Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why Does Gawker Care About the Mayor of Toronto?

I've never understood the fascination that Gawker has with Rob Ford, the pan-faced oaf who turned his blue-collar appeal into the perfect pitch for the people of Toronto. They made him their mayor and they would probably do it all over again because that's the society they want to live in.

At some point, you have to move on.

No one should care about this man. He is a man-child handed an office rendered irrelevant by the city council structure of Toronto. Laughing at the fat crack head is what's in nowadays? Hey, maybe at first, but now it's just old hat.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Baltimore Crabs

I will solve your problem for you:
Every team has a defining moment during the season. For the Los Angeles Clippers, that moment is likely Tuesday night. With the series against their cross-state rival the Golden State Warriors knotted at two games, a loss will be tough to recover from. A win would keep them on track to reach their first NBA finals in team history. The game also marks a defining moment for the Clippers organization—it will be the first time the Clippers play at the Staples Center since their owner, Donald Sterling, was exposed as a racist. Depending on how NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handles his first major crisis, the Sterling scandal could be either the beginning of the end of the Clippers or the final step on their ascendancy to the throne of Los Angeles basketball.
Why save the Clippers? Contracting the National Basketball Association by one team would not be a fatal move; it would eliminate the stain of the controversy, and it would allow the remaining teams in the league to hold a lottery draft for the 12-20 players whose rights (D-league, injured, or otherwise) are held by the Clippers. It would drive Donald Sterling from the league and leave his empire in shambles, effectively demonstrating that anyone who doesn't clean up their act can be removed from the fraternity of owners. And it would make this issue go away--the franchise death penalty has a way of doing that.

Might I humbly suggest putting a professional basketball team in Baltimore, Maryland?  Call them the Baltimore Crabs or the Maryland Mayhem. The area already has the Bay Area Shuckers and many people spend the bulk of their vacation time or their free time reminiscing about the Baltimore Pearls. Baltimore would be a heck of a town for pro basketball. All anyone would have to do is build an arena for it to happen. Why the hell not?

UPDATE: Donald Sterling has been banned for life. The NBA has decided to force him to sell the team. I still think they need to help the Lakers franchise and remove the Clippers from the Los Angeles market. Moving the Clippers back to San Diego makes sense, but so does relocating the team to Baltimore.

The Real Abuse of Government Power

Forget that nonsense with Cliven Bundy--this is your real case of government overreach:
A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled.
The decision last week turned down Eileen Battisti's request to reverse the September 2011 sale of her home outside Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania. 
"I paid everything, and didn't know about the $6.30," Battisti said. "For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy." 
Battisti, who still lives in the house, said Monday that she plans to appeal to Commonwealth Court. That court earlier ordered an evidentiary hearing, which led to last week's ruling.
The city cannot take your house over such a paltry amount, especially if the homeowner agrees to pay the amount or negotiate a fair settlement of the money owed. The proportionality here is so far out of whack that I cannot imagine a situation where this opinion from the judge holds up under an appeal.

Monday, April 28, 2014

That's Not a Mini

Nope. Not a Mini anymore.

Purely from a practical point of view, I have to ask--why the tire on the roof and why the floodlights? A carrying rack would have been more practical, as would an actual truck bed in the back. The other problem is clearance off the ground, which is what makes a truck work.

Mini has lost its mind.

The Great Running Shoe Scam

So what?
...there's only one firm that currently comes anywhere close to making a shoe entirely in America: New Balance. (And even they concede that "Made in the USA" doesn't mean what you think it means: "1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sold in the USA was made or assembled here. Where domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes "'Made in the USA.'")
In other words, the military just made a competitive bidding process into a no-bid, one-shoe-fits-all process. All to support "America." 
Funny thing is, the military didn't want to do this, in part because "Narrowing the recruit's choice to one or two manufacturers, as they select a shoe for rigorous initial entry training will, 'limit the choices available and may result in more injuries,'" according to a DOD spokesman just two months ago. But politics interceded on New Balance's behalf, again. 
If you've been in the military for any amount of time, you know New Balance has long gnashed its teeth on the ample gubmint teat. In addition to the footwear allowance, military recruits (and officer candidates) get issued go-fasters, running suits, and other gear that more often than not comes from the Massachusetts-based sneaker company.
If you've been in the military, the last place you're going to go for information is Gawker, but I digress.

When you go to basic training, there is nothing but confusion and chaos. This is done on purpose in order to weed out panicky, punchy, violent people who cannot conform to military standards. The shoes on your feet don't matter because you're not there to perform at the peak of personal comfort and fitness--you're there because SHIT! Run! OK, now get some food and go to bed and SHIT! do it all over again. This all happens in the back woods of America, and you'll be tired for as long as you can stand it and you'll eat weird food and be on your feet a lot. Boredom is your single greatest enemy in basic training. So, leave it to people who have never been there to get it wrong.

The fact that New Balance is a government contractor doesn't matter--all government contractors are thieving bastards. You must admire them for their cleverness and ignore their ability to screw up your life, otherwise it will just bother you.

If you're a privileged rich person, basic training is the last place you are going to want to be with your $300 running shoes because they'll get wrecked fast. You need a cheap-assed pair of shoes you never want to see again when the 9 weeks or whatever it is are over. You're going to DX your uniforms and boots the first chance you get anyway--that's why you are expected to trash and wear out that basic training gear. 

You don't need anything more than a shitty pair of $35 running shoes. If you go with cross training shoes, all the better. But they could be anything because the boots you wear all day are going to change your feet dramatically. When you get to AIT, you're going to throw away the shitty stuff and buy nice shoes and all that when life settles into more of a routine--that's about when the shock of wearing leather boots changes over to more of a military lifestyle. There is a routine at basic training and it's called SHIT! go stand there for an hour and then RUN! You needed to be there before you could be here and SHIT! those shoes don't matter, private. Because they don't.

The biggest shock to your system isn't going to be centered around a cheap pair of running shoes--it is going to be the boots they give you and the wool socks.

Running shoes are a scam perpetrated by greedy companies on the gullible.

It does not matter what kind of shoe you wear on your feet. Buy a $35 pair and run in them. What matters is that you do not use them past their wear-out point; whether that is 300 miles or six weeks is your choice. No matter what brand or style or cost, a running shoe that is worn out will damage your lower body.

In fact, try running without shoes and see if that works for you. 

Only Sarah Palin Can Save America From Obamacare

Someone has to save us from Obamacare because it's working:
“Evan knows Obamacare is a mess,” said an ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which blamed the law for lost jobs, dropped coverage and high premiums. An ad from the group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch, denounced Mr. Rahall for supporting the law, saying it was “going to hurt a lot of people.”
Many professionals here dispute such claims. “It’s working, and you can show it’s working,” Dr. Becker said.
He and other health care advocates call West Virginia a national success story in terms of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to more of the working poor. While 24 states have refused to expand Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $23,850 for a family of four, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, decided over Republican objections that the state — with a population older and sicker than the national average — would do so.
Nationwide, more people have signed up for private plans than for Medicaid, but the results are the opposite in West Virginia, where about 15 percent of residents — 270,000 of 1.8 million — lacked insurance when the law took effect. Initial sign-ups for Medicaid, about 115,000 since Oct. 1, are nearly double what actuaries projected, and roughly five times the number of people believed to have bought private plans from the one insurer in West Virginia’s marketplace, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people enrolled in private coverage, fewer than predicted.
When she's not baptizing terrorists, perhaps President Palin can end Obamacare and make it so the American people can be free. It is worth noting (nothing?) that John McCain and Palin won West Virginia by 13 points in 2008. At this rate, West Virginia will vote for a Democrat when Hell's frozen over, thanks to the efforts of Republicans who cannot help but to trash each and every government program that is actually a success.

This thing called Affordable Care Act cannot be allowed to succeed. This represents a massive shift in public policy that won't be undone, ever, because it will eliminate the conservative argument against carrying out complex reforms that help the American people. Sarah Palin is the only person dumb enough to win the Presidency and then convince people to stop Obamacare. When she wins in 2016, all your futures will belong to her and so will your healthcare exchange card.

Michael Grimm Indicted on 20 Federal Criminal Charges

Michael Grimm, New York Congressman, indicted on 20 federal criminal charges |

Bear in mind, Michael Grimm threatened a reporter earlier this year with physical violence and was once an FBI agent. In other words, he's your typical politician of the week. The law is an inconvenience to these people.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Public Disgrace

This is what you get when you liberalize gun laws without giving the police the ability to determine who is, and who is not, obeying the spirit of the law and behaving in an ethical and safe manner:

WARNING--video goes into auto play after the jump:

Jackassery, plain and simple. And for the Sheriff to say this:
Forsythe Sheriff Duane Piper said that he didn’t believe the parents and children were in any danger but, even though the man was within his rights to carry the gun, he found the gun carriers conduct inappropriate.
“We support the constitutional right to bear arms. We will not tolerate bad behavior,” said the sheriff.
What a pant load. Terrorizing people isn't bad behavior? Creating a panic where there was none isn't a reason to remove the man from the premises?

There is no reason why a person--man or woman--should demonstrate in public with their gun in a crowded place. There is no ethical reason why this man should have flaunted the gun on his person in a public gathering place in that manner. He was terrorizing those people. Given the social situation and the presence of children--at a sporting event--he was creating a public panic and a nuisance. That is plainly evident because a lot of people freaked out and called the police.

Now, I get that there are rights. What about the rights of the people who don't want to be terrorized by some idiot and his gun?

You can legally carry a gun in public--I get that. But you do not have the right to terrorize anyone.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Indifferent City Around Dachau Concentration Camp

Powerful observation:
An American student attending a German high school says she was shocked that her fellow students laughed and joked during a class lesson about the Holocaust.
"The boys laughed uncontrollably, ignoring our teacher's attempts to stop them, while looking at pictures of starving concentration camp victims," Sophie Roth-Douquet writes in USA Today.
She says "things got worse" during a field trip to the concentration camp at Dachau, when she overheard a classmate joke about a sculpture of men caught in barbed wire.
My own experience is different from that of Miss Roth-Douquet, who I did not meet when I lived in Stuttgart. She is one of many Americans who attends a German school in the surrounding area and does not go to the American DODDS high school located on Patch Barracks.

Click for the rest of the post; UPDATED with my personal photos from Dachau (May, 2011)

I can comment on my own experience, however. Every year, German high school students are bused to Dachau and required to visit the camp. When you arrive at Dachau, which is north of Munich, you drive down the same kind of German main roads that exist everywhere. It is not a site that is surrounded by blankness and by fields. It is just right there, in the town of Dachau. 

There are stores, gas stations, and whatever else on Alte Romerstrasse; the buildings that once housed the SS troops outside of the camp are now home to the Bavarian Riot Police.\. When you turn left and enter the large parking lot for the Dachau camp, you are struck by the fact that it is not desolate or horrible around the old walls of the camp--far from it.

There are businesses and homes where people actually live that border it and surround it. It is a prosperous place where people can shop and live. You leave the parking lot, you go to the visitors center, and then you enter the camp complex. It is no different than visiting a castle or an amusement park. You can literally go across the street and buy furniture. The city around Dachau simply rebuilt itself and went on living.

I cannot show you anything from Google's point of view about Dachau; this is as close as Google got with their attempt to drive around and take pictures:

So, Google's Street View can't show you what I saw around Dachau. And note the fact that the homes are blurred out--that's a German preference for privacy that is ingrained. For some reason, the area around Dachau wasn't covered by Google's drive-by.

The Germans are far removed from the war; what few grandfathers there are who survived are likely great-grandfathers and have mostly died off. Some wag put this on the gate:

To stand before such evil is to wonder what kind of society could allow such things.

Well, German society, for one. The Germans put their elderly into homes like we do; there are multi-generational families under one roof in some circumstances, but, by and large, they occupy retirement homes. The largest building project in our village was a brand new retirement home, and it was finished just before we left. They removed the rubble, and they removed the worst of the worst, and then they quietly removed the traces of the war and now the last vestiges--the old people--are removed from view as well. Life is easier when you can sanitize and remove the things that upset a people. The Germans cannot remove Dachau so they have build their town around it and they have roads that go by it and they let the trees grow around the camp.

From this vantage point, you see the marker for building 20, which housed hundreds of prisoners in a confined space. The tower to the left was staffed with riflemen and machine gunners. The fence is right there. And the trees keep out the view.

Immaturity is a trait you'll find practically anywhere, so I'm not surprised that Miss Roth-Douquet found it in her high school. The douchebaggery of your typical German teenager isn't something that wouldn't be recognized in a kid from Glasgow or Baltimore. If she had been in school with teenagers from England or France or Sweden, their reactions to the horrors would have probably been the same--nervous jokes and stilted laughter. The difference is, these German teenagers failed to remember that they are the offspring of the perpetrators and don't really have the right to laugh at starved human beings. Really, no one does. But teenagers are going to laugh at those sorts of things. When you're a lout from Manchester, it's one thing. When you're from Sindelfingen, it's entirely something else.

The whole of Germany has been scrubbed of the war. You might find a memorial here and there but the after effects are mostly gone in the prosperous areas like Southern Germany. I have no idea what the old Eastern part of Germany looks like. They celebrate Medieval times and Oktoberfest. They will even celebrate May Day, and I'm certain that the May Poles going up are just like the ones from last year. The only place where you can count on some sort of memorial is when you visit foreign countries where large numbers of German soldiers are buried. Many German teenagers travel to these places and work to clean and maintain those cemeteries.

Here are my photos of Dachau:

Dachau itself is meticulously preserved and protected. The site is stark and sobering. The outlines of the blockhouses are clearly visible, giving the place a massive scale. The memorial aspects of the site are appropriate and reverential, and the information center will haunt you with images of humanity, extinguished in a senseless need for order and dominance. It is the most ghastly, horrible place you will ever visit.

When I was there, scores of German teenagers walked around, seeing the exhibits and walking on the pathway used by prisoners who were force-marched away from the camp in order to hide them. None of them laughed or carried on; they were well-behaved that day.

There is a plaque that describes the liberation of the camp by an American Army division.

It is proof that you can stand in a terrible place and be proud to be an American.

And so, Miss Roth-Douquet is exactly right--these idiot German teenagers should be more respectful. That they are not is proof we've forgotten our history, but we do it again and again and again.

Kustom Klowns

Kiowa armed scout helicopter
Really, what did you think you were getting from a company named "Kustom Products Inc.?"
The investigation into Kustom Products, Inc., began when Army National Guard mechanics found defects in a critical nut that secures the rotor on the Kiowa armed scout helicopter in 2008.
Later, investigators said they determined that crucial clamps needed for military transport planes, which were required to be sourced from a U.S. company, instead were outsourced by Kustom Products to an unapproved Chinese supplier.
Did you think the guy who called his company "Kustom Products" wasn't going to screw you blind in order to make some cash? Who awarded this contract and are they still using their brilliant powers of deduction to choose qualified companies with whom to do business?

Holy crap.

How would you like to be the pilots of said helicopters? You're flying missions, you're putting your life on the line, and some greasy sleaze ball working for Kustom Products Inc. is shoving wads of government money in his pocket while your aircraft flies apart in mid-air. And this was no simple nut--this was the Jesus Nut. As in, the nut that holds the rotor to the shaft and keeps the helicopter flying.

Yes, the Jesus Nut. Harold Ray Bettencourt and his family screwed the government and provided faulty Jesus Nuts to the military. What a proud, proud life these people have led up til now.
Charged in the indictment are company owner Harold Bettencourt; his ex-wife Susie Bettencourt, the firm’s office manager; their sons Bo and Nick Bettencourt, sales managers for the company; another son, Pete Bettencourt, who fulfilled a number of the government contracts; employee Toni Densmore, who also fulfilled contracts; and employee Josh Kemp, a purchasing agent.
And--get this--they're still in business! Check out their website:

Harold and the boys have plans, you see. Come back! We're getting it all together so, you know, come and shop with us if your life does not depend on anything we may or may not provide to you in exchange for way too much money. If you're in Coos Bay, look them up. They'll sell you a Jesus Nut, even though they can't get their own website to work. Cheap!

As a side note, if you do business with a company called Kustom Products Inc. and their website looks like this, run! Run, Cletus! Run! They don't know what they're doing and the stuff they sell you will still be wrapped in Chinese shopping bags. Run!

This is but one of many fraudulently run and incompetently operated companies that have profited handsomely from America's permanent wars. In a few years, these people will simply be folded in with some other fly-by-night clown car operation and they'll be back at the Federal teat, making money hand over fist and laughing at the idea that a maintenance crew on the other side of the world is going to have to work long days and nights trying to figure out which one of their shoddy parts is going to fail and kill someone.

It would be a very, very good idea for someone to try to get a handle on military procurement, but the Pentagon is severely dysfunctional in that area. I am convinced that for every one of these companies that have been caught that there are at least ten others getting away with this practice as we speak. Hell, I may have even worked for one of them once. But I never handled a Jesus Nut.

Not Even Sean Hannity Will Defend Cliven Bundy

Kudos to Sean Hannity. When faced with the economic ruin that an onslaught of boycotts and withdrawn advertising would render to the dying Fox News machine, he folded up like a trailer park in a tornado and ran for the hills.

His inability to reconcile with the racism and the need to always decry the government is yet another reason why the people who actually profit from spreading fear and racism throughout American society have to find more subtle messengers and people who are more savvy than Hannity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Criminal Conspiracy Within the VA Medical System

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list. 
The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources
How hard is it to be accountable for what's going on? If you're the person in charge of the VA hospital, you raise your hand and say, "we're in trouble and we need help." That doesn't mean that VA in Washington D.C. has to fire that person--just the opposite. It means that resources have to be allocated to help keep veterans alive.

Instead, we have a criminal conspiracy to destroy evidence and hide the problem. The cover-up is worse than the crime, right? No, the crime was that forty veterans died because a handful of people put their careers ahead of what was right and let them die.

How much do you want to bet that monetary bonuses have landed in the checking accounts of everyone involved on a regular basis for years? How much would you put down against the chance that the management was paid exorbitant salaries for years while this went on?

Tell me again why Eric Shinseki still has a job. The VA leadership should be flushed completely out of the system and replaced with people who care and who can be accountable. Not just at his level--immediately below it as well. Whoever supervises the VA hospital system should be cleaning out their office right this minute. The VA cannot tolerate a continuation of failure. And it should seek out people who actually deal with and solve problems like adults. Shredding evidence? What is this, Wall Street? No, it's the VA medical system. People die when careerism takes over.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

James Poulos Does Not Understand the Danger of Inequality

The glib libertarianism of James Poulos is on display today:
So far, so good. But then Hacker and Pierson go off the rails: “another Frenchman with a panoramic vista—and far more precise evidence—wants us to think anew about the progress of equality and democracy. Though an heir to Tocqueville’s tradition of analytic history, Thomas Piketty has a message that could not be more different: Unless we act, inequality will grow much worse, eventually making a mockery of our democratic institutions.” 
The apparent ignorance behind this thesis is so extreme that it causes Hacker and Pierson to see Piketty as the real genius—while even an undergraduate level of engagement withDemocracy in America would reveal, in virtually every chapter, that Piketty is not only wrong but glibly and perilously so.
Poulos is out of his depth, but you already knew that. Praise for Piketty's work is being heard far and wide.

Of course, there's no proof that Piketty is wrong, just snide bullshit operating as rhetoric. It reads better when you can ignore every single indicator that we are entering a new Gilded Age and come up with a jarring bit of Slate-inspired contrarianism. Or something like that. It's as if Poulos hasn't been told that corporations are people and that a billionaire can buy anyone or anything he wants, especially the United States Senate or the governor of Wisconsin.

Poulos, you see, is operating under the impression that it is 1994 and not 2014. We are in the midst of a new Gilded Age, and it's worse than the last one because, well, there is no organized labor movement anymore and political corruption is seen as a character building exercise in getting away with it rather than the shameful, money-grubbing excess it used to be.

You can follow the link and see the other four reasons yourself. I think the fifth one is good enough. What you are paid is indicative of what you own; the ever-increasing gap between now and the time of Alexis de Tocqueville is readily apparent--the equality of early America, where men owned their land because the government gave it to them for improvement has been replaced by a world of renters and urban dwellers. It's one thing to have a nation of yeomen farmers who are building the agricultural infrastructure of early America; it's another to have apartment blocks full of people paying Too Damn High of rent.

This is why I think the comparison to what Piketty is saying to de Tocqueville is not relevant. The transition of America from an agricultural power to a manufacturing power and now to a debt-repackaging power took place while the upper and bottom rungs of society struggled for control over who controlled the government and how it was wielded. Ronald Reagan was the verdict on this struggle, and the American labor movement was destroyed and the power of the CEO was established as a national birthright for the lucky few. A hundred years ago, you could mock the rich and powerful openly and with great gusto (see Finley Peter Dunne, et al). Now, you have inflamed butthurt feelings whenever someone makes a rich man sad by writing down what he actually said in public on purpose.

Poulos is dead wrong if he thinks that American democracy somehow has a remedy for all of this--it does not. It has not prevented this development and now, thanks to the ability of the wealthy to use money as speech, it is now much less likely that politicians will bite the hand that feeds them and cut off the main source of their power, which is not the votes of the populace but the money that allows them to manipulate voters into believing they are living in an actual democracy.

Income inequality is the disaster on the horizon. When the wealthy have everything, society falls into revolution and "distributes" the wealth. Tocqueville, knowing the causes of the French Revolution, would more clearly see this issue and the dangers of concentrating wealth in the hands of a small elite empowered with the permission of the law to buy their power without fear of legal consequences.

Your Modern Republican Party

Erick Erickson on Hillary Clinton:
While guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Tuesday, conservative pundit and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson offered what may ultimately be a preview of what we can expect to hear from the right if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016.
“I’m willing to admit I’m in the minority,” Erickson said. “I’m willing to admit I could very well be wrong; all of my Democratic friends are salivating [at the prospect of her running in 2016].”
Yet despite his Democratic friends’ saliva, Erickson said he wasn’t buying the idea that Clinton holds the advantage for 2016.
“She’s going to be old!” Erickson noted. “I don’t know how far back they can pull her face!” he added.
Here, you can clearly see that the Republicans have all of the ideas, all of the substance, and a heck of a good opening line for women voters.  With an outreach and a rebranding effort like this, the Democrats will be lucky to win only 40 states in 2016. These guys have ten--ten!--states locked up already for maybe--maybe--a hundred electoral college votes.

Damn, it's going to be a rough ride ahead. How do you counter such a physically gifted, fit, handsome, healthy young man and all of his skills and abilities?

You don't! You just pray that you can survive, I guess.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There is But One Use For Graphene

If you make an innovative, game-changing scientific advancement in anything, always remember one thing:
In addition to its potential uses in electronics, graphene might have applications in water treatment, oil spill clean-up and even in the production of thinner condoms.
It's all about whether or not your product can be commercialized for widespread use by people who just haven't found a condom thin enough for their own personal comfort.

The Whistleblower

Mary Willingham is a teacher at the University of North Carolina who exposed academic fraud in the athletics program. Full stop.

Instead of a medal, she's quitting.

Instead of being acknowledged for trying to get someone to be held accountable, she's leaving.

Instead of being praised by the school's coaches and athletic director and everyone else for helping them restore legitimacy to their programs and stave off the NCAA's wrath, she's hitting the road.

What a shame. Willingham is one of the few educators who could turn things around. Instead, she has endured a hostile work environment. I hope she sues the University of North Carolina and wins. I think they should name the basketball court after her and apologize for the school's ridiculous behavior.

Where is the Panic and the Outrage?

So, one of the men who ran the Disney Channel is accused of being a sexual abuser of underaged individuals and there is no panic in the land?

I guess we're finally going to try out this whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing. In years past, if anyone associated with the Disney empire was accused of such a crime, it would have sent out shock waves.

No, sorry. Got that wrong. If Michael Jackson was accused, shock waves. Disney? Ho hum.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Greatest American Douchebag Billionaire

You gotta love America's most thoughtful bro, the great douchebag known far and wide as Sean Parker:
Having donated almost exclusively to Democrats up to this point, Parker made a trip to Washington in December for the purpose of meeting quietly with Republican officeholders and strategists around town. He plans to donate to both sides starting this year, associates say, for the first time committing big sums to aid Republicans he views as credible deal-makers in a bitterly divided Congress.
There are specific issues Parker cares about, including immigration reform and investments in urban development and medical research. Like many in the tech world, he shares a set of liberal social values and, one Parker friend said, cares less about his personal tax rate than in making sure government operates efficiently.
At least for now, the Silicon Valley billionaire is primarily interested in fixing what he views as a broken political process, promoting voter engagement and supporting politicians who work across the aisle — all goals far easier to state than to accomplish.
If Parker really cared about immigration reform and actually investing government money in medical research or in making lives better for poor people, he'd have given all of his money to the Democratic Party by now. These are all things that the Republican Party opposes as a matter of doing business on a daily basis.

Congress is not "bitterly divided." Congress is divided along party lines, and one party wants to govern while the other party, the Republican Party, wants to watch the whole thing burn to the ground. Who shut down the government? The Republicans. Who won't pass a jobs bill? Republicans. Who refuses to lift a finger to do anything about the environment, about global warming, about equal rights for women, about health care, about reproductive rights for women, about jobs, about the poor, about hungry kids, about relief for homeowners, about veteran's health care, and about a hundred a fifty other major, major issues? The Republicans.

Sean Parker is just a douchebag with money, and he has to sling it in order to make people kiss his ass. He's not trying to "fix" anything. He smells a Republican mid-term victory and he wants access to power for whatever stupid idea he has decided to push in the months ahead. If he was a thinking person, he'd never give a dime to a Republican, ever.

Oh, and he's a douchebag. Did I cover that?

Golf Is a World Sport

The demise of golf in the United States, which is largely racial and economic because the middle class has either aged out of the sport and died off or has no economic ability to participate in the sport anymore, is long overdue. It may very well spell trouble for people who have invested a lot of money in the sport, but it doesn't mean that golf is automatically a sport in decline. Like everything else that needs to survive a demographic shift, it has to diversify and change. If not, then it will die off.

Anyone and everyone who has investments in golf in America should diversify and look to Asia for some kind of support. Move the major tournaments overseas to Asian venues and stop thinking that Tiger Woods is the end-all and the be-all.

If basketball can survive the end of Michael Jordan and if hockey can survive the end of Wayne Gretzky, then golf can survive as well.

This Real Estate Lawyer From Yale Knows What a Real Job Is

What a farce:
Gansler said, "You know, I'm running against somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything. You know his ads are about how he was a lawyer in Iraq, and that's all fine and good but this is a real job."

The entire statement has already been posted on YouTube. Brown's campaign people recorded Gansler and posted it online.

Vote Vets, a large veterans group that has already endorsed Brown for governor, is demanding an apology from Gansler.

In response, Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of Vote Vets Political Action Committee, said, "Doug Gansler needs to stop smearing those of us who served in Iraq as not having had a 'real job.' It's a horrible insult to all those men and women who put their lives on the line, and especially those who died, in service to this country. Additionally, Mr. Gansler, if he chooses to attack an Iraq War Veteran, ought to at least admit that the person he is attacking has been serving as Maryland's Lieutenant Governor. This kind of slime ball politics is what turns people off to our democratic process, so Mr. Gansler is doing no favors for Maryland or our democratic electoral system by playing in the gutter like this."
Doug Gansler is allowed to say horrible things about veterans--veterans saw awful things about other veterans all the time. There's no law against that. Stop pretending that there aren't people who disparage veterans for laughs every day. Jon Soltz is a hardened Democratic partisan and he is virtually the only person who actively advocates on behalf of democrats, so, more power to him. For every Soltz there are a dozen Republican-backed outfits.

As soon as you take off the uniform, there are people who will despise you, no matter what. And if you're a Democrat, forget it. To many vets, a Democrat who served is not a patriot and is one rung below convicted sex offender in our society.

The problem is, Doug Gansler is running for a chance to be governor of Maryland. Hells no, baby. Gansler is a walking, talking bag of entitlements and privileges, and I don't think he represents anything other than his own craven ambitions. This is a man who has a tin ear for politics and doesn't care who knows he's going to settle scores when he gets more power. He can't handle the power that he has right now, let alone executive power.

Gansler is a real estate lawyer who went to Yale. Of course he knows what a "real job" is. He should be considered an expert on who in this society ranks well below him. His entire life has been about sorting others into classes and categories below his station. If that's what you want in a governor, go vote for him.

Space Rays and Mutant Cherry Trees

Holy cow. What's going on here?
To everyone’s surprise, however, a few of these seeds did sprout into saplings, at least one of which grew to a height of around thirteen feet in just four years—another surprise, say the botanists. “It is difficult for us to judge why this has happened, but one reason the tree has grown so fast may be related to space rays,” Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a scientist at the University of Tsukuba, told the South China Morning Post. The tree was starting to sound like the arboreal version of the Fantastic Four, who acquired their own amazing powers during a ride aboard a rocket ship. Some suggested that the tree’s premature blossoming, as well as the fact that its flowers have only five petals each (the parent tree’s flowers typically have thirty), had similarly sci-fi explanations.
Keep those space rays away from lizards, I guess. I don't understand how such a mutation could happen and not cause people to panic, but there you have it.

Ain't That Tough Enough?

President Obama isn't "man enough" to deal with America's enemies. That's exactly the rhetoric of men who have never served in the military and have never had to be held accountable for using American troops to advance America's interests or to hold them back and NOT use them because that would undermine our credibility and overplay our hand. Sometimes, it is far smarter and more effective to not use military force. Nevertheless, President Obama has a "manhood" problem? Really?

But wait:
An operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen, a high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday.
The official said that the scale of the strikes against AQAP is "massive and unprecedented" and that at least 30 militants have been killed. The operation involved Yemeni commandos who are now "going after high-level AQAP targets," the official said.
A day earlier, suspected drone strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen for the second time in two days, killing "at least a dozen," the government official said.
I find this level of rhetoric frustrating. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are elements of the media who persist in thinking that you have to overwhelm everyone with blunt military force. The President can kill anyone he wants whenever he wants with screaming death machines from the sky--and so he does, making our enemies die like dogs. One minute, they're all happy and safe and the next minute a rocket lands in their ear. Holy crap.

I'm sorry but how's that for being not tough enough?

The Claw Machine Should Be Banned Forever

I have always hated claw machines, and so I'm glad to see someone finally took a little revenge upon the damned thing.

Claw machines are those ridiculous boxes that hold worthless prizes; you maneuver a claw into place and it drops and "retrieves" what you've settled upon. The only problem is, the claw is useless and it takes a lot of luck to actually win. As the kids say, the hells with that.

These things are a ripoff. They should be banned. End of story.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The End of Golf

The demise of the sport of golf reminds me of the way horse racing and boxing have gone from being national sports in this country to being niche activities that hardly garner any interest at all--inevitable and overdue.

Our suburbs are full of golf courses no one wants to deal with. What comes next will be an effort to turn these large swaths of land into usable space. Parks? Hardly. No money in that. Luxury homes? That sounds far more likely to me. Whole communities have to be redesigned, not the least of which are the ones built for people who want to live on golf courses. Think of how mad they're going to be and then realize that they're essentially going to die off in the next twenty years.

Change is coming. I think that an entrepreneur with some grasp of planning, function and design should be able to make a killing converting golf courses into useable space. Maybe using set asides and following some best practices will allow for conversion to render what used to be a golf course with water hazards into a functional space that is safe for families will work. I think we need more dog parks and more outdoor recreation but definitely no new golf courses.

How'd you like to be in that business? Those are the folks who need to lead the way on converting old golf courses.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This is Normal in a New Gilded Age

This is the new Gilded Age. For a handful of human beings, their existence is vastly different than the rest of humanity. They live in a fantasy world of extreme wealth and a poverty of accountability. Our elites are now so completely and utterly incompetent and bloated with cash that there is no way to reverse the path we're on, not without some sort of violent cataclysm or a really, really good series of Congressional hearings.

I kid. We're doomed. Start a blog, roll in the grass, eat something fattening, pet your dog. You'll be broke in a year like all the rest of us. Enjoy forever.

MH370: Let it Go

There is no easy way to quote the great philosopher of the 21st Century, Queen Elsa of Disney's Frozen, but here goes.

Let it go.

Spending untold millions, and risking the lives of searchers in that inhospitable part of the world, is simply not worth it. To lose one more plane or one more ship and everyone on it would simply compound the tragedy, and that's a very real possibility given how terrible it is to try and operate in the South Indian Ocean.

We have thousands of years of experience with this sort of thing as humans--ships, planes, people, boats, rafts, canoes, caravans--these things vanish. They disappear. They are found again, sometimes, but they do vanish. This is the way of the world.

Accepting that would be healthier than enduring the continued incompetence of the Malaysian authorities and the efforts by the worlds surveillance powers to mask their abilities and let people know what they heard and collected in the wake of the doomed flight.

I mean, honestly. You have to let it go.

What Would You Pay For a Failed Franchise?

The going price is $550 million dollars:

ESPN has learned Bucks owner Herb Kohl will announce sale of the team later today to Wesley Edens & Marc Lasry for price of $550 milllion

That's insane money. Insane.

Is there a bigger bubble than that of the valuation of a fringe professional sports franchise? We're not talking the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys. We're talking about the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks are about as a valuable as a Kia Dealership, if that. And if you tell me a Kia dealership is worth a half of a billion dollars, then I'll concede the point. Holy crap.

Too Many Hi-Hats

Pearl Drums is asking the question, not me. What would you do with this pile of drums?

Well, for starters, I'd rearrange it. I'd remove the superfluous hi-hats and floor toms and I'd probably add some effects and some trigger pads. I would probably separate this into another set and go from there.

I mean, do you really need this much? Or is this just a trick question?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Set That Man Aflame

Is North Korea Missing Any Submarines?

We will probably never learn the truth, but here goes:
A passenger describes women screaming in the darkness. A father learns his child is trapped. A son, fearing death, tells his mother he loves her.
Investigators haven't said what caused a South Korean ferry boat carrying hundreds of passengers to capsize on Wednesday. But as rescuers searched frigid waters for nearly 300 missing people, text messages surfaced describing the harrowing moments after the ferry started to roll.
CNN affiliate YTN reported on several messages, purportedly from passengers aboard the sinking vessel to their loved ones. CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of the messages or when they were sent. It's also unclear what happened to the people who sent them.
The messages, widely reported in South Korean media, paint a chaotic picture of the situation aboard the ferry as hundreds of passengers waited for help and some reached out to loved ones.
It could be a number of things that "hit" the ship, but my guess is that there is a North Korean mini-sub or perhaps an infiltration ship--something that sits just below the water line--at the bottom of the sea nearby. The aggressiveness of the North Korean navy and their infiltration craft is legendary. If they have, indeed, killed three hundred South Koreans in a single stroke, the repercussions are going to be felt on both sides. If that's what happened, and South Korea does nothing, it will anger the elements of that government who know the truth.

The North Koreans simply do not care. Three hundred people drop dead from starvation or meet their doom on a regular basis. Life means nothing to them.

Stay Classy, Kentucky Fans

This drives them crazy:
A blast as large as the one involving City College on Feb. 18 exploded on Oct. 20 when Hogan arrested Kentucky basketball players Ralph Beard, Alex Groza and Dale Barnstable for accepting $500 bribes to shave points in an NIT game against Loyola of Chicgo in Madison Square Garden in 1949. Groza and Beard had been on two NCAA championship teams and Beard also had been on one NIT winner. The 1949 games were an attempt to win the 1949 NIT and NCAA, which CCNY achieved in 1950. Beard and Groza had also been on the 1948 Olympic basketball gold medal team, and this Olympic unit was the nucleus of the NBA Indianapolis Olympians in 1949.
Judge Streit awarded suspended sentences to Groza, Beard and Barnstable and placed them on indefinite probation and barred them from all sports for three years. The NBA commissioner Maurice Podoloff also suspended the trio.
In the last stages of the hoop scandals or 1951, there was another significant event.
Bill Spivey, Kentucky's All-American center and leading player on the NCAA champions of 1951, was barred on March 2, 1952 from athletic play at the university. Spivey was never implicated in point shaving, so the action was surprising, though there were accusations against Spivey by teammates.
Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp had claimed his team was untouchable: "They couldn't reach my boys with a ten-foot pole." He was wrong. The NCAA suspended the Kentucky basketball program for the 1952-53 season.
Corruption is endemic to college sports; you'd have to be a brazen fool to believe otherwise. The school you root for is irrelevant; the whole thing is a rigged game.

When John Calipari does what he does and walks away from Kentucky, leaving behind a closet full of the stench of his cheating and the broken lives of young men who mean nothing at all unless they win games, he'll simply find another bunch of suckers. This country is so full of rubes, he could count on gainful employment for the next thousand years, were he able to coach that long. He's a mercenary. He trades a temporary lock on a national title for money. When that title is vacated, he's already spent your cash.

Here's some of that Kentucky class everyone knows and loves [see below for updates]:
"I'd say that you have your priorities in order. Does your mother know that you're a jackass?" 
"You, Sir, must be a butt hurt Memphis fan. "
"or a Louisville Fan- libel from a man who must hate his mom to be so miserable"
They'll attack your family and your sexual orientation all because they worship a school's basketball team. Hilarious.

Everything is About Money

It's not like Jameis Winston will be the first NFL prospect to moonlight as a serial rapist, but he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The problem with granting him that right is that there is no way the cops in Tallahassee, Florida are even remotely capable of properly investigating the rape of a young woman.

Walt Bogdanich isn't going to be invited to any booster activities any time soon:
When The Times asked Mr. Winston for an interview, an Atlanta lawyer advising his family, David Cornwell, responded, “We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.” Mr. Cornwell, who has represented major sports figures and the N.F.L., added, “Jameis has never sexually assaulted anybody.”
Mr. Winston has previously acknowledged having sex with his accuser but said it was consensual. His account has been supported by two friends from the football team who were with him that night, Chris Casher, who took the video, and Ronald Darby.
A month before the rape accusation became public, the university’s victim advocate learned that a second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Mr. Winston, according to the prosecutor’s office. The woman did not call it rape — she did not say “no.” But the encounter, not previously reported, “was of such a nature that she felt violated or felt that she needed to seek some type of counseling for her emotions about the experience,” according to Georgia Cappleman, the chief assistant state attorney, who said she had spoken with the advocate but not with the woman.
The victim advocate was concerned enough about the episode to have alerted Mr. Winston’s first accuser.
There's a lot of money at stake here, and that's the underlying theme of this whole sordid, sickening affair. Money kept Winston from being accused properly and investigated. Money is the reason why a young woman now has to live with the stigma of being raped by a privileged young man.

In a day and age where John Calipari can get away with publishing a book about how he takes care of players, it is easy to understand why the whole culture of sports at the collegiate level in this country has dissolved into nothing more than a racket, a farce, and an excuse to ignore the law and keep making money hand over fist. This is corrupting the country and there isn't a lawmaker around who can do anything about it.

You need to read the whole thing in order to discover for yourself just how horrible the police are down there and how the racket--college football--is just a machine to print money. Jameis Winston has thrived in that machine, and he'll probably thrive in the NFL as well. 

He had better hope that he doesn't play pro football in a city where there actually are cops who take rape seriously.

Chinese Tourists Have a Thing For Curly Blonde Hair

Articles like this one can lead to a number of generalizations and stereotypes, not the least of which could divert you into a racist corner that it would be impossible to get out of. If you're any kind of a blogger who hates attention, like me, there are so many ways this post could go wrong.

Chinese tourists really aren't any different from any other group. They do like to go up to young boys or girls with curly blonde hair and touch it--this I have seen with my own eyes. Your various other groups might ask permission to pat a head or take a picture, and that may be the case with some tourists from China.

My guess is that the new "ugly American abroad" will one day be "the Chinese farmer with a passport" and a whole host of cliches will be born.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Hate From the Right

How would you feel if the government did nothing to stop someone who has a history of being violent and how would you feel if the person who died at their hands was someone you loved?

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified numerous violent extremists over the years, and many of them are just as widely known as Frazier Glenn Cross:

A therapist who worked with visually impaired children. A doctor who did everything he could to help his patients. And the doctor's grandson, a teen auditioning for a singing competition that could win him a scholarship.
Love defined their lives, friends and family said -- lives that were cut short outside two Jewish centers near Kansas City on Sunday by a gunman long accused of spewing hate.
"That idiot absolutely knocked a family to its knees for no reason," said Will Corporon, whose father and nephew were gunned down in the parking lot outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. "My dad should be seeing patients today at his work. ... There is no reason. No reason for this. And it's just a tragedy."
The suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder after he allegedly opened fire at two Jewish centers. Organizations that track hate groups describe Cross, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, as a long-time white supremacist. Investigators say they plan to pursue federal hate crime charges against him.
I mean, if the evidence is there, how could we, as a society, ignore it?
Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in the shootings that left three dead at a Jewish community center and retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas. We feel a special connection to them because we know the killer well.
His name is Frazier Glenn Miller, and he once plotted to assassinate my colleague Morris Dees.
Miller was the leader of a notorious neo-Nazi organization in the 1980s that was stockpiling weapons and training for a race war. His blueprint was a book called The Turner Diaries, a racist manifesto that also inspired the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 men, women, and children.
After Miller was convicted on criminal contempt charges ina case we brought, he went underground, declared “war” on the government, and offered a white supremacist bounty on Morris’ head. Luckily for us, he was caught and went to prison.
Unfortunately, for the people of Overland Park, he was sentenced to only three years.
We’ve been contacted by the authorities and are sharing everything we know about Miller. But the sad truth is that there are other Millers out there – people with hate in their hearts who are willing to kill innocent people in the name of their race.
We ignore it because the gun lobby, and right wing extremists, are able to exist in the mainstream. One of the main detractors of SPLC is conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, and she criticizes them because they have rightly identified the violent, extremist streak that runs through the conservative movement and the Tea Party.Of course, our government identified them as well and the conservative freakout was felt far and wide.

There are violent elements on the left as well. They use terrorism just like the right does. But the two sides are not equals, not by a long shot. There is no "both sides do it" argument because the violent extremists on the left usually end up in prison or ostracized. On the right, they're embraced and defended.

Miller has existed on the fringes but he has been allowed to spread his views on the Vanguard News Network. This man may not have any vocal defenders right now, but he has more than a few sympathetic individuals who are operating in plain sight. The SPLC is often attacked as a left leaning advocacy group, and that's fine. They're willing to put on the big boy pants and fight these animals by exposing their views and actions to the world.

The next time a conservative pundit attacks them, they are simply making common cause with the likes of Miller. This is the tribe they run in and this is the belief structure they support, fringe extremist or not.

John Calipari is a Bullshit Artist

This will make you retch:
"If you are a college basketball fan like I am, you'll understand why I've long admired John Calipari's leadership style. While no coach treasures a win more than John, this terrific book reveals his greater purpose--to lead his young players to better lives, and then challenge them to give back to others." --President William J. Clinton
So much for the character judgment of President Clinton. Wow, big dog. You had to go there?

This is the write-up on Calipari's new book about allowing players to take the fall for--I mean, about how to get the most out of players by putting them first.
In "Players First," John Calipari relates for the first time anywhere his experiences over his first four years coaching the Kentucky Wildcats, college basketball's most fabled program, from the doldrums to a national championship, drawing lessons about leadership, character, and the path to personal and collective victory.

At its core, Calipari's coaching philosophy centers on keeping his focus on the players--what they need to get the best out of themselves and one another. He is beloved by his players for being utterly honest with them and making promises that he always keeps, no matter what. He knows that in this age, they come to Kentucky to prepare for the NBA; every year he gets players who in a previous era would have gone directly into the pros from high school but now have to play college basketball for one year. Calipari has fought against this system, but he has to play within it, and so he does, better than anyone.
In 2005, long before the questions arose over who exactly took Derrick Rose's SAT, there was a break-in at the apartment where several members of the Memphis team lived. According to police reports, the items stolen included $3,600 in fake fur coats, $6,000 worth of shoes, and however many throwback jerseys $2,150 will buy you. It is possible that the players in question amassed this bounty on only what they received for books, tuition, room and board, and fees, or out of the largesse of their respective grandmothers. It is also possible that Maggie Gyllenhaal waits for me around the next corner. Then came that great season that doesn't exist any more, and the scandal, and Calipari was off to Kentucky while Memphis took the NCAA sanctions right in the face.
After what happened at Memphis, there is no way--no way--Calipari should have been able to continue as a coach in the NCAA. Mr. Charles Pierce continues:
But the man is a master at walking between the raindrops. The argument in his defense is, always, that nobody investigating the scandals at UMass and Memphis ever found anything they could pin directly on John Calipari. It was always the players who betrayed his fundamentally naive trust in their integrity, or the shifty characters around the players who induced them to abuse the good nature of a decent chap who's only trying to play by increasingly complex rules. While Calipari knew Memphis was under investigation before he scurried off to Lexington, the NCAA itself has said that Calipari is not "at risk" in its investigation of the Memphis program. His responsibility for knowing what was going on with his players ended at ... well, it's hard to say where it ended because, by the logic used in this defense, it never really began. What was he supposed to do, anyway? How can a poor man stand such times and live?
Calipari is a sleazy bullshit artist and nothing more. If you're going to bitch about steroids in baseball and refs who shave points in the NBA, you cannot ignore the massive history of fraud and cheating that has followed Calipari around like Pig Pen's cloud of dust.

Would you trust your kid to such a man?
The result is an extraordinary leadership challenge: every year Coach Cal gets a handful of eighteen-year-old kids who have been in a bubble for the previous four years at least, filled with hype about their own greatness, and they come to Kentucky feeling sure that they will play for their coach only for seven months before they go on to greater glory. Every year, he has to reinvent his team. After his 2012 NCAA championship, it was particularly dramatic; he lost his first six players in the first round, meaning that someone who couldn't even start for Kentucky was a first-round draft pick. 
I guess if you would trust him, that says more about you than it does about him or the corrupt NCAA system that allows him to thrive. 
The overall record at Kentucky, and for his career, puts Calipari in the pantheon of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. Bold, funny, and truthful, like Coach Calipari himself, "Players First" is truly the first deep reckoning with the meaning of his experiences and the gifts of insight they offer.
If the pantheon has so many corrupt and vile coaches, why not tear the thing down?

UPDATE: Welcome, Kentucky Fans! Glad you could make it. Sorry about all of the people who agree with this post. There are more people who have given me a +1 on this post than there are rabid Kentucky fans who want to insult my parentage and make references to sexual orientation. Go team!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blogs Are Dead, Too

This is a mixed bag of misplaced outrage:
Twenty years ago, [David Foster] Wallace wrote about the impact of television on U.S. fiction. He focused on the effects of irony as it transferred from one medium to the other. In the 1960s, writers like Thomas Pynchon had successfully used irony and pop reference to reveal the dark side of war and American culture. Irony laid waste to corruption and hypocrisy. In the aftermath of the ’60s, as Wallace saw it, television adopted a self-deprecating, ironic attitude to make viewers feel smarter than the na├»ve public, and to flatter them into continued watching. Fiction responded by simply absorbing pop culture to “help create a mood of irony and irreverence, to make us uneasy and so ‘comment’ on the vapidity of U.S. culture, and most important, these days, to be just plain realistic.” But what if irony leads to a sinkhole of relativism and disavowal? For Wallace, regurgitating ironic pop culture is a dead end:
We have not overthrown the Baby Boomers as the arbiters of our culture. They control the broadcast networks, the major media outlets, and the access needed to spread cultural awareness. The few cracks that exist--Funny or Die, Jimmy Fallon, anything Amy Poehler or Tina Fey decided to do--are swamped with the kind of humor you see emanating from The Simpsons.

And, really, that's your whole fucking problem right there--The Simpsons. It should have ended a decade ago, but it didn't. It should have evolved into a millennial thing, but it didn't. It is squarely in the hands of people who worship at the altar of the Sixties counterculture movement, and they have done amazing, stellar work in satire and humor. But, once you've done that work, you need to go away. 

The thing that Wallace couldn't have seen coming was the development of television as an artistic medium. If you are an actor, and if you're really good at what you do, your ass needs to be on television. Kevin Spacey, et al, as it were.

That self-deprecating irony is noticeably absent from two of the most popular shows of the last five years--Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. One has ended and one is really starting to take off.

This is intensely purposeful and introspective fiction that goes deep inside of the characters, revealing flaws and weakness like no other medium. If Wallace were alive today, would he revise his stance on what television is doing to fiction given that there are so many good shows being so kind to the idea of storytelling? One season of the Walking Dead was enough to convince me that there was a reason why it was popular--it told a complex story from different angles in a way that put to bed the idea that television was a superfluous medium. It explained through art the necessity of giving a shit. That's what resonates--the need to care about people and do what it takes to survive is the gut punch modern fiction needed. With Breaking Bad you had the story of a man this culture would reject as irrelevant out of hand becoming a cultural icon. And they did it with the story, and nothing but the story, and they never betrayed what the story needed to have. Remarkable stuff.

And then you want to bring up a show like True Detective? And then your favorite show inserted here (because there are at least twenty great shows on television right now--twenty)? Come on.

I think that the death of music and the music industry has had a tremendous impact on the culture; films are dying as well. The problems in the film industry center around trying to make Marvel movies when television is examining flawed, difficult characters in a better way. If you made a Marvel film like they make an episode of The Walking Dead, then you might have a resurgence in film as a way of exploring characterization.

The switch was thrown on the Simpsons years ago for me. I don't know about you, but I just got tired of the Baby Boomer humor--that wiseassed, knowing shit that doesn't believe in anything and that thinks everything is a fraud has advanced past its shelf life. We don't live in that world anymore and we have not left that way of thinking in the past. We're dragging it around like a boat anchor, kind of like the censorship standards on TV that need to go away, too.

Someone with a hint of mercy in their soul needs to bring the Simpsons to an end. Clap, clap, and then we're done, just like we're done with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien (Jeee-zus, is he ever done). So long, and thanks for the DVDs. It's well past the time to move on.

Oh, and blogs? Pretty much dead forever, since no one has read this far.