of what evidence is “doesn’t appear to be shared by new enviroblogger Professor Philip Stott”:http://greenspin.blogspot.com/2003_10_01_greenspin_archive.html#106545283636725804 , whom I welcome to the blogosphere in the traditional way – by arguing with him.

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RIAA Radar

by Brian on October 7, 2003

If you want to keep buying music without supporting the RIAA (now most famous for suing 12 year olds) it’s worth checking out RIAA Radar, which provides some lists of which albums are not released by members of the RIAA. For a good sample of what’s available, here’s their list of the top 100 non-RIAA albums on Amazon. There’s some good stuff on there, including recent albums by Múm, the New Pornographers (my favourite album of the year to date), Warren Zevon, Super Furry Animals, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Shins, the Waifs and many more.

Thanks to Virulent Memes for the link.

World Cup finals

by Eszter Hargittai on October 7, 2003

A soccer world cup championship is down to the finals, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it. I’m not surprised that here in Chicagoland it has not been at the forefront of sports headlines. With all the focus on the Cubs there would not be much coverage even if the US had made it to the finals. Alas, it didn’t. It’s down to Sweden and Germany.

It’s been interesting to watch the rise in the popularity of women’s soccer in the US. There are two things standing in its way: one is that it’s a women’s sport, which tends to be less popular overall (although we are seeing some change in that, but not too much) and it’s soccer, which is not exactly the most popular sport in the United States if you judge by media coverage. But it’s not that simple. Soccer is actually quite popular when it comes to participation and going out to see a game [pdf]. It is also a very popular high school sport in the US and many of those participants are girls. So no, it’s not because soccer is somehow inherently un-American that it has not gained popular appeal. I’m sure the fact that it is hard to break the game up into sections to accomodate commercials has to do with it. But I don’t want to get into too much popsociology here. There is a book on this, Offside, which the reviews on Amazon suggest is a good read on the topic. (The reviews will also give you an idea of the argument of the book. I don’t feel comfortable commenting on that since I haven’t read it myself.)

I was at the 1999 World Cup opening game and it was very exciting. This year, most of the games have been broadcast on ESPN2 or even less mainstream channels in the US limiting the size of audiences. I only happened upon the Canada-Sweden game today by accident. Are the games getting better coverage in other countries? The final will be broadcast on ABC so that should reach more people. How many will be watching is another question. I’m planning on throwing a Women’s World Cup Final brunch party to add to the fun.

All Things Nice

by Kieran Healy on October 7, 2003

Over at Slate, Steven Landsburg has a piece on the finding that the parents of daughters are more likely to divorce than the parents of sons:

bq. In the United States, the parents of a girl are nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of a boy. The more daughters, the bigger the effect: The parents of three girls are almost 10 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of three boys.

The article goes through a number of mechanisms that might explain the difference, though none are entirely convincing. The language of the article is egalitarian, talking mainly about the preferences of parents. But two of the three hypotheses put forward suggest that the preferences of the father drive the outcome rather than those of the mother. More importantly, the emphasis on parental preferences is ultimately a bit restricting.

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