11 August 2011

A Rope of Link Sausages Biting Their Tales Tails

  • Sometimes the best way to deal with extremism and racism is not through the ballot box, but through subversive t-shirt giveaways. Perhaps someone should try this sort of thing in Tehran, and then leave the country very very quickly... given that the current Iranian theocracy seems to think there's something worse than being an American.
  • Remember AmazonFail 3.21, when I suggested that there were significant antitrust problems with the so-called "agency model," more properly called a resale price maintenance agreement... and blamed it on ladies' leather accessories and the Supreme Court's silly adoption of the view of economists who are not themselves market participants? On Tuesday, a class action filed in the Northern District of California essentially adopted a similar view, but this time claiming outright collusion. I have not yet been able to review the actual complaint in Petru v. Apple, Inc., No. 11–03892, as it is not yet available on PACER (or there's a digit/character mismatch somewhere); however, the description in the law firm's public statement sounds awfully familiar. The lawsuit, however, does not appear to be reflected in Apple's stock price — yet another indication that the Efficient Markets Hypothesis ("the price of a security immediately and accurately reflects all known information about that security") is about perceptions and not information.
  • Cover of Newsweek, 15 Aug 2011 (resized)Michele Bachmann (the woman with the I'm-a-psycho eyes pictured to the right... and that is the cover as published) is no Renaissance woman. That shouldn't surprise anyone; many of the leading figures in Renaissance art and culture were Catholics, Jews, and Freethinkers, with the occasional atheist thrown in. That is, minions of Satan, as Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" might have said.

    This is, perhaps, the best evidence that the Heffalump Party has no connection to reality. Unlike the recent "Diana at 50ish" Newsweek altered photos, this one was apparently not altered at all. If the eyes are a window to the soul (ok, so it's Catholic theology, but has been adopted by many, many Protestant poets over the years), then what does it say about the Heffalumps that this narcissistic, sociopathic ignoramus is one of the two or three leading candidates to challenge Obama in 2012? Both parties have their shares of reality-challenged members, and even candidates; but this, in response to the first US President whom one can be absolutely certain has significant non-Protestant ancestry by just looking at him?

    On the other hand, I respectfully submit that Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jay Lake both have it wrong concerning this cover. Coates says, missing the point:

    But I do know that, as a writer, I really hate when editors pick an image that totally overshadows the story. The goal is to draw eyeballs, of course. The challenge, however, is drawing eyeballs to the actual story. I am speaking non-cynically, and assuming an editorship that really does think about more than making magazines fly off the stands. Even assuming that that's all they want, you don't want to be that writer. For the rest of your career, you'll be answering for that image. Not your editor. Not the photographer.

    This misses the point in a fundamental way directly related to the memes underlying the Mad Tea Party. The Mad Tea Party and its ideology are primarily about, and primarily concerned with, abnormal surface appearances and analysis as a wholesale substitute for nuance and reflection; about oversimplification of a complex world and complex people; about (when about anything except seizing and maintaining power) "self-interest" without that pesky adjective "enlightened" in a constructed world in which Rawls's veil of ignorance and the fundamental distinction between justice and advantage are not just irrelevant, but treated as actively evil. The reflexiveness of this cover is not irony, nor parody; it is, instead, satire in the mode of Voltaire and Carroll. It is not at all "stooping to the base tactics of one's opponent" for a very simple reason: Its purpose is to enlighten and to engage, not to obfuscate and to obliterate. (If it sells more copies of the magazine, so be it.) And since these considerations are products of Enlightenment philosophy and economics — an era no doubt more disturbing to Bachmann than the Renaissance, given its full-bore development of the concepts of "religious tolerance" and "separation of church and state" — we're back to the article that inspired this multiply reflexive link sausage.