Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Libertarian Relationship: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité!

What a piece of work is a McMegan,
how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!

Remember how I said Megan McArdle and P. Suderman, boy wonder, would have an extremely hard time negotiating their power relationship, considering they are both libertarians and are both---them?

Boy, was I wrong. According to McArdle, who for inexplicable reasons is eager to share this with the world, they are nearly perfectly compatible and scarcely have any problems at all. The only problem with a libertarian spouse, it seems, is that they are both so efficient that they need to be extra careful to share their equality with each other.
I haven’t taken a full count, but as far as I can estimate, we have nearly 90 rolls of Bounty paper towels in our basement.
Bounty is not owned by the Koches, so when certain people look up her paper towel choice they will know that she is not connected to them in any way, although she has also said that she bought Koch products which means both sides are safely covered and people can believe whatever they want without actually being able to prove anything to an editor, not that she's worried.
You could be forgiven for thinking that we were stocking up for an expected flood from a nearby orange juice factory, but the truth is more prosaic: two working spouses taking advantage of the convenience and thrift of Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. For months, I have been dutifully taking paper towels out of their Amazon boxes, wondering why they seemed to come so frequently; for months, my husband has been tucking the excess neatly away on basement shelves, wondering why our household’s Current Paper Towel Balance had continued to grow even after he canceled his subscription. The truth was only revealed when husband happened to be downstairs at the precise moment when the UPS man stopped by with our latest monthly deposit.
Let's see.... P. Suderman, boy Sorcerer's Apprentice, saw a tower of paper towels rise to dizzying heights yet never said to McArdle, as they sat down together to a family meal of chicken nuggets in Bearnaise sauce with frozen artichoke hearts, "By the way, we seem to have enough paper towels in the basement to soak up a tropical storm. What's all that about?" Likewise, he never contacted Amazon and asked why they ignored his cancellation even though he had recited the right spell and waved his "magic wand." No, he just watched the pile grow. Ten rolls of paper towels! Thirty! Sixty! Ninety!

It's difficult to figure out why he was ordering paper towels anyway. If he assumed some of the shopping and did not tell McArdle, how many other piles of products lie on basement shelves or in attic corners?*
It’s a perfect illustration of a major drawback of the modern egalitarian marriage: coordination failure. In a traditional household, paper towel acquisition was within the wifesphere. She monitored the stocks, arranged for any necessary purchases and put them away within a storage scheme of her own devising. No one had to discuss the distribution of responsibilities or quarrel about their execution. But egalitarian marriages split things up along the idiosyncratic preferences of each couple. That creates three problems that every couple must deal with: Negotiations, Overlaps and Gaps.
Let me make one thing clear: I am not writing a brief against egalitarian marriage. I am in one. Both of us work, often quite long hours. Both of us assume some household duties: I oversee the plant life (ineptly), buy groceries, cook, vacuum and clean out the roof gutters as necessary; my husband, who is much neater than I am, is in charge of storage, dishwashing, home electronics and the termination of any pests larger than an ant. Nor am I a Self-Hating Egalitarian; I think this is a splendid arrangement. But like everything else in life, it has drawbacks, and this one is worth noting. Our initial problem was an Overlap. Storage was unquestionably my husband’s area. But acquisition was ambiguous, because we didn’t usually buy paper towels at the grocery store. So we both established orders. Hence: a surplus.
McArdle opens up the presents boxes from Amazon and leaves them out for P. Suderman, boy gopher, to put away. Since "he is neater," he probably picks up the house before McArdle does the cleaning. After McArdle cooks, he cleans up afterwards. McArdle does not tell us if P. Suderman has to make his bed or take out the trash, but a complete list of his chores is not necessary, is it? So despite the fact that McArdle is Vice-President in charge of Purchasing and Suderman is Warehouse Manager, Suderman robo-ordered paper towels as well, overstepping his boundary and overstocking the warehouse basement. Since they neglected to formalize division of labor or have monthly meetings to report on their respective divisions, inter-office communication and efficiency suffered.
When my husband attempted to deal with the surplus, we fell into a Gap. I continued to purchase household supplies, which certainly could fall within my general jurisdiction over kitchen and grocery. But with me doing the buying and Peter neatly putting them away in a space where I wasn’t confronted with our massive oversupply … well, we now have enough paper towels to open a Bounty distributorship. We could have reduced the overlap and the gap by drawing boundaries more firmly. But that would have put us into the most dread problem of egalitarian marriage: Negotiation.
Wait a second. Didn't McArdle once praise the negotiation skills of libertarian husbands?
My personal empirical research indicates that in fact, libertarians make great boyfriends and husbands (though my sample size on the latter is pretty small). The ones I've dated have actually been super considerate, and very concerned with pulling their own weight, though I couldn't say whether this is random chance, or the natural outgrowth of a value system that emphasizes voluntary, mutually beneficial cooperation. I will say that it is unusually easy to divide chores with someone who favors simple, rules-based systems for cooperation.
Yes, she did. And she found it "unusually easy" to divide chores. Or so she says....
Take the kitchen. I am in charge of kitchen equipment, cooking and organization. But my husband is in charge of dishwashing and storage. The result: We have a carefully thought-out scheme of What Goes Where that is completely intuitive -- to me. He doesn’t know where the measuring spoons go, and half the time, I can’t find them. We could fix this by carefully mapping out a scheme that both of us find intuitive. Unfortunately, we don’t have six weeks and a crack team of high-level diplomats to devote to the negotiations. Peter could also simply ask me where every single item goes every single time he does the dishes, but our yard is small and our basement is on a concrete slab, and I can’t figure out where I’d put the grave. So what if I haven’t seen my sifter in three months? It seems a small price to pay.
Or McArdle can put everything where she wants it and label that location. She can also just tell Suderman where everything goes and he can remember it. If every teenager in the country can do it, so can he. Perhaps he has some kind of cinematic memory problem, however, and wakes up every morning without the memory of where to store the plates and mixing bowls.

Sadly, "voluntary, mutually beneficial cooperation" has broken down for our libertarian princess and her consort. Instead, each does what (s)he wants and hopes that too much doesn't fall between the cracks.
All this is very interesting, I hear you say, in a voice that implies it isn’t interesting at all, but why are you telling me this? Well, it’s Friday, and on Fridays, I try to do a cooking or a personal-finance post. And chief among the challenges facing egalitarian marriages is the one they present to personal finances.
McArdle states the obvious for a paragraph or two and then gets back to the most interesting aspect of the issue, herself.
Couples have created any number of alternative systems to try to get around these problems. All of them have drawbacks. You can live like roommates, with each person contributing a share to the running of the household. This can really cut down on negotiation and overlap. But it creates even larger problems with gaps. I’ve talked to people who had this system degenerate into a toxic war over expenses, with each partner keeping track of who ate how much of the peanut butter and blood-curdling fights over whether one partner must pay if the other partner thinks they need to call a plumber about the slow drain.
Since most of McArdle's perspective is limited to her own experiences, which she extrapolates to the entire world, I now have to wonder if P. Suderman's predecessor wanted to call the plumber but McArdle refused because she didn't want to accidentally benefit their landlord.
This is especially fraught if one partner earns much more than the other. One of two things then seems to happen: One partner in the marriage has a much better standard of living than the other, which isn’t really much like being married at all. Or you have to negotiate who pays what share of what, and how to handle it when the richer partner wants a better vacation, and gee, I thought this was going to keep us from having to argue over all that stuff?
Remember when I insinuated that McArdle held the purse strings? That isn't true either, it seems.
Anecdotally, resentment from the lower-earning partner generally seems to be pretty high. It’s also utterly impractical if you have children. As far as I can tell, the couples who stick with it without nasty tit-for-tat wars tend to be second marriages where there are adult stepchildren and complicated asset situations. In general, my rule about marriage is this: In a good marriage, you cannot be happy if your partner is broke. Keeping your money may make sense if you are expecting to leave it to kids you have from another marriage, or if your spouse is one of those unfortunates who will spend any amount of money they get their hands on. But except in rare circumstances like these, it creates more problems in your marriage than it solves.
So in no way shape or form is P. Suderman kept on an allowance to pay off the mortgage more quickly and skimp and save, rather then travel and have fun while he is still young.
You can also pool some and keep some for yourself. This works pretty well for young newlyweds whose earnings are pretty equal (and small). But if they’re unequal, you run into the same sort of problems outlined above: There you are, enjoying your new computer, and there’s your partner, fretting over whether they should replace their dying phone or get the suit they need for their job interview. And while you have fewer gaps, you have more overlap between joint and personal expenses that has to be negotiated, as does the spending of the larger pool of joint money. You can pool everything, with allowances. This works pretty well for couples whose joint expenses have begun to dominate their individual expenses: kids, home renovations, pets and so forth. It has big advantages: It forces you to define household goals and allows you to direct all the family money toward those goals. But you have to develop a detailed budget, track expenditures to make sure you’re hitting it and negotiate basically everything the family spends.
In other words you have to be a libertarian, which McArdle finally realizes would be extremely tedious. Expenses are listed, doled out, balanced and negotiated, and so is everything else. If it works for the economy it'll work for the McSudermans!
Then there’s “everyone spend what they want out of the joint account.” This is the worst system, with the possible exception of “live like roommates.” It is favored by DINKs who just realized that they’re 42, overextended on the mortgage and have nothing saved for retirement. But right up to that point, you have a lot fewer fights about money. The point of this article is not that you should go back to giving one partner almost complete control of the money. It’s that a modern family needs modern financial controls: an explicit plan for handling money, good accounting, and a recognition that no matter what system you choose, you should expect to encounter gaps and overlaps -- and negotiations to prevent or resolve them.
And a pre-nup, in case a poorer partner thinks he is going to walk off with half of his partner's money.

All snark aside, financial planning and marital cooperation are good, if obvious, advice.

What makes McArdle's work special is the sweet little domestic stories she loves to share with her readers. We now know that libertarian husbands are the most wonderful and most egalitarian of husbands "who favor simple, rules-based systems for cooperation."

However, once again we see McArdle use the famous Underpants Gnome Model to support her theory.

1. Declare libertarians create mental systems for egalitarian cooperation.

2. State you did not bother to create a system because you didn't have time and egalitarian marriages split things up along the idiosyncratic preferences of each couple. Prove your statement by amassing 90 roles of paper towels in your basement.

3. Declare relationship egalitarian!

[McArdle] Actually, we had a good laugh over it. Though nowhere near as good as the one we had when I realized that we'd somehow acquired 9 bottles of molasses. It was gingerbread for everyone for *years*.

ADDED: Second "heh": from a commenter

[coketown] The article makes the issue sound benign, but I sense deep resentment and malice percolating through. Like everyone's sitting down for Cocoa Puffs and half-and-half after dinner, and a guest asks for a paper towel. And McMegan's like, "Peter, could you get our guest a paper towel? God knows I don't know where the f*** they are." And he's like, "Certainly. would you like one paper towel? Or an entire roll? God knows we have the largest f****** surplus of paper towels on earth. If Venezuela is wondering where all their paper towels went, they're in our basement." Then he leaves the room and comes back with his arms full of rolls of Bounty. "Here's a roll for you," he says, as he throws it at the guest's head, "and one for you, and one for you." And it's not until McMegan starts hitting him with the flour sifter that he stops and uses more surplus rolls for defense. And all that's left for the guests to say is: "Hmmm. Cocoa Puffs and half-and-half. I suppose it's worth the extra calories." Come to think, this sounds less like a modern marriage and more like a wonk marriage. I suspect Venn diagrams play a large role in the McArdle/Suderman household.

Anyway, after reviewing hundreds of mortgage applications, bankruptcy filings, and divorce decrees, it seems the most successful formula (at least for finances) is for everything to go into the pool and the wife to handle the budget. Seeking individual equity in what goes in and comes out misses the point of marriage.

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Conservative Cults and Selfish Shills

    Paul Krugman via Mark Thoma:

    [A]nger against “takers” — anger that is very much tied up with ethnic and cultural divisions — runs deep. Many people, therefore, feel an affinity with those who rant about looming inflation... I’d argue, the persistence of the inflation cult is an example of the “affinity fraud” crucial to many swindles, in which investors trust a con man because he seems to be part of their tribe. In this case, the con men may be conning themselves as well as their followers, but that hardly matters.
    This tribal interpretation of the inflation cult helps explain the sheer rage you encounter when pointing out that the promised hyperinflation is nowhere to be seen. It’s comparable to the reaction you get when pointing out that Obamacare seems to be working, and probably has the same roots.
    But what about the economists who go along with the cult? They’re all conservatives, but aren’t they also professionals who put evidence above political convenience? Apparently not.
    The persistence of the inflation cult is, therefore, an indicator of just how polarized our society has become, of how everything is political, even among those who are supposed to rise above such things. And that reality, unlike the supposed risk of runaway inflation, is something that should scare you.

     Megan McArdle must believe that any group that includes her is superior and invariably right. She simply denies that Obamacare is anything but a disaster because she supports the people who oppose Obamacare. She uses social studies to try to prove that we can't believe social studies, because she refuses to believe her side includes lazy, bigoted thinkers.  It seems that every decision she makes is ideological and then she supports alimony, to her readers' disgust. But it appears her mother is divorced--and one can imagine why she would side with a moocher in this case.

    Con, cult or greed--or all of the above. No matter what the motivation is, the results are a horror show, and civility and respect only encourage their illogical, erratic, callous, dangerous course.

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    The Great Journalist Speaks Again

    A Little Bit Of McArdle: A Report of Her Lecture at Skidmore
    “I am not a failure – I am someone who has failed”. These words capped off journalist Megan McArdle’s delivery of this spring’s Carr Distinguished Interdisciplinary Lecture – a semi-annual lecture series with the purpose of “more intentionally preparing Skidmore students for the transition from college to the working world or to further studies”. [sic] 
    In addition to talking about her book, McArdle also shared some journalistic wisdom with the crowd. One particularly relevant piece of advice had to do with the Internet’s impact on journalism and adapting to the widespread availability of information. She described situations in which (perhaps biased) journalists would post information to the Internet that wasn’t quite true. As a result, more informed citizens would comment on this false information, calling out the author on their failure to post the facts. She stated that the journalists that failed well were the ones who checked those facts and posted corrections or apologies. Those journalists who failed less than well would stubbornly defend their work despite the fact that their information wasn’t correct.
    I talk a lot about denial, self-delusion and unconscious motivation, but let's not forget McArdle"s first and foremost trait. She's a liar who knows she is lying and does it anyway to get rich.

    And she thinks that aping the words of honest people will fool everyone into thinking she is honest.

    Sunday, September 7, 2014

    Low Effort Thinking

    Shorter Megan McArdle: I know you are but what am I?
    You should probably think twice before writing an article arguing that conservative ideas are a product of "low effort thinking". But if you decide to go ahead and write it, you probably shouldn't let most of it rest on a not-very-robust group of psychology studies, done by a single research team on 89 New England bar patrons and 75 psychology students at the University of Maine. But if you are going to write that article, relying mostly on a single, kinda weak journal publication, then you should probably not treat that publication if it presented scientifically validated facts about the world, rather than--at best!--possibly suggestive but highly speculative findings about a very narrow group of people. But if you decide to do all of those things, then you should probably make it clear from the start that you're a staunch proponent of low-effort thought. ‪#‎slatepitch
    The nature of authoritarian thinking depends on low effort thinking. You are told what is right and what is not right, and told you cannot figure these things out for yourself. You are told that it is arrogant to think for yourself, that God wants you to obey him and ignore your own wants and needs, that every group has a head and he must be obeyed. The only question is, what does the authority want?

    McArdle doesn't think she is obeying her authority, she thinks she is supporting the best system run by the best people. She thinks that she thinks her way through problems using the latest knowledge and consulting the smartest philosophers and academics. She thinks she is a logical and nuanced thinker. She thinks she is smarter than most people. When she is proven wrong she gets very very angry and attacks the messenger, as she does in this comment. Her entire weltanschauung is at risk. But all her thinking is low-effort. She is a lazy thinker who substitutes "it seems" and "as far as I can tell" for research and the hard work of analysis.

    Thinking is hard.  You have to read new information and break it down word-for-word until you understand it all. You have to look up all the terms you don't know and read all the underlying research. Then you have to figure out what the new information means in context. After you think you understand the information you write about it, and then you have to pull apart your own argument looking for flaws. It takes a lot of time and thought and a little humility. McArdle is not paid to do any of that and might not be able to if she tried. She is paid to make an emotional argument to other low-thought libertarians, who add up to little more than a goofy conservative cult populated with emotionally stunted people and kept alive by billionaire sugar daddies.

    Which is why the only response she can make to Slate or social scientists or economists or moralists is an extended whine in which she does not address any of the science. Instead she pecks weakly at the methodology, utterly convinced that her emotional reaction to the truth is far more truthful than anything to be found in reality.

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

    Pull Yourself Up By Your Oven Mitts

    Heh, Megan McArdle has convinced herself that she is a trained chef.
    Unless one of us has a work engagement, my husband and I try to eat dinner together every night. And while we occasionally resort to takeout or that old standby the grocery store rotisserie chicken, at least nine times out of 10, that means I plan and prepare things with my own two hands. Not because Cooking Is a Woman’s Job, but because in my household, Cooking Is a Megan Job, by training and preference.
    Yes, just as her academic training makes her a skilled and popular economics blogger, her culinary training has made her an almost-chef. And if she has not, in "reality," actually been trained as a chef, surely absorbing knowledge by osmosis, the Food Network and The New York Times food section is just as good, right? She was born with everything she needs; delicate, refined senses, the intelligence to master any task she attempts, and the force of will, moral strength, and dedication to hard work that illuminates all of our elite. She's a Thomas Kinkade painting, whose light shine out for all to admire. Oh, and so is her chosen mate, of course.
    My admirably feminist husband does the dishes, which to be honest, he probably does not enjoy as much as I enjoy cooking. If there is a net psychic wealth imbalance in our distribution of household chores, I am the one running the chronic surplus.
    Which no doubt makes up for the actual wealth imbalance. McArdle is lucky to have a partner who is so like her in every way and thus is able to do what he is told without resentment.
    I love thinking up things to make, and making them. I like finding new recipes, and trying them. I like planning our meals, figuring out what things complement one another. I like the smug satisfaction of knowing there’s something delicious in the Crock-Pot, and I put it there. Maybe I hate myself a little when I bake my own bread and spread it with homemade ricotta and fresh tomatoes from the farmers' market or a friend’s garden. But I also really, really, really love those sandwiches.
    You know how James Joyner keeps saying he doesn't understand what the left has against Megan McArdle? It's the gloating. Most people don't care if someone else manages to pull a con on a con. That's why we enjoy Leverage.  But this "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" smugness is both personally repellent and laughable. The smelly hippies that McArdle loves to vilify were baking bread and making cheese long, long before McArdle popped out of the womb. And the smugness is undeserved. We have seen her "best of" recipes and they are fatty, over- or under-seasoned, and avoid anything fresh. What she calls "the smug satisfaction of knowing there’s something delicious in the Crock-Pot," most women call Tuesday night dinner.

    In the interests of Both Sides Do It, McArdle admits that cooking can be tedious, especially with children involved. And because the articles that McArdle cites address the issue, McArdle admits that P. Suderman, boy busboy, sometimes doesn't like what she makes. Having greased the way, McArdle finally gets to the point: liberal feminists are dumb.
    Does this mean that the ideal of joyful cooking is an excessively idealized illusion? That’s what Amanda Marcotte suggests, riffing off a recent sociology study of how people incorporate Mark Bittmanesque ideals into their everyday lives. It turns out that the women who cook find kids and husbands more difficult to deal with than do the folks in loving magazine articles about growing your own lima beans and making fresh succotash. Fresh produce tends to rot if you shop only once a month. Hectic schedules make it difficult to get everyone sitting at the table. Preparing new things on a tight food budget is risky when they might end up rotting in the refrigerator, uneaten.
    Of course McArdle is wrong because she is not addressing reality, she is addressing the scenario in her head. In this scenario, Marcotte discusses women who are not poor and want to eat local and eat less meat, perhaps. Marcotte is terribly silly for worrying about the difficulties of the poor, since there are none, or there are none who can't find a way to cook. After mocking the poor, McArdle mocks the sociology study's solutions.
    And to be sure, those articles can be extremely annoying, not to mention unrealistic. Michael Pollan’s riff about his family trying McDonald's for the first time and finding it gross struck me as a fine bit of elitist mythmaking: I mean, maybe it’s true of the Pollans, but I find it hard to believe that neither he nor his children had ever encountered a Quarter Pounder before. And even harder to believe that no one liked it; the chain is wildly successful in all sorts of places that have stellar reputations for lovingly home-prepared food. My mother, who made her own croissants, also loves Sausage McMuffins. It’s OK to extoll the joys of taking the time to prepare some complicated dish and to reassure people that cooking high-quality food is not necessarily as difficult as they think. It’s also OK to grab the occasional bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
    That said, the sociology study reads like it was written by aliens who unfortunately never got to spend much time on their visit to our planet. Some of the obstacles they cite to cooking are obviously huge, such as living in a motel room that only has a microwave and a tiny sink (though you can, I must note, acquire a used hot plate at most thrift stores for under $10, as long as you can sneak it past management). Some of them are frankly bizarre. Pests! Small kitchens! Not enough money for high-quality organic produce! Welcome to life in New York City, home of a very high percentage of the nation’s foodies.
    I'm sure a woman who barely makes enough to cover the night's rent for a hotel room near her crappy job is willing to risk getting thrown out and watch her kids sleep on the street. But you can't downplay poverty without a little callousness, so McArdle smears a little Aleppo pepper on the poor, greases them up with truffle oil, and throws the them to the wolves.
    Seriously, here’s Mark Bittman’s kitchen. Here’s mine; it is larger than the New York City kitchen in which my mother prepared thousands of meals for friends and family, although not so well laid out. But it’s 110 years old, laid out for a workman’s family, not a fancy mansion with servants. By the standards of any new home, it’s tiny. Though it’s enormous by historical standards, which call, for most of the human beings who have ever lived, for a single room in which the family cooks, eats and often sleeps. Yet somehow, women have been preparing scratch meals under these intolerable conditions for millennia.
    She actually has the unmitigated gall to compare her and Bittman's circumstances to those of the poor.
    The picture of my kitchen does not, alas, show the annual ant infestation that streams in through our 100-year-old walls or the mice that regularly immigrate from nearby construction sites or the traditional end-of-summer fruit-fly infestation. I don’t know a single middle-class family that doesn't have a pest problem of one kind or another. Nor do I know anyone who finds, say, the omnipresent New York City cockroach a reason not to cook.
    There, that proves that bugs aren't a problem for the poor. McArdle has bugs during mating season but is still able to cook.
    These things, it is true, make cooking less fun than it sounds on the pages of a magazine or to imagine in moments of gauzy fantasy. But that’s true of everything; women’s liberation itself turned out to be more complicated and fraught than its founders imagined, which doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth doing.
    Forming a family is hard, not because of poverty or class or sexism (though those things can make it harder). Forming a family is hard because, hey!, there’s another person here, and he has his own ideas about how the household should be run, and also, he's in the way. Did we really need sociology researchers to point that out?
    If smart, successful people like Megan McArdle can only convince slothful poor people and liberal researchers that cooking isn't always fun, poor women would start pulling themselves up by their own oven mitts and stop looking for help and money from poor hard-working elites like Megan McArdle.
    This air of shock at ordinary facts of human existence spills over into the solutions the sociologists propose, which are … well, I’ll let them speak for themselves:
    So let’s move this conversation out of the kitchen, and brainstorm more creative solutions for sharing the work of feeding families. How about a revival of monthly town suppers, or healthy food trucks? Or perhaps we should rethink how we do meals in schools and workplaces, making lunch an opportunity for savoring and sharing food. Could schools offer to-go meals that families could easily heat up on busy weeknights? Without creative solutions like these, suggesting that we return to the kitchen en masse will do little more than increase the burden so many women already bear.

    Easing women's burdens instead of telling them to work harder? Why? How would that benefit Megan McArdle?
    Small towns and rural areas already have lots of potlucks, which they could have found out by stopping at any firehouse or church. And as for the idea that we can fix America’s dinner hour by having the school cafeteria cater it -- one hardly knows where to start!
    Doesn't your town have a VFW annual potluck? They do? Problem solved!
    Having made fun of their solutions, I suppose it behooves me to offer some of my own. Luckily, I happen to have a little list right here:
    Lucky, lucky duckies! McArdle's rules:
    1. Don’t cook from scratch if you hate to cook. Cooking is a joy. So is rock climbing, or ice skating, or reading science fiction novels. That doesn’t mean it’s a joy everyone shares. There’s no reason that you should cook from scratch if you don’t like doing it. America’s supermarkets offer an ever-more-stunning variety of quick, tasty, relatively healthy frozen entrees. Virtually every grocery store has a giant freezer case devoted to making dinner time a snap, another big refrigerator case filled with things that take barely more time, and a huge prepared-foods section that is still cheaper than takeout. So is a box of pasta and a bottle of decent sauce like Rao’s. For that matter, I still remember very fondly my grandmother’s signature kid dish: hamburger meat, pasta shells and Ragu.
    And if you don't have a refrigerator just sneak one into your hotel room.
    2. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the adequate. The primary object is to keep everyone’s stomach filled without giving them Type II diabetes or busting the budget. Do that first, then stretch to more ambitious goals such as mastering coq au vin.
    You wanted to come home from a long day of cleaning offices and master coq au vin but you should stick to a casserole instead.
    3.Frozen produce is just as good for you as fresh. I don’t like them as well, to be sure. And there’s a certain amount of variability: Frozen fruit is better than fresh for most cooking; frozen peas, artichokes and pearl onions are very good; frozen broccoli’s not my favorite. But these are vegetables that were picked at the height of freshness, flash-frozen nearby, then transported to your store without bruising or wilting. They keep a long time. And they’re already pre-prepped, so all you have to do is thaw and season them. You can do a lot with sauces and seasoning to make frozen vegetables a worthy side.
    You could add... fat!
    4. For risk-averse kids and spouses, try everything new as a side dish to the main course. For example, I love chickpeas. The Official Blog Spouse was deeply skeptical. So when I got a new recipe for slow-cooker chickpea tagine, I served it alongside a full meal of things he already liked. Three bites into the chickpeas, he said, “You know, this winter, we should have this as a main course.” I’m not saying you’ll get those results every time; many’s the evening he’s taken a few bites of something new and put his fork down forever. I’m just saying you’ll get less fighting and spoilage if you introduce new things in a lower-risk manner than throwing it on the table and saying “That’s all there is, so you’d better eat.”
    So if your kids have been eating cereal for three straight days and want something else, just tell them that there are husbands in DC who have to eat chickpea tagine made by Megan McArdle to give them a sense of perspective.
    5. Pre-prep and freeze. Yes, you can be one of those people who pre-preps nine slow-cooker meals, carefully freezes them and dutifully puts them in the slow cooker on the appointed morning. I am not one of those people. I am, however, one of those people who freezes big batches of soup or chili, throws some marinade on a roast before popping it in the freezer, or flattens and flours chicken cutlets, freezes them on a baking sheet and pops them in a freezer bag to be prepared later as needed. There’s no need to defrost before cooking as long as they’re relatively thin. Steaks can also be cooked straight out of the freezer, as can pot roast or stew meat. Loaves of bread can also be prepped (cut into servings, or turned into garlic bread), then frozen in foil for later use. So do those things when you have time, then at a hectic dinner time, you can have a full meal on the table in 10 to 20 minutes.
    Make sure you buy in bulk and cook ahead, even if you have twenty dollars in your purse and it has to buy gas, food for today, and a pair of size 4 girl's shoes from the resale shop.
    6. The odds of a picky husband or child dying of malnutrition or whining are really very low. I’m not saying that it never happens. In most cases, however, they will eat when they get hungry enough. You are, as my mother frequently noted, not running a restaurant. Your job is to put healthy food on the table, not to make sure they leave said table in paroxysms of delight. It’s disappointing if they don’t like everything you are cooking, but too many women let that disappointment drive them to unreasonable lengths.
    The condescension acorn did not fall far from the tree. McArdle goes on to give her readers more advice on how to be just like Megan McArdle, advice that sadly would be useless for the poor women in the sociology study. After happily burbling on about her specialness for a while she finally wraps it up.
    We shouldn’t over-idealize home cooking as some glittering apex of human experience that no decent person can do without. But let’s not remedy the cultural overshoot by demonizing the preparation of a decent, healthy meal as a grueling chore that stonkers all but the most privileged and dedicated cooks. Cooking at home is often fun, and it’s almost always cheaper and healthier than the alternative -- and tastier, if the alternative is picking up a tray at the high school cafeteria. It can, of course, be stressful -- but it can be a lot less stressful if you will repeat after me: “I’m not running a restaurant. I’m running a home.”
    Unless you don't have one, and then you are running out of time. But that's okay, because you are not Megan McArdle and therefore you don't actually exist. The moral of our story: poor women could feed their families very well if they just tried harder. And nobody else needs to help.

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    Libertarianism And Responsibility: The Horror Unleashed

    I was not going to read this post because I was afraid to see what Megan McArdle had to say about rape culture. But Charles Pierce was very amusing about the post and I was ashamed of my cowardice so I clicked.

    Hello, Internet, it’s Megan McArdle again, with a friendly message about morality: You shouldn’t look at stolen nude photographs of celebrities.

    McArdle is going to teach us morality. That should be horrific interesting.

    Yes, yes, I know -- it’s not like your self-restraint will prevent millions of other people from gawking. But the people in the photographs didn’t take them for public consumption, and they’re very upset that you’re looking, and you shouldn’t do things that would make people upset if they knew. There are plenty of other nude photographs out there on the Internet, taken of people who were actually willing to have you gape at them in the buff. The right thing to do is to go stare at them instead. 

    McArdle thinks you have to be told that looking at stolen private photos could hurt other people. 

    And hello there, celebrities: If you really, really don’t want millions of strangers to see pictures of you in the altogether, then you should probably not take such photographs on electronic devices that are connected to the Internet. There are a lot of jerks out there, and there's a high risk that some of them are going to steal your photographs and share them with millions of rubberneckers.

    Since McArdle knows that other people think victim-blaming is hurtful and unfair, she pretends she is not victim-blaming. She cleverly does this by saying she is not victim-blaming right after she blames the victims for not preventing their victimization, as Mr. Pierce notes.

    Am I blaming the victim? Nope. People shouldn’t steal your private photos! Other people shouldn’t look at them! Also, people shouldn’t steal cars or mug strangers or be serial killers. But there are many dedicated jerks out there in this great, big world of ours, and you have to take steps that will reduce your vulnerability to those people. Not because we should have to, but because we do have to.

    Wait a second. Megan McArdle said on Twitter that children should be able to walk and play around by themselves. Those kids are doing nothing to take responsibility for preventing their victimization. And she also said that young people should be trained to rush a gunman firing an automatic weapon on them, which would be taking individual responsibility for one's personal safety. But when her bikes were stolen, again and again and again, and again, she did not say the thefts were her own fault.

    Well, my fourth bike was stolen this morning, out of our backyard, which has a seven foot stockade fence around it.  I have never managed to hold onto a bike more than six months in an urban environment--the previous two times, they left the bike lock, as if to taunt me with its inadequacy. I think I'm done with bike commuting.  I'd rather just hand out $100 bills to random people on the street; at least I wouldn't be rewarding theft.

    It wasn't an expensive bike, either; it was the cheapest hybrid available in my size.  But the fact is, if you own a bike in this city, it will be stolen.  I'm willing to brave weather and entitled motorists.  But I'm sick of funding donations to the bike theft brigade.

    Why didn't McArdle take steps to reduce her vulnerability to bike theft, the second, third and fourth time, if not the first? Why is everyone else but Megan McArdle at least partially responsible for what happens to them?

     It's so confusing. One might think that McArdle cares for nobody's problems but her own, and therefore does not want to lift one finger or spend one dime to help them.

    The feminists who get angry when people point out the obvious risks of taking nude selfies on your phone or getting extremely intoxicated at a big party full of adolescent guys seem to be arguing that if the patriarchy went away, guys could all be culturally conditioned not to steal nude photographs or rape people, with the few sociopaths restrained by the much harsher penalties that would presumably be enacted once we end “rape culture” -- that there is some way, in other words, to make it perfectly safe for young women to get trashed at frat parties or take all the nude selfies their phones can hold.

    When other people get drunk at a party and are raped it's partially their own fault. When Megan McArdle drinks underage and is arrested, does not send in her paperwork, has her license suspended, cannot register her new car years later, and cannot repair her car when her mom clips it, it's the fault of The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Just like it's the post office's fault when she can't mail late wedding invitations. McArdle truly believes that rules do not apply to her. She is special. Only her own emotions are real to her. As Dr. Haidt said, libertarians moralize their intellectual structure.

    Now for the painless segue from idiotic bureaucratic snafu to moral:  this just goes to show why ironclad bureaucratic rules are such a bad idea.  The federal law is meant to protect dangerous drivers whose licenses have been suspended from getting a license in another state--an excellent program.  It is not, or so I mote, intended to allow the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to suspend my license for an underaged drinking conviction that took place 16 years ago.  Indeed, I don't think that even the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law was intended to do something so moronic--it isn't as if I deliberately (or even accidentally) failed to comply; I simply didn't have a driver's license for them to confiscate.  Since I didn't get one until I was well over the legal drinking age, I'm pretty sure that a moment's consideration would lead any reasonable bureaucrat to dismiss this idiocy. 

    But of course, we don't have reasonable bureaucrats.  We have rules.  Rules that Must Be Followed No Matter What.  Neither Pennsylvania nor DC can, apparently, do anything at all to prevent the Wheels of Justice from punishing me for a long-past transgression that did not even involve a motor vehicle.

    Because McArdle thinks that she should not have to follow rules like everyone else, she finds a philosophy that tells her she is special and should not have to follow society's rules. We should all be responsible for ourselves and nobody else. Trying to help others fight crime to reduce victimization cannot work because libertarian ideology states helping others is paternalistic and erodes individual liberty. For libertarians there is no moral component to helping others so trying to reduce suffering is simply not an option.

    McArdle tells us that people will commit crimes and get away with it no matter what we do, so why bother?

    I’m not saying that culture doesn’t matter on the margin. Drunk girls were probably more vulnerable to rape in a culture that said “nice girls” don’t drink, and if they did, they were asking for it, so it was only natural for boys to take advantage of their condition.2 Someone who’s been sitting around with other guys telling each other that it’s OK to steal Jennifer Lawrence’s nude selfies because she’s a public figure and she shouldn’t take those kinds of pictures if she doesn’t want them out there is more likely to go ahead and do it than a guy whose peer group says that such a theft would be gross and wrong.

    But there’s only so far culture can go. Criminals don’t steal because they think theft is OK; I’m told they get quite indignant if someone steals from them. Penny-stock con men are not one good ethics class short of a regular sales job. Serial killers did not miss the memo on how killing is wrong. Some people do things that they know are evil because they want to, and they think they can get away with it. It is not “victim blaming” to urge their targets to protect themselves from that threat. 
    Of course, we should all work toward a world with less crime of all sorts. But we will not hasten that day by pretending that we’re already there.

    Not that anyone is, but where would McArdle be without a strawman to cover up her utter lack of empathy? It is your responsibility to protect yourself from crime except when it isn't, or when you are Megan McArdle. It's the libertarian way.

    The Libertarian Moral Structure

    There is no greater joy in life than a Megan McArdle post on authoritarianism. This one is a movable type feast.

    McArdle is piqued; once again, science is attacking libertarians with the weapons of facts and reality. Although McArdle usually prefers to attack strawmen, a blow to her very core cannot be ignored.
    Conservatives are conservative because they’re authoritarian and resistant to new ideas. Everyone knows that, right? There’s a bunch of social-science research that even proves it. If only conservatives were more open and less dogmatically attached to their tribe and their traditions, the world would be a much better place.
    That "bunch of social-science research that even proves it," if you follow the links, includes Bob Altemeyer's influential study on authoritarianism. McArdle does not address the science except to concede it exists and is not in dispute.  But avoiding reality leaves a reality-sized hole in one's personal narrative, so McArdle must fish around in the tepid, shallow pond of her mind for a fantasy scenario in which she stills wins by failing.
    A lot of smart people endorse some version of this story. And yes, research surveys show that conservatives do express a much stronger affinity for obedience, authority and in-group loyalty than do liberals. But there’s a question those surveys can’t answer: How does what people say translate into what people actually do? Jonathan Haidt, one of my favorite social scientists, studies morality by presenting people with scenarios and asking whether what happened was wrong. Conservatives and liberals give strikingly different answers, with extreme liberals claiming to place virtually no value at all on things like group loyalty or sexual purity.
    McArdle does not address the science of her own argument either, which was unwise. Dr. Haidt cowrote a paper called Understanding Libertarian Morality, a fascinating study that demonstrates the strongest component of libertarianism is a low level of empathy. The paper states "our results suggests that libertarians are particularly unemotional in their moral deliberations." Instead, libertarians say they care about liberty. What do they mean by that word?
    Libertarians are not unconcerned about all aspects of morality, as suggested by their scores on the MFQ and several other widely used morality scales. Rather, consistent with their self-descriptions, they care about liberty. Like conservatives, they endorse a world in which people are left alone to enjoy the fruits of their own labor, free from government interference. They also exceed both liberals and conservatives (but are closer to liberals) in endorsing personal or lifestyle liberty.
    The problem with this assessment is that the paper takes libertarians at their word. For example, the paper states:
    Libertarians appear to have a coherent moral philosophy, which includes a general opposition to forcing any particular moral code upon others. Note that Paul is not saying that gambling is morally acceptable. Rather, he is saying that (negative) liberty has a moral value that supersedes other moral considerations. Libertarians seem willing to reject both liberal concerns for social justice [21] and conservative concerns for respecting existing social structure [22] when those concerns conflict with their superordinate interest in maintaining individual liberty.
    Our libertarian leaders quite plainly do not have a coherent moral philosophy; they don't have a problem with restricting the poor's access to abortion or trying to cut aid to others while keeping aid for themselves. "Liberty" means personal liberty to libertarians; the right to do what they want, when they want and how they want without thought of the consequence to others. Due to that whole lack of empathy thing.
    We introduced Study 3 with Rand's condemnation of love that is not based on a strong sense of self. We found that libertarians do indeed have a strong sense of self and the self's prerogatives, and a correspondingly lower sense of attachment to others. They exhibit a high degree individualism, a low degree collectivism, and generally report feeling less bonding with others, less loving for others, and less feelings of a sense of common identity with others. Libertarians have a lower degree of the broad social connection that typifies liberals as well as a lower degree of the tight social connections that typify conservatives. These social preferences were related to their moral attitudes suggesting that libertarians have less functional use for moral concerns.
    In other words, they are selfish. It's not entirely their fault. They're wired that way, raised that way, paid to stay that way. And selfish they are, even if they try to hide it and their attachment to their proudly selfish philosophy.
    While not all libertarians endorse the views of Ayn Rand, our findings can be summarized by the three quotations we have presented from her work. We began Study 1 with Rand's exhortation to reject “the morality of altruism,” and we showed that libertarians do indeed reject this morality, as well as all other moralities based on ideas of obligation to other people, groups, traditions, and authorities. Libertarians scored relatively high on just one moral concern: liberty. The libertarian pattern of response was found to be empirically distinct from the responses of liberals and conservatives, both in our cluster analysis of participants and in our principal components analysis of measures. We found strong support for our first prediction: Libertarians will value liberty more strongly and consistently than liberals or conservatives, at the expense of other moral concerns. [sic]
    Their dominant emotional reaction in the study is hatred of being told what to do.
    We introduced Study 2 with Rand's claim that Western culture can only be reborn when it can be founded on “a rational ethics.” Consistent with Rand's writing and psychological research concerning the intuitive origins of moral reasoning [8], we found that libertarians were indeed less emotional (less disgust sensitivity, empathic concern, and neuroticism) than liberals and conservatives. This lack of emotional reactivity may underlie an indifference towards common moral norms, and an attraction to an ideology where these moral codes are absent, libertarianism. The only emotional reaction on which libertarians were not lowest was reactance – the angry reaction to infringements upon one's autonomy – for which libertarians scored higher than both liberals and conservatives. This disposition toward reactance may lead to the moralization of liberty and an attraction to an ideology that exalts liberty above other moral principles – namely, libertarianism.
    Which means that libertarians do not feel connected to their fellow man. They are largely male and tend towards solitude (which makes them natural gamers). Since they do not identify with their fellow man they feel no sense of kinship, responsibility, or communality.
    We introduced Study 3 with Rand's condemnation of love that is not based on a strong sense of self. We found that libertarians do indeed have a strong sense of self and the self's prerogatives, and a correspondingly lower sense of attachment to others. They exhibit a high degree individualism, a low degree collectivism, and generally report feeling less bonding with others, less loving for others, and less feelings of a sense of common identity with others. Libertarians have a lower degree of the broad social connection that typifies liberals as well as a lower degree of the tight social connections that typify conservatives. These social preferences were related to their moral attitudes suggesting that libertarians have less functional use for moral concerns.
    Since Haidt is one of McArdle's favorite social scientists and he discusses libertarianism, it's very odd that McArdle has no desire to discuss his work. One wonders if she even read it, for she is quick to jump on imagined slights to her image of herself and who among us is pleased to hear that her primary characteristic is a bone-deep selfishness based on lack of empathy?
    Once again, we see that libertarians look somewhat like liberals, but assign lower importance to values related to the welfare or suffering of others–the benevolence value (which Schwartz defines as: “Preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact”) and universalism (defined as “Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature”). It is also noteworthy that the highest mean for any Schwartz Value dimension was libertarians' endorsement of self-direction (defined as “Independent thought and action – choosing, creating, exploring”). Self-Direction was the most strongly endorsed value for all three groups, but for libertarians the difference was quite large compared to the next most endorsed value, achievement (d = 1.04). If libertarians have indeed elevated self-direction as their foremost guiding principle, then they may see the needs and claims of others, whether based on liberal or conservative principles, as a threat to their primary value.
    There is a treasure trove of information available to our intrepid journalist, the better to ply her craft and increase her personal knowledge. Evidently McArdle has decided that there's nothing in it for her to do a good job, especially as she is being paid very well to do a bad one. According to Dr. Haidt, libertarians substitute cognitive analysis for emotional analysis.
    Table 3 shows that libertarians were moderately more utilitarian than conservatives, and slightly more utilitarian than liberals (also see Figure 4). Their judgments were more utilitarian in both the more aversive and less aversive scenarios.
    The results from these moral dilemmas, which are devoid of political content, indicate that libertarians are indeed more capable of “rational ethics” where costs and benefits are weighed according to utilitarian principles. Given the body of evidence suggesting that utilitarian judgments in these dilemmas are more likely to be reached via “cold” calculation, and that deontological (rights-based) judgments are more likely to be reached via “hot” affective processes (e.g., [24], [65]), our results suggests that libertarians are particularly unemotional in their moral deliberations.
    However we have seen countless times that McArdle makes emotional arguments in defense of her self-image and that she cannot follow or make a logical argument. She just thinks she is making a logical argument. The brain trust at Reason are not reasoning. The Objectivist are not objective. They just think they are. They create elaborate mental structures that they think will support their arguments but when they are examined, the arguments fall apart. Social Security is not bankrupt. Seniors don't hate having Medicare. America really does have poor people. Regulations are necessary.

    As we have seen with this paper's touchstone, Ayn Rand, just because people don't understand emotions doesn't mean they don't have them, or make emotional arguments. Their arguments are based on their emotions, just like everyone else's. But those emotions run the gamut from A to A. Love is love of self. Concern is concern for one's self. Fear is fear for one's self.
    The results suggest that libertarians are less likely to see moral traits as important to their core self, compared to liberals and conservatives. At the same time they are just as likely as these two groups to base their self-concept around positive non-moral characteristics, such as being funny or outgoing. Notably, libertarians were the only group to report valuing pragmatic, non-moral traits more than moral traits. Libertarians may hesitate to view traits that engender obligations to others (e.g. loyal, generous, sympathetic) as important parts of who they are because such traits imply being altruistic [48].
    When you cannot feel good about yourself through contact with mankind, you must find other ways of feeling good about yourself. Libertarians feel good by getting what they want. They find proof of self-worth through "winning the (fill-in-the-blank)." What they want can vary. McArdle wants to fit in with the financial elite. Rand wanted to fit in with the intellectual-cultural elite, the same people her mother sought to conquer. The boys at Reason seem to want everyone to think they are cool. We all evaluate ourselves. If you cannot evaluate yourself by moral standards you will find others. Libertarians judge themselves by cognitive standards. They create a mental image of themselves and judge the world by how much it lives up to the imaginary world in their heads. McArdle explicitly does this when she stated that financial success is proof of morality. She knows everyone is supposed to have a moral system so she substitutes the "moral" system in her mind for the human one that almost everyone else has. Every time McArdle said that her heart broke at a child's shooting, she lied. Not because she is a liar, although she is, but because she thought it should be breaking because everyone else said that their hearts were breaking. All of these issues, questions and theories are fascinating; read the whole thing, as the kids say. And Megan McArdle ignores them. She is not interested in libertarian theory, she wants to win the dinner party/political tussle. So she picks an issue that she thinks is a winner, god help us.
    One of Haidt's most memorable questions involves a man who has sex with a frozen chicken, then cooks the chicken and eats it for dinner. Is this wrong? he asks. Philosophy-class enlightenment values pretty much give one answer: No one was harmed, so it can’t be wrong. And yet: I’m willing to bet that most of the folks who say that it’s A-OK would still be weirded out if they found out this is what their spouse had prepared for a special anniversary feast. Or that this is how a co-worker spends every Monday night.
    So Megan McArdle literally thinks "Philosophy-class enlightenment values" can be summed up as "keep f*cking that chicken." Once again, McArdle says something intellectually and morally brain dead because she wants to win an argument. She cannot imagine what liberals feel so she imagines what they think. Because she is petty and spiteful she imagine the worst and then she accuses liberals of these imaginary crimes.
    In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority.
    Megan McArdle doesn't know what evolution is. Really.
    And when it threatened to conflict with some sacred value, such as their beliefs about gender differences, many found evolutionary principles as easy to ignore as those creationists did.
    Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. That is why equal pay will never work.
    It is clearly true that liberals profess a moral code that excludes concerns about loyalty, honor, purity and obedience -- but over the millennia, man has professed many ideals that are mostly honored in the breach.
    We are supposing that McArdle did not mean to say "excludes" although with her word salad it is hard to tell. McArdle believes that liberals lie when they say they care about moral values because she cannot imagine anyone truly caring about moral values unless they are trading them for an E-ticket for Pearly Gates admission. Therefore liberals are not better than libertarians and Megan McArdle and libertarians everywhere win the blogwar.
    Apparently, I’m not the only one who had questions about the prevalence of conformity on both sides of the political spectrum:
    The way I saw it, this slavish obedience to authority and tradition on the part of conservatives was the true source of the culture war between liberals and conservatives over foreign war, abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and racial inequality. They way I saw it, conservatives clung to old, near-sighted ways of thinking and fell in line with the dictates of the "man in charge." If only conservatives would think for themselves -- like liberals do -- the war would be over and we could get on with life, governance, and progress. Or so I thought. Then, in 2012, I went on a cycling trip around Cuba.
    Jeremy Frimer, the author of the piece, noticed that socialists seemed unable to tolerate even mild questioning of Che Guevara’s eminently questionable legacy. Frimer is a researcher at the University of Winnipeg, and he decided to investigate. What he found is that liberals are actually very comfortable with authority and obedience -- as long as the authorities are liberals (“should you obey an environmentalist?”). And that conservatives then became much less willing to go along with “the man in charge.”
    And since Cubans are exactly like American liberals, liberals are authoritarians too. Suck it, libs! Sadly, this is a prime example of the libertarian cognitive process. Corrupt, mean-spirited and dumb.
    Frimer argues that conservatives tend to support authority because they think authority is conservative; liberals tend to oppose it for the same reason.
    And liberals were against invading Iraq because liberals think they should be anti-war, not because of all the death, destruction and lingering hatred. Libertarians do not feel for others. They cannot imagine anyone else is different.
    Liberal or conservative, it seems, we’re all still human under the skin.
    Some of us are.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Pre-Party Activities!

    Look what I got for my birthday!*

    Are Liberals The Real Libertarians? by Megan McArdle, Princess of Academia

    Awesome! McArdle finds out that if she squints her eyes, ignores silly liberal things like facts and reality, and slips into a lovely libertarian fantasyland, she might be able to convince you that black is white, up is down, and she is not an authoritarian because rubber-and-glue, so there!

    More later!

    *(this weekend)