Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Somewhere in Euro land, Germany in fact, they are making a cardboard bike helmet:


Well not totally cardboard but cardboard is the straw that stirs the drink, as it were.  Oddly enough, at least when I lived there in last century, Germans and most Euros don't require helmets just brakes and the following of traffic regulations.

Gun Control

So here's an interesting little news item, guy made a gun with a 3D printer and is going to make the plans available on line. So far it is a little on the iffy side, it lasted only 6 shots, but you just know that the next iteration is going to be better.

What really sucks about this is that people on the left see a new technology and rejoice at the possibility of freeing the world from want. Other think immediately of the need for more murders.

Peace on earth and etc.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hypothetically Speaking

Go and watch this film and imagine what might have happened if Hindenburg's son hadn't been a crook.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Laugh All You Want

I have been busy piling up things in expectation of the Mayan Apocalypso, which is like the regular one only with a beat you can dance to. Today  we learn that the it is the arrogance of western science, already  guilty of nearly endless cinemagraphic  destructions of various Hollywoodland lots that look like Terra Firma:
The scientific community is on edge. On Wednesday, a British team of scientists and engineers will use a special hot water drill to bore through to a lake buried under three kilometers of Antarctic ice. Sediments taken from the lake bed could revolutionize what we know about past climates and the fortitude of life forms.
Bolding in original. Yes that's right. They are going to drill right into a certain someones hidey hole and then are we going to get it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jill Lepore, God Love Her

Over to The New Yorker, Jill Lepore has another essay on the roots of American Conservatism. Last time it was national health care and the lies they told to defeat it. This time (sub req) it is on taxation and the role of slaveholders and plutocrats in delaying or undermining progressive taxation.

One reason to read Lepore is that she is a great writer and another reason is because she is the quintessence of professional historical writing.

I take minor issue with her claim that no one defends taxation. No one who anyone in positions of power or influence is willing to listen to defends taxation but lots of us have been beating the drum for more taxes and their necessity for a decent society for an awfully long time. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that the critics of neoliberalism get no respect just as the critics of the neocon part of war get no respect. The fact that both sets of critics, and they overlap, have been consistently right only makes the deafening official silence on these criticism more galling.

Ideally these two essays are going to be part of a longer-term and longer-form investigation of the roots and methods of American Conservatism.

Math is Hard

As we now know without a shadow of a doubt the Right in America persists because of and insists on a series of lies and distortions to attempt to destroy the nation because of their unholy loyalty to plutocrats.

In an apparent attempt re-enforce this image, Lloyd Blankenfeind forwarded this wholly absurd claim:

You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career.
 Leaving aside the more or less unchanged nature of post retirement life expectancy, who on earth works for 25 years? I mean the average teenager has some kind of job by the time they are 16 and nearly everyone retires between the ages of 62 and 65. If I add 25 to 16 I get 41. Some small time crook who has gamed Wall Street or reaped the rewards of helping other game Wall Street might retire at 41 but you know people become crooks because they are too lazy for honest work.

As near as I can figure the vast majority of Americans work for 49 years or so in a variety of jobs after which they retire and then soon die.

Blankfein is supposed to be some kind of a genius at maths and investment and yet it would seem he can neither add nor does he understand the statistics of life expectancy. No wonder he and his fellow managerial geniuses ruined the economy; they are, in fact, dumb as dirt and twice as filthy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let The Healing Begin

In the current The New Yorker there is a profile of Kid Rock, who I think is a bit of a twit, that mentions a video he made with his pal Sean Penn, whoI think is a bit of a twit. Here is the video, which suggests that my claims of twitness are perhaps witless:



You mileage may vary.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Breath Deep

Conspiracy comes from the Latin for breath together. Among many others, with -- one is sure -- many more others to come, Jane Mayer over to The New Yorker speculates speculatively on the possibility of a complex conspiracy of some sort concerning the head of the CIA resigning because of evidence of one or two affairs with married women, one of whom was a member of the military with, so she claimed, a high security clearance, came to light.

There could be all manner of byzantine conspirators breathing together in the corridors of power, while Obama made the executive decision only after 24 hours of indecision. But the smart money is on Petraus making with the old in out where he ought not twice over and having to go for reasons of propriety.

We could argue till blue in the face on the necessity of an apparent adulterer quitting but so far it is SOP to either resign when confronted with evidence or, like Clinton, face impeachment.

The silly, stupid, lazy, sloppy ease with which national pundits, and others resort to Machiavellian, in the vulgar sense, explanations for political actions is beneath contempt.

On the plus side Andy Borowitz sees through the conspiracy.

Village Idiot

Doris Kerns Goodwin is a buffoon.  Tenured, it is true, plagiarist, is also true; however, her most salient feature and the reason she continues to appear on the weekly political shows is because she is a buffoon. As most of us know Mitt Romney and President Obama just waged a campaign in which Romney spent more time lying about Obama then he did lying about his record and his prospective policies.

Today, for reasons of head cold and a consequently weakened ability to think, I watched NBC yak fest. During the course of several conversation both divorced from reality and filled with falsehoods, Goodwin offered Obama this bit of advice:

I think what the president needs to do is to bring some CEOs into his top positions, FDR did that.  He brought in the head of Chrysler.  He brought in the head of Sears and Roebuck.  What about bringing Romney in to deal with this whole problem of how do you keep manufacturing here rather than going abroad?  What incentives to use?  What sanctions to use against countries that are not dealing fairly?  I think you bring people in but you don’t lose your conviction.  So you got to start with what matters to you but then you compromise on everything else.  And I think it can be done.
Yes, the President needs to boldly and decisively bring in the guy that just lost the election and made a career out of screwing America and the American worker to fix the problem his and his caused. It's only fair.

I mean really.What struck me is that none of the other chatterers even looked askance at the abject stupidity masquerading as historically based insight.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bike Racer

A 15 minute or so documentary of 1970s bike racers, at least one of whom has my mustache.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ouch

Over to the NYRB Gary Wills takes stock of Romney's future; it is a bleak house.  His conclusion:

Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation? What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth. Losing elections is one thing. But the greater loss, the real loss, is the loss of honor.
And there it is.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Campaigns

It seems that shortly after losing his campaign, Romney canceled the credit cards of everyone associated with, himself -- one assumes -- excepted, the campaign.

Obama gave this speech:



via

For whom would you rather work? To whom would you give responsibility?

As I said it was a war against pricks and lying dicks and the prickily dickly doos lost.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Demography is Not Destiny

It appears that Mitt Romney represents older, white, suburban, and exurban voters who earn more than 50k per year and a smaller percentage of women than men from that demographic. Obama, as per the last link, has super majorities among everyone else.  I understand that a non-trivial percentage of Romney voters are racists fucks but not all of them but the racists fucks, as I argue below, were never Romney's base and they would have voted for a cheese sandwich so long as the black man was voted out and White supremacy with its unearned privilege returned.

This is leading many on the left, the right, and in the center to insist that in these United States demography is destiny. Well, it isn't. All of the groups, whether "racial," "ethnic," or biological, this argument must run, vote as they vote because of some in-born, onto-genetic trait or traits.

This is obviously nonsense. The divide here is between folks who have it made and don't care about anyone else correctly identifing. Romney as one of them. In short, Romney, whose concession speech was the quintessence of dickiness and prickitude, base was never right-wing Evangelicals or Tea Party Patriots, it was always the dicks of the world with the added fillip of those whose idea of a decent argument is them making shit up, bullshitting, and generally lying about the world in order to deny that, just as an example, water is wet. And the rest of us who would prefer our elected officials be competent, more or less honest and generally reliable so that we can go about the important business of having lives and enjoying the refreshing beverages of our choice.

That there are a lot of these horrid people in the world as it is, is evidenced by Romney's "bounce" after the first debate. There his lying prickiness and general dickitude were on full display and many of our fellow citizens lapped it up. The same characteristics, lying, prickitudal and dickital tendencies, are what  makes Paul Ryan Romney's ideal running mate.

If you read around the intertubes in the run up to the election, you know doubt read some of the blather about lesser evilism, this will do for the vote Obama as lesser and this as its opposite. Both sides here missed the fundamental point that this election was about driving a stake through the heart of the rule by privileged lying pricks and the continued elevation of competent managers of a nasty, nasty system.

It may well be that over the next four years the Obama Administration will take steps to ensure that the system becomes less nasty by rolling back the obscene policies of the neoliberals. One can hope; however, any reversal of these policies and a revision to the New Deal, only this time for gays, women and non-whites, is going to be a decade long slog.

One can only hope that the sharp rebuke handed to the lying pricks amongst us leads to a much more rapid decline in horrid little men and women gallivanting around and insisting that America, real honest to god America, is a land of horrid people.

I mean just consider the endless garbage by the horrid people who engaged in official and unofficial voter suppression. They failed and in failing shot themselves nicely in the foot. It is one thing to think that the only way you can win is to cheat it; it is quite another to get caught cheating before, during, and after the election while failing to win. That kind of a situation makes the vote suppressors look like what they are: Horrid people to whom and for whom a lie isn't something shameful but a necessary and honorable act in the service of ruining the lives and stunting the fortunes of their fellow citizens.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's Yours?

At home a triple or so Breve for breakfast; out and about, a double Macchiato



Yours?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

These People Are Crazy

Over to the NRO's Corner and nut case name of Stanley Kurtz argues that because of Benghazi Obama to save his skin ought or will
The answer, I think, is clear. President Obama needs to issue an immediate executive order disbanding Fox News.
You see, he suggests,
it is very likely that an executive order disbanding Fox News would substantially undercut public attention to the Benghazi story, thus restoring President Obama’s prestige in the world.
Kurtz is nutz.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Advertisements

Lena Dunham made this video



Which is pretty funny and is driving the Right nuts. This ad, on the other hand so far as I can tell has slipped underneath their radar, perhaps because Wheedon is rich:



(via)

Why does the Right hate humor? Why does the Right lie about everything? Because if they told the truth they would be less popular than TB that's why. 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Odd Morning

I was going to comment on David Brooks' attempt to prove that being a moderate meant one agreed with him on all things political and cultural when I was distracted by a headline that read Officer Held in Plot to Cook Women and Eat Them. It seems that a NYC police officer planned to kidnap, rape, cook, and eat women.

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Debate

I plane on watching but not for long. Why? Because tonight, like last time on drilling and coal , we can expect exactly neither candidate to make this  point:

Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land-young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes.”
There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes.
And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.
So before we vote, let us ponder the admonition of Edmund Burke, the great parliamentarian of an earlier day: “A contentious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.”
via

That's right George McGovern on the war and  the need to not have more wars. Oh, as by the way, he fought the one good war in human history.

Friday, October 19, 2012

David Brooks

likes Mitt Romney because they both lie like rugs. I was going to write something about today's bullshit but this is much better. It has charts and everything. Brooks' is deal is to sound like he 1) has a clue 2) takes the problems confronting the world seriously so that he can 3) prove it is all the Democrats fault.

He likes the way the rest of us breathe and, to be blunt, he needs find a new line of work. I am thinking that he, Mitt, and Ryan can start a road show selling omni-balsamic reinvigorator. Indeed, like the whole panoply of Melville's confidence men, the Three Liepateers and the Right have nothing to sell that doesn't depend out the purchaser's credulity, which is too say their voters have been had.

Also, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He's Right, You Know That?

It was true then and it's true now:

The solution?

This:


If that is too much than surely this:


Or maybe just more of this:


Which might one day lead to this:











Conservative Fact Checking

Over to the NRO's Corner Online Eliana Johnson fact checks the Democrats on Planned Parenthood and access to mamograms. According to Johnson five phone calls to some New York state Planned Parenthood offices proves that the claim is nonsense. Two seconds with Google finds specific examples of PP providing free mamograms and pap smears.

It is simply bizarre that a fact so easily checked is twisted into its opposite in a desperate attempt to deny that the water is wet, which is to say that providing funds to an organization dedicated to offering low cost health services to poor and less well off leads to the poor and less well off obtaining necessary medical services at lower costs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Romney Tax Plan Explained

Mitt Romney or some one closely linked with his campaign have finally unveiled his tax plan and I for one find it incredibly compelling

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lies


Paul Ryan

is stupid. Mitt Romney is a lying conman. Between the two of them they embody the worst of American exceptionalism: exceptionally dim and hero of their own fantasies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oh Shit

George Hincapie is my favorite bike racer. He was a drug cheat for at least part of his career. Life sucks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lies or Necessary Myths

Fred Clark has shown repeatedly that the evangelicals need for there to witches when clearly there aren't any. Here is a representative post. In an profile of Lynn Vincent in the current New Yorker, she insists that her mother, who was -- she tells us -- a drunken whore of a sluty drug addict, just prior to her death was learning to be a witch. Indeed, Vincent let us know that the witch with which her mother study was Wanda the Witch from Wisconsin.

Here is Wanda:



I call bullshit, in the Frankfortian sense of bullshit. What baffles me is that the New Yorker reports the whole thing as fact without making the relevant point that, you know, evangelicals lie about witches all the time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Real Romney

I was thinking about it today and Romney is a triple personality. He is the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and Scarecrow who never met the Wizard and thus he remains heartless, timid, and brainless. With George Bush people like to quote Molly Ivins, I think it was, on how he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. Romney was born on third base had pinch runner get to home on a wild pitch whose team lost a meaningless game because it was in the cellar yet insists that his home run won the World Series. He is a man who has no idea what truth or honor or decency mean and should he win we are all so screwed that words cannot express it.

Last night he was enthralled with his own lies and viciousness that he all but jumped out of his skin enraptured with his ability to  tell one lie after another. The mind boggles that anyone thinks that that lying liar won the debate.

The real Mitt Romney is a national disgrace and more evidence, should more evidence be needed, that successful business folks are immoral monsters driven to "win" even  or especially if winning necessitates trampling decency and humanistic values in the mud.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Debate

On the whole it was a train wreck. Romney lied, condescended, and generally acted like the privileged prick that he is. Obama tried to have an actual discussion based on previously stated positions or the lack thereof. To the extent that this tactic failed, which I am not sure it did, it failed because Romney lied and acted like a privileged prick.

I suspect that most people watching the debate decided that Romney is a privileged and lying prick and that Obama did he best he could trying to pierce the squid ink. As evidence I offer the always wrong Andrew Sullivan's analysis.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Facts Matter

Mitt Romney and his running mate are famous for their allergies to facts and specifics. Between the two of them they have perfected the art of lying and using vagaries instead of policies in the hopes of getting elected in the recent New Yorker profile (sub req) of Romney he is quoted as insisting that in the private sector fluff is denigrated while substance is the drug of choice. He also insists, all facts to the contrary, in the private sector when you screw up you get fired.

He is so marvelously unself-aware that he doesn't realize that he is the person he has warned us about: an empty suit spewing lies and fluff who cares not at all about our collective future.

Friday, September 21, 2012

When Facts Don't Matter

Romney and his supporters are being done in by facts or more precisely their disdain for facts, truth, justice, and -- dare I say it? -- the American way.  There are however intellectual enterprises of real value in which facts get in the way. For example Charles Babbage to Tenyson on truth and beauty:

Sir:

In your otherwise beautiful poem "The Vision of Sin" there is a verse which reads – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born." It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born."

The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

I am, Sir, yours, etc.,

Charles Babbage
Romney out to give poetry a whirl when is being president of these United States doesn't pan out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Reason Romeny is Losing

Men and women on the Right aren't very bright. Here, for example is Ross Douthat burbling on about Romeny's most recent assault on his fellow citizens:
The way Obama and Romney employed these stereotypes are not actually equivalent. Both behind-closed-door comments were profoundly condescending, but only Romney explicitly wrote off the people he’s describing. As Slate’s William Saletan notes, Obama embedded his bitter- clingers characterization in a longer riff about why it’s important for Democrats to keep fighting for blue-collar votes. Romney’s remarks were more dismissive and therefore should prove more politically damaging: “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said, of millions of his fellow countrymen, and left it at that.
He then asks that we
set aside the short-term politics for a moment. What does it say about our culture that the people funding presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle seem to regard their downscale fellow countrymen as a kind of alien race, to be feared and condescended to in equal measure? 
The obvious idiocy of this "argument" is that Romney first blames the mythical  47% and they writes them off while Obama see's the creation of narrow minded bigots as a failure of public policy and outreach and demands that we do better. The "short-term" politics are likely to be less important than now might seem to be the case.

 However, the longer-term political implications are that the left-half of the neoliberal political world is going to continue to try and ameliorate the ravages of market capitalism, albeit insufficiently and sporadically, while trying to convince their fellow citizens to be less bigoted and fear-filled.

This dynamic, indeed, helps to explain the decline of the Republicans as a national party and their increased reliance on voter suppression and lies.

Romney Dead Man Walking?

According to Think Progress he is:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday morning that he would step down as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign to become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade organization that represents the 100 largest financial services companies in the country.
Pawlenty might be a wretched little man, but he has so far shown the wisdom of a quitter who knows when he is beat.

There at The New Yorker

I was going to write something about the bipolar nature of the current New Yorker. There is dishonest and disingenuous article by Malcolm Gladwell on the Penn State child raping debacle and great essay by Jill Lepore on the roots of modern corporate conservatism's inability to tell the truth. The problems with Gladwell's article, however, have been laid out here  and his essential dishonesty and mendacity here, here, and here.  

Lepore delves into a now obscure PR firm and lays bare the roots and consequences of several decades of the Right and corporate America to use lies, astroturfing, and smears ton smother popular desires for universal medical insurance and, by extension, nearly ever desirable reform of market capitalism and the society on which it feeds.

One of the understated aspects of the article is the way in which a left-leaning reporter wrote a profile of the firm's founders that was fair and balanced, not being sarcastic, and because of that led to the conclusion that corporate funding of political action was necessarily bad for Americans as citizens. Despite which the reporter actually liked the dynamic duo. Odd the world is.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Nanny Plutocracy

So Bloomberg's ban on 16 oz or greater sugary drinks in certain location and in specific kinds of containers passed. It is, we are assured, an attempt to deal with the obesity crisis in these United States. It seems like an attempt to stop people smoking by limiting the pack size to 10 cigarettes, which is to say silly, a waste of time, and generally a misuse of the state legitimate regulatory function.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Matt Yglesias Still Dumb

Re the Chicago strike he writes that
[i]f you think that Chicago's teachers deserve the right to form an association to advocate, lobby, and bargain on behalf of the interests of its members (and why shouldn't they?) then you have to think that they deserve the right to advocate for ideas that may not be in the public interest
Without a rough definition of "public interest" the claim that if I support public unions then I must support advocating anti-public interest ideas is devoid of content.

Indeed, given that teachers have a set of concrete demands, both in this case and in general, it would be helpful in Yglesias offered some examples of anti-public interest advocacy or policies. Given that his example drawn from private sector unions is the increased cost associated with increased wages, he seems, although given his dunderheadedness it is hard to know, to mean that increased wages mean increased taxes.

The problem here, of course, is that only neoliberals and libertarians fully support the notion that providing adequate funding for public services is anti-public good.  Paying teachers a decent wage, protecting them from the  arbitrary authority of administrators in thrall to the latest educ-scam, and the like are, actually, policies that promote the public good. Smaller classrooms and more teachers make for better schools. Limiting the power of the administration or rabid maniacs riding various political, religions, or other hobbyhorses to dictate curriculum or tenure and promotion decision is another public good. And so on.

People babble on about rubber rooms and lazy teachers but the fact of the matter is that teaching is a highly competitive profession and thee most teachers care about students and want their schools to continue to improve. Assuming that they and their unions want to advocate for policies that decrease the public good is one way to assure that the best and the brightest of this and any future generation will seek to join a profession, like banking, investing, or punditry, where failure is not an option and even the dimmest  of bulbs is free to fail upwards.

Pay Attention to the Details

 Over to The New Yorker there is long and well done evisceration of evolutionary psychology. It has in it, however a howler of an interpretive error. Gottlieb offers a little anecdote from Darwin's reception:
The idea of natural selection itself began as a just-so story, more than two millennia before Darwin. Darwin belatedly learned this when, a few years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” in 1859, a town clerk in Surrey sent him some lines of Aristotle, reporting an apparently crazy tale from Empedocles. According to Empedocles, most of the parts of animals had originally been thrown together at random: “Here sprang up many faces without necks, arms wandered without shoulders . . . and eyes strayed alone, in need of foreheads.” Yet whenever a set of parts turned out to be useful the creatures that were lucky enough to have them “survived, being organised spontaneously in a fitting way, whereas those which grew otherwise perished.” In later editions of “Origin,” Darwin added a footnote about the tale, remarking, “We here see the principle of natural selection shadowed forth.”
The problem here is obvious. Natural selection and Empedocles' just so story have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Darwin hadn't heard or read and was not working in that intellectual tradition. He was, rather, engaged in a  modern scientific endeavor in which the facts mattered. Take, as an example, the peacocks tail or sexual selection. As Gotlieb points out Darwin, like all of us, was a prisoner of his culture. Nonetheless, he recognized that females had enormous influence on evolution even though it violated his cultural assumptions about women's inferiority.
In addition, Lamarcks' theory of acquired characteristics, which is a nearly perfect example of just soing, was one of Darwin's targets as were all the then current just so stories about speciation.  Darwin, for all his faults and warts, was most emphatically not just soing and, indeed, one reason why the Darwinian solution to evolution, natural selection plus descent with modification, was and is so important is that it provides both a wealth of evidence against just so but also a nearly-perfect example of how the application of scientific method to a knotty problem can resolve the problem and limit the distortion of cultural assumptions.


Who is the Real Crook?

In a review of Hamilton's book on why he doped the NYTimes reviewer makes a key point:
Rightly, Mr. Hamilton notes in “The Secret Race” that punishment has focused far too much on cyclists while minimizing the role of team owners, sponsors, race organizers and cycling’s bureaucracy. Yet for someone who repeatedly preaches the value of speaking the truth, Mr. Hamilton lets himself off lightly.
Unfortunately this comes in the third to last paragraph. And the conclusion, Hamilton didn't either have to dope, undermines the argument that systemic doping in a profitable business owes more to the structures created by the sports owners then to the workers yet some how or another the workers are the guiltier party.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unequal Forces




From The New Yorker comes this image of one or another of the recent conventions:


Seems about right.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Acres

Eddie Albert bike commuter:





“Eddie Albert pauses to catch his breath on Cahuenga Pass, between Hollywood and Universal City, on his way to work at Universal-International studio in “Smash-Up -The Story of a Woman.” Back at the Hollywood grind after wartime service as a naval officer, Eddie couldn’t get a new car, so his wife bought him a bicycle and told him the exercise was good for him.”

If he can do so can you.

Return to Normal

David Brooks today:

On the one hand, you see the Republicans taking the initiative, offering rejuvenating reform. On the other hand, you see an exhausted Democratic Party, which says: We don’t have an agenda, but we really don’t like theirs. Given these options, the choice is pretty clear.
Which is true so long as you ignore the Democrats economic agenda, growing green energy agenda, commitment  to mass transit, and so forth. Even more interestingly, the Democrats have actual policies to achieve reasonable goals as opposed to the Republicans notion of no taxes on the rich leading to the creation of 57 bazillion new private sector jobs.

He thus continues and expands the Republican festival of lies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dog Whistlled

The Germans have been watching the current Romney/Ryan festival of lies and have decided, at least the non-Neonazis among them, that their message is "too closely tailored to white men," which pretty much sums it up.

When the foreign press is doing a better job of honest analysis of our Presidential election, it might wake up the various outlets that have so far refused to point out Romney/Ryan's lies and dog whistles.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lance Armstrong Redux

There is something odd about this from. Tygart of the USADA:
"[If Armstrong had of] come in and been truthful, then the evidence might have been that the statute [of limitations] should apply."
I am baffled as to how a suspect/defendants behavior changes the existence of a statute of limitations. Laws apply regardless of the horridness or perceived horridness of any specific perpetrator.

Clearly, Armstrong's refusal to continue to litigate the matter means that he is guilty of doping violations but there is something creepy about a regulatory agency flinging rules out the window because they don't like someone's attitude.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong

His decision to not contest the USADA's case means that he has been or will shortly be found guilty of doping his way to victory, which is just sad. It was not a "witch hunt" because witches didn't exist and doping cyclists do. It may be an unfair process, as Judge Sparks put it "the deficiency of USADA's charging document is of serious constitutional concern." He, however, did not quash the process. Does the USADA have the power to strip Armstrong of his titles and ban him from racing? Not really. They need to prove to the UCI that they have the goods on Armstrong.

So what does it all mean? That some of the finest moments in international sport are now official tainted and that quite possibly the erstwhile greatest tour champion, Eddy is the greatest cyclist of all time, will lose all of his titles.

It is, all in all -- given that George Hincapie is rumored to be implicated in the doping, a very sad day for sport.

Civility

So, I got a Romney fundraiser phone call. I figured I would play along and suggested that while I would vote for the him I had insufficient funds to offer any financial support. In the course of wheedling, or attempting to wheedle, the spandolax out of my wallet, the nice young woman on the phone informed that should we fail to defeat Obama he would "burn this country to the ground."

Obviously, this kind of language isn't an affront to either decency or comity nor yet an example of Romney trying to divide America into those who would vote for him and those who are going to burn the country to the ground, which recent polling suggests divides the country about 50/50. Nope, because if it were it would make mock of all the other bullshit, in the Frankfurtian sense, the Republicans and the Right more generally are flinging about in their increasing desperate attempt to impose the 19th century on an unwilling 21st.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Tart

Tomato and cheese tart fresh from the garden:



The crust needs some work yet as it is not quite crispy enough but on the whole a nice hot weather dish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Debate

The internet and the rest of the world is all in a whirl about Akin's insane notions of human biology; meanwhile the Republicans prove that they don't care if a woman secretes a secretion  during rape that makes fertilization impossible. Or maybe not. After insisting on a Party platform that demands a "personhood" amendment to the US Constitution. In the past these amendments effectively ban abortion for whatever reason by declaring eggs people.

Today, however, the Republicans are trying to deny that they are in fact deranged ideologues on moral matters best left the conscience of our fellow citizens and their medical providers.

The Republicans, in other words, like Mitt Romney on everything and Paul Ryan on most things want to have it both ways. Each opposes something rhetorically but understands that the thing they oppose, mandates, stimulus spending, auto bailouts, etc, is actually good policy and, consequently they rail with the one side of the mouth while the other asks for seconds.

So lets have a debate in this election. The Republicans ought properly stand or fall on their deranged social, economic, and political ideas. Man up boys said loud and proud: I am batshit crazy with only a tangential connection to reality.

Akin did and it looks like he might win.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Surprise

Yesterday morning at about 7 30 am I was rolling down a small  hillock when I saw a brown thingy on the road sitting over a black dealibob. As I got closer what I took to be a cat with its victim became a hawk with a crow grasped in its talons. The hawk rose and flew side by side with the bike for a few feet before dropping the crow and crossing over to perch in a tree. It was an unexpected, or surprising, moment of beauty.

Later that same day I was sitting outside drinking a beer when I looked up to the north and found that I was right on the edge of a thunderstorm. I could hear the thunder and see the lightening but the rain was just over to the other side of the railway tracks. It was an unexpected, or surprising, moment of if not beauty then sublimity.

Early today I read an article in The New Yorker about how liberal millionaires and billionaires aren't giving Obama money because some find super pacs anti democratic, which is true but rather like unilateral disarmament, others, however, pine for the days when Bill Clinton would invite them to private dinners at which, seated in descending order of the size of their contributions, the Clinton would elicit their views on matters of substance and, get this, take notes. Finding this out was an unexpected, or surprising, moment of realizing just how venal Clinton was and just how delusional the riches of these United States are.

Obama, it seems, prefers to get his policy advice from people who know what they are talking about instead of a bunch of riches whose sole virtue is an ability to game a corrupt system. As a result, the article suggests, their feelings are all atwitter and they withhold their ill-gotten gains until such time as Obama, or whomever, decides to grant them once again their unearned ascendency in the halls of power.

What a bunch of assholes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Russia the State Punks You

So here is the Pussy Riot video that led to the kerfuffle:




It is insane that the band got 2 years in jail for insulting Putin; the Dixie Chicks only had to go on tv and apologize. U S A U S A  

Two Ways of Thinking About Streets

Last night a motorist try to run me down. A couple of preliminary points. I use quite a few lights, to front lights, which is all that matters here as the motorist could only "see" the front of the bike. I was in a real neighborhood; one in which people jog,  walk dogs, wander to the grocery, and related etc. It was dusk and not pitch black and, because of the multiuser nature of the streets in this quiet area, motorist ought, but don't, drive the speed limit and pay attention.

I was coming up a hill riding toward the center of the lane, when I saw a car backing out of a street without paying attention, by which I mean the motorist clearly hadn't seen me. I rang the bell and slammed on the breaks. Well after the point at which the motorist would have knocked me down had I not been riding responsibly. The dolt saw me.

Like most motorists, the dolt seemed to think that saying "I didn't see you" was exculpatory instead of a condemnation of the dolt's inattentiveness. I said "I could tell."  The dolt responded "I was trying to be nice." To which I asked "How? By trying to hit me."


From my perspective some streets and roads are multiuser from the motorist's perspective all streets are belong to them, as they kids would say. This attitude, as Peter Norton points out, this attitude is the result of going on 100 years of lobbying, opinion buying, and other corrupt practices by the automobile industry. The dolt's implicit claim of motorists' ownership of the roads and idea that I need to get out of motorists' way isn't a natural condition but rather a sing and seal of how money shapes cultural assumptions.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A More Just World

When the issue of economic inequality comes up, this Anatole France quote usually turns up:
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
And a good laugh is had all around. Did you know that in other parts of the world the law actually punishes some crimes on the basis of the perpetrator's wealth? In Switzerland and Finland at least if you are rich and speed your fine is determined by "the severity of the offense and the offender's income level."

One rich driving like a mad man was fine 290k in Switzerland, while the chairman of Nokia faced a 100 odd thousand dollar fine, and one particularly insane rich faces a fine that falls 40,000 dollars short of a million.

So lets do that with, say, property crimes. Poor and shoplift a pair of pants? 60 dollar fine; rich and shop lift a the same kind of pants, 10% of pre-tax income. Rich and embezzle?  50% of total wealth and 10 years in jail.  Poor and steal a neighbors digital camera? Give the camera back or replace and a week in jail.  And so on.

The idea is basically to make the punishment fit the advantages gained by any individual from being  a member of society.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Whose Streets?

I just finished Peter Norton's Fighting Traffic. It is a really fine book that works through in great detail how the Automobile industry and its supporters managed to transform streets for essential public spaces in to expensive and always more crowded preserves of the motorized vehicle.

What struck me about his analysis and narrative was the extent to which the Automobile industry's strategy is the prevalent model for groups dedicated to destroying the vestiges of the welfare state in these United States and abroad. In general the idea is to buy off expert opinion and use leverage with the state to trample popular desires and, as result, create a new culture that is immeasurably less humane than what went before.

It is, however, possible to move back toward a more humanistic vision of your cities, towns, and burgs. As result of the Automobile industry's purchase of the opinions of key traffic engineers in the 1920s in the US streets are designed to maximize "floor space" for automobiles. This take over by private enterprise of the creation and maintenance of a public good without having to pay for meant and means that each year the American tax payer subsidizes the Automobile industry, trucking, and etc. Getting back to a livable city means returning to the older understanding of streets as multiuse public spheres in which cars, as they are least efficient and most dangerous modes of transportation, are relegated to the lower rungs in the ladder of importance.

One way to accomplish this it to insist, as the Dutch do, that streets are "area[s] where people want or need to be."  This formulation reminds us the purpose of cities, towns, streets, and, more generally, humanity in a social situation isn't profit and industrial expansion.

In other words, the neoliberals are wrong about everything because they have both  bought into and promote the economization of all modes of discourse. Bastards.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ryan as Rorschah

Last night a relative whose name may or may not begin with b insisted that low information voters love Paul Ryan. Other with whom I have spoken repeated the line about how Ryan, who look like a stick figure insect howdy doody fellow, is a sexy beast of a serious wonk, have insisted that the Ryan pick was inspired need to deal with the fact that his policy preferences are hated by most American who refused to believe the Romney would destroy the tattered remains of the safety net in the service o giving people like Romney more money.

In short, in the plutocracy's long held desire to recreate the 19th century, most Americans say no way. This is another data   point that proves that Conservative ideas are not only unpopular but deeply bug shit crazy. It is, furthermore, evidence that both the top and the bottom of the Republican ticket are horrid little men who think that the answer to life's misery is yet  even more misery.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Running Mates

Romney picked Ryan because he is the only other  politician who is running as hard as Romney from his record.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gear

Often I will buy a thing and then wonder why on earth I bought the thing. This thing






The picture is a bit blurry, but then it is Friday. It's a lightweight version of the Leatherman. I know that this was good idea because the two times I didn't bring it with on a ride I needed it because, no not the cork screw, but rather the


That is right it weighs slightly more than a Swiss Army knife but it has a pliers, albeit a blurry one. I got mine for half of the normal price  and rarely have I been so happy with a thing. It rivals some tires I could mention.




Friday Music Videos

 Some time between 1979 and 1982 I started listening to Tom Waits. I saw him in concert at some point and continued to listen to him religiously for a long time and then listen sporadically although he is still a go to music fella in times of need. Via comes two videos of one interview, which are great for a variety of reason.





This comes from about the time I started paying attention.  Recently, I think yesterday, Waits released a video from his Bad as I Want to Be Album, which I got as a gift. What struck me on seeing it was the fact that it is clearly an anti-War on terror song and, whatismore, one the few that I can think from the present crop of whatsits:



Some of his more recent stuff is too something or another for me but this one seems to be a example of an man and musician trying to make sense of the horrors of permanent war and the misery it inflicts on soldiers.

Enjoy your weekend while you still have one. 


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Please Don't

John Banville threatens, I think is the proper term, to "bring back" Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. Why? If he wants to write a hard-boiled bit of noir that takes place in a "slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere," let him. But why bring Chandler and Marlowe into it? This doesn't sound like the creation of some kind of post-modern fiction built off or around a classic like Sargasso Sea, but rather like a stunt. Banville in both his high and middle brow literature is supposed to be quite the thing, as the kids say, this bit here seems like a waste of time, energy, and talent.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Holiday

I have been a relatively longish one, which is soon to end. But as a way of easing back into the world of words. All the bikes had Bontrager Race Hardcase tires, the bad weather bike has now Continental tourers of some sort and in the winter studded. Why  Hardcase, you ask:



The shredded rubber was over 2/3 of the whole tire. I don't know for how long I rode around on this but it was at least 3 weeks. Plus the  bike sat for a week before I changed the tire today and, get this, when I took it off the bike it was still hard as rock. When you need to get from here to there and back again without worrying about a flat, Hardcases it is.

Also over to Gin and Tacos,  Ed mocks Sarah Palin's bbq cum fundraiser garb and insists that her decision to "dress like the Lord Mayor of MILF Island" rendered her no longer a serious person. Leaving aside the obvious sexist bullshit in the MILF comment, remember when Obama wore a bike helmet or blue jeans some jackasses thought looked like "mom jeans"? 

That kind of "analysis" was stupid, pointless crap then and it is now. You sir are on notice.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grammar

If Obama did claim that business people didn't build that, then if follows the mega-maniac Andrew McCarthy just accused five GOP senators of being in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.
But it is Ms. Abedin’s parents and brother who have drawn the attention of the five House GOP members. They all have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood — the organization itself or prominent members thereof.
Given that the clear anticedent of they has to be the nearest collective noun by the laws of grammar and syntax it must be members which means the GOP is infected with the radical Islamist gene and therefore to Gitmo with them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Boss

The New Yorker has a really interesting profile of Bruce. Plus some really interesting follow ups.

Where is My Crayon

We all know of the despicable behavior of the administration and Joe Paterno at Penn State. So how is it that the disgraced former president Graham Spanier has now begun to work for the Federal Government in an important position? (via) This is beyond despicable. This is another example of how some pooches are unsrewable.

Opposite Day

I was going to write something about David Brooks', professional idiot, latest monstrosity, but stopped when I realized that his evidence derived from "history Web sites that track such things" as rampage killings is almost assuredly Wikipedia and that all of his actual experience in "read[ing] through the assessments that have been done by the F.B.I., the Secret Service and various psychologists" is slighter than his regard for facts, intellectual honesty, and careful reading. So decided not to.

Instead lets consider the "you didn't build that" controversy.  Obama recently pointed out the obvious about the social nature of personal success and the right went nuts. Madison Wisconsin and other college towns have lower unemployment because bosses and investors know that they can get a highly educated work force. And they did not build the University or the fine public schools, the parks, and recreational infrastructure, etc.

Romney knows this, and I don't mean his remarks on the socialized nature of athletic success.  I don't  mean his borrow 20k from your folks to start a business to start a business notion; although, so one, so far as I know, picks their parents; therefore, those who can borrow succeed because of the luck of the draw.

This last point, I think, explains the virulence of the Right's response to Obama's bland truism. If success is a combination of luck and socialism, in its broadest sense, than failure is a combination of luck and socialism, or its lack, which -- in turn -- vitiates the whole of the Reactionary/Conservative/Neoliberal ideology. This fact of the matter means that the Right would have to disband, which they can't do. So they deny it even as they accept it as true.

Update, of sorts from Fox News more evidence that success grows from the efforts of others and ourselves:

Kilmeade: Clara, how do you feel about the President saying that you needed help to start this business. And just speak from — speak from within. All right, you know what? Let’s switch over to —
Younger sister Eliza yawns. Clara begins to speak.  
Kilmeade: Why don’t you answer that one?
Clara, age 7: I would say that’s rude because we worked very hard to build this business. But we did have help.
Kilmeade: And your help came from?
Clara, age 7: Our help came from our investors, our dad and stepmom, along with other friends and family.
And that says nothing about the roadway without which they would get no foot traffic.

UPDATE:
I just watched The Daily Show in which Louis Black made more or less the same argument. Great minds, or something, think similarly.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wow

I am not a fan of the pure sprinter, live Cavendish, but that was an absolutely amazing sprint. He slowed, went across the road and then passed the leaders like they were standing still. Also, anybody here believe the Fraenk Schlecht "I was poisoned" theory? In addition, I am glad that Vino failed to win a stage.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two People It Sucks to Be

Cadel Evans, who really has to be the least lucky man in this or any other Peloton; although, I doubt his stomach virus claims.

And Chris Froome who ought to be leading the Tour. And to those who claim that he will win one day, remember Joseba Beloki.

Don't watch if your a squeamish.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Religious Liberty

Recently the Right has been up in arms about threats to religious liberty. From PJ Media comes  the story of a simple man who just wanted to have family members come by for some bible study only to find the iron heel of the state grinding his religious liberty into a fine powder.

The truth, of course, rather different:
Michael Salman’s dispute with Phoenix dates to at least 2007, when, he claims in a video posted online, the city began harassing him and his wife as they tried to build a 2,000-square-foot game room adjacent to their home on their 1.5-acre property near 35th and Northern avenues.
“The only people who came to our home were family and friends,” Salman said in a video posted online before he reported to jail this week. “Our home was not open to the public; it was private.”
Information presented at Salman’s criminal trial directly contradicted his claim, however. For example, a private investigator testified that he was not acquainted with the Salmans when he attended the church and saw 40 or 50 people in attendance during regular services and 20 or 30 additional worshipers for special occasions such as baptisms.
Salman and his wife have not paid taxes on the property since an inspector from the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office approved Salman’s request to have the property classified as a church in 2008.
What awful things are demanded of the tax free church? That it not be up to code. Really much ado about nothing. How do we know that it really is much ado about nothing? Because I originally read about this grave threat to religious liberty here, the gist of which is still available here.

That's right the NRO realized it had been had and consequently scrubbed the story rather than apologize for trying to turn molehills into mountains.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Tour

I was watching the Stage today and when Evans went on the attack Paul and Phil immediately hailed it as a "brilliant" maneuver. I check the stage profile and decided that it was a desperate move by a leader and team that recognized they were over matched. It was nearly Vino attacks in its breathtaking optimism. Evans would have had to be strong enough to stay away for the majority of the remaining mountains, he wasn't. Wiggins would have had to panic and tried to cover a deranged move, he didn't. Evans decision was as nearly breath-takingly stupid as Volckler's decision to go with Contrador last year.

What the attack and the stage did, however, show was that the idea that, as Armstrong used to say, that the Tour was an old man's game is false. Both Wiggins and Evans could have and should have been beaten by their younger and stronger teammates.

What happens next is, I think, the reason this largely leaderless tour is going to be so interesting. Also, can anyone explain what Jens' previous two attacks mean in terms of Radio Shacks  "strategy" for the rest of the tour. I would have been glad to see him win but it made no sense.

And also too it look to me like Volckler could hardly walk after his stage victory. Bets on his withdrawal?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

No This is Awful.

From Balloon Juice comes a French version of Dylan's I want You. It is especially bad and, indeed may be the worst cover in the history of the world.





Thursday, July 5, 2012

Intellecutually Bankrupt

Over to the Crooked Timber there are a series of post dedicated to the proposition that Libertarianism is load of bullocks. The last link is especially fun as it  makes clear that, as I have mentioned, Tyler Cowen is a horrid little man.

Untheoretical Slippery Slopes

Over to the NRO's Corner they are all a twitter about religious liberty and threats to it. Meanwhile in the real world spurious claims of religious liberty provide bigots with ammunition to be bigots. For the third year in a row a "Christian" church holds an white only conference and its
founder of the church, Rev. Mel Lewis, complained that this year’s uproar shows a disrespect for religious liberty.
That's right the freedom to practice your religion as you see fit now carries with it the right not to be called a narrow minded bigot. When you think about the state's recent successful trial of Catholic Church officials for child raping and continued investigation of same is, perhaps, a violation of their religious liberty. If pangs of conscience are licit reasons for medical practitioners and pharmacists to refuse provision of legal drugs and procedures, surely the same religious liberty protects the Catholic hierarchy from fulfilling its moral and legal responsibilities to its parishioners.


And that is the problem with the rights misrepresentation of religious liberty, which does not exempt religious institutions from licit laws and regulations. This is an attempt to return to a world in which the church was an independent agent and rival with state for sovereignty. It is, in other words, an attempt by the "social conservatives" to out do the neoliberals, who - after all only want to go back to the 19th century, by returning us to the 18th or possibly the 17th century.

A Question

If the Mayans were smart enough to predict the end of our world, how come they couldn't predict the end of theirs?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Hot Is It?

The crazy little dog:

has been seek indoor shade and some place less hot then where ever it is she is. Normally she would be either begging for a walk or trying to get me to toss a toy around. She thought I was going to get the leash and she ran crawled behind the stool legs thinking she had become invisible. The cat, meanwhile, has absconded altogether.



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Points Tipped

Remember when John Kerry decorated war hero ran for president and the Republicans "swift boated" him? It would seem that calling a double-amputee from injuries sustained in one or another of our current conflicts not a hero is a bridge too far.

It remains, obviously, to be see what the actual fall out this event it; but by gosh by gory if it leads to the end of the Republicans and the Right more generally being able to lie and traduce at will the world will be a slightly better place.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dogs and Cats

living together:

Also Fraenk Schlecht wins, while Paul and Phil remain adorably wrong or boring. Paul just provided a reasoned argument for train travel and, to hedge, if not Fraenk then Tommy Vokler.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Here In Wisconsin

Scott Walker is liar, creep, and hates democracy, which makes him an ideal Republican. He has refused to follow the ACA. First because he expected it to be ruled unconstitutional and now because he expects its repeal when Romney wins.

I was not aware that fidelity to the rule of law and reverence for the Constitution were tempered or could be held in abeyance by the possibility that something might change in the indefinite future. On this logic, Walker could ignore, OSHA, the EPA, Federal Child Labor Laws, etc.

At what point do the people who support this kind of thuggish anti-Americanism finally decide that the dishonesty has gone far enough.

The ACA's opponents have lost the political and judicial battles over the law and now, it seems, they are going to replay nullification and, one supposes, fire on Fort Sumpter when they again lose that battle.

Friday, June 29, 2012

TDF

Tomorrow is the Tour's first day. I am all a twitter.

This is Old But

I was talking with someone and he had not heard about it so maybe it is unknown to you. Bill Murray made the following film instead of giving the fans an autograph:



It is a shame Moonrise Kingdom wasn't better.

Bike or Die

Via comes the story of a man facing invasive surgery or death because he weighed nearly 600 pounds. He chose bikes and life instead. In the picture above he has lost weight and is on his way to an even better life and lifestyle.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Debt

It seems some billionaire Greek shipping tycoon has hit on the novel plan of buying up Greek debt at 12 Euro pennies on the Euro with, he claims, the long term goal of forgiving all the debt. He claims that if each Greek contributes 3,000 Euros they can buy up all the debt and then forgive themselves. He has not as yet forgiven any of the debt because that, he says, would drive the price of the debt up.

Should it be that this an actual, as opposed to Trojan, gift horse, it is a pretty nifty idea.

Lies

The Commerce Clause gives the Congress the power
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes
Ronald Dworkin, with Justice Ginsburg concurring, argues that there is no constitutional limit to the state's power to regulate but rather political and practical limits only. The state in its regulation of commerce can only do what it can get away with.

David Brooks, who really is a horrid excuse for a man, praises Roberts' intellectually dishonest decision to support ACA on the wrong grounds as a shining example of "Burkean minimalism and self-control." It really isn't. This is something that Brooks must know as he accepts that the Roberts decision is a radical change in understanding of the scope and meaning of the CC as developed in Supreme Court decision. He argues that
[o]ver the years, the commerce clause in the Constitution has been distorted beyond recognition, giving Congress power to regulate all manner of activity (or inactivity). Roberts redefined the commerce clause in a way that limits the power of Washington. Congress is now going to have to be very careful when it tries to use the tax code and other measures to delve into areas that have, until now, been beyond its domain.
What is odd here is that the CC gives the state the power to regulate commerce, which meant and means much more than economic activity, and over the years the Courts have found that the state has the ability to regulate commerce under a clause designed to  give the state the power to regulate commerce. How is it Burkean  minimalism or humility to radically redefine a Constitutional clauses meaning?

What Brooks here seems to mean is that yes the radical wing of the Republican Party and its judicial enablers are one step closer to overturning the 20th century and returning the us to the 19th century.  What is odd here is the extent to which Brooks' notion of minimalism and humility are really stalking horses for radical reaction designed to ensure that the rich rule and poors suffer. I suspect, but do not know, that Brooks secretly endorses Tyler Cowen's argument that
[w]e need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. 
For the nonp-Burkeans amongst the nonsocipathic segment of society, the fact that  radically unequal societies necessarily cause unnecessary deaths among the least amongst us is a sad reality. For Cowen it is a principle and this case it seems he means principle to function as a natural law.

Brooks pretends that an unelected official curtailing an enumerated power is not an example of judicial overreach; Cowen pretends that the results of human created misery and inequality are natural and, consequently, just. Both men are either liars or deluded and both are horrid little men.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fatal Misreadings

Everybody remembers Ronald Reagan's misreading of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. Not to be outdone David Brooks misreads Springsteen's entire body of work and proves once again that he lacks self-awareness. He has for some time now acted as a moral scold and reducing complicated socioeconomic phenomena to simple morality tales. He, it seems, is exempt from his desire for a more austere morally serious world. In order to better misunderstand Springsteen he and some of his
friends. . . financial sanity to the winds and went to follow him around Spain and France.
He finds himself baffled that Spaniards would chant "Born in the USA" because they weren't. Springsteen's popularity, he insists, is the result of
a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes.
Here is the problem. Born in the USA is about being the victim of Neoliberalism war on humanity. In Spain right now that war is coming to a successful neoliberal conclusion. Springsteen's global popularity results from his writing songs that are thematically coherent and he often speaks to and for people who are being crushed by the  combined force of a cynical state apparatus allied with corporations or who are in a desperate struggle to make sense of a life that just plain didn't work out.

These concerns aren't narrowly local and have nothing to do with Brooks' "paracosm" blather. The Neoliberals have successfully transformed much of the world in a way that hurts most of us. And with rare exceptions few people look back on their lives and see them unblemished by compromise and failure. The fact that he explores these universal themes with upbeat music and fantastic stage show is just more evidence that Homer sang like rock star.

Over to the Daily Beast serial dolt Andrew Sullivan reads an article on Mexico that argues the root cause of the mess and violence in Mexico, which really sounds like a hellscape of a place to live, is
The PAN is often described as center-right, the PRI as center-left, and the country’s third party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (P.R.D.), as left-wing. But these labels carry little weight in Mexico today. “The parties have no ideology,” a magazine editor in Mexico City told me. “That aspect is meaningless. Power here is about money.” The P.R.D. candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a popular former mayor of Mexico City, who nearly won the Presidency in 2006, has moved toward the center this year, dropping his confrontational rhetoric. Indeed, in 2010 the P.R.D. and the purportedly rightist PAN combined forces successfully, backing the same candidates for governor in three state elections. The PAN and the PRI are both avidly pro-business. But it was the PRI that presided over the privatization of more than a thousand state companies during the nineteen-eighties and nineties. Carlos Salinas, during his sexenio, privatized hundreds of companies, as well as Mexico’s banking system, turning a lucky circle of his friends into billionaires. This creation of a new economic élite, with effective monopolies in fields such as transportation, mining, and telecommunications, resembles the creation, around the same time, of the new crony-capitalist oligarchy in Russia. And in Mexico nearly all its beneficiaries owe their fortunes to the PRI, not the PAN.
 In other words,  Mexico is a hellscape of a place to live because of ideological convergence around notions of privatizations and reverance for "job creators" leading to massive economic inequality and chronic underfunding of necessary state functions, which is another way of saying Neoliberalism.

Sullivan, who really is a silly little may, insists that the article is
[a] must-read from William Finnegan reports on the country's organized crime epidemic, fueled by the Drug War.
Like Brooks' misreading, which serves to protect his readers from the cold hard fact that more people suffer under and find the new economic system a misery making machine, this reading obscures the real cause of the worlds problems by pointing toward one of Sullivan's hobby horses, legalization, while ignoring or more precisely lying about  the actual cause of  the world's misery: neoliberalism, which is his preferred ideology.

Both men should do the decent thing and resign to spend more time gardening.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bicycles As Agents of Change

We all know that bikes are inherently stylish. Now, it seems, the Parisians have learned this and, along the way, refigured the way they interact with their city. All because of a for hire scheme that was, of course ridiculed when out it rolled.

On a related note, I lived in Berlin for a while and rode my bike nearly everywhere. I was, I thought, a remarkably safe cycling city and, indeed, compared with America it was cycling heaven. One example of the seriousness with which the Germans take cycling is that in the perennial debate over who is to blame for cycling accidents lycra louts or badly designed infrastructure, badly designed infrastructure gets the nod.

And, indeed, it is clear that dedicating state funds to the creation of workable cycling infrastructure leads to increases in cycling. Advanced cycling cities, like Copenhagen, have increased the cyclists safety with 92 "seriously" injured cyclists in 2010 as opposed to 1252 in 1996 (page 5).

Why do I bring this up? Well, on a list dedicated to all things bike, one of the members suggested that a segment of the city's bike path that is bedeviled by multiple road crossings be rejiggered in a way that removed the road crossings or otherwise hindered motorists freedom of movement. The response, for the areas alder as well as others on the list was that it is a given thaqt the end all and be all of transport planning is to never inconvenience motorists.

Which is another way of saying that the end all and be all of road planning is the reality of ever-expanding traffic jams or ever-expanding roadways.  Obviously roadways can only be ever-expanding if we gradually remove impediments buildings and people, which is to say recreate the city as an elaborate system of roadways with parking garages attached. (see also)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Romney's New Campaign Song

I am totally not making this up. It is a toss up between this



and this



He has his best and brightest on it and, it seems, they need to meet in  Mumbai.


Get Yer Kickstands

I have used several double leg kickstands in my life. In my experience, daily commuting requires a kickstand, fenders, and panniers to be effect and fun. Double legged kickstands are not only very functional but nifty looking.

 In order of greatness. The Hebie. Strong and stable as can be last for ever, hard to get in the USA. It weighs a ton but is unlikely to ever break and I am pretty sure that replacing the spring is easy. Not only does  this hold the bike upright under nearly any load but the pedals turn which makes routine maintenance a snap.





Pletscher's two legged. Nice but unlike the Hebie you can not spin the pedals while the legs are down. Plus the legs fold up to fit on one side of the bike. I added the rubber feet. The mechanism can wear out and it isn't nearly as tough as the Hebie.


The above are my current kickstands. I used to have a M Wave. It is designed after the Hebie but is considerable less stout although inexpensive and very good value for the money.

Then there is the Civia. This was unstable and did was designed so that the leg rubbed the chain. I lost at one of the original feet and two replacements. On the whole a rotten  little item in terms of practicality. It is, however, the most aesthetically pleasing of all the kickstands.


The worst of the bunch is Orange Velo's pretentiously named Porteur Double Kickstand.  Out of the box  mine was broken and the nephew, whose at least wasn't damaged, assures me it is a junky and unstable pile of thus and such.

 What is your favorite piece of commuter gear?