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Roundup: Flight of the Humpback Edition

November 19th, 2007 · No Comments · Apple, Blogs, Books, Climate Change, Comics, Culture, Feminism, Fiction, Film, History, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Journalism, LGBT, Lit, Macintosh, Media, Music, Nature, New Wave, Politics, Religion, Software, Tech, The Economy, Stupid, Torture

humpback in flight

  • Markos from Daily Kos has a new gig writing opinion pieces for Newsweek, and he’s been in rare form with his first couple of efforts. From this week’s column: “In his first Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan remarked that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.’ While the quip has provided Republicans with a cheap slogan for two decades, the philosophy behind it is beginning to box them in. If they govern effectively, they invalidate their own antigovernment ideology. And when you elect people who believe that government won’t work, you shouldn’t be surprised when government stops working.”
  • And then there’s the unparalleled, coruscating brilliance of Digby: “I wonder if Chris Matthews realizes that every time he or one of his fellow gasbags blithely reveal their sexist lizard brains like this, another little feminist gets her (or his) wings.”
  • Where seven years of Republican rule leads us: Americans now too poor to afford the lattes they got hooked on during the Clinton era.
  • If, like me, you’ve been wondering what a truly progressive approach to immigration reform would look like, this diary does an impressive job of connecting the dots — providing a wealth of useful history, background and context.
  • Rapture Rescue: Writing in The Nation, Naomi Klein looks at how salvation from natural disasters is increasingly reserved for the elect. “Thanks to the booming business of privatized disaster services, we’re getting the Rapture right here on earth. Just look at what is happening in Southern California. Even as wildfires devoured whole swaths of the region, some homes in the heart of the inferno were left intact, as if saved by a higher power. But it wasn’t the hand of God; in several cases it was the handiwork of Firebreak Spray Systems. Firebreak is a special service offered to customers of insurance giant American International Group (AIG)–but only if they happen to live in the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Members of the company’s Private Client Group pay an average of $19,000 to have their homes sprayed with fire retardant … With public fire departments cut to the bone, gone are the days of Rapid Response, when everyone was entitled to equal protection. Now, increasingly intense natural disasters will be met with the new model: Rapture Response.”
  • New report points out that the US prison system is an expensive failure that has little impact on crime, and recommends reducing the prison population. Ending the hysterical and ineffective “war on drugs” would help.
  • Ezra Klein quotes Charles Kaiser on Andrew Sullivan’s new crush on Obama: “As Kaiser puts it, ‘Barack is Andrew’s latest infatuation. The fact that Sullivan’s previous love objects have included Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, the war in Iraq, and unsafe sex makes this endorsement slightly less exciting for the rest of us.'” Oh, snap. He might have also added “Racist tract The Bellcurve” to that list, since Sullivan has been one of that appalling book’s biggest boosters.
  • David Broder, master of the shameless double standard. He really is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the corporate media and what passes for journalism these days.
  • THE PINK SECTION: God bless Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He continues to be an inspiration.
  • Nicaragua decriminalizes homosexuality. In your face, Singapore.
  • THE GREEN SECTION: Reprehensible: Japanese whaling fleet is gearing up to target humpback whales.
  • In a profile of the humpback whale in the Independent, Michael McCarthy writes of witnessing a humpack “breaching” on a recent whale watch: “We saw one soar out of the water with no warning whatsoever, turning in the air like a diver with a half-twist. The whole boat was gobsmacked. It may have been doing it to get rid of barnacles, but I had the feeling it had actually jumped for sheer joy. It was an unforgettable spectacle from an unforgettable creature. The Japanese do not need to add it to their target list; there are plenty of the minke whales they are already taking to satisfy their wish to hunt and their market for meat. It’s simply a gratuitous extension of the wish to kill, like a fox in a henhouse killing everything in sight. But foxes act purely on instinct, and humans are meant to have reason; and the fact Japanese whalers now want to fire explosive harpoons into one of the world’s most wonderful animals strikes me as barbaric in the extreme.”
  • China’s e-waste problem is only getting worse: “The air smells acrid from the squat gas burners that sit outside homes, melting wires to recover copper and cooking computer motherboards to release gold. Migrant workers in filthy clothes smash picture tubes by hand to recover glass and electronic parts, releasing as much as 6.5 pounds of lead dust … For the West, where safety rules drive up the cost of disposal, it’s as much as 10 times cheaper to export the waste to developing countries … Upwards of 90 percent ends up in dumps that observe no environmental standards, where shredders, open fires, acid baths and broilers are used to recover gold, silver, copper and other valuable metals while spewing toxic fumes and runoff into the nation’s skies and rivers.”
  • The climate change feedback loop, as described in a story on how Hurricane Katrina destroyed millions of trees: “‘It is an irony that the change we may see as the climate warms, with increased storms of this magnitude, could be accelerating the source of the emissions that create the change, so the change could be accelerating itself,’ said Glenn Prickett, a forestry expert for Conservation International.”
  • England prepares to sacrifice some of its coastal villages to the sea.
  • And a new study says that lobsters do, in fact, feel pain.
  • BOOKS/LIT: Not that there was any reason to doubt it, but Kurt Vonnegut’s place on American bookshelves is secure.
  • FILM/TV: Gus Van Sant’s movie about Harvey Milk, with Sean Penn in the lead, is set to start shooting in January. The competing Bryan Singer-directed adaptation of The Mayor of Castro Street is apparently going to be second out of the gate. It’s a little like watching the dueling Capote movies from a couple of years back …
  • MUSIC: Great rant by a critic who’s abstaining from voting for this year’s weak slate of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees, which include The Dave Clark Five and, jeezum crow, Schmadonna. (In terms of real artistic quality, it’s true that the transcendent Leonard Cohen is on the slate, but as the writer points out, L.C. is not exactly what you think of when you think of rock and roll.) He goes on to list some of the artists who haven’t been inducted, including OcPot idols T. Rex, Iggy Pop, and Roxy Music. And as I say every year, wake me when they induct The B-52’s. I expect to have a nice long snooze. (h/t Norm)
  • Thom Yorke turns down duet with Paul McCartney.
  • The man who fell into the clink: David Bowie’s 1976 pot bust mug shot. (h/t Kristine at Planet-Earthlings)
  • Homophobes make Beth Ditto sick. Fortunately, she has good aim.
  • HEALTH: This is depressing: in a recent trial of an experimental AIDS vaccine, the vaccine seems to have actually made the people who received it more susceptible to infection compared to the placebo group.
  • TECH: Apple released the first update to Leopard last week. Also what will probably be the last update to Tiger, which includes Safari 3.0.
  • Marvel unveils new digital comic archive.
  • COMICS: Via Eli, what an Edward Gorey version of “The Trouble with Tribbles” might have looked like.
  • Tom the Dancing Bug’s Super-Fun-Pak Comix: a load of manure, animated cell phone cartoons, epic vs. brutal, and comics for dogs!
  • Conservative Jones, Boy Detective sleuths out some more answers.
  • Slowpoke: Right-wing think tank researchers go on strike.
  • Deep Cover: tortured logic. Also, where bubbles come from.

(Creative commons credit: Illustration based on a photo by Whit Welles.)


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