Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Debtors' Prisons

The best part about living in our panopticon, though, is how incompetent it is:

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

. . .

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there - Wright's estranged wife.


Of course, accidents like this must be allowed when S.W.A.T. teams are looking for public threats, right?

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in the S.W.A.T for his wife's defaulted student loans.


Just call it a "learning experience."

UPDATE: Dale! Cristina! Where did your story go? Alas, much like an h in Cristina's name, we can pretend it was never there. Commenters at Randy Balko's blog found these two articles, though.

Thinking Corporately

I called attention to the phrase "think corporately" last post*, as I am obviously antagonistic to such an idea. Literally, the phrase can be benign, much like an enormous and unsightly growth protruding from your neck can be benign; you just might have to by slightly larger shirts. Anyway, here is a timely example of thinking corporately:

NBC lost about $200 million on the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and anticipates losing about $250 million on the 2012 Summer Games in London.

But that did not stop the new conglomerate of Comcast-NBC Universal from putting in a winning bid of $4.4 billion for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro; and the 2018 Winter and 2020 Summer Games, for which the host cities have not yet been determined.





*not really, but close enough.

Verbating

In the middle of an article in the New Yorker about our wonderful panopticon, I see:

[General Michael Hayde, director of the NSA] then sent out an agency-wide memo, in which he warned that several “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow. . . .


Of course the decision was made "corporately." In 21st Century America, is there even an alternative to thinking corporately? Unorthodox vocabulary seems to be another trait of Men In Power (MIPs?):

Soon after he showed up, he says, Steven Tyrrell, the prosecutor, walked in and told him, “You’re screwed, Mr. Drake. We have enough evidence to put you away for most of the rest of your natural life.”

Mr. Drake will be a free cyborg, though. It is a tragedy, this failure of our legal system.





Friday, May 27, 2011

Never Happen Here

Things are happening in Spain, but I guess it is the summer semester, as BLCKDGRD keeps saying, so only a few people are on campus.

Me accepting me

Not sure why the clip cuts off so aburptly, but maybe it is just me. Via thecubsfan, I find a clip of Cassandro on a BBC morning show. Rihanna, minus her pants, was on Good Morning America this morning. Perhaps I should watch more television in the morning.

Clawing . . . Gasping

Drowning in rain or withering in heat, death is upon us. Bleached bones of a faithful servant, long past useful. Like a Georgia O'Keefe: New Wu-Tang Clan album coming out next month.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Slag

When some scary old guy is shot in the head, people have things to say and I wish I could also join in with something to say. Is it insightful to say "blah blah blah terrorism still?" I will, if needed. Some upper torso on the television was talking to a head. The two were discussing how the military (presumably they meant "soldiers in the military" but they said "military") felt about Osama's death, presumably unaware that the two of them were often referred to as "journalists" and have the entire information collecting apparatus of a large television network at their disposal. How is a rarely updated blog to compete?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Rock Bottom

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

A man seen in a YouTube video being beaten and sprayed with pepper spray by a St. Louis police officer has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

. . .

Joyce said what the video did not show was Ginger grabbing onto Ries's ankles and refusing to let go, even as Ries struck him on the legs with his baton. She said that is deserving of an assault charge, over resisting arrest.

"If you watch wrestling, that's a move that knocks people over," Joyce said.


If you watch wrestling, hopefully you know that the outcomes are predetermined, or as some would call it, rigged.

Dispatches from Beyond

Argentinian electoral politics are the new craze, and our only hope for the future.

Monday, April 11, 2011

If Only I Were a Poet



If I were a poet I could probably come up with some fitting verse about the beauty of this tractor, or maybe use the video to illustrate some point about the cruelty of our world. However, I am too busy for poetry, and too tired.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bears repeating

Really, it cannot be said enough that "our" government is speeding past the point of hypocrisy into a previously incomprehensible realm of pure contradiction.
On Wednesday, the Army announced 22 additional charges against Private Manning, including “aiding the enemy.”

The charge sheet did not explain who “the enemy” was. . .
I guess they know them when they see them. I await with some anticipation the new ground in legal thinking in which we are told that revealing the enemy aided will grant them further publicity, thus aiding them even more, so the prosecutor has a legal duty to not mention their name in court documents.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Who was the first human being to look out a window?

I wrote this book for myself, and even that I can't be sure of.
- Roberto Bolano, in his introduction to Antwerp

Not having read anything but 2666 and a few short stories previously, I checked out a stack of Bolano's books a while ago, and just started reading them. Tragically, I seem to have chosen the best first. (it is the shortest)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2-line Movie Reviews #1: Monsters

Gareth Edwards's Monsters is definitely not disaster-porn, and does an excellent job depicting real, human reactions (alongside institutional reactions) to impending apocalypse. It is, however, emotion-porn and the main characters drag it down into the contrived almost too often to be enjoyable.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tyranny with style

Eye of the Storm is correct to point out that reactive, repressive government responses are not limited to the Middle East, Africa or the Persian Gulf, or the rest of the world outside of China in general, but tell me China doesn't have a delicate style to their scenes of repression:
At one point, the police surrounded a young man who had placed a jasmine flower on a planter outside the McDonald’s, but he was released after the clamor drew journalists and photographers.
Also, is it hypocritical to wish his line about us (or U.S., if you prefer) harboring a just so secret desire to emulate China garnered further development?

Thought Clutter

While I like the name of the blog, this post is not so much identifying any new emotions, much less *breathlessly* emotions created by the internet, as much as they are accounts of inner experiences, using previously existing emotions to describe new situations. Like, waiting for the bus is similar to waiting for the train is similar to waiting for the Pony Express is similar to waiting for returning Crusaders. Here is another "new" emotion: the aching knowledge that you need to come up with a pithy blog post to get Digg's attention to drive up GoogleAd rates.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You didn't have to tell it like it is!

While I am busy making purposely inane predictions about a child's game turned national opiate, Feral Scholar connects the dots pyramids.

Baseball Predictions #1

One of the most humanizing rituals in the world of sports punditry is the constant flood of predictions. There is, of course, the incessant augural columns on division and league winners, but sports seasons, and baseball in particular are long and full of all the mundaneness of any other aspect of life. This gives plenty of material for our syndicated seers to divine deep meanings from. So, in an effort to create without creativity, I will be making numerous and near-constant predictions on anything even tangentially related to baseball this 2011 season.

Baseball Prediction #1 - This was the biggest week of news for the St. Louis Cardinals.

First, a brief description of all the news:

1) Cardinals refuse/neglect/prove incompetent in their attempt to sign an extension for World's Greatest Baseball Player Albert Pujols. The local, daily mouthpiece of Cardinals' ownership has a few different deals supposedly offered, while a local radio gadfly reported the Cardinals presented a shockingly low offer.

2) Stan Musial is awarded the Medal of Freedom after a successful campaign by St. Louis sports fans, perhaps finally removing a humongous chip from their shoulder.

3) Jim Edmonds retires. The probably-not-a-Hall-of-Famer (unless there is a Hall of Fame of running into the outfield wall/diving onto the warning track) just signed a minor league deal to return to the Cardinals, but hurt his foot before reporting to spring training.

Any one of those three stories could have fueled the local media for at least a week. I think it is safe to say that no 7-day period will have three stories objectively (????) as big as this week. Even if you think "insulted free agent opts not to re-sign with cheapskate and chronically average team" is a big story, and it happens in the same week as a World Series victory, that is only 2 of 3.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Every clock I hang on my walls quickly grinds to a halt

I used to blog (Digression: I hate that word as a verb. I know one should try to avoid hate, for a variety of reasons, and even then one should try to avoid hating the inconsequential, like words, but I hate that word as a verb.) about synchronicity. While reading this, I received an email referring to a class from 14 months ago as "upcoming." If only I would get such second-chances.

Anyway, in this present, I have to consistently remind myself that with age, wisdom does not come to all. Nearly everything I have written in the past seems putrid when I read it today. Vocabulary peacockery masquerading as insight. I still look back on the finality of the writer's block that hit me about 10 years ago with frustration, though. Every once and awhile a real gem would shine through, even if it were a brief clause. Was that all wasted time, though? I mean, I remember looking at beaches or mountains or simply the serene joy of riding a back around a foreign town without any worry of necessary appearances. Sometimes I, too, think 'i could have been writing or reading this or that.' I don't publicly flail myself for having such digressions, though. We live in an age of fetishes. Reading, formal education (and how to organize it), our own lives, etc. This list is as long as their are ideas. In my young age, with my gray hairs, I have learned that life is happiest not spent focusing too closely on what one is doing, rather than doing it. (with all connotations intended)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Dude Abides

One thing I like about 6thor7th and Rojonekku is that they are both blogs about normal people trying to maintain a grasp on humanity in an increasingly automated and digitized world. I guess it should come as no surprise, then, when Ethan acts like a human being.

Albertmageddon

There is a certain logic to thinking that paying a (probably possibly) 45 year old man $30 million to play baseball is crazy, but there is also logic behind the idea that it is nice to have the Best Player in Baseball on your team, and all money is fake so who cares anyway?

Don't want this.

Reading Recommendations

Why wait for the new edition of The Revolution of Everyday Life? In fairness to the bizarre recommendation matrix Borders must use, one of those books is on my desk at this moment. I'm not very confident that I will "like" it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Illuminating

David Keene the founder and out-going chairman of C-PAC told the gathering that the most entertaining way to communicate the C-PAC messages of liberty, free enterprise and conservativism [sic] would be to simply have Ray Stevens sing all evening.


Undoubtedly.

Strikeforce 2/12/11 Recap

The craggy Urals
drowning in sticky red blood.
This is Fedor's face.

(Link may be NSFW. It is kind of bloody.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

A further thought

Then again, Obama, if we are to judge him by his public statements, does seem to honestly believe that the replacement of a MBA-carrying, self absorbed, power worshiping, ultimately timid and uncaring despot with a J.D.-carrying, self absorbed, power worshiping, ultimately timid and uncaring despot through establishment and establishment-serving mechanisms was some revolutionary moment in history, or History even. I can imagine that, in that mindset, a revolution in favor of wage-slavery seems entirely plausible.

Late to the party

At least I am not so tone deaf:

I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity, jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight.

I'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days will not find adequate expression working in call centers, or whatever the president thinks hopes is going to happen there.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From The Museum of Eterna's Novel (The First Good Novel) by Macedonio Fernandez

The moment the reader falls into Hallucination, that ignominy of Art, I have lost rather than gained a reader. What I want is something very different, which is to win him over as a character, so that for an instant he believes that he himself does not live. This is the emotion for which he should thank me, since until now no one has thought of procuring it for him.


But what is the book? The City of Dreadful Night? William Skidelsky doesn't like biopics or bio-pics, although I'm not entirely sure why. Is "fictionalizing" history that abhorrent? If so, is it more or less abhorrent than "fictionalizing" the present? Mankind has always harbored a great number of fools and morons, and current trends in revisionist history-as-entertainment are unlikely to have any noticeable effect on this particular trait of our species.

An option: read good novels and enjoy them. Think about how they affect your day. Maybe even decide to view each coming day through the lens of a beloved book. Today is The Trial and tomorrow is Grendel.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Bread!


In political action inspired by the people in Tunisia, Egyptians get in on the bread and protest craze! More photos here.

This guy




This guy is the best. In the U.S., he would have instantly been shot for brandishing a loaf of bread in such a threatening manner. It is the price of freedom. Hopefully the Tunisians do not have to learn this. Here is an amazing collection of photographs taken in Tunisia recently.

Worries assuaged; Math problems persist

In case you thought the U.S. military forgot its compassionate side:

On Monday, U.S. military officials also strongly denied allegations that Manning, being held in connection with the WikiLeaks' release of classified documents, has been "tortured" and held in "solitary confinement" without due process. . . He is confined to his single-person cell 23-hours per day, permitted one hour to exercise, permitted reading material and given one hour per day to watch television.


See? Not torture.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As always, our poor children:

Growing numbers of students are sent to college at increasingly higher costs, but for a large proportion of them the gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent. . . They might graduate, but they are failing to develop the higher-order cognitive skills that it is widely assumed college students should master.


Widely assumed? Even accepting that, whatever shall we do? How can we possibly make every college graduate as smart as the author of this paper, who seems mystified that college graduates are often dunces and that the college diploma is a just a license to work in an office, rather than at McDonald's? It is a dilemma.

EDIT: I should point out that Exhibit A uses this paper to take a pot-shot at people majoring in business & education (If bolding a line in a quote can be read as an endorsement), in the midst of posts about business and education.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All The News That's Fit For Large Print


Reminder: the New York Times is the print equivalent of Pat Boone's No More Mr. Nice Guy.


However, I do enjoy living in the 1890s thru 1910s. International Anarchist Syndicates are detonating bombs in Europe and Nihilism is corrupting American youth.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No New Movies in Hollywood



Has anybody seen this movie? I thought it was popular, but it seems like nobody has seen it before. Or, maybe there is some newer remake starring G. Gordon Liddy as Travis Bickle where where his apartment walls are covered with Wall Street Journal editorial pages. "Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take the marginal tax rate anymore."