Why A Recession Could Be a Good Thing

Amanda Marcott has a great little post at Pandagon regarding the looming economic downturn. She makes a solid point that I had yet to consider:

I hear that our economy is on a downturn and the government is going to give us money to make it right. What I say is that the economy has been on a downturn, and it wasn’t until the very wealthy saw their extreme wealth threatened that we saw any action on it.

The irony is this: The fix for our problems is actually pretty simple. Capitalism per se is not the problem. In its place, it’s a good thing. But we need the basics to be made into public property—access to nutritious food, housing, health care, day care—and we need to get our capitalist system out of short-term thinking. We need to make it unreasonable and unprofitable to gamble on third world debt and the way it can be used to manipulate foreign currency. We need to make capitalism capitalistic again, i.e. return the risk to it, instead of offering huge government bailouts to save its failures. And we need high marginal tax rates to encourage capitalists to make long term investments instead of the short term investments that rule our culture.

While I disagree that Capitalism isn’t the problem (as someone in the comments at Pandagon pointed out, forcing working class and lower middle class people into subsistence living with no social safety net is a feature of Capitalism, not a bug) I do agree that the Economic Downturn* has been underway for a while and it’s only now that we’re hearing about it because it’s suddenly affecting the wealthy, who thought that their wildly inflated housing prices would somehow insulate them form the cruel realities of Alan Greenspan’s Invisible Hand job.

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Oh, Too Bad!

Sorry but Impeachment for illegal wars started by bad or negligent Intel has a minimum lie requirement of 1000. Lieing about blowjobs? One will do nicely, thanks. If only he had lied 65 more times, then maybe we could do something about it but since George W. Bush and his gang only told 935 lies that led us into war, it doesn’t really count. Missed that magic threshold by this much (holds thumb and finger just barely apart).

Why So Sad?

I don’t envy the PR folk and actors like Christian Bale who will have to spend the next six months advertising a movie under the gargantuan shadow of Heath Ledger’s death . That said film is about a psychotic killer clown and the man dressed as a bat who stops him doesn’t help any.

Ten Things I Hate About You was probably the first movie I saw Heath Ledger in. Not the greatest bit of modernized Shakespeare around but an entertaining movie. The highly underrated but entertaining A Knight’s Tale was probably his first standout performance. Of course Brokeback Mountain , will be what we remember as his finest work. Look for mention of it at the Oscars, if there are Oscars, this year.

There’s no noble way to confront the harsh realities of existence. Money, fame and talent don’t necessarily ease the pain of having to confront your personal demons and while every one of us has stared down the idea of death before, most of us find something to believe in that makes going on worth it, at least for a little while. It’s unfortunate that his work as an actor, which was well regarded, or his young daughter were not enough to ease the pain. But then, none of us can know what pressures he really faced and who can say in the same circumstances we wouldn’t choose the same route? Drugs don’t make the pain go away, they just keep them at arm’s length long enough for a moment of respite. But if you get in the habit of keeping your fears that close at hand and not confronting them, they’ll just sit on your chest like the nightmare imp in a Fuseli painting, staring at you until you cave in just a little more.

If there’s some pain that haunts you, find someone to talk to about it. Your wife, boy friend, sibling, friend. Anyone who cares. They’ll listen and maybe talking about it will be just enough to go on.

I Dream Of None Of The Above

I had a dream last night: November 2nd came around and by a landslide decision, None of the Above won the Presidential election.

The way it happened was this:

With the writer’s strike on, there was nothing good on Television. In an effort to fill the void left by their unfulfilled dreams, strangled ambitions and the general ennui of 21st century American life, the Television Viewing Public turned to Politics in search of something to watch. Everyone was horrified. Who were these slack jawed yokels, belligerent Jesus freaks and spineless sympathizers of the overfed and mentally malnourished? This is what we had to choose form for President of these here United States?

So a movement began. It was simple: Come November 2nd, vote for None of the Above. When None won the majority, we were forced to throw out this gang of bozos and find some real humans to elect, and fast. While the Parties That Be scrambled to slap a new coat of paint on the same old turd that they had been trying to sell us before, a handful of dedicated citizens stepped forward and decided to take one for the team. They weren’t rich or famous or known for being known. one was a school teacher from Baltimore and another a plumber form Queens. A small businessman who ran a corner grocery store in Cincinnati and an artist from San Fransisco raised their hands and said they’d give it a try.

With only two weeks to throw together an election, the New Candidates met in public squares and on the Internet to debate in a real life, substantial way and figure out what the American People wanted done and how to do it. They disagreed on a few ways and means but it soon became clear, whichever of these candidates eventually won, we would all be better of fhaving someone who was there to do a job in four or eight years and then go about their lives, rather than turn the country over once again to the professional class of chowder heads and Machiavellian dingbats with fake smiles and plastic hair.

The School Teacher won president and the Artist, Vice President. As a concession to some of his good ideas, the Grocer from Cincinnati was made secretary of the Interior and the plumber became Secretary of state. They didn’t have any experience doing anything but living. But that was enough.

and so, the New Candidates took their turn at running the country. Win or loose, everyone was confident that at least they wouldn’t be as bad as those idiots we almost elected.

Hay You Kids, Get On My Lawn!

Stephen Fry on the much vaunted Web 2.0 and it’s Social Networking Voodoo:

I am old enough to remember Prestel and the original bulletin boards and “commercial online services” Prodigy, CompuServe and America Online. These were closed communities. You paid a subscription, dialled in and connected. You made new friends and you chatted in “rooms” designated for the purpose according to special interests, hobbies and propensities. CompuServe and AOL were shockingly late to add what was called an “internet ramp” in the 90s. This allowed those who dialled up to go beyond the confines of the provider’s area and explore the strange new world of the internet unsupervised.

[…] My point is this: what an irony! For what is this much-trumpeted social networking but an escape back into that world of the closed online service of 15 or 20 years ago? Is it part of some deep human instinct that we take an organism as open and wild and free as the internet, and wish then to divide it into citadels, into closed-border republics and independent city states? The systole and diastole of history has us opening and closing like a flower: escaping our fortresses and enclosures into the open fields, and then building hedges, villages and cities in which to imprison ourselves again before repeating the process once more. The internet seems to be following this pattern.

If MySpace and Facebook are the walled in citidel’s, I suppose blogs (at least this one) are the equivalent of the tumble-down shack in the woods with the weird, creepy person standing on the porch, ranting into the wilderness, heard only by the odd passing stranger or concerned friend who, like Red Riding Hood, comes by fortnightly to see if we’ve been devoured by some wolf yet. Which is fine by me. I see little point in FaceBook type networking sites; seems like an awful lot of work just to let poeple know what you’re doing. If I want people to know what I’m doing, I’ll let them know with an email or phone call. Why would anyone want to know how often I visit the organic produce store or when I’m at work, which is where I usually am? I thought we were all hyperventilating about the Government tapping our phones because it meant they were keeping to close an eye on us and now we want to let every damn fool “friend” we met on the internet know when and where we took a shit last?

Networking’s great and all, if you’re trying to make a movie or sell the Middle Class up the creek to Corporate Republicans. But in general, if people want to find you, they can pretty easily. Google makes sure of that. And Ma Bell. So what I’m saying is, call your mother because she worries and doesn’t know how to log on to your MySpace page. And would be scared if she did.

Throw the Horses Overboard!

The doldrums are upon us and I’m hankering for a good, meaty novel that’s still fun to read, to get me through the long tepid winter. Any suggestions?

It doesn’t have to be high brow; I’m staring at the copy of Love In the Time of Cholera sitting beside my desk and wondering if Gabriel Garcia Marquez knows he’s taunting me. The genius bastard!

But nothing too light weight either. Any good middlebrow stuff on the radar that maybe I’ve missed? I’m not opposed to Serious Literature. Just because I rant and rave about science fiction all day long doesn’t mean I’m only interested in space ships and monsters. In fact, I’m kind of over space opera. Having recently read Lathe of Heaven for the first time, I’d love something that was as wild, woolly and still somehow down to Earth.

Does that even make sense? I mean, it’s about a guy whose dreams rewrite reality and so he’s afraid of falling asleep. Not exactly what you’d call realistic fiction but it’s written with such heart and respect for human dignity that it feels realer than most of the classic Serious Fiction.

And what’s the deal with serious Fiction? Why is it so serious? Must important thoughts about the human condition be bereft of the occasional fart joke or snarky aside? Maybe I should just read Jeeves and Wooster? I’ve been meaning to pick one up and see if it’s as good as everyone says. so much for the serious weight thing.

More Blood and Bodies, We Can Hope

I’m just going to continue being the io9 mirror site for a bit because they have an awesome pic of the BSG cast, ala the Last Supper which gives clues to Season 4. You may want to ignore the comments as io9 seems to be overrun with people who feel the need to voice, repeatedly that they aren’t all that into Battlestar Galactica or that they liked the old series better, for it’s realism. Crack heads, in other words.

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