Love in the time of Internet

In which the nearly irresistible Brontë reference is manfully resisted:

Ann Althouse, 58, is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who blogs about politics, law and cultural whatnots in a sharp, occasionally ribald tone. She admires Rush Limbaugh, voted for George Bush in ’04 and Barack Obama in ’08. She attracts derision and applause from 500,000 monthly visitors. The jeers spiked ever since the March 22 announcement on her blog that this divorced mother of two adult sons, stalwartly single for more than 20 years, is engaged to a commenter known simply as “Meade.” Except for her closest readers, the blogosphere was taken by surprise.

Good for Ann. And, for that matter, Meade. I don’t think it speaks well of Kaus, Sullivan, or anyone else who mocks the upcoming nuptials. People meet in all sorts of varying circumstances, many stranger than this, and at least the medium of a blog provides two individuals the ability to get to know each other on a philosophical plane without the usual fog of pheromones, looks, and other physical complications obscuring the larger issues.

So, I hope you will join me in wishing the two of them very well.

The experiment: an all-female staff

A woman has the bright idea to hire only women for her new media startup. Hilarity ensues:

Five years ago, I was working as a TV executive producer making shows for top channels such as MTV, and based in Los Angeles. It sounds like a dream job and it could have been – if I’d been male. Working in TV is notoriously difficult for women. There is a powerful old boys’ network, robust glass ceiling and the majority of bosses are misogynistic males.

Gradually, what had started out as a daydream – wouldn’t it be great if there were no men where I worked? – turned into an exciting concept. I decided to create the first all-female production company where smart, intelligent, career-orientated women could work harmoniously, free from the bravado of the opposite sex.

Anyone who has any experience of women in the office can probably guess how well the experiment worked out, but the story really has to be read in order to appreciate the comedic fullness of the disaster. Her conclusion: “[I]f I were to do it again, I’d definitely employ men. In fact, I’d probably employ only men.”

Now, I don’t mind employing women myself; in certain detail-oriented roles I tend to prefer them. There are no shortage of women who make excellent employees, especially those whose personal strengths fit their responsibilities well. But these women usually tend to get along well with men and have no problem being held to objective standards. The problem is that the pettiness and narcissism to which many women are prone is an absolute workplace cancer, especially if a woman with such tendencies finds herself in a position of power over anyone.

Mailvox: taking the homeschool plunge

Whoschad and wife make the move:

I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite awhile now. Anyway, my wife and I decided to take the plunge and homeschool our kids. I remember you mentioning something about Spacebunny having some online resources for this, but I couldn’t find anything posted when I looked.

Congratulations, I very much doubt you will regret it. I’m sure a lot of people will have suggestions for you, and SB also has the aforementioned discussion group. As for online resources, here are a few little reading aids.

Making it worse

It’s hardly shocking that economists are taking a dim view of the TARP program:

The government’s official view that toxic assets are incorrectly priced due to illiquidity “fire sales” is wrong, a new study by Harvard and Princeton finance professors suggests…. This latest paper effectively demolishes the “fire sale” view. It draws three important conclusions.

Many banks are now insolvent.
“…many major US banks are now legitimately insolvent. This insolvency can no longer be viewed as an artifact of bank assets being marked to artificially depressed prices coming out of an illiquid market. It means that bank assets are being fairly priced at valuations that sum to less than bank liabilities.”

Supporting markets in toxic assets has no purpose other than transfering money from taxpayers to banks. 
“…any taxpayer dollars allocated to supporting these markets will simply transfer wealth to the current owners of these securities.”

We’re making it worse.
“…policies that attempt to prevent a widespread mark-down in the value of credit-sensitive assets are likely to only delay – and perhaps even worsen – the day of reckoning.”

The Wall Street bailout was never about stabilizing the economy, much less fixing it. It was simply a means of insulating the banks from the consequences of their actions and the consequences that their actions have had on the economy. Years before the current crisis became evident, it was apparent that Washington runs for the benefit of the bankers, not the electorate. Which is why, as more and more economists are coming to realize, it simply isn’t going to work.

“What the Obama team is proposing is disconcertingly similar to the actions of Japanese Prime Ministers Hashimoti, Obuchi, and Mori in 1995 and 1998: Rather than ask the legislature for straightforward recapitalization money, you have the political leadership preferring to risk overpaying current owners of toxic assets rather than forcing sales. For all of Japan’s supposed intervention in markets, its government still lacked the stomach for taking over banks, let alone closing them.”

Keen economic historians will probably recall that Japan was not exactly known for its economic growth during this time. This isn’t to say that I support nationalizing the banks, as the UK has done, only that nationalization is actually a less disastrous approach.