Occupy Movement’s win in one handy graph

Nice to see some empirical data on the point I’ve made here a couple times.  Via Ezra:

“Whatever the objectives of protesters involved in Occupy Wall Street, they have succeeded in engaging the country in a conversation about income inequality,” writes Dylan Byers at Ben Smith’s new and expanded blog. “A quick search of the news — including print articles, web stories and broadcast transcripts — via Nexis reveals a significant rise in the use of the term ‘income inequality,’ from less than 91 instances in the week before the occupation started to almost 500 instances last week.”

Why I wasn’t right for Oberlin

I taught at Oberlin College one year as a visiting faculty member (right after my PhD) before ending up at Texas Tech.  Lots of my friends were shocked (shocked!) when I told them I actually liked working at Texas Tech better.  While TTU, on the whole, was obviously much more conservative than Oberlin, there was much greater diversity of political viewpoints.  A good thing in a university.  I also really was not a big fan of the Oberlin vibe, summed up in their latest website sensation (edited for my distaste for profanity on my blog):

Why the f*** should you choose Oberlin?

Turns out, there are plenty of reasons.

“Because our bathroom f***ing graffiti is intellectual and creative as shit.”

“Because we have the best f***ing safer sex education out there, and that means we can have awesome f***ing sex.”

“Because when America didn’t think black people and women were people, Oberlin thought they should probably f***ing go to college.”

“Because they’re not afraid of words like ‘f***.’ ”

These are just four of the nearly 2,500 reasons Oberlin College students and alumni have posted on the alumni-created website, Why the f*** should I choose Oberlin? Since its creation only two weeks ago, the site has exploded, with students, faculty, staff and alumni buzzing about their love for the irreverent but on-point website. (The screen shot above gives a sense of the flavor of the site, with some words redacted since our home page may be viewed by those not expecting profanity.)

“It is a very Oberlin creation, and part of why Obies love it so much is it’s got some of that rebellious Oberlin spirit,” said Harris Lapiroff, co-creator and 2010 graduate of Oberlin…

“Using the f-word makes it edgy,” said Jones, an Oberlin alumnus. “If they had made a site ‘Why I should choose Oberlin,’ it would have gotten 10 submissions. People respond to things that are edgy and unusual. And that amount of school pride is pretty cool.”

Oooohhh, they’re so edgy!  Consider me not impressed and not the least regretful that I was not considered for a permanent job there.  [I’ll be expecting an Oberlin defense from Big Steve]


Gotta say, I think it’s pretty cool that all my favorite bloggers have been writing about McDonald’s McRib in the past day.  Seriously, just last week Kim said to me: “why do you think they don’t just make the McRib permanent?”  Willy Staley makes a pretty compelling case that it’s the pork prices.  Here’s this handy chart, for one:

Key: 1. November 2005 Farewell Tour; 2. November 2006 Farewell Tour II; 3. Late October 2007 Farewell Tour III; 4. October 2008 Reintroduction; 5. November 2010 Reintroduction.

Basically, when pork prices go low, it’s time to reintroduce the McRib.  I found this bit about the McRib’s origins particularly interesting:

The McRib was, at least in part, born out of the brute force that McDonald’s is capable of exerting on commodities markets. According to this history of the sandwich, Chef Arend created the McRib because McDonald’s simply could not find enough chickens to turn into the McNuggets for which their franchises were clamoring. Chef Arend invented something so popular that his employer could not even find the raw materials to produce it, because it was so popular. “There wasn’t a system to supply enough chicken,” he told Maxim. Well, Chef Arend had recently been to the Carolinas, and was so inspired by the pulled pork barbecue in the Low Country that he decided to create a pork sandwich for McDonald’s to placate the frustrated franchisees.

Obviously, McDonald’s has no problem getting enough chicken now, but there would still seem to be incentives to maximize profits from price swings in the pork market.  Short version: go get your McRib now while pork prices are low.

Chart of the day

The Post did a poll looking at support for government-sponsored research on alternative energy.  It’s come down quite a bit in recent years.  Why?  Republicans are increasingly adopting the attitude: “Alternative energy?  We don’t need no stinkin’ alternative energy!”

Support for alternative energy is slipping.

And from the accompanying article:

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, argued that the shift in support makes sense given the media coverage many Republicans receive from outlets such as Fox News.

“It is not surprising that support for federal funding for clean energy drops among Republicans when their major source of information is a ‘news’ network that is pushing an anti-environment, anti-science, anti-government agenda 24/7,” Karpinski wrote in an e-mail.

The standard Political Science line is that the media doesn’t really affect what people think so much as what they think is important.  I think we may need to re-think that.

Why Rick Perry’s gaffe was so serious

One of my students in class yesterday suggested Perry’s handlers were at fault for him not being prepared for this.  I disagreed, as I think that it’s not unfair to assume that when a presidential candidate slates three cabinet-level agencies for extinction that he’d at least remember what they are without index card reminders.  The reason this is so damning, is because it so well fits an already existing (and accurate, as far as I can tell) that Rick Perry simply is not intellectually up to the job of being president.  If Mitt Romney had made the exact same mistake, we would’ve all written it off.  It would be funny, but nothing more.  As soul-less, core-less politician that he is, nobody questions Romney’s intellect.  And, no, you certainly don’t have to be a genius to be president, but sub-average intelligence may be a problem.  Kevin Drum finds conservative hack Jonah Goldberg delivering a withering critique along these lines:

Sure, this could happen to anyone. But Perry didn’t forget a complicated point, and he didn’t forget something he had just formulated in his mind. He blanked on a single word. And he blanked in a way that made it obvious this wasn’t something he really knew or cared about.
It was just a talking point. He was like a kid reciting a poem in front of class and forgetting his lines.

So I’ll turn the mike over to conservative partisan hack Jonah Goldberg:

I think people in some ways are letting Perry off easy precisely because this “gaffe” was so egregious (we’ve all frozen up in front of audiences before. I think I can remember every time it’s happened to me with excruciating accuracy)….But put aside the queasy awkwardness of the moment for a second. Perry couldn’t remember that he wants to shut down the Department of Energy!? For weeks, energy reform was the only substantive policy he’d put forward. Energy is still one of the only topics he can discuss with anything approaching fluency. But he couldn’t remember he wanted to shut down DOE?

….His performance last night confirmed — with an exclamation point — the negative narrative of his entire campaign. Everyone could forgive Ron Paul if he spaced out on the name of a cabinet agency he wanted to shutter, because everyone knows that Ron Paul knows what he knows and has no problem explaining himself under normal circumstances. People are much more unsure about Perry and he compounded that uncertainty last night. It’s fine to say everyone has these bad moments. That’s true. Everyone makes mistakes. What you look for are patterns. Last night was so deadly because Perry reinforced his pattern rather than deviated from it. And he was already on borrowed time.

I’m trying to recall any similar political implosions in my adult lifetime and failing (but, maybe that’s just Perry-esque mental weakness on my part).  Between Perry and Cain this primary season certainly cannot be beat for sheer entertainment value.

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