Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prunning my RSS feed

I think I've decided that Matt Yglesias is headed out of my RSS feed. It's not that I find him ideologically objectional or his work to be shoddy but rather that he has become utterly banal. He is a generalist to a fault, applying his well developed sense of logic and reason to an enormously broad set of topics. Increasingly I am finding that his analysis, while logically coherent, suffers from his lack of even a minute amount of substantive knowledge of the topic at hand. For example, he has essentially zero practical real world experience with state or local government and so his postings on topics like education, taxation, transportation, planning or just plain governing come across as shallow and glib. If you wade nto his comment section you'll regularly find commenters who are able to bring actual knowledge of the topic at hand and provide a far more prescient analysis than Matt.

I've read him for years, he's one of the few that have been in my reader since I began reading blogs in the summer of 2004 (TPM, Ezra, and Sully are the other stalwarts). I hate to be dismissive of someone who is obviously intelligent and writing to a broad audience from a prestigious perch but I'm just not getting anything value added out of the guy anymore. I read other generalists but those are more opinion or polemic than policy. Yglesias tries to be a policy generalist and it just doesn't work.


BP said...

I was led here by Yglesias' Twitter, and I've decided I shan't be subscribing to your feed. Bai.

Michael said...

People can get a little protective of their Matty.

sherifffruitfly said...

Heh. You should see him when he talks about basketball.

Paulie Carbone said...

What's the difference between Sarah Palin's mouth and Sarah Palin's cunt? Retarded shit only came out of her cunt once.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh, it's "pruning." Maybe "prunning" could describe a particularly sharp, detached style of punning?

Anonymous said...

Came over from Matt's place (which I only visited via his Twitter), and I'm inclined to agree. He addresses your argument with the same substance-free, shoot-from-the-hip style that makes his other posts suck.

Logic is great, essential even. But one thing years of arguing with libertarians shows is, if you can't agree on base assumptions, you can't actually have discourse--just posturing. That's where you end up without expertise. And unlike polemicists, Matt tends not to play the "...if you think this makes sense, go read..." game.

And I don't care about basketball.

zosima said...

I would have to agree. I think Yglesias is an above average blogger, but he would benefit immensely by more knowledge and research.

I certainly see him making mistakes from time to time when he blogs on a topics with which I'm familiar, so I often wonder about his accuracy on less familiar topics. Correspondingly, I evaluate his claims with a certain amount of hesitance.

On the other hand, other good bloggers handle limited domain specific knowledge using a quantitative/inductive approach. In some ways it is nice to have a blogger who uses a more or less purely deductive methodology to generate analysis.

cmholm said...

What Steve claims not to like about Matt’s blogging is that he covers too broad a selection of topics.

I happen to sort Matt’s posts by subject area in my RSS tool, and find nine to be a reason number (including ‘endgame’).

The areas cover things that are major policy questions at the local, state, and federal level, and are important to address for someone working at the CAP… but, I ditch any of the sports and D.C.-specific stuff that doesn’t rub me as instructive of larger issues on a first reading.

Although Matt does whip out a number of throw away posts, I end up archiving most based on their value in providing me mnemonic cues for my own policy positions. Since I don't argue policy for a living, it's nice to have a quickie reference from someone else who's paid to take some time to think things through... since I usually have to steal from time I'm being paid to do something else, which is a bit limiting.

Anonymous said...

You're totally right. Anyone who disagrees has never had the experience of reading Yglesias write about a topic about which he/she knows happens to know a lot about. His knowledge is drawn from newspapers, magazines, ten-page think tank reports.

Anonymous said...

I would describe him as 'acute' and 'penetrating'.

Anonymous said...

When I think of Yglesias, I think of this post from a few months back.

He was in Europe and wanted to know why soda there was so expensive.

Here's an excerpt:

I thought Google might have an answer, but a quick search didn’t seem to reveal anything. Of course VAT and higher low-end labor costs make a lot of things more expensive in Europe than in the United States, but the scale of the difference here is huge. And very similar items like bottled water don’t exhibit the same price differential, and coffee generally seems to be cheaper here than at home.

He went on like that for a couple paragraphs.

I remember thinking: You're IN Europe. Walk into a store and fucking ask somebody!

Nice guy. Smart guy. Take away his JSTOR account and he'd probably just walk in circles until he got hit by traffic.

Anonymous said...

He was in Europe and wanted to know why soda there was so expensive.


I remember thinking: You're IN Europe. Walk into a store and fucking ask somebody!

Alternatively, he could just wait till he gets back to the US, then walk into a store and fucking ask somebody there why soda is cheaper in the US than in Europe.

Because people in stores can always explain intercontinental price differentials on the products contained in those stores.

Anonymous said...

Because people in stores can always explain intercontinental price differentials on the products contained in those stores.

^Oh snap!