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Category Archives: You Turn Me on Like a Machine!

Bleakonomics 101 for 2012

Bleakonomics 101 for 2012

Spoiler alert: this evening, during the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney, we’re going to hear a lot about jobs and numbers.  It might look something like this:

1 part BS + 1 part PR = 2night

Unlike the rogues gallery of incompetent candidates out of which Mitt Romney ascended to receive the nomination to run on the Republican ticket for the presidency of the United States, the man is at least qualified.  He governed a very Democratic state and did something or other to save the Olympics in the chosen land of his religion’s people, Salt Lake City.  But those are incidental bona fides.  Ask most people why they’ll vote for Mitt, and the response most probable is some wishy-washy allusion to his background in business, Herr Exekutive of Bain Capital; that, in other words, he knows how to create jobs.  Leaving aside this particularly spurious ascription, let’s take a look at what — not even who — does and doesn’t improve the unemployment rate, shall we?
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MP3s — Not the Apple of my iPod

MP3s — Not the Apple of my iPod

When my iPod goes dead at long last, it will not be replaced by another chrome clone.  Why?  Digital music is for the dogs.  I’m done with sacrificed quality for quantity’s convenience.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need every song on every album by every band or composer I like with me at my disposal whenever I like.  Added to that, a small library of digital books and enough podcasts to fill in the silence it would take to space-canoe to Pluto, good lord! like I’m ever going to get to all this stuff.  Plus it’s rather unnecessary.  I am confident that at no time in the history of human beings did average people (i.e., not technocrats) say something like:
“Say Bill, you know what would be a real improvement to my daily life?”
“Naw, what’s that, Betty?”
“A tiny device I could fit in my hand that would store all of my music, Bill, all my music as well as radio programs, plays, books, newspaper articles, lectures, photographs, videos…  Or better yet, all on my telephone!”
“Hold on there, cousin Betty!  That’s just crazy talk!”

Like the computer itself, the iPod is a solution to no known problem. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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May D(ay) in China

May D(ay) in China

Each year on the near-south side of Milwaukee a few hundred folks gather together to commemorate the Bay View Tragedy, the bloodiest day — May 5 1886 — in the history of the labor movement in Wisconsin.  I won’t bother rehashing the clash right now (you’re welcome to read about it here).  Instead, I would like to reconsider it in the context of our contemporary world, from Fox News and Foxconn to Scott Walker and Steve Jobs.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Tax Dodging Rotten to the Core

Tax Dodging Rotten to the Core

I’ve always liked that bumper sticker that reads “If you’re not OUTRAGED, you’re not paying attention.”  (Though of course it can just as easily be stated that If you’re not outraged, you must be paying attention to Fox, but I digress…)  Another slogan I’ve enjoyed goes “I’ll believe corporations are people when a Texas jury executes one.”  To that sentiment all I would add is this: or until they pay they have to pay their taxes like all the rest of us working stiffs.  To wit, today is Tax Day, everybody, so pony up!  You, too, corporations — that is what your name means after all: “corporation” from the Latin for corpus and corporare, literally to make into a body.  (Think “corporeal punishment” or “Marine Corps.”  Or hell, just think corpse, as in the American dream/ social mobility/ public works/ U.S. revenue thanks to tax dodging loopholes.)  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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What the FAQ, Waukesha?!

What the FAQ, Waukesha?!

April 1st 2012:  If the roused rabble in Dane County cries, “One year longer, we only get stronger,” then its flip-side in Waukesha County rallies around “One year later, we only get delayed-er.”  For once again, after a spring election in Wisconsin, none other than Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus finds herself in the center of a centripetal incompetence where even moderate conservatives begin to wonder, “dude lady, WTF?”
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The Agony and the Ecstasy (But Mostly the Agony) of Mike Daisey

The Agony and the Ecstasy (But Mostly the Agony) of Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey likes to talk.  A lot.  You get the impression pretty quickly that the actor/ performance artist is maybe more than a smidge self-absorbed.  No doubt this must come from the turf of doing solo theatre, one-man monologues that can easily run past three hours, night after night.  Them’s alotta words.  And that might be part of the problem, but the cure for monologorrhea isn’t only using fewer words; it’s making damn sure they are the right ones. The other part of the problem is when you fuse your zest for flair with a truth quest, mingling ego’s ambition with the greater collective good.  If you already think you’re pretty good at saying something, and you have found something genuinely important to say, one’s soapbox becomes a powder keg.  This isn’t necessarily bad; deployed wisely, you just might have an idea that can change the world.  But used incompetently, the mea culpa of your grand finale monologue may well be what is etched on your professional epitaph, summed up glibly in just one word: “Sorry.”
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The ABCs of Asymmetry (ICYMI)

The ABCs of Asymmetry (ICYMI)

Today marks the last day of the (ir)regular session of the Wisconsin State Legislature; good riddance to bad rubbish indeed!  While halfway through lent, this lapse Catholic is glad the state is giving up Republican mandates for a short while at least.  Plus spring has sprung, and with it that irrepressibly burning eternal.  Keeping with the lenten theme, the days are longer (lengthened, you might even say), the sun brighter and warmer.  With recalls soon to be set, there is light for sure at the end of this tunnel that has been the yearlong winter of our discontent, and hope outshining the audacity of dopes.
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