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Colurful graffiti under white paint

At the site of 5 Pointz, the street art mecca. The building was whitewashed, and could well be leveled at this point. Long Island City, Queens.

Ten years ago.


 

 

Me: Frank Lynch. These are my daily rants, mostly political. For something less spontaneous, I maintain The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page (over 1,800 Johnson quotes), perhaps your best online resource for insight into his thinking.

DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. We do polling, public policy research, surveys, etc. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

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Bio: Born 1957, raised in Florida, moved to New York area in 1982; now live in Brooklyn. Married, with one daughter. I work in marketing research for Abt SRBI. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.

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Word blogging...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stunning music, visuals less so.

Panufnik's violin concerto.

Back in the days when there were brick and mortar record stores (and in the old days, even a decent town like Gainesville had a few), you could idly browse through the stock and randomly try composers you'd not heard. It wasn't expensive. And in NYC, the staff at J&R were sophisticated enough to make recommendations based on your level of sophistication after a few pointed questions; if you'd expressed interest in the Taco Bell Cannon they weren't going to suggest Stravinsky. It was through idle searches through the racks at J&R that I discovered Andrzej Panufnik, James MacMillan, and countless other composers that Amazon's algorithms would never have brought to my attention. Unfortunately people like me are not enough to sustain a business these days. And I'd love to know what happened to all that inventory J&R had, and barred us from last November.

Link | Comments | 7:53 PM


"Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

That was Barbara Bush's question regarding being confronted with pictures of the body bags associated with Gulf War I. That unpleasant details are irrelevant in the larger scheme. NJ Governor Chris Christie seems to have less tolerance for points which are even finer:

Mr. Christie, who heads the Republican Governors Association, also said he was "tired of hearing about the minimum wage," saying, "I don't think there is a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, 'You know, honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, all our dreams would be realized.'"

Perhaps not. But we know that there are many people who are trying to feed a family on minimum wage, putting in a full work week and limiting their discretionary expenses so that the necessities can (sometmes) be covered. I don't know if Christie is really totally insensitive to how so many live, or was just doing a feel-good speech, but this comes across as really rank. As in, how about if you just leave the Capitol building in Trenton and take a walk down Centre Street? You can tell everyone you're out for exercise and wanted to see Riverview Cemetery. Get a sense of what a lot of America goes through before you spout off like a boarish jerk again?

Link | Comments | 7:17 PM
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Headline writers should be shot.

Not sure what branch of McClatchy this headline came from:

Bluegrass Poll: McConnell takes one-point lead over Grimes in Kentucky's toss-up U.S. Senate race

A one point difference is not a lead. It's not, unless you interview upwards of 5,000 people, and demographic weighting doesn't need to be done. (Weighting data changes the statistical calculations.) And it's not like the article text is much better:

Kentucky's U.S. Senate race remains a dead heat two weeks before Election Day, with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell regaining the slimmest of leads over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in a new Bluegrass Poll.

"Regaining the slimmest of leads"? No. There is no lead. It's a coin toss.

Link | Comments | 7:30 PM


Not a scientist, and not much for listening to them either.

So apparently Marco Rubio, from that august body of careful thinkers, wants to pursue travel bans to combat Ebola. I'm not going to say it's as overwrought a response as demanding photo IDs to vote, because voter fraud is so negligible, and obviously there are people suffering from Ebola. But it is a misguided approach. Once we send our own over there to fight the scourge, Rubio doesn't want them back. Medicine and personnel need to get in freely, and whoever takes it in needs to be able to come out. Otherwise no one is going to take the mission.

Perhaps we can put Rubio in a 21-day quarantine to rethink this?

Link | Comments | 7:18 PM
 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Infertile activism.

This tune has always been a dilemma for me. The musicianship is fine, the composition is fine, and it's one of his better songs from what I think is his best album. But what's his point? Is he complaining about the activist tilting at windmills, or is he acknowledging the need? And is he singing with a fictional, narrative voice, or was Billy Joel telling us 40 years ago that he, himself, was a member of the comfortable boo zhwa zhee?

Narrative voice has always been so much more acceptable in literature than in song; we accept that Johnny Cash didn't really shoot a man just to see him die, but that's about as far as it goes.

Link | Comments | 10:07 PM
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Al vaiven de mi caretta.

No, he didn't play infield for the A's.

Link | Comments | 7:45 PM


Latest from Siri.

I was down in DC on Thursday, to present results on a project which has been on my desk for two and a half years. I had transferred from the red line to the green line, and while waiting for the green line train I stopped to text my client that I had arrived and would soon be there. And on my phone, I saw this text from Siri: "I hope you didn't kiss your mother with that potty mouth" (or words to that effect).

Siri is mystifying, but can usually be figured out. I remembered that I had been in a bathroom stall in Union Station shortly beforehand, and discovered too late that the stall was signficantly under-supplied, and probably used an expletive on my discovering its state; Siri heard. And replied.

Link | Comments | 7:12 PM
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

RIP Jan Hooks.

I remember her from this TBS show, before SNL.

Link | Comments | 12:23 AM
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Learning more about why Cuomo wouldn't debate Teachout.

In the weeks leading to the Democratic primary for governor in New York State, the only time Cuomo acknowledged chellenger Zephyr Teachout was in two failed efforts to have her removed from the ballot over residency; she had spent some of her time in the prior five years in Vermont, and Cuomo's legal team argued, unsuccessfully, that that meant she wasn't a resident of New York State.

Cuomo would not mention her by name; he would not debate her; he avoided her at a parade, even making a theatrical call to Bill De Blasio in order to act as if he was merely distracted. Regarding debating her, he even had the cajones to suggest that because debates couldn't be guaranteed to be productive, there was no reason for anyone to push for a debate between him and Teachout.

Everyone assumed that everything Cuomo was doing was simply the text book "Rose Garden" strategy: don't give the struggling opponent the time of day, and they will wither as you run out the clock.

Perhaps there was something else:

With a month left until the election, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has offered few big ideas for the next four years. There have been no sweeping speeches, no wonky policy manuals.

The article goes on to say that Cuomo's campaign Web site also offers nothing (aside from stale plans from 2010). Anyone who spent five minutes listening to Teachout or three minutes reading her primary campaign Web site would have known that she had a vision for New York, and concrete goals she wanted to accomplish. Contrary to Cuomo, of course. The New York Times would not endorse Cuomo, due to his failure to achieve his anti-corruption goals from 2010; but would not endorse Teachout for her lack of experience -- thus they endorsed no one in the Democratic primary. This is what makes Cuomo's refusal to debate more revolting; had his empty white board been shown in stark contrast to her full one, there might have been an endorsement.

As it is, Cuomo is offering just four more of the same. And if we look back at the last four, there's lots of reasons to be upset, especially when we look at how little he cared that the Democratic majority in the State Senate was lost when a few Democrats decided to caucus with Republicans. It was behavior like that which put the endorsement from the Working Families Party at risk, and which he promised to amend. But we don't see it, and we're not encouraged by an incumbent who seems more than happy to rest on his questionable laurels and coast.

Link | Comments | 5:49 PM
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I have never been to the White House.

And I always assumed, that it being what it is, there was a degree of theater associated with it -- two different worlds depending on which side of the curtain you were on. That's the feeling I often got from The West Wing, when some Native Americans could visit and refuse to leave, as protest. And I wasn't particularly discomfited by the recent intruder who got in the front door, because, well, you know, after Nine 'Lem I assumed that within 15 feet of the entrance you'd face some pretty significant security, permeable only by the likes of Jack Abramaoff.

Nuh uh:

The intruder who jumped the White House fence earlier this month and sprinted through the mansion's front door in a rare security breach made it farther into the building than previously known, sources told Fox News on Monday.

Sources confirmed a report that the alleged intruder Omar J. Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer and made it into the East Room on Sept. 19.

Ducky, huh? Just plain ducky. You think about all the whackos, the bordering-on-whackos, and the fervid, fired-up people who spend too much time listening to talk radio... Geez, what a wake-up call.

Link | Comments | 7:30 PM
 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Being paid to spout off at The Washington Post is probably a pretty nice job.

But it's also a pretty visible job, and when you have an apparent conflict of interest, somebody's going to notice.

Weeks after appearing at a VIP dinner for the Koch brothers-backed political group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), George Will devoted his Washington Post column to promoting one of the Kochs' favored political candidates without disclosing the conflict of interest.

That's a pretty blatant transgression in my book, and I look forward to reading CJR this week; I'm not even sure a disclosure is sufficient in a case like this, and I wonder if Will shouldn't just not write about issues like this. Will is basically a paid political advertiser at this point, using a mighty forum for his financial gain.

Link | Comments | 6:56 PM
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wishing climate change a long and prosperous life.

Over 300,000 people marched against climate change today in NYC, and it was just one of almost 2,700 events worldwide today.

The RW of course has problems with such an outpouring of people, and when something so significant as climate change attracts such a diverse group of people, that means there will be opportunities to mock; and they do, trying to get you to ignore the Koch brothers behind the curtain.

The RW mocked Occupy at first, too. Jonah Goldberg talked about "Occupy My Couch" in 2011, and the right ignored the seriousness of economic inequality, and underestimated the issue's impact on the mind of the public -- cemented with Romney's 47% comment. The GOP is missing so many opportunities to improve its image, here, there, and everywhere.

Link | Comments | 6:06 PM
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simple ballot, momentous choice.

The ballot for tomorrow's referendum in Scotland, regarding severing itself from the UK, is sweetly simple. There are two boxes, and you mark one. I doubt there will be any usability problems like we had with the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County in 2000 which gave Bush the Presidency and changed the world (sorry, Teresa, I'm sure you meant well, and I don't hold it against you). It's a simple form, but not an easy choice.

Remember how Danny Glover dies in Witness? Suffocated, in that grain silo? That's kind of what people in Ohio go through every four years, and I presume the Scots have experienced the same. Only this choice is a helluva lot more momentous than our quadrennial presidential choice. Few peoples have such an opportunity for such self-destiny. I don't presume to know what's best for them, and I'm taken aback at how many outsiders presume to know. But it's a difficult decision, and it's full of practicality and emotion. I hope everyone who votes votes with careful consideration, and I wish them well one way or another.

As an aside before I post this, we should note that this hugely significant change takes only a simple majority. And each person's vote counts just as much as any other's. Think about what it takes here in the US to get a bill of far less consequence through the Senate; think about the barriers we have to amending the Constitution. Think about our Electoral College and how it not only biases small states, but minimizes the importance of voters in "safe" states. Democracy's lab is in Scotland, not here.

Link | Comments | 8:50 PM
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Commerce takes a stand against the NFL.

A bunch of NFL sponsors including Anheuser-Busch have put the NFL on notice that the organization really has to get its act together. It's the Rice thing, it's the Peterson thing, and something in me also wonders if the concussions aren't a concern too. From a cold business perspective a brand is an asset, and I'm not sure what companies would want their brand images besmirched by its associations. And at the same time, it might be more than a business issue: it could well be that companies are trying, actively, to do the right thing. It certainly wouldn't be the first time: Chick-fil-a wasn't open on Sundays.

And there's a certain power in the purse, waiting to be leveraged. This spring, Guinness withdrew its sponsorship of the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade over the Ancient Order of Hibernians' long-time exclusion of gay Irish groups with banners which proclaimed their identity; and voila, earlier this month it was announced that that barrier was coming down (to the chagrin of the Catholic League, we should point out).

Now, about the name of that NFL team in Washington DC...

Link | Comments | 7:29 PM
 

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