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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freakonomics Radio January 19

So, you might remember I used to listen to a podcast called Econtalk.  I didn't stop listening because I didn't enjoy it, I changed computers and my iTunes subscriptions were lost.  However, I also found that I got very behind in the podcasts.  This was in large part because they were incredibly dense discussions that required a large amount of attention.  AND.  Because I object so heavily to so many of the things its host and guests would say, that each riposte would take two hours to write--without time to edit.  Many of these opinions had nothing to do with facts and figures, but were opinions neatly dovetailed into intellectual discussions to prove their point.  I spent a lot of time debunking those claims.

I started listening to Freakonomics radio in large part because the New York Times started to carry it.  I'd been hoping for an economics podcast that was a little more mainstream and less steeped in Hayekian economics.  I was also lead to believe by the Freakonomics books ad campaign that there was something oddball about the project.  That the topics they discussed were off the wall, or not discussed often.  I was wrong on both counts.  I listen with mild distaste.  Recently they started airing this introduction where the hosts banter about whether or not they should have to say thank you to their listeners on public radio.  Not only is it insulting, its nonsensical.  The idea of course is that they're offering their wit and wisdom for free, and that we should be thanking them.  This of course disregards the very obvious gains they make in repute, free advertisement, book sales, and lets face it, the opportunity to opine to millions of listeners.  I'd love that opportunity, and you can be damn well sure that I'd be thanking the hell out of my listeners.

Ok, so they did a FAQ broadcast in late January.  And one of the questions was "Are voters deceiving themselves that their vote counts?"  To which the hosts emphatically replied with no citation that yes, we the voters deceive ourselves everytime we go to the polls.  And that even close elections are usually decided in court.  Not only is this malarky, its irresponsible.  I download these things from the net, but the NYTimes ought to reprimand them for even saying this on air.

I've vamped on this often, so I'll condense this into a set of points.
1)  Close elections are decided in the courts.  Sometimes, and the courts authorize recounts.  Of votes.
2)  If your investment strategy was that single dollar bills didn't matter, you'd be lined up and shot.
3)  Votes matter in bulk.  1+1+1....= 280 million.  Based on this asshat's advice, no one would vote.
4)  What does it mean, does your vote matter?  The whole principal is about equality, if it were your vote that was the tie breaker, then your vote would have a hell of a lot more power than someone else's.  How is that fair?  How is that equal?
5)  I think people who talk this way don't belong in a democracy.  They seem to feel that their entitled to rule by fiat, and if they can't have their way, the hell with everyone else.
6)  It's selfish, childish, and educated adults shouldn't be speaking this way in public.
7)  So there.

They also gave some dating advice in this FAQ,  Levitt said, get successful first because its much easier to get dates when you are.  While this, I think is somewhat true, based on my experience as a NYC bartender, I think a far more obvious, and far more successful tactic is simply to lower your standards.  This doesn't mean that your standards always have to remain low, in fact, standards change based on experience.  You should start your teenager on shitty wine, so that he learns upward.  This, across the boards, would work with my single friends.  Every single one of them refuses to yield the supposed moral highground that their potential mates must be good looking, fit, young, and smart.  If you're getting at least one of those four, you're on the green.  Many companies hire starting positions, but for all the industries I've worked in--you needed the resume just to get in the door.  So if you're not getting dates, it probably means your resume is pretty skimpy too (not jobs--partners) so get out.  So says the Ravingleftatic.

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