Pity to folks on the bunny slopes of writing

Megan McArdle says that she tries not to write bad reviews to avoid the lack of substance of ‘snotty putdowns’, by making…a snotty putdown (HT: Instapundit):

But if you’re basically pretty good at snotty putdowns — and most bloggers have at least an apprentice-level facility with this art — it’s almost too much fun. It’s too easy. It’s the writing equivalent of skiing the bunny slope.

I’m not a fan of McArdle’s writing. Credit to her for building an audience that can pay her bills (partly off her snark), but I’m not one of them. I tried. But, I find her to be a bit too full of herself.

I sometimes think she makes good points and helps advance discussions. But, more often I’m turned off by her snotty and elite attitude.

When I saw the link to this article on Instapundit, I thought perhaps she decided to turn over a new leaf. Like maybe the reason why she decided to try not to be snarky was that she realized that she could be wrong.  That while she didn’t find much use in something that she reviewed, her opinion may be proven wrong.

But, no such luck. Now, it appears, that she now believes she has graduated from “bunny slope” of writing. Good for her.

There are parts where I agree with her. Like here:

…it seems to me perfectly adequate to say “This person is wrong, and here’s why.”

Though, I’d edit that to say “I think this person is wrong, and here’s why”, because it’s good to leave open the possibility that I’m wrong and that I don’t nearly have as much figured out as I think I might.

This can allow you to get past the window dressing of who is more clever in their comebacks and get to the heart of the disagreement.

But, I think I would be misdirected to say any snark is bad. Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit, for example, is snarky, too. But, his snark is different. It’s not about, as McArdle writes, “Look at me! I am so smart and funny! Not like this stupid person I am making fun of! You should think less of them and more of me!”.

He doesn’t use snark to elevate himself above others, as one example illustrates. When linking to articles of the IRS audit scandal, Reynold’s likes to remind his readers that Obama joked about auditing his enemies in 2009.



Good assignment

Here’s a nice assignment (via Instapundit):

If you want to introduce someone to libertarian thinking, encourage them to try this experiment. Spend a few days reading nothing but technology news. Then spend a few days reading nothing but political news. For the first few days they’ll see an exciting world of innovation and creativity where everything is getting better all the time. In the second period they’ll see a miserable world of cynicism and treachery where everything is falling apart. Then ask them to explain the difference.

– Andrew Zalotocky

If you accept this challenge, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Precious Childhood Syndrome

Our society places a great deal of priority on preserving precious childhoods as long as possible. I wrote about some of its effects in Too much education? and Your Mom was right: It pays to practice.

Others have written about it, too. Like, Is 25 the new 15? (HT: Instapundit). I believe so. Which means 15 is the new 5, or maybe 8. When my nephew turned 13, I told him that he was just two years younger than his grandpa was when he decided to move 8 hours away from home to a bigger city to get a job and be on his own for the rest of his life. This was a bit of a shock.  It would have been to me at 13, as well. Or 15 and 18.

Instapundit, himself thought so back in 2002.

We do judge books by their covers

Text and link copied from Instapundit:

Poll: Majority Back Republican Ideas Until They Hear that the Ideas Came From Republicans

When I clicked through the story, I was disappointed to find that it was narrowly limited to the budget plans, because I experience this often with many topics.

If you just talk issues, I find that quite a few people side more with the conservative/right-side. But, when you put names — be they parties or candidates — to the positions, things change.

On a couple of rare occasions I’ve had issue discussions with folks who I was sure going to tell me they were Democrat, but when party came up they were strong conservative.

It’s unfortunate, but brands work. Wrappers matter. I do recall, it was a tough transition for me as well. It’s been even tougher to throw my vote away.

Competition in education

Here’s a great article about emerging acceptance and experimentation with charter schools, in the Wall Street Journal (found by way of Instapundit). Check out this paragraph from the article:

Mr. Finegold, the bill’s sponsor and the son of public-school teachers, said his motivation sprung from conversations with parents in Lawrence, part of his district northwest of Boston, where the struggling school district was taken over by the state in 2011. The state has since brought in charter operators to run two low-performing schools, and parents told him, “we’d be out of here” had that not happened, Mr. Finegold said. “One thing I don’t think people realize—charter schools are keeping a lot of the middle class in cities,” he said.

Someone finally responded to the exit feedback response.

While I’m sure this thought isn’t original to me, it occurred to me while reading the article how odd it is that strong supporters of the government education monopoly are often also critics of business monopolies.

I suppose they believe that more evil things may happen under a for-profit monopoly, like rising prices, corruption and fat cats getting richer.

Apparently, they haven’t kept up with how the price to educate a child in public schools has grown faster than inflation for decades, or how much money superintendents make and what type of corruption persists at failing school districts that keep getting their funding.

I’m guessing that’s exactly the behavior they would expect from business monopolies. To fix this in business, they want competition. To fix it in education, they usually want to keep out competition and just bring in a different fat cat.