URLs du Jour

2009-10-27

  • David Brooks rips off Hayek without attribution for his op-ed column title today: "The Fatal Conceit".
    Humans are overconfident creatures. Ninety-four percent of college professors believe they are above average teachers, and 90 percent of drivers believe they are above average behind the wheel. Researchers Paul J.H. Schoemaker and J. Edward Russo gave computer executives quizzes on their industry. Afterward, the executives estimated that they had gotten 5 percent of the answers wrong. In fact, they had gotten 80 percent of the answers wrong.
    The applicability, of course, is to the hubris of the current crew in charge of the Executive and Legislative branches, who seem to harbor not the slightest doubt about their abilities to "design" (actually: impose) changes to health care, finance, energy, all in ways that will make us better off. Brooks's specific example: bureaucrats dictating compensation to financial executives.

  • Arnold Kling isn't amused by that buffoonery, nor should you be. The czars aren't so much hubristic as they are engaging in deliberate populistic diversion:
    The further into this crisis we go, the greater the share of subprime loans and mortgage losses are turning out to be located at Freddie and Fannie. Even one year ago, if you had asked me, I would have told you to expect at least 2/3 of the losses to be at companies like Citi and Bear, with less than 1/3 at Freddie and Fannie. It now looks quite different. Conservatively, 3/4 of taxpayers losses will be at Freddie and Fannie. Perhaps as much as 90 percent of taxpayer losses will be there.

    Given the large role of Freddie and Fannie, it makes sense for politicians to create as large a diversion as possible. Hence, the brouhaha over bonuses at bailed-out banks.

    Don't be diverted.

  • Perfect Boiled Eggs is an appealing mixture of science and puns. Spoiler: the secret to hard-boiled perfection is to start with the right volume of water in your pot. I would not have guessed that! (Via BBSpot.)

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

[3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Every so often I have the idle thought at the mall: as far as I know, just about any of these older middle-aged guys could have been the drummer for Steppenwolf. This documentary comes pretty close to instantiating that fantasy: the guy schlepping food to Toronto school lunchrooms really was the lead singer and guitarist from the seminal heavy metal band Anvil, Steve Kudlow, aka "Lips".

Unlike just about all bands from the eighties, Anvil still clings to life, and this movie recounts Lips' efforts, with longtime friend and drummer Robb "No Relation" Reiner, to resuscitate the band, have a successful tour, and bring out a new album. It's a very rocky road, filled with disappointment.

But also plenty of laughs, because there's quite a bit of Spinal Tappishness in this enterprise, as expectations are confounded and gigs are botched, to the surprise of nobody except the band. (And there's a quick shot of an amp with a dial that really does go to eleven.) Lips comes across as an essentially sweet motormouthed goofball, full of delusion, but without pretense. A small cadre of fans love Anvil, but can that translate into anything approaching commercial success? Robb, on the other hand, is much more level-headed and grounded, balancing Lips' lunacy.

The movie is full of little surprises: both Lips and Rob are Jewish. Lips' mom is sweetly supportive of her aging rocker son. We also meet Lips' siblings: an accountant, an endocrinologist, and a businesswoman, all who love their semi-loser brother. Robb's family is also interesting: his father was an Auschwitz survivor. Robb turns out to be an amateur painter, and a fan of Edward Hopper.

I won't spoil the end of the movie, but it's great. You don't need to be a metal fan (I'm not) to enjoy this little picture of borderline fame.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 9:09 AM EST