laurence turner

the random musings of a fool

Requiem for a Bantam Weight (a dirge)

Read them and weep – Obama, Year One. After Massachusetts: His Hopes Did Him In.

Guess we saw this coming, eh? The man shoulda listened to his “base” and to all the progressive fools like you and me who gave him our precious time and energy. There were fights to be fought, noble deeds to be done. Instead, he wanted to heal things, to be a bridge. If that was what he wanted he should have gone to medical school or become an architectural engineer instead of a lawyer, because this a lawyer’s country now, and we needed (and still need) a lawyer to stand up for what’s right and fight the good fight.

What’s Obama’s fighting? 30 years of entrenched conservative-whacko groupthink: greed is good; government is bad; and the only way the dems can win is if they stuff their pockets with cash from the same people that the GOP does. It’s all screwed up. People wanted him to change that and instead he slipped into the Beltway pattern like a chameleon.

He now looks so weak some asshole has planned to open an all-white basketball league. If that isn’t a broadside against what could have been, I don’t know what is. For every step forward, we’ve taken two steps back.

Maybe having to claw his way back from desperation will define the man and his legacy, and our hopes and our best qualities will once again emerge and save this stinkhole. Or maybe, 3 short years from now, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney and Michelle Bachman will be high-fiving on a podium in Washington D.C. while I paddle a small boat to some God-foresaken island in the Caribbean, unsure of the future, but happy to be free of the place I thought was my home.

The Age of Myths has passed us by as we watched American Idol in our living rooms. What comes next is anybody’s guess.

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Filed under: politics, stupidity

regarding Haiti…

The tragedy that has befallen Haiti in the wake of the earthquake there requires us to focus our minds as well as dig into our wallets to offer help. We can leave Pat Robertson and his ilk behind, and get closer to the truth about Haiti’s desperate poverty by looking at a few more cogent renditions of the story…

We’ll start with a post from boingboing.net by Maggie Koerth-Baker, Haiti’s real deal with the devil, wherein we learn that Haiti’s troubles are not all of its own making, countering the assertions of the 700 Club. Today, we can turn to Harper’s and Ken Silverstein for a brisk dashing of cold water with Haiti: Media provides sanitized history for American audiences, which further expands upon the notion of colonialist buggery, which Silverstein began yesterday with Haiti: A trip down memory lane. Also today, BoingBoing continues its coverage of the tragedy by collecting links to press our understanding even further.

Of course, if you would like to witness the horror of it all, boston.com’s collection of photograph’s are as good a place to start as any.

If you would like to help the victims in Haiti, the SUPPORT HAITI page at tumblr.com is a good way to do so.

If you would like to prevent things of this nature happening in the future, then please vote for people who will not foster colonialism around the globe, nor buy products from companies which exploit people and the environment. It would also be helpful if you could press for changes in building codes so as to prevent the construction of inadequate and unsafe buildings in zones subject to seismic activity.

We cannot undo what has been done to the people of Haiti in the past. However, we can use this tragedy to help the people of Haiti now and in the future, and to learn of the reasons for the horrible conditions which bedevil so much of the world.

Now would be a good time to look in the mirror.

UPDATE: Here’s a depressing post from The Economist, The End of Haiti?, and a thoughtful plea for help from Caroline Saunders in The Guardian, Haiti needs our help.

Filed under: environment, politics, stupidity

looking back…

The Lost Decade: What the World Can Learn from 10 Years of Excesses, spiegel.de

Filed under: uncategorized

about my bedroom ceiling…

I apologize for the lack of posts. I have been on my back quite a lot the last few days. About 12 years ago, I injured my back rather badly, and ever since then there are 3 or 4 times a year when I must contend with a tweaked back. This year, I’ve been especially fortunate and have re-injured my back twice within a month’s time. Lucky me.

I’ve had several comments from friends saying that they don’t like the navigation of the Hemingway Theme that I use, so I thought I’d let everyone know that I’m going to change themes soon. In fact, I am thinking about setting up my own non-wordpress.com blog using wordpress as a CMS. In the meantime, expect a theme change here in the-not-too-distant-future.

Jamie Dimon Has Another Good Year, baselinescenario.com / Where Does My Money Go: Explore UK Governmental Spending, infosthetics.com / When did the CIA become a Blackwater Subsidiary?, harpers.org / Grade A: Defense contractors paid to review their own performance, harpers.org / Americans consume 3.6 zettabytes of data, most of it pixels, arstechnica.com / The Fabulous Papers, themorningnews.org / Traveling by Cargo Ship Around the World, transitionsabroad.com / Plastic Flashback, thebigmoney.com / Infographic Coins, definitivetouch.com / God’s butthole appeared in the sky and farted blue fire on a mountain. Turns out it was a failed Russian missle launch.

Filed under: stupidity

14 days

‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation’ – guardian.co.uk

It’s hard to understand why it has taken so long for so little. I can remember the first Earth Day. I was in second grade, quite a long time ago. I expected that environmentalism would be a driving force in in the world by the time I was grown up, and that we’d all live in a cleaner, healthier world. I was wrong. It’s easy to be idealistic and utopian in second grade. When I was in second grade I also assumed that by 2009 I would have traveled to the moon. Well, we all know what happened with that…

We are a disappointing species in some respects. So much ability, so much promise. But when push comes to shove, there are times we don’t live up to our abilities. Are we truly beset by an evil short-sightedness that will forever doom us as a species?

If you want to know why our species is doomed, look no further than George Michael: “All I really need is music, sex, and TV“. That’s a brute-force attack on genetic destiny. That’s betting that just propagating the species is enough to sustain it, when in fact the survival of any species is largely determined by the environment in which it develops and lives.

Now, as the gathering gets underway in Copenhagen, we have learned that some climatologists have fudged their research. Not good for science, and not good for those who hoped to see some movement towards change in environmental policies. Some scientists are rightly outraged. Science, one hopes, will not succumb to politics, but it does, as science is a human endeavor, after all.  If one considers what other scientists have done to deny global warming (see Exxon-Mobil) and other forms of environmental degradation, this is probably a drop in the bucket, but the good guys have lost the high road.

Even if the science about global warming is all bad, the underlying premise of having to conserve resources and lesson pollutants is not a bad thing. We’ve poisoned our world, and weird things are happening to our kids because of it. Is that OK? Are you OK with that? I’m not. I don’t know how even the powers-that-be at Exxon-Mobil can be OK with that, but apparently, they are. Exxon-Mobil alone has spent millions of dollars to overturn the prevailing views of scientists and muddy the waters to the point where the general public are unsure what to make of it all. Profits uber alles.

What Earth Day taught me back in second grade was that we humans are on a little raft of a planet, living in a very thin biosphere, adrift in the vast space of the Universe. Everything about our Earthly existence is finite, including resources. When I was eight years old, I understood this simple truth.

14 days. That’s a big challenge, a call to action, or recklessly hopeful. We’ll see what comes of it. Hopefully, not this.

Filed under: environment, science

thinking in dark times

Thinking in Dark Times – Six Questions for Roger Berkowitz, harpers.org

Filed under: philosophy, politics

The New Feudalism

Elizabeth Warren: America Without a Middle Class, huffingtonpost.com.

Serf ‘s up…

Filed under: economics + finance, politics

I can’t keep up.

Watch this for a few minutes and you’ll want to unplug from everything: worldometers.

Into the breach… so, we’re sending more troops to Afghanistan in order to leave earlier? That sounds like Department of Defense logic. Afghanistan: The quagmire deepens, harpers.org.

How Robber Barons hijacked the “Victorian Internet”, arstechnica.com. Tim Geithner’s threat: We can’t survive without the Super-Rich!, theawl.com. Are the Super-Rich worried about what the proles think? Apparently so – Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public, bloomberg.com (Matt Taibbi had fun with this one).

WikiLeaks to be investigated by Congress? Sure, that will help things. How about Congress looking into this instead: Sprint fed customer GPS data to cops over 8 million times, arstechnica.com.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s gonna bring some heat to the International Bowl Expo 2010, where you can look forward to her unique verbal stylings (tip-o’-the-hat to D’Alessandrius the Wise).

Not what I expected: Peter Mandelson spars with Rupert Murdoch.

Amazingly, despite Congressional suggestions to the contrary, most Americans want a public health option. Who knew?

Lastly, “my team”, the New Jersey Nets have set a new record. Hooray.

Filed under: news, politics, stupidity, tech

… le deluge

A quiet weekend leads to a major outpouring of news and… stuff.

It’s International Blue Beanie Day, 2009. Today, don a blue beanie and show your support for Web Standards.

A marvelous idea: For Forest Kindergartners, Class Is Back to Nature, Rain or Shine, nytimes.com / Disturbingly bad architecture: Romanian Pavilion for Shanghai World Expo 2010, archdaily.com / Venice hit by high water (video), guardian.co.uk / coming to a browser near you – 2010: The Year Information Pollution Takes Off, seobook.com / New York destroyed in movies, kottke.org / a picture is worth a thousand words and a few trillion dollars: 27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand the Financial Crisis, flowingdata.com / The Illustrated Man: How LED Tattoos Could Make Your Skin a Screen, wired.com / The Fall and Rise of Media, nytimes.com / Over 60, and Proud to Join the Digerati, nytimes.com / Twitter with a brain, shotton.com / One in six Americans go hungry, breakingtweets.com / 15 Unfortunately Placed Ads, oddee.com / Thanksgiving Dinner: Your Best Preview of the 2012 Elections, theawl.com / As Sewers Fill, Waste Poisons Waterways, nytimes.com / What did ‘Life of Brian’ ever do for us?, telegraph.co.uk

in the beginning… there was this web page.

Amazingly, there is nothing new to report about Silvio Berlusconi and his proclivities.

Filed under: architecture, film, news, tech

Tactical Nuclear Penguin

The confessions of a semi-successful author, salon.com / Lord Goldsmith told Tony Blair war to topple Saddam would be illegal, guardian.co.uk / Climate change data dumped, timesonline.co.uk / The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz, bbc.co.uk / Tactical Nuclear Penguin, vimeo.com

Filed under: uncategorized

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