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May 5, 2012

hello heritage foundation

So there's this little chart going around, as promulgated by the Heritage Foundation.  It's titled, "What if Families Handled Finances Like the Federal Government Does?" and then has some boxes and some figures and some finger-wagging all in the service of, "THE GOVERNMENT SPENDS MORE MONEY THAT IT BRINGS IN!!!"

Which is like duh, and if you want to take this little exercise in the less-than-serious way that it's intended, then the answer to that What If? question is that I'd find a way to make more money, like get a second job or something.  Which of course translates into raising taxes on the federal government-side, which is of course not the desired effect of the Heritage Foundation.

But to take it actually seriously: comparing a family to the federal government is like comparing an apple to a Ford Escort.  For one, as a family, we get our revenue from third parties.  For the government, a bunch of that revenue (not all, of course) comes from what would be called family members — citizens, corporations, etc.  So the more accurate way to posit this is, "If all of your family's revenue came from levies on your family members and then also you were spending more than these levies brought in then why are you even still reading this asinine piece of logic?"

And of course there are also the vast differences between the purposes of families vs. the purpose of governments, which differences are just blithely skipped right over by the Heritage Foundation because everything they do is in the service of some Rand-ian Eat The Poor dogma that they try to mask with little juvenile false equivalencies like that.

Which is why I'm happy to welcome the Heritage Foundation to Tunblr, where they can try to compete in an actual marketplace of ideas and not a crony DC power breakfast.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:02 PM

May 3, 2012

comic books for the awl

So yes, there is a new thing I wrote up on the Awl right now.  It's about comic books, and how much they cost, and why.  And it got my favorite comment ever on Twitter (from a Tweet since deleted): "I thought this was going to be a short article."  Sorry, sir, but the Awl got a discount on digital ink, so there you go.

And here of course are all the things that I wanted to fit in but at eleventy million words already opted not to:

First, the point must be made that the superhero genre of comic books now has not always been the dominant paradigm.  Throughout the Golden Age, and especially right at the end there before Fred Wertham killed the business, there was a vast array of genres: cartoony stuff for kids, war stories, crime stories, even romance comics.  It was a lot like what Japan and France turned into, with comics being more a medium than a paradigm of people who fight crime and wear their underwear on the outside.  Even in the Silver/Modern Age, the publishers of the Richie Rich titles, and the Archie comics, were moving units.  It seemed unfair to exclude them, but then again you have a hard time finding these titles at certain comic stores (as that is not the audience they are marketing to).

Also, we went round and round a bit over whether comics, the industry, is in jeopardy, because that seems to be a conclusion that could be extrapolated.  The short answer is no, the industry is fine — it's transmogrifying, from a publisher to the manager of certain intellectual property.  And keep in mind that the ancillary use of comics characters (the movies, the TV shows) is by no means a novel thing.  Superman was turned into a radio serial not two years after his debut, and Batman was turned into a movie serial a year after that.  I guess the question is whether the actual comic book, the thing that you hold in your hand, will die off.  If you ask me, probably not (though the major publishers would LOVE to see that happen, because of expense and hassle of physical printing and distribution), but it will probably become more and more expensive, an artifact that only the serious (and old) collector will part money for.

It that it?  It's never it.  But hey thanks!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:59 AM

May 2, 2012

mission accomplished

If the president would have done the right thing — you know, attribute the acquisition of target Osama bin Laden to the person who was truly responsible for the decision, Ronald Reagan — then we'd all be a little bit more American today than we were yesterday, don't you think?

After all, it has been a long-held electoral fact that sitting presidents running for reelection are not allowed to ever mention the accomplishments of their administration. : Just the opposite: sitting presidents may only either recite shortcomings or apologize for failures.

I mean, just who does he think he is, rapelling out of a helicopter into Abbottabad in full Navy SEAL uniform and actually spiking an actual football with the words MISSION ACCOMPLISHED painted on it?  It was a tad unsightly.

(Is it just me, or are most of these manufactured controversies most easier answered with a fuck you?)

Posted by mrbrent at 10:49 AM

May 1, 2012

david brooks: dumb-ass

Here are selections from the last two David Brooks, presented without any context other than that.  From Friday:
This is not entirely surprising. Nearly 80 years later, it’s hard to know if the New Deal did much to end the Great Depression.

And from this morning:

So far, though, the 2012 presidential campaign is fitting into none of these categories. It’s being organized according to a different metaphor. This year, both organizations seem to visualize the campaign as a boxing match or a gang fight. Whichever side can hit the other side harder will somehow get awarded the champion’s belt.

How a man that thinks the relationship between the New Deal and the Great Depression is a head-scratcher, that there has never been a negative presidential election in modern history, is not only widely thought of as sage and reasonable but also paid actual money to write is so far beyond me that it's in another time zone.

This is not, "Oho sir, I disagree with you on the merits of your argument!" (which I prefer, believe it or not), but rather, "You, sir, are a dumb-ass, an embarrassment to your family and your name."

Posted by mrbrent at 1:22 PM

dog & pony

This is a whispery post that only some of you will understand (even tho I'm electing not to use the customary italics to connote whispering).

Last night we had a little Don't Call It a Reunion for some of your favorite Dog & Pony performers from back in the day.  Geez, is there even some sort of digital footprint for D&P?  I'm too scared to look.

(Newer, like in the past decade, friends: Dog & Pony was a little variety show that Sara Lamm and I ran from 98 until about 03.  It was immensely successful (in its context) and we had a fiercely loyal audience, until everyone got old.)

Anyhow, I'm not gonna list names, because then I'll leave someone out and feelings will be hurt, but there was about thirteen of us, catching up like it hasn't been that long, and thanks to all the spouses who watched the kids so that the other spouse could show up.

Lessons learned: if you have the opportunity to choose between making something and not making something, then opt to make something.  And if you got some friends, you're winning, so act like you been there.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:07 AM

April 30, 2012

new wtc

This is maybe a little more upbeat than I usually am, but it's one of those bright crisp days out, like maybe you can see a lot farther than you could normally, and I'm walking down W. 26th Street here on the west side of Manhattan and for the first time I notice that there's a skyscraper, almost done, sticking up where the World Trade Centers used to stand.

It's been there for a while, of course, but it's the first time that I've noticed it.  If you'd never been to Gotham before 2001, you have to understand that those ugly twin towers were omnipresent: sometimes point of reference to tell you which way was south, sometimes a reminder that you are not in Kansas anymore.  They didn't dominate the skyline (there's a whole lotta skyline here), but they certainly displaced an awful lot of sky.

And guess that it's been long enough that I'd forgotten.  But after that first little gasp, I gotta say that to see that space reclaimed is a pleasure and a comfort.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM