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Music Meme (With Answers)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING. So is looking at my last.fm feed for the last hour or so…

1. When I lay myself to sleep I pray that I don't go too deep
Lightning Hopkins by REM

2. I feel like I could run away looking at a darker day, I'm pulling the shades away from my eyes
"Some things are better left unsaid" by Hall & Oates. Yes, Hall and Oates. What of it?

3. Drink up baby down are you in or are you out, leave your things behind cause it's all going off without you
"Let Go" by Frou Frou (Lost Clown)

4. I'm looking at your soul, your soul, your soul, your soul; I'm looking at your future, your future, future, future
"Empire" by Sinead O'Connor

5. The streets are lined with camera crews; everywhere he goes is news; today is different, today is not the same
"Family Portrait" by Peter Gabriel (Jmfelli)

6. An I wanna move the town to the clash city rockers
"Clash City Rockers" by the Clash (Seeking Solace)

7. Welcome to your life; there's no turning back
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears (Anastasia)

8. Listen everybody, especially you girls, is it right to be left alone while the one you love is never home?
"Can I Get A Witness?" by Marvin Gaye

9. That girl thinks that she's so fine that soon she'll have my mind; that girl thinks that she's so smart that soon she'll have my heart
"That Girl" by Stevie Wonder (Maggie)

10. For five long years I thought you were my man, but I found out I'm just a link in your chain
"Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin (Marriah)

11. You come out at night; that's when the energy comes
"Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan (Anastasia)

12. Today is the greatest day I've ever known
"Today" by Smashing Pumpkins (Comebacknikki & sort of Brazen Hussy)

13. Every day I get in the queue to get on the bus that gets me to you
"Magic Bus" by the Who (Seeking Solace)

14. A disappointment, you shouldn't have done, you couldn't have done,
You wouldn't have done the things you did then.
"Disappointment" by the Cranberries

15. Once divided, nothing left to subtract
"Nothing Man" by Pearl Jam (LuckyBuzz)

16. Want to cry for you, would it do any good?
"Heart and Shoulder" by Heater Nova (Brazen Hussy)

17. Well the stairs sound so lonely without you I ain't made my bed in a week
"Poncho's Lament" by Tom Waits

18. Sweet dreams are made of these; who am I to disagree?
"Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics (Anastasia)

19. Jesse is a friend, yeah I know he's been a good friend of mine
"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield (Brazen Hussy)

20. You're a real tough cookie with a long history
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar (Anastasia) - damn the Pure 80's on my IPOD!

21. All the old paintings on the tombs they do the sand dance don't you know
"Walk Like An Egyptian" by the Bangles (Brazen Hussy)

22. They like to get you in a compromising position, they like to get you there and smile in your face
"Authority Song" by John 'Cougar' Mellencamp (Weezy)

23. Here comes the woman with the look in her eye
"Devil Inside" by INXS (Canada)

24. If I had eyes in the back of my head I would have told you that you looked good as I walked away
"If I Had Eyes" by Jack Johnson (Comebacknikki)

25. I remember you well in chelsea hotel
"Chelsea Hotel" by Leonard Cohen (Lost Clown)
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:33 AM

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Prius Is Teh Awesome

Friday, April 25, 2008
Got a motor pool car yesterday and the day before. It was totally awesome. At one stoplight I was across from a hummer, and boy did I feel superior. My farts never smelled so good.

Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:13 PM

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The Many Ways Forward

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Hillary Clinton won a comfortable victory in Pennsylvania last night, prevailing by just under 10 points. I had an interesting debate with some friends last night while the results were coming in. My point of view has been that, whatever the damage done by the Primary That Never Ends, as long as it's wrapped up in June there will plenty of time to pull the party together and beat John McCain. I argued that by that point, a sufficient number of superdelegates would have broken towards Obama to give him a majority.

But I was presented with an alternative scenario. What if enough delegates don't endorse Obama? Even if they do, what if Clinton still doesn't concede? What if she fights all the way to the convention, attempting to pick off pledged delegates and super delegates? If that were to happen, then the Democratic Party would likely be doomed in November. There just wouldn't be time to re-unite in what would be an eight-week general election, and a large proportion of Clinton's supporters likely wouldn't accept the result. It would go down as the most destructive presidential primary contest since 1976 (Ford-Reagan). In short, they believed that Hillary Clinton was going to blow up the party.

I suppose this all comes down to two things. The first question is, will Obama win Indiana? It is unclear who has the advantage in the state. If Obama were to win both Indiana and North Carolina on May 6th, that would likely be enough to cause the superdelegates to break, and probably force Clinton to accept the inevitable (although not for certain). She would come under enormous pressure to quit at that point. If Clinton wins, she has an incentive to drag this out until the end of June, and maybe longer.

The more important question is - what kind of person is Hillary Clinton? My friends argued that she is either delusional or ill-advised or just hell-bent on winning no matter what the cost. One person claimed that she doesn't care anything for the Democratic Party. That is the portrayal of the "evil" Hillary Clinton we've heard over the last twenty years. If Clinton did do a kamikaze, then it would prove every bad thing everybody ever said about her.

But I don't think (hope) that's who she is. I think she thinks that there is a small, if shrinking, possibility that she can win the nomination. I think she can't bring herself to drop out while she's still winning primaries, even though by not enough to make up much ground. I also think that she is running such an aggressive campaign because she is in a corner (when people do desperate things) and needs to behave in this manner in order to keep winning votes and raising money.

At the end of the day, though, I suspect that at some point Clinton will accept that all she is doing is electing John McCain President. If that were to happen, I think she would take the blame, and become one of the most hated figures in American politics. If she wants a Cabinet position, or to be Vice President, or to be Majority Leader, she can do that now. But if this goes on to the Convention, all she will be is the person who gave the Republicans another four years. And I really don't believe she wants that.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:24 AM

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Going Half-Way Out On A Limb

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I am getting very tired of being wrong all the time.

In 2004, I was pretty confident that George Bush was going to lose. The underlying economic fundamentals and sense that the country was off on the wrong track made me figure he was probably a goner. I deliberately ignored my political science training, which told me that incumbent presidents get their approval rating (51%), probably because I wanted to believe it. I was so unhappy with Bush, so desperate for his defeat, that I lost my analytical objectivity.

I was determined not to do that this year, and thus far it's been equally embarrassing. The basic pattern of presidential nominating contests is that one candidate builds a sufficient degree of momentum that there is a rally effect as the primary continues, i.e. the frontrunner consolidates political support and the other candidates are forced to drop out after repeated defeats and lack of money. The frontloading process has only exacerbated this trend. Obama's victory in Iowa, and what I suspected were his strengths in New Hampshire, should have spelled a 2nd victory since the primary was only a few days, which in turn should have led to a collapse in Clinton's position. That didn't happen, obviously. Then I decided that after a string of Obama victories in February, Clinton would falter in Ohio & Texas. That didn't happen either. And by the way, I thought McCain was toast last summer, and now he's the nominee. In short, this primary season has inflicted a great deal of humiliation on political analysts (including myself).

Why is this important? Well, the fundamentals of this election season are overwhelmingly in favor of the Democrats. The ailing economy, exhaustion with the Iraq War, and Bush's sky-high disapproval ratings (now at an all time record) should mean that any Democrat will be able to best McCain. But...conventional analysis like this hasn't fared very well this year, has it? Could the campaign dynamics overcome the fundamentals? Will the divisive Democratic primary and McCain's (unfathomable) reputation as a good guy allow him to win anyway?

The vagaries of the primary season shouldn't be all that surprising, in retrospect. Primaries are, by their natures, extremely unpredictable affairs. General elections are pretty straightforward: party loyalists vote for their nominee based on stable issue preferences, and independents vote "nature of the times" (for the incumbent or his party when times are good, for the other party when times are bad)*. In primaries, none of these basic voting cues are available, so personality, identity, and campaign ephemera become important. Now in most cases all but one of the primary candidates loses viability and has to drop out quickly, but sometimes strange circumstances develop and the race goes on and on - as in 1984 and 2008. This primary is weird because LOTS of primaries are weird.

I suspect (hope) that in the general election the basic structure of presidential politics will re-assert itself. If Obama or McCain run a superior campaign or is grossly advantaged in terms of media coverage (cough McCain! cough), it could shift the final percentage by a point or so. But McCain is playing such a weak hand, and his vulnerabilities are so obvious, that in the final analysis it shouldn't make any difference. If the economy or Iraq improves, then things might change. I don't think that's going to happen, and I don't know many people who do. So I think that Obama will wrap up the nomination with superdelegate support by June, rally the party behind him in August, and defeat McCain comfortably in November- by around 5 points or so in the national popular vote. That's what my political science training tells me, and THIS time I'm going to listen.

*One might argue that 2000 was an exception. Times were perceived to be good in 2000, but Gore still lost because of a hostile media and a poor campaign - or so goes the story. I have four responses to that argument. First, Gore didn't lose the national popular vote (he won 48.4% to 47.9%) and probably should have won Florida. Second, times were not perceived as great as one might think - change in real disposable income (the key economic indicator) was slightly negative in the fall of 2000. Third, I did say that campaign effects have some role. Bush probably shaved a point off of Gore's margin as a consequence. And let's not forget the intervention of Ralph Nader (exit polls indicated that 60% of Nader voters would have turned up and voted for Gore). In a "fair" election without Nader and a media that didn't personally loathe Al Gore, Gore probably would have won a fairly comfortable 51.6% to 47.4% victory. So, the evidence still indicates that campaign effects only have effects on the margin in general elections, whereas they are hugely important in primaries.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:03 PM

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Depressing Fact of the Day

From the Gallup Poll:

"Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?"

Yes No
2008 40% 58%
2006 35% 62%
2002 33% 65%
2001 31% 66%
1997 25% 69%

Well, the trend is in the right direction, but at this rate we'll be under water until there's the political will to do something.

On a happier note, today is the Pennsylvania primary. That is good news, right?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:03 AM

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John McCain Is A Dishonorable Piece of Slime

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Exhibit A:

John McCain is seizing on an opening provided by last week's Democratic debate, attacking Barack Obama for his past associations with William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground.

"I'm sure he's very patriotic," McCain said of Obama. "But his relationship with Mr. Ayers is open to question."

McCain added: "He became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen."

This is on top of the McCain campaign's other recent move associating Obama with terrorism, a fundraising letter saying Obama has the endorsement of Hamas. In short, prepare yourselves for a lot more fun moments like this, should Barack Obama ultimately win the Democratic nomination.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 5:54 PM

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Friday, April 18, 2008
There are earthquakes here? Really? Wacky.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 5:36 PM

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Runnings Campaigns Is Hard

A quick update from the campaign trail:

I love my candidate, G. He's a nice guy, works hard, and is very substantive. If he wins, he'll do a great job. Basically, he's earnest with a capitol E. But I'm coming to the realization that one of the chief virtues of a campaign manager is the ability to refrain from strangling one's candidate.

A list of his latest sins:

He hates fundraising. He won't make calls - just won't do it.

He wants to post comments on a local newspaper blog. He just can't seem to understand why this would be a bad idea.

He spends all of his time going door to door. This would be a good thing, except he won't work on press releases or make fundraising calls. Now what do you think will reach more people - knocking on their door or having them read about how wonderful you are in the paper?

He won't take days off, which means he's going to collapse 3 days before the primary in a heap. I'm going to have to take him door to door in a wheelbarrow or something.

Every time he goes to an event, he wants me to re-write his stump speech. Now the point of a stump speech is to have a well thought out basic statement that one can say over and over again so that a) the candidate can say it in their sleep, and b) the ideas will finally start to sink in. So what is the point in re-writing said speech? I can't seem to get him to understand that he can vary the delivery in front of new audiences, rather than changing the words.

I'm sure there are others, but you get the point. I hate to say it, but I was spoiled working in New York politics. Just spoiled. Waaaah.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:17 AM

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New Kid on the Block

If you're not reading Kathy G at The G Spot, you're missing out.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:14 AM

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Et Tu, Physicists?

Thursday, April 17, 2008
As if I didn't have enough to worry about.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:55 PM

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The Emerging Mediocracy?

One of the most consistent themes on the internet is the liberal critique of the national press corps (the "MSM"). Supported with the works of people like Eric Alterman, liberals argue that the political press at best superficial and at worst the willing dupes (active supporters?) of Rovian hitjobs on Democratic candidates. Glenn Greenwald and Digby have spoken with particular force on this issue, but they by no means are alone. Last night's travesty of a presidential debate is probably the best example of what liberals are so upset about. It's becoming increasingly clear that either the entire political discussion is debased, or there is a systematic bias against Democratic candidates, or both. Probably both.

But having accepted our unfortunate situation - that the mainstream media has become fundamentally corrupted, that it is not only not doing its job but doing the opposite of its job - it remains unclear what we are supposed to do to rectify the situation.

The first option might be to launch a concerted effort to criticize the press, in much the same way that conservatives did starting in the 1960's. This has begun to happen to an extent, although not in any well-funded, systematic way. I suppose that over the long term this might bear some fruit, but I must confess I'm somewhat skeptical that elite journalists would pay sufficient attention to what bloggers say to make any difference. It's not like they care what we think anyway.

The second option is that Democratic political leaders could begin shaming the media and freezing out journalists that displease them. This approach holds promise (because as far as I can tell it's how the Republicans do it), but it would be very risky in the short term. Democratic politicians rely on media exposure. They could boycott a particular journalist or news outlet, but since the problem is system-wide, the task becomes far more difficult. They would effectively absenting the entire party from the public discussion. Furthermore, there would be enormous incentives for each officeholder to "defect" in what looks like a classic prisoner's dilemma.

Of course there is the third option, which is to work for institutional reforms in how news content is disseminated and how political journalists are trained, but that is a very long term strategy that would likely to decades to yield benefits - if ever.

I'm not trying to minimize the problem. The political press has grown enormously in power over the last few decades, and what is worse, they know it. Their malpractice is at least partly responsible for the Iraq War and the election of George Bush. They have enabled Bush's abuses while in office, since Bush and his cronies would never have been able to get away with what they have done for so long and with so little price if the press had been doing their job. The media hated Gore, Dean, and Edwards and played no small role in blocking their candidacies. And the media's bizarre love affair with John McCain probably helped him win the Republican nomination and could very well help him reach the White House.

In effect, it is beginning to appear that the national press corps is the one choosing who will serve in public office and what policies they can pursue - not the voters; that we're becoming not a Democracy, but a Mediocracy. And to honest, I'm not entirely sure what can be done about it.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:40 AM

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All Alone

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
sad cat

Brazen Hussy Gone Far Away.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:52 PM

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As Seen Everyplace

Monday, April 14, 2008
Haiku2 for third-estate
to the many times
have we watched excuses made
horrific actions
Created by Grahame
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:28 AM

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My Graduation Present


My Precious.....
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:34 AM

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Retaining Positions Even When They Hurt You

Thursday, April 10, 2008
It looks like I'm all alone on this one. While other liberal bloggers are giddy at the prospect of Barack Obama opting out of the public financing system in the general election, I'm pretty uncomfortable with it. Oh, I understand the tactical advantages - Obama will be able to outspend the cash-strapped McCain by 2 or 3 to 1. But I've always been a supporter of public financed campaigns, and it seems hypocritical to abandon that position for the sake of a temporary convenience.

Public financing is supposed to level the playing field for all candidates, so that it's campaigning and issues rather than fundraising that determines elections. It doesn't really matter if my candidate is benefiting from the imbalance - it's still wrong.

You don't find my argument from principle convincing? Well how about this one? Do you really think that Democrats will enjoy a permanent small donor advantage? And below the presidential level, what is the likelihood that candidates without big wallets or famous names will be able to raise this kind of cash? It's a disastrous mistake to assume that other candidates will be able to do what Obama has done. In many ways he's a sui generis candidate.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:25 AM

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Beating Somebody with Nobody

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
My political silence over the last few months has been in part due to my hesitation to criticize Democratic candidates (although I am becoming quite exhausted with the process), and because of pesky things like my dissertation. But my dissertation is essentially done, the Democratic race is almost over, and the Republicans have chosen their candidate - so that will likely change. Get ready for 7 months of campaign posts! Good god.

I want to begin by asking a question: Does anybody know the rationale for John McCain's presidential campaign is? I mean, seriously. Why is he running? I can't seem to find out. I can't honestly believe he's really running for Bush's 3rd term, although McCain's foreign and economic proposals (thin as they are) certainly point in that direction. Where is his break with old policies? Where are his policies at all? All satire aside (okay, a little satire), what is the point of a President McCain, other than making McCain president? I've been expecting a highly negative campaign, given the hostile political terrain for Republicans and the unconventional nature of the two Democratic candidates, but in the absence of any positive case for his candidacy, I can't see how McCain runs anything EXCEPT a purely negative campaign - which in and of itself is only half a campaign. Am I missing something?

P.S. Do you remember when I wrote about the psychology of conflict, in which otherwise smart people make dumb, irrational arguments as political battles wear on? Well here's a fantastic example. Pathetic. Support whoever you want, but don't insult our intelligence, or your own.

P.P.S. Dynasty Watch Part Whatever - Congressman Bob Andrews' wife is running for her husband's house seat while he runs for the Senate. Her qualifications? Well, she's the Congressman's wife. And, uh, a lawyer. What else do you need to know?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:54 AM

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Last Gasp of Dissertation Whining

Friday, April 04, 2008
But I don't want to do revisions!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:56 PM

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It's Unbelievable

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
It's been a very busy few days. On Saturday we drove. A lot. On Sunday I tried to relax with limited success. On Tuesday we drove some more. Oh, and Monday? Monday I became Dr. Arbitrista.

The defense itself was shockingly easy. It only lasted 45 minutes. None of the (primarily statistical) concerns I had about my dissertation were brought up by the committee. The changes they suggested were primarily stylistic. The professor I wasn't sure about didn't ask me the questions I feared he would. Instead, he essentially shared his own feelings about how hard it was go gather data in this area, and how I should write a research note. The entire time (as short as that time was) I was remarkably relaxed and in control. The person who wrote and worried over the dissertation had little in common with the person who defended it. Frankly I like the latter better, but where did he come from?

So after 10 years of toil and despair, I have passed the last major hurdle, and can now be called "Dr." I can only quote the last line of The Candidate: "What do I do now?"

P.S. Thanks to Brazen Hussy for all the support and patience, and for letting everybody know I'd passed while I was in a state of shock. And thanks to all of you for all the nice comments.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 5:41 PM

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