Archive for March 2009
A nihilistic counterpoint to the previous post:
What’s good about boredom, about anguish and the sense of meaninglessness of your own, of everything else’s existence, is that it is not a deception. Try to embrace, or let yourself be embraced by, boredom and anguish, which are larger than you anyhow. No doubt you’ll find that bosom smothering, yet try to endure it as long as you can, and then some more. Above all, don’t think you’ve goofed somewhere along the line, don’t try to retrace your steps to correct the error. No, as W. H. Auden said, “Believe your pain.” This awful bear hug is no mistake. Nothing that disturbs you ever is.
This Economist story’s a bit stale, but I feel a need to document such errata about obscure places.
I think there’s something to Michael Schaffer’s thesis that the burgeoning pet industry owes something to American alienation, but really it’s this statistic — whose statistical rigor I doubt — that got my attention:
A 2001 survey for the American Animal Hospital Association revealed that 83 percent of pet owners call themselves their animal’s “mommy” or “daddy.”
This chart is impeccably executed.
Shirky should be required and regular reading for anyone involved in the transmission of ideas. His latest has a number of good lines. A severely pruned list of the quotes I pulled from it:
“When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.”
…the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.
The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model.
While explaining that “motherfucker” is a popular insult worldwide,
Anthropologists note that, across cultures, the most severe insults tend to involve a few basic themes: your opponent’s family, your opponent’s religion, sex, and scatology.
No part of that really surprises me, but I’d just like to congratulate anyone who gets paid to discover stuff like this.
It’s wonky and probably — to most — pretty boring, but I think Nate Silver makes a good point:
The question, of course, is why there isn’t a millionaires tax bracket now … or even a multi-millionaires tax bracket. I haven’t run the numbers, but I’m guessing that if you established a new tax bracket at, say, 40.5 percent, that started at incomes of $1,000,000 or more, this would bring in as much revenue to the government as restoring the $250K tax bracket (which is really $360K now given indexing to inflation) to 39.6 percent, as it was under Clinton.