Photo of the day

More entertainment from Roger Ebert’s facebook feed.  This person was real:

And the story:

Josephene Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Woman, was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee in 1868. Rather than having a parasitic twin, Myrtle’s extra legs resulted from an even rarer form of conjoined twinning known as dipygus, which gave her two complete bodies from the waist down. She had two small pelves side-by-side, and each of her smaller inner legs was paired with one of her outer legs. She could move the smaller legs but was unable to use them for walking. At the age of 19, she married a doctor named Clinton Bicknell and had four daughters and a son. It has been said that three of her children were born from one set of organs, two from the other. Myrtle died on May 6, 1928.

From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle:

Reminds me of the crazy stuff I used to so enjoy looking at in the Book of Lists when I was a kid.

About that Texas job growth

We’re surely going to be hearing a lot about all the jobs that Rick Perry has “created” in Texas.  Of course, Rick Perry is not so much responsible.  #1, it’s about population growth.  Generally speaking, more people = more jobs.  Krugman takes on the whole issue.  Here’s my favorite part:

Still, does Texas job growth point the way to faster job growth in the nation as a whole? No.

What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is “Well, duh.” The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.  [emphasis mine]

In fact, at a national level lower wages would almost certainly lead to fewer jobs — because they would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the overhang of debt left behind by the housing bubble, an overhang that is at the heart of our economic problem.

So when Mr. Perry presents himself as the candidate who knows how to create jobs, don’t believe him. His prescriptions for job creation would work about as well in practice as his prayer-based attempt to end Texas’s crippling drought.

True dat.  I’ll definitely vouch for the low real estate prices.  Back in my TTU days (a decade ago) we bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage, 1600 square feet,single family home for $76,000.  According to Zillow, it’s up to $110,000 (not a bad investment for my dad, who bought it from us when we moved).  Still, that makes it cheap to live in Texas.  Of course, most people don’t actually want to live in Lubbock, though I’ve always felt it had an unfairly bad reputation.

The Diet Post

You know what’s really annoying?  Skinny people bragging about losing weight.  Sorry, but I’m pretty proud of myself for losing 18 pounds– about 10% of my body weight.  In fact, before the diet, I was technically overweight according to the BMI (185 pounds and 6 feet tall).  Actually, I would often point to myself being categorized as overweight as implicitly demonstrating the flaws in the BMI.  That said, there was a little more around the middle than I like and I was starting to get in danger of crossing the line I’m determined never to cross– waist size larger than inseam (34 x 34 feeling tight when I started; I’m now wearing 32 inch waist shorts).  So, inspired by what I’d been reading in diet studies and the very strong recommendation of a fellow social scientist, I started Weight Watchers 12 weeks ago.

Wow, do I love Weight Watchers!!  It was not exactly easy, but so much less hard than I expected.  Basically, Weight Watchers has taken everything I’ve read about in nutrition science and everything I’ve read about with the psychology of eating and incorporated it into their plan.  You get a certain number of “points plus” to eat per day, plus a bonus 49 to use over the week as you see fit.  Follow that, and you will lose weight.  In my case, tracking the points of every single thing I ate was hugely enlightening.  I realized I had been totally doing myself in my mindless snacking (mostly cereal, nuts, and the various partially eaten snack portions of chips, etc., the kids always leave sitting around).   I also loved that there was nothing this diet made you give up.  By tracking points, it simply meant that an indulgence one place meant more self discipline somewhere else.  Thus, I still lost all this weight while having pizza for lunch 3-4 times per week over the whole time.

Another awesome feature– most fruits and vegetables are worth 0 points.  I have truly never been healthier in my life.  There was a time in my life when I hardly had any fruits or vegetables in my diet (in college I believe I literally would have had scurvy if not for vitamin supplements).   Now, in a typical day I snack on two apples, a handful of carrot sticks, have a salad before dinner, and fresh pineapple for desert.

The traditional weight watchers model involves meetings with other people on the diet for support.  I did the weight watchers on-line version and relied on Kim (who decided to start two days after me and is also doing well on the diet) for support.  It’s about $18/month for the on-line version.   Best money I’ve spent this year.

So, mostly, this post is just to say that Weight Watchers is really a terrific diet plan.  If you’ve got any weight to lose, I whole-heartedly endorse it.

Pawlenty: boneless, skinless, chicken breast

I must admit, I really thought Pawlenty was going to make a real run of it.  That’ll teach me to rely too much on Jon Chait for campaign analysis.  I think with Pawlenty you see the difference between a candidate who looks good on paper (former governor, can appeal to Evangelicals as well as Wall Street, no major factions of GOP opposed to him) versus looking good in reality.  Maybe in some years, Pawlenty could get the job done, but clearly he is the wrong man for the 2012 Republican party.  Actually, I think even with his milquetoast personality, if he had met all these metaphorical checkboxes in the Democratic party, he’d be very much in the running.

Normally, I think political journalists pay way too much attention to personality to the exclusion of other factors.  When we’re talking about a primary campaign, however, often personality differences are the only really notable distinctions between candidates all taking very similar positions.  Thus, it really seems that Pawlenty’s lack of passion, fire, whatever you want to call it did him in.  Chris Cilliza has an interesting Pawlenty post-mortem in this regard:

Pawlenty’s demeanor — he was the definition of “Minnesota Nice” — didn’t fit with an electorate who wanted confrontation with President Obama at all costs. Pawlenty watched as Rep. Michele Bachmannsoared past him in the race — channeling the anger of voters who saw compromise in any form as capitulation.

A stroll around the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday showed just how badly Pawlenty had miscalculated what the electorate was looking for.

Bachmann, all soundbites and sunny aggression, was a rock star at the event — her tent mobbed with people ready to man the barricades for her.

Ditto the supporters of Rep. Ron Paul who chanted and roared during the Texas libertarian’s speech — an address larded with talk of removing U.S. troops from conflicts abroad and re-imagining the role of the Federal Reserve.

The Pawlenty tent at the straw poll, on the other hand, felt like a park in a small city. Folks lounged listening to music and eating barbecue while kids danced and jumped around. There was a politeness to it that stood out from the raw emotion elicited by Paul and the keen excitement that permeated Bachmann-land.

The GOP base wants red meat.  Michelle Bachmann is clearly a bloody rare, dripping, T-Bone steak.  Pawlenty is a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

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