Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkeys away

I've decided to go back to maintaining The Sideshow site and using the Blogspot pages as the permalink and comment facility.

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays this week were Digby and Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), talking about the NSA and denial of domestic spying, Snowden, and the filibuster. Bunch of eye-openers in here, particularly with regard to DiFi's continuing fealty to the security state.

Here's Glenn Greenwald being interviewed on BBC's HardTalk. As Glenn observed on Twitter, the interviewer seems to have a hard time absorbing the fact that security officials lie and that there have to be independent observers holding them to account. Note that the interviewer doesn't even understand how ironic - and terrifying - it is for someone to be called "a special case" who of course has his communications content spied on by the government when that person is a journalist. (Can't imagine why they'd want to do that.) Notice the way he seems to lash out when Glenn responds to another repetition of the idea that journalists shouldn't question power by saying that it's not the job of a journalist to investigate other journalists who question the claims of the powerful. It's almost comical to see how this stung interviewer tries to "challenge" Glenn.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism on "Identity Politics and the Stoking of Generational Warfare [...] A particularly potent political grouping would be for older people, particularly retirees, to team up with young people on economic issues. So it's not surprising that some political mavens are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. One of the strategies of the plutocrats comes from financier Jay Gould : 'I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,' except this time, they aren't even having to hire one half to turn it against the other. Just as I've noticed an sharp uptick in women's identity articles, I've also seen a ramping up of generational warfare and anti-baby-boomer messaging (I have as much antipathy towards broad comments about baby boomers as I do women). This phenomenon admittedly has deeper roots, since billionaire Pete Peterson has been campaigning against Social Security and Medicare since the mid 1980s, and presenting old people as something society can't afford is part of his strategy. But he's been joined by fresh troops, such as Fix the Debt and billionaire Stan Druckenmiller's overt campaign to turn young people against older ones, The Can Kicks Back. Yet how does indicting a large group of people who are extremely diverse in terms of income, occupation, religion, family status, and ethnicity make any sense? It's tantamount to prosecuting everyone at JP Morgan for fraud and predatory practices, rather than Jamie Dimon and other responsible individuals."

Since we've railed here about patent trolls before, it is with some delight that we see our friend Whit Diffie taking them on.

It would appear that the new pope actually reads the Gospels. Rush Limbaugh is calling him a "Marxist" for it, but RJ Eskow wants to Occupy Christmas.

"12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever" - Remember the name Matthew D. Lynch, because this article is its own special kind of crazy. Everything in it is just plain wrong.

Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity: "Do You Have Any Idea What $50 TRILLION Looks Like?!"

The Sylvia School of Mainstream Journalism

Judith Kerr and the story behind The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Tauriel Refuses To Get Into Butt Pose In Hobbit Poster, Makes Legolas Do It Instead

Behind the Lens - The Day of the Doctor

Did Magneto kill JFK? See The Bent Bullet.

The great turkey pardon, myth-busting included.

Fine Dining with Albert Finney and Joyce Redman

A WKRP Thanksgiving
(I kept thinking of replacements for that second clause, like, "As God is my witness, I thought the NSA was above reproach," or, "As God is my witness, I thought bankers would never lie," or, "As God is my witness, I thought all black people were liberals.")


  1. "12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever"

    For Wall Street.

  2. I wish specifically to note here that Marx cribbed from the Gospels, not the other way around, and that in fact Marx did not take it far enough (poor thing).

  3. There are ten to the thirteenth stars in the known universe, roughly a hundred and eleven billion. We used to think of such numbers as astronomical, now they're merely economic.

    1. On this side of the pond a million million (10^6 X 10^6) is equal to a trillion (10^12). There are giant elliptical galaxies which are each made up of 10 trillion (10^13) stars and, so they say, there are even a few supergiant ellipticals which number 100 trillion (10^14) stars. [LINK] [LINK]

      In matters macro and micro, here are Richard Feynman's sister* with some on-topic perspective along with the late Nobel laureate, himself, getting into the realm of the innumerable. [LINK]

      *She may be aces on the subject of auroras but as to literary provenance, apparently, not so much. [LINK] [LINK]

    2. Nice links, CMike. Painful to hear Feynman's passing swipe at not-too-pretty women after listening to his lively, intelligent, not-too-pretty (and perhaps not-too-poetry-loving) sister.

    3. Honest, I had mentioned his "dated jocularity" in my first draft but that got cut along with some ramblings which definitely deserved the backspace. From the half-full perspective though, that that particular aside by Feynman sounds so off key to anyone who hears it these days, ksix, it just goes to show no matter how worrisome the news is: 2013 is not all bad.

    4. Wait, it bothered you that Feynman is capable of being distracted from "seeing physics" by seeing a woman he finds arrestingly attractive, but not by women he doesn't find arrestingly attractive? 'Cause that's all he said.

      Of course, after living for more than a quarter of a century in a country where people still routinely say "fortnight" and "reckon" and even occasionally "wee" and "aye", I don't much care what sounds dated anymore.

      But, really, guys, if the best you can say about 2013 is that Nobel laureates no longer acknowledge that seeing an attractive woman can derail their thought processes, 2013 bites even worse than I thought.

    5. I didn't think the comment added much to his somewhat literal metaphor about the choppy waves which Feynman was offering for broadcast. Should we be at all interested to know if, say, the accomplished academic Larry Summers gets distracted by the babilicious when he's at a conference listening to presentations by other economists and would we benefit from his sharing such an insight into his mind if he were to mention something along those lines when retelling how a particular theory struck him when he first heard it?

    6. Feynman's distractions don't bother me at all, gratuitous references to the lack of attractiveness of girls who aren't "pretty" - that's the word he used - do. Back in those days, that left about 90% of the female population feeling unworthy. But it's not a debate I'm interested in - times have changed for the better, as CMike says.

    7. The Pope might know, or at least agree with, the idea that Jesus was not just a revolutionary but a hard-preaching socialist. Holy mackerel, he really does get it.

  4. Only a bunch of geriatric plutocrats could imagine a movement called "the can kicks back" would fire up the Youth.

  5. One of my worst calls over the years was that Michelle Obama would become an unpopular figure as First Lady. At this point I would have to say, for years now, she has acquitted herself quite well in her quasi-official role, except for the whole ideological thing. So that's my preface to this juxtaposition of these two tales by two blogging Smiths:

    [Michael J. Smith]>>>>>Here’s a sample of her treacle-and-brimstone style:

    [Michelle Obama]>>>>>I’m here today because I want you to know that my story can be your story…The details might be a little different, but so many of the challenges and triumphs will be just the same….

    I couldn't afford to go on a bunch of college visits, I couldn't hire a personal tutor. I couldn't enroll in SAT prep classes. We didn't have the money.

    … Some of my teachers straight-up told me that I was setting my sights too high,” she continued. “They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton…. [Once there,] There were times when I felt that I could barely keep my head above water.
    <<<<[End Quote]

    [Michael J. Smith]>>>>> She terrorized her audience with the usual dismal forecasts: by 2050 a PhD will be required to run a cash register at Wal-Mart, etc. etc.

    My story can be your story. Every one of those kids at the Bell Multicultural Indoctrination And Prison Prep Center can, and should, come to live in the White House. All at the same time, in fact, having all graduated from Princeton in the same class and with the same GPA, all tied for valedictorian.

    No doubt she’s right that credential creep will continue; it creates a considerable wealth transfer to the credentialling sector, after all, which is now an important industry, though it sells a very mediocre product. But it is surely obvious to the meanest intellect that although anybody can get on a bus — or, judging by some recent tenants, into the White House — everybody cannot get on a bus. A bus isn’t big enough for everybody. Not even the White House is that big.

    So Michelle’s message, correctly generalized, is that you will have to work ever harder, and spend ever more time in one pedagogical feedlot after another, if you want to be declassed a bit less rapidly than your less compliant or energetic schoolfellows. We’re going to shaft you all, she’s saying; but some of you are going to get shafted worse than others; and you’d better get that nose to the grindstone, and burn that midnight oil, if you prefer the slightly smaller shaft.<<<<<[End Quote]


    1. ...continued

      [Noah Smith]>>>>>Does your job create real value?
      Many Americans no longer understand the results of their labor

      What if your employer itself isn't adding value? When companies or governments simply suck value out of the rest of the economy instead of creating it, economists call it "rent," which basically means redistribution. I suspect that many Americans these days wonder how much of their paycheck comes from value-added work, and how much comes from "rent."

      In ages past, most Americans could easily see that at the end of the day they had produced something real. If you worked on a wheat farm or a car factory, you would see wheat and cars appear as a result of your labor. And if the market was relatively free and fair, economics would assure you that the wheat or cars were worth what people were willing to pay for them. But in the modern economy, a lot of what we produce comes in the form of intangible services, and — more importantly — there are lingering doubts as to whether the markets for those services are either free or fair.

      Let's look at three examples:

      1. Finance

      Finance takes up fully 8 percent of our economy, up from less than 3 percent in 1950. But is our finance industry giving us anything now that it wasn't back then?...

      2. Health care

      If finance is big, health care is gargantuan. The health-care sector takes up nearly one-fifth of our entire economy — far more than in other countries — and this share is climbing fast, as costs continue to rise. But despite this orgy of spending, we have little to show in the way of actual health. Our health outcomes are substantially worse than countries that spend half as much per person....

      3. Education

      Finally, we have the education sector, which at 5.7 percent of GDP is also a big deal. Even as college tuition, already sky-high, continues to drift upward, many economists question whether college is worth what we pay for it. Does college really train students with the skills and life experiences they need to be productive? Or is it just a hideously expensive way of proving to potential employers that you're smart and hard-working?...

      Together, just these three industries — finance, health care, and education — represent almost a third of America's economy. Obviously, we need all of them in some form... But the question is whether these industries, as a whole, create enough value to justify the huge amounts we spend on them. Because if they don't, then every American who works in finance or health care or education has to wonder whether his or her job is a "BS job." And though I've singled out these three because of their size, many smaller industries are likely to have similar issues....<<<<<[End Quote]