« August 15, 2010 - August 21, 2010 | Main | August 29, 2010 - September 4, 2010 »

August 27, 2010

jon stewart's batting practice on glenn beck

Just to soften you up for tomorrow, when Glenn Beck holds his Glenn Beck telethon on the steps of the Lincoln Monument on the anniversary of the I-Have-A-Dream speech, guest-starring Sarah Palin and Albert Pujols, which chances are (and according to my schedule) I'll have an opinion or two about, please watch this clip from last night's The Daily Show.

Obviously the Internet is constructed 75% of porn and 20% of video clips from The Daily Show, and so any exhortation to watch a The Daily Show clip should be looked at like a forward from a racist aunt.

But this time, for real, watch it.  Get galvanized.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:47 AM


This backgrounder on Clarion, Iowa, the suspected origin of delicious new salmonella-flavored eggs, tends to the by-the-numbers, but it raises an important question to be considered even by the city slickers:

Say some day you intend to live in a town in which the central industry is egg production.  Would you rather live in a town filled with owner-operated concerns, all self-sustaining?  Or would you rather live in a town with one big egg farm, which employs everyone in the town, accidentally taints eggs with bacteria and throws a good picnic once a year?

It seems glib!  It's not.  And I know my answer — I was born in the Appalachians and cannot think of a single example of a company town that seemed like anything other than a fresh hell — but I'd love to hear the rationale behind the other answer.

Maybe we can all have a sit-down at Walmart.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:13 AM

david brooks steps in it

Just as a person locked in a room with a mop bucket will eventually get a foot stuck in it, David Brooks — NYT superhero columnist whose favorite flavor is vanilla — will accidentally step in something true.

In this morning's column Brooks is comparing the US unfavorably to Germany on the relative sizes of the stimuli enacted by each country, and their current growth.  The point being, see, that Germany had a smaller stimulus and therefore is the moderate fiscal conservative choice of moderation, plus some parenting metaphors.

But this is what Brooks will be cleaning off his shoe:

Results from one quarter do not settle the stimulus/austerity debate.  Many other factors are in play.  For example, Germany is surging, in part, because America is borrowing.  Essentially, we Americans borrowed from our kids, spent some of that money on German machinery, and ended up employing German workers.

Waitaminnit, Germany makes shit?  Maybe the reason that Germany is doing OK has nothing to do with the extent they agree with David Brooks but instead because they still have an actually useful industry.  I mean, look at the graff again: not only do they make shit, but the US is the one buying it.

I may be no David Brooks, but I'll bet you a comic book that it's a lot easier to become prosperous making and selling shit than it is buying shit.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:26 AM

August 26, 2010

good morning 8.26.10

I hate to turn this into a TMI personal-narrative concerning the Great Rochester Stranding, but I'm not one to continue work on normal-life projects once normal life has a temporary pause.  Shorter: I'm a whiner.

Just got back from walking to the mechanic to hover around and innocently wonder how much longer.  Answer: partly sunny.  But I noticed in the walk, here in the suburbs (Penfield, NY, to be specific) that there is nothing sadder in the world than the picnic table that the small employer — light industrial, usually — puts either next to the back door or out past the parking lot.  I picture it years ago as a significant concession to morale, a gesture.  Why eat lunch at your desks?  Why gossip around the dingy water cooler?  Sit around the picnic table, and it's almost like you're not working.

And now it's all gray and warped, and only the smokers use it.

Time for breakfast.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:31 AM

August 25, 2010

tick tock

Looks like the Great Rochester Stranding is going to stretch to day four.  Not a long stretch of time by historic standards, but definitely crossing the crazy-making line.

Luckily the inadvertent hosts have lent me a copy of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", which might be the first novel I've read that exceeds the exuberance of the logrolls splashed on the back cover.  Though maybe American novels, translated into Swedish, are always described as, "Like [Swedish novelist] crossed with Ronald Reagan!"

Posted by mrbrent at 3:40 PM

good morning 8.25.10

As of this morning, still stranded.  It is a radical way to reassess one's hometown, to have no choice in leaving it.  This is exactly what high school felt like, at least according to my "journals".

Also, got an interesting comment in the form of a Tweet concerning the Awl piece:

Why do so many tech stories have a "fuck you" attitude? [LINK]

Now, that's timely.  And a little bit funny: it was certainly not written with a fuck-you intended towards anyone (maybe a fuck-me?), even though the material written for this specific website is laden with fuck-yous.  As far as the tech goes, I'm an enthusiastic user of most of it, and I certainly use it to connect with potential audience and like-mindeds, so I am no Luddite blithely cursing anyone's house.  I just think the implementation is a little bit absurd, and the carpetbagging SEO-experts hawking their services were looking for Amway and took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  So not so much a fuck-you as a raised eyebrow, or a smart mouth that is just asking to get my ass kicked.  Technology of course changes the course of the future, but we're still driving the tech, so I see no utility in welcoming the Messiah yet.

Which then raises the point of the difference in tone in some of the pieces I write that are published elsewhere, and the content pushed out in the three online presences intended for public consumption.  I'm beginning to realize that I might be developing a touch of the split personality disorder.  The answer to this might be to killing all outlets except for one.  In fact, it makes a certain amount of sense.  I'm just not ready to do that.  So for now, the stuff published by other people, that is intended to be the Good Good Stuff, and the posts on this site are intended to be also good but a bit more self-indulgent and a bit more ranty — like a "blog", from back in the day.

On to the day.  Must Google patron saint of automotive repair.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:30 AM

August 24, 2010

this is a novel experience

What's really fascinating about being stranded on the road is how portable I am not.  Without the cocoon of my desk, without my CSS feed, without my browser-remembered passwords, I'm a little bit adrift.  I've got a desktop and I've got some free time, but I'm having the hardest time remembering even which sites to give a quick click.

These are not generalizations.  This is pure whining, straight from the tree.

But as long as you're here, please note than I have another piece up on The Awl.  This one is about the future and the ways we're living in it.  It's also in glaring ways about trying to keep up when everyone else your age stopped trying.  But give it a read!  Click on the sponsors.

Send me messages.  I'm a little bored.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:42 AM

August 23, 2010

this is why i'm away from the computer

Hi.  It's me, Brent.

I'm stuck in my hometown of Rochester, NY.  It's nice to be back — been gone long enough to gain ironic/nostalgic distance — but it's also sad to be back, as the automobile that brought me here is ailing in a manner that will take more than one day to fix.

So that is why the posts stopped there for a couple days.

Also, mood: crummy.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:45 PM