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November 2010 Archives

November 30, 2010

In Which James Fallows Becomes A Conservative (And Misses The Point) - With Bonus Toby Keith Reference

By Armed Liberal at 02:06

James Fallows engages in a little goodnatured conservative-bashing in his column in the Atlantic today, and inadvertently touches on a point that's genuinely interesting:
The TSA case, on which Douthat builds his column, is in fact quite a poor illustration -- rather, a good illustration for a different point. There are many instances of the partisan dynamic working in one direction here. That is, conservatives and Republicans who had no problem with strong-arm security measures back in the Bush 43 days but are upset now. Charles Krauthammer is the classic example: forthrightly defending torture as, in limited circumstances, a necessary tool against terrorism, yet now outraged about "touching my junk" as a symbol of the intrusive state.

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  • Mike A: if you have not heard this song, it is really read more
  • Davod: "I didn't say it wasn't serious. I said it wasn't read more
  • toc3: I haven't railed against Scary Neocons, I have railed against read more
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Restrepo

By Armed Liberal at 01:03

Tonight at 9pm ET/PT the National Geographic Channel will be showing Restrepo - the amazing Sebastian Junger/Tim Carrington film that my friend Kanani helped promote to the military community.


It's flatly an amazing film. For me, it was a window into my son's life - one that neither my wife nor BG's mom has yet shared.

We don't have TV here, but we'll get a DVD and do a showing for the family soon.

But you can - and should - watch it and be reminded that while our leaders dance in the marbled halls of Washington, young men (and women) are fighting a brutal war on our behalf half a world away.

Or just buy the DVD...
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  • Roland Nikles: Watched the film tonight: a rare and intimate look at read more

November 24, 2010

Armed Liberal's Thanksgiving 2010

By Armed Liberal at 22:46

So I'm wrapping up work and sitting down to go over my recipes and break them down into a shopping list; we'll start brining the turkey and figuring out how to tidy the downstairs next.

Tomorrow afternoon, we'll have my mom, my brother and his wife, our son Littlest Guy, and our friends Norm and Jill and an orphan or two. Middle Guy and his mom will drop by, and we'll wind up the day in a food, conversation, game, and alcohol haze.

That's the basics of the event, but it doesn't say much about what it means.

Tomorrow's a day when we're supposed to be grateful, which always sounds kind of schoolmarmish - aren't we supposed to be grateful every day? But - like Veteran's Day which is a day when we get reminded about something, I'm happy to set the day aside.

Like many but not all in America and the world, we've been blessed this year.

We have a lovely home - and we're current on the mortgage.

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  • TJSmith: It's rare that there is nothing to be thankful for read more

TSA Exemptions And The Powers That Be

By Armed Liberal at 05:45

So lots of people (me included) were irate when it was announced that certain "high-value" people would be exempt from the "scan/fondle your genitals?" question. We were wrong. Here's the AP:
Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport.
My response on Facebook? "I'm shocked!"

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  • mark buehner: Then maybe we should concern ourselves less about who is read more
  • juliet: Here's the hypocrisy- I thought we were operating under the read more
  • juliet: Here's the hypocrisy- I thought we were operating under the read more

November 23, 2010

Give Everybody Eat!!

By Armed Liberal at 06:09

A parable for our times, courtesy of Joseph Heller, and Catch-22.
To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of 'Continual Reaffirmation' that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.

'Of course, it's up to you,' Captain Black pointed out. 'Nobody's trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it's going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don't care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that's nobody's business but your own. All we're trying to do is help.'

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  • toc3: As brilliant as Major _______DeCoverly was in this instance, I read more
  • Avatar: Honestly, the scan itself isn't a huge deal. I'm not read more
  • mark: mark, again, I am not saying we ought to have read more

November 22, 2010

Nov. 22, 2009

By Armed Liberal at 16:56

A year ago today, my son's company suffered its first deaths in Afghanistan.
...I've been trying to write, myself, a poem about those ancient Japanese ceramic cups, rustic in appearance, the property at some point of a holy monk, one of the few possessions he allowed himself. In a later century, someone dropped and broke the cup, but it was too precious to simply throw away. So it was repaired, not with glue, which never really holds, but with a seam of gold solder. And I think our poems are often like that gold solder, repairing a break in what can never be restored perfectly. The gold repair adds a kind of beauty to the cup, making visible its history...

- Letter from poet Alfred Corn to poet Mark Doty on the death of Doty's love.
For me, I've come with a certain age to realize that people can deal with tragedy by throwing their lives away, or by gluing themselves together and trying to pretend that the tragedy never happened (something that never lasts), or ultimately by soldering the broken places with gold - call it God's love, the love of and for the departed, or just the gold of wisdom.

I hope someday that today becomes - for Rachel Nolen, and for the Atlas and Tynes families - a wound soldered with gold.

Until then, I hope that they know that they will never be alone today.
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  • Joe Katzman: I do, too. But it's still a wound, and that read more

November 22, 2010

"Don't Touch My Junk": TSA's Expiry Date Event?

By Joe Katzman at 04:50

Just finished celebrating a birthday. Fortunately, it was rather less depressing than last year's, though the recruiter's consoling comment that "everything happens for a reason" did end up looking damn near clairvoyant over the next 12 months - basic training has nothing on this. Still separated from my wife by circumstances and a continent, though she will be getting on an airplane at some point to be with us again. Airport idiocy, here we come.

Which neatly bridges 2 things much on my mind lately. One personal, and deliberately somewhat cryptic. The other (TSA) very public, and a source of more than considerable irritation to many of us. That irritation is boiling over into widespread anger at invasive, quasi police-state "security theater" that keeps no-one safer. As my friend Jack Wheeler puts it:

"After traveling around the world - and through airport security in 18 countries - over the past few months, then returning to the US, I can confirm that no country I know of on earth has airport security as stupid, obnoxious, and intrusive as the US. And yes, that includes North Korea."

The grains of irritation have been piling up for quite some time, and like any sand hill, you can never be sure when the system reaches its "critical state" and suddenly begins to give way. Eventually, however, it will - and when it does, things happen fast. That anger may have found its critical state flashpoints at last...


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  • Marcus Vitruvius: Actually, MB, I think it's just that the attacks currently read more
  • Glen Wishard: Once again we stare in disbelief at this administration that read more
  • Treefrog: My personal favorite TSA face-palm moment was brought about by read more

November 19, 2010

Have Some More Tea: K-Street GOP Blinks on Earmark Ban

By Joe Katzman at 06:46

In "Tea? Yes Party? Not so Much, I Hope," I talked about a coming dust up involving the Tea Partiers and the GOP. Looks like some people have been getting some mail from constituents:

"The GOP caucus in the House of Representatives has come together to propose a ban on congressional earmakrks -- those pork barrel projects that get written in by an individual legislator and which do not face specific up or down votes.... At first, Senate GOP leaders balked at the idea, but the writing is on the wall.... As reported by FoxNews.com, on Monday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to a two-year moratorium on earmarks."

McConnell was the K-Street Republican most in the way of earmark reform. His capitulation deprives the Tea Partiers of both a teaching moment, and a hard shot at the GOP. As it happens, however, likely Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski [I-$$$] is unapologetic about her embrace of this corrupt culture, and Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid [still D-NV with a big bullseye] is also digging in.

Earmarks may still become a teaching moment - but a far more partisan one. We'll see how it goes.


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  • mark buehner: Oh this is going to be very interesting. The K-streeters read more

Space, Power Laws, and Inequality

By Armed Liberal at 03:30

I was trying to explain something to someone over dinner, and it seems interesting enough to be worth tossing up here for comment and exploration.

The question was why the growing inequality today?

And I had an idea. Basically, wealth has been unequally distributed since it's been measured (see Pareto).

So within any economy, we have a power law distribution.

What used to be, however, was that there wasn't much of a 'global' or even 'national' economy - there were local economies. These were effectively 'cells' in the larger economic organism, and most of the activity stayed within the cell.

The implication of this is a geographic field of small power law curves of wealth, with local car dealers, real estate developers, bankers, etc. at the top of the curve.

So the people at the top of these curves were prosperous, but not in the Gulfstream private jet league.

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  • Roland Nikles: Thanks, Marc. I think it's interesting. R read more
  • Armed Liberal: Roland, that's a rule of thumb popularization of his actual read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: It's at least plausible, although it does raise a host read more

America: The Structure of Decline - and Renewal?

By Joe Katzman at 02:00

Marc tweeted this recently, and it's worth a post. Umair Haque at "Bubble Generation":

"It's the oft-unspoken thought on many lips: America's in decline. The glory days are over, the train's left the station. So: is this a great decline? Unfortunately--probably. And I'd suggest that when you take a hard, serious look into the economy--when you voyage past it's superficial, largely irrelevant position in terms of budgets, "gross product", or "unemployment"--that great decline is deeper and darker than pundits, beancounters, and politicians think, want to admit, or even suspect.

The great crisis is a story of structural decline: a decline that's hardwired into the patterns amongst this great machine's many parts. They've settled, over the last three decades and more, into fundamentally bad, toxic equilibria..."

Note that the criticisms of finance and its role that follow are coming from someone who worked in the field, including as a derivatives trader. Haque is the author of The New Capitalist Manifesto. Haven't read it yet, but based on his blog post, it looks interesting.

Marc's tweet asks if he should be depressed or challenged. Well, what do you think?


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  • Joe Katzman: I agree with Marcus when he says that "No, this read more
  • J Aguilar: Look at Germany, nowadays performing good (we┬┤ll see in the read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Well of course FDR-II failed, and Reagan-II would fail if read more

November 18, 2010

Warmists And Heresy

By Armed Liberal at 20:13

....and does Professor Judith Curry read Winds??

Over at Climate Progress, Professor Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, is getting slagged because she won't tow the line.

Now there are about five different arguments that are made in this piece, and as I note below I'm just giving up on dealing with this issue any more.

But note this; my biggest problem with the warmists has been and continues to be three things:

1) they take a potentially (possibly even probably) real problem and act like it's an absolute truth; 2) they generate that claim of absolute truth is ways that I find conceptually unsound; 3) at a root level, where there should be open discourse and what I believe 'true scientific process' to be, they act like cranks.

Let's talk about 3) for a moment and then about 2).

Here's someone (Curry) with pretty robust credentials in the discipline.

She steps off the reservation a year ago with her eminently reasonable "Manifesto" - published at Climate Progress. And now here's Climate Progress talking about her yesterday:

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  • Chris: Roland's post is largely sane and reasonable. I don't agree read more
  • Chris: AL- Wow, you don't even pretend to read opposing arguments, read more
  • Roland Nikles: I agree with most of what AL says here. But read more

November 17, 2010

Fixing (no, no, not like that) California Republicans

By Armed Liberal at 16:13

I'm often asked by people - both Democrats frustrated that I won't toe the party line and Republicans who are baffled that I still self-identify as a Democrat - why I don't just ditch the party label and become a Republican.

(Note that this doesn't just happen online; it happens in my real life as well.)

I'm pretty deeply attached to principles I see as fundamentally Democratic, and I've been a Democrat all my political life. But beyond that, I live in California, where our Republican Party is just - nuts.

And ineffective.

Nuts and ineffective is, as Dean Wermer once famously said, no way to go through life, So I don't spend a lot of time trying to constructively criticize the GOP, because I'm not very interested in it.

But in reality, I ought to be - and a Republican Party that would even tempt someone like me would probably be a pretty strong party electorally. And if we had two strong parties here in California, my lame-ass but beloved Democrats couldn't get away with the nonsense they too-often peddle and would have to grow up.

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  • moxbox: It is really time to move past the "party" system. read more
  • Slocum: If this isn't done, CA will become Michigan with better read more
  • Foobarista: My only hope in CA is for Brown to have read more

November 15, 2010

Uncertainty

By Armed Liberal at 04:31

Kevin Drum et alia are mystified - just mystified - about why it is that business isn't more...upbeat.
Why does the economy continue to suck? The LA Times is hosting a symposium on the topic today, and USC business professor Ayse Imrohoroglu says the answer is uncertainty:
Businesses don't know what will happen to interest rates. They have trouble calculating what new workers will cost in light of potential new healthcare mandates and costs. They don't know what will happen to tax rates, which could rise dramatically. They are uncertain about increasing financial regulation and the possibility of a carbon tax. And as if that isn't enough, the soaring deficits and national debt raise very real questions about the federal government's long-term ability to meet its debt obligations.

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  • J Aguilar: I think Mr. Drum is mistaken. They read the NYT... read more
  • mark buehner: "So, how do you employ people? Is everyone in the read more
  • Joe Katzman: Cost themselves the House, still not the slightest clue as read more

November 11, 2010

The Hidden Liberals

By Armed Liberal at 19:27

So sockpuppet-master Glenn Greenwald (that never gets tiresome, does it?) rips into Larry O'Donnell for not being progressive enough - really!!

The core of Greenwald's electoral argument, though, is one that needs to be examined. He says that:
As for the substance of our discussion, O'Donnell -- in standard cable TV form -- basically had one simplistic point he repeated over and over: exit polls show that only a small minority of voters (a) self-identify as "liberal" and (b) agree that government should do more. There are so many obvious flaws in that "analysis." To begin with, exit polls survey only those who vote; it excludes those who chose not to vote, including the massive number of Democrats and liberals who voted in 2006 and 2008 but stayed at home this time. The failure to inspire those citizens to vote is, beyond doubt, a major cause of the Democrats' loss...
This is the Left's version of a tune the Right often plays as well..."if only we had candidates as pure as our electorate."

In which they imagine the hidden voters springing forth, bosoms heaving, in response to the Man On The White Horse (or with the correct ideological spin). My reaction is "whatever". But it's a real question.

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  • toc3: Glenn, re: my reply to you in post #14. Much read more
  • MikeDC: Isn't it sort of ironic that one progressive myth is read more
  • Glen Wishard: The democrats now have 190 seats in the New House read more

Remembrance, 2010

By Joe Katzman at 01:28
Their Name Liveth

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, the guns ceased. During Remembrance Day, the British Commonwealth countries remember those who came before, and those who came after, and all who have given in their nation's service. John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" is a common accompaniment at ceremonies, where the wearing of poppies is customary (on the left lapel, or as close to the heart as possible), and organizations like the Royal British Legion, Royal Canadian Legion, et. al. are supported.

A number of European countries know it as Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veteran's Day.

There's one more kind of remembrance I'd like to point out, and ask you to consider on this day. It's a remembrance of the Bloodlands...


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Veteran's Day 2010

By Armed Liberal at 00:19

It's Veteran's Day again, and it's harder for me to write this year because for the first time, it's not an abstract concept to me.

I've written over (2003) - and over (2004) and over (2005) and over (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) again about taking this day to reflect on the debt that all of us owe - our patrimony - to this country and specifically today to those who offered themselves to be sacrificed in its name.

A year ago, those were nice thoughts. Today, for me, they have names and faces.

I was naive then.

None of it has changed my mind about anything; I've always known what color ink the bills of politics are paid in - it's blood red. But I'll tell you for certain that it feels different when you are sitting across from a soldier's widow and children and making small talk while buying them coffee and a yogurt than when you're discussing losses as an abstract number in a study.

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  • Rumana Akter: Help veterans and all those who have served our country read more
  • Quilly Mammoth: Well done, Marc. I believe that we are rapidly approaching read more
  • mark buehner: My oldest friend (an Iraq vet) posted this on facebook read more

November 10, 2010

Canadian PM Stephen Harper on Modern Anti-Semitism, ICCA 2010

By Joe Katzman at 00:52

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a speech yesterday at the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, sponsored by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). I'm reproducing the full text after the jump, which deals with domestic as well as international Judenhasse, but here's its moral core:

"Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.... We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism - healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack - is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.... As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples.... we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn."

The National Post published some excerpts, but read the full text below...


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  • Roland Nikles: Thank you, Phil. Much better, and much preferred. :) R read more
  • Phil Smith: Roland, I apologize for my tone. Instead, let me be read more
  • Roland Nikles: Oh Boy, what we don't do for fun on a read more

November 9, 2010

What Tech Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Rapper

By Joe Katzman at 02:15

AlwaysOn has an interesting entry from Mark Suster:

"Last night I co-hosted a dinner at Soho House in Los Angeles with some of the most senior people in the media industry with executives from Disney, Fox, Warner, media agencies and many promising tech and media startup CEOs. The topic was "the future of television and the digital living room." With all of the knowledge in the room the person who stole the night wasn't even on a panel. I had called on Chamillionaire from the audience and asked him to provide some views on how artists view social media, why they use it and where it's heading. He was riveting."

Really, his insights apply to anyone in new media.


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November 8, 2010

Feeling Anxious About The State of America?

By Armed Liberal at 12:16

I am, and lots of people I talk to are. Some predict - as Jon Stewart accurately said - "end times" for the nation.

And to be sure, lots of what I see could easily move me to agree with them. Partisan rancor instead of careful administration. A deep political divide over the boundaries and role of government. International conflicts that skirt the edge of war.

Like Stewart, I see "hard times" not end times. Part of the reason is history; I read tons of it, and I keep getting reminded that what we're going through is nothing special. Kind of like the parent of a teenager, it's comforting to know that what you're going through is typical.

Last week, my airplane book was A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign - one that brought this point home to me so clearly - it was a great book about the presidential election of 1800, which was the first truly partisan election. Thomas Jefferson represented the Republicans, who believed in liberty and in diminishing the control of the central government. John Adams represented the Federalists, who believed that only though the leadership of the 'betters' could the nation be maintained - much less led to greatness.

The French and English both were capturing or sinking our ships, impressing our sailors, and looting our international trade. The French Revolution made mob rule a real - not theoretical - risk, and an abortive slave uprising in the South challenged the Republican dominance there.

Machine politics in New York City, and Hamilton and Burr, as awful characters as the worst of our own scheming politicians.

They had problems too, back then, and solved them and moved forward. Events tempered ideology - as they always do - and Jefferson presided over the greatest expansion of federal power to date, as he taxed to build a navy and defend our trade.

Go read this terrific book, go to bed, and wake up to feel better about things.
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  • Glen Wishard: I can't beat Jefferson and Adams as an antidote to read more

Tea? Yes. Party? Not So Much, I Hope.

By Joe Katzman at 04:05

So, the elections have been held. California looks like an even better place to leave, though it will have its black humor moment when its bankruptcy bailout request runs into a Republican Congress. The House is now solidly Republican, the Senate is back in its standard mushy grey zone of an under 60 seat majority.

Obama, no matter what he says (and really, how many people are listening at this point?), isn't going to change one iota. This will depress both his supporters and his opponents. His Godzilla class, city-destroying level of suck can be expected to continue.

The Republican leadership, no matter what they say, aren't going to change, either. They will still sort of suck, in the same old way. Therein lies the dilemma - and the opportunity - for the people that make up the Tea Party movement...


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  • mark buehner: I hope this report doesn't get swept down the memory read more
  • Glen Wishard: This panel plan is a good start, but instead of read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Joe, #19: Everybody, absolutely everybody, is going to be forced read more

November 7, 2010

Housing ^2

By Armed Liberal at 04:16

My friend Kevin Drum examines some of the reasons that mortgage modifications aren't working worth a damn (as in "the mortgage is too damn high").
If, in the long run, principal reductions really, truly were the most profitable way to deal with underwater homeowners, I'd expect that not only would banks figure this out pretty quickly, they'd be figuring out ways to create securitized bundles of principal reductions to sell to gullible German investors. That well can't be completely dry, can it?

So why hasn't this happened? There are a couple of obvious possibilities here. One is that the complicated nature of mortgage securitization simply makes principal reduction too hard. Once the loans have been securitized, tranched, retranched, and re-retranched, there are so many note holders with a legal stake that it's all but impossible to get unanimous agreement to do a principal reduction. Another possibility is that banks are afraid of knock-on effects: once they start reducing principal in a few cases, their entire customer base will find out what's going on and start withholding payment in hopes of getting the same treatment. Reducing principal for 10% of their customers might make sense, but banks might be afraid that there's no way to hold the line there.

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  • toc3: Well said! read more
  • toc3: Roland, As I wrote in other threads this whole shebang, read more
  • toc3: Alois, "Also don't underestimate the lack-of-good-staff problem. The banks aren't read more

November 7, 2010

Copyright and Culture: Newly Enemies

By Joe Katzman at 03:08

The problem faced by this documentary film is common to all such works - which, unlike newspapers etc., must secure permission to quote when it uses news film clips, etc.

"[The series Eyes on the Prize] is no longer available for purchase. It is virtually the only audiovisual purveyor of the history of the civil rights movement in America. What happened was the series was done cheaply and had a terrible fundraising problem. There was barely enough to purchase a minimum five-year rights on the archive-heavy footage. Each episode in the series is fifty percent archival. And most of the archive shots are derived from commercial sources. The five-year licenses expired and the company that made the film also expired. And now we have a situation where we have this series for which there are no rights licenses. Eyes on the Prize cannot be broadcast on any TV venue anywhere, nor can it be sold. Whatever threadbare copies are available in universities around the country are the only ones that will ever exist. It will cost five hundred thousand dollars to re-up all the rights for this film."

Larry Lessig sees this as a larger problem, and I think he's right...


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  • toc3: I think the Internet will take care of a lot read more
  • Joe Katzman: The problem, Dave, is the level of effort and difficulty read more
  • DaveC: What's the problem? Amazon.com has the complete DVD set from read more

November 6, 2010

The Best Classrooms in the World

By Joe Katzman at 18:15

From Slate:

" At the moment, there are thousands of schools around the world that work better than our own. They don't have many things in common. But they do seem to share a surprising aesthetic.

Classrooms in countries with the highest-performing students contain very little tech wizardry, generally speaking. They look, in fact, a lot like American ones--circa 1989 or 1959."

Perhaps this is not entirely coincidence. For myself, I doubt that the classroom environment itself is that alchemy, though that's certainly possible. Rather, I suspect it's the mentality behind the visible arrangement.


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  • Foobarista: maybe they have teachers that teach and students that learn? read more

Support Soldier's Angels, Buy Cool Gear

By Armed Liberal at 18:12

This weekend, the wacky guys at Ranger Up (I'm so going to get pounded for saying that...) are donating 20% of their sales to Soldier's Angels Project Valour IT.

Here's the shirt I'm wearing today:

derka.gif

How can you resist?... Or just go support wounded troops directly and donate.

learn more
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  • Joe Katzman: Thanks for the heads-up! I bought my Tea Party T-shirt read more

November 5, 2010

Hossein Derakshan: Prisoner of... Conscience

By Joe Katzman at 18:35

Long-time Winds of Change readers will remember colleague/contributor Hossein Derakshan, the father of the Iranian blogosphere, who is noted in the column to your right.

It occurs to me that while I was away, you may not have been updated about this:

"Mr. Derakhshan, 35, is widely known by his online name "Hoder." He was born in Iran, but moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in early adulthood. He is a staunch advocate of free expression in Iran, and became known as the "blogfather" of Iran's on-line community for training pro-democracy advocates to blog and podcast in the late nineties. Later, he apologized for his dissenting views, and emerged as an unlikely supporter of the regime, at one point comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a modern-day Che Guevara.

So when the Iranian government invited him to travel to Iran in 2008, he accepted, thinking he would help his country reach out to the world, according to friends and family. Upon his arrival, however, another branch of the government arrested him.

On Tuesday, he was convicted of insulting Islamic thought and religious figures, managing obscene websites and co-operating with "enemy states" because he visited Israel five years ago...."

He has been sentenced to 19.5 years in prison.

Hoder's attempt to find a locus of collaboration with the Islamic regime dilutes his status as a prisoner of conscience, but does not erase it. Or touch the legacy he leaves. He remains in my thoughts - and I hope, in yours.


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  • Glen Wishard: Actually, Derakshan said here that Ahmedinejad is not Che Guevara. read more

The Suicide Chatroom Stalker(s)

By Joe Katzman at 18:11

Something interesting from GQ, looking into the cybernetic Wild West:

"f you were desperate and hopeless enough to log on to a suicide chat room in recent years, there was a good chance a mysterious woman named Li Dao would find you, befriend you, and gently urge you to take your own life. And, she'd promise, she would join you in that final journey. But then the bodies started adding up, and the promises didn't. Turned out, Li Dao was something even more sinister than anyone thought."

Ah, but if this is the Wild West, there's bound to be a posse... and therein hangs a tale. Fantastic work by Nadia Labi.


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  • toc3: Ghoulish, to say the least! read more

Yes, Need More Money - For The Troops

By Armed Liberal at 13:53

We're really close to wrapping up the Soldier's Angels Valour-IT fundraiser.

Can I just ask a few of you to toss your lunch money over to them today and to skip a meal? Or to be more generous if the mood strikes?

Click here to donate to Valout-IT Team Army.

learn more


Click here if you want to know more and see a video that will make you cry like a little emo girl.

This weekend,the folks at Ranger UP - the home of the 'derka derka derka' t-shirt - will be donating 20% of their sales to Valout-IT. So get a cool t-shirt and help the cause.
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November 2, 2010

Just Go Vote

By Armed Liberal at 16:17

However you choose to vote, just go do it. Think of it as a ritual - a form of Communion for a democratic republic.

And as long as you're reading this and thinking about your connection to our Republic, click over to Solder's Angels and drop a Starbucks-equivalent or better on Project Valour-IT. The soldiers who bear the wounds received in our uniform deserve it.
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November 2, 2010

"Requiem for the Pelosi Democrats"

By Armed Liberal at 04:39
From the WSJ:
"A lot of rethinking is needed" after Democrats take their drubbing, Mr. Baird says, especially since he anticipates "a huge number of retirements" from Democrats unwilling to serve in the minority. He proposes that the House elect an independent speaker who would help drain partisanship from the body. Britain's House of Commons uses such a model.

Democrats, he says, will also have to recognize why they lost touch with voters. "Back in September, we had pollsters and strategists from my party tell members that the mass of people didn't care about the deficit. The mind-boggling lack of reality coming from some of the people who give us so-called advice is stunning."

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  • Joe Katzman: My problem with Baird is the same as the "morning read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Toc3, #11, In all seriousness, I think most of the read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: Alchemist #7: Alas, while it's a nice dream, I think read more
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