August 18th, 2004


Personal politics

After seeing a couple of friends' results on this test, I decided to take a stab at it myself:
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None of those answers should surprise anyone who knows me even moderately well.

The thing about "tests" like this -and I've taken plenty of them on the two occasions when I ran for a seat in the Minnesota House - is that they really don't tell you a whole lot about a person's political philosophy. What they are is a more subtle way of asking "Are you for us or agin' us?", and they do indicate to the people who read the results of the surveys (usually the members of the group sending you the questionnaire) how strongly you support or oppose their positions on their hot-button issues.

Which does nobody any good when it comes to figuring out how you might vote on issues that aren't covered in the questionnaire. For that you need to have some idea of what somebody's general political views are, and a lot of questionnaires just don't ask that kind of question. If Candidate A says he's against raising taxes, does that mean they're also opposed to increasing permit fees? You can't tell. Politics isn't as simple as it looks when you're filling out one of these dumb little tests - it's messy and difficult because it involves working with people, many of whom would rather throw cow flop and rocks at you than discuss ways to get things done. It's a wonder we can get as many competent people involved in politics as we do.

Your tax dollars at work

Mitch Berg comments on Doug Grow's column, which half-heartedly complains about the sale of Northfield's WCAL to Minnesota Public Radio, and links to a contrary view at Spitbull.

I'm kind of ambivalent about this. I don't listen much to MPR (especially not during the annoying Pledge Week) and not at all to WCAL, but I have to agree with Mitch that continued taxpayer subsidies to a "non-profit" that rakes in $10.5 million a year are pretty questionable, especially when MPR seems hell-bent on homogenizing all public radio in the state into a centrally-controlled network run out of St. Paul and wasting quite a few of those millions in the process. Not only that, as Mitch also points out, MPR has fought tooth and nail against the proposal to license low-power FM stations that would do a lot to build more diversity into the radio smorgasbord.

Contrary to what the critics of Clear Channel are always bleating, the local radio scene is a lot more diverse now than it was two decades ago when I came to town. In 1983, it was all Top 40 and country on the FM dial, with KS95 being slightly more poppy than KQ, which was more of a rock station. Now we have a whole slew of stations playing everything from Nine Inch Nails and Korn to the Stones to Lorie Line to Romeo Void to Kenny Rogers and Loretta Lynn. So what if half of them are owned by the same company? Isn't diverse programming more important than diverse ownership?

The SF ghetto, and how it came to be

Science fiction has always been the red-headed stepchild of Anglosphere literature, sneered at for its pulp origins and blatantly ripped off by mainstream authors who would rather die than admit that what they're writing has anything in common with the "tripe" dispensed by such "hacks" as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, etc. etc.

Geitner Simmons, whose excellent blog Regions of Mind is a regular on my blog-reading rounds, offers a link to this Charles Paul Freund article that shows how far back this sort of elitist nonsense goes.

Geitner also has some wonderful essays on the black experience in California, the sad history of the black 3rd North Carolina Regiment, and Theodore Roosevelt considered as a blogger. RTWT.