Copyright © 2010 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
So THAT was what the traffic was all about. Last fall we passed through Wascasset (ME) on our way to Boothbay Harbor, and could not figure out why the traffic had slowed so. Sure, a two lane bridge was having trouble handling the congestion, and there was lots of foot traffic too... But a lobster shack was the big draw?
I agree, don't build a new bridge, move the shack.
Great choice for a spokesperson.
I hope it gets a lot of play.
The GOP's rampant "Lucyism." Van Pelt, not Ricardo, as in pulling away the football they teed up for the Democrats to kick. The latest exercise? Pushing the Senate to consider a bill that would help small businesses, and then fillibustering it because, according to Mitch McConnell, it doesn't have all the amendments they want.
So they choose to stall, throwing the baby out with the bath water, risking doing nothing because of the calendar, and do everything they can to make sure that economic progress isn't made. How better to demonstrate that the party in power is ineffective than by blocking progress?
Get out the wrecking balls. Grocery stores aren't easy tenants to replace, with all their square footage. I grew up with a mall that became a ghost, the Twin Cities Mall straddling North Palm Beach and Lake Park. When it died, it died seriously. You can't easily replace a grocery store. Not with a cell phone store, anyway.
An affirmation of Bob Dylan's importance. Certainly not a stunning performance, certainly not stunning that it's done well. Just a little stunning that it's done by Rory Gallagher, who was so steeped in the blues.
As my fellow Johnsonian Jack "no relation" Lynch said in an email, "nothing to complain about." Perhaps the proper surprise is that it was done at all?
Beware the evil "Feds." Isn't it funny how rationality creeps in? Not as if it's always unexpected... I mean, there is a God and all that, and it was good to see the judiciary step up to the plate over the Terri Schiavo case, but we can't always count on the judiciary. But today's ruling from Judge Bolton re Arizona's law policing suspected illegal immigrants is a breath of fresh air. Policing immigration law is a federal responsibility, not a state or municipal one, and whether or not you like the way the federal government polices it, states and municipalities can't take the law into their own hands.
So put those Charles Bronson movies back on the shelf, Arizona. Enjoy your underpriced child care and underpriced restaurant meals. Enjoy your underpriced car washes, and your underpriced bathroom renovations. For a while, your United States is standing behind your refusal to support living wages for the goods and services you consume; you can still sleep sound in the knowledge that your pizza delivery won't add into Social Security or defense. Way cool!
In the meantime, the people who are the target of your approach-avoid conflict have a little more time. Perhaps not a lot, but a little. And they're not pawns in your xenophobic games. (Oooh... they're brown... They might be Catholics! or worse!)
An interesting threat for the Party of "No." Ezra Klein points to an option that might end filibusters at 51 votes. It's tied to the Constitutional provision that each chamber must abide by its own rules. But if the rule can't be overcome, because the current rule says it takes 67 votes to re-visit the threshold for a filibuster, has the Senate abdicated its authority in adopting such a rule? (In a way, it's kind of like the old "Can God make a rock so big that He, Himself cannot lift it?" The answer is typically 'no,' since in doing so he would have created something greater than God, and since there is nothing greater than God...)
Klein points out that while it's currently being pushed by Senator Udall, he's not the first to do so... But in the past this argument has never been fully leveraged. It's always led to a compromise, and if done so again could bring the GOP (the current party of No) to behave more responsibly).
I'd read his whole post for the details and links.
Undigested, raw intelligence? So I have this concern about the WikiLeaks War Logs. And that's that what we're dealing with is a lot of raw, undigested, "on the ground" information.
First, I can't tell if the producers of the individual documents know what's in the other documents; this could be the classic tale of a series of blind men, each coming up his own description of the elephant based on the portion he touched.
And second, when I think of users of raw, undigested intelligence, you know what name comes to mind? "Doug Feith." Before we went into Iraq, Doug Feith (and others like him) took raw intelligence and used it with all the sophistication and experience of a child learning Bach's minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook. Iraq and al Qaeda connections? Check. WMD? Check. And so on.
Now, it could well be that the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel are more sophisticated users of intelligence than Doug Feith was. I don't know the history of the Guardian or Der Spiegel very well, but I do remember how the NY Times got sucked into Whitewater and the Arkansas Project. As well as the build up to the Iraq war, thanks to Judith Miller. (A caution, if you think "Hitler Diaries" and think "Der Spiegel," wrong magazine, it was Stern.)
I'll be fair: I think that the chances of cherry picking is lower here, as 92,000 documents are lots of cherries. But the sheer volume doesn't make me more confident that the Times will do better with this than they did with the lead up to the Iraq war. Compare the Times' performance then to the performance of the DC Bureau of Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy). It had nothing to do with the volume of information.
Third, last night Chris Hayes (subbing for Rachel Maddow) was absolutely abubble over the Wikileaks document, and his guest from Boing Boing Net was talking about this being a transformative moment for online information. Ugh. When I think of tens of thousands of Doug Feiths blogging about whatever has been shoved their way...
DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I work at Abt SRBI. My company does polling. My opinions should not be construed as representing my employer.
BREAKING: Pakistani intelligence personnel in league with the Taliban? Several newspapers, including the New York Times, have been embargoing secret reports until now (at the request of Wikilieaks) that will not make you happy.
It's a dirty game.
Extending the Bush tax cuts? The dynamics are simple. Any member of the GOP who argues to extend the Bush tax cuts is doing one of two things. They are either: 1) repudiating all those who voted for them when they were passed, or, 2) welching on an agreement. Which is it? They should all be asked. Every single one of them. Was your party wrong to vote for the tax cuts as they were written, or not? (It's a simple question.)
Powerline talking sanity? Yikes!! I was navigating the blogs through my feed reader (blogline)... Feed readers, if you don't know, strip out all backgrounds etc and give you the plain text of a post. This came up on Boehner:
I'd misclicked, it was Steve Benen at Washington Monthly's "Political Animal." Alphabetically Political Animal is right before Powerline in the list. (Kind of like how Conor Cruise O'Brien, representing Ireland at the UN, sat between Iraq and Israel. And there's an amusing story about that, if you read O'Brien's The Seige.)
Extending the Bush tax cuts are not the answer to job creation, Mr. Boehner: that's reverting to the Reagan era myth of "trickle down" economics, which expanded the deficit and helped get us where we are.
If you want more jobs, Mr. Boehner, come out for a bigger stimulus, involving fewer tax cuts. That would be a sharp, stinging criticism of Obama. There's Obama's heel, Mr. Boehner.
(By the way, even Cheney said Reagan increased the deficit -- remember how he said that Reagan taught us that "deficits don't matter?")
Pity the poor developers. Thanks to the EPA designating the Gowanus Canal a superfund site, real estate developers hate the stigma and are pulling out. EPA meddling, according to Julia Vitullo-Martin, writing at the WSJ.
Damn, I hate it when government meddles needlessly. But it's either toxic or it's not. And she doesn't argue against its problems:
To me, it sounds like this is just the sort of occasion when government should step in. And if Toll Brothers' finds their hopes of getting people to live near another Love Canal are squashed, this isn't a bad thing. It should be celebrated, not positioned as government meddling.
You should start searching for this guy's music. This video isn't really a video, it's one of those YouTube offerings where there just isn't any video available, and someone just shows you the album cover and you get the song from the record. But Ron Davies (no relation to the brothers in the Kinks) wrote this tune called "It Ain't Easy," and recorded it 40 years ago. It was covered by Bowie, Three Dog Night, Long John Baldry, and others. (Baldry and 3DN both named their albums with the song title.)
My friend Jake turned me on to Davies back in college, with his album UFO (late 70's). I'm fortunate to have both it and the album above on CD, as Japanese imports. (I think it's high time messrs. Alpert and Moss -- or whoever has the catalog -- put these out in wider release. Strike a limited issue deal with Rhino Handmade, or something!)
Davies died in 2003.
The rush to judgment on Shirley Sherrod. Yes, the Department of Agriculture and the NAACP should have dug deeper before repudiating Sherrod's out-of-context remarks. Sherrod repudiated them herself, when you watch the whole tape. And the DOA jumped the gun in asking for her to resign.
But when those who started the feeding frenzy and fueled it further ignore their own roles as they blame the Admin and the NAACP, it's akin to someone saying, "Look, I only yelled 'fire' in the crowded theater; they could have looked." Deciding to fire someone is not like a fire emergency, but the Right sure has created a tinder box over race and this President, haven't they?
Kindle eBook sales vs. hardcovers. Amazon has announced that its sales of Kindle "hard cover" ebooks have surpassed Amazon's sales of hardovers, by a factor of about 40%. This ratio is so generous that the "dead tree edition" denominator includes hard covers which aren't available for the Kindle.
Before I get into my pregnant pause over that statistic, let's note from the outset that I'm a big fan of my Kindle and the books on it. I finish "door stop" size books (e.g., Clinton's "My Life") which I'd never be able to finish otherwise. And it's wonderful to have a portfolio of offerings at my ready: if I'm just a stop or two away from getting off the subway, I might not start a new chapter, but I will happily start another John Adams letter to Abigail.
Okay. The article talks about ebook sales vs. hard covers. But Amazon won't say anything about ebook sales versus paperbacks. Want to know why? Quite often the paperback is less than the eBook. I encountered that tonight over Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death." I don't know all of why this is, but I have my hypotheses. In order for publishers to survive, they need to maintain dead tree editions. They need to maintain a physical presence, in order to ensure that printers, wholesalers, and retailers thrive. If they cut those pieces of the chain off, they feel they'll die. And in order to support those pieces of the distribution chain, they'll price eBooks at a sufficiently high price in order to degrade the interest in downloading.
That's just my hypothesis, I'm no publishing insider, I'm just a consumer trying to figure out the market. I know that CD's are better than MP3's, but it's rare that I've felt a loss over reading something on my Kindle. (I wouldn't want to read military history on it; battles have maps, and detailed graphics don't do so well.)
And because of that feeling that there's no "loss" in an eBook edition, I don't understand why a Kindle edition of Amusing Ourselves To Death would be more expensive than the paperback. It really feels like the publishers are asking us to subsidize their manufacturing/distribution chains. And isn't that, in itself, a white flag?