Jonah, For The Win

There’s some grumbling on the right about how Oprah Winfrey won’t have Sarah Palin on her show after bringing Barack Obama on.  Jonah Goldberg’s response is absolutely perfect:  so what?  She’s a private citizen doing her own show, and her show isn’t a media outlet, so there’s no reason why she necessarily _must_ have Palin on.  From a business standpoint, it’d be great for the ratings, but it’s Oprah’s decision.  I have no problem with people criticizing her for supporting a candidate so publicly (regardless of the candidate), nor with people tuning her out because of it, but she alone has the final say in it.  She’s in the business of entertainment, not news, and so there isn’t even the figleaf of “the public interest” to deal with.

The best response for people incensed at this would be to stop watching her show.  Don’t worry—I’m one step ahead of everyone here…  Not having a TV* helps…

* – Okay, I do have a TV.  In my defense, though, I can’t get any channels and only use it to play video games.

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Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds

I finished reading this spectacular book the other day and will have plenty to comment on over the next several days.  At 700 pages, it’s a huge bookdedicated to crowd psychology in its infancy.  Some of it drags on a bit (there are only so many ways you can talk about alchemy:  alchemist X was a scammer, alchemist Y was a fool, alchemist Z was a fool who accidentally discovered something useful; nobleman A was a fool for hiring alchemists X, Y, and Z), but to give you an idea of the book, I left a note at the very first page of the forward, not even making it to the first page.  In the forward, Bernard Baruch (who credits Mackay’s book for telling him when to bail in 1929) notes the phrase (attributed to Schiller), “Anyone taken as an individual, is tolerably sensible and reasonable—as a member of a crowd, he at once becomes a blockhead.”

There’s a saying among investors to buy this book and then read the first hundred pages, as it applies beautifully well to investment wisdom.  But as I went through it, there are a lot of excellent points that Mackay made and I’ll recapitulate them while trying to apply them to certain questions I had while reading this book.