The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

CW: No idea why the picture is teeny-tiny.

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

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This section is kaput. I will leave it up for several weeks or a month so you can retrieve any of your old comments you want to save for your posterity. See the Commentariat for additional information. -- Constant Weader

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Saturday
Nov192011

November 19 & 20 -- Open Thread

The floor is yours.

CW Request: The other day I asked JJG08, who has been commenting here for some time, to finally let us know his first name. Maybe because I'm not good at math, I find it awkward to communicate with a number. It would have been fine for him to just make up a name, of course. How would we know, anyway? JJG08 has chosen not to comply with my request, so please help me choose a numberless name for him. No disparaging epithets, please, but you get points for humor. JJG08 will get bonus points for any suggestions he makes.

The audio is better on this one, but no video:


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Friday
Nov182011

November 18 -- The Cost of College

If Americans are so anti-intellectual -- and getting more so -- why does the cost of higher education keep going up (much faster than the rate of inflation)? Is this a paradox or self-explanatory?

We need a leader, not a reader. -- Herman Cain, Anti-Intellectual-in-Chief

Write on this or something else.

P.S. For an excellent explanation of what the Occupy movement is all about, please read Isaiah Earhart's comment/essay in yesterday's Off Times Square thread. ...

... Here's the Seattle Times' report on Occupy Seattle: "Hundreds of demonstrators marched onto Seattle's University Bridge on Thursday, snarling traffic during the evening rush hour in one of several rallies nationwide for 'Jobs Not Cuts.' Seattle police escorted the group from the University of Washington to the University Bridge, and later reported there had been no conflicts in what they termed 'the peaceful demonstrations.'"

Wednesday
Nov162011

November 16 & 17 -- How Now, Occupy?

Now that several cities, including New York, Oakland, Portland & Denver, have removed Occupy encampments from their public or quasi-public squares, and it appears courts will uphold the "evictions," what should the Occupy movement's strategy be? How should it maintain a presence if it can't maintain a round-the-clock physical presence?


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Tuesday
Nov152011

November 15 -- Day of the Newt

Public Policy Polling: "Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in PPP's national polling. He's at 28% to 25% for Herman Cain and 18% for Mitt Romney. The rest of the Republican field is increasingly looking like a bunch of also rans: Rick Perry is at 6%, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum each at 1%."

CW: This report seems so preposterous, that I am at a loss to comment. If you'd like to reaquaint yourself with the newly-popular Georgia State Salamander, this profile by John Richardson, published in Esquire in August 2010, is a worthy classic. And here's a piece by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times on the lovely Mrs. Tiffany Gingrich.

I leave it to you to glean the significance of the Day of the Newt.

Update. Michael Tomasky, writing in the Daily Beast, has the same take I have. He even uses the same adjective: "preposterous": "The idea that he’s a serious presidential candidate is preposterous. Even if he were the nominee..., he’d say crazy things. He’d reignite the whole Obama-is-a-Kenyan-anticolonialist business.... He’d be a disaster.... The guy has more baggage than a Stones tour.... Poll respondents probably don’t remember the government shutdown or even have any idea it ever happened. They’re also probably not quite fully aware that his wife is his ex-mistress, the woman with whom he was committing infidelity at precisely the same moment he was baying that Bill Clinton had driven America to ruination by doing the same."

CW P.S. Far be it from me to shy away from promoting myself, so if you don't read the Commentariat, you missed this: 

Since I'm boycotting the New York Times comments, I've found a new venue for my comments on Times op-ed columns: the New York Times eXaminer. Please consider becoming a NYTX subscriber. My comment on David Brooks' column is here. The lede paragraph:

If you think you’re better than Joe Paterno, you’re vain. So says David Brooks in today’s New York Times op-ed section. Brooks turns to science and history to explain away Penn State head coach Joe Paterno’s failure to stop one of his coaches, Jerry Sandusky, from serially raping young boys.... To make his case, Brooks lumps assistant coach Mike McQueary in with Paterno.... False equivalencies are Brooks’ specialty, so let’s see how this one works.


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Monday
Nov142011

November 14 -- POTUS for a Day

You’re President of the United States for a Day & are allowed to make one executive decision which neither the Congress nor the Supreme Court can rescind. When PBS News' Jim Lehrer was asked a similar question, he answered, "Mandate national service — military or civil — for all able-bodied Americans of all ages and genders."

What would you do? (And no cheaty answers like "Make myself Dictator for Life.")


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Saturday
Nov122011

November 12 & 13 -- Open Thread

This week we got philosophical, and the result was some unusually fabulous comments. You might want to riff off one or more of them. Or whatever.

I think this is the bar graph JJG08 refers to in his comment:


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Friday
Nov112011

November 11 -- Tribalism

Over the past few days we've been talking about our concepts of citizenship and patriotism. In one comment, Akhilleus wrote about how patriotism evolved from primitive tribalism and how we're seeing that same sort of primitivism in today's conservative clique.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has been focused on Pennsylvania, where the State Attorney General charged Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky with 40 counts of sex crimes against eight young boys. A number of the incidents took place in the Penn State locker room. Penn State employees observed two rapes. Penn State officials (two of whom have been charged with perjury), including head coach Joe Paterno and University president Graham Spanier, both of whom the university trustees fired Wednesday, were aware of at least one instance of abuse (Paterno & Spanier claim not to have known the abuse was sodomy) and did somewhere between nothing and next to nothing about it. A huge contingent of the student body rioted, not in outrage over the rape of children and the ensuing coverup, but over the firing of Paterno. There's much more on this continuing story linked in today's Commentariat.

In this essay, Tod Kelly, writing in the League or Ordinary Gentlemen, brings together those two threads -- our discussion and the Penn State scandal & riot: "When you see these kinds of reactions in the face of such a horrific crime, it’s easy to see how ... tribalism-based denial can lead to the circumstances that allowed the crimes to occur in the first place." Kelly sees the thread of tribalism running through the irrational support for Bill Clinton, Rick Perry, Herman Cain & Joe Paterno.

(Also helpful: the New York Times eXaminer interview of Prof. Henry Giroux. [audio])

What do you think?

Thursday
Nov102011

November 10 -- Plato

Prof. Gary Gutting, relying on Plato's “Republic,” which describes "five types of government -- aristocracy (rule by the 'best', that is, by experts specially trained at governance), timarchy (rule by those guided by their courage and sense of honor), oligarchy (rule by a wealthy minority), democracy (rule by the people as a whole—a “mob” as Plato saw it), and tyranny (rule by a despot answerable to no one but himself) -- notes that the U.S. incorporates all five types. Gutting says, "Current calls for 'less government' actually mean less power for elected leaders and for the bureaucracies that serve them and more power for the 'oligarchy' of millionaires and corporations. Such calls also imply less power for the people (the democratic element), since, while elected leaders are directly responsible to those who vote, those whose power is based on wealth are not." CW: this is a little philosophical something the rank-and-file of the Tea Party have not figured out. You can bet the Koch brothers have.

What do you think about that?


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Wednesday
Nov092011

November 9 -- Patriotism

At the end of a comment to the November 7 thread on citizenship, Fred Drumlevitch wrote,

I raise the question for which I will undoubtedly be criticized: to what extent should we even believe in patriotism, which I consider a non-rationally-based pride and love of country. I would say that if one's country operates properly, then it certainly deserves a measure of admiration, loyalty, and service. But if it doesn't behave properly, then it doesn't deserve and shouldn't expect it.

What do you think? Of course you may disagree with Drumlevitch, but please do not criticize him personally (or I'll have to zap your comment!). He raises a valid philosophical question: is "patriotism" a virtue? Why or why not?


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Monday
Nov072011

November 8 -- On Strike!

I'm on strike today, so you're on your own. Updates to the Commentariat will be sporadic, at best.


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Sunday
Nov062011

November 7 -- Should We Have to Earn Citizenship?

n a comment at the end of yesterday's thread, Zee posed a question that's worth exploring. Here is his comment, somewhat abbreviated:

William Galston [in a New York Times op-ed] suggesting that voting should be made mandatory in the U.S. Galston touts the “effectiveness” of mandatory voting in the nation that may be our closest cultural relative, Australia....

I’d like to stand Galston’s argument on its head and ask if voting rights--effectively, citizenship -- should be earned rather than a simple birthright....

In the book “Starship Troopers,” [Robert A.] Heinlein effectively proposed that citizenship -- and the right to vote -- should be earned by a brief period of service to the state.... As I recall, this service to the state (For a period of two years?) did not need to be service in the military; it could be teaching, janitorial work, hospital worker, ANY service that the state needed. And no matter how physically handicapped the aspiring “citizen,” the state HAD to find her/him some kind of suitable work that would allow him/her to earn citizenship....

Would we have a more “responsible” citizenry and a more effective government if we were to REQUIRE of our citizens that they CARE enough about our society to commit their time and talents to brief state service before “earning” citizenship? ...

Imagine how we might apply this problem to, say, illegal immigration, and all the problems associated with it. Want to be a U.S. citizen? Fine. Sign up for two years of paid service to the state--not necessarily in the military--and you’re in as a voting citizen.


What do you think?

Saturday
Nov052011

November 5 -- Guy Fawkes Day

... AND NOVEMBER 6

We'll call this another Open Thread Weekend, though there's this to think about:

Candice Choi of the AP: "It's moving day for bank customers. A grassroots movement that sprang to life last month is urging bank customers to close their accounts in favor of credit unions by Saturday. The spirit behind 'Bank Transfer Day' caught fire with the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country and had more than 79,000 supporters on its Facebook page as of Friday. The movement has already helped beat back Bank of America's plan to start charging a $5 debit card fee."

... Stuart Pfeifer & E. Scott Reckard of the Los Angeles Times: When Kristen Christian [of Echo Park, California,] learned that Bank of America Corp. planned to charge her a $5 monthly debit card fee, she did what many people do these days when they get mad: She ranted on Facebook. What followed was an illustration of the power of social media. Her Facebook post urging friends to abandon big banks unwittingly blossomed into a national campaign." Here's Christian's Bank Transfer Day event page.

BUT. Simon Van Zuylen-Wood of The New Republic: unless you're carrying an average balance in the neighborhood of $25,000 or above, the big banks will be happy to see you go; you've turned into a liability. Thanks to Haley S. for the link.

CW: I have a bright idea to mitigate the problem Van Zuylen-Wood highlights. I just don't have time to carry it out.


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