Assorted links

by on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Western Oklahoma markets in everything; “In other classes, students who don’t pass an exam the first time are allowed to try again. And none of the exams in the two-week format are monitored.”

2. The book marketing campaign of Tim Ferriss.

3. Twitter as weapon.

4. More on the Medicaid wars, a high stakes game of chicken.

5. The culture that is living in guilt in Paraguay.

6. The Manzi list.

1 londenio November 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I still surprised that people are willing to pay for having Tim Ferris give a 60-minute keynote. And pay so much, that Tim Ferris values the 4000-book deal at $200k. But maybe that says more about me than about Mr. Ferris.

2 londenio November 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I meant FerrisS. Sorry.

3 Jared November 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I like the idea of a Manzi list. I think having more thoughtful media personalities is helpful, but very limited. We need a behind the scenes Manzi list, a list of backers and organizers willing to make the useful extant ideas coming from thoughtful conservatives operational. Down with Rove, up with…. maybe Peter Thiel. I don’t know, I’m not an inside baseball kind of guy.

4 dcdrone November 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

#5 is the perfect epitome of why living in DC is so annoying. Half the chicks seem to be “international development” tards like her.

5 kebko November 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I bet she thinks it would be awful if that little girl had the chance to go work in a sweatshop. Better for her to graciously accept the occasional pizza while the author agonizes about “unmotivating the beneficiaries”.

6 maguro November 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Give her a break, it ain’t easy living in a vat of perpetual boiling hot guilt.

Seriously, I’m sure the locals find her both useless and incredibly annoying.

7 Roy November 17, 2012 at 12:12 am

I have known several people with actual technical skills who served in the peace corps, but almost everyone else is as useless sounding as this girl. Back in the 19th and early part of the 20th century guilty people from privieged backgrounds would go off and study agronomy or civil engineering so they could actually do some good. we used to valorize these people. Since the 1960s it seems like everyone is like this young lady and thinks they can use an Urban Studies degree to help people im a Third World country.

If her guilt was honest and well thought out she would have studied hydrology. At least she is self aware enough to refer to her moral masturbation, sadly she uses this awareness to engage in even more of it.

8 Saturos November 17, 2012 at 5:37 am

Yes, she never actually does mention what she’s been doing there all this time…

9 So Much for Subtlety November 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm

It wasn’t until a random Facebook chat that I found a sort of hope in these tiring, often repetitive conversations. I went to elementary school with Adam, wasn´t friends with him, and hadn’t talked to him in at least five years. Now he chatted me to say that what I am doing is “an inspiration” to him.

It wasn’t his compliments that encouraged me nor was it his reminder of opportunity cost of doing the Peace Corps. It was just the simple fact that someone I barely know said that my actions give him inspiration to give up money to do something he loves. That he wanted to have coffee to hear about what I’ve learned in my experience.

So that is what you have to do to sleep with the snobbish chick who would never speak to you in Grade School these days? Interesting. Well good luck Adam. I am not sure it will be worth it in the long run, but I admire your shameless pandering to her prejudices in an effort to get her into bed.

10 dcdrone November 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I doubt that that beta approach worked, but better for Adam than just playing video games!

11 So Much For Subtlety November 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Naah, unless he really screwed up the coffee, he must have hit that. She is so perfectly clueless. And self absorbed. I love the fact that she is so moved by Peter Singer’s call to give up non-essentials to save the poor of the Third World (although I note in passing the good Doctor conspicuously does not do so himself) she volunteers for a little light misery tourism in the Third World – but she goes to see Lady Gaga anyway.

It is a pity that her education was so woefully lacking that no one prepared her for being taken advantage of by men. And I don’t mean Adam.

12 Claudia November 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm

‘fascinating’ commentary here…I have no desire to discredit or even engage your hypotheses but why did her developed world guilt complex get so little attention? It’s pure luck that you’re waxing poetic about gaming her and not feeding your starving kids. I’m not saying her approach is without flaws, but making fun of someone who sees the suffering of others (and knows it could have been her) is even harder to applaud. Sure you’re just trolling, but still.

13 dcdrone November 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm

compassion is beta. girls prefer aloof cads in spite of what they say.

14 So Much for Subtlety November 17, 2012 at 4:10 am

Her Developed World Guilt Complex is getting attention. You don’t see that her narcissism is so over-whelming that she does not notice the dork hitting on her? I am not talking about gaming her at all. I am talking about how clueless she is.

What makes you think that she is the only person who sees the suffering of others? The difference is that most of us support policies that actually work. She does not. We do not put ourselves in the middle of their lives – unlike her. She seems fine with using the poor as a supporting cast for her personal drama. While being utterly unaware of what she is doing.

And what Cruiser said.

15 Claudia November 17, 2012 at 5:57 am

Griping at her self-centered-ness is a cheap shot…it applies to us all. She hints at some self awareness, more than is common here. I disagree with her emphasis on guilt but I take even more issue with Cruiser. Paternalism stinks but sometimes we all find ourselves in a position when we could use a helping hand. FDI tends to flow into areas with decent physical infrastructure, basic education, and political stability…achieving these conditions may take some outside help. I am not saying there’s no harm done from development work but let’s keep the counterfactual in mind.

16 maguro November 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

There’s nothing cheap about pointing out her self-centeredness, it’s what the article is really about. It’s not about Paraguay or poor people at all, the whole thing was about her feelings, her finely tuned moral conscience, her trip to the Lady Gaga show and some dude who claims to admire her. Everything was about her.

As for offering a helping hand, you would have to be optimistic bordering on delusional to believe that this silly, self-centered girl with her Urban Studies degree and do-gooder aspirations did anything of practical value while in Paraguay. Most likely, she was nothing but a needy pain in the ass to the local community and any of her fellow Peace Corps volunteers who were actually trying to accomplish something.

17 So Much for Subtlety November 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Claudia, I don’t think it applies to all of us. At least not to this degree. Not all of us volunteer for the Peace Corp and spend our time enjoying their misery close up. She hints at it? Where?

What makes you think she is providing a helping hand? She is an Urban Studies major! Useless in the US much less in the Third World. If outside help is needed let’s try the old fashioned way with colonial rule. At least they sent out people who actually did some good. Built railways. Cured diseases. What on Earth makes you think this vacuous air head will do any good at all? Certainly she is not providing one tiny little bit of useful infrastructure.

All she is doing is feeding her vanity and narcissism at their expense.

18 Claudia November 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

My life is primarily about me. Your life is primarily about you. And surprise, surprise her life is primarily about her. Now she talks a lot about her emotions which may sounds more egocentric than a factual account of life there, but those factual rational types are just as ‘bad.’ She’s at least trying to expand her world and lend a hand. I take issue with her work being motivated by guilt, but at least she’s not apathetic. The idea that someone with urban studies degree is useless is just plain silly, but I’ll let that go for now.

19 So Much For Subtlety November 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Claudia, I am sorry to hear your life is mainly about you. Most of us have friends and family. The author, though, is a step beyond anyone else in that she really seems to think the rest of the human race exist only to serve her dramatic narrative. As I said, few of us are quite that self absorbed. It is not that she talks about her feelings. It is that she seems oblivious to anyone else’s except in so far as they fuel her drama.

No, self absorbed narcissists are much worse than dispassionate rational people. Factual rational types cure cancer. Narcissists fake hate crimes.

She is not trying to expand her world. She is engaging in misery tourism. She is manufacturing a dramatic narrative where she is such a good person because she slummed it – Lady Gaga and all – among the brown skinned of us for a little while. A very little while by the sounds of it.

I am sorry to hear you think an Urban Studies degree is useful. However it is obvious that some people with urban studies degrees are useless. As are some people with, say, medical degrees. However I question the usefulness of said degree in rural Uruguay. Even if she was not a completely self absorbed fatuous narcissist.

20 Claudia November 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

No sorries. I agree her article lacks perspective at times but I maintain that is a common ailment, particularly in areas we care deeply about. Sometimes our flaws and our egos are what allow us to do good things.

21 Brian Donohue November 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I’m surprised at the vehemence of the reaction to #5. Even if the PC effort is ultimately kinda futile, which she herself hints at, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for any of us to be reminded of the heartbreaking conditions so many of our fellow humans must endure, and how fortunate we in the developed world are.

22 Cruiser November 17, 2012 at 12:25 am

As those of us raised in the Third World will tell you, these clueless misery tourists are worse then futile. They encourage policies that perpetuate the poverty of the underdeveloped world and bring disdain upon more helpful, though low status, “mere” businessmen who invest to profit and thereby make real investments in the poor countries. Give me a greedy bastard over such self-important chix. Often they also work to “preserve” the environment so that the countryside can remain beautifully poor while tamping down ugly industrial growth that we really need. I don’t see any of them cheering on the investments in China that led to rising incomes, but ugly smog, and dirty factories.

23 dcdrone November 17, 2012 at 12:29 am


24 MD November 17, 2012 at 6:09 am

Personally, I couldn’t give a goddamn about you or whatever 3rd world shithole you’re from. I love the cheap crap you guys make, though. Does my disinterest make up for all those terrible things that the woman in #5 has done to you?

25 kebko November 17, 2012 at 12:29 am

It’s a shame that she couldn’t have the experience while treating the locals as equals. Many of the emotional reactions she is having are the reactions of someone in a parent-child paradigm, where you’re assuming some agency for someone and balancing their immediate wants with issues of behavior modification and behavior modelling. It’s hard to avoid that when your going with altruistic aims.

We can go to Tokyo and make it all about Tokyo changing us, but if we go to Paraguay, we have to try to change Paraguay. It’s understandable, but unfortunate in a way.

There is a great Dave Eggers short story called “Where We Were” where the narrator feels uncomfortable receiving a windfall so he goes to Africa to give it away, and finds the act of giving to be complicated and difficult. The narrator doesn’t seem to extend his discomfort with receiving a windfall to his expectations of his targeted beneficiaries. I wonder if the author omitted that on purpose. Altruism is something we innately understand as high status behavior. It’s a status race in a fixed pie game – there must be a recipient, and they are losing some agency in the process. These status games are so pre-wired in us, I suspect that much of the time we don’t notice when we are playing them for our own benefit.

26 Saturos November 17, 2012 at 5:35 am

“It’s a status race in a fixed pie game – there must be a recipient, and they are losing some agency in the process.”

I doubt that is necessarily so.

Yet I sort of agree. Take Katcoff. She is so anxious about giving “sustainably”. That is, a dollar is a dollar and a life is a life – but she is terrified of “unmotivating” her dependents, that they should make their own free choice to substitute within their new expected budget constraints. She requires herself to give not merely to transfer utility, but to “improve the situation”, which means she will give only to those who exhibit the desired behaviors, to those who remake themselves into “solved problems”. I don’t think there’s much sense in professing to serve the utility of others if one is determined to direct or override their choices. She exhorts her inspirees to join her cause of sustainable giving, as though mere giving were no good.

More concretely, there was no need to have that whole drama about the girl Maria. Feed her or don’t. “Oh nooo, this won’t be sustainable…” People are resonsible for their own incentives. Use your gifts wisely… or not.

27 Tarrou November 17, 2012 at 2:07 am

Seriously? Have you lived in the Third World? Yeah, I’m fortunate to be back in the states, genetic lottery and all. Whinging guilt is for the sort of hypocrites who feel the need to “make a difference*” (*not actually a difference) so they can attempt to lord their moral groveling over less insecure humans like a totem of achievement. For more in-depth evisceration, see Camus’ “The Fall”. It’s all about claiming guilt in order to set oneself up as a judge. And it’s revolting, insipid and harmful to both the society that produces these effete clowns and the poor bastards they are foisted on.

28 Brian Donohue November 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

A lotta fair points made about do-gooder vs. good-doer. I’m distinguishing this from the simple, salutary reminder of what’s happening ‘out there’. So many people in the rich world never give a moment’s thought to this.

29 Tarrou November 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

I agree, and their blithe ignorance is less harmful to their society and others than the willful idiocy of the international poverty tourists. All hail apathy, the lesser of two evils.

30 Brian Donohue November 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

As this thread progresses, it occurs to me that I’m not thinking about the still vast number of poor people on the planet at all in the end.

As I said in my first comment, the PCV herself describes how having money and resources and intelligence and the best of intentions can’t really move the needle in the development game. Time, perhaps, is the only real answer. Look how much progress has been made in the past 50 years.

But MY conscience twinges. What am I gonna do about it? Nothing. I mean, what can I do?

But if I keep this fact in mind, it colors my own life- how I think about myself, and others around me here in the good ole USA. I think it’s a healthy perspective, and it would be good for Americans to reflect on this fact more often than they do.

Now, unless the unleashing of do-gooders is positively detrimental, rather than simply ineffective, as some suggest but I don’t accept, I overall approve of the link and recommend it to my fellow Americans.

31 Saturos November 17, 2012 at 4:50 am

“And I don’t really believe the people who say that helping others is not morally obligatory, just a praiseworthy act. Because in that case, allowing that person to drown in the lake would be the norm.”

And that was where I began to disagree with this admirable woman. Because that just doesn’t follow. How many drowning children would people save if their morning commute went through an avenue packed with hundreds of them?

Don’t answer that, I’ve seen the answer for myself.

32 Saturos November 17, 2012 at 5:36 am

“She doesn’t get enough to eat, can’t read and lives in a wooden shack with no water. It´s not about how hard she tries.”

No, it’s about whether we benevolent first-worlders will ever deign to open our borders so that families like Maria’s can come here and work within a functional polity.

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