04.30.11

Internet access as a commodity

Posted in Phlogiston, Predator State at 5:42 pm by George Smith

In another sign of national decline, or the inability to do anything other now more advanced western nations do, AT&T begins limiting its DSL customers on Monday. Unlimited Internet access is over here.

DD is an AT&T. The service is already frequently abysmal.

Natch, the reason for this is because none of the big corporate Internet providers want to see their profit margins expand as more people watch high def television and movies on the Internet. They view throughput and capacity as premium commodities. As a consequence, they’ve had little incentive to improve their infrastructure, always preferring the short term highest profit margins.

In the meantime, US broadband access compared to peer nations is putrid. The story has been repeated so many times in the mainstream news media it requires minimal citation. If you live here, you know it.

(A pile from Google — here.)

If one were actually serious about winning the future, our fearless leader might make the case for Internet access as a utility, rather than just another premium service the profitable big providers can use to soak people for the sake of even more profit.


In related matters, ducks to the golden fool, ol’ sci-fi and libertarian author David Brin. I’ve accidentally caught two of his last columns for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, where he’s a fellow.

The first has him as a late joiner to the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy which really doesn’t need another cheerleader as EMPAct America and the Heritage Foundation have filled the squad with A-listers.

With Roscoe Bartlett, Islamo-phobe birthers Trent Franks and Frank Gaffney, JJ Carafano and William Forstchen in the stable, there’s really no need for a David Brin. How could he compare?

Anyway, Brin’s newest column is on “Internet Access as a Human Right,” which sounds good, I think we can all agree. Don’t tell AT&T.

However, once the piece builds up a head of steam Brin starts yapping about government and economic transparency. In and of itself, coming it as it does out of someone who has apparently been living in the US in the last ten years, is a a laff riot.

Particularly when he gets to addressing Libya:

According to this Washington Post article, when the U.S. Treasury Department froze Libyan assets, they expected to find $100 million, but found over $30 billion—mostly all in one bank. To put this in perspective, in 2009, Libya had a gross domestic product of $62 billion.

Say what? Thirty billion dollars? If this cash pile is matched by similar revelations re Egypt and Tunisia and other toppled despotisms, can you doubt that economic transparency will become a truly radical cause during the twenty-teens?

Only in this case, we’re talking about a “radicalism of reasonableness.” A militancy of moderation. A fervent and dynamic worldwide call for governments and corporations and oligarchs and rulers and economies and everybody simply to play fair. Compete fair. To rule fairly, the way Adam Smith and F. Hayek and nearly all cogent economists of left and right agree we must, if society is to be healthy at all.

A radicalism that Louis Brandeis spoke of when he prescribed the one thing that keeps a society healthy: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

A “radicalism of reasonableness.” “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” I can see Steve rolling his eyes if he ever reads this.

Let’s start with those despot nations, (he doesn’t mention our rather un-transparent and systemically unreasonable society), reads Brin’s piece.

We could shower the despot nations with free satellite phones, free Internet access from the Commando Solo air plane — the former possibly to be called volksradios, a name coined by Brin.

One of the characteristics of the clueless futurist is how he or she write pieces which are unintentional parodies.

Holed up in plush digs where no one emits the bark of a sarcastic horselaugh under penalty of expulsion, it does no good to reflect on our own fail. Not when dreaming of the export of wonderful things we no longer do or own — like in this case, transparency, to others.

Brin’s piece is well-meaning crap and it’s here. It does make obvious he’s been out of circulation for awhile.


Way back in grad school I read one of Brin’s big books, Startide Rising. It was about talking dolphins and big ideas, I think. It’s now so embarrassing to recall I don’t even wanna talk about it. That was almost thirty years ago.

04.29.11

More jokes from the most jokeful country

Posted in Extremism, Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:15 pm by George Smith


Good news, lads! Good news! Michele Bachmann is a TIME VIP! (Fast forward to 2:11, note sign in background.)

“We’ll make some films about people white and crazy/And all they have to do is act naturally.”

Not bad as a prediction.

From the Center for American Progress, by Eric Alterman:

The Time 100, however, is the opposite of journalism. It is a series of pre-packaged lies and public relations exercises that, in many cases, are unlikely even to be authored by the people claiming the bylines. Were they to be taken seriously, they would fall afoul of every conflict-of-interest rule known to the profession (and a few they may have invented on their own).

I wrote about last year’s issue, focusing on the oddity in particular of inviting Ted Nugent to lie on behalf of Sarah Palin. But even the adoring profiles that did not lie—or were not written by lunatics—still enjoyed zero journalistic value, and were useful or significant only to the people who got to put framed copies of their alleged wonderfulness on the walls of their studies …

Where is this year’s equivalent of Ted Nugent snuggling up to Sarah Palin? Well, this year’s Sarah Palin, you might have guessed, is Michele Bachmann. And the writer to take a good, hard journalistic accounting of her strengths and weaknesses? You guessed it. Rush Limbaugh.

Rush doesn’t mind admitting that he is “a great admirer of Michele Bachmann’s,” as she is “a strong spokeswoman for unapologetic conservatism. She is neither extreme nor unreasonable, which is why her philosophy has resonated with grassroots conservatives.” Problem is, says El Rushbo, that “she’s conservative. So because she is smart, talented and accomplished and a natural leader—not to mention attractive—the left brands her as a flame-throwing lightweight.”

I don’t suppose the problem could be that Bachmann is also an idiot. She thinks the Revolutionary War began in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts. She thinks the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery. She thinks slaves came to America because they were “risk takers … people that wanted a better life and were willing to do what it took to get it.” She thinks something called the “Hoot-Smalley Tariff,” allegedly passed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, caused the Depression. She doesn’t know what years Jimmy Carter was president of the United States and thinks he had something to do with the spread of swine flu that happened during the presidency that preceded him. And she’s pretty sure that global warming is “all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.”

Bachmann also incited civil disobedience against the census. I got more than a good share of this wonderful fruit.

How many chainsaw massacres per year?

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 12:12 pm by George Smith

Getting Ted Nugent to do an e-mail interview is an invitation to merriment of the unintentional kind.

Once Nugent gets the word processor going he always hits send before giving it the once over. Much to our continuing joy and delight.

Take this interview, at Fox News on-line today:

It has always been the brain-dead elitist element to disarm others, while they are armed and protected by the other’s tax dollars. The misconception is misrepresentation in the media, and people who look at a gun and immediately look at the tragic use of a gun.

They don’t look at a chainsaw and think of dismembered people, they don’t look at automobiles as the tool of the drunk driver, and it is this bizarre mysticism of some shallow minds that the gun has a personality. Guns save lives.

In the last ten years I can’t think of any gun control legislation in this country. However, let’s let that one slide.

When was the last time you saw something about a chainsaw massacre — other than a movie ad — in the daily newspaper?

Chainsaw massacres, they just happen all the time. Almost as much as shootings.

Nugent is also virulently teetotal. And, he explains, this is why he hates Hollywood and Hollywood hates him:

Here is a man that has been attacked for my militant hatred for drinking and driving, and drunk idiots ruining lives because in Hollywood, if you aren’t drooling, puking and dying it is not a party. If you want to see a party watch Uncle Ted – I have been clean and sober for 63 years and this is a f**king party! Write that down!

Hah-hah. A good portion of ol’ Ted’s current audience is very physically active power drinkers. And it is not unknown for them to get behind the wheel after having been over-served. There is, after all, a reason Ted tours bars and casinos. It’s where the money is for him.

For example, this summer Ted will visit Jim Thorpe, PA, to play a show at Penn’s Peak in mid-August. DD played this venue many years ago when it was known as (and still is) the Flagstaff Ballroom.

Of Flagstaff, I wrote on the DD bio page:

When not playing the 4G’s, a typical gig would have us opening for Pat Travers or Robin Trower, semi-major guitar stars from the Seventies fallen on hard time in the haunch of the Eighties and reduced to performing in the coal town of Jim Thorpe. The venue, called Flagstaff, was an old resort from when Jim Thorpe, originally called Mauch Chunk, had an actual upper class of coal barons in residence around the turn of the century.

Like the south side of Bethlehem, Jim Thorpe was quite depressed. But since Flagstaff furnished very cheaply-priced big-league guitar rock in destitute Carbon County, fans turned out regularly.

Flagstaff was split into two sections, a main floor with an outside balcony that wrapped around the building — and a restaurant. During the shows, the lines to the conveniences would become overlong and the local custom was for the male patrons to march to the outdoor balcony and . . . well, you can connect the dots. En masse, it was quite an astonishing site and, I am told, fabulously irritating to the residents of Mauch Chunk who lived further down the hill from Flagstaff.

Good times, good times.

It’s too late to get along

Posted in Extremism, Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 8:58 am by George Smith

Here’s an ABC News clip from a New Hampshire town hall meeting in which the Republican, a Tea Party man by the name of Frank Guinta, gets a mildly hard time from his constituents. I say mild because by the standards of rudeness and disruption, its gentle. Guinta, after all, isn’t even close to being bottled.

Guinta — who looks every bit the overstuffed buffoon who doesn’t even know all the particulars of the legislation he’s defending — can’t take it. He calls for peace after an old white coot stands up, delivers a very brief rant about the president, and is decisively booed.

At that point another man begins to speak (it comes near the end of the segment):

Guinta: If we could refrain from booing…

Man: No!

You’ve asked the people that we cooperate and we all be nice. But you were swept into office by people who really weren’t nice and you didn’t
lift a finger to say, “Hey, let’s chill.” And these people were carrying guns. So it’s a little late for you to condescend …”

And here one sees in action the almost total failure of the president and the Democratic Party. So incapable of framing any powerful arguments. or just afraid to do so, against the prevailing stories leading up to 2010, their political base became dispirited, didn’t get out, and the extremists were put in office. And now there’s palpable regret.

As a resident of California, I can view it with a little detachment if only because the GOP is dead meat in the state. And it’s not that way becaus of anything the opposition did but because Republicans basically convinced almost the entire Latino population that it was a mortal enemy. And that was a fairly accurate judgment.

So let’s not get along. Not now, not soon.

If the President would choose to argue as pointedly as the man in the seats at the Guinta town hall, things could change. But he won’t. And because of that, 2012 will be a repeat of 2010.

Obama will probably win re-election because the opposition will nominate a radical fool. But the rest of the party will get drubbed for not standing for anything or quietly trying to inch the football to the right.


From Krugman, this made me laugh twice:

Lately the inflationistas have seized on rising oil prices as evidence in their favor, even though — as Mr. Bernanke himself pointed out — these prices have nothing to do with Fed policy. The way oil prices are coloring the discussion led the economist Tim Duy to suggest, sarcastically, that basic Fed policy is now to do nothing about unemployment “because some people in the Middle East are seeking democracy.”

But I’d put it differently. I’d say that the Fed’s policy is to do nothing about unemployment because Ron Paul is now the chairman of the House subcommittee on monetary policy.

First, for the obvious line. Second, for the elliptical reference to crazy Ron Paul’s goldbuggism.


This morning’s post is a little too bleak for a Friday, even by my low standards.

So I give you an old DD instrument inspired by the Get Smart villain known as the Claw.

From the web, the Claw, is described:

The Claw … was an evil villain of Asian ancestry — a distant cousin to Bond’s “Dr. No.” The Claw was so called because one of his hands was missing, a la Captain Hook. In its place, as I recall, was a powerful shoehorn-shaped magnet. (There you go — two strikes already, both disability and ethnic stereotyping.) The Claw spoke English with a heavy accent, which was a good part of the joke. Picture Smart holding him off at gunpoint. Smart would turn to his sidekick, the lovely Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), and say with a squinted brow, something like: “Well, 99, I see it’s our old nemesis, the Craw.”

Before 99 could respond, the villain would break in, growling: “No, not da Craw — da Craw!”

This doesn’t get at all of it, which in its ethnic stereotyping for the sake of humor is now taboo.

Anyway, the Claw story line also features Harry Hoo, a Chinese detective who worked with Maxwell Smart. Hoo is just another absurd take on Charlie Chan, and in my tune, you can hear the character — played by someone named Joey Forman, saying in a bad accent, “We meet again Mr. Craw!”

Followed by the Claw: “So it is you, Hoo!”

Here’s the tune, now a couple years old — The Amazing Harry Hoo!

Fairly machine-like, as befits the subject.

If the intro sounds familiar, it’s me imitating a sitar riff from The Beatles’ “Love You To.” Key gear: the Roger Linn Adrenalinn III.

Give it a listen! It still makes me smile. Need a video, maybe.

04.28.11

Mark your calendars — another show, yow!

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 3:27 pm by George Smith

You and your friends are cordially invited to attend the Dick Destiny Band Tax-Free Concert at Artscape Gallery, Sunday, 15 May 2011, with margaritas and champagne served beginning at 4:00. Food will also be provided.

In honor of post tax season … the Dick Destiny Band will perform with its signature protest-rock originals and select cover-tunes. Come for the fun, see the artwork and enjoy the music. We’ll even perform our big hit, “GE & Jeff,” for your amusement.

We look forward to seeing you again — your’s truly and Mark, the drummer.

I’ll be posting a few other reminders, so if in the off chance you’re close in SoCal, come see me. I personally guarantee it’ll ROCK!

Last show, someone was so motivated by the rock they almost overdosed on some speed they’d surreptitiously brought to the gig. We don’t frisk at the door.

Anyway, we had to lock the guy in an empty room for two hours to prevent his self-injury.

Directions and such. Don’t be fooled by the genteel nature of the pix. It gets very loud.

Some Dean Baker and back to Pennsyltucky

Posted in Extremism, Made in China, Permanent Fail at 3:13 pm by George Smith

Here are a couple of videos of economist Dean Baker explaining things recently. Think of him as one of the few other guys like Paul Krugman, or vice versa.

In the first segment, near the end he discusses one remedy for the trade imbalance with China. The dollar is over-valued, he informs. If you remedy that, then the trade imbalance has a chance to shift. It doesn’t fix the abandonment of non-military manufacturing and how that would have to be reconstituted but it’s a lot better than idiotic suggestions to impose tariffs after the horse has been out of the barn for years.


In other matters some pundits and Dems think it means something for the President that at town hall meetings, in a place like Hazleton, PA, older people have gotten up to call out their GOP rep crazies.

As in:

Pennsylvania, freshman Lou Barletta was rebuked by a 64-year-old woman who wanted to know why he backed “a plan that will destroy Medicare.” (“I won’t destroy Medicare,” Barletta responded. “Medicare is going to be destroyed by itself.”)

Setting aside the fact for a moment that Democrats have never shown any facility for sustaining an argument against extreme right GOP policies with regards to the old white voter demographic, this is still the hinterland of Pennsylvania, fer cryin’ out loud.

Except in Dauphin County, where African Americans live, and State College — where the lib’ral perfessors and students live — nobody’s going to be voting for Obama in 2012. The GOP mostly thinks he’s not an American and yesterday will make no difference. Except for Philly, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Hershey and State College, it’s finished there.

See here, for the way things really are:

Following continued attacks by anti-hunting groups to ban traditional ammunition (ammunition containing lead-core components) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, Representative Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania-11) became an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1558) to clarify the longstanding exemption of ammunition and ammunition components under the act. The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act is being championed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. The act also calls for lead fishing tackle, similarly under attack from anti-hunting groups, to be exempt from the TSCA.

“We applaud and thank Rep. Barletta for co-sponsoring this common-sense measure,” said NSSF President and CEO Stephen L. Sanetti. “This bill will continue to ensure that America’s hunters and shooters can choose for themselves the best ammunition to use, instead of unnecessarily mandating the universal use of expensive alternatives.”

“The economic growth of America’s firearms and ammunition industry continues to be a bright spot in our country’s still ailing economy,” continued Keane. “Passing this important legislation will help to ensure that our industry, which is responsible for more than 183,000 well-paying jobs and has an economic impact of more than $27.8 billion annually, continues to shine.”

The argument was to ban old lead shotgun pellets because of hunters who don’t collect their kills because they’re too stumblebum. The kill is then carrion and when it gets eaten by scavengers, the lead pellets also take down the animals that eat it. Two for the price of one, so to speak.

This was an issue in California because of the efforts to put the California condor back into the wild. Well, it was discovered the young condors were eating carrion — what they do, you see — and inevitably ingesting lead pellets. Which, in turn, poisoned them.

Blobby drunk declared awesome by UK nerd

Posted in Phlogiston at 9:29 am by George Smith

And now for something different, this bit of phlogiston from a Brit pub on Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens used to be sub semi-famous on pundit shows in the US during the Bush years.

Then showing up smelling strongly of drink took its toll. Plus, cancer.

Anyway, from the Brit papers, a less drunk thin British friend, Martin Amis, on his perishing Brit friend:

‘He’s one of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen’…


Towards the very end of the last century, all the greatest chessplayers, including Garry Kasparov, began to succumb to a computer (named Deep Blue); I had the opportunity to ask two grandmasters to describe the Deep Blue experience, and they both said: “It’s like a wall coming at you.” In argument, Christopher is that wall. The prototype of Deep Blue was known as Deep Thought. And there’s a case for calling Christopher Deep Speech. With his vast array of geohistorical references and precedents, he is almost Google-like; but Google (with, say, its 10 million “results” in 0.7 seconds) is something of an idiot savant, and Christopher’s search engine is much more finely tuned. In debate, no matter what the motion, I would back him against Cicero, against Demosthenes.


As a young man, Christopher was conspicuously unpredatory in the sexual sphere (while also being conspicuously pan-affectionate: “I’ll just make a brief pass at everyone,” he would typically and truthfully promise a mixed gathering of 14 or 15 people, “and then I’ll be on my way”). I can’t say how it went, earlier on, with the boys; with the girls, though, Christopher was the one who needed to be persuaded.


Every novelist of his acquaintance is riveted by Christopher, not just qua friend but also qua novelist. I considered the retort I am about to quote (all four words of it) so epiphanically devastating that I put it in a novel – indeed, I put Christopher in a novel. Mutatis mutandis (and it is the novel itself that dictates the changes), Christopher “is” Nicholas Shackleton in The Pregnant Widow – though it really does matter, in this case, what the meaning of “is” is…


In the summer of 1986, in Cape Cod, and during subsequent summers, I used to play a set of tennis every other day with the historian Robert Jay Lifton. I was reading, and then re-reading, his latest and most celebrated book, The Nazi Doctors; so, on Monday, during changeovers, we would talk about the chapter “Sterilisation and the Nazi Biomedical Vision”; on Wednesday, “‘Wild Euthanasia’: The Doctors Take Over”; on Friday, “The Auschwitz Institution”; on Sunday, “Killing with Syringes: Phenol Injections”; and so on. One afternoon, Christopher, whose family was staying with mine on Horseleech Pond, was due to show up at the court, after a heavy lunch in nearby Wellfleet …


In conclusion we move on to 1999, and by now Christopher and I have acquired new wives, and gained three additional children (making eight in all). It was mid-afternoon, in Long Island, and he and I hoped to indulge a dependable pleasure: we were in search of the most violent available film. In the end we approached a multiplex in Southampton (having been pitiably reduced to Wesley Snipes).


Christopher is bored by the epithet contrarian, which has been trailing him around for a quarter of a century. What he is, in any case, is an autocontrarian: he seeks, not only the most difficult position, but the most difficult position for Christopher Hitchens. Hardly anyone agrees with him on Iraq (yet hardly anyone is keen to debate him on it). We think also of his support for Ralph Nader, his collusion with the impeachment process of the loathed Bill Clinton (who, in Christopher’s new book, The Quotable Hitchens, occupies more space than any other subject), and his support for Bush-Cheney in 2004…


“Is nothing sacred?” he asks. “Of course not.” And no westerner, as Ronald Dworkin pointed out, “has the right not to be offended”. We accept Christopher’s errancies, his recklessnesses, because they are inseparable from his courage; and true valour, axiomatically, fails to recognise discretion. As the world knows, Christopher has recently made the passage from the land of the well to the land of the ill …


Your corporeal existence, O Hitch, derives from the elements released by supernovae, by exploding stars. Stellar fire was your womb, and stellar fire will be your grave: a just course for one who has always blazed so very brightly. The parent star, that steady-state H-bomb we call the sun, will eventually turn from yellow dwarf to red giant, and will swell out to consume what is left of us, about six billion years from now.


Awesome blog here — Hitchenswatch.

On what happens to it post Hitchens: “[We’ll] always be able to mock Dave Weigel!”

Only if you follow the links will you get maximum enjoyment! Learn about The Commander!

04.26.11

Not so much brains as ear wax

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:17 pm by George Smith

UPDATED

J at Armchair Generalist points out a monograph authored by two military men — Captain Wayne Porter of the USN and Colonel Mark “Puck” Myckleby of the Marine Corps, under the pseudonym, Mr. Y.

It is claimed that as an essay on what might be a framework for a new national security strategy, it is generating buzz.

If so, this only proves once again how a jumble of slogans, assertions about American exceptionalism and values, and unremarkable filler — fifteen electronic pages worth — thrills people who are not constitutionally disposed to speak frankly.

In other words, it must seem like great stuff for those who love writings by those who simply can’t.

The monograph, invitingly entitled “A National Strategic Narrative,” is here.

As said, it’s guaranteed to cause your eyes to cross in much less than its fifteen pages. Part of the thing calls for what the authors dub a National Prosperity and Security Act.

Including the preamble, the word “prosperity” is used 32 times in the piece. Yet nobody even vaguely gets around to explaining what this means to them precisely or how some facsimile of it might be restored in this country.

The best the two military men come up with is a recommendation to invest in education for young people. It reads like a line from a knee-jerk political speech on winning the future.

“By investing energy, talent and dollars now in the training and education of young Americans — the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members and parents, of tomorrow — we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future,” they write.

Effin’ Ay! That manages to shoehorn almost everyone into one run-on sentence.

Yes, soldiers, I think we can agree it is wise to invest in education.

“The National Prosperity and Security Act would: integrate policy across agencies and departments of the federal government and provide for more effective public/private partnerships; increase the capacity of appropriate government departments and agencies; align federal policies, taxation, research and development expenditures and regulations to coincide with the goals of sustainability; and, converge domestic and foreign policies toward a common purpose,” it reads toward the end.

Aside from the fact that this is another deadening run-on sentence of boilerplate — you gotta be kidding me!

This is what passes for scholarship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center?

A sentence that reads:

“Above all, this act would provide for policy changes that foster and support the innovation and entrepreneurialism of America that are essential to sustain our qualitative growth as a people and a nation.”

Really?

Boy, things are even worse than I thought.

If this were some graduate school essay tendered by students who put their names to it without the preamble of some allegedly important person, you’d be hard pressed to give it more than a C.

I’d give it a D. Which in the grad school environment is sub-failure.


This thing was actually featured on The Ed Show on MSNBC tonight.

Lawrence Wilkerson fronted for it.

Wilkerson was Colin Powell’s assistant, the water-bearer who helped Powell somehow include all the pretend rubbish into the famous UN Security Council speech on Iraq, the one that ruined the latter’s career and image.

Wilkerson astonishingly compared this to Eisenhower’s famous 1961 speech on the danger of an uncontrolled military industrial complex.

That would only be true, of course, if Eisenhower were someone who, instead of speaking bluntly, delivered his cautionary message in boilerplate and run-on sentences seasoned by liberal use of the semi-colon.

It’s a progressive call to arms, yowled Ed. Well, if it’s progressive it’s pretty weak tea.

As said, it recommends investing in education!

This is the brain trust of Admiral Mike Mullen, said Wilkerson.

That explains two things. First, the reason why it has publicity with everyone rushing to polish the apple. Secondly, and this is more minor, why intellectual scholarship just ain’t there in this domain.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to take its place in national history.

IMF bombshell stories good for one obvious quote

Posted in Extremism, Made in China, Permanent Fail at 10:18 am by George Smith

You don’t need experts to tell you about the decline, you’re living it.

The country’s paralytic, leaderless, coasting on war, arms manufacturing, and meaningless social networking and banking software apps.

From Marketwatch, a longer article than it needs to be:

What we have seen, he said, is “a massive shift in capability from the U.S. to China. What we have done is traded jobs for profit. The jobs have moved to China. The capability erodes in the U.S. and grows in China. That’s very destructive. That is a big reason why the U.S. is becoming more and more polarized between a small, very rich class and an eroding middle class. The people who get the profits are very different from the people who lost the wages.”

That’s very destructive. Ya don’t say!

Recommendation: Instead of sending drones to Libya, bomb GE.


The Empire’s Dog Feces — section, “America’s best-est places to work!”

Dreamworks, Glendale, CA, ten minutes from DD:

Not long ago, Kyle Maxwell had a bright idea. The 25-year-old effects artist thought DreamWorks Animation needed a panini machine in its cafeteria, so he e-mailed CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, a legendary Hollywood mogul whose credits include Shrek, Kung-Fu Panda, and Megamind. At the next company-wide meeting, Katzenberg publicly thanked Maxwell for his suggestion and ordered that it be done.

Within the week, DreamWorkers were chowing down on bespoke paninis, and Maxwell had acquired a mover-and-shaker rep to go with his computer-animation chops. “Now I get all kinds of weird e-mail from people at DreamWorks,” says Maxwell. “They’re like, ‘Hey, can you get us a new staircase?'”

Bespoke paninis. If you had a button you could push to destroy the person who came up with that expression, you’d use it without a moment’s hesitation.

Zappos, Las Vegas:

The online apparel and footwear retailer famously includes “Create fun and a little weirdness” on its list of core values. Applicants are carefully screened to make sure they can cut it in a corporate culture where rules are few, professional titles include “cruise director,” and colleagues frequently stage spontaneous parades down cubicle row.

This quirky zeitgeist appears to have survived Amazon.com’s 2009 acquisition of Zappos. Job interviews still take place in rooms with zany themes, including Cher’s Dressing Room and an Oprah-style talk show set where candidates sit on a couch next to their HR host. Standard interview questions include “On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird would you say you are?”

There’s no right answer to that question, says recruiting manager Christa Foley, 37. “We’re looking for people who don’t take themselves too seriously,” she adds. “Somebody who gets into an argument with us about the definition of ‘weird’ will probably not be able to handle a parade with cowbells.”

Perks include free lunches, 25¢ vending machines (all proceeds go to charity), and a full-time life coach on staff. And customer service is a religion at Zappos: All new hires are required to work in a call center during their first month on staff, even if their jobs don’t involve customer interaction.

If you patronizes these people you not only hasten the decline but also encourage morons.

Poindexter Puzzled

Posted in Permanent Fail at 8:57 am by George Smith

David Brooks is puzzled by the “gloomy” mood of the civilian populace.

Things are getting better, he intimates:

Over the past months, we’ve seen a fascinating phenomenon. The public mood has detached from the economic cycle. In normal times, economic recoveries produce psychological recoveries. At least at the moment, that seems not to be happening.

Public opinion is not behaving the way it did after other recent recessions.

Krugman easily takes him apart with a few graphs:

The left hand column shows federal spending on unemployment, food stamps and social security, the huge bulge in social safety net spending because of the broken economy.

“At some point something is going to happen to topple the political platform — maybe a debt crisis, maybe when China passes the United States as the world’s largest economy, perhaps as early as 2016,” writes Brooks in today’s column. “At that point, we could see changes that are unimaginable today.”

Perhaps we should wish for the GOP to suicidally push the country into default and bring about that crisis, if only for a chance to be rid of David Brookses.

What he’s trying to say but is too timid to go for is the country is ripening for revolt but except for Wisconsin, can’t quite get it together like they have in the Middle East yet. It’s clearly not getting done through elections.

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