Regular Joe

by Ted on April 13, 2005

Joe Scarborough:

Whether the debate centers around a Presidential election, the right to die movement, the gay agenda, prayer in school, or simply letting our children recite the Pledge of Alligence, the teachings of Jesus Christ always seems to thwart the agenda of America’s left wing elites.

Forget what you heard in the 1960s.

God is not dead.

In fact, he is very much alive and beating liberal elites on one political issue after another.

Maybe that is why so many of them hate the Prince of Peace.

via Andrew Sullivan, who wonders, as I do, which of Jesus’s teachings related to homosexuals or Bush vs. Kerry. Perhaps if I didn’t hate the Prince of Peace I’d know.

In 580 words, Scarborough uses the words “elite” or “elites” 6 times. This kind of class resentment is understandable from a “regular Joe” (his term) like Scarborough, but it’s hard to put your finger on when it developed. He might have picked it up during his hardscrabble days as a partner in a Florida law firm. He might have learned to resent the elites that he hired and fired as a newspaper owner. It could have come from his days as a hard-working blue-collar Congressman. (As Tom DeLay has attested, it’s very difficult making ends meet on a Congressional salary.)

Or maybe it’s more recent. Like most millionaire television pundits, Regular Joe can probably really commiserate with the concerns that working folks have about shitty service from the incompetent idiots that our employers hire to style our hair and apply our makeup.

Meanwhile, the House is about to vote for the permanent repeal of the estate tax. Joe will probably get right on that.

P.S. Did you notice that one of the “liberal elites” named ‘n’ shamed is Christopher Hitchens? What a coincidence.

Upcoming meetups

by Eszter Hargittai on April 13, 2005

Now that Meetup has decided to start charging for its services, I wonder if is going to take off. It seems like a promising service and many new features are being added these days. It’s not clear why it’s been so slow to spread. It seems it’s still lacking the necessary critical mass. It’ll be interesting to see how the recent additions of features to it and the changes at Meetup may influence its future.


by Ted on April 13, 2005

I am not letting this performance be the sole CT contribution to the noble cause of book-related vanity-stroking blog memes.

[click to continue…]

Reverse Turing Tests

by Henry on April 13, 2005

“Tom B,” commenting at Making Light, points us to the Automatic Computer Science Paper Generator, which uses context-free grammar to generate papers, complete with graphs, figures and citations, which can then be submitted to conferences with low or no standards for the papers they accept. Its creators (MIT pranksters) have already succeeded in getting accepted by one conference – if they can raise the money, they intend, Yes Men style, to go there and deliver the paper with straight faces. It seems to me that pranks of this sort (the Atlanta Nights affair also qualifies) have the logic of a reverse Turing test – any conference (or publishing house, or journal, or whatever) which is stupid or unprincipled enough to accept this sort of nonsense is revealing itself to be a fake.

Mooney talk reminder

by Henry on April 13, 2005

A reminder to CT readers in the DC area: Chris Mooney is giving a talk today at 5pm (Room 602, the Elliott School for International Affairs, 1957 E St, Washington DC) on “Abuses of Science in Politics and Journalism.” – RSVP at The talk will preview some of the themes of his forthcoming book, The Republican War on Science, which you can pre-order at Amazon. Blurb for the talk below.

When 48 Nobel Laureates denounce the current administration for abusing and distorting scientific information, we can safely say that the once strong relationship between the scientific community and our political leaders has all but disintegrated. What are the causes of the current crisis? In “Abuses of Science in Politics and Journalism,” science writer Chris Mooney takes on both the politicians who have distorted scientific information, and the media gatekeepers who have too often let them get away with it. On issues ranging from global climate change to the new pseudo-debate over the theory of evolution versus “intelligent design,” he will explain who’s undermining science–and why their strategies are succeeding.

My Health Care Co-Pay

by Kieran Healy on April 13, 2005

Everyone else is talking about health care this week, so here’s a reprise of an old post of mine. Below is a figure showing the relationship between the “Publicness” of the health system and the amount spent on health care per person per year. Data points are each country’s mean score on these measures for the years 1990 to 2001.

You can also get a “nicer PDF version”: of this figure. As you can see, health care in other advanced capitalist democracies is typically twice as public and half as expensive as the United States.

When I posted this before, I made the mistake of not emphasizing a key point: these data *do not include* any health-related Research and Development spending, so it’s not the case that the U.S. is way up in the top left simply because it’s generously subsidizing everyone else’s research costs.

The figure doesn’t show it, but it’s worth noting that despite not having a national health system, U.S. public expenditure on health in the 1990s was higher in terms of GDP than in Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Japan, Australia and Britain.

It’s easy to see that mainstream debate about health care in the U.S. happens inside a self-contained bubble, and that one of its main conservative tropes — the inevitable expense and inefficiency of some kind of universal health care system — is wholly divorced from the data.

The right to life

by Chris Bertram on April 13, 2005

I had a conversation at the weekend where the topic of baby-farming came up. Unmarried mother in Victorian England? Can’t stand the social stigma? No problem, babies disposed of no questions asked …. The full details are in Dorothy Haller’s online essay “Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England”: . A sample quote:

bq. Baby farmers, the majority of whom were women, ran ads in newspapers which catered to working class girls. On any given day a young mother could find at least a dozen ads in the Daily Telegraph, and in the Christian Times, soliciting for the weekly, monthly, or yearly care of infants. All these advertisements were aimed at the mothers of illegitimate babies who were having difficulty finding employment with the added liability of a child. A typical ad might read:


NURSE CHILD WANTED, OR TO ADOPT — The Advertiser, a Widow with a little family of her own, and moderate allowance from her late husband’s friends, would be glad to accept the charge of a young child. Age no object. If sickly would receive a parent’s care. Terms, Fifteen Shillings a month; or would adopt entirely if under two months for the small sum of Twelve pounds.

This ad may have been misleading to the general public, but it read like a coded message to unwed mothers. The information about the character and financial condition of the person soliciting for nurse children appears to be acceptable at first glance, but no name and no address is given. No references are asked for and none are offered. The sum of 15s a week to keep an infant or a sickly child was inadequate, and a sickly child and an infant under two months were the least likely to survive and the cheapest to bury. Infants were taken no questions asked and it was understood that for 12 pounds no questions were expected to be asked. The transaction between the mother and the babyfarmer usually took place in a public place, on public transportation, or through a second party. No personal information was exchanged, the money was paid, and the transaction was complete. The mother knew she would never see her infant alive again.

No doubt this practice flourishes in certain societies today and would do wherever the theocrats get the upper hand. Read the whole thing, as someone-or-other is wont to say.