Ravel's "Tzigane" as played by Liesl Schoenberger (violin) and Jessica Osborne (piano) at Morse Recital Hall at Sprague Hall on the campus of Yale University, December 2010. Video production by John Thordarson (www.tribalfilms.net)
January 31, 2012
January 29, 2012
As it turns out the new century wasn't like The Jetsons at all. Instead it's just like Star Trek. Not Trek the Movie, or Trek the series. Star Trek the set.
Remember the doors on Star Trek? Every time Kirk charged off the bridge, they opened with a snappy sideways slide and a high-tech swoosh. The thing is, behind the scenes, those doors were pulled back by hidden stagehands. That's the world we've inherited: a coat of shiny gloss made possible by a lot of unseen, unappreciated human effort. It's a world in which everything we wear, everything we carry, and most of the things in our home have the vitreous sheen of quality—a polish put there by tens of thousands of people working in crippling sweat shop conditions, for pitiful pay, in nations where raising a complaint means being discarded. The appearance of progress pasted over Dickensian tragedy.
January 25, 2012
Gingrich himself remains so unpopular that his own chances of beating Obama seem dim: His 29 percent favorability rating is about where it was before he was dumped as speaker by his House colleagues in 1998. But by making Romney as unpopular as he is, he has made Obama look good by comparison. Obama’s favorable rating is up to 53 percent from 48 percent in December.
Gingrich has long regarded himself as a “transformational figure” in world history, and now he’s about to prove it: For the second time in his career, he is about to save the reelection bid of a foundering Democratic president.
January 22, 2012
Seismologists have long used layperson reports of shaking to study earthquakes, particularly for historic earthquakes that lack high-quality seismographic measurements. The concept today is the same, but technology has greatly increased the quality and availability of that information. Besides Twitter activity, Allen lists a few more examples. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center uses hits on its website, resolved geographically by IP address, to learn about the areas affected by earthquakes.
January 21, 2012
Brown also took on President Barack Obama for proposing tax hikes on families who earn more than $250,000 per year, saying that would hurt “teachers, firefighters, policemen, folks who work two jobs.”
Asked which public servants earn that much money, Brown said it is common for police officers to earn well over $100,000 annually when overtime is factored into their pay.
“You throw in a teacher who’s working, plus a summer job, it adds up pretty quickly,” he said. “There’s quite a few of them.”
What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.
When workers are already treated as machines, perhaps their replacement by robots should be a cause for celebration. But the question then becomes: what do the displaced do for a living? Is there an alternative to exploitation?
January 17, 2012
Dublin Dr Pepper, though, had something that no trademark agreement or licensing deal can capture: mystique. To use a more modern term, it created buzz. I’m not sure that people who can’t buy a bottle of Dublin DP will settle for some of the ordinary, corn-syrup-sweetened variety.
Visit Old Doc's Soda Shop aka Dublin Dr. Pepper.
January 14, 2012
ABC's Jake Tapper reports on the latest political ad produced by the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity (a.k.a. The People Who Own You), and in the process completely dismembers it:Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group that promotes lower taxes and fewer regulations for businesses, is unleashing a $6 million ad campaign against President Obama leading up to the State of the Union on January 24, ABC News has learned.
The ad contains claims that are not tethered to facts. [...]
The 60-second TV ad seems an attempt to muddy the waters amidst the charges against GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and his tenure at Bain Capital, a firm that engaged in leveraged buyouts of companies that sometimes cost American workers their jobs, a fact that Romney’s opponents both Democrat and Republican are pouncing upon. In the new AFP ad, the president is depicted as backing $535 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra because campaign contributors ran the company. [...]
That White House officials “knew all along” that Solyndra would have to fire their workers isn’t true. [...]
The ad features George Stephanopoulos asking President Obama in an October 2011 ABC News/Yahoo interview if he regretted holding up Solyndra as a model for jobs and clean energy.
In the ad, the president replies, “No I don’t…overall it’s doing well.”
The full quote is: “No, I don’t, because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that have been provided– overall, it’s doing well.”
That's actual reporting, right there. A report on a major political ad buy (the point at which most news reports would end), coupled with an analysis of which claims in the ad are clearly and objectively false. Both are important information for readers.
January 12, 2012
If a speech Thursday morning by one of his top economists is any indication, President Barack Obama is going all in with the 2012 re-election message of stemming the rise in income inequality and reforming a system that’s increasingly perceived to be rigged in favor of the rich.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger rattled off a flurry of statistics illustrating the rise of inequality and its connection to the shrinking middle class. He blamed it on economic policies tilted to favor top earners — including income tax reforms (presumably during the Bush era) and the “drastic cut in the estate tax.”
January 11, 2012
January 10, 2012
January 08, 2012
Alas! not the original Kingston Trio, but this was the song I wanted to hear . . . and it is a good tribute to the trio . . .
however here are the originals in another fun singfest . . .
however here are the originals in another fun singfest . . .
January 07, 2012
American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore.
So, doesn't the fact that Romney made money on these busts mean he's a great businessman? Well, it does if you can get past the quaint notion that a "successful businessman" was one that kept businesses operating as going concerns. Once it was discovered that "business success" could mean nothing more than getting as many dollars as possible, there was no point in keeping a business that did things open at all. The only business worth having was the one that entitled you to the keys to the bank vaults.
So that's what Mitt Romney built for himself. A corporate safe-cracking engine. Buy a company, put yourself on the board, vote to max out its credit line and award yourself the cash. Then when they're all out of money, you say, "Oh well, company's broke," fire everyone and shut the doors. That's called a "bust-out," if you're a fan of Goodfellas or The Sopranos. But in real life (and in court, if necessary), it's just called "bad business judgment," provided you went through the niceties of making your financial control of the company a matter of public record first. People who control and plunder companies through secret, off-the-books loans are "legitimate businessmen" (in the old movie gangster parlance). People who control and plunder companies through regular loans are legitimate businessmen. Even if the intent was always to bust it out. You just can't say so in open court.
Gangsters can only pull this stunt on targets of opportunity, though they surely work hard to create opportunities. ("Hard work! They deserve to be rich!") Locust capitalists have made it a replicable business model. You use the cash you siphoned out (paid to you as "management fees"—a great tool that gets you paid to do what regular company owners call "running your damn business") to buy the next company you can find that has a healthy credit line. Remember, it doesn't matter if the companies you buy survive. All that matters is that they have access to cash or credit that you can extract. Like locusts. They don't care if the farmer goes bust when they descend on his crops. He has crops! Eat them! Eat them now!