TSA official threatens employees, saying "If you don't do as I tell you, I'll personally take you out in the woods and shoot you", and "[if screeners] didn't do a great job in their assignments, he would fly over to where they are and kill them, destroy their [timesheets], so that their families would not be able to get paid." Charming. I feel safe, knowing that stable, rational people like these are keeping the boxcutters away from the Boeings. (via MeFi.)
And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords... (Link (and joke) via Radosh.net.)
A different perspective on Dean's scream in Iowa last week...literally. This video, shot from a crowd POV, gives you a good lesson on how camera angles, audio tracks, and the like are all subjective. It looks like a standard energetic political speech, given to pump up volunteers and supporters.
Moral of this story? Everything is subjective to some degree or another. Any time someone filters an event (whether that filter is as subtle as deciding how to frame a shot or as blatant as what Michael Moore or Bill O'Reilly say all the time), you're getting a little farther away from "objectivity." The charge that journalists face is not to be "objective" -- that simply can't happen -- but to be fair.
Geez, IE is so buggy that Microsoft has been reduced to sending out warnings advising people not to click on hyperlinks and instead enter URLs by hand:
The most effective step that you can take to help protect yourself from malicious hyperlinks is not to click them. Rather, type the URL of your intended destination in the address bar yourself. By manually typing the URL in the address bar, you can verify the information that Internet Explorer uses to access the destination Web site. To do so, type the URL in the Address bar, and then press ENTER.
Kick-ass New Yorker article by Hendrik Hertzberg analyzing the State of the Union address. When I read it on the subway home last night, it was all I could do to keep from seizing strangers by the lapels and reading entire paragraphs aloud to them. (Which, I suppose, is essentially what I'm doing to you now.) An excerpt:
“For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America,” the President said in his speech, and for a moment one couldn’t be sure one had heard him right. Was he speaking ironically? America’s word—the present Administration’s, anyway—has in fact been cast into the deepest doubt, and that is one of the reasons its diplomacy has not been effective. . .
Bush’s only serious (that is, expensive) domestic program, as always, is yet another mammoth tax entitlement for the rich and the superrich. The new plan would make permanent his earlier tax cuts, which, in a gimmick designed to make future deficits look less terrifying, were scheduled to expire in 2010. This new round of relief for the unneedy, like the previous three, is to be financed (though the President didn’t mention this part) by confiscating the Social Security “trust fund,” curtailing federal activities that benefit society at large, and borrowing more trillions—taking out a fourth mortgage on the future, payable to foreign creditors. The rest of Bush’s proposals were either ruinously expensive, socially poisonous non-starters (such as privatizing Social Security) or cheap cuts of wormy red meat for the conservative and evangelical base. Of the latter the cheapest was an exhortation to professional athletes to quit taking steroids, the wormiest a threat to deface the Constitution with anti-gay graffiti.
Read the whole article. It's worth it.
It turns out that Bush's deficit is the biggest in US history: $477 billion this year alone...which will balloon to $2.4 trillion over the next decade if our current rate of spending is maintained, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. "'The President has a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years, and that's what we intend to do,' said Bush spokesman Scott McClellan."
How reassuring. There wasn't a deficit till he took office, and now they have a plan to fix it. Is it like Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War? Is it based on the kind of forward thinking and disinterested rational analysis that characterized the rush headlong into Iraq? Or is it just another faith-based program?
Here's a bold idea: Why create the damn thing in the first place? The Clinton-era surpluses are long gone, squandered in favor of a foolhardy tax cut coupled with gigantic giveaways to big business and pals of the administration. Oh yeah, and don't forget that the numbers above don't include another proposed $1 trillion tax cut or any funding for the push to the moon and Mars (which will cost at least hundreds of billions, if not a trillion or two.)
It looks like Bush is trying to buy an election again, but he's trying to buy it from the people this time instead of the Supreme Court. (Not that the Supreme Court can be bought, nooooo.) The price is way too high.
Adam Greenfield defends Ikea and Starbucks. Yes, I'm just as annoyed as he is by those bandwagon-jumpers that seem to be more into finding a movement (any movement will do) and joining it...than they're into actually buying in to the thoughts and ramifications of the policies they espouse.
(I especially hate those "Kill Your Television" bumper stickers. They're using the most sound-bite, reductionist medium possible to argue against what they view as a perfunctory medium that reduces everything to sound bites. Granted, though I don't watch a lot of TV, there is certainly a lot of good television out there. TV's just like any other medium or even tool: you can use it for good, you can use it for evil, you can use it for completely neutral, amoral purposes. It's not the medium's fault if you don't like the message. Moreover, I'm automatically suspicious of any philosophy that can be encapsulated on a bumper sticker.)
Here's what Adam says, in part, about Starbucks:
I drink Starbucks coffee on a fairly regular basis and am generally quite satisfied. The chain provides a highly reliable, reasonably high-quality beverage - high-octane drip coffee, in my case - at a not-absurd price point. I am rarely more than a block or two away from one. I get much less attitude from the people behind the counter than I do at the one indie coffeehouse I frequent - I mean, they'll actually say hi, remember me and my drink from yesterday, refrain from chatting with each other while I'm standing there waiting to order. And their bathrooms tend to the clean.
More importantly, I am also old enough to remember the swill that Americans drank and were pleased to call "coffee" before Howard Schultz swept down out of his damp PNW redoubt and clusterbombed us with franchises. It tasted like soggy cardboard, it was served in chipped diner porcelain that itself generally tasted of soap, and most importantly, with a very few exceptions, it was all you could get anywhere. There simply was no alternative, let alone an entire alternative venue that also provided comfortable seating. At sixty or seventy-five cents, too, this "coffee" was no bargain - far better to my mind to pay twice that and get something consistently worth drinking.
Interesting points, but the American palate has vastly improved -- grown more sophisticated, educated, adventurous, and much less tolerant of crap -- in the past forty years or so. (Just check out the Gallery of Regrettable Food for some disturbing proof.) Raw fish is now "sushi" and not "bait"; I'd be surprised if it wasn't available in some college dining hall somewhere. Salsa outsells ketchup. Restaurants have exploded in variety and number. Americans have embraced ethnic food far beyond the fried-with-orange-glop "Chinese" and red-sauce Italian joints that were pretty much the only offerings back then. So I'm not sure that all the quantum leap in coffee options stems solely from the existence of Starbucks -- Americans started paying attention to what they're putting in their mouths.
(Now if more of them would just read Fast Food Nation.)
Now this may just be a matter of aesthetic differences between Adam and me, but I don't hate Starbucks because they're evil...I hate them because their coffee sucks. Every cup of coffee I've ever had at a Starbucks (particularly the regular drip stuff, but also the espresso-based drinks) tastes scorched, bitter, and foul. My theory? They buy cheap crappy beans to save money, over-roast the ever-livin' bejesus out of them to disguise their skinflint ways, and pass it off as Grade A Number One Supremo java. Starbucks is indeed more consistent than your average indie coffeehouse...but that doesn't help when their product is consistently awful.
I loathe Starbucks not because they're everywhere, or because they put the little guy out of business (that's the meme, at least, and I wonder if that's really the case like it is with, say, bookstores), or because they're expensive. I resent them deeply because their their gigantic advertising budget, coupled with their sheer ubiquity, has duped America into thinking that what they serve is good coffee. They've sold us a bill of goods, and they're not delivering on it because they're too chintzy to come up with a decent cup of joe. Coffee should be strong, but not bitter. It should taste of coffee and not of carbon. It shouldn't be loaded up with so much mint-caramel-choco-mocha-Pepsi-whipped-cream-with-sprinkles-on-top foo-faw that it qualifies more as a dessert than a beverage. It should taste balanced and rich and interesting and good. Sorry, but Starbucks doesn't qualify.
Besides, Starbucks isn't in the coffee business anyway. Starbucks is in the lifestyle and mood business. When you go to Starbucks, you're not just buying a cup of gut-bustingly-bad coffee. You're renting a few square feet of generally well-designed space in unusually nice surroundings for a chain store, and the superheated swill just happens to come with. If they sold coffee that was the equivalent of Green Mountain's, or the Mud Truck's, or Irving Farm's, or Gevalia's, or hell, even Caribou's, my ass would be in a Starbucks about eighteen hours a day.
(And oh yeah, I like Ikea too. They're clean, it's easy to find what you want, the shopping experience is pleasant, their furniture looks good, and it's cheap. (So what if you get what you pay for?))
ADDENDUM: Also posted (in much-abbreviated form) to MetaFilter, since Adam's original post was good and would likely spark interesting debate.
So yesterday John Perry Barlow was in the office visiting someone, and I spotted him and said to myself, "Gosh, is that really John Perry Barlow?" I didn't want to intrude (I don't know him, but we have an acquaintance in common), but found out later that yes, it was he.
God, I'm such a geek.
ADDENDUM: Turns out his business card describes him as a "Cognitive Dissident." That's so cool.
Andrew Sullivan has a nice article at TNR Online responding to the WaPo's advice to Dean. He hits the nail right on the head: one of the reasons I like Dean is his refusal to be more "polished" and act like a "traditional" presidential candidate.
His wife doesn't join him on the trail because she's busy at home in Vermont with her career and her family. That's feminism in action.. A dippy appearance where the candidate's wife gazes at him adoringly (a la Nancy Reagan) isn't.