Friday, July 29, 2011

Great Depression II

We're watching with fascinated horror as the fools in Washington, DC, lurch around in the murk trying to keep their positions and do maximum harm to those they deem enemies. Their biggest enemy looks to be the American people, as that's where maximum damage is being inflicted.
A funny comment from my favorite econ blog, Calculated Risk:
What's gotten us into this mess?

Numbers of Arabic, with the zero causing most of the damage.

I say we have a crusade, a pox on their numbers!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Consider this

from CNNMoney and weep or gnash your teeth or whatever seems appropriate.
Has anyone in Washington noticed that 20% of American men are not working? That's right. One out of five men in this country are collecting unemployment, in prison, on disability, operating in the underground economy, or getting by on the paychecks of wives or girlfriends or parents. The equivalent number in 1970, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, was 7%.

Rest of the bad news here. We have to begin to act as if we believed this is a country with mutual obligations instead of a framework set up to make things happy for corporations and bearable for freeloaders. The comments are interesting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our friends the Saudis

It's creepy enough to have even to deal in passing with the Holy Roller Muslims of Saudi Arabia and creepier yet that our oil jones leaves us painfully dependent on that corrupt and crazy bunch. A couple of reporters at Vanity Fair magazine make a pretty convincing case that GWB's great friends and co-oilmen in Saudi were active supporters of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Congress’s Joint Inquiry [into the attacks], its co-chair Bob Graham told the authors, had found evidence “that the Saudis were facilitating, assisting, some of the hijackers. And my suspicion is that they were providing some assistance to most if not all of the hijackers. . . . It’s my opinion that 9/11 could not have occurred but for the existence of an infrastructure of support within the United States. By ‘the Saudis,’ I mean the Saudi government and individual Saudis who are for some purposes dependent on the government—which includes all of the elite in the country.”

Read more here in the magazine. It's a nice long piece with lots of evidence. Oddly enough, I've not seen much in the rest of the press about the allegations. Disconcerting to find out that your dope dealer is not your friend, huh?
And then from the NYT:
A proposed Saudi counterterrorism law that would give the Interior Ministry sweeping powers and mandate jail sentences for criticizing the king would effectively squelch political dissent, human rights advocates said on Thursday.

Read the rest of that one here. Appalling, innit?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Upon spelling well

I'm a great speller, always have been. When I was a kid, I usually won classroom spelling bees. As a young man, I worked as a Linotype operator and really honed my skill. The printing trade was full of old guys with little education who could spell better than university-press copy editors.
I know some smart people who aren't good spellers but no good spellers who aren't smart people, though I know there must be idiot savants who can spell every word in Webster's Second – decent folks won't truck with Webster's Third – but can't use those words with any skill. I'm always a little taken aback by good writers who can't spell, as it seems somehow those two skills should go together. Words are, after all, the tools of a writer, and not knowing how to spell them is to use defective tools. I've quit remarking upon bad spelling in the Vicad, but it's still frequent. Picking on the Vicad is like stomping puppies, too easy.
Virginia Heffernan, blogging in the NYT, has some stuff to say about spelling:
Bad spellers are a breed apart from good ones. A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled tends to see through the words he encounters — straight to the things, characters, ideas, images and emotions they conjure. A good speller, by contrast — the kind who never fails to clock the idiosyncratic orthography of “algorithm” or “Albert Pujols” — tends to see language as a system. Good spellers are often drawn to poetry and wordplay, while bad spellers, for whom language is a conduit and not an end in itself, can excel at representation and reportage.

Read all of her insightful comments here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hot nuff fer ye?

According to Weather Underground, the temp right now in **Adrift is 82.6 and the dew point is 77. Think that's miserable? Well, it is, but consider this datum from a Chicago weather blog:
[T]he world-record high dew point of 95 was recorded at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and when combined with that afternoon's temperature of 108 produced a heat index of 174 degrees.

Read the rest here, although that's enough to make you cringe and cancel out on the job teaching in Saudi.

You will actually, really, truly laugh out loud

at Kevin Spacey doing nine impersonations in six minutes.
Nine Impersonations by Kevin Spacey in Six Minutes

Friday, July 8, 2011

Boys will be boys

and, hell, sometimes grown men will be boys. Sent along by herself, here we have a story that gives hope to all the decrepit of this world. Some guys in Michigan stole a stuffed gator and went mudding with it. The alleged miscreants were 53, 55, and 60 years old, and they were drunk four and five times over by the MADD standards we use now:
Three men accused of stealing a stuffed alligator, strapping it to a pickup and going mudbogging will have a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send them to trial.

Get it all here. I hate to think of their hangovers and, I would hope, embarrassment. I once tried to get a bunch of guys in their 40s to go paint 'SRS 60' on a water tank in New Mexico. Fortunately, drunker heads prevailed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Revenge of the old farts

From the Daily Mail of the UK, this heartwarming tale of a bunch of elders who took justice into their own hands:
A gang of old age pensioners who kidnapped and tortured their financial adviser because he had 'taken us for a ride' were jailed in Germany today.
. . .
During the trial the court also heard that [the financial adviser] himself is now under investigation by authorities in Karlsruehe for suspected fraud.
[The financial adviser] was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, where he was bound with masking tape and bundled into the boot of a car after being hit over the head with the walking frame of one of his kidnappers.
According to the prosecutors, [two of the pensioners] attacked [the adviser] outside his home and bundled him into an oversize cardboard box which they wheeled to the boot of a silver Audi saloon car.

Read more here. Makes me proud for people everywhere who are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any longer. Now if only Americans would descend on the Goldman Sachs HQ and exact similar justice.

Monday, July 4, 2011

National anthems

I have always considered our national anthem unsingable and painful. A sorry thing but our own. The Onion has a goofily sanguinary set of supposedly heretofore undiscovered verses. ['Tear their heads from our foes / Let their hot blood gush forth / Chop their limbs from their trunks ...']. A hoot.

Restoration Of 'Star Spangled Banner' Uncovers Horrifying New Verses
And for a nice comparison with The Onion's satire, a partial Yahoo Answers translation of the Mexican national anthem:
War, war without quarter to any who dare
to tarnish the country's coat of arms!
War, war! Let the national banners
be soaked in waves of blood.
War, war! In the mountain, in the valley,
let the cannons thunder in horrid unison
and may the sonorous echoes resound
with cries of Union! Liberty!
Stanza VI
Oh country, ere your children, defenseless
bend their neck beneath the yoke,
may your fields be watered with blood,
may they leave their footprints in blood.
And may your temples, palaces and towers
collapse with horrid clamor ...

So, how would you satirize that?

And in honor of our birthday

A Happy Glorious 4th!

And to boot, 'Washington Post.'