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April 6, 2013

carmine infantino rip

Yesterday I stitched together a brief obit of Carmine Infantino, who passed away on Thursday.

Unless you are a comic book fan, and the way things are today, you most likely are, you don't know who he was.  But to sum up, not only was he one of the most identifiable comic book pencillers alive, he oversaw the reimagination of the DC super-heroes in the 1960s much in the same way that Jack Kirby did at Marvel.

In fact (and damn I wish I thought of this when I was writing the thing), it is not unfair to call Infantino the George Lois of the comic book industry.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:24 PM

April 4, 2013

ta-nehisi coates ending the ben carson conversation

You will read today's Ta-Nehisi Coates, guesting on the NYT Op-Ed page, because you already like him, and because he's writing about that fellow you've been hearing about so much recently, Ben Carson, the surgeon from Johns Hopkins who conservatives want badly to run for president.  Spoiler alert: he's black, and prone to saying things like how "white liberals" are the most racist people there are and they just want to keep him "on the plantation."
The plantation metaphor refers to a popular theory on the right. It holds that the 95 percent of African-Americans who voted for a Democratic president are not normal Americans voting their beliefs, but slaves. A corollary to the plantation theory is the legend of the Conservative Black Hope, a lonesome outsider, willing to stare down the party of Obamacare and stand up for the party of voter ID. Does it matter that this abolitionist truth-teller serves at the leisure of an audience that is overwhelmingly white? Not really. Blacks are brainwashed slaves; you can't expect them to know what's in their interest.

But you really need to go and read the whole thing, as it ends with not so much a kicker as a kick right to the breadbasket, one that pretty much wins the day and ends the argument.

I think I read that Coates turned down a permanent gig on the Op-Ed page?  I'm sure he had his reasons, but smart move to offer him the gig, at least.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:47 AM

April 3, 2013

charter schools are icky

I'm sorry, but there comes a moment in every story about a charter school, but it a well-intentioned non-profit or an evil, evil Rhee-spawn for-profit, that reads like a freak/horrorshow that makes my insides curdle and lowers my respect for humanity one more notch.  Take, for example, this paragraph, from a story about takeovers of certain districts by the State of Tennessee:
On a recent school day, teachers in classrooms named after colleges (Wake Forest One; Columbia Two) repeatedly reminded students to sit with their hands folded, eyes tracking the teacher. Whenever a teacher asked a question, wiggling hands shot into the air. The class rewarded correct answers by bellowing cheers of "Good job!" or "Right on!"

That sounds a whole lot more like the school the Manchurian Candidate went to than the one that I went to.

I am obviously not a professional in the field, but it seems to me that even the field is unrecognizable — is this an elementary school or a prank?  To prepare children (and the children in the anecdote are low income and urban, so let's all tsk-tsk) for life later on by training them like dogs?   "Oh, I always wanted to go to this college, because my third-grade classroom was named after it!"

Maybe that's the most upsetting aspect: it's a bunch of poor kids, so let's treat them like we'd never consider treating our own children, like little shock troops conned into precision discipline with the carrot of achievement.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:35 AM

April 2, 2013

kicking the gop when they are down and then calling them names

There is no particular news peg to hang this on, which is awkward and not how you are supposed to do things.

But, you've no doubt noticed how the Republican Party, after a very-public and not-yet-completed round of what for them passes for introspection (lobbyists, op-eds, etc.), the Party has been lurching at straws that do not comport with the past twenty years of their ideology.  Immigration reform?  We can do that!  Same sex marriage?  Well, what do we have to do to get you gays to vote for us?

It's comical in its utter transparency, and if anything it reveals the actual core beliefs of the Grand Ole Party: talk all you want about conservatism and print your posters about the free market, but what they actually singularly care about is the acquisition and maintenance of political power.  And if they have to put on a Nehru jacket and talk about how "groovy" everything is, then hang loose, man!

I guess the really fun thing is that the attention span of the GOP is no greater or deeper in complexity than the electorate they seek to convince.  In 2004, the GOP distilled all the issues facing America into some rank nativist and heteronormative paranoia, and it worked.

And now, at the nadir of their fortunes for a number of systemic and very interesting reasons, they stumble around the Beltway, convinced that the key to the presidency is learning as much Spanish as Mike Bloomberg knows.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:56 AM

April 1, 2013

board compensation? yeah, board compensation

According to the NY Times, while growth of executive compensation a the Banks is slowing, compensation to the Board of Directors is not:
Take Goldman Sachs, where the average annual compensation for a director -- essentially a part-time job -- was $488,709 in 2011, the last year for which data is available, up more than 50 percent from 2008, according to Equilar, a compensation data firm. Some of the firm's 13 directors make more than $500,000 because they have extra responsibilities.

The difference between the board and the actual management of a bank is that the board is more of an oversight structure.  To simplify, consider the board of directors and the shareholders as two, sometimes competing and sometimes complimentary (though shareholders are usually largely powerless) governing structures, while presidents, vice presidents and other officers are the ones with the day-to-day managing power.

The board meets a handful of times a year, so the fact that they're making eight or nine times what average Americans make per year will not be rehabilitative for the image of the Banks in general.

[Full disclosure: I am actually on the Board of Directors of a successful indie theater company, and, in my case, being one is worth a bucket of spit, between you and me.]

Posted by mrbrent at 9:22 AM