Everyone wants to know how Northwest Flight 188 managed to overfly Minneapolis by a hundred and fifty goddamn miles. The FAA is all like, "The pilots were sleeping," and the pilots are all like, "We were embroiled in a serious discussion of the coterminousness of God and nature," or some shit, but me, I just think the two of them were fucking.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Let me just say that I can't remember looking forward to a regular-season game as much as I'm looking forward to the Steelers-Vikings pile-up this Sunday. Which is to say, poised between elation and despair. To be a true Steelers fan is to live in perpetual agony, fully believing the league, Chris Collinsworth, and all the football deities stacked against you, whatever your actual record or fortunes. Only in Pittsburgh could a number three-ranked total defense appear as a disappointment; only in Pittsburgh can the boys at Kelly's Korner lament the stupendous performance of this year's top-five offense; only in Pittsburgh can you still grumble about Ben Roethlisberger and the Steeler pass, which currently sits second only to the superhuman Colts air game. But perhaps a bit of an inferiority complex provides discipline, and if there's an appreciable difference between this squad and the 8-8 defending champs of Bill Cowher's final year, it's that these guys seem to be playing as if they've got something to prove.
There are worrisome spots. Turnovers, obviously, and some poor special teams work (although Stefan Logan as a return man continues to impress, playing very smart ball for such a new player). Although Mendenhall so far seems to be a great back and a real complement to the passing game, OC Bruce Arians, always a few yards short of a full field if you ask me, seems intent on giving the disappointing Willie Parker some touches. (Pittsburgh despises Fast Willie right now, which, I think, is a bit unfair: he's a marvelous natural athlete; he's just not a great football player. And of course, no one is The Bus.) The pass defense has suffered without Polamalu, and the smart money doubts he's quite the 100% player the organization wants you to believe him to be, but even at three-quarter strength he's just a monster on the field. The pass rush started cold this year, but has seriously picked up over the last few games. Hines Ward continues to be one of the best, if not the best, near-field receivers in recent memory, and holy shit! dude leads the league by total yards.
I like the odds on this one, though I suspect it'll be a brawl. The Vikings are tough and resilient, and whatever you want to say about the guy (nothing good, here), Farve clearly knows how to lead a team and win games. Their D-line is fantastic, and Ben does like to hold onto that football. Still. Sunday looks to be another perfect fall day in Pittsburgh. Steelers, 21-17.
By the way, I happened upon this rare archival footage of Doc Krugman delivering his Nobel lecture:
Anyway, a few days back, the inimitable Owin' Pain caught the Scarecrow of the Fed yipping about something or other. Fortunately, OP was able to translate the Bernakular for us. Now, the Krugman agrees with Maestro Paine: we need a weaker dollar! And he knows just who to blame.
The Red Chinese! The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with ourselves, but with the stars!
This kind of transparent buck-passing, you'll pardon the expression, is the general strategy of Prog mouthpieces who ever sing the righteous tunes while never . . . delivering. America's strong-dollar policy is just as much to blame. Kruggo thinks the damn Chinamen are swiping subsistence cents from the rest of the world's poor, but from the average Chinese's perspective, things can't be all that bad. Sure, the environment's a mess, but they're beating 8% a year in economic grown. Eight percent! Meanwhile the Obama gang dithers on whether or not to cut bonuses at our several recently acquired State Banks.
Hey, let the Eurozone absorb the higher unemployment of holding an overvalued reserve currency. Fuckers have welfare and shit. A fiddy-cent dollar would do nicely for the farms and factories. Meanwhile, though I do love me some French cheeses, I could get by on Amish, and since I buy my lamb local, it's no skin off my faggot ass if imports go through the roof. Buy local, bitches, and burn the New York Times for heat.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
America. Though we never tire of haranguing other countries, cf. Russia, Iran, etc., for the unpardonable crime of interfering in the politics and behaviors of those nations that sit in close proximity to them, we also never tire of telling other nations to interfere in the politics and behaviors of those nations that sit in close proximity to them. It's like the pot calling the kettle and asking it to reverse the charges and then yelling "You're black!" and then shooting the kettle in the head and then blowing up the moon! Hurrah.
“Twenty years ago, the world watched in awe and admiration as the men and women of this region broke the shackles of repression and emerged a free people,” Mr. Biden said in the auditorium of the rebuilt library. Now, he said, Romania and its neighbors must help countries like Armenia and Azerbaijan to develop their own democracies. “You delivered on the promise of your revolution. You are now in a position to help others do the same.”Now. You may be asking yourself, What in the world can Romania do to make Azerbaijan a democracy? Well, Azerbaijan is already sort of a democracy, and the Romanian government fell last week after a Parliamentary vote of No Confidence, so, for the moment, nothing! But maybe when they form a new coalition, they can invade, or something.
Armenia is also a practicing, if flawed democracy. You know, it goes to elections, but not every Sunday, and it's been a while since it was totally free and fair. And all of this raises the question of how many times Joe Biden can eat his own foot, pass it through his GI track, shit it out, and eat it again, before the tightening knot of his extraordinary feat of Ouroboran malapropism actually cuts him in half and spills his steaming guts all over the dais.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Added to blogroll, The Existence Machine, particularly on the strength of this excellent post on the inimitable Coetzee.
Update: Also, stump lane, by our very own Montag, not because he asked, but because we sometimes require a little reminding.
Wilkinson, Avent, and Yglesias are all talking about how to fix climate change. (You can find it all via Will's post here.) Some of the things they say are interesting. Let me just say this about that, however. I believe in climate change. I believe that the preponderence of evidence supports the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to a warming trend, that even if humans are not the sole proximate cause of global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it, our activities are an immensely significant catalyst at the very least. I also believe that there is fuck-all to be done about it. Let's all emit only what we did in 1985. Hurrah! We are still fucked, one way or other. I believe that developping new means of producing power that do not rely on carbon combustion is an admirable goal that will be more effectively sped along by the diminishing ability of our species to extract carbon fuel from the ground and the resultant crisis of production, not by concerns about changes in the environment, however we might try to legislate against them. I believe that substantial climate change occuring with extreme rapidity on the geologic time scale is inevitable. If human ingenuity is required, it is not to avoid melting ice caps and rising sea levels and the diminishment of the Gulf Stream and so on and so forth; it is to figure out how to live with them.
So here is a fairly prototypical Friedman column. Tom goes to meet Name You Might Recognize. Tom meets Businessman who extols neoliberalism in jargony aphorism. Tom relates anecdote about A Friend. Tom gets Ivy League Social Scientist to install sound bite. Tom says We need Education. Exit, pursued by iPhone. Along the way, Tom manages to totally misconstrue what his Harvard interlocutor is saying:
As the Harvard University labor expert Lawrence Katz explains it: “If you think about the labor market today, the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great. But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly. They’ve been much more exposed to global competitors that make them easily substitutable.”This is in fact so elementary an error of interpretation that it would never have made a publication with copy editors. Katz cites the top half of the college market. A mere paragraph later, Friedman cites the bottom half: "high school grads in construction or manufacturing." Were you listening to the dude's story?
Those at the high end of the bottom half — high school grads in construction or manufacturing — have been clobbered by global competition and immigration, added Katz. “But those who have some interpersonal skills — the salesperson who can deal with customers face to face or the home contractor who can help you redesign your kitchen without going to an architect — have done well.”
Tellingly, no one seems much interested in the fact that an industrial economy is by necessity pyramidal, that not everyone can be a inventor (or innovator, as goes the preferred neologism) or CEO. You know, even in the Imaginarium of Doctress Rand, it is taken as given that the Atlases of the world must at some point employ and direct the debased lumpenproletariat; there are no illusions that every man is a genius. Indeed, the economy whose passing Friedman perhaps mourns too soon, for from my seat it appears to be sputtering along as before, only at a more modest clip, was not simply a Housing Bubble economy or a Financial Speculation Economy; it was a middle management economy, in which productive labor, accomplished elsewhere and more cheaply, was replaced in the employment world by the bullshit white-collar pseudojobs with which so many of you, reading blogs in the middle of the workday, are surely familiar. Such people were never actually doing much, regardless of their level of educational achievement, and because their jobs were, are, and will forever be extraneous, they are easily cut without the need ever to be replaced.
Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be. As Daniel Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind,” puts it: In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top. So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.Friedman, ever the infelicitous metaphorist, royally fucks the goat on this one. Consider what this strange ice-cream-ism actually propounds: that when the actual substance of the thing is faulty, cover it up! The salad that is the American labor force is wilted. Just add dressing!
Bottom line: We’re not going back to the good old days without fixing our schools as well as our banks.
Entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity are lovely words, but they cannot be taught, less yet can they be taught to students who cannot read, write, or add. Nor, in any event, does it make much sense to realign our national program of attempted-indoctrinated self-esteem and civic ignorance, i.e. public education, with the impossible conviction that every single American should own his own business, which uniquely produces the sole example of its own productorservice. In the world. Forever. Because of The Children. You cannot run a society of three hundred million people by requiring that each either invent the iPod or remain broke forever. Which rather brings up a tangential but dearly held point for the whole gang here at Who Is IOZ? Namely:
You cannot run a society of three hundred million people.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Hey, uh, btw, wut evr hapNd 2 the freedumb twr, k thnx?
Oh, no, David Brooks! Um, Homer wasn't a philosopher. Homer was a poet. Homer was an oral poet. All those rosy-fingered dawns and wine-dark seas and cunning Ulysseseseses . . . those were to help him remember the words. You're out of your element.
Seriously. What the hell philosopher is Brooks talking about? "The philosopher’s view is shaped like a funnel. At the bottom, there is a narrow thing called character. And at the top, the wide ways it expresses itself." Ah yes, I recall in the Tractatus, when Wittgenstein elucidates his oft-quoted seventh proposition: Where, or of what, one cannot speak, one pours into a funnel.
David Brooks, if nothing else, proves Pope's adage about a little learning. When he abandons his milquetoast ramblings on coastal Republicans who shop at Williams Sonoma and Appalachian Democrats who prefer Dunkin Donuts, or, you know, whatever, and sallies forth into the Great Books curriculum like a punch-drunk Quixote clutching an extra-large bottle of Tussin in his lance-hand, the Western canon, whatever it may be, better duck and cover. He has read widely, but seems to lack context entirely, and so, for example, he has confused the epic for the philosophical, synechdoche for proposition, metonym for definition.
UPDATE: Looks like Prof Crispy and I were reading the same papers ce matin.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Since the United States spent many years blaming Iran for every cough and sneeze in Iraq, there is a certain poetic chiasmus in Iran now blaming the United States (and Britain) for the recent suicide attack against the Revolutionary Guard. Glenn Greenwald found a report from 2005 claiming that the United States was, in fact, funding Jundallah, a Baluchi Sunni group claiming responsibility, noting however that Brian Ross, the creature responsible for the story, is not exactly known for accuracy. (Indeed, "The Secret War Against Iran" is not exactly unsensational.) That said, America has been canoodling with all sorts of Sunni groups in the area recently and has, in fact, made such marriages of convenience the centerpiece of its Mid-Eastern policy. Do I believe that the Iranian regime is somehow more sincere in its condemnation of American subornation than America was and is in its commensurate accusations? Not as far as I can spit. But, you know, what goes around, comes around.