Friday, August 9, 2013

All the running you can do to stay in the same place...or worse

Lynn Stout, author of The Shareholder Value Myth, was Jay's guest this week on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Interesting stuff on how our modern CEO culture is about destroying businesses rather than building them.

For those who recall her article "Special Deal" last month, about the way the medical industry practices government-sanctioned price-fixing (and what a sweet deal it is when people get to declare the value of their own work and demand that price, eh? Don't you wish you could do that?), Hayley Sweetland Edwards' longer discussion with Sam Seder this week on The Majority Report fills the story out some more.

Noam Chomsky: "Bradley Manning Should Be Regarded as a Hero" - Actually, an interview by Laura Flanders (video and text) that starts off discussing the Secret Trade Agreement known as TPP and also a recent trip he took: "Mostly I was interested in developments in Bolivia. It's a very exciting place. As you know, it has a complicated history, but in the year 2000 there was an indigenous uprising over water. The international corporations and the international financial institutions were trying to do to Bolivia what they are doing to Europe successfully now . . . They wanted to privatize water as part of the general view that privatization improves efficiency. It's kind of a footnote that people can't afford it. There was an uprising in Cochabamba that succeeded in interesting ways, partly because of international solidarity. Something to think about; they threw out the major multinationals, Bechtel and a French company . . . There had happened to be a demonstration in Washington at the same time against the World Trade Organization (or maybe the World Bank), and they communicated. And the protests in Washington were able to reinforce the public attention to Cochabamba - otherwise it might as well have been crushed. That succeeded, and since then, Bolivia has an indigenous majority. The indigenous population succeeded in taking over the reins of government. They have an indigenous president. They've been carrying out programs that are important both for the Bolivians themselves and for the world."

Teach for America Apostates: a Primer of Alumni Resistance - Teach for America does attract some people who really want to do some good for their country. And after awhile, those people begin to realize that TFA is doing the country no good. In fact, they compound existing disasters like Katrina by shoving kids into charter schools where the teachers are given no incentive to get to know the kids and help them learn and no environment for doing it. The kids who survived Katrina now find themselves in schools where their chances of ending up in jail are probably better than their chances of graduating. All over America, kids have stopped being school students and become just another bit of fodder for the Prison Industrial Complex. And people are beginning to admit it, and fighting back.

Incredibly, Brad DeLong expresses "A Slight Preference for Larry Summers to Be Federal Reserve Chair." It must be semantics. Brad calls it "outside the box" thinking, I call it a proven record of failure. But then, recent history seems to show these are both the same thing. It's the term people use when they are trying to convince you that a proposal that makes no sense is the best thing to do. Via Atrios, who actually said something about it.

"Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review" - And these are the people who make the textbooks for most US schools. People really ought to be getting on their local school boards and demanding that textbooks used in their schools come from more reliable sources.

Atrios unpacking for you: "Talking about structural unemployment is a way for Very Serious People to blame the losers and the moochers for their own plight. They don't have the skills, you see, that The Modern Economy requires because they are losers after all. And, well, there's nothing to be done to help these people. They should have gotten a STEM degree even though there are no STEM jobs but whatever just keep saying STEM because it's Very Serious."

Graham family selling The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos! Bezos is a major donor to the Republican Party, but I wonder if he'll take their marching orders as well as the current owners of the Post have taken orders from the corporatist profiteers. For one thing, Bezos is a guy who actually thinks his company should be paying taxes on the money makes on the internet. And since he's buying the Post whole with his own cash (cash!), he will be beholden to no stockholders. In other words, he can treat the paper not as a money-making concern, but as something else, like, maybe, an actual newspaper. Personally, I think there's money to be made by someone who tries that tack. But the thing that really got me about this story is that he bought the paper for 250 million dollars. That's actually not very much money as these things go. And, really, George Soros probably would have been getting more bang for his buck if he'd been thinking in those terms rather than wasting his money on

"Iowa voters: Expand Social Security! [...] Any presidential primary is a war for the soul of the party, and for Democrats in 2016 in Iowa, it's a safe bet that at least one battle in that war will be fought over Social Security. Earlier this year, President Obama shocked liberals by including a measure to trim Social Security benefits in his budget proposal, dividing the party in half, and prompting accusations of betrayal to fundamental Democratic principles. Still, many party leaders supported the change, creating a major fault line in the party that remains unresolved to this day. The White House has since backed off on its desire to switch to the so-called 'chained CPI,' but the push for 'entitlement reform' is not dead and how Democrats, and especially presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, respond to it will determine the fate of the social insurance program and perhaps the Democratic Party. With all that in mind, a coalition of progressive groups, which has recently gone on offense by launching an effort to expand Social Security, is firing the first shot in this coming war - and they have polling to back them up."

I remember reading all the hyperventilating stuff about crack in the magazines and thinking, "This is just Reefer Madness revisited." But everyone assured me that crack was something special, it had effects like no other drug had. They read it in Time. But then, I'm old enough to remember reading about "the Orange Man" in Time. In fact, it seems like I've been reading bollocks about drugs in Time my whole life. So, y'know, what's in Carl Hart's "Myths About Illicit Drugs Perpetuate Destructive Policy" doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. "To me, by that point in my career, their myth-busting behavior was no longer a surprise - no matter how odd and unlikely it may seem to many Americans raised on Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) antidrug programs and 'This is your brain on drugs' TV commercials. My participants' responses - and those in the dozens of other studies we'd already run, as well as studies by other researchers around the country - had begun to expose important truths. Not just about crack cocaine and about addiction, but about the way the brain works and the way that pleasure affects human behavior. Not just about drugs, but about the way science works and about what we can learn when we apply rigorous scientific methods. This research was beginning to reveal what lies behind choice and decision-making in general and how, even when affected by drugs, it is influenced powerfully by other factors as well." (This article is the prologue to his book, High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, which of course is not approving of our drug policies.)

"Details On Upcoming Police Torrent Site Crackdown Revealed: A clearer picture is emerging on how the UK police Intellectual Property Crime Unit will operate when it's launched in September. The unit, which is already targeting torrent sites located both in the UK and overseas, will act on intelligence provided by rightsholders and ensure that copyright cases are allocated greater resources than they have in the past. Information sharing will also allow evidence in criminal cases to be used to recover damages via the civil courts."

"Why ALEC Fabricated Public School Failures (and Why We're Not Surprised): 'ALEC vs. Kids: ALEC's Assault on Public Education'. That's the alarmingly accurate title of a new report that focuses on how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education task force has used a state-by-state report card to fabricate failure in state public education systems in order to create sales opportunities for their corporate membership."

Update: Judge who accepted private-prison bribes to send black kids to jail still sentenced to 28 years, because he lost his appeal.

"Snowden's Wikipedia Entry, Changed From ‘Dissident' to ‘Traitor' by US Senator?"

" It was almost extortion by the press: Don't want to be called a fame whore? Then come on TV and make your case!"

Monsanto and friends are rolling out another campaign to mislead the public, because 93% of Americans want GMOs labeled on their food. Agribiz has another PR front out called Alliance to Feed the Future and a website called to try to convince you that you don't need to know what's in your food.

Political Corruption as Duplicitous Exclusion [...] Corruption breaks the link between collective decisionmaking and peoples' power to influence collective decisions through speaking and voting, the very acts that define democracy. Corruption reduces the effective domain of public action, and thus the reach of democracy, by changing public agencies of collective action to instruments of private benefit. Corruption creates inefficiencies in deliveries of public services, not only in the form of a tax on public expenditures, but by shifting public activities toward those sectors in which it is possible for those engaged in corrupt exchanges to benefit. And when public officials put prices on routine government transactions, then the rights and protections citizens should be able to enjoy become favors, to be repaid in kind. Moreover, corruption undermines the culture of democracy. When people lose confidence that public decisions are taken for reasons that are publicly available and justifiable, they often become cynical about public speech and deliberation. People come to expect duplicity in public speech, and the expectation tarnishes all public officials, whether or not they are corrupt. And when people are mistrustful of government, they are also cynical about their own capacities to act on public goods and purposes, and will prefer to attend to narrow domains of self-interest they can control. Corruption in this way diminishes the horizons of collective actions, and in so doing shrinks the domain of democracy." [pdf]

You know all those nice things Larry Summers' friends say about him? Don't believe them.

That stint Mark Evanier had as a pornographer

Peter Capaldi is still well-remembered in the Whovian universe, not just for his role as a character in a Doctor Who episode, but for his role as John Frobisher in the chilling Torchwood story "Children of Earth". In 1965, Frobisher negotiated the handover of human children to aliens for unknown purposes. And now the aliens were back, wanting more. Earth has nothing to fight them with, and Frobisher negotiates again, but he can't live with it. In the end, of course, it's up to Jack; however, much as he wants to follow in the Doctor's footsteps, Jack isn't the Doctor, and the price of his solution is high. But Capaldi's performance is still the one I remember him for, and there's no question in my mind that he will carry off the part. Although possibly not (nsfw) like this. (And I still think the BBC bites for not putting the big reveal in the story itself rather than wasting my time with a stupid half hour of neon.)

The New Humanist has announced and posted the cover story for their next issue of the magazine: a celebration of Iain M. Banks.

I recognized this painter right away (especially her voice, but she still looks like herself in spite of the age and hair), but I wonder how many other people will. Thanks to CMike for the pointer.

Baby elephant!


  1. It used to be that the identity of the new Doctor Who actor stood a chance of being hidden. Times have changed, and I don't think it is an improvement, but all the Tucker/Who mashups are happening now, not when that critical first appearance is broadcast. So maybe it could be worse.

  2. Earlier this year, President Obama shocked liberals by including a measure to trim Social Security benefits in his budget proposal.

    How could anyone be shocked by the news that Obama wants to cut Social Security? This would be one of the finest feathers in his "I'm an even bigger corporate whore than Bill Clinton" cap when it comes time to collect his due.

  3. The painter, as you put it, was interviewed a couple years ago and there are interview pieces all over YouTube, so I was not surprised, but this was one segment I hadn't already seen.

    It is otherwise being a very Ray Charles kind of day.

    1. Born in October, 1939, she turns 74 this year and, therefore, never was a boomer. I guess back in the day none of them were.

  4. I've seen sci fi fans fondly recalling Capaldi's performance in Neverwhere.

  5. Goodbye. This sexualized Betty Boop is just the last straw. While your politics may be liberal I'm done with your attitude towards women and the excuses used to justify it.

    1. That would be as opposed to the non-sexualized Betty Boop, I guess... Oh, wait.............

    2. (Giggle) Anonymous -- She was so sexy my grandmother wouldn't let us watch her cartoons!!

    3. [Bela Lugosi as Dracula:]

      "You have booped your last 'Boop'!"