Bipartisan This

Once again, the mighty Paul Krugman has linked us to some important facts about the news of the day.

You know how Republicans are always yammering these days about the importance of “bipartisanship” and how Democrats need to work with their colleagues across the aisle?

Let’s leave aside the obvious rejoinder about how Republicans are never willing to work with Democrats when they control both the executive and legislative branches. Let’s leave aside the eight years of Bush Jr. and how they did whatever the [very bad word] they wanted to do, laughing not only at Democrats but also the rest of the world too.

Krugman links us to a Time magazine article from May 2009 describing a meeting between Obama and Republican leaders:

So, right there in the Cabinet Room, the President put a proposal on the table, according to two people who were present. Obama said he was willing to curb malpractice awards, a move long sought by the Republicans and certain to bring strong opposition from the trial lawyers who fund the Democratic Party.

What, he wanted to know, did the Republicans have to offer in return? Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.

So don’t give me any more bullcrap sob stories about how Obama is some tyrant trying to force his agenda on a cooperative Republican party who just wants to play nice.

TimeWaster™

In case you’ve never seen it, check out Jonathan Mann’s excellent song “Hey Paul Krugman”.

Today I’m listening to: DI Breaks!

Comics and Corporate Considerations

Check out my new school ID. (Yep, it’s real. No photoshopping or taping of pics over other images involved.) I lost my old one recently, and the school had this pic on file from a “Better Know a Staff Member” feature several months ago, so I asked if they could use it. And they did! Woo!

I explained that I always have my nose buried in a book, so it just makes sense to use the pic. Some people don’t recognize me without a book blocking a bit of my face!

A Times B Times C

When all this stuff with Toyota began, I remember thinking: “I’ll bet they knew about this and hid or covered up the problem.” Well, it looks like I was right. After they sifted through 75,000 pages of documents from Toyota, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently announced that the company conducted flawed tests of the faulty parts, dismissed evidence about their liability and misled consumers about what was being done.

In a letter to Toyota, Rep. Waxman and Stupak wrote:

Our preliminary assessment is that Toyota resisted the possibility that electronic defects could cause safety concerns, relied on a flawed engineering report, and made misleading public statements concerning the adequacy of recent recalls to address the risk of sudden unintended acceleration.

It should be interesting to see how the company responds to these charges, but I’m not holding my breath about whether Congress will take any action to punish Toyota for knowingly putting our lives at risk — or prevent it from happening again. Because as we all know, regulation hurts business and you’re punishing success and blah blah blah. So what because the family died in a fiery crash that should have been prevented? Get government off our backs!

I also thought of this beautifully succinct line from Fight Club:

A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.

TimeWaster™

Speaking of Fight Club, here’s a video mashup I did with Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch”. Spoiler alert!

Today I’m listening to: Nine Inch Nails! (Ghosts is a really good project! And it’s only five bucks. I think it’s the only good thing he’s done since Downward Spiral.)

Somalia, Scholarship, and Stone

YouTube: K'naan, "Somalia"

First of all: If you haven’t heard K’Naan, then stop whatever you’re doing and go listen. Superb hip-hop from Somalia, with references to John Lennon and Gandhi and a special appearance from Chubb Rock. (His album Troubadour is just $6.00 on Amazon.) I found out recently that his song “Wavin’ Flag” has been chosen as the theme song of the 2010 World Cup. (I prefer the album version, but whatever.)

I’ve been meaning to post this piece from Johann Hari about Somali pirates. For a while we heard a lot about Navy SEALS popping heads, but it’s important for us to know the background about that sort of conflict.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.”

Comics

I recently bought a poster of this glorious comic from TheOatmeal. And yet the students seem unimpressed — mostly because they haven’t read it. Vomiting pandas!

Also be sure to check out these three superb xkcd comics.

TimeWaster™

Thanks to Hannah T for linking us to Ivoryboy, who made some nifty “find the differences” games, as well as a shoot-em-up that’s worth a look.

Today I’m listening to: K’Naan!

Palin, Political Correctness, and Populism

YouTube: Palin on O'Reilly, 16 February 2010

So I’m in class and I see that Palin is lashing out at Family Guy. Hey, we agree on something: Family Guy is weak and not funny!

Obviously it’s ironic for the woman who celebrated talk-radio host Michael Reagan for his willingness to “screw political correctness” to now complain about how Family GuyFamily Guy, for gods’ sake! could you pick a less relevant show? — was being insensitive to special needs children. (You’ll get no argument from me, Ms. Palin, about how the jokes on that show “just aren’t really funny”.)

So then I went back and read in the transcript where she and O’Reilly discuss a recent New York Times piece about the Tea Partiers and the extremists who are joining them. Note how O’Reilly pretends to be objective by admitting that some conservatives are “pretty tough on immigration”. But of course they’re just one tiny element in a mostly mainstream, nonviolent, level-headed collection of red-blooded Americans. But when a group of gay people or anti-poverty black activists or (heaven forbid) feminists protest anything, he refers to them as “the far left”.

There’s more! Keep reading! →

Lebowski, Leaders, Love, Laughter, and Lack of Sleep

YouTube Link: John Turturro on Being Jesus

For the past six months, I’ve had some wicked bouts of insomnia. Let me tell you, people — it’s not as much fun as Fight Club makes it look. I was up at 4:00 AM and can’t get back to sleep. I lie there, staring at the darkness, begging for sleep but getting nowhere. I try listening to stuff on the iPod — nothing. I try meditating — nothing. So here I am, home sick from school with a wicked headache. Bleah.

Your Name’s Lebowski, Lebowski

Or should I say “Thy name is Lebowski”? Thanks to DVG for linking us to Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, a Shakespeare-ian retelling of The Big Lebowski, the second-best film the Coen Brothers ever made. And in case you missed the fact that my images here usually link to cool stuff, check out the video of John Turturro discussing his character in that movie.

Love is for Losers

Don’t ask me why I was reading the New York Times business section, but I literally LOLed in class when I came upon this gem of an interview with corporate dorkface George Cloutier:

Q. You say, “Love your business more than your family.” What does your wife think of that?

A. Well, she loves me, but I’m not sure she would always agree with that. I’m not saying don’t love your family. But if you don’t love your business as much as your family, your probability of success is very much lower. Sometimes you just have to put the business ahead of family considerations.

Q. How many times have you been married?

A. This is my third marriage. But you have to look at it this way — it’s over 63 years. I’ve had a lot of spacing between them.

TPCQ: “I’ll keep it short and sweet. Family, religion, friendship: these are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.” (Look, I even found the audio!)

There’s more! Keep reading! →