Archive for August 17th, 2009
Maybe the lesson is that you shouldn’t hire a prominent musician to get back your girl, even if you originally fell in love while listening to his music. Maybe getting back your girl is one of those things that you just shouldn’t delegate. Or maybe I’m saying too much . . .
Here’ the story in a nutshell, as heard on NPR’s This American Life with Ira Glass. It is titled Act Two. “Lonely Hearts Club Band . . . Of One.”
Musician David Berkeley has gotten a lot of requests in his life, but none quite like the offer his agent got last year. A fan wanted Berkeley to come to his house and help save his relationship by serenading the troubled couple with a personal concert. Ira Glass talks to Berkeley about why he took the gig, and what happened when he got there.
This strange and awkward concert occurred in the guy’s living room, with the woman sitting at the opposite end of the couch from the guy. David Berkeley’s job was to serenade the struggling couple in an attempt to get them back together. Berkeley shares his perspective of the events, along with some of his music.
If you want to hear the story yourself, here the site of Glass’s show, where you can download the entire show–the story is about 12 minutes long, starting at the 33 minute mark.
The AP reports that increasing numbers of people are bringing guns to locations of Obama speeches. These well-armed citizens include several with assault-type weapons. The article ends with the reporters note that the National Rifle Association offered “no comment.”
I’m just amazed that it is legal to hang around near a high-profile political event with a gun. Next thing you know, the Supreme Court is going to declare bearing weapons as a form of speech.
In the Washington Post, two police officers make the case that it’s time to legalize and regulate street drugs. Why? To quit squandering tax dollars, to quit filling prisons with people who don’t belong there and to protect neighborhoods and police officers.
Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies — and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men — have we and other police officers begun to question the system . . . Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsibility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly eliminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.
Here’s the “money” quote:
Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.
I found this illustration of how to order your arguments at the Starts With A Bang blog. This blog usually leads one to a first source. However, I had to do some digging to find the original creator of this image. This image is all over the web, but I think the first source is here, from the Create Debate blog in April 2008.
This image (click on it to enlarge) was created to illustrate an earlier point by Paul Graham, whose text-only posts I’ve been (occasionally) reading for years.
The premise is to always lead with your top level reasonable arguments, and never resort to the bottom layers. As Ethan Siegel (SWAB) put it,
It’s sometimes tough to decipher what the central point of someone else’s argument is, because most people don’t argue clearly and logically. But if you can identify it, that’s when you win. When someone else mucks around at the bottom of the pyramid, don’t sink to their level; stay up high. Those top two levels are really the only way to ever change someone’s mind, or to sway other intelligent, thinking people to your side.
This is an attitude that would serve us well on this site.
Listening to the harangue over the health care reform squabble, I can’t help thinking—even I saw a few episodes of West Wing, I who do not watch television, so of all the Lefties out there who probably hung on every second of that show, why is it so hard to grasp how things don’t get accomplished in D.C. ? Yeah, it was fiction, but it was, in my opinion, pretty accurate in terms of the culture.
But people complain and wonder why Obama doesn’t just “ram his reforms through.”
Well. The man is a consensus builder. We just got done with a president who wasn’t. Obama has not yet been in office a year and already people are ready to jump ship because he’s not the second coming of FDR.
How thoughtless, ill-informed, and shallow supposedly intelligent people can be. It should not be surprising, yet…
First off, instead of presenting his reform package, he handed it to Congress—which is where all the arguing was going to happen anyway. Suppose he had presented a package. What is happening now would have happened anyway, and then he would be directly blamed for having drafted a lame plan. His plan would have been eviscerated and Congress wouold then proceed to draft something possibly worse than what it emerging now since Obama’s plan would have been discredited through failure. As it is, the plan being touted is All Congress’s. Anything wrong with it, it’s on them. Obama has been arguing that regardless what happens, things have to change—which is frightening. With the stimulus package, things were already broken. With health care they are merely on the verge.
Secondly, he’s got lots of balls in the air just now. A lot. Most of them are disasters he inherited.
Now, the metaphor has been used before, but that doesn’t make it any less true—this country is a Big Ship and you don’t turn it around on a dime. If you do that, you break more than you fix. Maybe that’s what needs to happen, and sometimes we’ve had leaders who did that when there was but one maybe two major things that needed to be tended to. But that’s not the case just now.
Everything is in a mess.
I’m not going to fault the man for failing to meet impossible expectations. Let’s assume he did just start “ramming things through” and taking a dump all over Congress in the process, and things would inevitably get worse. For the ideologues who are displeased with what they perceive as half-measures just now, he might be a hero. Maybe, but quite certainly he would be a one-term hero. The Republicans could make good book on a spectacular failure and be right back in power, at least in Congress, and then what?
So I think it a stupid thing to start bailing on him this soon into his term when he is possibly the most unifying, certainly the most intelligent and well educated president we’ve had since…hm.
Here’s what’s going to happen. Congress will put together a lame package. It will pass. Then likely as not it will fail. The system will collapse. On its own.
Then the big fix will come in. Congress will be discredited and Obama will be able to present a plan with legs and the public will back it because they will already have seen what happens when the really necessary steps are not taken.
Right now, the reality is that health care costs too damn much.