Monday, November 05, 2007

Phickle Thoughts

I recently saw the new American Masters episode on Charles Schultz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts. It coincides with a new biography about the man as well. Both the PBS documentary and the book (apparently) paint him as a troubled soul. However, his children apparently are saying that they both go too far in their portrayal. They don't deny that he had some issues with self-esteem and self-doubt, but they also claim he was generally a very happy person. My guess is that Schultz, like most people, was just a normal person; he probably did struggle with life at times (we all do), but he probably very much enjoyed it too.

It's kind of an interesting little issue that surrounds biography: you're summing up a person's life, something that can so rarely be encapsulated in any appropriate fashion. Glad I'm not a biographer.
Speaking of Schultz, here's a link to one of the funniest Daily Show segments I've ever seen.
Speaking of interesting links, if you've got any interest in politics this is a great one to check out. Instead of the standard one-dimensional left-right political spectrum this one plots an entire plane, with both an x (liberal/conservative) and y (authoritarian/libertarian) axis.

I scored a -6.62/-2.56. It looks like that puts me somewhere right around Gandhi and Mandela. Not bad company.

I do think this graph misses something though. Although they've successfully isolated economic policies on the x-axis, they still have too many things grouped together on the y-axis. The vertical spectrum essentially contains both social policies and views on the role of the state. Those are two very different elements; on social policy I'm probably pretty moderate, but on the role of the state I'm certainly not libertarian (after all, I think the role of the state is to make a good citizenry, not just to get out of the way of the citizenry). Perhaps a three-dimensional graph would really be better. I think someone should work on that. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to look into that project with you.

And for anyone who takes the test, let me know how you scored. Could be pretty interesting! (hat tip Barzelay).
If you're at all interested in good music, go check out Dan Wilson's new album Free Life. It's beautiful. And if you recognize his name, it might be because he was the former front-man for Semisonic. Or because he produced Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic. Or because he wrote 2006's Song of the Year, the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice".

So yeah, seriously, go get this album.
(hat tip Joel)
Finally, I'm thinking about changing the look of my blog a bit. It's always felt a bit clunky to me. I don't really like how big the text size is, and I'd like a more readable layout. I'll probably just end up with one of the other blogger-provided formats, but I'd love to put together something a little more individualistic. Anyone know anything about that sort of thing? If so, or if there's anything you'd like to see here, drop me a line.

Who we gonna end up being?
How we gonna end up feeling?


Nate said...

Matt, I took the political test and scored a -7.25/-3.13. That sounds about right.

empeterson said...

I got -4.5, -3.03.

Eric Michael Peterson said...

-4.62 ; -3.03

Rachel said...

I was -5.19; -5.75

R.W.McGee said...


the marvelous patric said...

i was -7/-6.10

boo-yeah! i'm a crazy liberal-libertarian! watch out! i'll have a small, but highly effective, government telling you that you shouldn't do something, but we won't make it illegal.


Greg said...

I scored a (-4.25, -3,59). Also, the daily show you linked to was very good.

CAL said...

I scored -7.38/ -4. Does that mean the apple doesn't fall far from the tree??

Matthew B. Novak said...

I prefer to think in a way that doesn't make the apple so derrivative.