Quote Of The Day

From an interesting Politico article on people who left the Washington, DC area after having been at least somewhat successful there, comes this quote:

“I spent the better part of 10 years camped in the nation’s Capitol and, toward the end, I just felt like I was suffocating,” said Mark McKinnon, a political strategist who worked on George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns and who hightailed it out of town for Austin, Texas, and Blue River, Colo., a few years ago. “I felt like I was becoming part of the problem and had to get away.”

We should note, the exiles who spoke to POLITICO also had some nice things to say about D.C.

“I learned a lot, and met a lot of great people,” McKinnon said. “But, it’s a human microwave. And if you stay long, you’re going to fry a lot of brain cells and melt some of your humanity. It becomes a game and you become a player in the game.”

D.C. exiles: Leaving ‘This Town’

That’s the sort of nice thing people say about our nation’s capitol? Read the rest of the article and you’ll probably see why. A “human microwave” seems an apt description. I’ve wondered more than once how John Kerry could go from being the guy who asked how we can ask someone to be the last man who died for a mistake, and then voted to authorize the Iraq War. A turnabout like that makes me wonder if the man has any conscience left at all. He’s certainly not alone in that department in DC.

I’d suggest reading the whole article. While it’s not long on explanation, it does show what people say about the place once they’ve left it.


Video Montage Of The Day

Something fun and exciting happened yesterday. Needless to say, it wasn’t anything to do with American politics.

What might surprise you is that this event was a one-minute long rocket flight. To quote MSNBC:

SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket demonstrates in a new video how future launch vehicles may well lift off, do their job and then maneuver themselves for a precision landing.

During Tuesday’s test, the modified Falcon 9 test rig blasted off from its Texas launch pad and rose to a height of 250 meters (820 feet) with a 100-meter (330-foot) lateral maneuver.

The rocket hovered for some moments, then swung back and made a rapid, controlled descent onto the pad.

SpaceX’s Grasshopper test rocket flies sideways successfully

Rockets don’t hover, nor do they land back on their launch pads. Yet the Grasshopper did both. Here’s a montage I made of the video at that MSNBC link:
Screenshot montage of SpaceX Grasshopper test flight. 2013/01/14

Test flight of SpaceX Grasshopper rocket featuring lateral movement. Image credit: Screenshots of this SpaceX video taken and processed by Cujo359

Click on the image to see it full size. Flight time is an estimate based on the frame rate of the video. The flight lasted just over a minute.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, a single stage to orbit vehicle of any sort would be a giant leap forward in space travel. It would make flying into orbit more like taking an airliner than the adventure it is now. Being able to land that rocket on a pad would be even more convenient.

Commenting Rules Page

It’s not much different from the one at the Blogspot Slobber And Spittle, but I’ve put the rules page here, too. After all, people don’t necessarily think to look at the old place for the rules that apply to the new one.

There was a comment here recently that appears to violate one of those rules (though not annoyingly so), so I figured it was time.

Sometimes, Progressives Get It

We are the 99 percent

From two years ago. For all I know, she’s sill looking for a job.

Yet another thing passed under my nose today that turned out to be worth a look. When I saw the title of this essay by Lynn Parramore, I figured it would be some sort of pseudo-feminist twaddle about how he cheated on his wife with call girls and he probably downloads porn all the time, so how could he possibly respect women?. Turns out, my first impressions can be wrong:

As a life-long feminist, I’ve often been struck by the lack of insight in the political realm into a simple fact: So-called “women’s issues” are everyone’s issues.

When women have access to reproductive healthcare, when they are supported in the workplace, when they can enjoy a dignified retirement, when they are protected from Wall Street predators, when they are economically secure, everyone wins.

5 Things Women Should Know About Eliot Spitzer

I was hooked already, but of course she goes on:

Enter a candidate for New York City Comptroller who has an outstanding record on all of these issues. One who has shown an unmatched enthusiasm for challenging Wall Street abuses that disproportionately impact women, one who has championed women’s workplace rights and access to healthcare — and one who even publicly calls himself a feminist.

Incredibly, some women, like NOW New York president Sonia Ossorio, have chosen to actually team up with business leaders to spend $1.5 million to skew the election and defeat Eliot Spitzer in his bid for office.

5 Things Women Should Know About Eliot Spitzer

OK, now I want to kiss the woman. Calling out progressive leaders who don’t even serve the narrow agendas of their organizations, much less a generally progressive philosophy, would be a full-time job. This is a textbook example. Parramore goes on to name several reasons why Spitzer qualifies as a feminist. From my perspective, they’re excellent reasons for most women to support him. When it comes right down to it, legislation that mandates family leave time or abortion rights ought to count for more than what the guy does in his free time.

Ms. Parramore doesn’t stop there, though:

5. Wall Street Watchdog: What does Wall Street have to do with women? A lot, actually. Wall Street predations and reckless activities have cost millions of women their jobs, homes, and pensions. Swindlers in business suits have triggered massive funding crises in cities across America by charging outrageous fees, setting up harmful financial deals, and other shenanigans.

Women pay disproportionately for all this. They endure cuts to the social services they rely on to keep themselves and their families afloat in times of need.

5 Things Women Should Know About Eliot Spitzer

Now I want to have her baby. Why in the world isn’t this the default position of every women’s organization, not to mention just about any cause that could be considered progressive? Yet, as she already observed, this is clearly not the New York NOW’s position. When do progressives wake up to the idea that the organizations they send money to and do volunteer work for should be pursuing an agenda that benefits the society and the world that we all live in, rather than just their own interests?

The inability to realize that in many ways our prosperity and how that prosperity is gained and distributed among us affects just about all those quality of life issues women, and men, too, come to think of it, care about is something that progressives seem incapable of understanding. To me, the widespread support for Hillary Clinton by women and feminists has been a case in point. Clinton has been very vocal and has done many things in support of women’s rights, it’s true. Unfortunately, she has never shown any more interest in fixing the undemocratic and increasingly unfair distribution of wealth and income in America any more than Barack Obama has. When we finally become the feudal economy that the New Democrats appear to want as badly as any Republican, I don’t think women’s lives will be looking any too shiny. I keep pointing this out to Clinton supporters, and have yet to be told about something she did that indicates otherwise.

Labor’s handling of the Affordable Care Act is yet another. They thought they could cut out their own little deal that would exempt their workers and their profitable health care networks from extra taxation, and supported the ACA even though it was clearly not good for either their workers or the public generally. Then Obama and the congressional Democrats screwed them. I didn’t notice any heads rolling among the unions after this, even though there should have been.

This, I’m afraid, is the fundamental reason progressives can’t get ahead. Their tone deafness and their inability to understand the reality of politics doesn’t help, but this is perhaps the most fundamental reason no one with any sense listens to them. They don’t recognize that they benefit from the things that benefit us all. Instead of hanging together, they each get boned separately.

Still, every once in a while there’s a progressive who reminds me that we aren’t all that stupid. I’d like to thank Lynn Parramore for doing that today.

Serendipitous Twitter Messages Of The Day

On my Twitter feed, these two messages appeared right next to each other:

graphic of Twitter messages

Twitter messages by @SuzanneTwoTon and @RichardDawkins, Aug. 8, 2013

Irony doesn’t get much heavier in this corner of the universe. What I conclude from this is that if aliens contact us, the NSA will know about it, but won’t want to reveal that knowledge, because it will endanger lives in our worldwide war on Al Qaeda. No doubt someone will eventually leak that information, but everyone will ignore the news and focus on what bad manners it was to release it without authorization.

Afterword: Links to the original messages here and here.

UPDATE (and After-Afterword): About that “bad manners” link – John Lewis is one of the few congresspeople these days for whom I have undying respect. The man risked a lot more for freedom back in the day than most of us ever will. Still, it is more than a little ironic that a man who values civil liberties so much would poor-mouth the efforts of someone else who is trying to preserve them.

A Blogroll At Last

Ahem. I'm sharing something of myself and you're not displaying pictures?Part of the process of moving from one place to another is transporting the blog roll – all the blogs I supposedly read and/or like. I’m finally starting to fill it in over here at the new place. As you can see, we’re as far as the ‘L’s now.

While I was checking out things at the old blog, I ran into something I hadn’t heard of before, called referral spam. Apparently, there are actually people who make links to things like this blog in hopes that people will look at theirs in return. The one I noticed today even has a page explaining about how it’s not illegal or anything, and therefore it’s OK. Of course, if you send them an e-mail so they can get an e-mail list together that they can sell, they’ll be happy to remove you from their spambot service. Let me tell you something: It’s not OK.

My policy about blog rolls has changed with the move. As you can see, it’s no longer “Blogs I Read”, as it was at the old place. I’ll put your blog in this roll even if I don’t read it all that much, as long as yours is a small blog that links to me.

See. Old dogs can learn new tricks. We just have to want to.

If you have a link to my blog at your place, its name starts with the letters ‘A’ thru ‘L’, you’re not referral spam or some other site dedicated to advertising a product or service, and you don’t see your blog on the blog roll, please let me know. In fact, if you’re a follower with those same qualifications, and you want your blog in the blog roll, please let me know. I’ve already noted a couple I will be including eventually.

The Future Of Journalism?

Even with this nose, sometimes the crystal ball provides a clear view.

“Answer unclear”? Not this time. Image credit: Mashup of this picture and this one by Cujo359.

It’s been official for a day or so now, as The New York Times reports:

The Washington Post, the newspaper whose reporting helped topple a president and inspired a generation of journalists, is being sold for $250 million to the founder of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P. Bezos, in a deal that has shocked the industry.

Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post Company, and the third generation of the Graham family to lead the paper, told the staff about the sale late Monday afternoon. They had gathered together in the newspaper’s auditorium at the behest of the publisher, Katharine Weymouth, his niece.

“I, along with Katharine Weymouth and our board of directors, decided to sell only after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges made us wonder if there might be another owner who would be better for the Post (after a transaction that would be in the best interest of our shareholders),” Mr. Graham said in a written statement.

Bezos, Amazon’s Founder, to Buy The Washington Post

Taylor Marsh reacted to this news this way:

REACTIONARY negativity against Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post is founded on ignorance of necessity being the mother of reinvention.

No one knows what the future will bring for the Washington Post under Jeff Bezos, but the imperative for Don Graham to do something radical to save the brand his family built was serious.

Washington Post Buy by Bezos Signals New Era

Some of which, at least, is true. The Washington Post and other newspapers have been seeing their markets shrink for years. Some of that is their own fault, and some of it has to do with how the Internet has changed both the availability and cost of information. So yes, there was definitely a need for some radical change here. Unfortunately, not all change is good, and when its agent has the track record Jeff Bezos has, the likely result is all too predictable.

So I’ll take a wild stab at a prediction, based on things like this Twitter message yesterday from David Dayen:

This isn’t uniquely Bezos’ strategy for dealing with new acquisitions, but it reveals that he’s no better than average in that department.

I stopped doing business with Amazon a long time ago, more than a decade now. The issue back then was their bogus claim that the “one click” feature of their site was worthy of a patent. The patent was granted, mind you, but it was nonsense anyway. That patent, though, gave Amazon a distinct advantage over its competition. What Bezos seems to know about the Internet is how to use a compliant court system to put the competition at a disadvantage. That doesn’t bode well if you are hoping for a higher quality product out of the Washington Post.

No doubt I’d have gotten over that issue by now, but Amazon keeps giving me new reasons to avoid using them, like this business I alluded to previously. It’s not just the 110° F (43° C) heat that should be a concern, but the dehumanizing conditions that helped make such days possible.

This doesn’t bode well for the WaPo, either. Granted, the workers at that factory were mostly unskilled laborers, but treating workers this way doesn’t encourage worker retention. Becoming a journalist, like becoming any sort of professional, takes education, skill, and time. If your employees only stick around long enough to pick up a skill and then go elsewhere, you are going to have quality issues. When your product’s sales potential is based on the reputation of those workers, that’s doubly a problem.

That’s why I feel safe in predicting that whatever happens to the Washington Post, it won’t be good for the paper as a source of journalism, nor will it be good for those of us who want it to be one.

The New Doctor Arrives

publicity photo of Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi – the twelfth Doctor. Image credit: BBC

Finally, some good news has passed under my nose. Of course, it has nothing to do with politics or economics:

Peter Capaldi has been announced as the Twelfth Doctor, succeeding Matt Smith as star of Doctor Who. The 55-year-old star is the same age that William Hartnell was when he first appeared in the TARDIS back in 1963. The actor is best known for his role as Malcolm Tucker, the cantankerous and foul-mouthed spin doctor from The Thick Of It, as well his role on the ’60s BBC newsroom saga The Hour.

Who Is Peter Capaldi? A Look Back at the ‘Doctor Who’ Star’s Roles

I like that he’s an older actor. The one complaint I had about Matt Smith was that he seemed too much like a kid, rather than a 900-plus year old who has seen just about everything. He grew into the role, I think, and by Series 7 he was fun to watch, but at first he seemed more brash than world-weary, a stark contrast to his predecessor David Tennant. It’s tough to play someone as experienced as the Doctor when you’re barely done being a kid. It’s to his credit that Smith was eventually convincing in the role, but I’d prefer not to go through that learning period again.

From his long and varied resume, it looks like Capaldi won’t have any trouble fitting into the role.

I’m looking forward to the new season.

Find The Olympics A Home

Members of the 2010 USA Olympics curling team in action

Strapping young women operating brooms – what’s not to like? Maybe where they’re located? Image credit: jon oropeza/Wikimedia

With all the recent attention to Russia’s human rights record, particularly regarding LGBT rights, I’m starting to think that it would be a good idea to just find a permanent home for the games. Have the summer Olympics in Greece, and the winter Olympics somewhere wintry and inoffensive like Norway or Canada. Just about every place they hold the games has human rights problems, and at least there would be less excuse for building expensive sports metroplexes in places that can’t afford them. I’m sure many of the citizens of Sochi would have appreciated not having been selected, considering some reports I’ve seen of the disruptions going on there to get ready for this winter’s games.

Right now, the selection process sounds like a bidding war the Inernational Olympic Committee conducts between the only governments corrupt or opportunistic enough to want to host the things. The prognosis that the next games will be held in a human rights utopia seems particularly bleak.

Plus, the Greeks could sure use the money right now.

Afterword: This article started as a comment to the article at the first link that wouldn’t post, presumably because it was too big.