Monthly Archives: September 2011

John Lennon for the Weekend

Entrepreneurs and Washing Each Other’s Laundry

I was reading this post on Megan McArdle’s blog at The Atlantic online yesterday.  It’s one of several places of late where I’ve heard what seems to be the current mantra for dealing with stubbornly intractable unemployment rates:  entrepreneurship.  The idea is that jobs that are well-defined and routine–those that have traditionally been stable, well-paying jobs that, while not exciting, could make for long-term employment and careers–are either being automated or outsourced.  Thus, the solution to this problem is said to be an increase in and encouragement of entrepreneurship, freelancing, and flexibility in the workforce.  McArdle quotes Arnold Kling, at the Library of Economics and Liberty site:

The paradox is this. A job seeker is looking for something for a well-defined job. But the trend seems to be that if a job can be defined, it can be automated or outsourced.  The marginal product of people who need well-defined jobs is declining. The marginal product of people who can thrive in less structured environments is increasing. That was what I was trying to say in my jobs speech.

The money quote from the end of the article, by McArdle herself,  is  “I don’t think it’s unfortunate that progress is being made, and a lot of fairly boring jobs are being eliminated.  I do think it’s unfortunate that people don’t like it.”

This is food for thought. Read the rest of this entry

Quote for the Week

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

–John Godfrey Saxe

Anoushka Shankar

Remembering 9/11, for Good and Ill

I wasn’t going to write anything for the anniversary of 9/11, and I’m still not going to do so, per se.  I was, however, struck by this provocative article at The American Conservative (always an interesting magazine even for a liberal such as myself, as long as I ignore Pat Buchanan) and this one at  In that vein, I decided to post something I wrote back in 2005 regarding a 9/11 memorial I went to that year.  I have edited slightly for clarity and length, but it’s substantially as I wrote it six years ago, including a little heated prose against what I saw as the then-Administration’s policies.  I wish I could say the policies regarding the Infinite and Eternal War on Terrorism, on foreign policy in general, and on civil liberties and the surveillance state had changed since then, but much to my disappointment and disillusionment, they have merely got worse.  Anyway, here’s my piece: Read the rest of this entry

Quote for the Week


Weapons are instruments of evil omen;

Creation abhors them.


One who aspires to the Way

does not abide in them.

The superior man

at home honors the left,

on the battlefield honors the right.


Weapons are not instruments of the superior man;

Weapons are instruments of evil omen,

to be used only when there is no other choice.

He places placidity above all

and refuses to prettify weapons.

If one prettifies weapons,

this is to delight in the killing of others.


One who delights in the killing of others

Cannot exercise his will over all under heaven.

For this reason,

On occasions for celebration,

the left is given priority,

On occasions for mourning,

the right is given priority.


A deputy general stands on the left,

The general-in-chief stands at the right.

In other words,

They stand in accordance with mourning ritual.

The killing of masses of human beings,

We bewail with sorrow and grief.

Victory in battle,

we commemorate with mourning ritual.

Tao Te Ching, translated by Victor H. Mair

Requiem (Concluded)

Requiem (Continued)





Nothing profound or meaningful to say on the anniversary of 9/11.  Just Mozart’z Requiem here and in the next two posts.




Because I’m In a Folkie-Commie Sort of Mood