October 23, 2003

Department of "Huh?"

Glenn Reynolds writes at the top of his column:

TCS: Tech Central Station - Convoy!: Citizens' Band radio became popular because of widespread resistance to another example of regulatory overreach: the unpopular 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war"...

But by the bottom of the very same column, he is saying:

CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits...

Pul-leeze. If they were passed in 1974, they weren't Jimmy Carter's. If they were Jimmy Carter's idea, they couldn't have been passed in 1974, could they?

Alan Turing proposed a test for intelligence: can whatever is claimed to be "intelligent" conduct a convincing conversation? Let's not flunk the Turing Test here: let's remember in the last paragraph what we wrote five paragraphs above.

Posted by DeLong at October 23, 2003 07:52 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Picking on other bloggers when there is a Rumsfeld on the loose? Raise your sights, perfesser! I know you have it in you.

Posted by: K Harris on October 23, 2003 07:59 AM

I think Atrios points out some more damning details. This is the result of Reynolds being corrected, and then applying a quiet edit. Embarassing really.
I like Atrios line:
[I suppose this is similar to, "Saddam Hussein, popularly identified with the 9/11 attacks..."]

Posted by: theCoach on October 23, 2003 08:07 AM

Indeed. Reynolds is very clear about the "popular" association of Carter with the speed limits not being consistent with the law's passage before Jimmeh took office. Stick with defending Enron consultants and Mahathir rationalizers.

Posted by: George Zachar on October 23, 2003 08:09 AM

K Harris is right. It is beneath you to shoot fish in a barrel.

Posted by: JRossi on October 23, 2003 08:37 AM

"Pul-leeze. If they were passed in 1974, they weren't Jimmy Carter's. If they were Jimmy Carter's idea, they couldn't have been passed in 1974, could they?"
~~~

Pul-leeze, he explicity said they *weren't* Jimmy Carter's idea:

"Actually passed in 1974, BUT popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's 'moral equivalent of war'...

Perhaps you are suggesting that the American People flunked the Turing Test for associating the speed limit with Carter's energy policies?

Yet it's hardly uncommon for something that one president starts to become popularly identified with another (See e.g.: "Vietnam War")

After all, it was Jimmy Carter's administration enforcing the speed limits, and embracing them as part of its energy policy, all of which was entirely voluntary on its part -- so why would the American People fail the Turing Test by thinking of them as Jimmy Carter's speed limits?

Or maybe it's just that while economists are better at math lawyers are more rigorous at the use of language.

"Cat / bird" which gets eaten?
"House kitten / vulture" which gets eaten?

The latter is more precise. ;-)

Frankly I enjoyed this blog a whole lot more back in the days when it wasn't always in such an rush to insult other peoples' intelligence.

Posted by: Jim Glass on October 23, 2003 08:45 AM

In dealing with posters I have discovered that a class of them are really artificial stupidity programs. Nothing else could be that obdurate or ignorant. AS is a much more useful and common phenominon than AI.

Posted by: Joshua Halpern on October 23, 2003 08:47 AM

Jim Glass/Joshua Halpern:

Presumably neither of you would have a problem with people who refer to "the Bush Recession", or "the Clinton Boom".

I think anyone who sees the CB radio fad as some sort of libertarian groundswell, or finds Republican portents in "Smokey and the Bandit" had better go back to the drawing board.

Posted by: boonie on October 23, 2003 09:01 AM

I think the Professor needs to re-read Glenn Reynolds post about the difference between literal and figurative. He made the argument that the 55 mph limit helped elect Reagan over Carter. That's the context of, "Jimmy Carter's speed limits".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 23, 2003 09:30 AM

I'm in total agreement with Atrios:

Atrios: "I suppose it doesn't matter. As Instapundit has taught us, it only matters who is popularly identified, through the creative use of propaganda, with the policy."

And Patrick, the story behind Instapundit's dishonest change of a factual error in a diatribe without mentioning the correction. And yet, even though the basis for his diatribe is completely wrong, he still clings to his conclusion derived from the incorrect assertion.

I guess once a conservatarian has got a good head of steam about vilifying somebody, little things like facts or honesty shouldn't be allowed to get in the way.

Posted by: squiddy on October 23, 2003 09:46 AM

It was a Democratic Congress that passed them and Gerald Ford signed the CAFE standards. Ford does not get enough credit for the short time he was in office. People remember the Nixon Pardon and not much else.

The CAFE standards caused a significant drop in oil consumption in the US of about 25%. This did not occur until the Reagan administration. A drop in gasoline and fuel costs helped the economy, interest rates and inflation. Gasoline consumption did not return to peak levels until 2000. Clinton was blessed with low energy prices. His 4 cent/gal tax caused a lot of noise that quickly died when gas went below $1/gal. Congress should have greatly increased gasoline taxes to pay for infrastructure and keep prices steady, but they did not. That eased the way for the SUV deluge and allowing gasoline consumption to bump up against refinery capacity once again.

Posted by: bakho on October 23, 2003 09:57 AM

RE: The Clinton Boom and Bush Recession

Think of a (bad) surfing analogy; the Clinton economic team saw the wave coming, did everything they could to keep the economy moving and stretched out a very long series of good economic times. The Bush II administration dove right into the wave and wiped out.

Posted by: Joshua Halpern on October 23, 2003 11:09 AM

The defence of Reynolds is clearly invalid. It notes that the assertion that Brad claims Reynolds made "Jimmy Carter's speed limits" is contradicted by another statement made my Reynolds.

Since Brad's point is that Reynolds contradicted himself pointing out the contradiction between Brad's quote of Reynolds and something else Reynolds wrote does not seem to be much of a response to Brad's criticism does it.

Now there is a brief (if ugly) way to refer to a popular perception without claiming it is true which is to put it in quotation marks

"CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits... "

should have been

"CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around "Jimmy Carter's" speed limits... "

Ugly style but not a logical error.

Now as to shooting fish in a barrel -- well that is a point, but, hey, if Brad is shooting fish in a barrel, what about we commentors who argue with each other doing ? Shooting Sardines in a can ?

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on October 23, 2003 11:35 AM

The defence of Reynolds is clearly invalid. It notes that the assertion that Brad claims Reynolds made "Jimmy Carter's speed limits" is contradicted by another statement made my Reynolds.

Since Brad's point is that Reynolds contradicted himself pointing out the contradiction between Brad's quote of Reynolds and something else Reynolds wrote does not seem to be much of a response to Brad's criticism does it.

Now there is a brief (if ugly) way to refer to a popular perception without claiming it is true which is to put it in quotation marks

"CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits... "

should have been

"CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around "Jimmy Carter's" speed limits... "

Ugly style but not a logical error.

Now as to shooting fish in a barrel -- well that is a point, but, hey, if Brad is shooting fish in a barrel, what about we commentors who argue with each other doing ? Shooting Sardines in a can ?

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on October 23, 2003 11:40 AM

It shouldn't be that hard for jim glass or patrick or others to stir themselves and read the full acount over at eschaton:

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2003_10_19_atrios_archive.html#106690556570327714

It's just typical instanitwit hackery.

And Patrick, anyone who thinks that Reagan beat Carter because of 55 mph speed limits is ruled out of further discussion of the 1980 election. Prof instanitwit was a teenager at the time, and he clearly doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

Posted by: howard on October 23, 2003 01:02 PM

I don't know about that. I think it's rather charitable. The 55 mph speed limit is a far better reason than most people had for voting Reagan into office.

Posted by: julia on October 23, 2003 02:22 PM

This reminds me of Turings original paper, which has a mock transcript of a successful Turing test. When given an arithmetic problem, the test subject takes a long time to answer, and then gives the wrong answer. After all, that's only human.

And Reynolds is only a Republican apologist whose inexplicable popularity is one of the signs that we're entering a new Dark Age.

Posted by: rps on October 23, 2003 05:01 PM
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