« June 29, 2008 - July 5, 2008 | Main | July 13, 2008 - July 19, 2008 »

July 12, 2008

but remember the economy is still growing

I'm not sure which portion of you care about this sort of thing -- I'm somewhere between "not my field of employ" and "slo-mo car crashes are teh shit" -- but when there is a story filed on the biggest bank failure in a quarter century and the third sentence (in parenthesis!) is:
(IndyMac is not related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance companies that alarmed the stock market this week.)

Well then start collecting these clippings for the scrap-book, because the grandkids are going to be enthralled/bored by the Great Crash of whenever it was.  It's extraordinary that you'd need to alert the reader that the institution that failed isn't part of those other institutions that you keep hearing are going to fail before you even get to explaining why the institution failed.

I'm not hoping for it, and I sure don't want to see it happen, but, at the risk of whining, these mental bank runs are starting to make me a little jumpy.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:49 AM

July 11, 2008

my capacity for outrage is withered but present

When it comes to the environment and the increasing need to address climate change, the White House has decided that hypocrisy just takes too much effort.  So instead of giving lip service to higher aims of protecting the planet while crossing their fingers, the administration is instead thumbing its nose:
The Supreme Court, in a decision 15 months ago that startled the government, ordered the EPA to decide whether human health and welfare are being harmed by greenhouse gas pollution from cars, power plants and other sources, or to provide a good explanation for not doing so.  But the administration has opted to postpone action instead, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

To defer compliance with the Supreme Court's demand, the White House has walked a tortured policy path, editing its officials' congressional testimony, refusing to read documents prepared by career employees and approved by top appointees, requesting changes in computer models to lower estimates of the benefits of curbing carbon dioxide, and pushing narrowly drafted legislation on fuel-economy standards that officials said was meant to sap public interest in wider regulatory action.

In other words, act like a dick in the commission of ignoring an order of the Supreme Court.

And what's the fun of thumbing your nose if you can't snigger like a moron while you're doing it?

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

It's one thing to pursue a wrong-headed and destructive policy out of principle, and another to do so out of greed and a whole nuther to do so blithely.  The administration is fully confident that not only is the damage already done, but they're going to get away with it and there's not a thing you can do about it.

Punchline!  God dammit, there's gotta be a punchline in there somewhere.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:21 PM

walkin' talkin' stereotypes

Here's something -- the song that pops into my head all the time that I absolutely can't sing in public.  It's from The Kids In The Hall (the Canadian comedy troupe, and not the more recent rap group named in honor of the comedy troupe).

It's in a sketch called "Running Faggot".  (It starts about a minute and a half in, after the credits sequence, which, if you are of a certain age, is alone wirth the click.)  The song is pretty catchy.  Like I said, I can't really start singing it out loud walking down the street.  It is, after all, called, "Running Faggot".

I look forward to the search keyphrases that this will generate, especially if I randomly type the word "glisten".

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

July 10, 2008

shouldn't we pick on the wsj all the time?

Sweet Jesus, this reads like a parody (and a good one!), but it is not.  It is for real.  It is The Wall Street Journal explaining certain aspects of the Internet to billionaires:
Over the last few years, 4chan.org has become one of the most talked-about sites when it comes to launching new memes.  After appearing on the site, "LOLcats," humorous images of cats with loud text beneath them in a fake language called "LOLspeak", stormed the Web last year.  (For example, instead of saying "hello," the cats would say "oh hai.")

Comedy goldmine!

Well, okay, the article is actually a sober discussion of the transition of high-traffic, high-subscription meme-heavy website from hobbies into business ventures.  And considering the venue, the idea of the monetization of a million or so eyeballs a month, or a couple hundred thousand members, is one that the Wall Street Journal should be interested in, if not everyone else.

But sober discussion is not nearly half as fun as mocking the squares.

So, "un-kay-buy", Grandad Warbucks, be careful riding your "invisible bike".

Posted by mrbrent at 1:39 PM

analysis: i'm sleepy

Sage words from the Yahoo! Container of Headlines:
• Analysis: Obama moves to political center on surveillance vote

I'm not sure why they left out the "sun rising in the east" part, but I guess headlines get only so many words.  Call me cynical (or, 'Mr Cynical', I guess), but I can't recall any candidate who decided to firm up his/her chances by moving to the fringes.

I will grant that putting "Analysis:" before anything does make it look much smarter.  I'm going to try that at the old dayjob archipelago -- maybe I'll get an extra-special secret raise.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:39 AM

July 9, 2008

crazy terrorist rasberry ants

This broke a month and a half ago, but it is worth noting -- unhappy with the progress that the terrorist bees have made by disappearing, terrorist ants have decided to declare war on us by eating our electronics.  They are called "crazy rasberry ants", and the soup is on, sucka.
Computers, burglar alarm systems, gas and electricity meters, iPods, telephone exchanges – all are considered food by the flea-sized ants, for reasons that have left scientists baffled.

I don't see what's so baffling about that -- crazy rasberry ants are terrorists and therefor hate freedom, and electronics.  Plus also, they're hungry, duh. Funfact: the "rasberry" in "crazy rasberry ants" is not a typo!  They are named after a Texan exterminator that identified (and then, presumably, exterminated) them.  This is why you should not eat them, as they do not taste like raspberries at all.  (Actually, they taste like crazy, crazy ants.)

[Via Notes From Somewhere Bizarre]

Posted by mrbrent at 3:09 PM

in fact, i'm wearing flip-flops right now

W/r/t the GOP's current attack meme against the presumptive Democratic nominee -- is the best they can do to call Obama a "flip-flopper"?  I've been called a lot of hurtful things in my life, but "flip-flopper" is not one of them, and if I was ever called one, I'd have to knit my brow and shrug, "Um, yeah, good one."

Of course there are people out there who will be interviewed, or even suggest in personal conversation, that they ain't ever gonna vote for Obama because he's a flip-flopper.  But, keep in mind that these weren't ever gonna vote for Obama, and, "I ain't ever gonna vote for Obama because he's [x]," is there preferred response to most questions, where [x] equals whatever the last thing they saw in a TV commercial or heard from Sean Hannity.  It's nice to feed the base with new, interesting things to say, but I doubt that the undecideds are sitting around, wondering which of the candidates are the least flip-floppy.

If the blood-libelest the dirty trick wing of the GOP can do is "flip-flopper", then are they even trying?  Are they down to schoolyard taunts?  Or is this some version of rope-a-dope, with Republicans pretending that they don't know how to run a campaign to lull Democrats into complacency.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:51 AM

July 8, 2008

china: duh

You can file this under "duh" or under the Deadening Effect Of Imperialism (or under 'Shh I'm playing GTAIV'}, but this news item (linked off of him they call Drudge), tests our understanding of mathematics:
China's economy to become world's biggest in 2035: study

I hate to stand in the way of anyone's laissez-faire, but, no matter what current economic stats we look at today, there is this immovable object -- China's population is three times ours.  While it may be a surprise that the unclothed savages could ever compete with our suburban excellence, it's not that hard to anticipate.

But, between you and me, let's not let that lessen the job of the reporter on the global economics beat, whose role will be, for the next couple, to act surprised as equilibrium makes the law of unintended consequences look like a sucker's bet.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 PM

mccain: lowering the public speaking bar below sea level

At the risk of wallowing in the creeping triumphalism that the upcoming presidential elections may portend, I just watched a video of Sen. McCain speaking at a recent campaign event, and it is just astonishing how bad he is at speaking in public.  Did he win all those Senate campaigns by feigning laryngitis and giving speeches in semaphore?  And yes, the clip is a montage and probably edited for the harsher light, but, recalling the other speeches of his I've seen, it is not entirely unfair.

I'm not saying vote for/don't for him, I'm just wondering how a man that has the stage presence of a xanaxed lesser Muppet with stage fright can expect to run for president?

And yes, we have (recently) elected (kind of) a man to the presidency whose public speaking is not exactly serviceable, but at least Bush mastered the dumb-but-affable, the drawling-what-they-tell-me-to-drawl aspects of it.  McCain has mastered no aspect of speaking, other than the grimly-soldiering-on-even-tho-I-suck-at-this aspect.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:59 PM

nytimes: man youtubes dog

So the Arts Section of today's New York Times ran as its most prominent story the news that people watch videos on the Internet -- more specifically, the story of Matt Harding, whose videos you've surely seen somewhere somehow, whether by blog or by email link.

My first reaction was, "Hey, that's not news -- how did that get in my newspaper."  Because I have a hard time considering the fact that a viral video is popular, or that a dude did an interesting thing, is newsworthy.

Which then reminded me that the NYTimes, and all those other dead tree dailies, are working overtime to integrate their paper presence with their online presence.  Some of this is awkward and overt -- insets in your paper touting "More On The Web!" -- and some of it is more seemless, as newspaper-sponsored blogs start to meld in with commentary/analysis, in a much timelier fashion.  So maybe it is that the powers-that-be decided to report on Where The Hell Matt Is because, in their efforts to bootstrap into the current iteration of media, there is a certain threshold of success of a viral video which is analogous to "news".  Or, at least there will be, if the NYTimes continues to report on it as such.

Or maybe the editors of the NYTimes were just overcome by the sheer cuteness of Matt dancing all over the world -- maybe it's that simple.

Nevertheless, I wound up considering the abbreviated epochs of the Internet, as laid out by this post by Ellis that I read yesterday:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stand up now and say, okay, these are the post-curation years? The world does not need another linkblog. What is required, frankly, is what we’re supposed to call “content” these days. When I were a lad, back in the age of steam, we called this “original material.”

And while Ellis is looking at the Internet through the prism of the individual user (i.e., the evolution from the Well to website to third party blogging apps to Tumblr to Twitter), the same gravitational pull is affected all the other media.  After all, if a newspaper is not a very good newspaper, is it really anything more than a linkblog, with news stories summarized and begging to be contextualized with further reading elsewhere?  Following that, if the NYTimes is going to devote resources to reporting the events of the world of networked ones and zeros, is it now competing primarily with Metafilter and Boing Boing instead of the Washington Post and the LA Times?

All of this is half-baked, but at least it's fixed in print.  Welcome to my morning.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:44 AM

July 7, 2008

my bloody valentine

Time for the sporadic post about music, which is appropriate, since my access to new music is sporadic.  However, I'm not above wallowing in the past which is why when I saw (and I forget where) news that My Bloody Valentine had reunited and played a gig, I was a couple notches above excited.  There is video of the gig (and others linked in the sidebar), though the audio quality is such that it took a longer-than-usual time to recognize the song being played (the sidebar videos have better audio/the one I linked is more fun).

Whatever -- I'm sure that's what they're supposed to sound like live (having never seen them).  They have more gigs planned as well, and the Wikipedia says that they're recording new tracks, or at least trying to finish the tracks they started fifteen years ago.

If you are not familiar with MBV for whatever reason, the shorthand for them is: early 90s loudest post-punk reclusive wall-of-noise ever.  Plus also shoegaze-y, though who wears shoes anymore, really?  "Loveless" is the album that you should already have.  I say it's the best album of the 1990's, but others argue that deciding on such a thing is a whack-ass endeavor.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:51 PM

i can outlast glenn beck

A friend of the family, as they say, of whom I am quite fond, has drunk the Glenn Beck kool-aid.  This FOF is a very smart young person, but all of the sudden one visit FOF spent a good deal of energy to convince me that the Iraq invasion was justified because of 9-11, that President Clinton caused most of our current national troubles, that poor people are lazy, etc., and volunteered that a good bit of FOF's understanding derived from listening to Glenn Beck and reading his books.

For that reason, a little more time is going to be spent time writing about Glenn Beck.  I was under the impression that that he was such an obvious gasbag, saying provocative things only to garner an audience, that no reasonable person could take him seriously.  I was wrong.

For instance, Glenn Beck disagreed with the recent Supreme Court decision concerning the rights of Gitmo detainees which stated, in part, that indefinitely detaining anyone without access to judicial remedy was not contemplated in our Constitution.  Beck's response:

If I’m president of the US, I would go on National television and say—’ladies and gentlemen, the Supreme Court said that we don’t have Gitmo so that is over.  We’re going to release all of them, but I want you to know from here on out our policy is to not have prisoners.  We’re going to shoot them all in the head.

I would not want to suggest that Beck does not have the right to disagree with a SCOTUS decision.  However, to advocate murdering detainees rather than detaining (or, Heaven forfend, trying them in a court) them makes Beck a twinkling asshole of lower-than-ordinary intelligence, and hopefully his poo-flinging will someday lose whatever sexiness it has so that there is more room for grown-up discourse.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:15 PM