Friday, May 29, 2009

Why the hostility

In the interest of killing off a Friday morning -- a post of filler! It's gotta be more productive than columns written about Keyboard Cat. Another step forward in trying to get the most absurd content possible in print. Still, it's doubtful I'll ever top this one.

The big "news" around here this week was about a woman who called 911 to report being rear-ended by "black men" who then stuffed her and her daughter in the trunk of a car. The woman being blond and photogenic meant the cable news stations picked up on the story, making the reality of the situation somewhat hilarious. Because, ho ho, they were actually at Disney World!

My political leanings are best described as daddy-slappingly liberal. Disgusting.

Speaking of politics, you have undoubtedly heard about this Hispanic woman (or Latina, in parlance of our times) who was nominated for the supreme court, which I really don't care about. Far more entertaining are the photos of a "Roman Catholic priestess" who was forcibly removed from Air Force One.

I don't care to read the article, but the headline certainly lends itself to some sort of classy joke-making in regards to Hitler. Swine Flu does what Nazi's couldn't.

Or for something a little different, how about this one: Man uses live swan to beat up victim.

Running empty, that's just about it. I'll leave you with this collection of photography. Highly recommend scrolling down to the 20th century stuff, you could kill hours looking through it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

News you can use

I know I've been slacking here lately, what are you gonna do? Post more? The hell you say.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Death to the cubicle

A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.

Nor can big business or big government — those idols of the right and the left — reliably secure such work for us. Everyone is rightly concerned about economic growth on the one hand or unemployment and wages on the other, but the character of work doesn’t figure much in political debate. Labor unions address important concerns like workplace safety and family leave, and management looks for greater efficiency, but on the nature of the job itself, the dominant political and economic paradigms are mute. Yet work forms us, and deforms us, with broad public consequences.
The visceral experience of failure seems to have been edited out of the career trajectories of gifted students. It stands to reason, then, that those who end up making big decisions that affect all of us don’t seem to have much sense of their own fallibility, and of how badly things can go wrong even with the best of intentions (like when I dropped that feeler gauge down into the Ninja). In the boardrooms of Wall Street and the corridors of Pennsylvania Avenue, I don’t think you’ll see a yellow sign that says “Think Safety!” as you do on job sites and in many repair shops, no doubt because those who sit on the swivel chairs tend to live remote from the consequences of the decisions they make. Why not encourage gifted students to learn a trade, if only in the summers, so that their fingers will be crushed once or twice before they go on to run the country?

This NYTimes magazine article "The Case for Working With Your Hands" is just a great read from start to finish.

'And eating all of our sand'

The best part about this is it would theoretically combine the talents of McG and Michael Bay. Two great tastes that go great together. And by best I mean worst.

Friday, May 22, 2009

An anniversary of sorts

Well its memorial day weekend, which means I'll be celebrating one year of carlessness. Let's break out some bike and bus-related highlights. Transport!

-I don't want to turn this into a car bashing extravaganza(although I could, easily). So here's the nut -- a lack of driving will quickly turn thoughts of automobiles as a necessity into to a mix of disgust and fear, especially of luxury SUVs and sports cars. Also, drivers? It's kind of unnecessary to excessively speed up you pass a bicycle. Although it probably is vital to make up those few seconds you were inconveniently stuck behind someone pedaling their hardest. Dicks.

-One time I missed the bus coming back from Philly, so I found myself with an hour to kill in Upper Darby. (For those familiar with Chicago, think Howard Street El station/Rogers Park). So I went to some extremely ghetto bar/lunch counter. And I lived!

-Going over the handlebars on a bicycle can be fun and educational for the whole family.

-Sometimes its better to just leave your bike locked up in town rather than try to bring it back to your place when you are fall down drunk, because you might get mugged/pistol-whipped after the front wheel falls off.

-Yelling quotes from There Will Be Blood at passing motorists can draw some interesting looks. Examples: "DRAINAGE!" or "Give me the blood, and let me get away."

-Nasty weather has a lot more influence on one's day to day when you do not have the ability to travel fast without getting wet or cold. Thank god its summer now.

That's about all I can think of at this point. I'm off to recreate the video posted above on the Schuylkill Expressway.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An elected official ladies and gentlemen

Hey did you know that there was some sort of election yesterday? Don't worry if you didn't vote though, it was one of those stupid primary elections where no one actually takes office. Unless! They are running unopposed in the November general, and securing the party nomination essentially secures the seat. See: Big cities where there are no Republican candidates.

Oh and to the pig-faced Congressman above, let's dust off an old chestnut: What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Is it bad that the best possible response to a member of the United States Congress is a quote from an Adam Sandler movie? Probably, but how else can one counterpoint arguments that compare global warming to the smooth fizzy taste of Dr. Pepper. Still, that video is almost genius in its downward spiral of mixed metaphors and sheer lunacy. How does this man manage to make each progessive sentence increasingly idiotic? I don't know, but it's probably why the good people of the Texas' 6th District voted for him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

That's just crazy enough to work

The other day I discovered that my cable has an on-demand option, and that some episodes of the The Wire are available. Specifically, the last half of Season 3. To refresh your memory, its the one with Maj. Bunny Colvin's Hamsterdam enforcement strategy. For those who haven't watched this show -- what are you, racist?

Anyway, here's the plot. Desperate to make some impact in his final months as a cop, Colvin instructs his police to push all the outdoor drug trade in his district into specific, particularly-dilapidated "free" zones. He introduces the concept with an apt paper bag analogy.

The plan has predicable results. Minus the drug-element, West Baltimore enjoys an all too brief renaissance. Meanwhile the addicts flock to the free zones or "hamsterdam," which one deacon describes as hell. The word of drug-legalization travels up the chain to the police commissioner and mayor. And it all goes to shit, when the the TV news people show up. In the end Rawls orders the free zones taken down Western District-style, to Flight of the Valkyries.

I think my point is that although Bunny Colvin is a relatively minor character on this show, he still has a lot to offer. It takes a strong person to see the worst terribleness of man on daily basis and not become jaded. Not to mention the talk he has with Carver is a fantastic indictment of the drug war. He clings to his idealism, even after some 30 years as a police officer in the inner city. And he's also a tragic figure, when his plan falls apart, he falls on his sword to protect those he led.

So here's to Bunny Colvin, a fictional man who did everything he could to make the world a better place in the face of futility, incompetence, apathy, and an overall lack of viable options. Truly an inspiration for our time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sweet nourishing gruel

This picture best represents my feeling now that my laptop is back and badder than ever. Even though the "h" key still only works sometimes. Today? Yes.

Image stolen from heyokay.

Those rich f*cks

"Naturally, when you try and take the bone away, even if they didn’t deserve that bone in the first place..."

I found that quote buried deep in a New Yorker article in which Wall Streeters bemoan their loss of status amid the current financial downturn. It's all "very" disturbing stuff, about how terrible it is when 8-figure salaries are somehow looked down upon by members of the public, on the subway. The selfarrogance here is simply amazing -- that they deserve to have a GDP bigger than that of Haiti because they manage markets. Oh yes, and create wealth. Sweet sweet wealth, the one thing you can never get enough of, much like coke.

But now thanks to some good old-fashioned populist rage its no longer cool to be a banker. As it should be: Bankers are inherently nerds. It's what makes the late gangster accountant Herbert Kornfeld funny. But somewhere along the line that idea was lost and number crunching became a "prestige" profession, desired by Ivy League popped collar types. I think this occurred sometime in the 80s. Greed is good, Reagan and all that. But when financiers has carte blanche and runs amok for 30-odd years, it's going to be particularly heart-wrenching for them when the lights finally get turned out. Not to mention the hangover.

And it does seem those lights are getting turned out, or at least dimmed. The crazy bender of deregulation is mercifully coming to an end. Shit, the government is actually talking about maybe regulating the derivatives market, a little. Curbing profits to cover losses, will wonders never cease. Multi-millionaires have enough power to get what they want -- they don't need Washington's help to get what they want. I assume these people have butlers.

The problem with class warfare is the rich are much better at it. Its common sense -- money and influence makes it easier to push your ideology. Setting aside lobbyists and the moneys that actually change the rule of law: The country has long embraced idea that anyone can get rich, buy a house, make their way. And do not get me wrong: I agree with this. There are few things better than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (maybe the golden rule). But again, somewhere along the line that American Dream (for lack of a better term) got twisted up in the desire to buy more and more stuff, just to keep up with the Joneses.

But what can be done? Populism is always appealing, and one would think it could be an important tool in evening the playing field, or at least bringing those rich fucks down a peg. Power of the mob. But it tends to be right-wingers like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck who best stoke the fires of poor morons, in pursuit of profit and ratings. Screaming nonsense about kenyan socialism and lighting people on fire draws in more eyeballs than a reasoned analysis of, well, anything else. So populism is out, and that's just about as much wrong-headed analysis I can manage at this point.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strength in Numbers

Gotta put a plug for my cousin's band up in here. I went down to the WXPN's World Cafe Live to see them on Monday night. Called Strength in Numbers, they are a 9-piece band, based out of Burlington, Vt. The sound is a kind of a hip-hop, jazz, funk fusion. Not something I would listen to at home, but quality live.

And they put on good show, won over the crowd -- who besides myself and my pops was probably there to see the next act Philadelphia Slick and Akil the MC (from Jurassic 5). Possible future post topic: Going to see a hip-hop show with your near 60-year-old father.

Anyway, here is the only video I could find of them on Youtube. Gives you an idea, but I think the show on Monday was better.

Monday, May 11, 2009


But opinions, however insightful or provocative and whether expressed online or in print or in prime time, are cheap. Reporting the news can be expensive. Some of it — monitoring the local school board, say — can and is being done by voluntary “citizen journalists” with time on their hands, integrity and a Web site. But we can’t have serious opinions about America’s role in combating the Taliban in Pakistan unless brave and knowledgeable correspondents (with security to protect them) tell us in real time what is actually going on there. We can’t know what is happening behind closed doors at corrupt, hard-to-penetrate institutions in Washington or Wall Street unless teams of reporters armed with the appropriate technical expertise and assiduously developed contacts are digging night and day. Those reporters have to eat and pay rent, whether they work for print, a TV network, a Web operation or some new bottom-up news organism we can’t yet imagine.

-Frank Rich

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Needs more Schwarzenegger

Informational update: My laptop has some sort of terrible virus, possibly swine flu-related. But seriously, there were over 1000 infected files. The point is it may be a while before I get back to posting normally, because I need mind-altering substances to come up with ideas, which cannot be done at work. In theory.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What a sh**hole