January, 2011 archive
Tick Tock Schlock 0
Some bozo keeps coming on my telly vision saying that I should buy his book, Tick Tock, because “New York has never had a great detective hero.”
Like I’m going to buy a detective story from some doofus who denies Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen, and John Putnam Thatcher, just to mention a few off the top of my head.
The Ballad of Bradley Manning 0
The tune is not factually accurate, as least so far as is known now. No evidence has been uncovered linking Manning with Assenge.
Manning is being held in solitary confinement in conditions amounting to psychological torture (but hey! that’s not real torture, no vital organs have been damaged, so it doesn’t count) on word-of-mouth without trial.
Video via the Linux Outlaws.
Whitewashing History, Reprise 0
Dawn Turner Trice, writing in the Chicago Tribune, interviews Tom Burrell, retired ad agency owner, on the techniques of whitewashing. Burrell overcame vision problems and racial stereotyping to become the owner of one of the nation’s largest and most effective ad agencies. He knows a bit about propaganda.
Burrell said the campaign to cast blacks as inferior dates back to slave owners attempting to make an inhumane institution fit into a democracy. He considers slave auction posters among the earliest forms of “propaganda” in American history. Much followed, including Stepin Fetchit-type characters, along with salt and pepper shakers, postcards and Halloween masks depicting blacks with big red lips and protruding eyes.
“These messages have been passed down like tchotchkes through the generations,” he said. “Somebody had to say that if we can market this idea that slaves are not human beings — they’re chattel — then the Founding Fathers can say ‘all men are created equal’ and not have this profound contradiction. That’s how the advertising campaign came about.
“We’ve used the Bible, textbooks, symbols, the media, bad science to constantly reinforce those ideas. People buy into it, internalize it.“
No Lapdogging 0
Background: Seatack is an older, poorer, predominantly black neighborhood with a growing sense of identity a few blocks inland from the south end of the beachfront.
As has been common in these and other parts, the desires of the citizenry in older, poorer, predominantly minority neighborhoods are frequently ignored. Such neighborhoods are often not so much served as they are imposed on.
I am not a fan of Virginia Beach City Council member Bill DeSteph’s politics. He’s leans too right for me.
I am, however, a fan of his consistent refusal to come when Mayor Sessoms beckons:
The City Council was about to buy a $700,000 property for a new homeless day shelter when a councilman spoke up.
“Have we talked to the community about this?” Councilman Bill DeSteph asked.
An awkward silence followed, and a vote was postponed.
Now, residents of a historically black neighborhood near the Oceanfront targeted for the shelter say they don’t want it. They’re outraged the city didn’t ask their opinion.
Read the whole thing.
In a resort town, “left” and “right” don’t usually mean as much as “in the hip pocket of developers” and “not in the hip pocket of developers.”
Fiscal Responsibility, Teabag Dept. 0
J. M. Ashby describes what teabaggery has done to one of the wealthiest counties on Long Island: In less than a year of teabaggery in the county government, the county’s finances are in such tatters that the state has taken them over.
That’s tea with a nasty aftertaste.
Winning the History 0
The saying is that the victors write the history books.
In the case of the American Civil War, this is debatable. The whole Kentucky Colonel gracious-plantation-living happy-darkies-singing-as-they-labored image was a most successful cover-up of the reality of the war and its causes, and the cover-up continues.
Harold Jackson comments in the Inky:
Some months ago, I was on an airplane leaving Killeen, Texas, home of Fort Hood, and heard two fellow passengers discussing the wars we are in. The women were very proud of their husband and son in the military. But the wife, almost in the same breath in which she declared they “are fighting for us,” admitted she didn’t know why our troops were still there.
The answer will be left to the writers of history. Let’s hope they do better than the numerous book writers who romanticized the Confederacy and made slavery seem like a benign institution in which the benevolence of good masters kept people who otherwise were incapable of fending for themselves from dying of starvation.
A recent article in the Anniston, Ala., Star noted that for decades after the Civil War, the United Daughters of the Confederacy had provided an approved list of textbooks for Alabama public schools. Students were taught that the Confederates had fought for a noble cause but lost. “The South lost the war, but they won the history,” Jacksonville State University professor Jennifer Gross told the Star, quoting a past teacher
Barbara Tuchman, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):
A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any human activity.
The Business of America Is Giving America the Business 0
Cynthia Tucker speaks the unspeakable at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A nugget:
This may be heresy, but here it is: The interests of Big Business and the needs of regular working Americans don’t always coincide. As just one example, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, newly appointed as the White House jobs czar, heads a company which relies increasingly on foreign markets for its profits and its workforce. Since Immelt took over in 2001, GE has shed tens of thousands of jobs here while adding tens of thousands abroad.
That trend is likely to continue, not just at GE but also at thousands of other U.S. companies as their managers find they can manufacture more cheaply abroad. They can also outsource accounting, engineering and technical support services, among others.
ConstiTEAtional Parties 0
W. C. Fields, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):
There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
The Galt and the Lamers, Have Cake, Eat It Too Dept. 0
Ayn Rand loved her some medicare and social security. But she got it under her married name, so no doubt in her head it somehow didn’t count.
And that is objectively true, in a non-Randian sort of way, that is.
Twits on Twitter 0
John Cass of the Chicago Trib takes on Deion Sanders, Jay Cutler, Carlton Fisk, and news reporters’ fascination with twits (emphasis added):
Cutler was roughed up again and again in that game last Sunday with the Green Bay Packers. Finally, after being smashed by one 300-pound lineman after another — after an entire season of being smashed — Cutler’s knee gave way.
Cutler couldn’t play, the Bears lost and Sanders decided to tweet to all his fans that Cutler had no guts. A few other morons followed suit, then many ignorant, anonymously malicious fans joined in.
Sports reporters mined these seething electronic nuggets, although I don’t think they went to journalism school to report on the electronic equivalent of what was scribbled on the urinal wall in a gas station.
Follow the link to find out what Carlton Fisk has to do with all this.
Whitewashing History 0
I was in college about the time that “Black Studies” became a discipline and February became “Black History Month.”
The reasons for these were that white folks had warped or ignored (or both) the history of black persons in the United States since well before the Civil War.
The South and its partisans had tried to portray black persons as suited only for slavery, so as to justify the peculiar institution with false religion and pseudo-science; George Fitzhugh’s abominable Cannibals All was the epitome of this.
The rest of the country, having turned its back on the freed slaves and looked the other way as Jim Crow laws and other methods reduced them and their descendants to practical, if not legal, servitude, had no desire to remember its perfidy.
The purpose of “Black History Month” has always been to put black history in balance as part of American history, not to turn black history into something apart from it.
Some persons resent this. They want to forget and hide the past, perhaps even recreate it . . . .
In the Chicago Trib, Clarence Page comments of the recurring objections to the existence of Black History Month:
. . .every time I begin to think we can relax special efforts to remember this nation’s grand racial epic of sorrow and triumph, I am jerked alert by current events that show how easily history can be forgotten or twisted, even by major newsmakers.
For example, there was Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent mythologizing of the nation’s Founders at an Iowans for Tax Relief rally.
“How unique, in all of the world, that one nation … was the resting point for people from groups all across the world,” she said, getting a bit carried away from reality. “It didn’t matter the color of their skin, it didn’t matter their language, it didn’t matter their economic status. … Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn’t that remarkable? It’s absolutely remarkable.”
It was remarkable, all right, but the slaves owned by many of the Founders, including some of our early presidents, would not recognize the nation’s early days as she described them.
Or there is Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s December recollections in The Weekly Standard of growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution in his state: “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. Lucky for you, Governor.
Sense Off 0
This shouldn’t be a crime. It should be a service.
A mail carrier on New York’s Long Island is accused of pinching thousands of discount coupons intended for residents’ mailboxes.
“This Little Piggy Went to Market” 0
In a Jeremiad against Britain’s proposed cuts in public services, Philip Pullman rips into those who think that everything must be for sale:
Like all fundamentalists who get their clammy hands on the levers of power, the market fanatics are going to kill off every humane, life-enhancing, generous, imaginative and decent corner of our public life.
Market fundamentalism, this madness that’s infected the human race, is like a greedy ghost that haunts the boardrooms and council chambers and committee rooms from which the world is run these days. The greedy ghost understands profit all right. But that’s all. What he doesn’t understand is enterprises that don’t make a profit, because they’re set up to do something different. He doesn’t understand libraries at all, for instance. That branch – how much money did it make last year? Why aren’t you charging higher fines? Why don’t you charge for everything?
Colette, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):
Perhaps the only misplaced curiosity is that which persists in trying to find out here, on this side of death, what lies beyond the grave
One would think that, sooner or later, the FDIC would run out of banks to close.
Doesn’t pay to underestimate all those responsible fiscals out there mastering the universe, I guess.
This week’s crop:
Compare, Contrast 0
I don’t necessarily agree with all of this (in fact, I seldom agree completely with opinions I quote here; I select material because I believe it to be worthwhile, not because I believe it to be infallible), but I think it has underpinnings of truth.
From Seeing the Forest.