September 13, 2013
Testing the new install...
Testing testing 123
August 31, 2012
The return of Get Your War On!
June 13, 2012
Maybe the stupidest thing I ever read
Brooks just put himself into the completely irrelevant category with this crazy rant:
If you go to the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials in Washington, you are invited to look up in admiration. Lincoln and Jefferson are presented as the embodiments of just authority. They are strong and powerful but also humanized. Jefferson is a graceful aristocratic democrat. Lincoln is sober and enduring. Both used power in the service of higher ideas, which are engraved nearby on the walls.
As Michael J. Lewis of Williams College has noted, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial transforms a jaunty cavalier into a “differently abled and rather prim nonsmoker.” Instead of a crafty wielder of supreme power, Roosevelt is a kindly grandpa you would want to put your arm around for a vacation photo.
The proposed Eisenhower memorial shifts attention from his moments of power to his moments of innocent boyhood. The design has been widely criticized, and last week the commission in charge agreed to push back the approval hearing until September.
Even the more successful recent monuments evade the thorny subjects of strength and power. The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy. The Korean memorial is about vulnerability.
Why can’t today’s memorial designers think straight about just authority?
Some of the reasons are well-known. We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power. Most of the stories we tell ourselves are about victims who have endured oppression, racism and cruelty.
Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect. It’s hard in this frame of mind to define and celebrate greatness, to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves.
But the main problem is our inability to think properly about how power should be used to bind and build. Legitimate power is built on a series of paradoxes: that leaders have to wield power while knowing they are corrupted by it; that great leaders are superior to their followers while also being of them; that the higher they rise, the more they feel like instruments in larger designs. The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are about how to navigate those paradoxes.
These days many Americans seem incapable of thinking about these paradoxes. Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.
The old adversary culture of the intellectuals has turned into a mass adversarial cynicism. The common assumption is that elites are always hiding something. Public servants are in it for themselves. Those people at the top are nowhere near as smart or as wonderful as pure and all-knowing Me.
You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet — a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.
Maybe before we can build great monuments to leaders we have to relearn the art of following. Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes: that we are all created equal but that we also elevate those who are extraordinary; that we choose our leaders but also have to defer to them and trust their discretion; that we’re proud individuals but only really thrive as a group, organized and led by just authority.
I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else.
In his memoir, “At Ease,” Eisenhower delivered the following advice: “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” Ike slowly mastered the art of leadership by becoming a superb apprentice.
To have good leaders you have to have good followers — able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it. Those skills are required for good monument building, too.
I have read some stupid shit in the NY Times before, but this may be the worst single piece of it.
August 08, 2011
Do they even get it?
From the NY Times this morning:
"With several British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, out of the country on vacation, the home secretary, Theresa May, was reported on Monday to be flying home to oversee the official response."
The oligarchs are all out of the country on vacation, while the poor and under/unemployed are left home to burn it up... and this paragraph is written without any realization of the irony - just a clean reporting of the facts. If there was ever a time to connect the dots!
April 08, 2011
Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
Dirty Boulevard - Lou Reed or the Velvet Underground?
Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
he looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
his father beats him 'cause he's too tired to beg
He's got 9 brothers and sisters
they're brought up on their knees
it's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
but that's a slim chance he's going to the boulevard
He's going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
he's going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, to the dirty boulevard
This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
you can believe it man it's true
somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard
Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard
Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, on the dirty boulevard
Outside it's a bright night
there's an opera at Lincoln Center
movie stars arrive by limousine
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
but the lights are out on the Mean Streets
A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
he's selling plastic roses for a buck
The traffic's backed up to 39th street
the TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck
And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he's found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"
And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly away
I want to fly
Fly, fly away
I want to fly
Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh...)
Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)
September 28, 2010
The funniest guy in the world
Is David Rees: Another Beautiful Thing That Just Happened
May 07, 2010
"Today’s market was neither orderly nor efficient nor trustworthy. It was just a bunch of computers making ugly, messy love with each other"
From the WSJ.
October 10, 2009
September 14, 2009
April 26, 2009
PM of Texas asks for international help
This is pretty interesting:
Gov.Prime Minister Rick Perry Saturday asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile (of the United States of America) as a precaution after three cases of swine flu were confirmed in (the newly sovereign country of) Texas. "
I hope this makes Texans think a little harder about secession, but I doubt it.
March 13, 2009
"Tent City" Rapidly Growing in Sacramento - and other cities
In a country with a record level of empty housing, this is pretty surreal:
March 03, 2009
What's wrong with America: Part 3,596
The food development team spent a year creating two breakfast sandwiches for the pairings. Although the eggs and cheese are mixed in huge vats, poured into tins, baked, frozen and shipped to distribution centers to be assembled, they wanted them to look freshly made to appeal to people who do not like fast-food outlets.
January 07, 2009
January 04, 2009
November 12, 2008
It's a beautiful world we live in...
Americans love them their guns:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Bernie Conatser has never seen business this good.
The owner of a gun shop in the Washington suburb of Manassas, Virginia, Conatser said sales have doubled or tripled the numbers he racked up in late October. Saturday, he said, he did as much business as he would normally do in a week.
"I have been in business for 12 years, and I was here for Y2K, September 11th, Katrina," Conatser said as a steady stream of customers browsed what remained of his stock. "And all of those were big events, and we did notice a spike in business, but nothing on the order of what we are seeing right now."
Weapons dealers in much of the United States are reporting sharply higher sales since Barack Obama won the presidency a week ago. Buyers and sellers attribute the surge to worries that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress will move to restrict firearm ownership, despite the insistence of campaign aides that the president-elect supports gun rights and considers the issue a low priority.
According to FBI figures for the week of November 3-9, the bureau received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchasers — a nearly 49 percent increase over the same period in 2007. Conatser said his store, Virginia Arms Company, has run out of some models — such as the AR-15 rifle, the civilian version of the military's M-16 — and is running low on others.
Such assault weapons are among the firearms that gun dealers and customers say they fear Obama will hit with new restrictions, or even take off the market.
Virginia gun owner Kyle Lewandowski said he was buying a .45-caliber pistol to "hedge my bets."
"Every election year, you have to worry about your rights being eroded a little bit at a time," he said. But he added, "I also knew, because of the Democrat majority and because of the election, everybody would have the same reaction I did."
Dealers in Colorado, Ohio, Connecticut and New Hampshire also reported seeing major increases.
"It's a fact that the liberal Democrats that now control all three branches of our government do not like guns. They want us out of business," Connecticut resident Scott Hoffman said. "They don't want the average American to have a right to defend themselves."
And New Hampshire gun owner Lloyd Clement said, "I think there's going to be an attack to some degree on the gun owners."
The Clinton administration imposed a ban on several types of military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines in 1994, but that ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. Obama has proposed restoring the ban, requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows and other "common-sense
He has said he supports the rights of local governments to set their own gun laws, but believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects individual gun rights.
"I believe the Second Amendment means something. I do think it speaks to an individual right," Obama said in Milwaukee in February.
With the U.S. economy in a tailspin, however, the president-elect's advisers say gun legislation is not a high priority.
"What people do is their own business, and if they decide to go out and buy guns they'll go out and buy guns, assuming that they are eligible to buy guns," John Podesta, the co-chairman of Obama's transition team, told reporters Sunday. "But I think that President-elect Obama has been clear in his campaign that what he wants to focus on is the economy, trying to get jobs growing again, dealing with the health care crisis, and dealing with our dependence on foreign oil."
Some customers specifically are stocking up on ammunition and point to concerns raised by the National Rifle Association, which ran anti-Obama ads during the campaign. The NRA said Obama would support a "huge new tax on my guns and ammo," referencing a 1999 article in a Chicago newspaper saying the then-Illinois state senator promoted a plan to increase federal taxes by 500 percent on the sales of firearms and ammunition.
But as a state legislator, Obama would not have had any control over federal taxes. And as a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, he has not introduced or promoted such a proposal.
"I don't really believe it is fear. It is more there is just uncertainty," said Virginia customer David Reynolds, who was buying ammunition in the store as well as ordering more online. "You know, we don't really know what is going on. There really hasn't been a lot of clear direction on where he
supports it, although he says he supports the Second Amendment. But it just remains to be seen. I think some people are just uncomfortable with what his policy may be."