“With only a week to go before the election, pollsters are busier than ever. But some are wondering if the polls can be trusted at all this year or whether their spurious results might affect the outcome of the race. In a “Politics” thought experiment published in January, Daniel Engber imagined an election without polls. The article is reprinted below.”—
In my “though experiments” about utopian politics, marketing is not allowed. Candidates solemnly publish white papers listing their platforms, and there’s a couple of debates to get a sense of the candidate’s personality, but in the end everybody can only vote under the influence of of the truth and with full knowledge of what the candidates’ positions are. (Crazy, I know.)
Anyway it weirds me out to see Slate publishing “thought experiments” on politics and only going so far as to banning statistically flawed election result spectulations. C’mon, Slate, think bigger.
“It seems that it is easier to find cool American stuff in Japan than in the U.S. Nanamica — one of my favorite stores in Tokyo — only seemed to reinforce that belief. The company holds the Japanese license for Filson, Champion, The North Face and other American brands. Nanamica also designs and produces the Japan-only The North Face Purple Label collection.”—
“From where women are standing, jeans define a man more than his watch, car, mobile or any other expensive gadget the male psyche uses to express its virility. Almost everyone wears them, and yet stitched into their warp and weft are a host of hidden indicators, exact barometers—to a beady female eye—of his taste and self-image.”—
Musical PSA: Don’t listen to Holy Fuck’s “Rough & Tumble” while you’re driving. It’s all “la la la, la la la la, laaaaaaaaa, KAHPOW la la la la” and during the “KAPOW" you will say:
"Holy fuck! What the hell just hit my car?"
It will be several seconds before you realize that nothing hit your car, and the sound you heard was part of the song. And then you will swear some more. Then the whole proces repeats in another minute or two.
“His healthcare plan scares me. You know, I don’t like people going without healthcare, but it’s not my job to pay for everyone else’s healthcare. It’s hard enough paying for my own. I like the idea of deregulation as far as – nationally, you know, you only get insurance companies that can work in this state – if you deregulate that then you have more people competing and then the prices would go lower. It seems pretty simple to me. It probably isn’t that simple – but you flood the market with more products, usually they go down cheaper.”—
This is a very nice example of an attitude that I saw constantly in the Midwest, and one that mystifies me to this day: a strong sense of fear that a “bigger government” would take away wealth and property from the average citizen without any acknowledgement that they could benefit from government programs. Heck, I don’t even know why I bother to use future tense. They probably have benefitted, or are benefiting, from some government program.
“Litmus Test? | 10:12 p.m. Could you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagreed with your view on abortion? Mr. McCain says he wouldn’t have a litmus test and would consider anyone and their qualifications. But, he says, he doesn’t believe that anyone who supported Roe v. Wade would be qualified.”—
That’s what I thought McCain said, but the way he put it was so convoluted I wasn’t sure I’d missed something. I’m guessing he’ll be trying to explain that statement away in the next few days—after all, he’d just mentioned voting for both Ginsburg and Breyer.
Here’s the actual quote, from the New York Times transcript:
I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade — that would be a part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.
Still not sure exactly what he was trying to say. Where the transcript puts a dash (signifiying a change of thought), I would have put a comma (signifying a change of syntax).
“10:35 p.m. Mr. McCain says these are difficult times and then tries to co-opt the Obama campaign theme, saying, “America needs a new direction.” He says he has a record of differing with his (unnamed) party.”—[ Live Blog: The Last Tangle, from The Caucus Blog in the New York Times ]
Psychologist George Miller long ago said something so important that I call it Miller’s Law; he said, “In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to find out what it could be true of.”
That is, when somebody says, “Hey! My toaster talks to me!”, your proper response is a neutral “Oh? What does your toaster say?” Followed by careful listening, with your full attention. You’re not accepting as true the statement that the person’s toaster talks to him or her; you’re assuming temporarily that it is true, and then you’re listening carefully to find out what the statement could be true of. That’s not how most of us operate. Most of us use a rule that I call Miller’s Law In Reverse. We hear somebody say something that we react to negatively; we immediately assume that the utterance is false; and we stop listening because we’re busy telling ourselves what’s wrong with the person that explains why they’d say something so unacceptable to us.
My coworkers and I spent some time yesterday talking about this redesign. Nobody liked it, and even though I’m often underwhelmed by Pentagram’s rebrandings, the ketchup-and-mustard sample cover was so scattered and cluttered as to be a Wolff Olins-sized disaster. What, I wondered, was Pentagram thinking? They have some of the top designers in the world; how could they sign off on that? In fact how did anybody come up with it in the first place?
But then I saw these initial concepts. I love them. They’re bold, polished, and unabashedly stylish, all the qualities the final product lacks. Visually, they made perfect sense, which starkly illustrates the quality of the initial design offerings versus the final product. It’s clear Pentagram must have been dealing with a huge amount of client interference.
You can see hints of both concepts in the final design: the left column is sort of a relic from the Believer/Harper’s hybrid, and the big headline list is just a dumbed-down version of the Swiss International option. Even the typefaces the Atlantic chose are compromises on the stronger initial offerings; both Titling Gothic and Mercury Text are modern, watery options designed to be ignored.
It’s true that some of the interior layouts in the new design are bold and interesting, but it’s clear that, overall, the Atlantic missed out. At least Pentagram gets the satisfaction of seeing their concepts applauded in the blogosphere. (My personal favorite is the Believer/Harper’s hybrid, though most people, unsurprisingly, like the modernist Swiss Universal style.)
“With responsibility comes harsh things. People look at me, and they say, “Oh, he’s tough, you know—he was in the army. He’s gonna be hard, by the book.” But I am caring, and sensitive. [pause] Isn’t Schindler’s List a brilliant film?”—[ Gareth Keenan, in The Office ]
The British love plain food (blame the Anglo-Saxons, who believed that if the meat was good all you had to do was turn it on a spit then slap it on a slab of manchet-bread); but they also love anything in white sauce finished with cheese, baked in a pie or topped with mashed potato. All we ask, it seems, is that we don’t have to cook it ourselves.
Turning leftovers into something delicious takes time and a modicum of skill, but that’s not the only reason we’re prepared to pay someone else to cook them for us. Times have changed. The Sunday roast comes ready-boned, meaning leftovers are in short supply. Few of us want to fillet our own fish for the sake of the scraps, or even trim our own vegetables for the benefit of the stockpot. And if we find there are still tops on the beetroot or greens on the turnips, how many of us would know to shred them, scald them and toss them in garlic and oil with a squeeze of lemon?
My first explanation of why we may be such poor lie catchers is that we are not prepared by our evolutionary history to be either very good lie catchers or lie perpetrators. I suspect that our ancestral environment was not one in which there were many opportunities to lie and get away with it, and the costs for being caught in a lie might have been severe. If this speculation is correct, there would not have been any selection for those people who were unusually adept in catching or perpetrating lies…Lies would most often be betrayed by the target or someone else observing actions which contradicted the lie or by other physical evidence. Adultery was an activity which lying often attempted to conceal in the village where I lived. Such lies were uncovered not by reading the betrayer’s demeanor when proclaiming fidelity, but by stumbling over him or her in the bush…
In a society in which an individual’s survival depended on cooperative efforts with other members of their village, the reputational loss for being caught in a high stake lie might well be deadly. No one might cooperate with someone known to have engaged in serious lies. One could not change spouses, jobs, or villages with any ease…
To have had some special skill in detecting (or perpetrating for that matter) lies would not have had much adaptive value in such circumstances. Serious, high stake lies probably did not occur that often because of limited opportunity and high costs. When lies were suspected or uncovered, it was probably not by judgments of demeanor. (Note I have focused just on intra-group lies; certainly lies might between groups, and their costs and detection could be quite different).
In modern industrial societies, the situation is nearly the reverse. The opportunities for Iying are plentiful; privacy is easy to achieve, there are many closed doors. When caught, the social consequences need not be disastrous, for one can change jobs, change spouses, change villages. A damaged reputation need not follow you.
“My first neighbor in Arkansas borrowed my Quran and returned it, saying, “I’m glad I’m not a Muslim woman.” Excuse me, but a woman with Saint Paul in her religious heritage has no place feeling superior to a Muslim woman, as far as woman-affirming principles are concerned. Maybe no worse, if I listen to Christian feminists, but certainly no better.”—