Can’t find a link, but the local paper reports that a nearby multiplex is planning to put a bar in the lobby and have restaurant-quality food and drinks–beer, wine, cocktails–available for delivery to the seats. I realize the theaters are desperate to get anyone in the seats during this era of economic depression and endless crappy sequels, but this strikes me as a terrifically bad idea. People already act like brain-damaged chimps when freed by the darkness to act as they wish. Actually, chimps can’t talk, so they would be an improvement over people in this instance. As every stadium operator knows, Alcohol + Anonymity = Assholes, which is the main reason that they employ so much security. This alcohol thing may work out well at a Merchant-Ivory retrospective, but unless you look forward to people running naked down the aisles at “Avatar III” (and maybe you do), this would be yet another good reason to stay home and/or restrict yourself to sparsely attended matinees.
Archive for the 'Random Bloviating' Category
Went to a news site right now, the ticker said “Goldman Charged With Fraud…” I don’t know those guys, honest. I license them the use of my name, that’s all.
I’m heading to Baltimore for a ballpark event today so blogging may be light. In the meantime, the “Wholesome Pop” button above finally goes somewhere, sort of… My new blogging effort, a songblog, starts today at www.casualobservermusic.net. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s updates start shortly (writing up some baseball). In the meantime, a song for today’s economy.
Apologies for the lack of attention yesterday; between the radio spot in Manhattan and a rare chance to spend some time with the family I was out of the pulpit for the entire day. I had forgotten what daylight is like.
Meanwhile, I must note a story in the local paper that says that a hunt is on for a man who was so incensed by the lack of alacrity with which his drive-through Fillet O’ Fish was rendered up by a nearby McDonald’s that upon driving around to the window he climbed through it and beat up his McServer. I don’t really have anything to add to this story accept that (1) not even Jean Valjean would have thought a Fillet O’ Fish worthy of a prison sentence, and (2) what did you expect from McDonald’s in the first place?
Earlier this week I took a bus into New York City. Waiting at the terminal I noticed a new sign: “Bus drivers may refuse to accept any ticket which has been handled in an unsanitary manner.” I don’t want to try to imagine what provoked that. Somehow these two stories–angry fish guy and soiled bus pass–seemed of a piece, but I’m not sure why. Just another sign of the death of civility? You’ve got me.
After the Columbine massacre, which actually had nothing to do with bullying and everything to do with random evil (as per the bestselling book, an informative but thoroughly depressing and frightening read) as well as a rash of similar incidents around the country at that time, schools were supposed to have become super-sensitive to bullying. In practice, they’re not so good at it:
At today’s press conference, Scheibel provided stunning new details about the intensity of bullying Prince sustained since last fall. She also said that on at least one occasion, a school staffer witnessed the bullying while Prince was in a school library.
“From information known to investigators thus far, it appears that Phoebe’s death on January 14th followed a tortuous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse,” Scheibel said.
Of course, educators have other things to do, like teach; deterring thuggery would seem to be something rather low on the list of priorities and something to which they wouldn’t be keenly attuned in any case. I will say, though, judging by my experiences as a parent, that when they do get involved the effort is rather pathetic and dreamy–in the local school district, children are told not to talk back or fight back against their tormentors but to send an “eye message”–that is, glare at them. Forget bringing a knife to a gunfight, this is going to a gunfight armed only with a dirty look, a wink, a nod. I object to the lesson, I object to the onus being put on the victims, I object to teaching passivity. If they really had zero tolerance for bullying, they would teach children techniques for, in the words of FDR, quarantining the aggressors, and give them more tools with which to respond than batting their eyelashes.
In the comments for Alex Hamilton vs. Big Brother, reader “Chris in Binghamton” says:
Steve, would love for you to expound on founders vs. framers. I would have thought they overlapped pretty significantly… 1776 to 1787 isn’t a generation removed.
If you will allow me to take the liberty of not doing my usual research but to answer off the top of my head, there was SOME overlap, but not a great deal of it. You have to remember that the Constitution was seen in some quarters as a conservative/monarchist counter-reaction to the Revolution. Thus, a revolutionary firebrand like Patrick Henry stayed home, saying that he “smelled a rat in Philadelphia.” Conversely, John Dickinson, who couldn’t bring himself to vote for independence in 1776, felt free to participate. Other important revolutionary leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were out of the country, the former acting as ambassador to France, the latter as ambassador to England. Adams did exert some influence on the convention both through his authorship of the Massachusetts state constitution and his writings on government. Still, he wasn’t there.
Other important participants in the framing of the Constitution, like James Madison, Gouverneur Morris, and Alexander Hamilton were all in their early 20s in 1776 and thus a bit too young to participate in the Continental Congress. The first two were active in state politics, while the latter was serving in the New York militia and about to land a staff job with George Washington.
In short, while there were guys like Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and James Wilson who played key roles both in the drive for Independence and the framing of the Constitution (Washington too, though in a different way) the groups differed enough both in composition, motivation (“Get free of Britain so we can exercise our rights!” vs. “Let’s codify those rights and place some strictures on what’s going on here!”), and intellectual leadership that it is necessary to distinguish between the two groups.
Just getting around to reading “Obama’s Lost Year” in the 3/15 New Yorker (not available on line but to subscribers, alas, so no link), and if I was frustrated before, I have now reached some perfected state of frustration. Longtime readers know I’ve been pushing for a public works program as a way to stimulate the economy since before the Bushies got out of Dodge. The Obama-men couldn’t see their way clear to getting it done:
Some liberal economists had argued for direct government spending on infrastructure, which creates jobs far faster than, say, tax cuts. They imagined something along the lines of the Works Progress Administration, which, within a year of its founding, in 1935, had put three and a half million people to work. A quick-and-dirty jobs program would also have given hard-pressed Americans tangible grounds for optimism, which can matter more than macroeconomic numbers in awaking the confidence that economists say is crucial to a recovery… The President’s economic advisers debated the idea of giving money to local governments to hire workers for infrastructure projects, and concluded that spending on such jobs would be wasteful. It was deemed no longer possible to replicate the W.P.A.–regulations would drag out public hiring almost as long as private contracting would. “The view of the President and the economic team early on–and it still is–was that sustainable job creation is best done by the private sector,” [Council of Economic Advisers member Austan] Goolsbee said.
1. If as a country, we are so hamstrung by regulations that we can’t do what needs to be done in an emergency, then we might as well strike the tents and close up shop.
2. If the President and his advisers do not have the creativity to shortcut hiring regulations in a national emergency then they might as well strike the tents and close up shop. I’m not going to bore you with a long list of actions by presidents who took action when needed and let the courts sort things out later, but no doubt you can think of some very recent examples on your own.
3. How’s that job creation the private sector is so good at working out for you, Mr. President?
4. No one is talking about sustainable job creation, just something that will get people back on their feet again until the private sector does mount some sustained hiring.
5. If we’re not going to get an infrastructure program now, we’re never going to get it, which means that our roads, bridges, transportation system, internet, power grid, and so forth are going to continue to decay and so is quality of life here in the U.S.
“Obama: He’s a Better President than Bush” is a backhanded compliment, nothing more, but it looks like this administration can’t do any better.
There is a sign at my local Barnes & Noble that says, “CAFÉ TABLES ARE PROVIDED FOR OUR CAFÉ CUSTOMERS ONLY. PLEASE ENJOY ADDITIONAL SEATING THROUGHOUT OUR STORE.” Thing is, there is no additional seating. There used to be, but it was removed, perhaps because people used to set up housekeeping in ‘em–older folks, bags piled around them, could be found in a state of near hibernation, while our younger brethren would often practice the odd position from the Kama Sutra–the twining of the stuffed chair with throbbing kiss. The chairs started looking almost as seedy as the people, sporting some fairly peculiar stains. I’ve never seen the inside of a peepshow booth, but I imagine the floors look a lot like those chairs did after about a year of usage. Soon they were gone, leaving the only “additional” seating in the children’s area. Perhaps goaded by the promise of “additional seating,” no non-child has felt shy about repairing to what should be sort of a hermetically sealed area. Result: an interesting commingling of toddlers, thugs reading car and lad mags, young mommies and expiring senior citizens, all surrounded by rushing adolescents who wheel and coalesce like flocks of caffeinated starlings. It looks like hell’s waiting room, the least-viable population booked on the last ark leaving, and not somewhere you’d be able to let your child pick out a book without fear of injury. Better to leave it to the additionally seated as the walls cave in around them; at least they’ll have some Judy Blume novels to read on the voyage out.
When not blogging about politics. Doing a guest spot on Sirius-XM’s Home Plate “Power Alley” show with hosts Seth Everett and Jim Duquette and my BP colleague Jay Jaffe. Photo courtesy of Mike Ferrin.