24 December 2009

What Josh says

Posted without comment

Bush Administration: Brought down by full weight of failures of Bush admin policies.

Obama Administration: Brought down by full weight of failures of Bush admin policies.

--Josh Marshall

15 December 2009

Fiasco

I've been quiet on the blog front because I really haven't had that much to say, and have been too tired to say it, even if I did.

But watching the growing fiascos on health care and foreign policy, I have just one comment:

Really?

Democrats, you seriously need to understand how to use the rules of the House and the Senate, understand that some people (Joe Lieberman) never were your friends and allies, and act decisively to keep them from doing any more damage.

Republicans, there still is hope of redemption for you. I know you think Jesus will save you. But if you're willing to postpone that long game, being responsible advocates for limited government and small business would be a really good goal. And would save you from the abyss of hate that you currently stand at the edge of.

Politics in a republic should not be a cage match, or a screaming contest, or a mad race to write checks to lobbyists and public relations firms. It's about representing your constituents, not who writes you checks. I don't think the Founders ever intended for elected officials to become prostitutes for campaign funds.

That is all.

09 October 2009

The sound of wingnuts' heads popping

While I can't say I completely agree with the Nobel Prize committee's selection (it takes more than saying it's a good idea to have a limited number of nuclear weapons, in my book, to demonstrate a commitment to arms control), I'll enjoy this for the grief it will cause amongst the VRWCoD (that's "Vast Right Wing Confederacy of Dunces"). It also made me check multiple news sources. But it is, apparently, true.

Now I can say I went to college with both a President and a Nobel Laureate.

05 September 2009

KCRW

A long time ago, in a decade in the last century, I read a bunch of newspapers and magazines every week. The Times (LA, NY, and Financial), the Guardian, the Independent, the Village Voice, LA Weekly, the Reader, Rolling Stone, Stereo Review -- you've got the picture. Like many young people, I was acutely aware of what was musically cool and uncool. I have the LPs to prove it (I didn't own a CD player until the next decade). And while I attended college in Los Angeles, I listed to KCRW, a radio station broadcasting from Santa Monica Community College. (I listened to KROQ and the Long Beach Community College station, too). KCRW featured two shows that were incredibly influential to my music listening -- "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and "Saturday Night Avant Pop".

So I was so glad when KCRW was one of the first radio to broadcast on the Web. I've remained a fan, and have enjoyed how they've expanded both the role of the DJ and the station as a way to learn more about popular music. As technology has advanced, the role of technology in helping to choose and predict content -- think Amazon's "You might like .... " or iTunes "Genius" selection algorithms -- can be useful tools. But I prefer the editorial role, and the DJs at KCRW do just that, sifting through the torrent of new music and pulling together the best of it.

Now, KCRW is about to debut a new service: Eclectic 24, which sounds like a mash-up of all the content and talent they've developed over the years. I'll be fascinated to see how it works -- if the media is dying, public radio appears to be one place where both innovation is occurring, and people are turning to for news and information. (There's the foreign press, both print and broadcast, but I'll save that for later). I'll tell you more after I listen on Monday, September 7th.

29 August 2009

Please, please make it stop

She may be the daughter of Blythe Danner and Bruce Paltrow. If genetics alone had anything to do with it, she'd be both beautiful and a lovely, sensitive actress.

Something went horribly wrong. Please Gweneth, step away from the keyboard, the microphone and the camera. Your ego is really, really toxic, and we don't need it right now.

15 August 2009

Practice

Some people hate doing chores on weekends. Au contraire, mon frere: there's nothing more relaxing that doing exactly what you need to do. The practice of the routine -- strip the bed, pull down the bath linens, wash the clothes, mow the lawn -- is exactly what I want after a week at work in which evil flying monkeys seem to escape from every possible orifice of every possible creature and bring the most unexpected, unwanted, and unplanned things to my desk.

Besides, I have no one to account to but myself. If something goes wrong, it starts and stops with me.

24 July 2009

Reunion

As in 30th high school reunion. I'm excited to see people I haven't seen in - well, 30 years. But not before I get a haircut and shave. The 15 extra pounds its too late to do much about.

05 July 2009

And sometimes we bake


Peach Blueberry rustic tart, recipe adapted from "Cooking with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin." The pastry is a standard pate brise, which means a suspension of butter in flour. The peaches and blueberries are coated in lemon zest, some sugar, and tapioca flour. There's a simple jam glaze.

Think of it as summer on a platter.

07 March 2009

OK people --

Reaganomics failed. Get over it.

Greed is not good.

One doesn't get a "do-over" if one looses an election, Norm Coleman.

Loosing an hour of sleep sucks.

Hangovers are not my friend.

That's all.

15 February 2009

Towards a more responsible MSM

From the Independent, one of the two British papers I regularly read.

  • Britain's banks, especially those receiving public funds, should immediately adopt a policy of voluntary restraint, in pay and bonuses.
  • If taxpayers are paying, their representatives should decide on bonuses, and any earned should be given in share options, exercisable only when public funds have been repaid.
  • Failure should not be rewarded. Bonuses paid in the past year by banks bailed out by the taxpayer should be repaid now.
  • At a time of widespread job losses and sacrifice, it is vital that there is a not only a widespread perception of fairness, but the reality of it too.

Simple, direct. Krugman's op-eds in the Times have bordered on this level of prescription, but this is not opinion: it is a statement, sanctioned by the editors of the paper, of what must be done as policy.

Refreshing.

05 February 2009

Enough

Listen, Senators and Representatives.

Take your ridiculous stimulus package and bury it. Then try again. Here's your plan:

Strategy:

Reverse the direction of the United States with regard to the concentration of wealth and the systematic degradation of the human capital and physical infrastructure.

Tactics:

  • Progressive taxation on earned income from minimal to say, 50% on income above $1,000,000.
  • Capital gains taxed as income.
  • Incentives for individual savings in insured financial vehicles.
  • Immediate reduction of Federal spending on Defense.
  • Immediate increase in Federal spending on infrastructure, including social infrastructure (education and health care).
  • Development of a regulatory framework for financial institutions to ensure that reasonable and prudent risk is rewarded fairly -- but that speculative risk can and should fail
  • Forced liquidation of assets of financial institutions, nationalization of failed banks, followed by a period of recapitalization and a privatization of the banks, allowing the United States citizens to achieve a return on investment for the risk we assumed in saving the financial classes collective asses.

Accept nothing less. This is an national, even global emergency. If we don't do this now, the consequences are dire.

Now get to work, assholes.

01 February 2009

And this is how it starts ...

From today's New York Times:

"Still, some of the island’s premier properties are for sale. Bruce McMahan, a hedge fund executive, has put his 7,300-square-foot condominium, which he used exclusively to entertain business associates, on the market, along with all its art, for $30 million.

Its walls are covered with copies of paintings from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The paintings were done by a team brought over from Russia by Mr. McMahan, who heads the Argent Funds Group. There is also a collection of FabergĂ© eggs and boxes and original correspondence from the Romanov family, which ruled imperial Russia, all housed in what is called the “Romanov bedroom.” Two Rodin sculptures adorn a terrace that fronts the ocean and is guarded by a German shepherd."

Did they really think they could repeat the model of the Russian Empire? Seriously? I likes me some icons and Fabergé eggs too, but the aristocrats lost then, and they'll loose again. Having a lot of fancy stuff does not give one moral authority (cf. the Catholic Church) nor does it mean you have a sustainable social or business model.

Arrrghhh.


19 January 2009

Corporate Responsibility

Perhaps if some other companies took a page from this book, there would not be quite the crisis we find ourselves in today.

If you received a sub-par sandwich of pastrami this last week, Ken and I would like to extend our sincere apologies. Let me explain.


Tuesday we discovered a part on our smoker was broken. We fixed it after making a large batch of pastrami. We didn't realize it had resulted in meat cooked at a lower temperature than normal, leaving many pieces unacceptably chewy. Unfortunately, most of our customers were too polite to complain and we didn't fully comprehend the extent of the problem until this weekend. Over several days, as many as a quarter of our pastrami sandwiches may have been rubbery.



We would like to assure you we have spent many hours over the weekend working with our staff to prevent this from ever happening again, instituting procedures and working with them to better recognize unacceptable pastrami and avoid serving it.



If you purchased a pastrami sandwich over the last few days and felt it was sub-par, I would like to give you a free sandwich to make up for our mistake. Please bring in a receipt or some other proof of purchase, and we will humbly help you forget your previous bad experience. I know that some of you may not have a receipt. If you felt you received chewy pastrami this last week, call or email me and I will try to make it up to you somehow.



You may have recommended a friend or family member try us this last week. You may have overheard someone at the office complain about their meal here. Please pass along our apologies and offer of recompense. We want to hear from them and let them know that what they got was not our best and not what they can expect in the future if they give us another try.



Thank you for understanding. Once again, our sincere apologies. We will send out a normal email soon, but for now, we just want to say we're sorry.


Nick "Zuke" Zukin
Ken "Kenny" Gordon


At the risk of sounding like a DFH, "small is beautiful."

While it may seem like a spurious analogy to compare pastrami sandwiches to home mortgage loans, if banks had known early that a significant proportion of their loans might fail and took action -- and accepted the possible loss of profit -- the financial crisis would not be as broad or as deep as it currently is.

Maximization of profit for the short term creates a "extraction mentality" that is unsustainable, in either business or natural resource management. If learning from a sandwich shop is how to learn sustainability, so be it.

08 January 2009

An Open Letter to Rick Warren

Dear Pastor Warren,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Pastor Warren. Regardless of one’s faith and traditions, this season is symbolic of renewal and rebirth. Among Christians, the story of the birth of Christ is an incredibly important moment in the liturgical calendar to which every Christian is called every year.

Which is why I’m writing to you. Because of your visibility and prominence amongst Evangelic Protestants, President-elect Obama asked you to offer the invocation at his Inauguration. Many Americans – and I count myself among them – believe that Barack Obama’s election represents the first signs of rebirth and renewal for America. This renewal means America can once more stand as an example of what an idea – that all men and women are created equal, and that all have inalienable rights – can be when it is actualized in the form of a constitutional, democratic republic.

One of the ways in which our Republic ensures the rights of all people is to separate church and state. In this way, no one can be coerced into participation in a religion, nor can one religion exercise undue influence on another. This practice has created a vibrant tapestry of belief that may be confusing, but is something to which all communities can and should aspire. Your church is one such example of an expression of faith that is outside of the formal Protestant and Catholic ecumenical framework of Christian belief.

And as the leader of a church, I ask you to consider, and to renounce your public statements about homosexuals and homosexuality. Your language has deeply hurt and offended many men and women, myself included. And you have slowed – but far from stopped – the effort to extend a civil right of recognition of same-sex partnership in the form of civil (not religious) marriage.

I support, and will continue to support your church’s (and any church’s) right to profess its faith in any way it chooses – within the context of a faith community. However, when you speak as a religious leader in the secular community about political issues, such as denying civil rights for sexual minorities, you abuse the very separation of church and state that allows your church’s existence. If you continue to do so, I would have no choice to believe that your words and action are not those of a religious leader, and the organization that you lead is in fact not a church, but a political organization.

Your church can be a force for good. Many of the missionary works of your church does to reach out to the poor and abandoned reflect the spirit that Christ intended us to demonstrate in the world. I would also ask you to reflect that Christ might feel that the love that same-sex couples demonstrate in their partnerships reflect his desire to see love increase and grow in the world.

06 January 2009

The New Doctor


Having grown up as an Anglophile and with a love of science fiction, one might expect that I would have been a long time fan of Doctor Who, the peculiar BBC series that has infatuated the UK for 40 or so years. You would be incorrect: young Scott could abide neither the production values (horrible) or the RADA trained actors, preferring American sci-fi such as "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica". It was only when BBC and Russell T Davis revived the series in 2004, and brought on board Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant as the Ninth and Tenth Doctors that I truly enjoyed the series. (I confess that watching Tom Baker as the Doctor makes much better sense now.)

Alas, both Davis and Tennant's tenure as producer and the Doctor are ending. And the Eleventh Doctor is Matt Smith. I will need to be convinced. I wanted a ginger Doctor, and Damian Lewis would have been perfect. Hugh Laurie would have been good, or perhaps Chiwetel Ejioforn ("'Kinky Boots", "Dirty Pretty Things"). Somehow, I'm not getting a shoegazer Doctor - which is what I fear we'll have with young Master Smith. Hell, even Catherine Zeta-Jones (rumoured to want the role, as the production is based in Wales) would have been preferable.