Monday, December 2, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Lucy Liu, 45. The hardest thing about getting Holmes right has to be the precise gradation of just how smart he is. Too smart and there's no drama (or else you need to keep coming up with cheats, and what's the point of that?). Not smart enough, and why are we watching? I think Sherlock set it a bit too high, and Elementary just a tad too low. Two first-rate Watsons, though, although I'm a die-hard Nigel Bruce fan.

Hey, it's Monday, isn't it? How about some good stuff:

1. Scott Porch with suggestions about how campaign coverage could improve if the media took findings from political science seriously.

2. John Sides is correct that analysis of nomination politics should distinguish between elite and mass opinion. The important thing to note is that at this point (and throughout the invisible primary, at least), it's elite opinion that matters. If a politician is popular among the rank-and-file of some group but unpopular among opinion leaders for that group, the odds are strong that by Iowa, he or she will be unpopular among that group's voters.

3. Good Paul Kane overview of what the pathetic 113th has on its to-do list for December -- and exactly how pathetic this session of Congress has been.

4. Sarah Kliff on "vast majority" day.

5. And Philip Klein with a critique. Overall, I think his criticisms of the consumer experience are not unreasonable, but probably mostly irrelevant; most state DMVs had terrible service, but very few people decided to pass on getting a license because of it. On the other hand, the back-end problems...that's the critical question, and I agree with him (and Kliff) that we just have very little idea of what's going on -- and there's a scary possibility that no one will know what's going on until more people get through the system (which should happen in the next few weeks).

6. And it's 2014 filing deadline time in Illinois.


  1. I went on a Sherlock binge over the weekend and while I think it's a great adaptation, I'd agree that the Sherlock character does come across as a bit "too smart." But I think this is more of a product of their decision to focus on technology rather than the obscure almost trivial types of knowledge Holmes knows from the original Doyle stories. It seems the creators wanted to focus on advanced technology (every crime seems to involve a smart phone for some reason), but that just strikes me as being pretty typical when it comes to modern British crime thrillers (we have our own version with stuff like CSI). Personally I've always thought that this is a poor way to go about make crime thrillers/cop shows, but once you accept that convention it's kind of normal to end up with a show like Sherlock

    But this whole thing is kind of just a product of how much of the authors from the "Golden Age" of murder mysteries (Christie, Doyle, etc) are based in how they think a death investigation ought to be carried out, now how most murders actually occur and how they are actually investigated. But that's just because a lot of murders are profoundly stupid and/or pointless and wouldn't make interesting stories. Which is why the writers decided to focus on elaborate plots etc. it's just more interesting, but that leads you to a lot of other problems.

  2. I do not see why a low number of new laws passed implies that Congress is pathetic. The drastic changes in public policy legislated during 2009-10, including Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Act, for better or worse have imposed huge compliance costs on the US business community (I am in finance, where Dodd-Frank compliance has taken a huge amount of our time and energy over the past two years). So a period of fewer drastic changes in public policy to allow administration to catch up with legislation (many Dodd-Frank rules are not yet finalized, including the Volcker Rule on proprietary trading by large banks, which has major implications for bond market liquidity) seems warranted. Think tanks and academics seem to like constant policy change, while those of us in the private sector that have to comply with all these changes are grateful for a period of slower change to allow our compliance people to train us about all the new rules, many of which are very complicated.

    1. while those of us in the private sector that have to comply with all these changes are grateful for a period of slower change to allow our compliance people to train us about all the new rules, many of which are very complicated.
      The problem is that progs consider most of the work "done" when the president signs the bill. This is probably because firms tend to quietly integrate gov mandates without making teleprompted speeches on CSPAN. To find out what it actually costs to comply with arbitrary (usually clueless) legislation, progs would have to talk to people who do that work, but they're too busy working themselves up over new legislation. Frank's YouTube presence should clue progs in that he doesn't know what he's talking about, but progs studiously avoid any evidence of non-competence in prog legislators.

    2. Anon, I appreciate your not dismissing the regulatory changes out of hand, and I can see that there would be costs involved in implementing them even if they are worthwhile. Regarding the delay in Dodd-Frank rules, though, isn't that at least in part a consequence lobbying by the financial industry?

      On the performance of the 113th Congress, I'd say it's not that they chose to give people a break, they just haven't been able to achieve what they set out to do.


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