Another collection of search engine queries that brought visitors to Bad Attitudes:
…a bad attuide is a heart condition that leads to sin)
…bad turkish idioms to avoid
…nasty third world people working in the USA with attitudes what's there problem
…hunker down and go with the flow
…horny gay woman wanting it bad
…pictures for ages 2-7 to color changing from bad to good for god
…what program to change bad attitude among homeless?
…attitudes starting with o
…what a christian should no about bad attitude
…people with bad attitudes don’t get far
Practically every adult American is a felon, most of us repeat offenders. Think not? Have you ever been in possession of marijuana? Sold a little to a friend? Left the scene of an accident? Lied to the police (just a couple of beers, officer)? Slipped a little something into your purse at Macy’s? Cheated on your taxes? Sold subprime mortgages? Worked for Goldman Sachs?
Why, then, do we allow nonsense like this:
Around one in every 40 American adults is ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction. While most states forbid felons in prison from voting (Maine and Vermont are the only exceptions), 19 others also forbid those on parole or probation from voting and 11 states disenfranchise felons even after they have served their time, accounting for nearly half of the 5.85m disenfranchised. That number is five times higher than it was in 1976. It includes one in every 13 black adults, and in three states (Florida, Virginia and Kentucky), more than one in every five.
If we truly wanted the United States to be an actual democracy, of, by and for the people, we would make it a felony for felons not to vote.
Watching MSNBC last night it struck me again how ignorant politicians and pundits are about bureaucracies. The subject this time was the IRS vs. the Tea Party, but it could have been Benghazi or most of the other “scandals” that flame up and burn out on our TV screens.
Few talking heads or politicians have served much time in large bureaucracies. I have, starting at the absolute bottom as a private in the U.S. Army. The experience taught me how to look on military officers, which is generally down. Obama and Clinton would have profited greatly from a similar immersion in reality, as would most of our soldier-sniffing and cop-loving patriots. Bringing back the draft would put a stop to a lot of this idiot babble about the greatest fighting men in the history of the known universe and all universes henceforth to be discovered.
All right, back to the point.
Next I became a sort of sub-boss in a much smaller bureaucracy — assistant city editor of the Washington Post. Then I was deputy director of the U.S. Information Agency’s two-man outpost in Casablanca. From Morocco I went to Laos as press attaché for the secret war (go figure). My next job was near the very top of the largest bureaucracy of them all, the federal government. From the White House I went to the Federal Aviation Administration as chief of public affairs. My only promotion in any of these bureaucracies, I’m proud to say, was the automatic one from private to private first class. My ambition seems to have been low to none, but then ambition is well known to be blind. Thus there was nothing wrong with my eyes (speaking metaphorically. In fact, my eyes suck.)
And so I am massively unastonished to learn that the top leadership of the IRS was unable to impose its will on a bunch of GS-11s in the Cincinnati office. I once spent a great deal of time and the taxpayers’ money on developing and implementing a program to modernize graphics throughout the FAA. Thirty-five years later, the Depression-era logo I thought we had killed off still shows up regularly on the evening news. The new, improved model seems to have survived only at the Department of Transportation.
You can learn more about American life from this brief interview than you can reading David Brooks for a lifetime. The section beginning at 2:24 (which was cut by many TV stations) makes this is a priceless sociological document.
This just in from Israel. What if you’re not only a woman, but a black Jewish one from Ethiopia? Can you even get on the bus at all?
The sweeping ruling comes after several years of mounting tension and legal battles over the treatment of women in Israel’s public sphere, particularly the requirement that they sit in the back on bus lines through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, which set off civil disobedience campaigns involving many Jews from overseas.
Norman Mailer was once asked if he thought if an atomic war would kill all mankind. Hell no, he said. We’ll smother ourselves in our own shit first. More and more, Mailer appears to have been right.
Looking on the bright side, though, small sparks of beauty may survive here and there. So take a look at this video sent along by Asher Pavel, and hope for the birds.
Don’t follow me on Twitter. I won’t be there. Call me retro if you want, but the last thing we need is a communication medium that restricts your thoughts to 140 characters or less. Between tweeting and texting, we’ll all be using a form of Newspeak within a generation, and the worst thing about it is that we will have voluntarily chosen it. We will have been the willing agents of our own linguistic devolution. Just give everyone an iPhone and a satellite dish and American culture will take care of the rest. We’ll be reduced to having two-hundred word vocabularies in no time.
Soon, our entire political discourse will consist of a few simple phrases that leave no room for unacceptable thoughts: Job creators good. Entitlements bad. WMD scary. All options must be on the table.
The Democrats, as always, will counter with a bold alternative: Job creators good. Responsible entitlement cuts good. WMD scary. All options must be on the table.
It will be tax cuts good, tax cuts for job creators doubleplusgood, freedom.
That’s what politics will sound like in some dystopian future America, when everyone speaks in … Oh, wait. Never mind.
President Obama himself seems to be the one about to cross the red line — that same red line we’ve crossed so many, many times before:
The United States will “shortly” begin arming Syrian rebels, looking to boost moderate factions over al-Qaida-affiliated extremists whose rise would be a national security “nightmare,” the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told CBS News on Tuesday.
“I do think we’ll be arming the opposition shortly,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said in an interview. “We’re doing a lot more there on the ground than really is known, but we do have to change the equation.”
I just have 20 short words for the president: Indonesia, Haiti, Chile, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Angola, Zaire, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Just to name a few victims of our never-ending mission to force “democracy“ on the natives.
The invariant rule, Mr. President, goes as follows: When you take the wrong train, every station you reach is the wrong one.
Shoot the shit out of others as you would have them shoot the shit out of you. McClatchy reports:
AUSTIN, Texas — After successfully firing a gun made with a 3-D printer over the weekend, a University of Texas law school student hopes to refine the prototype and ultimately distribute online files so anyone can make one…
Ultimately, Wilson wants to distribute downloadable files that can be plugged in to a 3-D printer. “It’s about empowerment of the individual over political hierarchy,” he said.
Things could be worse. You could live in Luning, Nevada, population 42.
This town is the definition of bum-fucked nowhere. It’s on U.S. Route 95 between Reno and Las Vegas. I know, just shoot me now, right? There is nothing for miles in every direction. It has to be one of the most monotonous stretches of road in the country. The entire state looks like this. There is a suffocating pall of deadness to the place that puts me in a deep lethargic funk. I don’t gamble or go the whorehouses, so that leaves alcohol as the only palliative for my Nevada angst. It works. Booze always works.
Luning, I think, saw its best days during the Hayes Administration (who didn’t?). It’s being reclaimed by the desert and will probably be a ghost town soon. There won’t be anything there but lizards, snakes, and vinegaroons. Wait, what the hell is a vinegaroon?
This is a vinegaroon:
If you step on one with your bare feet, you will shit your pants, guaranteed, but they are actually harmless. The most they do is pinch you and squirt a vinegar-like substance from their tail. I found the image on Google. No way would I hold one of those nasty muthers!
The nearest real town to Luning is Hawthorne, which is home to a large military base where, I think, geeky Army guys operate predator drones.
That’s right, I called them geeky, so sue me. I don’t reflexively kowtow to soldiers. I don’t call them heroes and thank them for their service every third word. I find the whole “booyah” “get some” hyper-masculine culture of the military repulsive to the extreme. It is bullyish and arrogant, violent and anti-democratic. It takes one of the more unpleasant groups in our society — teenage boys, usually poor and ill-educated teenage boys — and cultivates their cruelest and most obnoxious tendencies. I find it personally embarrassing that so many foreigners only know us through the military. I saw an Iraqi on television describe our soldiers as “cowboys with no culture.” Was he wrong?
Ask an Okinawan how noble the U.S. military is, or the ex-inhabitants of Diego Garcia.…Read on
Contrary to the colloquialism, a cold can of beer or soda doesn’t actually “sweat.” In reality, gaseous water is condensing out of the air and clinging to your beverage in its liquid phase, undergoing a transition in the direction of gas ➝ liquid, rather than liquid ➝ gas. The thermodynamic opposite of evaporative cooling, this process actually expends energy in the form of heat, which is absorbed by your brew.
“Probably the most important thing a beer koozie does is not simply insulate the can, but keep condensation from forming on the outside of it,” said Dale Durran, a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences.
Bertrand Russell tells it like it too often is:
Curiosity so called, on the other hand, is inspired by a genuine lover of knowledge. You may see this impulse, in a moderately pure form, at work in a cat which has been brought to a strange room, and proceeds to smell every corner and every piece of furniture. You will see it also in children, who are passionately interested when a drawer or cupboard, usually closed, is open for their inspection. Animals, machines, thunderstorms, and all forms of manual work, arouse the curiosity of children, whose thirst for knowledge puts the most intelligent adult to shame. This impulse grows weaker with advancing years, until at last what is unfamiliar inspires only disgust, with no desire for a closer acquaintance. This is the stage at which people announce that the country is going to the dogs, and that “things are not what they were in my young days.” The thing which is not the same as it was in that far-off time is the speaker’s curiosity. And with the death of curiosity we may reckon that active intelligence, also, has died.
To give you an idea of how truly stupid the bipartisan War Party in Congress is, its members are even stupider than the citizenry they pretend to represent:
Sixty-two percent of the public say the United States has no responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and antigovernment groups, while just one-quarter disagree. Likewise, 56 percent say North Korea is a threat that can be contained for now without military action, just 15 percent say the situation requires immediate American action and 21 percent say the North is not a threat at all.
Louis Brown, 50, a poll respondent from Springfield Township, Ohio, said, “We don’t need additional loss of American lives right now.”
In the poll, 4 in 10 Americans cited the economy and jobs as the country’s most important problems, while only 1 percent named foreign policy.
Syrbal, at Herlander-Walking, is herself a veteran. So is her husband. They have a son who just left for Afghanistan on his second tour in the Bush-Obama wars. Not that Bush and Obama are the only ones responsible for those evil, idiot wars. Read her post to the end.
I know keeping very, very busy is the best idea right now. Distraction was my only friend the last year he was in the war zone; but this time it is far more difficult to keep my mind away from sharp cliff edges. At least, this time, it seems most Americans, even in this perversely red county of a blue state, have decided the wars are not a jolly good time.
Last time, seeing the service star on my car, or if it came up in conversation I still had idiots say the equivalent of “Right on!” which made me tilt my head and eye them like a hungry raptor before verbally pecking them to death. This time, if I apologize for temporary mental lapses with the explanation of my son being deployed, faces fall and people say “Oh, I’m so sorry,” or “Oh, no!”
Why, oh, why was that not the response in 2001 and 2003? It was the same lie then? And over 8000 men and women from a host of nations including our own have paid for that lie with their deaths. And that is not even beginning the count of Iraqis and Afghanis.
During the long, sad evening of the election night when Reagan won reelection in a landslide, a colleague in Gore campaign headquarters defined the word democracy for me. “Democracy,” he said, “is that system of government in which you give the people what they want. And you give it to ’em good.”
…Raise your hands. Don’t be ashamed. Now go here. Read the column that then to your wondering eyes should appear. Finished? Okay, now click on “Generate a New Column” at the bottom of the page. Rinse and repeat.
Had enough? Okay, finish up by going here.
…from hard-bitten political pundit Dana Perino of Fock Snooze:
When I got a call to volunteer on the campaign in early 2000, I had to turn it down due to a new job and a new life we were trying to start in San Diego. When I hung up the phone, I cried, “Now I’ll never get to work for George Bush…
He used to catch my eye during policy meetings and tip me a wink with a little smile as we had noticed when Vice President Cheney had been “resting his eyes.” Then we’d share a laugh realizing once again that it was clear the VP had heard every word.
As one of the victims of recent withdrawals of Google tools I’m now in a more or less continuous mode of looking to avoid their products. To the extent possible, which of course is limited. I’m unhappy about the end of iGoogle, the news aggregator that’s probably a cute interface to Google Reader; but what really hurt was the ending of Google Sync for BlackBerries, which I didn’t know about because I wasn’t reading the Google blog. When that support ended the calendar stopped being synced and my next attempt to sync contacts removed a bunch of contacts from my phone’s address book. They still exist in Google Contacts and I can re-enter them by hand, so it’s a hassle rather than a tragedy. But it’s a big hassle, as is the loss of calendar syncing.
At this point I look for alternatives and use them when possible. I have a Gmail account but it’s my backup email and I don’t go to the website, I just hook my Opera browser’s mailer to that account and use Google servers. My default search engine is DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t collect or store any information about your searches. I try OpenStreetMap a lot and will start to contribute data once I finish grad school. But neither OpenStreetMap nor DuckDuckGo equal the Google tools at this point. And there’s no real replacement for Google Voice or Google Scholar.
But for the upcoming loss of iGoogle and Google Reader I’m finally feeling no pain. NewsBlur is, I’m happy to say, a fine and improving replacement. The screen layout is more utilitarian and less configurable than iGoogle. But the configurability that matters most to me is the content, and in that area NewsBlur wins hands down. You can bring in any source that has an RSS feed; all you do is copy the link from the source page you want to follow and paste it into a NewsBlur form and you’ve got it. Even cooler, and beyond anything iGoogle ever offered, is the ability to train the retrieval engine to understand your interests. You can prefer to get or avoid articles by topic, source, and author if the original source provides that much info (The Guardian does, Reuters doesn’t).
All of which is merely prologue to my offering of two quotes recalled after scanning many NewsBlur headlines in a short period. These quotes are from two famous philosophers. First Sören Kierkegaard:
People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
Ending with a flourish is Mark Twain:
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.
Here is a hypothetical for you. Suppose the FBI were to receive intelligence from a foreign power that several members of an immigrant family were making terrorist noises. An FBI “confidential human source” is assigned to target the suspects. The value of the human source to his employers, and consequently his reimbursement, will lessen if the suspects turn out to be more talk than action. It is thus in his interest to nudge them from bluster toward bombs, at least until the plot is well enough advanced to support criminal charges.
Before this point is reached, however, something goes wrong. Perhaps the targets come to suspect that their oh-so-helpful new friend is an agent provocateur. Perhaps they just decide to keep things in the family. Maybe the original intent was to bomb New York but at the last minute they decided what the hell, there’s a marathon going on right in our back yard next Monday, let’s get this thing over with and we can be home in time for dinner. Whatever. In any event they decide to go ahead on their own.
Well, it’s all hypothetical. Still, the hypothesis might answer certain questions about who knew what about the plot and when did they know it that the FBI would very much prefer not to be asked.
A congressional committee held hearings on unemployment last week and only four members showed up. The wimps and wonks of the D.C. press corps would snootily inform us that other hearings were going on, and that this accounts for such poor attendance. Maybe, but it just might be that the people who pay Congress profit quite handsomely when unemployment is high. For an individual congressperson to interfere with the gravy train would not only be professionally dangerous, but bad manners as well. It could be that unemployment quite simply isn’t a priority.
But pundits get paid to miss the big picture. It’s their job to carefully eliminate all viable explanations for an event and settle on the one that is most likely wrong but is pleasing to their superiors, hence their fat salaries, hence the Iraq invasion, the normalization of torture, the economic collapse, the bailout, the intentional grinding down of those ordinary watchamacalits … p-p-p- pee, uh, p-p-peop, uh, puh, pee something.
But there’s another possible explanation for why so few representatives bothered to show up and pretend to care about the nation’s unemployed. They had more important matters to attend to. They had to get coiffed and fitted for the prom!
I’ve been so busy doing things that matter I forgot that tonight was the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Where’s my head? Everything that is wrong with Washington will form and concentrate in one place, like some enervating toxic cloud that mysteriously puts the country to sleep. All of the artificially inflated twits, nincompoops, eunuchs and castrati who enable our nation’s decay will gather under one roof, laugh at jokes about predator drones, and scramble to get their pictures taken with Barbra Streisand and Scarlett Johansson. The President of the United States, to his eternal shame, will gleefully participate. It is obscene.
This is the natural aristocracy of a country whose highest artistic achievement is the television commercial.
It’s so bad that even Tom Brokaw has come out against it. Tom Brokaw, who’s become the anointed elder statesman of TV news by sheer default. All of the other plausible candidates are dead. He always looks like he has a hard object lodged deep in his rectum, and his stoic determination to utter trite conventional wisdom in the face of such discomfort gives him an air of gravitas. No one else on the TV news could match it, so he got the job. But credit where credit is due. Maybe it will take criticism from one of their own to make some of these adolescent popinjays grow up and realize what an abomination this event truly is.
Yesterday’s cringe-worthy dedication of Bush’s Folly leads me to re-post, not for the first time but I hope for the last, my 2006 psychoanalysis of the frat boy president. (For further elaboration on the theme, see this from 2002.)
The younger Bush’s career can only be understood as a lifelong obsession with disappointing the father he so plainly hates.
He follows his father’s footsteps in school, as a pilot, as a businessman, and finally as a politician. Unable to fill those footprints, he made each one seem unimportant by pretending contempt for it. He got C’s where his father got A’s; he was a cheerleader while his father captained the baseball team; he ducked the combat flying that made his father a hero; he burned through the seed money his father’s friends gave him, failing in the oil business which had made his father rich.
At last he was taken in hand by a sleazy political op who realized that the father’s name and money would be enough to elect the wayward son governor of Texas. (Polls at the time showed that a significant portion of the voters thought that W. actually was his father.)
Then Karl Rove set out to hand-carry his meal ticket into the White House itself.
Take that, you old fart, junior must have thought as he took the oath of office. Any asshole can get to be president. But even that wasn’t enough. Deep inside, where the Oedipal snakes writhed in his subconscious, there was still work to do.
What better to way to humiliate his father than to degrade the supreme office the old man had spent his life to reach? What sweeter revenge than to slime, like a slug, the presidency itself? And so he enlisted Rumsfeld and Cheney, his father’s ancient enemies, to help in the work of patricide.
Outdoing his father as president, the junior Bush must have known in his heart, was beyond his limited capacities. But his whole life offered proof of his ability to fail, and so he took the only path remaining. He would become, God help the rest of us, the worst president in history.
In the late 1950s I worked for the Washington Daily News, a long defunct afternoon tabloid. Of the three Washington papers, it was the most widely read among the African-American community which then as now was the majority group in the city. This didn’t stop us from identifying black suspects in police stories as “colored,” until one day a delegation of civil rights leaders protested to the publisher, John O’Rourke. So he split the baby in half, and from then on we tagged Caucasians by race, too: “Police charged John Doe, 53, white, of the 1200 block of DeKalb St. NW, with murder in the deadly assault.”
Which is beside my main point, but I just thought I’d throw it in. My main point involves advertising. One day I was down in the composing room, watching them put together an advertising supplement. I asked an ad salesman why all the clothing models were white when so many of our readers weren’t.
“White sells black,” he explained in simple words, as to a child. “Black don’t sell white.”
Nowadays this sort of racism is dead on Madison Avenue, except when it isn’t. Clinical death will occur only when the middle-aged black man in the Cialis ad heads off to the beach for a little bathtub action with his blonde sweetie.
A sweatshop has collapsed in Bangladesh killing over two-hundred people. Survivors are still being pulled out the rubble. Right now, as I write this, human beings just like us are dying unspeakably horrible deaths, a fact made more awful when you consider how bad their lives were. They made clothes for Wal-Mart and other such humanitarian outlets. Even though “deep cracks” were visible in the building and the police had ordered it closed, the
slaves workers were ordered to keep sewing.
But it’s okay. Privileged rich fat kid Matthew Yglesias puts it all in perspective and makes the guilt go away. Bangladesh doesn’t need tougher workplace safety rules, he explains, because the wogs are different from us:
Bangladesh is a lot poorer than the United States, and there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans. That’s true whether you’re talking about an individual calculus or a collective calculus. Safety rules that are appropriate for the United States would be unnecessarily immiserating in much poorer Bangladesh. Rules that are appropriate in Bangladesh would be far too flimsy for the richer and more risk-averse United States. Split the difference and you’ll get rules that are appropriate for nobody. The current system of letting different countries have different rules is working fine.Yeah, it’s working out just dandy for the people who are bleeding and suffocating under piles of rubble, their bones shattered to bits. But that’s a chance the poor darkies take for being less risk-averse than the better sort of people. They made their calculus, whether individual or collective, and now they have to lay in it.
I wonder where Master Yglesias learned so much about the psychology of the working poor? Was it from his rich family? Attending an elite private school in Manhattan? Harvard? Brunching with Ezra Klein and Megan McArdle, where they also discussed the stress of being professional bloggers and having rich daddies? He must have divined it from those fleeting glimpses into the kitchen when the doors swung open.
Or maybe he learned about it while moonlighting as a film critic who specialized in comic book adaptations:
I spent the decade as a real comic book adaptation completist, so I can tell you with some confidence that Daredevil and Elektra are the two worst of the decade. Considerably worse than the awful Fantastic Four 2. But which is the very worst? I think that to give a fair answer I would need to rewatch them but that’s a fate too horrible to contemplate.No doubt. It’s far more horrible than spending your life in a sweatshop until the roof caves in and kills you. And all this while a self-described “comic book adaptation completist” who’s never lifted anything heavier than a double cheeseburger sits on his ass at Slate and lectures that slack safety regulations are working out just fine for you. They are a part of your collective calculus.
P.S. Is it true you people don’t get sunstroke either? Me and my friends have a bet going. — Matty.
The GOP can’t afford to let a promising young man like this get away:
A former intern for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was arrested Tuesday over an alleged sexual extortion scheme.This is a minor setback. He’ll come out on top in the end. You watch. A young Republican who doesn’t engage in deviant behavior isn’t a serious player. This kid is signaling to his future bosses that he’s ready for prime time. Karl Rove no doubt admires the kid’s spirit. Blackmailing girls to get nude photos from them. Why didn’t he, Karl Rove, ever think of doing that? High school could have been so much more fun.
In a press release, the FBI said 21-year-old Adam Savader allegedly stalked 15 different women from three states between May 2012 and this past February.
Savader claimed to have nude photos of the women, and threatened to release the photos unless they sent him more. He demanded that one woman answer “a series of personal questions, relating to sexual preferences, positions, etc.,” according to a FBI complaint. He also informed at least two women that he was masturbating to their stolen pictures.
“I swear on all that is holy. If you fuck with me again I will send these to your parents. I have no problem sending them to ur [sic] parents, friends and sorority sisters unless you cooperate by answering me,” he allegedly told one woman.
The Party can always find a use for young men like Adam Savader and James O’Keefe. Oh, yes.
Here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth. The kid lays low for a few years, maybe does a little time, finds Jesus, and then, a few years hence, we’ll all be hearing about some born again Republican operative named Adam Savader. Our political landscape will be graced with yet another unscrupulous Christian toad who makes a living carrying out high crimes and misdemeanors for the Republican party. (In the meantime, World Net Daily and Rush Limbaugh, should they decide to touch the story at all, will say the girls — a coven of liberal Democrats, no doubt — framed him because he was a Republican.)
Check out his digital portfolio:
From the Social Evolution Forum:
Let’s make this discussion more concrete. In the context of American labor history, ‘cultural’ forces (in the broad sense) sometimes worked to encourage wage increases, and sometimes to hold them down. For example, at the beginning of the Great Depression there was a broad consensus among the political and business elites that worker wages should not be lowered. In December 1929 President Hoover addressed four hundred of key members of the business community urging them not to cut wages. Leading executives responded in 1929–30 by pledging to maintain wages at the expense of profits. As a result, real wages actually grew quite vigorously between 1929 and 1941, helped along by a deflation of prices.
Remember when the Great Recession hit in December 2007 and President Bush urged key members of the business community not to cut wages? Yeah, me neither.
Economics and Society | Historical Perspectives | The Lost Wisdom of the Depression Era New Deal Americans
This video has gone viral for good reason: it’s very smoothly produced with well thought out charts and graphs that are animated in ways that help viewers get the picture of just how far we are from some sort of reasonable wealth distribution in this country.
The Roman Emperor Diocletian abdicated the throne after ruling twenty years. He absconded to Croatia and grew a garden. His co-ruler, Maximian, sent an ambassador to beg him to return to power. Diocletian refused. “If you could show the cabbage that I planted with my own hands to your emperor, he definitely wouldn’t dare suggest that I replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed.” I think those are among the wisest words ever spoken.
Grow cabbage. Don’t try to rule the world.
Almost everyone I know is a good, moral human being. We mind our manners and do the right thing. We never intentionally harm others. We are the good citizens who keep the ball rolling. So how is it that we’ve allowed our county to be ruled by such stupid, feckless scoundrels? We’ve let the USA become USA Inc., a paradise for sleazy grifters like Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, the Romneys, the Bushes. I just can’t get over it. I’m a good person. You’re a good person. Why are our leaders such inept cads? Where do they come from?
The sentiment expressed by Robert de Ropp in his 1968 classic The Master Game was recalled to me by events at the conference I’m attending this weekend. I remember when it sounded rebellious and even a bit naughty.
It has been stated by Thomas Szasz that what people really need and demand from life is not wealth, comfort or esteem but games worth playing. He who cannot find a game worth playing is apt to fall prey to accidie, defined by the Fathers of the Church as one of the Deadly Sins, but now regarded as a symptom of sickness. Accidie is a paralysis of the will, a failure of the appetite, a condition of generalized boredom, total disenchantment — “God, oh God, how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!” Such a state of mind, Szasz tells us, is a prelude to what is loosely called “mental illness,” which, though Szasz defines this illness as a myth, nevertheless fills half the beds in hospitals and makes multitudes of people a burden to themselves and to society.
Seek, above all, for a game worth playing. Such is the advice of the oracle to modern man. Having found the game, play it with intensity — play as if your life and sanity depended on it. (They do depend on it.) Follow the example of the French existentialists and flourish a banner bearing the word “engagement.” Though nothing means anything and all roads are marked “NO EXIT,” yet move as if your movements had some purpose. If life does not seem to offer a game worth playing, then invent one. For it must be clear, even to the most clouded intelligence, that any game is better than no game.
I’m about to leave for Louisburg, North Carolina. Never of Louisburg? Well, it’s the home of the International Whistlers Convention. Surely you’ve heard of that. Back Tuesday with a report. Meanwhile:
You ought to see Jay Bookman when he gets really mad!
Senators like to tell each other that their 60-vote rule enhances their individual power, making each of them just a little bit more important and a little bit more necessary to woo. Being important is important to a senator. Being wooed is important. It has become kind of the whole point for many of them.
But in reality, the 60-vote rule renders the Senate as an institution, and each senator individually, almost powerless. As today's vote demonstrates, it produces a body that does nothing and can do nothing. It turns the Senate into a stage for performance art conducted by strutting peacocks and peahens more concerned with getting their dignifed faces onto television than with functioning as a legislative body. And again, they like it that way.
In Senate lore, George Washington is said to have described the upper chamber as a cooling saucer, where the hot passions of the House can be poured and moderated. The metaphor has a nice elegance to it and no doubt appeals to Senate narcissism. But let's be honest. With the 60-vote rule, the Senate is not a cooling saucer. It is a shallow, stagnant, algae-green, mosquito-breeding backwater in which the scum too often rises to the top.