Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Pauline Kael "Nobody I Know Voted For Nixon" Award

Even though it's pretty well established that she didn't actually say it as it's commonly reported, like fictitious suicidal lemmings and boiling frogs, Pauline Kael will be forever known as saying nobody she knew voted for Nixon, and symbolizing the New York City dweller's out-of-touchness with the rest of the country (which voted for Nixon in one of the great electoral and popular massacres of American history).

I therefore institute the Pauline Kael Award for Insularity, and make its first nominee yet another NY Times writer, Dan Ariely, for his article "Eyes off the Price".

Mr Ariely suggests that it's the very act of watching the price go up that makes us more sensitive to price increases there than other places. That we don't notice the other prices going up because we don't spend the money in the same way.

Really? If you've got a bunch of kids and they go through a gallon of milk a day, you think you don't notice the price going from $2.99 on average to $4.29 in six months--as happened between January 2007 when the ethanol push started, and June 2007?

You don't notice the weekly food bill going from $250 to $350 over a year? You don't notice the water and power bill when it spikes?

Five years ago gas was under $2 and today it's over $4, which makes the increase considerably greater than the increase in milk prices (albeit less condensed).

That's why we notice.

The people who don't notice price hikes in other items are people with lots of disposable income they're not paying much attention to. (I suppose you could be someone without a lot of disposable income whose not paying much attention to it, too, but eventually it'll up and slap you in the face.)

I dunno, maybe I'm off-base. But not everyone drives. Most everyone eats. The food price spike probably hurts a lot more.


  1. If you've got a bunch of kids and they go through a gallon of milk a day, you think you don't notice the price going from $2.99 on average to $4.29 in six months

    I still can't believe how fast the price went up--we go through 2-3 gal. a week. If this guy thinks it's no big, he's welcome to send me a check.

    Interestingly, Pauline Kael was one of the few people to call "Bullshit" on Michael Moore when "Roger and Me" came out. I've got a book of movie reviews called "Love and Hisses" that has her review in it. She eviscerates him pretty nicely--at a time when everyone else was going apeshit over him. Sorry, kind of OT

  2. The thing that kills me about the milk is that here in California, the state buys milk and pours it into the sewer, in addition to setting a minimum price and regulating the crap out of it.

    Great. Thanks, guys. I feel soooo much better with you in charge.

    I can't remember any specific Kael reviews--not a big NYT reader--but the impression of her as being completely out-of-touch is probably false. Nonetheless, she's stuck with it. :-)

  3. Good on her for calling BS on Roger and Me. I didn't realize until much later how bad that piece of propaganda was.

  4. I remember her specifically calling him on the fact that several times in the movie he makes fun of the people he is supposed to be defending. I remember being really uncomfortable watching the scene with the woman who raised and ate rabbits. I mean, yeah, it's kind of grisly-funny, but he was totally laughing at her, and she was dirt-poor. Not cool. I can just about guarantee that guy's a grade-A asshole.

    The big mystery to me is what happened with "Sicko" ?? I thought with an election coming up and given the subject matter, it would get accolades, awards, etc, out the wazoo. But really it didn't get much attention. I mean, the fact that his movies are manipulative and full of half-truths hasn't stopped him from being a media darling in the past! I wonder if he secretly pissed off a lot of people when he got the Oscar for "F911". I can see the Hollywood types resenting him in the end because in their hearts they know it wasn't deserved. But that's a subject you'd know more about, I'm just guessing.

  5. Bullshit and hype can only carry you so far. You have to have talent. You can be weird and strange and even very liberal or conservative, but if you have talent, people will want to see your stuff.

  6. Knox, yeah, I wrote about having that same experience of Moore, in an early blog post.


    If you're not on board with his socialist world view, you're a dupe or a shill or evil.

    But he overdid it with "Sicko". It's one thing to paint Iraq as a kite-flying paradise, and another to paint Europe as a socialist medical paradise. There are too many Europeans who experience state-run health-care to buy that.

    Also, it's not directly anti-Bush, so you miss out on that audience.

  7. Troop,

    Moore is very talented. He's just not very honest. Hell, he's not honest at all.

    The fact that he's talented makes it all the more tragic.


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