Monday, April 30, 2012
broke the news that The American Prospect, "an influential liberal politics and policy magazine, could shut its doors at the end of May unless the nonprofit publication raises a half million dollars to fill a current funding gap." Meanwhile, Arianna's brain-child -- the now giant "Internet newspaper" that produces a smidgen of journalism and links prodigiously to the rest -- rakes in millions. One publication gives us what we need to know (e.g., "The Limits of Equality"). The other gives us what we want to know (e.g., "Kim Cattrall's Bikini Days"). That said, and knowing that life is not fair, I say to HuffPo, live long and prosper. And yet, as Macbeth said, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen."
Posted by EJ Perkins at 5:47 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 3:33 PM
Ayn Rand, the author of "Atlas Shrugged." In 2003, Ryan gave out Rand's tome as Christmas presents. In 2005, he said, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand." But yesterday, according to New York magazine, Ryan claimed that Ayn Rand's philosophy "reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview." That's a whiplash-inducing 180-degree turn. Amazing, even for a politician. This brought to mind something Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines, once said: "I did not deal well with the politicians. I tend to tell people that when they are full of crap, that they are full of crap." In Ryan's case, there's never a Crandall around when you need one.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 1:31 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2012
interview. The questions were so-so. When they got to the "human interest" part, RS asked: "I heard you liked the TV show Homeland." Obama: "I did, it was a great show." Then, amazingly, RS asked: "In the show, a drone strike destroys a madrassa and provokes an assassination attempt on the vice president of the United States. What did you enjoy about it?" Um, WTF? RS might as well have asked, "Why do you enjoy watching people suffer and die?" Did the interviewer really think Obama would fall for this lame gotcha question? Obama replied: "What I liked was just real complicated characters ... It's a terrific psychological study, and that's what I enjoy about it." Perfect. Memo to Rolling Stone: You're not that good. And you're certainly not in Obama's league. Stick to Ted Nugent.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:36 AM
interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama explains why:
"I never bought into the notion that by electing me, somehow we were entering into a post-racial period ... [But] when I travel around the country, a lot of people remark on how inspiring seeing an African-American president or an African-American first lady must be to black boys and girls, how it must raise their sense of what's possible in their own lives. That's hugely important – but you shouldn't also underestimate the fact that there are a whole bunch of little white girls and white boys all across the country who just take it for granted that there's an African-American president. That's the president they're growing up with, and that's changing attitudes. My view on race has always been that it's complicated. It's not just a matter of head – it's a matter of heart. It's about interactions. What happens in the workplace, in schools, on sports fields, and through music and culture shapes racial attitudes as much as any legislation that's passed. I do believe that we're making slow and steady progress. When I talk to Malia and Sasha, the world they're growing up with, with their friends, is just very different from the world that you and I grew up with."A perspective worth keeping in mind. Can you imagine "President Romney" being as thoughtful?
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:16 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:21 PM
op-ed entitled, "Facts, 360 B.C. – A.D. 2012." It is an obit for the long-suffering "fact." And it's gone viral. It is not the best op-ed ever written as some have claimed. But it is brilliant. Here's a sample:
"To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists."To paraphrase one clever writer: If you haven't read it, read it. If you’ve already read it, read it again. And weep.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:18 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:45 PM
drives home the point: "During the day I check my work email about once every ten minutes. I comb through my personal email about once an hour. I look at Twitter more often than I care to admit, and I just sent a text message on my phone. But when I get home from work I walk right past my mail box, blissfully ignorant of all the crap that sits inside. Like an increasing number of Americans, I have very little use for the US Postal Service." Me neither. Still, it's rather sad to watch this historic relic fade in real time. American ingenuity created the postal service. Ironically, this will also be its undoing.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:40 PM
spot-on: "At times the series feels like a live-action version of Doonesbury, but minus the sociopolitical context, and with baroque profanity and scatological metaphors. ... This is a shark-tank world of a type that HBO specializes in; the ego-warring over perks, loyalty, and respect might remind you of the cable channel’s other classic half-hour studies in bad behavior: The Larry Sanders Show [and] Curb Your Enthusiasm ... the first three episodes of Veep don’t suggest we’re going to see those series’ depth and poignancy. [British writer-producer Armando Iannucci] has a tactically limited view of political skulduggery, the type showcased in the insufferably cutesy columns of Maureen Dowd. It’s all rather weightless. ... That’s not a bad thing in and of itself—the world can always use one more amusing sitcom—but for all its madcap goofiness, Veep doesn’t say or add up to much—which, in a way, suggests it’s the right satire for a political era marked by stupid feuds, inertia, and superficiality."
Sunday, April 22, 2012
"[W]ithin this world of instant and absolute communication, unbounded by limits of time or space, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information."Marche concludes that the advent of digital socialization "obscures what isn’t being served: everything that matters."
"What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect."Read Marche's thoughtful piece here.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:20 AM
Per The Atlantic, more than half of Facebook users—and one of every 13 people on Earth is a Facebook user—log on every day. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, nearly half check Facebook minutes after waking up, and 28 percent do so before getting out of bed. Yowzer.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:17 AM
Friday, April 20, 2012
The Atlantic's Megan Garber observes:
What's interesting, though, is what the [tweeters] -- and their thousands of fellow "Who's Dick Clark?" queriers -- did with their ignorance. Rather than do a Google search for "Dick Clark," rather than look him up on Wikipedia, rather than avail themselves of the approximately 5,000 other web-based mechanisms that exist solely to rectify the world's ignorance, these people asked their followers on Twitter.But then Garber argues: "It's easy to make fun of the people who broadcast their ignorance, it's much better to celebrate them. They're a collective reminder that, with the world's knowledge newly at our fingertips, the only thing worse than ignorance is indifference." I'm not so sure. In The American President, Lewis Rothschild (Michael J. Fox) heatedly asserted that people were so thirsty for leadership, "they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) replied: "Lewis ... People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference." That trumps Garber's argument about dumbitude, methinks.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:33 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2012
casting sheet obtained by TMZ specified that the actor playing the African-American car dealer in the Super Bowl Acura commercial with Jerry Seinfeld be "nice looking, friendly, not too dark." Wow. A spokesman for the unidentified ad agency reportedly said that "the skin tone restriction was to avoid problems with lighting and special effects." Uh huh. Right. That's right up there with "some of my best friends are black." Acura later apologized profusely. In the larger scheme of things, this is a trifle. But it speaks volumes about racial mindsets set on auto-pilot from centuries of stereotyping. We've made progress, but we're clearly not home yet. (The headline refers to "Jump Jim Crow," a minstrel song & dance routine done in blackface by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice in 1828.)
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:10 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
“Veep,” by contrast, comes not to justify Caesar but to goose him. It captures our post-Reagan, post-Clinton, post-Bush, 24-hour tabloid news and Internet-haterade dystopia, and reflects our collective queasy ambivalence toward a political system that we fear simply reflects our own shallowness back at us. If “The West Wing” was a fantasy of hyper-competence, “Veep” is its opposite: a black-humor vision of politics at its bleakest, in which both sides have been co-opted by money and special interests and are reduced to posturing, subterfuge, grandstanding and photo ops.She adds, drolly, "Naturally, it’s hilarious." Too bad Veep's portrait of politics today is all too real. And that's not hilarious at all.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 2:47 PM
according to the Washington Post. So NASA, in its infinite bureaucratic wisdom, just waived the charges. They waived $11 million dollars. Right. I wonder why NASA simply couldn't hire a U-Haul truck, have an astronaut back it up to a ramp at the U.S. Mint, and say, "Fill her up, buddy -- and we want new, unmarked bills, too." If we could send a man to the moon, why can't ... oh never mind. Watching how our government works (or doesn't) is almost as amazing as seeing a flyby of the Discovery.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:45 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 9:54 PM
caught cavorting with hookers in Cartagena, Colmbia -- just before President Obama arrived there for the Summit of the Americas. Whoops. This is the part where I could feign umbrage and wryly say: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that
gambling whoring is going on in here!" But I won't. Little in the affairs of mice and men surprises me, least of all when it comes to The Oldest Profession. But I bet more than a few Americans are shocked. We like to think our Men in Black are Immaculate. They are of course mere mortals, prone to temptation like every other guy who habitually thinks with the wrong head. It's embarrassingly clear, too, that our horny heroes are not members of good standing with "Ocean's Eleven," the federal edition. Indeed, one wonders how a crew dumb enough to get caught with their pants down -- literally -- made the cut in the first place. The vast majority of Secret Service agents are fabulous public servants the nation can reply on. The knuckleheads in the spotlight are anomalies. Which brings me to the silver lining of this tale. After this scandal, our wayward agents (assuming they're guilty) will be lucky to find jobs as a Vegas strip club bouncers. Hope the painted ladies were worth it, amigos. Adiós.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 7:24 PM
inventing wearable technology. It's closer to reality than you think. In his NY Times piece, "The Man in the Google Glasses," Ross Douthat contemplates the "sense of isolation that coexists with our technological mastery."
"The Man in the Google Glasses lives alone, in a drab, impersonal apartment. He meets a friend for coffee, but the video cuts away from this live interaction, leaping ahead to the moment when he snaps a photo of some “cool” graffiti and shares it online. He has a significant other, but she’s far enough away that when sunset arrives, he climbs up on a roof and shares it with her via video, while she grins from a window at the bottom of his field of vision. He is, in other words, a characteristic 21st-century American, more electronically networked but more personally isolated than ever before. ... In this kind of world, the Man in the Google Glasses might feel like a king of infinite space. But he’d actually be inhabiting a comfortable, full-service cage."As the future rushes over us, we would be wise to consider the words of poet Thomas Merton: "Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it."
Posted by EJ Perkins at 1:14 PM
Friday, April 13, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 8:27 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 9:49 PM
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:53 AM
Lizzie Borden in 1893. She was acquitted but the case became a cause célèbre. Next came the People v. Hauptmann, the world famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping case in 1935. It became the media template for future courtroom melodramas. The technique was refined "In Cold Blood," the 1959 trial of the two men who murdered a Kansas farm family and the basis for the famed Truman Capote book. The 1970s saw Charles Manson, Lt. William Calley (My Lai Massacre) and the Patty Hearst saga. In 1995, of course, we endured the mother of all murder cases: The People v. Simpson. Since then, we've been subjected to a rogue's gallery of sensational trials: Amanda Knox, the Michael Jackson saga, O.J. Simpson's retrial/conviction and, most recently, the death row case of Troy Davis. Now we can look forward to neurotic coverage of the People v. Zimmerman, assuming he doesn't plead out. And this one, God help us, has the potential to top O.J.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 12:44 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
withdrawal from the race today drew much pablum about his so-called success as an underdog campaigner. Spare me. Santorum, albeit well-meaning, is a Taliban-style theocrat in a sweater vest who believeth what he speaketh. He belongs in a medieval castle (or megachurch) with a moat -- not the Oval Office. Jon Chait rang the bell of reality with his column ("Requiem for a Warm Body") today: "Santorum’s success was entirely the function of his being a Republican not named Romney who happened to be there when every other alternative had either been destroyed by Romney’s money or collapsed on its own." Precisely. There is, however, a downside to Santorum bowing out. We are now condemned to witnessing Mitt Romney's solo act for the next 8 months. Eight. Long. Months. It will be as inspiring as paint drying. But the news media will insist we watch. And it will feel like we're being subjected to the "Ludovico Technique," the fictional aversion therapy (pictured) from the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. Swell.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 9:30 PM
reports: "Kids in the third grade are, on average, eight years old. Nowadays, 20 percent of third-grade boys and 18 percent of third-grade girls already have a cell phone, according to a 2011 study of 20,766 Massachusetts elementary, middle, and high school students. By the time the kids reach fifth grade, 39% of the kids have cell phones, and phone saturation is nearly complete by middle school, when more than 83% of the students have a device." The implications of this may prove benign. Maybe they won't. But today's K-12 set will certainly be different when they grow up, assuming their digital umbilical cords will let them go to do so.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:52 AM
Saturday, April 7, 2012
In his latest screed, he shared with readers what he said he shared with his children about dealing with black-folk in America. I won't dignify his words by reprinting them here. Suffice it to say that Derbyshire advised his kids to avoid "concentrations of blacks," for there perdition supposedly lurks. Adding insult to injury, he rhetorically asked why no black person has ever won the Fields Medals, the prestigious award for Mathematics. This was the wind-up to his pitch that "the mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites." Yeah, he actually went there. Clearly, he couldn't help himself. And he's written trash like this before. "I'm a proud racist," he boasted in 2003.
Derbyshire says his piece wasn't satire -- he called it "social commentary." Whatever it was, the piece still splashed across the Rubicon to opprobriousness. Even National Review editor Rich Lowry disowned him, stating that no one at the magazine shares "Derb's appalling view of what parents supposedly should tell their kids about blacks in this instantly notorious piece here." Fine. But why does "The Derb" still have a job?
It's rare to spot a fully-feathered bigot in the wild, but Derbyshire cleverly hides in plain sight. Most racists are not as bold as he. They are cowards who ply their bigotry in mufti to avoid the spotlight brass-buttoned prejudice swiftly brings, Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding. Derbyshire is no less a coward, but he hides behind his braggadocio.
Derbyshire, 66, is a member of what I call the Lost White Generation, a sub-tribe of the Silent Generation born during WWII (1940 to 1945). LWG'ers learned the parental prejudices of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" well and transplanted them to their own spawn (the Rosemary Babies of Generation X). That is how racism propagates and why it is so insidious. For a pop cultural reference, think Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino. Derbyshire is the scribe equivalent. I have long written off the Derbyshires of the world. Exposed to a perfect storm of cultural brainwashing, apartheid, and bastardized conservatism in their formative years, LWG'ers became ideal receptacles for intolerance. Bigotry is in their bone marrow. No amount of cultural chemotherapy can eradicate it. The sooner they depart from societal relevance, the better.
But all is not lost. Whatever The Derb told his two kids about African Americans, odds are better than even that it didn't take. As children of the 1990s maturing in the Age of Obama (they are now teenagers, 16 and 19), it would not be surprising if they ignored or have since rejected their old man's advice. If we are to break the cycle of bigotry, the task will largely fall to the current generation of kids. On the surface at least, it appears they are doing just that.
POSTSCRIPT: Just after I posted this, the news broke that the National Review fired Derbyshire. I'm glad somebody came to their senses. Sorry Derb -- you lose, asshole.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 6:20 PM
Posted by EJ Perkins at 7:38 AM
Friday, April 6, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 7:32 PM
writes: "Like most things in the tech world today, ubiquitous GPS data is quickly becoming “social”. Of course, a lot of people want their friends to know where they are and what they’re doing at all times; they post it, tweet it, and check-in through FourSquare. But it may not be long before where we live in a world where our smartphone’s will give us the digital equivalent of Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map, where we can examine our environs at any geographical scale to see the exact real-time GPS locations of our friends and family. To be sure, used wisely this technology has the potential to do a lot of good, probably even to save lives. But if information is power, then access to it is only as good as the intentions of the user."
Posted by EJ Perkins at 7:00 PM
Boswell notes that the human brain clings to its native language. If you were born speaking German, but have spoken English fluently for decades, you'll still scream "Feuer!" (fire) if you awaken in a burning house. That probably explains why Herr Tiger -- after a bogey-bogey finish yesterday -- was heard shouting "Verdammt!" (Dammit!) on the 18th hole. (Woods finished at an even-par 72 Thursday in a 16-way tie for 29th place.)
Posted by EJ Perkins at 1:31 PM
lamenting that fact. And every year, the issue is put back into cold storage as soon as the last hole is played. A blow-the-doors-down, Pulitzer-worthy exposé is way overdue. (That's a hint, New York Times.) Meanwhile, "livin' in the high cotton," as they say in the South, continues apace for the rich Good Old Boys. And they're dead set against womenfolk spoiling their fun. Yes, yes -- as a private club, it has the legal right to discriminate. As writers Michael McCarthy and Erik Brady observed in USA Today some years ago, the club is "a golfing version of Yale's Skull and Bones: a secret society of the well-heeled that answers to one. You don't apply for membership. You get called — if you have the right combination of money, influence and friends." And that, one supposes, is the allure for its 300-odd members. Yet, Jim Crow was contemptibly de rigueur until the very late 20th century. Before 1983, the staff caddies assigned to pro players were, yes, all black. Hell, the club couldn't bring itself to admit an African American to its all-alabaster ranks until 1990. Augusta's "No Females" rule -- like its former "No Coloreds" rule -- is archaic, abhorrent and, well, just plain stupid. Then again, so too are more than a few of my fellow brethren. Just ask any woman.
editorial noted that Tampa is taking extra security precautions in the run-up to the Republican National Convention there in August. The Gray Lady writes: "The City Council is sensibly preparing tight security precautions for the downtown area by temporarily banning clubs, hatchets, switchblades, pepper spray, slingshots, chains, shovels and all manner of guns that shoot water, paint or air. But not handguns that shoot actual bullets. In other words, someone outside the convention hall will be entitled to pack a handgun, but not a squirt gun." To answer my headline question, yes, these people are certifiably nuts. Wow.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 1:09 PM
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:25 PM
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:19 AM
grand delusion: "A win in Pennsylvania could in theory jumpstart [Santorum's] campaign, undo the tentative movement we saw toward Romney in Wisconsin ... and give Santorum a boost heading into the final leg of the contest. If that were to pan out, Santorum could argue – plausibly – that his late stage momentum gives him an equally strong moral claim to the nomination as Romney has." And heck, if the stars then align, Santorum could win the nomination, beat that despicable Obama, and become president-king of all the land. Amazing. Why, as Orwell famously asked, is it so hard for some folks "to see what is in front of one's nose?" Andrew Sullivan, too, thinks Cost's scenario for a Santorum comeback is "wildly implausible." About the candidate he writes: "One thing I've learned from watching these things over the years is that once you get a taste of that kind of power, it's very hard to let go." True, but that goes double for pundits.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:09 AM
observes, "the real damage this year was not caused by the candidates; it came from a segment of the Republican electorate, which all too often celebrated ignorance and bigotry and displayed a disturbing appetite for nihilism." So true. But it's worth remembering that these folks represent a minority of Americans, thank Providence.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:05 AM
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:27 PM
thoughtful readers believes "rejection" (not racism) is the driving force behind the putrid Republican animus toward President Obama. "This is how they felt in 2008. They didn't hate Obama because he's black; they resented him because he was beloved. The nation had fallen in love, and it wasn't with them," he wrote. Interesting. I remain convinced that racism -- the largely unconscious but deeply cultural kind borne of a sad historical legacy that plagues us still (see the Trayvon Martin case) -- plays a central role in the hatred of Mr. Obama by white, mostly over 50, conservatives. That said, the reader (who, like many well-intentioned and unbiased whites, is in denial about the racial factor, I think) still has a point well worth pondering.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 11:54 AM
writes: "The Republican presidential-nomination contest is now effectively over, and the general election has begun. ... If you thought the Republican nomination tussle was sickeningly, deplorably, appallingly ugly, I have just five words of advice: Avert your eyes now, people." I, for one, intend to, all the way to November if possible.
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:45 AM
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:29 AM
Posted by EJ Perkins at 10:11 AM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Posted by EJ Perkins at 8:26 PM
Sunday, April 1, 2012
prank Mitt Romney's staff pulled on their boss -- loud yawn -- doesn't count). I made a vain attempt to unearth some new fruit, but found the digital grounds to be as barren and frozen as Callista Gingrich's smile. That cheap shot aside, I got nothin'. Though there are competing theories about the origins of All Fools' Day, no one actually knows. And I expect we never will. We do know, however, that the earliest extant record associating April 1 with foolishness is found in "The Nun's Priest's Tale," one of Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales (1392).
The relevant lines are:
The relevant lines are:
Syn March was gon, thritty dayes and two,Which roughly means trickery would befall the character Chauntecleer on April 1 (i.e., March 30 + 2). And with that, I'll end my own tomfoolery fiddling with this silly topic.
[Since March had gone, thirty days and two]
Bifel that Chauntecleer in al his pryde
[Befell that Chauntecleer in all his pride]
Posted by EJ Perkins at 5:34 PM