Performing for the media
ITEM: Stories from the Great Depression. This is a good read to remind ourselves that (Robert Reich notwithstanding) we Americans continue to live in unprecedented abundance:
In the summer, I took a washtub and put it on a little scaffold out near the chicken house and put burlap sacks around it to make it private. You’d fill that tub full of water in the morning, the sun would heat the water. I found a valve somewhere and I had a valve in the bottom of the tub, and that’s where we got the warm water. It held about 20 gallons. We might take one shower a week.
When you got hungry, you could take a walk out in the mountains. There was always something to eat — all kinds of berries — and in the winter you got pecans, hickory nuts, walnuts. We used to eat bullfrog; that’s a delicacy. And we used to eat squirrels and rabbits.
Meanwhile, here in 21st Century America, going through a recession means “shifting from sit-down restaurants to fast-food chains.” Oh, the agony and sacrifice.
ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Stewart Varney wonders why the Obama Administration would refuse to accept repayment of TARP funds from banks. The answer, of course, is so that the US Government can maintain control over these banks:
Here’s a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.
Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He’s been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with “adverse” consequences if its chairman persists. That’s politics talking, not economics.
ITEM: Walgreens pulls the Chia Obama from its stores. Yet the manufacturer says that they’ve had “unbelievable interest” in the Chia Obama.
ITEM (bumped w/updates) — IMAGINE IF THIS WERE THE MCCAIN ADMINISTRATION TAKE-23: Larry Summers got millions for acting as managing director for a hedge fund as well as in speaking fees from the very institutions (J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers) at the heart of the financial meltdown. Several other key Obama Administration figures have likewise received funds. And David Axelrod profited significantly from his Obama campaign work. Nope, no conflict of interest here. Just move along, folks.
OVERNIGHT LINKS — surprise! Posted today anyway.
ITEM: Machievelli famously said that it is better to be feared than to be loved. Bush may not have been much liked over in Europe, but he got a remarkable amount done with them. Obama is greeted with praise, but actual accomplishments? Not so much:
But in his first real taste of diplomacy, Obama is finding out that, like in domestic politics, the gushing praise that other leaders may bestow doesn’t necessarily translate into support for the entirety of his agenda. In other words, simply not being George W. Bush wasn’t enough.
Actually, not being George W. Bush appears to be a disadvantage in actually getting other countries to go along with the US.
LENGTHY EXPLANATION FOR FUTURE SHORTHAND: In Douglas Adams’ classic work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he has a flashback scene in which the computer Deep Thought — after several million years of calculation — is about to reveal the answer to life, the universe, and everything. The announcement is briefly delayed by two philosphers, Majikthise and Vroomfondel, who represent the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries, and other professional thinking persons, and who demand that the answer be suppressed because it will put them out of work. Here’s their threat:
MAJIKTHISE: We’ll go on strike!
VROOMFONDEL: That’s right. You’ll have a national philosopher’s strike on your hands.
DEEP THOUGHT: Who will that inconvenience?
MAJIKTHISE: Never you mind who it’ll inconvenience you box of blacklegging binary bits! It’ll hurt, buster! It’ll hurt!
So in current and future posts, when I refer to “today’s Majikthise award”, it will be for a link claiming some dire consequence or tragic loss for which the questions needs to be asked: who will that inconvenience?
ITEM — TODAY’S MAJIKTHISE (“who will that inconvenience?”) AWARD (see, that didn’t take long): The New York Times Company threatens to shut down the Boston Globe. The real shame is that it couldn’t be the other way around. By the way, I have nothing but sympathy for the actual employees of the Globe – but I’ve worked for 35 years in information technology, where layoffs and company failures are a way of life. Think of it as evolution in action (catchphrase from Oath of Fealty by Niven and Pournelle).
ITEM — JUST-SAY-NO LINK: Monster Cable, purveyor of highly overpriced audio-visual cables (actual performance is no better than coat hangers), apparently uses money from its stiff profit margins to sue lots of other business that happen to use the word “monster” – including (I kid you not) Disney for “Monsters, Inc.” and a family-owned “Monster MiniGolf” miniatured golf franchise. Note: while the WSJ covered this story, it was The Consumerist (one of my favorite daily blogs) that raised the stink on the mini-golf lawsuit back in December and was likely responsible for getting Monster Cable to back off.
ITEM: OK, this is a cool idea — to grow the first flower on the Moon.
ITEM: NOAA concedes that not all climate change is man-made. What was their first clue — all the climate change that has occurred for the last 4 billion years?
ITEM: So, why do we have fingerprints, anyway?
OK, now I’ll see you on Monday. ..bruce w..