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January 1, 2011

happy new year 2011

Yesterday I forgot to leave a post here thanking everyone for their eyeballs and wishing them a Happy New Year, etc.  So now that the New Year has passed, I guess it's too late, and accordingly our year is doomed.

So sorry about that.

But do take relief in the fact that the calendar is kind of arbitrary, as only we Gregorians think that it's 2011, while the Jewish and Chinese (not to mention the Mayans) would entirely disagree.  True, a year is the amount of time it takes the planet to complete its solar orbit, but why start now?  Why not start on an equinox?  It's imaginary, and the only reason that it has any weight is because we all agree, out of necessity, of course, so that we have some shared reference point and are not late for meetings.

And I'm serious about thanking you for reading.  Without you, I'd be a tree falling in the forest with no one around, making noise or not.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:16 PM

December 31, 2010

michelle bachmann: dipstick, in the nicest way

Finally Michelle Bachmann, the Republican representative from Minnesota whose eyes roll around in her head because she is crazy, has a secret origin:
"Until I was reading this snotty novel called 'Burr,' by Gore Vidal, and read how he mocked our Founding Fathers," Bachmann told the crowd.  "And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, 'You know what? What he's writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend -- just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country -- I knew that that was not representative of my country."

I've read that book, and I like it immensely.  And to imply that it is somehow disrespectful is nothing but shallow.  Yes, the historical characters do imply flaws in the other historical characters (such as George Washington's fat ass), and the historical characters also behave as a person would, and not as a historical figure might in a third grade history text.  But it does not rise to the level of, say, "South Park".

What turned Bachmann into a Republican is not a lack of reverence.  What turned Bachmann into a Republican is that she does not like reality.  Or, more gently, because she was tragically born without a sense of humor.

But I am thankful for her, and her function as a dipstick to measure the distributed intelligence of the House.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:08 AM

December 30, 2010

my first post about ashton kutcher

If you don't have enough time to catch up on the excellent End Of The World series at The Awl, give yourself a little taste of doomsday paranoia courtesy of Ashton Kutcher, who believes that the societal collapse whispered about will happen next year.  His scenario concerns power shortages and attendant freakouts:
You start taking out electricity and satellites, and people are going to lose their noodle.  People don't have maps anymore. People use their iPhones or GPS systems, so if there's no electricity, nobody has maps.

Kutcher is working on his physical fitness and combat training, to better protect his family.  I'd say the lesson we should all learn is to hoard maps.

Kutcher does not go into how "Punk'd" is to blame for all this.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:47 AM

December 29, 2010

paul ryan hearts ayn rand

Steve Benen points out that Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin who has yet to reciprocate the crush on him from certain journalistic corners, has a certain method to his reasonable madness:
Take Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), for example, who'll become chairman of the House Budget Committee next month. Ryan, Christopher Beam notes in an interesting new article, "requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, describes Obama's economic policies as 'something right out of an Ayn Rand novel,' and calls Rand 'the reason I got involved in public service.'"

You can unpack that at your leisure over the next two years, but the for someone to say that Ayn Rand is the reason they got into public service is like an executioner saying that health care was the field he wanted to get into.  An objectivist does not acknowledge the public as anything but an anchor that keeps the exceptional from achieving, and 'service' is polishing the mirror once a day.  Ayn Rand fans are nothing more than feckless greedheads that think wearing a pair of hornrims will make them look smart.

This man should be let no closer to a congressional budget than an arsonist nearer to a bucket of oily rags and a lighter.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:32 AM

good morning 12.29.10

This was not supposed to be a six day break in posting.  There were no extenuating circumstances or anything.  In fact, when I think back to the extenuating circumstances I've known and yet managed to post, it's a bit of a confusion.  I was enjoying the company of my family, not reading the news, etc.  So nothing to complain about but for the mild guilt of not having posted.

I did have a piece run on The Awl, which was not meant to be unrelentingly bleak but seems to be.  (Also, I did not mean to repeat the word 'existential' in one sentence, but I did.)  Instead of bleak I was shooting for "cynical about cynicism", but that might have been a degree of difficulty I should've left to another.

But maybe there's some news out there.  Brooklyn, for example.  How's Brooklyn doing?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:00 AM