30 June 2010

A Whale That Ate Whales

I wish I'd been a paleontologist.

What am I saying? Everybody who was once a six-year-old boy wishes they'd been a paleontologist. It's a combination of Indiana Jones and dinosaurs.

And speaking of whales: This post is a fail whale.

Until tomorrow.

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29 June 2010

Thurgood Marshall's Activism

Is it too cynical to suspect that the case that a very few conservatives think typify Thurgood Marshall's activism was Brown?

(The answer they should be pressing is Furman.)

Postscript: Ah, Senator Sessions says exactly that. Well, he was a lawyer.)

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Now that's progressive

It turns out Julia Gillard is the anti-Thatcher: socialist, unmarried, and atheist.

If Australia were a more prominent country, I would predict that the prime minister would soon become exceedingly popular among more educated American feminists. As it is, nobody in the United States has any idea that Canada had a female prime minister.

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A Holy Grail

I dreamed last night that there was a function (the "log-zeta" function) that allowed you to make statistically valid inferences from n < 30. The dream was pretty convincing.

It turns out that there isn't one.

I'm not sure which is more heartbreaking: that the function doesn't exist or that I'm dreaming about quantitative methods.

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28 June 2010

Is Stata past its prime? Do I have to learn SPSS?

Interesting quick overview of the relative popularity of statistical software.

Somewhat more ambiguous data.

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Byrd, dead

Sen. Robert Byrd died this morning.

Liberal sites will be praising Byrd for his long service and his honored place within the Democratic Party. Libertarian blogs will castigate him for his legacy of wasteful pork. Conservative blogs of a more partisan bent will find a way to work in his unsavory youthful associations. Political blogs will speculate on successors.

This blog simply notes that there is something a little unsettling about contemplating elected officials such as Byrd, John Dingell, Thurmond, Inouye, Morgenthau, and others who serve for more than four--or five--decades. At some point, the usual fictions in which we garb power-seekers to make them more legitimate seem a little threadbare. Ceteris paribus, in what sense are re-election campaigns after the third decade of service more competitive than Soviet elections? Consider what it took to unseat Ted Stevens, after all. Thus, in celebrating Byrd's longevity and tenure in office, I am not sure that the superficial commentariat is actually celebrating democracy.

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Simple rules, complex games

Bendor and Hammond rethink Graham Allison:
Several times in Essence of Decision, Allison uses the metaphor of chess when describing how leaders are constrained in their choice of options. This is odd, because chess is the paradigmatic example of a choice situation that involves only a handful of basic rules yet exhibits truly Byzantine strategic complexity. ... As is well known and as Allison himself noted, the number of possible sequences of play (i.e., behavhior) in chess is staggeringly large ... A common estimate is 10^120, a number so large as to be equivalent, for all practical purposes, to infinity. Human beings can never exhaust the richness of chess. This is pure combinatorial explosion: the rules are deterministic. Nor does the complexity depend upon stochastic inputs ... And the 'board' of any moderately large battle is more variegated than the (nontopographical) eight-by-eight chessboard. Therefore, chess, the paradigmatic choice environment of behavioral decision theory, provides a lower bound for the complexity of behavior one would expect to see in a clash between two governments.
This is simultaneously an exercise in brilliant rhetoric (and brings to mind how a fan of Uncle Duke in Doonesbury once congratulated the Hunter Thompson-esque writer for using words like they were blunt instruments) and also a little misleading. I am persuaded that Allison is wrong, but I am not persuaded that this is a good rebuttal to the argument. After all, there are practically infinitely many chess moves, but surely we can foreclose a great many of them after the first move or so (who plays 1. a4 h5, for instance?). More important, Allison and analysts more generally don't have to explain the entire game but merely how to analyze the situation at hand from the perspective of players whose interests are rational. And it is much easier to calculate how to improve one's position with a time horizon of four or five moves than it is to calculate more moves than there are atoms in the universe.

(Creative Commons photo by Ed Yourdon)
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26 June 2010

Rakehells, Methodists, and Historians

From Andrew Gelman:
Rather than comparing social science to physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, a more useful comparison might be to history. Historians know lots, both about specific things like what products were made by people in city X in century Y, or who signed treaty Z, and also about bigger trends in national and world events. But historians haven't given us any useful products. History has value in itself--interesting stories--and helps us understand our world, although not always in a direct way. Once people start trying to organize their historical knowledge, this leads into political science.

Obviously I think this is true now--it is, essentially, one of the thirty-nine articles of faith I accepted when I became a social scientist!--but there was a time when I did not believe this, and I am aware that there are many people who believe that historical knowledge cannot be organized: what was, was, and what will be, will be, but the only connection between them is sequential, not comparative. That is, whatever causal arrows exist are monodirectional and hence noncomparable (except, I suppose, when you discover the Roman planet*). Something similar exists whenever hardcore area specialists from different areas meet: they may recognize similar structures in their regions, but they will either believe that their regions are essentially different or lack the vocabulary to make useful comparisons.

Gelman's conception of history, then, is not one that any historian would recognize, but then I doubt that the conception of "History" that most people carry in their heads is any different from Gelman's. If ordinary people had a historians' understanding of the past, they wouldn't look for "lessons of history"--which may mean that the demotic understanding of history is actually a naive version of social science.

*"Slaves ... and gladiators. What are we seeing? Twentieth-century Rome?" And, amazingly, twentieth-century Rome looks a lot like twentieth-century southern California. ("The word was 'smog'.")

Postscript: On the other hand, when Tom Lehrer pronounces you anathema ...

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Some stereotypes are true

Awwww. A field trip to a government-run physics lab debunked some widdle kids' stereotypes.

Of course, those stereotypes came from somewhere.

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Rakehells and Methodists

Christopher Achen writes:
The notion that the social world wcould be an object of scientific study has a relatively brief history. ... [T]he scientific orientation to the social world remains controversial. Scoffers abound, both outside the ranks and within. Many humanists suspect social science of doing violence to the human spirit--thus Auden's "Thou shalt not ... commit a social science." In less gifted language, natural scientists often take the same position, though for essentially opposite reasons. Invoking mythical histories of Brahe, Kepler, and Newton, they proclaim that social scientists are not scientific enough. The unworthy publicans must not be allowed in the front rows of the scientific temple. So magisterial are these judgments that some of the sinners themselves regularly pronounce mea culpas.

Most social scientists, however, are unrepentant, and understandably so. First of all, being a young flouter of the conventional wisdom has its attractions. The rakehell acquires much of his self-respect from his effect on the local burghers and the elderly ladies at the Methodist church. By the same token, social scientists reason, no academic group that offends both English professors and physicists can be all bad.

Christopher Achen. 1982. Interpreting and Using Regression.

Creative Commons photo via Wallyg.

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24 June 2010

De Gaulle Was Right

Not surprisingly, George Will and I remembered the same Gaullist wisdom: The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

Unlike everyone else, apparently, I am unrelieved by Petraeus' relief of McChrystal and of the president. Petraeus himself is now close to becoming the indispensable man, having now saved two presidencies. The only soldiers who compare in importance both militarily and politically relative to an ongoing war (and now both wars are Petraeus' more than Obama's) are Grant, Pershing, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Westmoreland, and the only soldier who exceeds him is Washington. This is uncomfortable and familiar territory.

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23 June 2010

Comps review

I had been unaware until recently that only four things ever happened in international relations: the Fashoda crisis, the Munich negotiations, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Vietnam War.

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WTF Japan Seriously

I'd like to know if the meta-meme that "the weirdest stuff comes from Japan" is (a) only relatively true compared to U.S. standards or is actually objectively true and (b) whether the Japanese have blogs with weird stuff from the United States.

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Paging Graham Allison and Morton Halperin

Evidence that the president believes in the perfectibility of mankind:
The president, Mr. Gibbs said, will say that “it is time for everyone involved to put away their petty disagreements, put aside egos and get to the job at hand.”
--New York Times

This may be rhetoric, but it may not be. The president, even when he was senator, displayed a tendency to engage in wishful thinking about overcoming politics and healing America. Nice thoughts, but better suited for pastoral work than presidential duty. Perhaps American liberals really do believe that people fight over politics because they're insufficiently enlightened. The thought is so foreign to me that I can't believe that anyone seriously believes this, but the evidence is mounting.

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McChrystal's Facets

A quick note before summer school.

Much of the commentary about McChrystal has stressed that the general didn't actually express any policy disagreements with President Obama or his administration, and that most of the damning comments came not from McChrystal but from his aides. Fred Kaplan expresses what is probably the most sophisticated version of this view and holds that McChrystal's conduct doesn't rise to the level of insubordination. Instead, Kaplan writes, it simply shows that McChrystal has encouraged a wild level of disdain for civilian control.

But the definition of insubordination needn't be some sort of MacArthur-esque point-blank refusal to follow orders. Any student of bureaucratic politics understands that an agent may substantively disobey the principal even while obeying every whittle and jot of his formal orders. And so with McChrystal: what is troubling about the article is precisely the atmosphere of his operation. McChrystal may be smart enough to never give any reporter a soundbite about how stupid he thinks the White House is, but on the other hand he does express nothing less than contempt for Ambassador Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke, the two civilians (although Eikenberry is a former general) nearest to him. And, as I said yesterday, the Alter book shows that Obama had good grounds to doubt McChrystal's loyalty or deference well before Rolling Stone decided to commission a profile of the general. (Interesting that Rolling Stone--fresh off of its profile of Obama and BP and not too long after the "vampire squid" Goldman Sachs article--has come to play such a role in the Zeitgeist.)

In other words, the atmosphere that McChrystal has perpetrated is, in itself, insubordinate, even if no specific act of insubordination has been removed. McChrystal and others of his ilk are political generals in much the same way that Union generals were during the Civil War, owing their prominence and their influence to their savviness and their media-friendliness (although they are also much better trained than the Lew Wallaces of the world). Accordingly, "insubordination" has a different meaning for someone with stars on their shoulders instead of stripes on their sleeves. By refusing to accept that Obama is president and that he is therefore entitled to the respect and deference due any commander in chief, McChrysal has shown that he refuses to be a willing subordinate--and that, not some mystical lack of "trust" or (in the other fashionable phrase) "poor judgment", requires his removal.

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22 June 2010

McChrystal Ball

McChrystal will be gone within two weeks.

One of the few new nuggets of reportage in Jonathan Alter's The Promise
was the story of the confrontation between Obama and the Pentagon, in which McChrystal played a major role. Alter bills the conflict as nothing less than the most important civil-military issue since MacArthur v. Truman, and I think that's about right. Part of the issue was that McChrystal was using the media to undermine Obama and limit his options. Obama handled this well and then (I assume) leaked the story to Alter in order to cement the agreement the White House reached with the DoD. By any stretch, the McChrystal story is a major violation not only of routine protocol between the commander-in-chief and theater commanders but of specific pledges. And that is insubordination, a firing offense.

That is not to say that Obama will not suffer regardless. But in the long term he will have to make the right call.

Postscript: Maybe sooner.
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Tip of the Speer

There is a German architectural firm named Albert Speer and partners.

And, yes, it is named for THE Albert Speer--or, more accurately, it is named after managing partner Albert Speer, Jr., who was named after his father.

Kinda like how Ford Motor Company is also named for an anti-Semite with ties to the Nazi regime, I guess.

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21 June 2010

Star Trek Meets Ke$ha

Thanks to reader JW:

Montages like this always remind me -- of just how bad the third season of the original series was.

Postscript: My god, I'd forgotten Star Trek's musical episode.

Oh my God.

There's more.

D.C. Fontana asked for her name to be taken off the episode. Gene Roddenberry should have asked for Star Trek's name to be taken off instead.

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20 June 2010

The Poor Man's Brands

Long, long ago, The Poor Man had a list of poor man's equivalents, summed up in the formula "X ITPM Y." (ITPM, of course, meant "is the poor man's".)Unfortunately, the original list seems to have disappeared, but you can get the gist by considering the following: "The Go-Bots are the poor man's Transformers."

Let's think of some more, shall we?
  • Michelob ITPM Budweiser.
  • Old Milwaukee ITPM Michelob.
  • Sterling Beer ITPM Old Milwaukee.
  • Reno ITPM Las Vegas.
  • Elizabeth Hasselbeck ITPM Ann Coulter.
  • Tucker Carlson ITPM George Will.
et cetera. But it strikes me that there are examples where this is all too horribly, horribly true---brands that, in childhood, would require other children to regretfully inform you that your parents were either poor or didn't care for you.
  • Huffy ITPM Schwinn.
  • Lee's ITPM Levi's.
  • Packard ITPM Dell.
  • And most of all: Rose Art ITPM Crayola.
(You know you're alternating between too many markup languages when you want to write HTML using LaTeX syntax.) (You know you're a dork if you understand that joke.)
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There are only 19 countries in the G-20

and Jim Vreeland teaches you how to remember them: G7 + EU + BRIC + MAKITSAS.

(The twentieth member is ... the European Union. I think this is unfair, since the Euro-members of the G-7 are thereby getting two bites at the apple. I demand that California and Texas get representation as well, similar to how Ukraine and Belarus had UN seats even when they were Soviet satellites.)

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Auto-Tune the Chart

Curious, I decided to plot the popularity of Gregory Brothers You-Tube videos (specifically, their Auto-Tune the News series) against their release date. (There was a real point to doing this; I wanted to learn how to make charts like this one.)

Doing so ended up taking about an hour, during which I learned:
  • that Excel can automatically calculate the difference between two dates
  • that the Mac version of Excel is really, truly awful, but not much worse than the PC version of Excel. Its guesses about what I wanted to be in the X axis and what I wanted to be in the Y axis were almost terrible, and I only later learned that I needed a "Scatter" plot, a type of chart that, to judge by its near-inaccessibility, Microsoft is ashamed of; and
  • that although OmniGraph Sketcher does only one thing, it does that extremely well. Creating the image below took approximately 2 minutes, which is less time than I spent fruitlessly googling for help on Excel commands.
Here, then, is the chart. There's not enough data available to support any sort of really cool analysis, but the later videos do seem to be on a steeper slope than the earlier ones, except for the mysteriously popular Episode 2. Hopefully, this is consistent with the hypothesis that the band is being rewarded for doing better work.

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Number One for 20 June 2010

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19 June 2010

Number One for 19 June 2010

  • Articles like this make me appreciate the value of traditional media
  • Newest psychobabble trend will turn children into pod people
  • Immortal jellyfish
  • Chait mocks Noonan; inspired this reposting
  • Something's not rotten in the state of Denmark
  • I'm not watching the World Cup: 2002 soccer hatred, 2010 soccer praise:
    The only demographic the game appeals to consists of young, worldly, educated types – the kind who obsess over Belgian beer, listen to indie rock, and want to telegraph the fact that they’ve studied or traveled abroad and are therefore more sophisticated than the rubes who play Madden or obsess over Kobe’s jumper
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18 June 2010

Retail Workers Have Their Revenge

On Ireland's Warren Harding.

His daughter at least writes her own books.

(Full disclosure: I'd still vote for him.)

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World's best Web site

By the power of recursion, better than Google.

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Noonan Parody

(This is a few years old, but the original post was lost in the ether)

I was thinking the other day about this great country of ours, and how great this great country of ours is. As the great countries go, truly, this is greater than most. Or as Ronald Reagan said back when I worked for a living, "This is a great country of ours."

Of course, he may not have said that. But I recall writing that in one of the speeches that I gave to him to read.


The liberal Democrats don't believe this is a great country, of course. They spread sedition and hatred of Christianity.

As an Irish Catholic, as my name suggests, I love the Pope. Even though I'm divorced, I follow his teachings religiously, except for the teachings I don't follow at all. But the point is that I follow several of his teachings, like keeping the Sabbath holy, except when it's inconvenient. This firm grounding in the faith is the structure that supports my incisive analysis of politics, religion, and ideology.


I was riding the subway the other day in New York City, where I live. I love New York, especially when it elects Republican mayors. Good, solid Republicans like Mike Bloomberg, who told me confidentially one day that when he looked into Rudy Giuliani's eyes, he could see into his soul. Or something. But it was American, the way Mayor Mike (as the delightful New York Post calls him) talked about souls right off the bat.

Good Republican, Mayor Mike. Good Republican, good American, good Christian.
Those three things, I think, are connected.


As I was riding the subway, I looked out the window, and I saw the future blurring past me. I was in a giant metaphor heading uptown, America's bumpy journey into the future heading onward regardless. I felt again so proud to be a part of this, our great country, our great, Christian, Republican, American country. I looked around and saw the Puerto Ricans and the blacks, the Asians and the Indians, and the white men in their Brooks Brothers suits who employ the Puerto Ricans and the blacks, the Asians and the Indians.
What a great Christian, Republican, American, Caucasian country we live in!


I was reading the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. It was Friday, and the pink newspaper (what irony that Communism's color has been "bought out" by capitalism's second newspaper!) carried stories about how the Labour Party was split over the war on terrorism. I thought of how President Reagan, smiling, grinning, laughing, would remind us of how Margaret wouldn't like such-and-such, and so we couldn't do this, that, and the other.
I never understood why Nancy would scowl when Ronnie would say those things.


Back at home, the socialist Democrats were pushing their own agenda. Blocking tax cuts for the middle-class, I thought, just what they do best. Why, do they know how difficult it is to scrape by on a few hundred thousand dollars a year? We need to help the poor, yes, we, the great, Christian, Republican, American, Caucasian, wealthy country we know as the United States.
Why people in other countries don’t just kill themselves is a mystery that baffles scientists and conservatives alike.


Even in those countries that are the opposite of the United States (it goes without saying that any country which is not Christian, Republican, American, Caucasian, or wealthy cannot be great), we have a responsibility to help the poor and free them. It is what the French call a “civilizing mission,” when the French speak English, which is a sign of progress.

We cannot rely on our elites, the two-surnamed Yale-schooled suburban-raised privileged scions, to lead us to utopia. Rather, those who will build the future will come from that broad, strange, honest land located across the Hudson, plus Staten Island. And those who will lead them there will come from the opinion pages of a dozen magazines, where their intelligence and fierce debating skills are honed in all-night blogging sessions and comparisons of various Democrats and other sinners to characters in Star Wars. Of such rituals are real men forged, in contrast to the limp-wristed sissies who populate the staff of the Yale Daily News.
God bless America. Let's roll.

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Number One for 18 June 2010

Going back in time always disappoints:
The Gregory Brothers have released Auto-Tune the News 12:
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17 June 2010

Baseball Magic and Sabermetrics: A Research Agenda

 George Gmelch's article "Baseball Magic" is justly renowned. You may have heard about its central conclusion, which is that baseball superstitions vary rationally with the positions players are in: pitchers are always superstitious, but fielders are only superstitious when they are hitting, since fielding success depends more on skill than does success in either hitting or fielding.

Yet for all the stark beauty of Gmelch's theory it remains tested only by qualitative evidence. Accordingly, quantitative social scientists should unite with sabermetricians to devise new ways of measuring both the essential validity of Gmelch's theory and also the analytical foundations. In particular, science must know: Do fielders actually behave normally when they're fielding and like Pacific Island fishermen when they're at bat? Does superstition vary with team effects or park effects? And, most crucially: which fetish is the most successful?

The last question may not be valid social science, but it might be valuable to MLB players--especially if provided them by consultants armed with graphs and impenetrable white papers. Social scientists are well placed to provide this service.

(Creative Commons image by DeusXFlorida.)

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Measurements in everything, alfalfa edition

Michael Tomz, Finance and Trade: Issue Linkage and the Enforcement of International Debt Contracts, 2004:
I then measured the role each province played in the beef trade. My first measure was the
province’s share of the national stock of cattle, on the assumption that provinces with more cattle would participate more actively in exports. The second measure focused on chilled beef, 99 percent of which was sold to Britain. Argentines typically converted their best cattle into chilled beef while reserving the lower grades for frozen and canned meat. Before sending these “chillers” to the slaughterhouse, ranchers fattened the top-grade calves on special alfalfa pastures in east-central Argentina. The fatteners, who controlled the dry, flat terrain where alfalfa flourished, belonged to the upper class and enjoyed more economic and political influence than mere breeders.36 Given their specialization in the chilled beef trade, these fatteners probably would have suffered the most if Britain closed its market to Argentine beef. To identify the location of fatteners, I measured the acreage of alfalfa pastureland in each province as a percentage of the national total. The linkage hypothesis implies that provinces with more cattle or alfalfa should have complied at a higher rate, on average.

(Image of alfalfa sprouts via Creative Commons from Erin Collins.)
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Number One for 17 June 2010

As we, transfixed, made history:Nixon in China, "News has a kind of mystery"
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What Makes Young Adults Seem Old To Undergrads

It was revealing, when I showed this to a group of undergrads, to realize that many of them neither knew who Mikhail Gorbachev was nor what "The Edge" pizza was.

Probably none of them ever ate a stuffed crust pizza or did BookIt! either.

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16 June 2010

In Praise of the Literary Hit Piece

I am no fan of nineteenth-century novels. I dislike nineteenth-century prose styles; I dislike moralizing; I dislike pastorals and novels of manners. Accordingly, I'd never read anything by George Eliot until this afternoon.

I came to Eliot not because of some latent yearning for proto-feminist writing but because I needed to know whether "B.C." should be small-capped. (Yes.) In what is surely an example of wood in popular culture, the Wikipedia article linked to "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists", an Eliot essay condemning, well, silly novels by lady novelists.

It is one of the finest essays I have ever read--vituperative and tempered, cutting and measured. I'm not much for literary criticism, and haven't been since a terrible high school English course which left me feeling much abused by littery men. (Is it telling that I have read more biographies of Philip K. Dick than novels by Jane Austen?) One of the things that the aging hippie who taught the course failed to impart to us was that literature could be mean, angry, and rebellious without sacrificing artistic integrity; it may have been the only such lit course taught by a self-proclaimed liberal that didn't even have us read "Invisible Man" or "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Instead, we got Barbara Kingsolver. Twice. So I turned instead to history, economics, and Vonnegut, Thompson, and PKD, and I haven't really looked back since.

I can't shake the feeling, though, that if I'd instead read Eliot's jeremiad that I might have ended up reading more quality writing, and possibly even coming to a point where I could read, say, the short stories in the New Yorker without wincing. Consider that Eliot invented the critique of the Mary Sue character almost 150 years before the invention of fanfic:
The heroine is usually an heiress, probably a peeress in her own right, with perhaps a vicious baronet, an amiable duke, and an irresistible younger son of a marquis as lovers .... Her eyes and her wit are both dazzling; her nose and her morals are alike free from any tendency to irregularity; she has a superb contralto and a superb intellect; she is perfectly well-dressed and perfectly religious; she dances like a sylph, and reads the Bible in the original tongues. ... Rakish men either bite their lips in impotent confusion at her repartees, or are touched to penitence by her reproofs, which, on appropriate occasions, rise to a lofty strain of rhetoric; indeed, there is a general propensity in her to make speeches, and to rhapsodize at some length when she retires to her bedroom. ... [H]er superior instincts are a sort of dial by which men have only to set their clocks and watches, and all will go well.
This lover, we read, though "wonderfully similar" to her "in powers and capacity," was "infinitely superior to her in faith and development," and she saw in him the "'Agape'–so rare to find –of which she had read and admired the meaning in her Greek Testament; having, from her great facility in learning languages, read the Scriptures in their original tongues." Of course! Greek and Hebrew are mere play to a heroine; Sanscrit is no more than abc to her; and she can talk with perfect correctness in any language except English. She is a polking polyglott, a Creuzer in crinoline. Poor men! There are so few of you who know even Hebrew; you think it something to boast of if, like Bolingbroke, you only "understand that sort of learning, and what is writ about it;" and you are perhaps adoring women who can think slightingly of you in all the Semitic languages successively.
The "lady novelists" that Eliot condemns are pointedly not women novelists; we know, as Eliot's readers did not, that Eliot has a vested interest in assuming that women are essentially able to be authors. No, the lady novelists are vain, high-born if not high-bred, and so innocent of the world that they believe themselves sophisticated. Their works are to writing what the emissions of Thomas Kinkade are to painting. Their narrators and their characters alike speak only in elegant variations; their affairs (both romantic and mundane) are trivial and unreal; and their only saving grace is that one of their literary descendants was Madeleine Bassett, who by her presence made Bertie Wooster seem profound.

It is fitting that Eliot's fisking of the genus of the lady novelist is matched by one of my other favorite essays, one I have enjoyed since long before my disenchantment with literature: Mark Twain's "Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper". Cooper, of course, was the progenitor of the line that has come into the possession of Dan Brown and the like: the ubermensch novel (although it is surely telling that the backwoodsmen of the Jacksonian period have become the symbologists of the Information Age). Twain was a Westerner, if not quite as savage as his stage and authorial personae implied, and like a good frontiersman he knew how to fight. There is none of the subtlety or the Ruskinesque filigrees of Eliot's critique in his leveling of Cooper. But from his opening ("in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.") to his conclusion ("in truth, it seems to me that "Deerslayer" is just simply a literary delirium tremens.") there is no respite.

It strikes me that these are the sorts of writings that ought to be assigned in school next to their targets. Students, or at least a great many of them, will hate what they are assigned anyway; that natural antipathy should be turned toward a productive end.

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