From the I Just Had To Click That Link file


Disturbing thoughts. Or, according to David Schmader:

The week continues with a creepy new real-life drama starring Andy Dick, the troubled comedian who was arrested early this morning on charges of sexual abuse in West Virginia. Details come from the West Virginia Herald-Dispatch, which reports the 44-year-old Dick was taken into police custody around 4:00 a.m., after two men accused Dick of groping them at the Huntington bar Rum Runners. In a press release, the Huntington Police Department reported “two alleged incidents of a patron engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact with a bar employee and another patron. Based upon statements of two victims and independent witness accounts alleging that he had engaged in unwanted and uninvited groping of the two victims’ genital areas, [Dick] was arrested and charged with two counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree.” As the Herald-Dispatch reminds us, this is not Dick’s first alleged sex crime: He’s currently serving three years probation following his alleged sexual battery of a 17-year-old girl, whose tank top he allegedly yanked down to reveal her breasts. If convicted of today’s alleged gropings, Dick faces one to five years in prison.

I mean, four thousand jokes come to mind, and not a damn one of them any good. But part of me actually wonders what this guy is repressing. Really, why behave this way? Sure, “He’s an asshole,” serves well enough for many, but what is the psyche of an asshole? Does the detail serve as a punch line? Or is it just freaking sad?

Advertisements

This is your brain on America


David Brooks recently bucked the trend of looking back at the decade most of us would like to forget in order to prognosticate about the next ten years. Okay, so that’s just trading one trend for another, but at least I’m not going on about the Bono article.

In almost every sphere of public opinion, Americans are moving away from the administration, not toward it. The Ipsos/McClatchy organizations have been asking voters which party can do the best job of handling a range of 13 different issues. During the first year of the Obama administration, the Republicans gained ground on all 13.

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.

The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.

I’m always hesitant to fall back on the whole “people are stupid” idea, or divide my view of right and wrong according to education. But it’s not just the Bush years, the “naughty oughties”, or whatever we might call the last ten years; rather, almost the whole of the period in which my political conscience has been active has been defined by the difference between being smart or stupid.

Continue reading

Never heard of him until he was dead


Tsutomu Yamaguchi died January 4, of stomach cancer.

I’ve had this link sitting around since it arrived in my New York Times RSS feed, but haven’t done anything with it because I can’t figure out why it bugs me so.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the so-called Little Boy device detonated above the city.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than two miles away from ground zero that day. His eardrums were ruptured, and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to Nagasaki, his hometown, the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with the British newspaper The Independent.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.

Japan surrendered six days after the Nagasaki attack.

Mr. Yamaguchi recovered from his wounds, went to work for the American occupation forces, became a teacher and eventually returned to work at Mitsubishi.

There were believed to have been about 165 twice-bombed people, known as nijyuu hibakusha, although municipal officials in both cities have said that Mr. Yamaguchi was the only person to be officially acknowledged as such.

Continue reading

Clowns and Coke


"Fresh Fish", by Mr. Fish (Dwanye Booth)Mr. Fish sounds off on the transformation of modern journalism—

In fact, if you were to compare the old, pre-merger LA Weekly and, while you’re at it, the Village Voice from 5 or 10 or 30 years ago, with today’s versions you’d see how Mr. Fish (not to mention Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Barbara Garson, Katherine Anne Porter, M.S. Cone, James Baldwin, E.E. Cummings, Nat Hentoff, Marc Cooper, Ted Hoagland, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, Allen Ginsberg, Joshua Clover, Jules Feiffer and R. Crumb) no longer fits in with the TMZ/Your-ad-here!/journalism-produced-cheaply-will-produce-cheap-journalism look of the papers.

I recently received a letter from someone bemoaning the obvious drop in quality of the LA Weekly, as evidenced by the paper’s online incarnation, by saying that, “If I knew nothing about LA, I would think all that went on there were Burlesque shows.”

No kidding.

Sure, in response to a shitty economy and a pandemic shift by news junkies from pulp to PC, there have been definite changes in the print media industry over the last five years. And, sure, attempts to restructure the financial model on any business institution that sees its profit margins shrinking will always have some effect on the product that’s being produced, but mustn’t a shift to protect the body of an organization take special care not to jeopardize serious trauma to the head as well?

Does an incoming administration really assert its authority when it rips up the old Constitution so beloved by those it seeks to rule, saying, “This thing is pointless – it was written with a feather! We have Microsoft Office now!” or does it merely demonstrate its own arrogance and self-centeredness and misguided sense of intellectual privilege?

Haven’t we learned anything from the New Coke fiasco from the 1980s, for Christsakes?

—and, of course, his dismissal from the L. A. Weekly newspaper.

Once upon a time ….

Continue reading

Surprise … well, no, not really


What’s that? Business leaders hoping to get what they want out of politicians lied? And politicians believed them?

It’s a seductively simple solution to rising health-care costs. Require workers to pay higher premiums if they flunk tests for measures such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Then, bingo: You not only get a fitter workforce, you slash medical expenses.

Politicians of both parties have embraced that idea and expanded upon it in the Senate reform bill, inspired largely by the claims of Steven A. Burd, Safeway’s chief executive. Burd says he has set an example for employers nationwide by rewarding employees for healthy behavior.

“Safeway designed just such a plan in 2005 and has made continuous improvements each year,” Burd wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “The results have been remarkable,” he declared, adding that “our health care costs for four years have been held constant.”

If only that were true.

Imagine that.

To the one, people shouldn’t need The Washington Post to tell them that politicians are clueless or corporate leaders dishonest, but, hey, if you want the detail, there it is.

World’s Dumbest Crimefighters?


And here I was complaining about reality television … what, just yesterday? It might be time for a new reality show: World’s Dumbest Crimefighters.

The BBC brings us the latest in brilliant anti-terrorism tactics:

Irish police have released a man held over an explosives find, after Slovakian authorities admitted planting them in his luggage.

The explosive was one of eight pieces of contraband placed with unsuspecting passengers at Bratislava Airport last weekend, broadcaster RTE reported.

The 49-year-old unwittingly brought the material into Dublin when he returned from his Christmas holidays.

He was arrested on Tuesday morning but has since been released without charge.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said he was very concerned that Irish police had not been alerted for three days.

Airport security detected seven of the illicit items, but the eighth – 90g of research development explosive – managed to escape detection.

What, aside from, “I would hope TSA isn’t this stupid”, can we possibly say?

The Beeb also notes that—

The Irish Army said passengers had not been put in danger because the explosives were stable and not connected to any essential bomb parts.

—but, come on, isn’t that just a statistical finding? Are they telling us there is no way these explosives could have detonated? Imagine the news report:

    Terrorists struck in Dublin, Ireland today, on a flight that coincidentally crashed of its own accord. According to statements from the three surviving passengers, the flight went fine until the landing, when one of the gear broke on touchdown. Passengers celebrated surviving the rough landing until the bomb, hidden in the luggage compartment, exploded, igniting the plane’s remaining fuel. Four members of the rescue squad were also killed in the explosion and fire, while six more were taken to area hospitals with burns ranging from moderate to severe.

    The Slovakian government sent its profound condolences, and thanked the Irish for “courageous” attempts to help Slovakian citizens aboard the plane ….

I mean, really. No danger?

How reckless, this war on terror?

Ringing in the New Year


This is the whole of the article from NewsCore:

A police officer is facing termination after having noisy sex in a church tower above a packed congregation attending New Year’s Day morning mass.

Father Nikalaus Maier was preaching to early morning churchgoers when noises from the belltower interrupted him.

He telephoned the police when the lovers came down looking sheepish and scurried swiftly out the door, buttoning their clothes as they left.

A church official said: “My wife sat in the back near the vestry and called me to tell me about the grunts and groans that disturbed the sermon. It was scandalous.”

The police officer faces almost certain dismissal.

Write your own punch line.