Archive for November, 2010

Judge John Hodgman

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

John Hodgman is one of my favorite humorists. Best known for his Daily Show appearances and the PC vs. Mac series of commercials, he’s also written two hilarious, crammed-with-detail humor collections: “The Areas of My Expertise” and “More Information Than You Require.”

His books have benefited from a lot of creative web-based promotion, and I’ve just found his latest: Judge John Hodgman. In this podcast, he dedicates each episode to judging a protracted, but low-stakes, dispute. So far he’s adjudicated “Are Machine Guns Robots” and “Dish Soap or Hand Soap.” I’ve found his reasoning to be sound in both instances and full of low-key humor to boot.

Banana Republic, Without the Fruit.

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Great New York Times piece by Nicholas Kristof examining income inqequality in the United States: “A Hedge Fund Republic?”

You can see the impact of our current tax structure as you drive down the street. As a friend of mine who’s lived in Europe for much of the past five years remarked during his last visit, “The United States looks more and more run down.”

You Get What You Pay For

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Americans now have one of the most unequal distributions of income and wealth in the industrialized world, yet they still aspire to making a number of ever-more expensive basic services — education, justice and health care — available to all citizens on roughly equal terms, even though that vision is not consistently realized in practice. The lofty vision inevitably implies transfers from the well-to-do to the lower-income strata.

Economist Uwe Rehinhardt has a good piece on the New York Times Economix blog outlining that a fundamental problem with our federal budget is that Americans want more services from the government than they’re willing to pay for. He’s less sure on the solutions…

Sergio Aragones in the AV Club

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The core Mad magazine luminaries have been getting their belated due for a while now, something that continues with an AV Club interview with Sergio Aragones, who has made a career of working in the margins.

For Me, Not Thee

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

When he talks about borrowing money today and forcing that debt on the unborn he is literally talking about the very scheme that the Cubs are pushing. That plan calls for the bonds to be paid off over 35 years through amusement taxes.

I saw this on Roger Ebert’s Twitter feed: Joe Ricketts, head of the family that now owns the Chicago Cubs, has spent time and hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money railing about government spending even as the family asked for a $300 million Illinois bond issuance for the renovation of Wrigley Field.

Windy City Watch does a great job detailing the hypocrisy.

The Housing Scam

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Matt Taibbi’s recent Rolling Stone article about special courts set up to facilitate foreclosures details the fraud anchoring the whole process. You’ll feel smarter–and dirtier–after reading it.

Biden in the Onion

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

“I need to steer clear of D.C. until some shit blows over,” said Biden, sitting in the far corner of a Mexican cantina with his back to the wall and taking a long swig from a bottle of Tecate Light. “It’s nothing I can’t handle, but let’s just say there was a little misunderstanding. Somebody didn’t get something they were supposed to get.”

“And somebody else got a whole lot more than they bargained for,” he added.

The New York Times has a story examining the Onion’s representation of Vice President Joe Biden as a trailer park Lothatio. The story is great, but better is the link to the articles themselves, which are hilarious. (I love the recurring Trans Am.)

Quote from “Biden to Cool His Heels in Mexico for a While.”

The Education Bubble Begins to Deflate?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Reports of students who leave such schools with heavy debt, only to work in low-paying jobs, have prompted the Department of Education to propose regulations that would cut off federal financing to programs whose graduates have high debt-to-income ratios and low repayment rates.

Great article in the New York Times today on the scam of for-profit colleges, which sucks federal money from students and leaves them indebted and jobless.

Doonesbury Deserves the Recognition

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

As part of the celebrations surrounding Doonesbury’s 40th anniversary, Garry Wills has an excellent overview of the strip in the New York Review of Books. I think Doonesbury remains a monumental accomplishment. I read it every day, and I’m continually impressed with how Trudeau skewers the issues of the day while managing a large – and organic – cast of characters.

Here’s a recent fave: http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/archive/2010/11/04