This just in: the surviving members of Aerosmith sell out (BIG TIME), and can somebody get Mr. Perry a tissue?

It has been observed, here and elsewhere, what a fucking embarrassment Steven Tyler has become. Once Aerosmith was among America’s greatest bands, and today they occupy the #5 spot (with a bullet) on my Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen list.

It was refreshing, then, when Joe Perry brought the hammer down on his silly-ass 64-going-on-14 Teen Beat bandmate. Reports TMZ:

Perry went off on Tyler during an interview with the Calgary Herald — saying, “It’s his business, but I don’t want Aerosmith’s name involved with [American Idol]. We have nothing to do with it.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #121: Birds of an Ancient Feather

“Television is an invention whereby you can be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your house.” Who said it? The answer is at the end of this post. Now on to the links! Continue reading

Nursery rhymes as industrialist propaganda

By Patrick Vecchio

One of the goals of education is to leave seeds planted in students’ heads. Some seeds sprout right away and grow into trees that always bear fruit. Others sprout several years later, when conditions are right. Some never grow. And some grew so long ago, back in our first days of school or even before, that we never think about the harvest because we take it for granted.

Every now and again, I find myself pausing to think about one of those earliest seeds. Such was the case today, and I pondered the meaning of words etched deeply into my brain. What was the real message in that little nursery rhyme? I asked. And what did it tell me about my life today?

It shook me.

Consider:

Row, row, row your boat Continue reading

Cursèd be my cubicle

Two flimsy gray walls, three filing cabinets and one rarely used dry-erase board make up the landscape of my work cubicle. My mind travels often to places I have been and those I long to see, yet this is the daily scenery starving my adventurous soul.

I used to love my job. That was before it became three positions in one.

Since corporations began laying off millions during the economic crisis several years ago, there’s a phrase that’s became all-too-common. Somebody complains about work. Somebody else replies that, “At least you have a job.” Continue reading

NASA, American exceptionalism, and me: older, and less viable

Fourth in a series

As a child turning teen in the late 1950s, the black-and-white RCA in the living room received only three channels … well, four, but we didn’t watch PBS. So I read. Newspapers, of course (after Dad finished sports and Mom finished news). And books. The library was only two blocks away, so I spent afternoons there sampling the stack. I was a small-town boy at the end of the idyllic “Father Knows Best” decade of Eisenhower placidity, a geeky kid feeling the first pangs of puberty.

I longed for adventure beyond being a Boy Scout or tossing a football with neighborhood pals. In the library I found adventure stories set in space, spun with well-chosen words and exquisitely crafted plots.

I discovered Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End.” Then Robert A. Heinlein’s “Methuselah’s Children,” Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” and Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation and Empire.” Science fiction (or, in Clarke’s case, science prediction) captivated me. I became a sci-fi cognoscente.

Then, in 1957, came the shocker: Sputnik. Continue reading

The Fourth four years later: Nothing’s changed

As I predicted four years ago on the Fourth of July, little has changed. This year’s fireworks and barbecues offer only a brief respite from the problems of the nation, how they are worsening, and how those who are supposed to address them remain mere chanters of their respective ideologies.

Four years ago, I predicted that the cost of federal elections would continue to rise, that the role of money would increase dramatically. I did not predict — or even dream it could happen — the outcome of the Supremes’ consideration of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that deepened the hole in which corporate money could hide while paying for “electioneering communications.”

Sadly, I did not predict that more than 30,000 journalists would lose their jobs in the past four years, lessening the ability of the press to hold government accountable. To me, corporations are now essentially the American government; more journalists, not fewer, trained in the same accounting chicanery that allowed Enron to flourish, are necessary to hold corporate government accountable, too.
Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

The most dangerous idea ever: why the tea party is right after all. Sort of.

The American econo-political system has always been a dangerous proposition, an egg balanced on a knife blade six feet above a concrete floor.

Sure, most countries have elements of the American solution. Many countries now have peaceful exchanges of power decided by voters. Most Western nations have pretty strong protections for individual rights, and in many cases, those are stronger than our Bill of Rights. Most have moved away from centrally planned economies.

But we were the ones who first put it all together. Just as Alfred Nobel figured out how to mix volatile nitroglycerine with diatomaceous earth to create the equally powerful but more stable explosive dynamite, the Founders managed to take an inherently dangerous set of ideas and make them stable. You need only look at the French Revolution to see what can happen when those same ideas are dropped on a concrete floor. Continue reading

Pawlenty tests the bottom of the swamp

Pawlenty (that part which is above the swamp water)Today Tim Pawlenty said “We can start by applying what I call ‘The Google Test.’ If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.”

If he really understands Google, Tim Pawlenty does not deserve to be president on moral grounds. If Pawlenty does not understand the implications of what he said, he does not deserve to be president on grounds of ignorance. Either way, he’s testing the bottom of the swamp.

Continue reading

GBTV? Glenn Beck on the Internet? All Glenn, all the time?

Would you pay between $4.95 and $9.95 a month to watch conservative talker Glenn Beck for two hours a day on the Internet?

Beck will launch, with partner Mercury Radio Arts, GBTV, an online video network, on Sept. 12. Here’s Beck himself in a five-minute pitch describing his “global plans” and how he will be “champion of man’s freedom” for the mere cost of a “cup of coffee in today’s world”:

Whether Beck is certifiably insane is not the issue here: Rather, he and his partner need to insure that revenues exceed costs. Now that he’s leaving the ready mega-megaphone of Fox News on June 30, that’s not a certainty.
Continue reading

The American Parliament: our nation’s 10 political parties

Part two in a series.

Forgive me for abstracting and oversimplifying a bit, but one might argue that American politics breaks along the following 10 lines:

  • Social Conservatives
  • Neocons
  • Business Conservatives
  • Traditional Conservatives (there’s probably a better term, but I’m thinking of old-line Western land and water rights types)
  • Blue Dog Democrats
  • New Democrats
  • Progressives Continue reading

A simple country boy's solution to the budget "crisis"

Some conservatives see all these fact-laden critiques of our various GOP manufactroversies (see Ryan, Paul) and wonder where are the Democratic plans to solve the financial crisis? (I have been asked this, quite vehemently, myself.)

The informed reply goes something like this:

  1. The crisis isn’t real. It’s been fabricated by the neo-liberal politicians whose goal is to eliminate all taxes on rich people and bust structures like unions that afford the non-hyper-wealthy with some leverage in the American political economy. It. Isn’t. Real.
  2. You’re blaming the wrong people. Continue reading

Hard times for the pure of heart: is it possible to live ethically in modern society?

I think we’d all love to live every phase of our lives in happy accord with high moral and ethical principles. We’d love it if we were never confronted by logical contradictions and cognitive dissonance, by cases where our walk was at odds with our talk. But the truth is that we live in a society that’s complex, at best, and a cesspool of corruption at worst. It’s just about impossible to get through a day without compromise, and every time we compromise it’s difficult not to feel as though we’ve failed a little.

Some people are better at dealing with the conflict than others, whether through denial or a well-developed, pragmatic knack for keeping things in perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t do denial at all and while I like to think of myself as having a strong pragmatic streak, in practice my principled side tends to dominate my decision-making in ways that occasionally deprive me of convenience and pleasure. Continue reading

The right isn't wrong, just stupid

Let’s try a little thought experiment here. What if the problem with conservatives isn’t that they are wrong, but rather than even when they are right their logic is so bad we can’t fairly judge the merit of their positions?

What if their logic is so twisted that it simply short circuits our brains? Their arguments send our thoughts careening like pinballs, bouncing from untruth to non sequitur to logic loop to inconsistency to false conclusion. Perhaps we completely forget to ask ourselves whether their positions might be right, because we are entangled like a kitten in their ball of yarn.

It’s certainly possible. Just because you can’t argue doesn’t make you wrong. I remember listening to our local hippie in 1978. Ed took on Henry Kissinger during open mike at a post-speech Q&A. Kissinger mauled Ed. Ed was right, but he couldn’t out-argue Kissinger. Continue reading

Arianna Antoinette: "Let the motherfuckers eat cake"

A few weeks ago I asked a question: is the Huffington Post a force for good or a liberal sweatshop? In the wake of HuffPo‘s megamillion-dollar sale to AOL, it struck me as appropriate to question the ethics behind an allegedly progressive business operating in a fashion that was indistinguishable from the greedmongering corporate entities it professed to oppose. I know a number of people who have written there (uncompensated, by and large) who feel that they benefited significantly from the arrangement, and I respect their perspectives.

Not everybody sees it that way, though. Continue reading