Saturday, August 02, 2008

political ignorance

Ilya Somin over at the Volokh Conspiracy is arguing that political ignorance is rational. This reminds me of a previous post of mine: Interest Universalism (that term is a regretful coinage, but I couldn't come up with anything better).

We all have to chose what to spend our energy on, and it appears that there is a special name for those who chose to spend almost no energy at all on politics: "swing voter". According to a study that he kind of waves his hand at (I spent about twenty minutes trying to tack it down through his links and failed), swing voters have far less political knowledge on average than partisan voters. Since swing voters are pretty much the ones who decide elections, this implies that our elections are decided by the most ignorant.

So regardless of what is rational for the individual, this tendency for many people to ignore politics arguably has a very bad effect on the general welfare. I would tend to make that argument on the grounds that people who know more about politics would tend to vote more like me. I may be wrong about that, but I can't believe that if Republicans during the primaries had known about McCain's policies on illegal immigration, on taxes, on free speech during political campaigns, and on harsh interrogation for terrorists that they would have voted for him. Similarly, I can't believe that if most people really understood the the corrupting effects of earmarks, or the horrors of partial-birth abortion, that they would vote for politicians who support those things.

The behavior of the politicians who support all of those things I named suggests that they agree with me. That's why, for example, McCain avoided talk of illegal immigration during the primaries and became so hostile when others brought up his record on the issue. That's why Democrats get so hostile at groups who want to show pictures of partial-birth abortions. McCain and the pro-abortion crowd agree with me that more knowledge would mean less support for them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

the crushing disapointment of Hoosiers

OK, I can't say I really loved Hoosiers in the first place --I thought the drama was too thick-- but the fact that it was a true story gave it a big boost in my opinion. No more. According to this web site (link from Randy Barnett) the entire movie is made up. The history and personality of the coach, the difficulties in getting the town and players to go along, the stories of the players, the alcoholic assistant coach, the love story subplot, the many clutch games --all fiction. The only thing in the movie that was true is that a small Indiana high school won the state championship.

I'm sorry but once you use that level of revision, calling the movie "based on a true story" is just a lie.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

loving kids

Since my previous post was on mean old men who hate kids, here is a nice you woman seems to like kids.

Baldilocks is a blogger who is starting up a charity organization to support a school in Kenya. I don't very often give to secular charities, but I trust Baldilocks, so if she is going to take personal charge to make sure the money is well spent then that's good enough for me.

The kids in the school come from the same tribe as both Baldilocks and Barak Obama. In fact the school is named after Obama. This is a great opportunity for charity to extend beyond political boundaries.

UPDATE: Oops. Forgot the link...

hating kids

Professor Bainbridge doesn't like kids (link from Xrlq). He especially doesn't like kids on airplanes. As single guy in my forties who will probably never have kids, and who doesn't like noise or chaos, I could sympathize. I could sympathize, but I don't. I made a choice some time back --probably around when my brothers started spawning-- that I wasn't going to be one of those guys. You know who I mean: the mean-spirited old men (and sometimes women) who get so irritated and condescending whenever kids start acting like kids.

When you have a misbehaving child on an airplane, how does it improve the situation for the adults around to start muttering obscenities and glaring at the parents? I recall once sitting down in a plane and then having a woman sit next to me with an infant. I started to get annoyed, but then I remembered that I don't want to be one of those guys, so when she apologized for the baby's crying, I smiled and told her not to be silly --that's what babies do. It made the flight better for both of us. Yeah, the crying was a bit annoying. But my decision not to get angry or to dwell on the discomfort made it more bearable. But the mean old woman on the other side didn't take my lead. She insisted on being as miserable as possible and letting the poor mother know how miserable she was. I'm not sure the mean old woman really thought through the logic of making yourself miserable to punish someone who can't help whatever is troubling you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

songs that made me buy albums

Looking for blues songs on Youtube I ran across some songs from the old days. I was never a huge music fan. In my whole life I've bought maybe maybe ten record albums, thirty cassettes, and fifteen CDs. A lot of people buy that much in a single year. But I ran across Black Velvet by Alannah Myles and it reminded me that I bought the cassette just for that song. There were quite a few albums that I bought mostly on the strength of a single song that I heard on the radio or from someone else's copy of the album.
So I thought I'd try to find some other songs that I liked well-enough for fork out money for the album, cassette, or CD (I never bought a single).

The Gambler - Kenny Rogers

Sail On - Commodores

You're No Good - Linda Ronstadt

Boulder to Birmingham - Emmylou Harris (I had heard the album before and liked other songs on it, but mainly this one)

Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival (there were several songs on this one that I knew also)

Let Her Cry - Hootie and the Blowfish

Man, I've got to get my cassettes and records transferred to mp3 while I can still find devices to read them...

Monday, July 28, 2008

true blue

I was just mentioning to a friend the tremendous version of Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman (I also like the version by Kandee). The woman I was talking to didn't know what I mean when I said that it was real blues. She didn't know there was a difference between real blues and R&B or bluesy rock. The difference is that real blues has a specific harmonic and lyrical structure to it. She didn't know what I was talking about until I said, "It's like haiku; you have to follow a particular pattern." (of course that's only the word structure, there is also a chord structure). She knew what haiku is but not blues. Why do schools teach haiku but not blues? Haiku is stupid. Blues is some of the best entertainment ever invented.

Here are some true blue songs that you may not have known are blues. Mustang Sally is often played by R&B bands, but it's true blues. Elvis doesn't do a great job of bring out the blues sound in Hound Dog, but the chord and lyrical structure fit. Stormy Monday has been covered by a lot of artists who don't do strictly blues. Santana and Fleetwood Mac both did versions of the blues song, Black Magic Woman.