Breadbags

Guest blogger, Charlotte Allen, of the LA Times, berates people for mocking Republican Joni Ernst’s irrelevant, stupid, and obviously-fake anecdote:

You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.

But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.

People are not mocking her because they’re rich coastal snobs1 and she’s some rural salt-of-the earth. They’re mocking her because everyone who used bread bags on cold, wet days back in the 70’s and 80’s knows you put them on the inside of your shoes to protect your socks, not the outside to where they would cause you to slip on snow and wouldn’t last ten yards on asphalt.

Also people of that generation know only a few would be so rich (and stupid) enough to wear nice shoes on a school day.2 This was back when shoes and clothing were expensive, and Gore-tex was still patented and only in expensive ski jackets.3

Finally, this trick is also not related to the income or urban/rural divide, since I grew up in the richest (by far) suburb in a large midwestern city, and we kept old bread bags for this very reason.

The fact that these two sentences are littered with at least three major errors shows that Joni Ernst never actually never did the bread bag trick. The fact that this right wing nut job disguised as a “guest blogger” in the LA Times is defending such obvious stupidity shows that neither did she.

In the case of Charlotte Allen, by being born in the 40’s she is too old to know about bread bags in shoes.4 In the case of Joni Ernst? Either she was too rich then;5 or she is too stupid to have corrected her too-young speechwriter.6


  1. OTOH, the blogger, Charlotte Allen, brags about how she writes for periodicals based in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC and went to school in Stanford , Harvard, and USC. Speaking of rich, costal snobs? The hypocrisy… IT BURNS! 
  2. Exception: When I went to private school, we were required to wear leather shoes in school. In that case, people often wore docksiders or penny loafers which some others would call “nice shoes.” If you were worried that they’d fall victim to salt and water before you outgrew them (unlikely as you were going through puberty and wore these shoes all day every weekday), you would buy a pair of galoshes to cover them up or wear boots and switch them before class started. 
  3. Now tell me you wore 80’s ski jackets taped to the outside of your shoes and then we’re getting somewhere! 
  4. Plastic bread bags were popularized in the 70’s 
  5. We can eliminate her coming from a warm weather state since she grew up in Iowa. 
  6. Clothing got cheaper, better, and (in cold weather areas) lined in Gore-tex. 

A Scientific Lesson for the Geographical Journalism Party

Scientific thinking requires that the more outlandish the claim, the more compelling the evidence must be. It is this thinking that rejects the libertarian’s love children: Freakonomics, The Bell Curve, or nearly any book by Malcolm Gladwell.

During lunch, I exhausted my daily newsfeed and started to troll the top hits on digg when I ran across [this linked article in which a journalist and amateur geographer explains the Tea Party movement][geography tea party].

Here is the central claim that forms the basis for the author’s entire argument:

> We’ve never been a nation-state in the European sense; we’re a federation of nations, more akin to the European Union than the Republic of France, and this confounds both collective efforts to find common ground and radical campaigns to force one component nation’s values on the others.

[geography tea party]: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/novemberdecember_2011/features/a_geography_lesson_for_the_tea032846.php “A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party—Washington Monthly”

What a load of crap!Continue reading about regionalism after the jump

Credit Reporting

Just spent an hour trying to get [a fraudulent site (creditreport.com, freecreditreport.com, consumerinfo.com, and thousands of others)](http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Credit-Reporting-Agencies/FreeCreditReportcom-in-Irvine-CA-13062929 “BBB rating of FreeCreditReport.com”) to stop charging my credit card. They have been billing me since September of last year and despite disputing the charges before, they keep doing a recurring charge. They wanted the following in order for me to “cancel” my account:

– my name
– the credit card number charged
– my birth date
– the last four digits of my social security number
– e-mail address
– my full name
– my mother’s maiden name

Notice how all of this information is just what they need to do a complete identity theft?Continue reading about dealing with credit reports after the jump.

Voting yourself to oblivion

“My mom said she voted for anything that is going to lower her taxes.”

Great so your mom voted for Prop 19 which failed. But the other stuff? You realize that your dad is the only breadwinner in the family and he’s a government employee. When California is forced to submit a budget, and all alternate taxation and alternate funding resources have been closed, the first thing they’re going to do is lay off your dad (again).

It’s sad, but it’s the cold hard reality of those votes. I’m sure they’re going to enjoy the no new taxes when they’ve got no income to go along with it.

Yet another year where I voted with the losers on all but a couple propositions. Ironically, I’m one of the lucky few who doesn’t get touched by this voting stupdity. Heck, I never even had a joint.

Enjoy the consequences of your actions.

Editorial wall my ass

The person next to me on the airplane was reading the Wall Street Journal. I glanced over and it took me about 15 seconds to realize that it was the editorial page. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has definitely got to be the largest: “I’m an ignorat douche” tags I’ve ever seen a person display.

A lot of people rationalize reading the Journal because of the claim of an chinese wall that separates their editorial board from the news board. The claim is their editorial board is right wing whackos (and that content is given for free online); their journalsm is impartial enough to make business decisions (and that content is behind a pay wall online).

Bullshit.

Take this recent example: McDonald’s May Drop Health Plan.

And then read the takedown by a conservative or the this New York Times article. There is really no excuse for sloppiness in this reporting other than a political agenda—after all the rationalization McDonald’s is giving for dropping the plan in the article is that they’re keeping too much money for themselves!

This is common sense: Murdoch bought the paper and changed its direction radically. If you are reading the Journal now to make business decisions, you are making really poor ones.

Are democrats more educated?

Balloon Juice links to a Brookings study that measures educational attainment by metropolitan area and notes that 24 out of 25 areas are in states that went for Obama in 2008.

This made me immediately wonder which the outlier was. A quick scan said that the post is incorrect and that there are two outliers according to that metric. The first is Austin-Round Rock at #14 and the second is Tucson, AZ at #25. Doug was probably referring to Austin. But why talk about states, when we have the county breakdown? The county Austin resides in (Travis, TX) actually went for Obama by almost 2 to 1 (64-35%)—seems a shame to pick on Austin simply because it happens to be in a red state.

PResidental breakdown of Travis County

Continue reading about education and voting patterns after the jump.

No man is an island

…except “Coach

Craig T. Nelson explains the Killer Ape hypothesis. The part anthropologists missed is that, while nobody helped our Third Chimpanzee forbears, they did have access to welfare and food stamps.

(Here is the full segment just in case you think I’m taking this out of context.)