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March 15, 2008

"capitalism sure is sunny" was a quote from barthelme

The Yahoo! Headline Box reminds me of the president's secret doctorate in economics
• Government must avoid overcorrecting economy, Bush warns

Of course we must.  If we were to do so, that would be like overextinguishing a burning house, or overcuring cancer.  What sane person would want that?

This must be a case of the president reading a report from an actual economist and thinking that he might as well make up some jargon as well, but anyhow I'm not even gonna dignify that story with a pullquote from the story -- the president will have to keep chanting to his dark lord Entropy in the dark, as we move on.

If you'd like to delve beneath the snark, I've come across two bits of info that go a long way to explain what's happening as far as the economy is concerned -- and not so much what we normal humans can expect in the foreseeable, but more which of the Unseen Hands are actually responsible for the world's financial markets all herkey-jerky.

Well, capitalism -- duh -- but, more specifically, read this Harper's article [via Cardhouse] explaining those bubbles that you hear about, and this explanation (by the ever-useful Jerome a Paris) that wage stagnation, and the accompanying wealth misdistribution, is a very culpable culprit indeed.

In the meantime, try not to stand under any open windows in the Financial District.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:48 PM

dailykos has no fear of retribution

What follows is an excellent example of how the Netroots are not ageing well at all.  It is, naturally, a DailyKos diary:
I’ve decided to go on "strike" and will refrain from posting here as long as the administrators allow the more disruptive members of our community to trash Hillary Clinton and distort her record without any fear of consequence or retribution.  I will not be posting at DailyKos effective immediately.  I will not help drive up traffic or page-hits as long as my candidate – a good and fine DEMOCRAT - is attacked in such a horrid and sexist manner not only by other diarists, but by several of those posting to the front page.

When self-righteousness collides with an inflated sense of one's value as it does above, the resulting rant/whine is tonally indistinguishable from complaining to a Wendy's drive-thru because McDonalds fries are better.

And, yes, this is like me asking you to taste some spoiled piece of lunchmeat while telling you how terrible it is.  But you keep tasting the lunchmeat, by God.

Also, as I'm pretty sure I'm the last one to wade around in the tall weeds of the netroots anymore, I thought you might want to see what you haven't missed.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:20 AM

March 14, 2008

now with more ozone

On the same morning that the story of presidential interference in the EPA's smog ruling breaks across the country (as discussed in the immediately previous post), the Associated Press runs a story touting the super-awesomeness of said smog ruling:
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson called the new smog requirements "the most stringent standards ever," and he said they will require 345 counties — out of more than 700 that are monitored — to make air quality improvements because they now have dirtier air than is healthy.
The piece does not mention that the president ordered the EPA to raise the ozone limit from the initial lower recommendation -- you can't really expect the AP reporters to do everything, like read the Washington Post, or turn on the Internet.

Deliberate sin of omission?  Or just another case of a professional journalist mistaking their mission statement to be, "transcribe everything said by the administration"?  Either way -- that is some delicious journamalism.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:09 PM

ozone is good for you

There was some conventional wisdom running around that President Bush was going to surf quietly the waning days of his administration, letting the election hog the headlines and hoping that the mortifying question of his legacy would not arise until he was long gone from the White House.  This did not turn out to be the case.  Instead, he has decided that no china in the china shop shall remain unbroken, and has intervened in a Environmental Protection Agency ruling limiting smog-producing ozone.  And, yes, he did increase the limit, instead of lowering it.
The White House's intervention was so last minute and arbitrary that the Justice Department was evidently set to scrambling in an effort to find the legal support for it.  As the Post reports, the effect of the decision will likely be long term: "Under the Clean Air Act, the federal government must reexamine every five years whether its ozone standards are adequate, and the rules that the EPA issued Wednesday will help determine the nation's air quality for at least a decade."

Nice to see the President getting his hands dirty.  I'm anxious to see what other little surprises he leaves around the White House for the new guy next year.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:08 AM

March 13, 2008

remember when we used to use "phones"?

Customarily, when linking news of some scientific advancement (or cultural mutation), we work in some little funny appropriating "the future" as a physical object -- usually one that is either striking you, or as something you are trying to get off you.  Oh, don't we feel pretty special after posting that, now.

Today, for no particular reason, we will instead get meta.

Now go watch this video, containing the demonstration of a device that will speak the words that you think at it.  A very useful advance; scary how time flies.

Don't we usually invoke a "jet car" somewhere in here?  I think we do.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:23 PM

john lennon's lost weekend

On this day that is making a strong argument that Mercury is in retrograde or some such, I'm gonna pause and call your attention to this Gothamist post concerning a book of photographs taken by May Pang from John Lennon's "Lost Weekend", which photos are pretty nifty.  The NYTimes ran a handful of them yesterday (see them here) and I spent a good three or four subway stops just staring at them.

And from the Gothamist, a John Lennon fun fact:

After Lennon and Pang moved back from LA in 1974, the two rented a penthouse apartment on East 52nd Street.  In this apartment, he claimed to have seen a UFO. When a friend urged him to call the police, he said, "I’m not going to call up the newspaper and say, 'This is John Lennon and I saw a flying saucer last night'".  His friend (photographer Bob Gruen) called for him, and the police confirmed that three other people had reported a sighting.  The Daily News reported five sightings in the same neighborhood.  Where was Pang's camera on that night?

I wouldn't mind being whisked away to a New York that had both John Lennon and UFOS.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:41 AM

March 12, 2008

your state's governor is boring

So what do you do for the five days you have left to be governor of New York?  Clean out your desk?  Catch up on call list that's been growing for the past half week?  Boobytrap Joe Bruno's office?  Probably, more like huddle with defence attorneys while repeatedly kicking self.

This also means that there are only five more days in which every conversation (here in NY) will at least partly be a frank and honest discussion of prostitution, so get cracking on those final remarks.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:49 AM

March 11, 2008

creepy gnome! plus navel-gazing!

So, like, if you post that link, people will think you are an insane person.  Except, of course, insane persons, who will then start with the, "One of us, one of us," and then the usual ordinary indignities of the dayjob will start to really hurt, like significant indignities, and then who will I have to blame but myself, for posting the link, and the dayjob?

On the other hand, if I forebear, tomorrow I will wake up and see that the link has already circumnavigated the earth four or five times overnight, and then I will kick myself all morning long for not inserting myself earlier into the link's viral assault, and then the above indignities will tend towards the significant anyway.

So whatever.  Here: Creepy gnome terrorises [sic!] town.

You will agree (as I sit all indignified at the dayjob) -- that is one creepy gnome.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:17 PM

like, try not to write about spitzer

Notwithstanding my initial weariness with the events surrounding Gov Eliot Spitzer, I gotta say that the enormity of the portion of the pubilc's attention Spitzer now occupies is pretty fascinating -- it's like no one's seen a governor take the nestea plunge into ignominy before.  But no -- the story of the plucky steam-rolling hooker-procuring politician has really captured the heart of a nation.

And I disagree with the chorus of doubters who say that Spitzer's career is vaporized.  Not so.  Once he gets this whole resignation/contrition thing out of the way, once he suffers the two weeks of "CLIENT 9/I FUCK FOR MONEY" tees, he will segue right back into public service -- Americans (New Yorkers, especially) don't really trust a public figure unless they have a peccadillo or two, and now that he's defenestrated his crusading, pure-as-the-driven-snow persona, he's actually a more appealing character.

Which brings to mind a possible suggestion to the Obama campaign.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:08 AM

March 10, 2008


I guess it's one of those moments that every website in the universe has to fix their thoughts on some specific event, so that historians of the future, when sifting through our ruins of ones and zeros, will have a benchmark for efficient dating -- "Ah, the Spitzer/expensive whore post -- March, 2008 it is!"

My thoughts: those are some expensive ass hookers, man.  You think he can get his money back if he gets indicted?  Or at least deduct them as a business expense?

That's about it, really.  Yeah, I know everybody's all like, how stupid does he have to be, doing something like that?  Um, about as stupid as your average person, I'd say, just as one having a mirror.  No, I'm not about to whore away the governorship anytime soon, but my brief life story is by no means errorless.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:11 PM

going with the appreciation over the hate-iation

I was talking to a buddy last week about how Radar's Fresh Intelligence had become a site that I was visiting with increasing frequency.  He was a little shocked -- the Radar brand is one that we have never granted much in the way of currency.  But, I explained, ever since Alex Balk emerged from the Gawker Temporary Employment Machine and landed at FI, it's become pretty readable, like the front-of-the-book material you see in your favorite magazine -- nothing earth-shattering, but definitely a step up from bland posts of bare links to material with an "Indeed." or "Heh." slapped on at the end.

Take for example this post, which concerns itself with the new book written by Douglas Feith, who was a DoD architect of the Iraq War, widely rumored to be a dumb-ass (as if the resulting occupation were not testament enough).  You might have seen links to this news on other sites today, but FI helpfully summarizes some of the score-settling you can expect to read, along with the origin of each such score.  Helpful, informative and snarky, which is just how I like my whiskey.

I dunno if I convinced my friend (or you), but the sire does satisfy my enormous hunger for fresh hot content.

And then we admitted a fondness for the work of fellow Gawker-evacuee Emily Gould, but, then again, everyone does that, except for Russ Smith Nick Denton.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:00 PM

March 9, 2008

radio radio

Lately, I've been endeavoring to actually put a little effort into my listening habits, instead of playing one of the same ten albums that I've favored over the past five years.

Fortunately, there is this thing, "the Internet" (yes, just plain old Internet), which affords a body ample opportunity to expand one's musical tastes.  So, three quick sources to share:

First, you have the ubiquitous Warren Ellis, who has a little Flash radio player on the right hand sidebar of his site, which streams playlists that he sets up from music sent to him by the artists themselves.  He calls it "The 4am" (Ellis is crackerjack with spiffy names), and each time he updates it, he writes a post with info on the tracks -- like this one, for his most recent addition.

Second, I recommend CBC's Radio 3.  Basically, Canada's state-run entertainment service has a radio station devoted exclusively to new/indie music, so, already, four or five of my favorite things are already present.  Hello, all you nice little Canadian people.

And right now, I'm listening to a stream of D+R Mixed Tape Radio, wherein mix tapes salvaged from garage sales are creepily broadcast.  Only one tape up right now, and it's not so creepy as you'd think -- Go West, I totally forgot about them.  It is a service of Dinosaurs and Robots, which looks to be "a blog about objects", which is an apt a description as I was ever going to come up with.   [Via BB.]

Now you try.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:15 AM