What do you have in mind for this blog, anyhow?

People like cheap thrills. On television and YouTube, they want to see forests blazing; hurricane waters floating cars away; cars crashing into patrolmen, pedestrians, and restaurants; baseball games with five, six, seven homeruns; defensive backs cutting pass receivers in half; husbands or wives learning of spousal infidelity or the end of a marriage on the Jerry Springer Show; etc. etc.

Q: What’s that got to do with this blog?

A: I don’t want to feature cheap thrills here. Meaning, I want to be part of an adult, responsible discussion of issues that matter. The cheap-thrills approach would mean we just sling silly insults back and forth. Right-siders will call every left-sider a socialist, a Dummercrat, and a fool; Left-siders will call every right-sider a heartless, self-centered Scrooge. If that’s what you do for fun, you can find plenty of blogsites to accommodate you. But how about stopping in here, too, every once in a while, and digging in a little deeper? Being serious can be loads of fun.

Posted in About this Blog, Human Nature, Liberals and Others | 4 Comments

Say something outrageous!

I think that might be the secret of attracting comments. People want to respond to dazzling statements, whether they agree or disagree with the statements themselves. So, here’s one:

Conservatives and libertarians are right about government!

Here’s how they’re right: Entitlements and giveaways do create unrealistic expectations and lazy habits. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon for years, in schools and in society in general, but my fellow liberals don’t seem to think it’s a serious enough problem to deserve discussion. Only grumpy right-wingers say anything about government programs killing initiative. Why’s that?

Posted in American Society, Human Nature, Liberals and Others | 16 Comments

Why did Totem Taunt?

Well, I infuriated him (Priapus, mentioned in a previous posting) when I shared a speculation about why some people see things in black and white (villains-and-good-guys) terms, and why others don’t, so much. Priapus thought my speculation demonstrated “a special brand of arrogance.” There’s a good chance he was right. Here’s the entire speculation, with intro, published August 21:

Maybe this will explain the widespread moaning and gnashing of teeth over the supposedly “ubiquitous” villainy and worthlessness of our elected officials:

As kids, we were taught that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, et al., were brave defenders of the Republic. And we assumed there were modern-day knights in shining armor who would carry on the glorious tradition. . . . Some of us experienced the inevitable disappointments that accompany growing up, and were able to absorb the pain in manageable doses, without becoming embittered. We realize that nobody’s perfect, that some are more corrupt or hypocritical or weak than others, but that sweeping generalizations (about political parties, bureacrats, teachers, union members, police, military personnel, clergy, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, or anyone else) are overreactions. That is, some of us get over our adolescent disappointments and learn to accept imperfection and nuance; others harden into habitual stereotyping, villainizing, and “Us good, them bad” simpletonism.

How’s that?

Priapus was probably on target in finding my arrogant rumination arrogant. Could the rumination also be valid?

Posted in About this Blog, Human Nature | 3 Comments

“Hey LLS, How’s that blog workin’ out for ya?”

Sounds like a taunt, right? That’s what it is, as far as I can tell. It comes from a gentleman who calls himself Priapus; he’s one of many loyal readers and commenters on Christopher Fountain’s blog, For What It’s Worth. If you want to know why Priapus–“the god of procreation, guardian of gardens and vineyards, and personification of the erect phallus” (American Heritage Dictionary)–wanted to taunt me, I’ll tell you.

First, though, his question. How IS that blog–this blog–workin’ out? In a few words: Too early to tell, but . . . not so hot.

Pluses: It looks nice. It’s not cluttered. It’s easy to navigate. It’s intelligent. It represents the way I think.

Minuses: Not very many people visit the site: The biggest one-day total so far was 116 VISITS (I think that could represent, say, 29 people clicking on four posts each), and the next-best numbers are 92, 77, 66, 56. Plenty of days, the numbers are far lower than that.

But a more worrisome minus is this: There are very, very few comments being left here. On any given day, there might be zero, one, two or maybe three comments posted. I assume this is what The Personification of the Erect Phallus meant when he asked how the blog was workin’ out: He could see that comments were rare, and he took delight in the knowledge that this project isn’t burgeoning into a must-see website. People aren’t streaming here to read and reply to the latest fascinating morsel.

Or, as I said to my totemic taunter, “The blog? Fun to put together. Pretty happy with the product so far. But very few people leave comments, which you seem blissfully aware of. I appreciate your kind question.”

A reasonable follow-up question, which I’ll ask myself: What do you have in mind for this blog, anyhow?

Posted in About this Blog | 5 Comments

“Bill Gates’ favorite teacher”

You gotta read this one, which is posted on CNNmoney.com. I’ll give you the first paragraph, which ought to get you to click here:

FORTUNE — Sal Khan, you can count Bill Gates as your newest fan. Gates is a voracious consumer of online education. This past spring a colleague at his small think tank, bgC3, e-mailed him about the nonprofit khanacademy.org, a vast digital trove of free mini-lectures all narrated by Khan, an ebullient, articulate Harvard MBA and former hedge fund manager. Gates replied within minutes. “This guy is amazing,” he wrote. “It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources.” Gates and his 11-year-old son, Rory, began soaking up videos, from algebra to biology. Then, several weeks ago, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in front of 2,000 people, Gates gave the 33-year-old Khan a shout-out that any entrepreneur would kill for. Ruminating on what he called the “mind-blowing misallocation” of resources away from education, Gates touted the “unbelievable” 10- to 15-minute Khan Academy tutorials “I’ve been using with my kids.” With admiration and surprise, the world’s second-richest person noted that Khan “was a hedge fund guy making lots of money.” Now, Gates said, “I’d say we’ve moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job.” Khan wasn’t even there — he learned of Gates’ praise through a YouTube video. “It was really cool,” Khan says.

Posted in American Society, Education | Leave a comment

“The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party”

That’s the title of Frank Rich’s column in today’s NYT. Rich focuses on the Koch brothers (featured also, at much greater length, in Jane Mayer’s piece in the New Yorker) and Rupert Murdoch of the News Corporation and Fox News.

Bottom line: These multi-billionaires are financing “grass-roots” movements that, if successful, will bite the great majority of grass-roots folks in the buttocks. The angry, agitated TP masses will find themselves much worse off if they get what they’ve been urged to want (and they may never know what hit ’em).

Posted in Liberals and Others | 1 Comment

USA: Boost the economy! Germany: Get real! (Who’s right?)

David Brooks in today’s NYT:

During the first half of this year, German and American political leaders engaged in an epic debate. American leaders argued that the economic crisis was so bad, governments should borrow billions to stimulate growth. German leaders argued that a little short-term stimulus was sensible, but anything more was near-sighted. What was needed was not more debt, but measures to balance budgets and restore confidence.

The debate got pointed. American economists accused German policy makers of risking a long depression. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, countered, “Governments should not become addicted to borrowing as a quick fix to stimulate demand.”

According the Brooks, the early returns show that Germany was right. Its economy is buzzing; ours is sputtering. He acknowledges that “Results from one quarter do not settle the stimulus/austerity debate. Many other factors are in play.” But, he goes on, “the results do underline one essential truth: Stimulus size is not the key factor in determining how quickly a country emerges from recession. The U.S. tried big, but is emerging slowly. The Germans tried small, and are recovering nicely.”

Note: Paul Krugman would counter that the US stimulus wasn’t big enough. . . .

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments