Time for a Tiger

by Kieran Healy on April 29, 2005

While the sun was setting this evening, I drove up to the “Catalina foothills.”:http://www.boulder.swri.edu/~durda/snow.html Tucson’s sunsets are the kind that are “so rich and colorful”:http://www.hereintucson.com/wallpaper.htm that you think photographs of them have been photoshopped. Just beautiful. Anyway, on the way back I stopped at the local “swanky mall”:http://www.tucsonattractions.com/encantada.htm (I think the proper marketing-speak is “upscale”), which is home to an Apple Store. I bought “Tiger”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/overview/. The shop was packed. They were handing out scratch-cards and I ended up winning an “iPod shuffle”:http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/, which was a nice surprise as I never win anything. Then I came home and while “Spotlight”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/spotlight/ was indexing my computer with metadata goodness, I put the kid to bed and made the first stage of a recipe for “croissants”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croissant. (They take three days to make!) Then I finished a paper I was supposed to draft and now I’m having a beer. I imagine people like “John and Belle”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/ go through life in this well-adapted manner all the time, but personally I’m still trying to figure out what was in my lunch this afternoon that caused all this to happen. Naturally I’m now warily waiting for the house to catch fire or the cat to explode or something, because things clearly need to balance out.

Fake New Yorker cartoons

by Ted on April 29, 2005

Fake New Yorker cartoon


Many more here
. Much swearing and inappropriate humor.

Bainbridge on Social Security

by Henry on April 29, 2005

Stephen Bainbridge articulates my suspicions as to what’s going on with the President’s proposal for means-tests on Social Security – that focusing the program more directly on the poor would weaken its political support (and thus make it easier to get rid of it in the long run).

Risk and politics

by Henry on April 29, 2005

Matt Yglesias talks about the difficulty that liberals and the left have in saying what they’re for and what their opponents are against, in a pithy one-sentence format.

the problem was that people didn’t even seem to understand the right kind of thing to be doing. What makes the conservative pitch work is that while it’s general enough to be broadly appealing, it’s specific enough that liberals will have to reject it. The submissions we got tended to either operate at an overly-broad level (“we’re for good things happening and against bad ones”) or else to just be policy laundry-lists.

It’s important to recognize that for these purposes you need an idea that conservatives would reject as a self-description. If you say, “we’re for the middle class, not just the wealthy” conservatives will say, “no, we’re for the middle class.” You may think (correctly) that this is an inaccurate description of the consequences of conservatism, but it’s not how conservatives see things. Liberals, on the other hand, really aren’t for low taxes. And part of the genius is that we wouldn’t say that we’re exactly for high taxes either.

I don’t have an answer for him; I’m not that good at snappy one liners. But I do have a strong feeling that the answer lies somewhere in the left and right’s attitudes towards risk. Modern conservatives tend to fetishize risk as being a good thing in itself – see John H’s extended interrogation of David Frum’s claims that the risk of hardship and privation are character-building. There’s something similar going on in the insistence of many conservatives that the welfare state destroys character, and that Social Security, universal health care, bankruptcy protection and so on are bad things in themselves. This points towards the same conclusion as the libertarian argument that markets are good, but for different reasons – it’s less concerned with increasing individuals’ ability to make choices, than ensuring that they’re exposed to the brisk winds of chance and market forces. The left wants to provide a safety net in case you fall from the tightrope, but for people like Frum, the risk that you’ll break your neck is a _good thing_. It concentrates your mind wonderfully on staying up there, and makes you bulk up your moral fibre. There are some varieties of American conservatism for which this isn’t true (there’s a subdued strain of Catholic corporate responsibility, for example, here and there), but they aren’t politically dominant. Now the statement that the left’s motive is to mitigate risk isn’t a one-liner; at most it’s a loose animating philosophy. But whatever one-liners we come up with should reflect that philosophy, or something like it – it’s what really divides the left (as broadly conceived) from the currently dominant version of American conservatism.

Friday’s for Fun

by Eszter Hargittai on April 29, 2005

Just because I have a busy workday ahead doesn’t mean others aren’t ready for procrastination. Let the fun begin.

  • Guess-the-Google – Care to beat my high score of 387?:) (That’s thanks to my being at home sick last weekend and the game repeating many of the pictures.)
  • The original Ooops I Did It Again by Louis Armstrong:) – You will want to have the volume turned on to enjoy this
  • Sixfoo 660 – Where social networking sites network (this is probably most amusing to those who have already tried Yahoo 360, here is an example)

Donations

by Chris Bertram on April 29, 2005

Like other Timberites I pledged my Amazon Associates earnings to Tsunami relief. However in the intervening period the “Disasters Emergency Committee”:http://www.dec.org.uk/ have decided that Darfur is more of a priority and the button that previously went to Tsunami relief redirects to a page inviting you to donate to that cause. Unlike John H., my earnings were small, but I’ve sent £40 to the DEC today and will do the same with all future earnings.