Archive for April, 2011

Bill Watterson Surfaces

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog shares, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson contributed a painting to a benefit organized by Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson.

It’s popular to deem Watterson a recluse, but I think it’s far stranger to submit to the publicity machine than opt out.

The Terrible Tax Burden of the Elite

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic has a great rejoinder to the common claim that the rich pay all of our taxes while 47% of the population freeloads. Long story short, federal income tax isn’t the only tax and the percentage of taxes paid largely aligns with percentage of income.

My Crazy Hometown, Part 1 Million

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Yesterday, I read a South Bend Tribune profile of a prospective mayoral candidate. Bill Davis, a Republican no less, bears a history that has his thrown out of middle school for attacking a teacher, has spent time in prison for assault, and runs his campaign from a local flophouse where “communication at times has been difficult, if the minutes on their prepaid cell phone run out, because squirrels keep chewing through the phone line leading into their room.”

Naturally, he took nearly 40 percent of the vote in a 2008 race for St. Joseph County Commissioner.

Update: Now I feel bad—it seems he’s suffered a heart attack.

David Simon on Crumbling Empire

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

But I don’t mind being called [angry]. I just don’t think it means anything. How can you have lived through the last ten years in American culture and not be? How can you not look at what happened on Wall Street, at this gamesmanship that was the mortgage bubble, that was just selling crap and calling it gold? Or watch a city school system suffer for twenty, twenty-five years? Isn’t anger the appropriate response? What is the appropriate response? Ennui? Alienation? Buying into the great-man theory of history—that if we only elect the right guy? This stuff is systemic. This is how an empire is eaten from within.

Guernica magazine shares an excellent Bill Moyers–interview of David Simon, creator of The Wire. Simon argues that the veneer used to hide our crumbling civil society no longer holds.

Sports Illustrated

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Thomas Lake has an excellent feature in Sports Illustrated detailing the drive-by murder of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams. It’s as much a cultural study as a news story, showing how Williams and his killer were shaped by—and reflected—their upbringings.

It’s also brutally senseless. The whole thing centered around the kind stupid machismo that most young men would recognize, one that usually ends in shouts and shoves but here was twisted into murder.

Maggie Flynn in Salon

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Friend Maggie Flynn has a thoughtful piece in Salon on being non-religious in the Bible belt.

But What Kind of Jobs?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Amid reports that the economy is adding jobs (even as unemployment in Illinois is still 9 percent), it’s nice to see the New York Times probe whether many of these jobs are providing enough income to live on.

In “Many Low-Wage Jobs Seen as Failing to Meet Basic Needs,” they conclude, “But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care.” It’s a perspective that isn’t offered enough.