URLs du Jour

2006-05-28

  • Janice Brown of the always-impressive Cow Hampshire blog has a new one: New Hampshire Blogging, featuring lists and critiques of Granite State blogs and bloggers. Janice is delusional kind enough to list Pun Salad as "Best of New Hampshire Blogs", for which I'm humbly grateful. But not humble enough to forego pointing it out.

  • Folks often remark on the near-total lack of puns here at Pun Salad. The explanation is simple: lack of imagination and creativity on this end. However, I know 'em when I see 'em: Bill Gnade of Contratimes blogs on "Neanderthal Man on Facile Fuel." Heh! But there's a serious point in there:

    Look. We all know majorities are "enlightened" when they agree with you and "Neanderthals" when they don't. But the Neanderthals of a few years ago now "understand" that the President is incompetent. What would be really interesting is to take a poll to determine how highly Americans approve of themselves. I am sure there would be convincing data proving that Americans always think rather highly of their own grand capacities. Heaven knows we can now safely conclude from sundry polls that the vast majority of Americans know how to run a country. What a relief.

    (Bill introduced himself to me after finding himself on the same list referred to in the point above. He describes himself as "something of a goofball with a big vocabulary." Which is something I merely aspire to.)

  • Any George Will column is worth reading, but one that contains the phrase "demented and vicious charlatans" is a must-read.

  • We previously blogged on Jim Pinkerton's insightful article illuminating the common vision of the pro-illegal immigration side of the debate that "pursues a trans-nationalizing, world-flattening globalism that regards nation-states as, at best, necessary evils -- and at worst, unnecessary evils." Confirmatory evidence continues to roll in; the latest being this article from Sheldon Richman, which declaims:

    Somewhere in my reading about immigration, someone made the deceptively simple point that it's not immigration we should be talking about but migration. That's another way of saying the focus has been on "us," when it should be on the people coming to the United States. The discussion has proceeded as if they have no rights in the matter but we do. We will let them come here if and only if we have a use for them. And "we" doesn't refer to a group of free individuals, but rather to a collective Borg-like entity with rights superior to any held by its constituents. The collectivist, and therefore statist, nature of the discussion indicates how far we've drifted from our individualist and voluntarist moorings.

    I'd be a lot more tempted to agree with Sheldon if the US really were the minimal state he (and, pretty much, I) idealize. But, as we've seen with other pure libertarian commenters, Sheldon's unconstrained vision excuses him from having to deal with actual costs, benefits, and trade-offs.


Last Modified 2012-10-24 3:44 AM EST

Shopgirl

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Steve Martin wrote the screenplay for this, based on his novella; he plays the role of Ray Porter. The movie's pretty far from even the thoughtful-person's-wackiness of the beloved Roxanne and L. A. Story. And the movie's really about Mirabelle Buttersfield, played by Claire Danes, as she bounces off both older, rich, sophisticated Ray and young, goofy Jeremy, played by Jason Schwartzman.

Danes is impressive, and Schwartzman is hilarious, especially in a sequence involving one of Mirabelle's gold-digging co-workers mistaking him for Ray. Steve Martin understates his performace as Ray, which makes sense, since Ray's kind of emotionally shut down. But still, I kept wanting to at least catch a glimpse of the Wild and Crazy Guy. But that would have made it a different movie, and probably not a better one.


Last Modified 2012-10-24 3:45 AM EST

Stumbling on Happiness

[Amazon Link] One of the perks of working at UNH: if you see a halfway-serious book come out that you think you'd like to read, you can ask the library to order it, and (if they do), they'll let you know when it comes in, and hold it for you until you pick it up. And for free! What a world.

So when Tyler Cowen blogged earlier this month about Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness being "so far the best book this year," I was able to latch onto it pretty quickly. And he's right, it's very good.

The author is a psychology prof down at Harvard, and researches happiness; or, specifically, how people tend to go wrong in predicting what will make them happy (or not), and how happy (or not) they'll be after certain events.

It doesn't hurt that Professor Gilbert is probably the funniest guy on the Harvard faculty, and has a gift for presenting even the driest research with a Dave Barry-level gift for humorous exposition.

The book confirms the general thesis: Predictions are difficult—especially about the future. (I've seen this attributed to Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, and Neils Bohr.) Although Gilbert might also throw in: memory is unreliable, especially about stuff that happened in the past. When you put these together with the hundreds of ways our brains engage in self-deception, it's enough to make one despair.

But don't. I recommend drowning oneself in aphorisms: the journey is the reward; do what you love, love what you do; get over yourself; and don't worry, no matter what happens, eight hundred million Red Chinese still won't give a shit.


Last Modified 2018-01-01 6:15 AM EST