11
Jun
09

Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 42

WHARRGARBL, the universe, and everything.

——

We begin with the news that PETA doesn’t like the idea of Seattle’s fishmongers tossing around the corpses of murdered sea-kit…

Oh, wait, no, hang on.  Let me quote Lindsay Rajt, a PETA spokeswoman in Norfolk, Va:

“Fish feel pain and fear just like dogs and cats do and I don’t think the AVMA would dare take part in the dead kitten toss. Really, morally, there is no difference between throwing around dead kittens and throwing around dead fish.”

Now wait just a fucking minute. I thought we’d stopped saying the eff-word, and started calling them “sea kittens“.

(And if you’re going to make wild claims about vertebrate physiology, cite your fucking sources, will you?)

But wait: I have a special image for making fun of PETArds:

Bawwwww

Go cry in a house fire, you bedwetting dipshits

——

While I’m on the subject of those irretrievably divorced from reality, I can’t fail to mention these dipshits: the New York Times!

Sorry, I got confused there.  I guess it’s not the NYT I’m mocking here (at least not primarily), but the trust-fund hipsters:

Luis Illades, an owner of the Urban Rustic Market and Cafe on North 12th Street, said he had seen a steady number of applicants, in their late 20s, who had never held paid jobs: They were interns at a modeling agency, for example, or worked at a college radio station. In some cases, applicants have stormed out of the market after hearing the job requirements.

“They say, ‘You want me to work eight hours?’ ” Mr. Illades said. “There is a bubble bursting.”

Wait, I have a mocking image for that too:

Bawwwww

Oh, I guess it was the same one.  Dang.

Seriously, though, I can feel these people’s pain — like Bill Clinton, only without a secretary to suck my cock.  (Damn the luck!)  I was once a recent high-school grad supported by my parents.  Only, well, I got a fucking job.

But surely we shouldn’t be feeling smug schadenfreude at the suffering of people whose independent existence teeters so precariously on the line between bare solvency and utter ruin, right?  Like fuck we shouldn’t!

In the boom years, Mr. Weinstein said, 40 percent of the mortgage applications he reviewed for buyers in Williamsburg included down-payment money, from $50,000 to $300,000, from parents. About 20 percent of the applications listed investments that gave the young buyers $3,000 to $10,000 of monthly income.

[...]

The culture of the area often mocks residents who depend on their families. Misha Calvert, 26, a writer who relied on her parents during her first year in the city, now has three roommates, works in freelance jobs and organizes parties to help keep her afloat while she writes plays and acts in films. There is a “giant stigma,” she said, for Williamsburg residents who are not financially independent.

“It takes the wind out of you if you’re not the independent, self-reliant artist you claim to be,” she said, “if you’re just daddy’s little girl.”

Just a minute; I have a mocking image for that, too:

omg_onoz

For full disclosure, I’m a grad student at a university that gets part of its funding from the provincial government — so I’m being decidedly hypocritical here, as I’m deriving my livelihood from funds stolen from taxpayers.  I can’t realistically repay everyone who’s contributed to my education (willingly or otherwise), but I’m gonna try.  (Totalrecoil, send me an email and I’ll send you a cheque.)

——

On to more pressing matters of finance.  Y’all might recall the Troubled Asset Relief Program[me] imposed by the Bush 43 administration which sought to prevent banks which had proven that they deserved to fail from doing so, and made its attempt with taxpayers’ dollars.  Well, it turns out that those banks aren’t so keen on sheltering under the big government TARP:

Now, we’ve already discussed the notion of prepayment as an investment risk.  But surely the whole point of government, rather than private sector, investment is that it isn’t subject to such fickle market forces but will do what’s right… isn’t it?  Why did Citibank et al. have to fight so fucking hard to start repaying their debt to the taxpayers?

Well, national crises are useful to governments:

President Barack Obama cautioned against attaching too much significance to the TARP repayments, and said the country still faces a struggle to overcome the worst economic downturn in generations.“This is not a sign that our troubles are over; far from it,” he said. “The financial crisis this administration inherited is still creating painful challenges for businesses and families alike. But it is a positive sign.”

(See also “omgonoz.gif”, above.)

While I’m on the subject of government models, here’s a curious conclusion:

“We have not actually broken through the worst-case scenario, but let’s face it, the numbers are bad and they’re heading in the wrong direction,” Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor who heads the five-member panel, told a congressional committee.

(You may recognize the name “Elizabeth Warren” from a pair of damning analyses coming from Megan McArdle’s blog.  Ms. Warren?  Meet statistics.  DIAF, kthxbye!)

But alas (again!) for Ms. Warren, the numbers appear to have broken through the worst-case scenario:

stimulus effects

Whoops.  Good thing we spent all that money bailing out banks that were desperate to fail, isn’t it?

So the banks can’t find useful ways to spend the money tossed at them by oblivious feds, and unemployment’s rising as a consequence of the fact that simply throwing money at an economy like a “Keynesian” who’s never bothered to read Keynes doesn’t work.  I’m shocked.  Shocked is what I am.

——

Finally, we examine this curious piece of the facepalmingly obvious as reported by Coyote Blog:

  1. New ownership buys San Diego Union-Tribune, apparently the city’s largest newspaper
  2. The new ownership group is funded in part by investments from public pension funds
  3. Public officials argue that since the paper is owned in part with some of their money, the newspaper should no longer be allowed to criticize public officials

That’s the sort of thing that would make Captain Louis Renault sputter in mute indignation, then reach for his sidearm.  Even in California police Captains are permitted to carry sidearms, right?

Commenter “GW” notes that:

[W]hen the taxpayers pay your salary, you are not the “owner” of a subsidized newspaper.

Just so.


4 Responses to “Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 42”


  1. June 12, 2009 at 15:56

    With regard to fish and pain- it used to be said that we know fish don’t feel pain or fear because they don’t have neocortexes, which is where all us mammals experience these things. This was also why we thought fish- and other non-mammals- were extremely stupid.

    Well, science marches on, and it turns out a lot of non-mammalian animals aren’t remotely stupid and do all sorts of things we use our neocortexes to do just fine without one. (This first became undeniably apparent with birds.) Octopus brains turn out to be quite advanced- and look absolutely nothing like ours, though there are some areas of convergence in adopting tricks like folding and wrinkling of tissues to increase surface area. So much for special mammal brains.

    Pain is such a basic and useful response that it’s extremely unlikely fish don’t feel some version of it, and fear is an emotion with very primitive roots for the same reason. I think they probably feel both, or at least an analogue thereof. But I do refuse to feel any guiltier about this than I do about hunted game or domestic meat animals.

    • June 13, 2009 at 19:56

      Now this is the sort of clear and coherent explanation that even a science reporter would be able to understand — or at least copy down verbatim and pass on to s/h/its readers. If PETA regularly referenced this kind of reasonable speculation* they’d gain far more of my respect.

      ——
      * Bonus points for actual citations of papers demonstrating pain-like responses in fish. What you’ve argued is that it would be surprising if fish didn’t feel something like pain and/or fear, which is compelling but not what the PETArd claimed. Reality is full of surprises like this, though: the first one that comes to mind is Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem. I’m not saying you’re wrong, though; it would surprise me if you were.**

      ** Bonus nerd points for footnotes (a) in a comment that (b) are longer than the comment itself?

  2. June 14, 2009 at 11:06

    Well, if I’d been feeling slightly less lazy at the time (search strings for the relevant subject bring up a lot of garbage), I would have linked this. (Actual journal fulltext not available, unfortuately.) There’s also a Sneddon study identifying the same pain receptors in fish as found in other tetrapods which I unfortunately can’t find described ANYWHERE that’s not an opinion site, and a rebuttal from Rose claiming that merely demonstrating pain receptors isn’t proving that fish experience pain, mainly based on that same “fish don’t have a neocortex, so there” argument I already outlined.

    He does have a point- we can only make guesses about an animal whose brain setup is so different from ours. But it doesn’t make much sense for pain to be a simple reflex for fish but not for most land-based tetrapods; there isn’t anything about an ocean environment that makes the capacity to learn from an experience of pain any less adaptive than it is on land, and fish diversity is greater than every other vertebrate group put together. It’s not as though they’ve not had the time to develop such a capacity, if it is indeed adaptive.

  3. June 14, 2009 at 18:12

    Keep your ill-gotten gains, although I appreciate the offer. Besides, I’m working on winning a large sum in the lottery. I think I’m due.


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