Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tuesday music: If you only listen to American music, you just suck

I keep having this issue with the Tuesday series that the events of the world are in places whose music I don't know.  The China/Hong Kong thing, the Iran ship thing...  Seriously, I know a lot of music from other countries.  Just... not this.

Here's Extra Golden, with "Gimakiny Akia," from Thank You Very Quickly.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday morning blues: If you don't love blues, you hate America

I'm uninspired for references today.  Here's a Sonny Landreth concert.  If you aren't a guitarist, you might not get everything he's doing, but a case can be made that he is the greatest slide guitarist alive.  Or ever.  And it was all a mistake.  He started out trying to imitate Clarence White's playing with The Byrds, not understanding that Clarence wasn't playing slide.  He was using a contraption he had devised with Graham Parsons called the B-bender, which bended just the B-string.  Sonny heard that, tried to make sounds like Clarence, failed, and instead, invented new ways to play slide.

Such is how progress sometimes occurs.

If I were a wiser man, I'd figure out how there's a lesson in that.  But, I'm not.  I'm just some asshole who likes music.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

On Democratic debates and staging

Much hullabaloo about who debates with whom on which stage, if at all given poll numbers and whatnot...

Here is what you need to know.  Mostly, this doesn't matter.  Or rather, ultimately, it doesn't matter.  There are short-term implications, but not really long-term implications.

It is time, again, for a reminder about the silliness of political "debates."  This is not a good way to interview job candidates, and that, after all, is what these people are.  I wrote a book about that.

Imagine a bunch of people go to interview for a job at an accounting firm, and the interview committee brings them all into a room, demanding that they engage in a good, ole' fiddlin' contest, Devil Went Down To Georgia-style.  Now, if any of those candidates could play the fiddle, that'd be pretty cool, and if I'm interviewing a job candidate for a professorship and find out that they can play any instruments... well, hey!  Let's talk some music!  After talking research.

An accounting firm would be very stupid to hire people in that manner, though, just as I'd be very stupid to assess candidates for a professorship based on anything having to do with music.

Not that I haven't seen dumber hiring decisions...

Anyway, at no point in the job of presidentin' is a president required to get up on a debate stage and engage in anything like a two person "debate," or a 20-person "debate," or anything in between.  Not that they can even be called "debates," given the absurdities of the rituals.

But, wait, you say!  The nominee must debate the other party's nominee!  In this case, that'd be Trump.

Sorry, Bill Weld.  I hate to break it to you, but it ain't happenin'.

Do you remember the 2016 debates?  Do you remember the post-debate political dialog?  Consensus was that Clinton walloped Trump every time.

Yeah, didn't matter.

I remember watching Democrats lose their shit when Obama had a bad performance in one of his debates against Romney.  Like that was going to matter.  Consensus was that Kerry walloped Bush 3-nothin'.  The 2000 debates were complicated by the flips from the instant reactions to the post-debate dialogs, but my basic point is that there isn't really a lot of evidence that general election debates have any significant influence on the outcomes.

So, there is no relevant job skill being demonstrated by the "debate" itself, and even if we treat it as evidence of skill on the debate stage in order to demonstrate viability for the stage next to Trump for the general election, that still doesn't matter.

So, this is all a big joke, right?

Mostly.

And in the long run, entirely.

Here's the (1 - mostly) part, if you can handle a little mathematical notation.  The only thing that really matters right now is press attention.  There are more candidates for the nomination than I can remember right now.

That's not an exaggeration for dramatic effect.  I seriously read a write-up of the debates and say to myself, "who in the name of J.R. Bob Dobbs is that," and I'm a political science professor.  This is my job.  For real.  They pay me to keep this in my head, and if someone asked me, right now, to write down the names of every Democratic candidate for president who made a legitimate effort to get onto that debate stage, I'd fail.  (And I'm pretty sure the caffeine has kicked in by now, so I wouldn't even have that excuse.)

And I think most of my colleagues would fail too.

Point being, even I don't know who these people are.  If I don't know them already, they're pointless, and they need to go away.  However, there are some candidates scrambling at the bottom tier for a shot at the top tier, and those candidates, I do know.

Ha, ha!  Let's all laugh at Seth Moulton!  Nancy Pelosi is!

Sorrynotsorry.

Anyway, let's say you're Jay Inslee, sitting at about half a percent in the RCP polling average.  Nobody knows who you are.  I do, but it's my job.

Inslee is not going to get the nomination.  In theory, though, it is possible that a flash of media attention might bring up his polling numbers.  What might generate that?  Something at a debate.

Right now, though, there are tiers.  Biden is at the top, significantly due to name recognition.  Warren is his strongest competitor, and stronger than Sanders, in my estimation.  After that, you get into some mid-tier candidates, and way, way down on the list, you get people like Inslee.

Now, remember Carly Fiorina?

Mostly, I remember her for the greatest ad of all time.  With voice-over by none other than Robert Davi of The Goonies, check this out.



Fiorina is a nice reminder that everything Bernie Sanders says is total bullshit.  (If Warren pushes him completely aside, I'll spend more time addressing how horrible she is, I promise.)  You see, Fiorina is a rich person who tried to buy a Senate seat in California by spending millions and millions of dollars.  But... she failed because money doesn't buy elections, because Bernie Sanders is incredibly stupid.  Jennifer Steen did some great research on self-financed candidates, years ago.  They lose.  Because they suck.  It ain't the money.

No, Fiorina's ads didn't all look like that.  She was just a stereotypical self-financed candidate.  In other words... a loser.  This was, of course, after Fiorina got her ass fired from HP for being a really bad CEO.  Like, famously horrible.

Then, she tried to run for president.  She wound up on one of the GOP's undercard debates because their debate stage was over-crowded.  She had herself a good performance, by some estimation, and got kicked up to the adult table.

What'd that get her?

About as much as Inslee could ever hope to achieve.  Does it matter that Inslee is much smarter than Carly Fiorina?  No.  He ain't-a-gonna win.  No matter what happens on any stage.  Think I'm wrong?  You can buy a share of Inslee's nomination at a penny over at PredictIt.

So what's the deal here?  The deal here is...  this is childish.  The debates themselves accomplish nothing.  Performance on the debate stage is irrelevant to performance as president, and is not predictive of general election victory.  Whatever the media consider a successful performance may garner some media attention and create some temporary boost, and for a low tier candidate, they may hope for what Fiorina got in 2016, which was, ultimately, as much as she got in her 2010 Senate campaign.  At least HP gave her a golden parachute!

These circuses?  They serve no purpose.  Instead, this is a childish game of "I'm not dropping out, you drop out!"  That's it.  There is nothing more complicated to it than that.

Prisoner's dilemma, played through the set-up and management of debates.

Hey, where do you think we should put this deck chair?  What's that over on the horizon?

Oh, that metaphor doesn't work anymore, does it?

Sorry, Jay.

Sunday music: If you don't love bluegrass, you hate America

Sort of classical-bluegrass.  A genre sometimes called "chamber-grass."  Great album.  Bell is a classical violinist, and Meyer is probably the greatest living upright bassist in any genre.  Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall and Sam Bush, "Death by Triple Fiddle," from Short Trip Home.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

See yesterday's posts on "The stupidity defense" and Sarah Huckabee Sanders

I wrote a little more than I intended to write yesterday morning, and... I got stuff to do.  Data sets aren't cooperating, so, back to work.  I'll get a regular post up tomorrow morning.

Yes, I work on a Saturday morning during the summer.  Whatever they tell you about being a professor is bullshit.

Behave, data sets!

Saturday music: If you don't love country, you hate 'mer'ca

Country, bluegrass, folk, whatever...  Rising Appalachia, "Ain't Gonna Work," from Leah And Chloe.  Or, were they calling their band, "Leah and Chloe," and the album, "Rising Appalachia?"  Not clear.  Eventually, they went with the band name, "Rising Appalachia."


Friday, June 14, 2019