Maiello: Where Your Tax Dollars Go
Doc Cleveland: Copyright vs. Truth
Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has a bold plan. He hopes to single-handedly revive America's comatose gun-control movement with a $50 million cash infusion and a fresh political strategy. He has money, connections, and an astute appreciation for what it will take to counter the gun-rights mania that has hijacked national politics. Too bad he's not the guy to pull it off. [Read more]
I had high hopes for this op-ed called "Freedom to Offend Everyone" but Nesrine Malik has completely confirmed my otherwise irrational belief that non-Americans don't understand how freedom of expression works at all, ever, in any context. Malik concludes, wrongly:
"Those who fancy themselves defenders of free speech must be consistent in their absolutism, and stand up for offensive speech no matter who is the target." [Read more]
One lesson of this tale is that capitalism doesn’t really work when it relies on the profit motive alone. If everybody is just chasing material self-interest, the invisible hand won’t lead to well-functioning markets. It will just lead to arrangements in which market insiders take advantage of everybody else. Capitalism requires the full range of motivation, including the intrinsic drive for knowledge and fairness.
This is the reasonable sounding "just getting started" paragraph, but you no doubt see the problem... [Read more]
I don't know God personally, of course, but it's a good bet He isn't looking kindly upon His follower, Tristan Emmanuel, who was out there defending His Good Name by calling for the flogging or hanging of a comedian (a comedian) because this "pugnacious degenerate" made some jokes about God and the proven nature of His wrath. (Proven, I should mention, because the Old Testament is full of stories about a God who is just scary angry. It's all in there.)
The family of the poet Ted Hughes has just "withdrawn permission" for Hughes's biographer to quote from his papers and letters, including papers and letters that the family has already sold to the British Library. The biographer, who's been working on this book for years, has already read those papers. He knows what's in them. But he is no longer allowed to tell us what he knows. How can this be? Copyright law.
Brendan Eich was appointed CEO of Mozilla, his donation in support of Prop 8, a proposed anti-same sex marriage in California came to light, many Mozilla employees and users loudly objected to the boss's politics and Eich stepped down. [Read more]
Today, Mark Zuckerberg took some of the money raised in Facebook's IPO and used it to buy the immersive experience of Oculus, something of an iPad that you jam onto your face so that you can wander around in your own personal Holodeck. That's right, I'm old and this technology scares me. What's next, laser swords? [Read more]
Working for someone else, fingers to the bone with no expectation of decent wages or a foothold on the ladder, is back in vogue here in America. Even your big deal congresspersons will tell you that. There are no greater patriots than the country's laborers, and the very, very finest--the finest patriots of all--are those who have no use for unions. The best patriot/workers understand that in America it's All for One and None for All.
The one somewhat decent idea I had during theatre history class many years ago was that Aristotle's Poetics had managed to identify nothing more than a Tragic Mean and that if a writer followed Aristotle's rules perfectly they were more likely to write something average than remarkable. Around this time I was also taking a lot of writing classes and reading books by people who offered structural advice for writers -- it was all based on Aristotle, though updated. Aristotle told us what all the memorable Greek tragedies had in common. Syd Field told us what all of the Hollywood blockbusters had in common. Art is about knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them. [Read more]
A couple of years back I started writing a bunch of short sketches where old stories, with some of the old tropes, found themselves recast in modern times. It all ended with Troy! Troy! Troy! a retelling of the Trojan War with the twist that faulty intelligence led the Greeks to invade Troy only to wind up in a quagmire after learning that Helen was never there. As it turns out, Euripides beat me to this premise by a rather long margin. [Read more]
We have reached the point where the CIA is publicly bucking the right of the Senate Intelligence committee to oversee it. If even half of the charges in Amy Davidson's superb piece are true, the CIA has become totally unmoored and no longer seems even to acknowledge the idea that it has to answer to our elected officials. But you don't have to believe Davidson, or even Dianne Feinstein, to read CIA director John O. Brennan's public statements. [Read more]
WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 42,000 scientists across the globe - including such luminaries as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking - have been arrested for hour laundering in a world-wide sting, sources say.
"They got them all, finally," said the source. "Finally, this terror ends." [Read more]
For years now, my spouse and I have had what academics call the "two-body problem": two careers at two universities in two places. It's a common problem for our professional generation, and we have an easier version of it than most. My spouse (the more accomplished blogger Flavia) works at a school about 250 miles away from mine. We maintain two homes and commute between them. We have been lucky that we are not farther apart, and that we can travel by car rather than plane. But like most of our generation, we have had no visible or easy solution for our problem. [Read more]
Paul Ryan took to the podium at CPAC on Thursday and did not disappoint those of us waiting to pick at the lies this duly elected government official must tell in order to remind us all that our government --the very same government he volunteered to be a part of; the very same government that pays him a handsome salary and will give him lifelong perks--has been infiltrated so thoroughly by the socialists (that's us) huge chunks of it must be eradicated and the spoils turned over immediately to the only saviors who have our best interests at heart--the privateers. (Why does Paul Ryan lie? Because he's Paul Ryan and that's what Paul Ryan does and does and does.)
Here's a portion of what he said:
"The way I see it, let the other side be the party of personalities. We’ll be the party of ideas. And I’m optimistic about our chances—because the Left? The Left isn’t just out of ideas. It’s out of touch. Take Obamacare. We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. [We do?] And the Left thinks this is a good thing. [They do?] They say, “Hey, this is a new freedom—the freedom not to work.” [Who says that? Lemme at em!] But I don’t think the problem is too many people are working—I think the problem is not enough people can find work. [ Now you're talking] And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. [Yeah, that's what we've been saying ever since you guys came up with that crazy outsourcing idea] So the Left is making a big mistake here. [They are?] What they’re offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. [Okay, now--what?] The American people want more than that."
So then he went on to explain that remark about the full stomach and the empty soul:
"This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my friend Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him."
Now, I know I'm not the only one to sit up and take notice over that one. It's been all over the place. But the emphasis from most corners has been on Paul Ryan's misuse of an anecdote that was lifted initially by Eloise Anderson, Scott Walker's appointee to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, who skewed the story to serve her own purposes after apparently finding something somewhat similar in Laura Schroff's book, An Invisible Thread.
I don't care where it came from. I don't care that Paul Ryan was careless about the source. What grinds me most about this are these words out of Paul Ryan's mouth:
She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.
This is a representative of our government shaming poor people. This is a man of privilege--a man who never hesitates to vote against safety-net programs designed to pull underprivileged people up and out and on their own; a man who, through his own "Ryan Budget", offered up huge cuts to the safety nets in order to give more to the rich and to the military--shaming poor parents by telling them their own children don't want a free lunch.
He told a crowd--and the rest of us by extension via TV cameras--that poor kids are ashamed of their parents, that poor parents who accept government aid ought to be ashamed, and that we on the left are guilty of encouraging that kind of behavior:
"That’s what the Left just doesn’t understand. We don’t want people to leave the workforce; we want them to share their skills and talents with the rest of us. And people don’t just want a life of comfort; they want a life of dignity—of self-determination. A life of equal outcomes is not nearly as enriching as a life of equal opportunity."
This is what Paul Ryan does, and why he is so dangerous. A quick reading of that quote above has everybody nodding their heads. Skills! Talents! Dignity! Self-determination! Equal opportunity!
But what he's really doing is equating essential programs like welfare and SNAP to "a life of comfort". He's suggesting poor people are poor because they like it that way. A "life of dignity" means getting out from under the government wing and going it alone. "Self-determination" means you brought this on yourself.
The "Brown bag" story means stop using your kids as pawns in order to get people to feel sorry for you and give you stuff.
And, oh, by the way, get a job. (But good luck with that, since the dreaded Obamacare just killed that avenue for you, too. The theory goes that employers hate the idea of Obamacare so much they're cutting their workforce in order to show how much they hate it. The insurance companies thank them very much.)
This is Paul Ryan. He is wildly successful. We pay him, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to his other income sources. We will give him health and retirement benefits for the rest of his life--not that he needs us to pay for them. We've given him the power, as a representative of the people, to use this public platform and he uses it to screw the least of us.
If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's this: Live with it.
...it is real and Ms. and Mr. Destor did it. On the news.