In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« The Frenchwoman Revisited | Main | Tele-Diversity »

February 13, 2008


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Douglas Campbell and Denis Dutton agree to disagree -- but not to stop arguing -- about climate change.

* With the traditional media struggling, has the time come for government subsidies to newspapers?

* Fred Hahn tells Jimmy Moore that people eager to get in shape should skip the aerobics and focus instead on weightlifting-done-slowly.

* Charlie Anders investigates the fate of science fiction at The New Yorker.

* Burlesque queen Jo Weldon interviews corset-designer Garo Sparo.

* Terrierman offers a brief history of dog food.

* The Kirk Center interviews James Kunstler. That article is part of a very enjoyable and interesting magazine issue.

* Roissy wonders why it's the Japanese who are leading the robotics revolution.

* Vince Keenan flips for Christa Faust's dirty-minded new crime novel.

* Kevin Carson offers a funny dissent to the usual libertarian worship of the Green Revolution.

* Graham Harvey wants to see (and eat) more pasture-fed beef.

* Richard S. Wheeler reports that it wasn't the 1960s that introduced sex into popular music.

* Badboy fashion photographer Terry Richardson takes Josie Maran to the farm. (NSFW.)

* Learn about Wilhelm Deffke, one of the fathers of the modern logo.

* Hibernia Girl notices that immigrants drag down wages.

* What a surprise: Color photos of America from the 1930s and '40s. (Link thanks to Greg Ransom.)

* John McWhorter wonders what's meant when one African-American is said to be "blacker" than another.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I liked John McWhorter's lecture series about language for The Teaching Company very much, and blogged about it here.



posted by Michael at February 13, 2008


"...Roissy wonders why it's the Japanese who are leading the robotics revolution..."

Japanese childhood culture has been steeped in robot friendly memes for decades.

Posted by: Don McArthur on February 13, 2008 7:44 PM

I read Kevin Carson's discussion of the Green Revolution. His point - that the Revolution worked with large-scale farming and big landowners, to the detriment of smallholders, is one of those issues that modern socialists and greens (in the other sense) often bring up as a charge against Big Agriculture. I take the point, I suppose: where plantation-style farming has succeeded at the expense of the small farmer - by driving him out of business, by stealing his land, it's hard not to see an injustice.

But both this piece and the one that it links to seem to dodge the issue of the sheer number of peasant smallholders that countries like India had to accommodate, so many (according to my knowledge of this issue, which I admit is limited), that they were having difficulty feeding themselves, never mind the rest of the country.

Here's how it works, I have been told (those who know better are welcome to correct me): as the population in Nation X grows, farmland is subdivided into smaller and smaller plots. Eventually, the plots become so small that their owners can raise enough food only for themselves: they cannot raise any to sell. This means that they become cash-poor; it also means that if they have a bad year, they will be forced to borrow money to buy seed for the next year.

Sooner or later, the plots of land may become so small that their farmers have to borrow money to buy seeds anyway, because they aren't producing enough surplus grain (or whatever it might be) to use for seed. The farm families are up to their eyeballs in debt, they sell out to some bigger landowner (or he forecloses on them, or simply throws them out, depending on how evil he happens to be), and there you have your classic Evil Big Landowner, whom everyone loves to hate.

A painful experience, certainly, for those who endure it, and one that probably ends in destitution in a big city somewhere. But would the problem be resolved if you simply crushed all the wicked (or not so wicked) big landowners, and gave the land back to the smallholders?

I know that Carson is not writing about this aspect of the issue, but about the folly of government subsidies and the evils of agribusiness. He speaks of the productivity of family farmers and says it compares favorably with that of agribusiness. Fair enough. But should he not take this scenario - the one I outlined above - into account? What if there are too many would-be farmers in some regions, and not enough land for them all?

As I said, if I am wrong about this, or misinformed, please tell me. But please don't just talk about how evil big landowners are.

Posted by: alias clio on February 14, 2008 12:19 AM

I tried that slow-lifting technique, giving it a chance for two months, and I didn't notice any significant results. My body looked much better once I did regular workouts, including aerobics.

Posted by: Bilwick on February 14, 2008 3:31 PM

Thanks for the link, Michael.

Aliasclio, I concede that the problem you mention is a real one. But I suspect that most of it is the result of still more kinds of crowding out effects: a financial system that severly restricts the ability of small operators to mobilize credit cooperatively for investment in their own operations; a state-subsidized R&D system geared toward increasing the productivity of large-scale plantation agriculture rather than that of small-scale subsistence operations; and so on. There is no reason in principle that small-scale farming operations could not increase their productivity sufficiently to compensate for population increases and attendant subdivisions. In fact, some modern organic farmers like John Jeavons have developed more intensive forms of small-scale farming that do just this: the techniques developed by Jeavons, Rodale, etc., are to traditional peasant farming as the Ferrari is to the Model-T. The problem is that small-scale subsistence farming tends to be stagnant or frozen in its technical level; and I suspect, again, that this is largely because of crowding out effects or path dependency artificially skewing the direction of technical innovation.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on February 20, 2008 7:04 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?