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Friday, February 27, 2009

February Ramblin'

So much going on, and so little time:

AdAge has a 3-minute daily video. The topic on February 20: Could Kindle put the KABOOM on Comic Books? (February 26 discusses the Tropicana packaging debacle.)
But not all is bad in comic book land. Marvel, bucking economic trends, actually set a revenue record for 2008.

Comic book blogger Mark Evanier linked to a CBS tribute, which I found oddly moving. I think it's because when I grew up in Binghamton, NY, there was only one VHF station, WNBF, Channel 12, so it was the Andy Griffiths and Lucille Balls I'd be watching the most.

Too much snark: Even Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom I suppose I should note was the first Indian-American to give the Republican response to a president's speech, began with an encomium to the first black president. (Wasn't Bobby great in "Slumdog Millionaire"?). As though I needed more proof that this woman (blonde, initials AC) is an idiot.

But this was a weird story: Poll Results: Obama, Jesus and Martin Luther King Top List of America’s “Heroes”. "When The Harris Poll asked a crosssection of adult Americans to say whom they admire enough to call their heroes, President Barack Obama was mentioned most often, followed by Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King. Others in the top ten, in descending order, were Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger and Mother Teresa. These heroes were named spontaneously. Those surveyed were not shown or read a list of people to choose from. The Harris Poll was conducted online among a sample of 2,634 U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive between January 12 and 19, 2009." I can't explain why I find this a bit disturbing.

Another story I find puzzling is Will trade: One black Democrat for one Mormon Republican. "Congress appears to be on the verge of granting D.C. actual voting representation in the House. The Senate is expected to pass legislation Thursday or Friday that would expand the House to 437 members, adding one seat for the District and one seat for Utah, where officials say the 2000 Census would have yielded an extra seat if overseas Mormon missionaries had been counted." Problematic for a couple reasons: 1) two more members of Congress (plus staffs)? Actually, there is a delegaste from DC, so it'd be really one more, but still. 2) I find myserlf in the strict constructionist camp, but I think fair representation for DC, long overdue, will require a Constitutional amendment.

I find that performers on the left who spout political opinions are often more criticize than those on the right, such as Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent, in my experience.

Comparing public support for legalizing marijuana to the approval ratings for Rush Limbaugh and various Republican Party leaders, the conservatives lose.
So does this mean we should start legalizing and taxing pot, as some are trying to do in L.A.?

That chimp cartoon debacle probably would have bothered me more if it hadn't been in the New York Post. It is just what I expect from the New York Post. What does unsettle me is not the chimp reference per se as much as the DEAD chimp reference.

Eric Holder: America ‘a Nation of Cowards’ on Racial Matters. Arguably true. But will saying that initiate useful discussion? I have my doubts.


Time magazine did a story about 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis, which is well and good; they all seem to have taken advice from Ayn Rand - selfishness over altruism. But Joe Queenan in the February 14 Wall Street Journal wonders about the national obsession "over the missteps of public figures like Alex Rodriguez" and Michael Phelps with "the American people [working] themselves into such a sustained, unmediated level of fury at once-revered public figures."

"What they did is certainly wrong, but it isn't in any way unprecedented, or for that matter, unexpected. It's not off the charts...No public misdeed is too insignificant to earn our limitless fascination. Actor Joaquin Phoenix caused a stir this week following his appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman." His principal offenses: chewing gum and maintaining a generally unresponsive demeanor throughout what proved to be a very painful, unproductive interview... And thus ensued a heated debate about whether Mr. Phoenix was acting, on drugs or just spaced out. Meanwhile, in a nearby solar system, the stock market dropped another 400 points..."

"In light of the fact that we are facing one of the worst economic environments since the Great Depression, and are still in the throes of a global war against faceless, stateless terrorists, Michael Phelps can probably be forgiven for thinking that he could get away with taking a hit off that bong. And Jessica Simpson can probably be forgiven for scarfing down a few Twinkies."

"What accounts for the shock...? For one, we the public think that we know these people because we see them all the time on TV. Because of this, they root us in the here and now in a way run-of-the-mill white-collar villains do not. They have violated an old-fashioned code of morality that we can all understand in a way we cannot understand a $50 billion Ponzi scheme or the fact that Iceland has put out a 'Closed for Business' sign."

"From the therapeutic perspective, this is vastly superior to ranting about the latest depredations of Wall Street. No matter how much we froth and foam, none of us can lay a glove on imperious figures like John Thain or the haughty fat cats who run the auto industry or the inept regulators who let Mr. Madoff run wild in the first place. These folks all look the same, they all talk the same and the man in the street would have trouble picking any of them out of a police lineup. We don't really know them and we never will."

"It's the human scale of their malfeasance that makes them such inviting targets." (Mentioned in the headline, though not the article, Octomom.) "Ronald Reagan proved a long time ago that while it was impossible to get the public all riled up because the federal government was throwing away billions of dollars on this or that program, you could get them to blow their stacks by recounting a dubious anecdote about some conscienceless welfare queen on the south side of Chicago who was jobbing the public out of a few grand. This was partly because it was possible to put a human face on the welfare cheater, even if the story was vastly exaggerated, whereas the federal bureaucracy would forever remain vague and amorphous. But it was also because a few thousand bucks here and there was a number the average person could wrap his head around. Unlike, say, $700 billion."



Greg said...

I wish you wrote about race more, because you're even-handed about it, and as an ignorant white person, I must know more! I'm curious about your reaction to the chimp cartoon. I haven't seen it, but it seems more offensive for suggesting that someone should shoot the president if he tries "writing" another stimulus package (I put that in quotes because the cartoon got it wrong - he didn't write the first one!). It seems advocating assassination of the president is more heinous than equating him with a chimp. Someone I talked to this week (a white guy) said he saw it and thought they were suggesting whoever wrote the bill was as dumb as a chimp - let's ignore the fact that chimps are rather intelligent - and that's what the joke was - that a moron wrote the bill, not that a black man championed it.


Roger Owen Green said...

It's a cartoon; art's always been subject to interpretation.
But, for the reason you state, your white guy's take doesn't make sense to me. Meanwhile, there's a whole long history of black people being considered as a lower primates. The cartoonist could be totally ignorant of that fact - I haven't had either the time or frankly the inclination to get his take, if he's even made a statement - but I have my doubts.
And I talk about race when I have something specific to say. Do you have some specific questions you'd like me to address? Why don't you ask me in, oh, three weeks?

Greg said...

Leonard Pitts did a column using quotes from, among others, the New York Times, comparing "Negroes" to animals, so yeah, I wasn't buying the guy's explanation. I just thought it was interesting because it hadn't occurred to me. And if they claimed they didn't know about that history, they're full of it.

If I have a question, I'll ask it. Nothing comes to mind right now - I just like reading what you have to say when something like this comes up.