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July 23, 2010

newt gingrich and futility

So Newt Gingrich had something to say about the possibility of a "mosque" near Ground Zero and I was all steamed!  But instead of wasting time on it, we'll allow Newt to continue his impression of a tree falling in a forest when no one's around.

In the meantime, read this post by Matt Langer, which describes the namesake of the potential community center:

The story of Muslim-ruled Córdoba—from the Emirate to the later Caliphate to the taifas that emerged after the Caliphate’s collapse—is an inspirational tale of religious tolerance and cultural vitality.  Non-Muslims may not have enjoyed the same legal status as their Muslim rulers, but in a world that was being torn asunder by religious persecution their ability to live in peace, their freedom to practice whichever faith they so chose—this marked an unparalleled moment in the history of humankind.

And Iberia flourished as a result: these were high times for art, literature, poetry, mathematics, philosophy.  Muslim warrior-poets walked the streets alongside world-renowned Talmudic scholars, and in the shadow of one of the world’s greatest mosques Maimonides penned his legendary Jewish theology—in Arabic.

Aside from the religion-based legal status, it sounds pretty sweet, right?  In fact, it sounds an awful lot like New York City, which is actually diverse, and tolerant.  And apologies to anyone who might believe otherwise, diverse and tolerant is the future.  Look around.

So Gingrich should find another wife to divorce on her sickbed or another Majority Leadership to be run out of and not use this city of which I am quite fond to leverage himself amongst the knuckledraggers.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:53 AM

kenneth feinberg: nothing more to see here

If you recall, before he was named to oversee payouts from the BP Oil Spill Fund, Kenneth Feinberg was appointed Special Master for Executive Compensation by the US Treasury Department.  While that job title sounds undescribably cool, it's authority extends to mostly issuing reports, so it should be more like Toothless Issuer of Easily Ignored Reports on executive compensation.

And today, Feinberg issues the last of his easily ignored reports:

Kenneth Feinberg on Friday will disclose a list of banks that made payouts he has determined were inappropriate.  Wall Street titans including JPMorgan Chase & Co. used poor judgment in paying executives as the global financial system unraveled, Feinberg will say, according to two people familiar with the plans.  The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

This certainly must be important news, if they are releasing it on a Friday.  Hopefully the nation can manage at least a half-hour of outrage before they leave early to beat the weekend traffic.  And with this thirty minutes of anger, the financial services industry can act almost contrite and then go back to wildly overcompensating themselves in time for a new work week.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:41 AM

July 22, 2010

thanks, relish

If any of you are survivors of mid-90s Williamsburg, Brooklyn, like me, then I recommend reading the Goodbye-Cruel-World note left by the proprietor of Burg standby Relish, as reported by Gothamist.  It pretty much physically lifts you and slaps you down in the middle of 1996, and 1996 Williamsburg was capital-letters Good Times.

And I'm sure somewhere now is also capital-letters Good Times, as much as I'm sure that place is not Williamsburg.

Thanks, Relish.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:24 PM

shirley sherrod is classy

The good news:  Shirley Sherrod came out of this dust-up looking like the only sane person.  She is honest and well-spoken, and while truly a victim in this, entirely up to the sudden celebrity thrust upon her.  And her message is one that hopefully rises above (from a nice piece by Mike Barthel):
Shirley Sherrod has been through a hell of a few days.  The least that could come out of it would be for us to pay a little attention to the message she was originally trying to get across.  There are a lot of poor people in America -- "they could be black; they could be white; they could be Hispanic," as she said.  Isn't it time we recognized their plight instead of pretending they don't exist?

The bad news: which do you think happened faster yesterday — she was contacted by party officials to feel her out for running for elected office, or she was contacted by agents telling her that they could sell her as a reality show host?  This would be the logical extension of circumstance as it happened: a rabid media, motivated either by craven political gain or craven pageviews, gin up a controversy that cost an innocent lady not only her job but her privacy.

Stay classy, Shirley Sherrod, and I don't mean that insincerely.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:40 AM

teacup party caucus

From a NYTimes story on Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Crazytown) explains the purpose of the bona fide Tea Party Caucus she has started in the House:
“We’re not the mouthpiece,” said Representative Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who is chairwoman of the caucus.  “We are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington, D.C. We are also not here to vouch for the Tea Party or to vouch for any Tea Party organizations or to vouch for any individual people or actions, or billboards or signs or anything of the Tea Party.”

“We are the receptacle,” she added.

Which would make them more of a Teacup Party Caucus then.

Note also that she did not explicitly rule out that the Tea Party Caucus is a nakedly opportunistic olive branch to woo a very vocal and very inchoate minority of voters who actively hate DC governmental apparati.  So not a moutpiece, yes a teacup, blowjob — not sayin'?

Though in the grand scheme of things, that is 65% less crazy than the things Bachmann usually says.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:29 AM

July 21, 2010

david frum, shirley sherrod, it's very humid

So yes I spent most of that portion of the day alloted to reading things on the web reading things about the Shirley Sherrod affair, a number of which were quite good.

But I'm gonna run them down tomorrow (unless Breitbart burns someone else in effigy) because it's so fucking swampy, and it's just me and the little dog here while the beautiful wife is off to summer camp and maybe a dog toy might lift the little dog from her heat-driven torpor enough to pass for exercise.  Plus, aren't the Mets getting beaten somewhere on television right now?

OK, I lied, here is one thing to read — David Frum doing his best to join Lindsey Graham in GOP purgatory with a what the fuck are we doing post:

When Dan Rather succumbed to the forged Bush war record hoax in 2004, CBS forced him into retirement.  Breitbart is the conservative Dan Rather, but there will be no discredit, no resignation for him.

Instead, conservatives are consumed with a new snippets-out-of-context uproar, the latest round of JournoList quotations.  Here at last is proof of the cynical machinations of the hated liberal media!  As to the cynical machinations of conservative media — well, as the saying goes, the fish never notices the water through which it swims.

Agree!  And, time for more showering.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:43 PM

good morning 7.21.10

So I lost an entire day to a nasty little flu bug, which left me shivering/sweating for about 18 hours.  You know who doesn't care if you are feeling a little under the weather?  The little dog, who probably does empathize in some canine way but still would like to be walked and fed, thank you.

And apparently it was the wrong day for me to be incapacitated, as Andrew Breitbart finally captured the media's attention like he's wanted to so bad.  And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then the better for you.  If you're a little bit curious, imagine this: the Red Scare but in reverse, plus with cross-burning.

And now Breitbart is targeting Spencer Ackerman.  This should make for some interesting spectating.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:41 AM

July 19, 2010

i am a bad person 7.19.10

This is absolutely nothing I can verify, but as far as I'm concerned a bunch of fat guys with automatic weapons would be about as effective as a bunch of skinny little guys with battle axes.

Not compared to each other, of course.  As long as the fat guy can sit down and can reserve ammo, he's fine.  It's just that you can't razor-hone too many reflexes to rise above the fat thing.

I played some RPGs in my youth.  That is the sole source of my wisdom of this.  And the general knowledge that fat guys are fat and slow and probably not so good in any kid of aerobic combat situation, no matter how they're armed.

But this is a democracy, and we are allowed to intimidate whoever we want.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:51 PM

sarah palin: "stabs hearts" yawn

Of course it's fun to make fun of Sarah Palin because of her valiant battles with the English language.  In fact, "errant words" are what actual titivils are all about.  But in her latest abneologism ("refudiate"), she is inserting herself into the controversy over a community center (including a mosque) that may be built new the World Trade Center footprint, which controversy I'm a little emotionally invested in.  The final, edited version of Palin's wisdom is as follows:
Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing

Not that baldly cynical political ploys are anything new to Sarah Palin, but this dog-whistle to Islamophobes is as awkwardly constructed as it is odious.  "It stabs hearts?"  Come on, Glenn Beck could do better than that.  There is no heart-stabbing, there is no provocation, there's just naked profiteering off the backs of stupid people who think that 9-11 (which was nine fucking years ago, right?) was a religious plot.  Which it wasn't.  Spencer Ackerman says this all better than I do.

Obviously people like Palin have their manufactured outrage over carefully selected non-events — like the four or five guys that call themselves the New Black Panthers — but it's the implied message that New York City needs to assume the behavioral flaws of the Tea Party which really burns my grits.

We already have enough fucking idiots here in our insular little city and our backwards social traditions.  We have no need for one more.  Thanks.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:24 AM

communist dating shows

What follows is a paragraph from a story that you will no doubt see referenced during the course of the day, by the "wags".  There is this Chinese dating show TV series, see, that was very popular because the ladies were all like SNAP and sizes of wallets were constantly referenced and the contestants generally behaved like vile, materialistic people.  And then the popularity of the series brought it to the attention of the censors, who remembered that they were in fact censors and made some changes:
So the dating show, and others like it, got a makeover.  Gone are fast cars, luxury apartments and boasts of flush bank accounts.  Now the contestants entice each other with tales of civic service and promises of good relations with future mothers-in-law.  One show now uses a professor from the local Communist Party school as a judge.

I am proud to live on a planet where that is still possible.  The FCC should ignore all the dirty words and the unclothedness and concentrate on preventing douchebag behavior from being rewarded.

Please remember that PRC censors also don't like dirty words and unclothedness, so, U-S-A, U-S-A, etc.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:38 AM

July 18, 2010

the nun study

Here's a bit of research to keep in mind if you are following recent stories of possible breakthroughs in the detection and treatment of Alzheimer's Disease — what is referred to as the Nun Study.

Basically, a researcher found a closed group of subjects, cloistered nuns who had written essays when they entered the order.  In analyzing the writings of the nuns, who had since advanced into old age, the researcher, Dr. David Snowden, found a correlation between what he called "linguistic density", a general measure of the complexity of the writing style of the writer, and the eventual diagnosis of Alzheimer's decades later.  A majority of the low linguistic density nuns did develop Alzheimer's, as compared to a slim minority of the high linguistic density nuns.

It's a great study for writers to look at, because you can finally say that your needless verbiage is good for something, namely avoiding a terrible disease that eradicates your consciousness.  But in the bigger scheme, the study posits that Alzheimer's is not a disease that you may be susceptible to but rather a condition that you have your entire life that just turns nasty over time.

Somehow I take comfort in that — it might be a cruel roll of the dice that makes you a victim, but it may be that the roll of the dice is not something you have to dread but one that happened already and you did not know it.

At the very least it's interesting, and it makes you wonder what else might be a condition that you are born with and not a condition that you catch.  Destiny might be a concept that makes a comeback.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:22 AM