A new name

So, I just listened to this rather intriguing 60 minutes interview with Lady Gaga.  Apparently, changing her name from Stephanie Gemanatta to Lady Gaga freed herself to be the person she always wanted to be and set her on the course for a great new life.  Therefore, from now on, you may refer to me as Zanzibar Buck Buck McFate.

You ask…

Via facebook, John F. says:

I’d like to see a blog post on how it IS almost always necessary in a economic crisis to spend more money than you take in on a personal level. I’m thinking about the Governor’s example of the student losing his job and going to community college to pursue a career as a paramedic. (What was his alternative? Stay in the furniture business???) Ostensibly if he had to sell his truck he was spending more than he was making (albeit with student loans) but doing so to make more $$$ in the long run. So the trite argument of Washington or Raleigh somehow acting differently from what we as individuals would do is bunk. No business could ever operate that way, nor could anyone buying a house, a car or making some other major investment or expenditure required to live.

Great point. Here’s your blog post.  Kevin Drum’s latest post is also very much on point:

Jamelle Bouie is puzzled:

By disposition, I’m not that worried about the debt. But even if I were, I have yet to hear a compelling reason for why now is the time to be hyper-concerned about the debt.

Because a Democrat is president, that’s why. Any other questions?

I challenge any Republican/conservative to successfully refute that conclusion.

Best news for Obama in 2012

is that it is going to be almost possible for a sane Republican to win the Republican nomination.  PPP did a poll of likely 2012 Republican primary voters, and “birthers” actually comprise a majority!  (51%, but a majority nonetheless).   And, not surprisingly, the birther types preferences run away from sanity (and electability):

Birthers make a majority among those voters who say they’re likely to participate in a Republican primary next year. 51% say they don’t think Barack Obama was born in the United States to just 28% who firmly believe that he was and 21% who are unsure. The GOP birther majority is a new development. The last time PPP tested this question nationally, in August of 2009, only 44% of Republicans said they thought Obama was born outside the country while 36% said that he definitely was born in the United States. If anything birtherism is on the rise…

among the 49% of GOP primary voters who either think Obama was born in the United States or aren’t sure, Romney’s the first choice to be the 2012 nominee by a good amount, getting 23% to 16% for Mike Huckabee, 11% for Sarah Palin, and 10% for Newt Gingrich. But with the birther majority he’s in a distant fourth place at 11%, with Mike Huckabee at 24%, Sarah Palin at 19%, and Newt Gingrich at 14% all ahead of him.

Is there any doubt that lunatics are running the asylum?   Short term, I think this will be good for Democrats.  Long term, I’d feel much better if one of the two major political parties in our country was not in thrall to a bunch of yahoos completely out of touch with reality.

Social Network

Watched “The Social Network” over the last few nights and just wanted to say I found it fabulously entertaining.  I suspect it deviated from the true story of the founding of facebook by a fair amount, but I’m totally fine with that for such an entertaining movie.  If one wants the truth, that’s presumably what The Accidental Billionaires is for.  I have no idea what the other films nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but this movie should absolutely win.  Also, if Mark Zuckerberg is half the deplorable person as portrayed in the film, he’s pretty deplorable.  That said, it doesn’t change my opinion on facebook one bit.  I suspect that there’s lots of companies/products I love that were founded by some pretty unsavory characters and we just don’t know the story behind it.  Anyway, definitely see the movie if you have not yet.

American education is getting better

Wow– here’s a little factoid I wish I had known before.  With all the naysaying of American education, you’d think we’d gone way downhill.  But no, we’ve actually been improving in international comparisons.  Via Drum:

First, here’s the raw data:

The circled numbers show how American students compared to the average of the entire dozen countries. In 1964, we were 0.35 standard deviations below the mean. In the most recent tests, we were only 0.06 and 0.18 standard deviations below the mean. In other words, our performance had improved. Here’s Loveless on the notion that we once led the world in education and have since collapsed:

This is a myth. The United States never led the world. It was never number one and has never been close to number one on international math tests. Or on science tests, for that matter….[And] there has been no sharp decline—in either the short or long run. The United States performance on PISA has been flat to slightly up since the test’s inception, and it has improved on Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) since 1995.

Now, we’re still below average among these dozen countries, so this is hardly a glorious result. But we aren’t doing any worse than we did in the supposed glory days of the 50s and 60s. We’re doing better.

And, now, I think what is the most important point:

as Mathews says, “If we have managed to be the world’s most powerful country, politically, economically and militarily, for the last 47 years despite our less than impressive math and science scores, maybe that flaw is not as important as film documentaries and political party platforms claim.

Obviously, we want to keep improving America’s schools– especially for lower income Americans– but its also pretty clear that our relative educational performance has not been holding America back in any substantial way.

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