Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, March 1, 2012 2:17 am

The crux of the biscuit …

… and the quote of the new day, from low-tech cyclist at Cogitamus:

You know, when liberating the free market makes “the United States” richer, it doesn’t do a damned bit of good for most of us unless some of that extra richness finds its way into our pockets.  But when the median household in 2010 is only 7% richer than the median household in 1973, despite the fact that we’re clearly way, WAY richer as a nation, that means our economy has failed in a very essential way.

Why, yes. Yes, it has.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 8:01 pm

How to end Occupy Wall Street

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 8:01 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airways, has an idea, but the IGMFY crowd won’t like it:

There is a fundamental problem with capitalism. And that is that it’s the only system that works, but it does bring extreme wealth to a few individuals. Therefore, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those few individuals, you have to make sure you use that responsibility extremely well, and that you use that wealth to create more jobs and to try to sort out some of the intractable problems of the world. As a business leader, I’m no more successful than a doctor or a nurse or a journalist, but I have that wealth, and with wealth—as they say—comes responsibility.

In short, you need to know when enough is enough, and you need to stop screwing less fortunate people just because you can — two things sociopaths are fundamentally incapable of doing.

Oh, well.

Monday, November 21, 2011 9:36 pm

One thousand words

Filed under: Evil,I want my country back. — Lex @ 9:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

Buzzfeed has more, but this one pretty much says it all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011 4:16 pm

UC-Davis: It was unquestionably illegal

The UC-Davis police’s pepper-spraying of nonviolent protesters was contrary to the controlling law in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes California.

As The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta documents, illegal violence by law enforcement against peaceful demonstrators has become commonplace. And it must stop. This is not how a free country governs itself.

UPDATE: The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal argues that the officer who did the spraying is just the product of the system of policing that we constructed. While true, that argument opens the door for the Nuremberg defense, and that door is one we want to stay firmly closed. Police officers have an affirmative duty not only to obey the law themselves but also to disobey illegal commands. No one gets off the hook. No one.

Saturday, November 19, 2011 8:00 pm

Want to know why the Koch brothers are trying to kill public higher education?

They can’t stand this.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011 8:03 pm

Contrary to popular belief, the Bill of Rights has not been repealed

Esquire’s Charles Pierce, bringing up our inconvenient Bill of Rights:

It would be helpful if the president would mention, in public, that people exercising their fundamental First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly should not be made to bleed from the ears. When did we decide to look at our fellow citizens as enemies who deserve to be subject to military assault? When did we vote on that?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:26 pm

Why the Occupy (#ows) protests must be shut down

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 8:26 pm
Tags:

Otherwise, all sorts of bad things could happen:

On Oct. 11, just five days after protesters set up camp, police chiefs who had been dealing with the encampments for weeks warned that the homeless will be attracted to the food, shelter and medical care the camps offered.

We just can’t allow that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:30 pm

Another quote of the day, #ows edition

“Trashing libraries is a very particular kind of political statement.” — Henry, Crooked Timber.

And commenter Bill Benzon adds:

I note that these police actions seem to be taking place in the name of public health, among other things. This is the imagery of defilement and impurity that clearly signals that “THEY are not one of US.” This is very dangerous ground.

Oh, please. Likening people to filth and vermin has always ended well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 8:57 pm

Letter to Scott Nolan, general manager, WDAV-FM, re: Lisa Simeone UPDATE: … and his reply

UPDATE 2: Please click on the link below and join me in thanking President Quillen for doing the right thing. If you’d also like to thank her for making Davidson look good in the process, that’s fine, but I won’t insist on it. ;-)

UPDATE: DAMN. I had no sooner hit “send” on that email and begun copying and pasting it into the blog here when Scott Nolan called me.

Long story short, I am delighted to report that he, the station and the college are doing all the right things here for all the right reasons. They’ve reviewed the terms of their contract with NPR to provide content — i.e., the opera show Simeone produces. They have concluded that the college is in compliance with every stipulation of that contract, and they’re going to ignore the national media and keep doing what they’re doing.

It is a good day to be a Wildcat.

(As you might expect, I bcc’ed a lot of people on that email. I’ll be letting them know about this conversation immediately.)

* * *

cc: Dr. Carol Quillen, president, Davidson College

Scott:

As a Davidson College alumnus and former employee of WDAV-FM during its critical early years as a high-powered broadcast outlet, I was more than a little dismayed to learn that NPR was “in conversations with WDAV about how they [sic] intend to handle” Lisa Simeone.

Here’s some free advice from someone with decades of experience in media and PR: You don’t. You listen politely to NPR, you then tell its representative to take a flying flip at a rolling doughnut and you let Ms. Simeone keep doing what she’s doing for WDAV without interruption or hassle. (If nothing else, I’m sure my late father, Class of ’52, founding member of the WDAV advisory board and a board member at Opera Carolina for about two decades, would appreciate it. He’d have loved her show, I think.)

There are so many things wrong about this situation that it’s difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, that’s exactly the kind of situation where I’ve eaten, professionally speaking, for the past 30 years.

First, if I understand the situation correctly (and I might not; I’ve seen conflicting reports in major media outlets), Lisa Simeone is a freelancer for WDAV and has no direct, formal relationship whatever with NPR anymore. That being the case, then absent any written agreement between the station and her with respect to how she will conduct herself off the air, the station simply has no jurisdiction — no moral, legal or ethical standing to tell her what she can and cannot say, what groups she can and cannot participate with, whom she can and cannot represent besides WDAV. If, going forward, the station finds it valuable to control that conduct, it is welcome to attempt to reach a contractual arrangement with her on that point and to attempt to compensate her accordingly. She, of course, is free to tell you to go to hell, and if you’re foolish enough to try to achieve that goal, then for reasons that have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with my having been a freelancer off and on for much of my career, I sincerely hope she does.

Second, although there are no true First Amendment issues here as no government agency is involved so far as I know, Davidson College and every college and university worth the name has a strong interest in defending freedom of expression, particularly unpopular expression. One of the unfortunate side effects of the evolution of the American economy from one based on manufacturing to one based on knowledge — and, therefore, frequently on relationships — is that otherwise rational people can and do sever perfectly productive professional relationships because overentitled jackasses get a bad case of butthurt over something someone said or wrote or blogged or tweeted about them. The academy, of all our institutions, ought to be the one that stands up and points out both the impracticality and the immorality of shutting down unpopular speech. If you have a problem with that, you’re welcome to seek employment in the for-profit sector. I hear it’s hiring. Oh, wait.

Third, moving from the general to the particular, what, exactly, is it of which Ms. Simeone stands accused? Depending on which news account you read, she’s guilty of being a “spokeswoman” or “organizer” for Occupy Wall Street — again, on her own time, separate and apart from her work for WDAV. Unfortunately, neither NPR nor anyone else has bothered to explain exactly what that even means, let alone why it’s a bad thing. Moreover, from everything I’ve read or heard about Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots (including first-hand accounts from my brother and sister-in-law in Raleigh, friends here in Greensboro, friends in New York and other participants), one of its defining characteristics is that anyone who wants to be can be an “organizer” or “spokesperson” for the movement. It’s a consensus movement, not a hierarchical one. While that might not bode well for its political effectiveness, it also makes defining moral and ethical transgressions on the part of any one participant problematic when we’re talking about an act of speech as opposed to, say, defecating on a police car. Put another way, the terms are meaningless. Two nights ago, as a joke, I created the Twitter hashtag #LWS — Liquidate Wall Street. (This was before Bloomberg Business News broke the story that Bank of America intends to try to stick taxpayers with a looming $53 TRILLION loss on its derivatives; in 24 hours, Liquidate Wall Street evolved with no effort on my part from joke to logical policy proposal, but that’s a different subject altogether.) Does my having created that hashtag make me an “organizer” or “spokesman” for the Liquidate Wall Street movement? If so, neither I nor the movement appear to be deriving much benefit.

Finally, I would point out something that I hope already has become obvious to you in your dealings with NPR: In matters relating to politics — a subject on which its news coverage purports to have some expertise — NPR cannot find its own ass with both hands and a flashlight. It has mishandled every major story of the past decade related to important political issues, from war crimes to the economy, health care to regulation. Probably not coincidentally, it has failed to recognize that it is facing ongoing, coordinated political attacks from one and only one side of the aisle that are bent on destroying it because they are bent on destroying accountability journalism entirely. I have been a registered Republican since 1978, but even I am not blind to this phenomenon, nor do I care for the likely national consequences if this effort succeeds. NPR is blind, willingly or otherwise, but you need not let your affiliation with the network blind you, too.

What you do, or choose not to do, is up to you. But you need to understand that your actions and those of the college in whose name you operate will be watched carefully and interpreted in the context of the values for which this country and Davidson College purport to stand.

Best,

Hooper “Lex” Alexander IV ’82
Greensboro, NC
www.lexalexander.net

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:28 pm

In which Jesse LaGreca not only appears on a Sunday-morning TV talk show but also is far more polite in the face of George Effing Will and Peggy Noonan’s disingenuousness than I could ever be.

Friday, September 30, 2011 9:04 pm

If you think the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters are just a bunch of dirty hippies …

… then think again.

Bonus points for the visual reminder that it was a union crew that landed US Airways Flight 1549 safely in the Hudson River after both engines were disabled and evacuated the aircraft with no loss of life.

Thursday, September 29, 2011 9:12 pm

Police brutality: Shiny!

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 9:12 pm
Tags: ,

mistermix at Balloon Juice on Occupy Wall Street and distractions therefrom:

What’s interesting to me is how a protest designed to draw attention to the disparity in wealth between Wall Street millionaires and the rest of us, as well as the injustice of the bank bailout, has morphed into a conversation about police overreach. We’re like a big dysfunctional family that never deals with any of our problems, and when today’s problem gets us a little agitated, we latch on to one minor detail that’s related to some other festering sore in our collective psyche and use that to distract ourselves.

Now that we have our distraction, it’s time to burn someone at the stake. Instead of having a discussion about our tolerance and even celebration of brutal cops, para-military no-knock raids, and expensive, pointless security theater, we’re going to drill in on this one [jerk] who maced a few protesters and get him fired. Once that happens, we’ll go back to forgetting about the elephant in the room.

I hope he’s wrong. But he usually isn’t.

Also, if we’re going to pepper-spray protesters, Charles Pierce would like us to step into the Time Machine first.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:47 pm

Spam filter

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 8:47 pm
Tags: , ,

So Yahoo!, the nation’s largest free email service with more than 90 million accounts, was blocking emails referring to the URL of the economic-activism group Occupy Wall Street. Yahoo! claims that this was an inadvertent error involving its spam-blocking software, because it would never mess with email traffic for the benefit of the wealthy and/or powerful.

Inasmuch as neither senders nor recipients knew about the problem because senders weren’t getting a warning message that what they sent was considered spam and the emails were just getting blocked rather than ending up in intended recipients’ spam folders, perhaps we ought to have a look in Yahoo!’s spam filters to see what else might be in there. You never know. It might be something important.

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