It’s inevitable. Nothing good last forever. There’s always someone, some organization, some group who will screw it up for their own material gain or because God told them to do so. Never fails. This time it’s the free internet. If you enjoy this blog you better enjoy it fast because I am certain it won’t be around for long…
Senate Bill S968
Fight for the Future | Nov 11
Senate Bill S-968 “Establishes a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against the alleged infringer and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. In some cases, action could be taken to block sites without first allowing the alleged infringer to defend themselves in court.”
According to this fascinating article in this month’s Atlantic, the annual revenue from Walmart’s 350 stores in China is about $7.5 Billion, 2% of the company’s net income. Yet that 2% is growing faster than any other sector of their business. When you look at the corporate structure, goals and policies of Walmart and compare them to the political structure, goals and policies of the Chinese Communist government the parallel is amazingly similar. If China wishes to take over the world all they need to do is get a controlling position on the Walmart Board. The notion that Walmart is a monolithic beast that destroys businesses while it ravages the environment, cheats its employees and ruins local economies is countered by the reality that Walmart is probably the single greatest factor in the drive to clean up China, improve its health standards, democratize its political system and maintain political stability in a country where the gap between rich and poor is greater than anywhere on the planet. If China is to emerge fully from its nineteenth century revolutionary heritage it will probably do so because of Walmart more than Mao. A most interesting article…
How Walmart Is Changing China
Orville Schell | The Atlantic | Nov 11
BESIDE THE FIFTH Ring Road, one of the superhighways encircling Beijing like concentric shock waves radiating outward from the epicenter of an earthquake, sits an enormous big-box installation, one of thousands now proliferating throughout China. The parking lots flanking it are gridlocked with late-model cars and ruddy-faced peasants-turned-workers pushing long, snake-like trains of shopping carts toward the entrance.
Stepping into the building’s vast, windowless interior, I have the sense of entering an oversize Fabergé egg. But instead of refined scenes of aristocratic czarist life, I encounter thousands of middle-class Chinese engaging in the newest, and already the most inalienable, right in this erstwhile “People’s Republic”: shopping. This is the Shijingshan Shanmuhui, a Sam’s Club, one of the 352 stores that Walmart now operates in 130 Chinese cities.
Characterizing Perry and Cain as ‘conservatives’ is like calling Timothy McVeigh a spokesman for the NRA. The sooner these two idiots (and Michelle Bachmann, the looniest tune of them all) are consigned to the political garbage pail where they belong, the sooner we can start talking seriously about issues and positions. When that happens we will see that the republican party is more of a threat to US national security then Al Queda ever hoped to be. In the meantime, enjoy the comedy show…
The Real Conservative Scandal
E.J. Dionne Jr. | Washington Post | 13 Nov 11
Conservatives need to contemplate what the Rick Perry and Herman Cain stories say about the state of their movement and the health of their creed.
Perry’s debate gaffe last week was about something more important than “brain freeze.” Memory lapses can strike anyone, and Perry probably helped his cause a bit by poking fun at himself at Saturday’s CBS News/National Journal debate and on the David Letterman show.
I’m always pleasantly surprised when David Brooks writes a good column. Today’s is a case in point. American’s, and people in general I suppose, are quick to judge others based on limited factual knowledge and many presumptions. Our judgement of politicians is a good example. When was the last time you heard someone actually praise a politician as someone working hard to do the right thing? More often than not we hear how corrupt, self-serving, venal or mis-guided politicians are. No doubt many qualify for that judgement. However my experience is that most people who work in the political arena are by and large honest, hard working folks with considerable knowledge in their area of expertise. Brooks’ point here is that we should temper our tendency to judge people by ‘standing in their shoes’ more often. Not bad advice, I’d say…
Let’s All Feel Superior
David Brooks | NYTimes | 14 Nov 11
First came the atrocity, then came the vanity. The atrocity is what Jerry Sandusky has been accused of doing at Penn State. The vanity is the outraged reaction of a zillion commentators over the past week, whose indignation is based on the assumption that if they had been in Joe Paterno’s shoes, or assistant coach Mike McQueary’s shoes, they would have behaved better. They would have taken action and stopped any sexual assaults.
Unfortunately, none of us can safely make that assumption. Over the course of history — during the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide or the street beatings that happen in American neighborhoods — the same pattern has emerged. Many people do not intervene. Very often they see but they don’t see.
I have no idea what the lyrics mean but the visuals of this little animated song are really nice. If you go to YouTube (click the icon in the corner of the video screen) you can watch a video of how they made it. 900 pencils placed precisely 24 times each second. Click…
Against the Grain
Hudson | YouTube | 15 Nov 11
____________________________________________________________________________ Hudson is a Melbourne-based indie-folk artist.
I have friends who are prone to railing against President Obama for his failure to accomplish the goals of the left wing of the Democratic party. They cite his ‘appeasement’ of Wall Street and his capitulation on the endless budget deals with the republicans. While they applaud the termination of Bin Laden they fault him for continuing George Bush’s ill-conceived wars against ill-defined national threats. Waging wars against ideas is a tough sell. In large measure I agree with these criticisms of Obama. I draw the line, though, at suggesting that Obama’s failures means he should not be re-elected. The alternative, no matter how you slice it, is far, far worse. If this country can elect a fumbling, bumbling fake like George W. Bush and then re-elect him to a second term then it certainly owes Barack Obama a passing grade for his first term in office. He may not be left-wing nirvanna but he’s a damned site more appealing than anything the republican party has cooked up, including Governor Grecian Formula. If you question that assessment I urge you to just read the next-to-the-last paragraph of Bill Keller’s op-ed piece in today’s Times…
How Romney Could Win
Bill Keller | NYTimes | 13 Nov 11
Election Day is nearly a year off and the first primaries aren’t until January, but I’m ready to skip ahead to the main event. The last serious hope of the Tea Partiers, Rick Perry, and their last not-so-serious hope, Herman Cain, are in campaign death spirals. Unless God has a cruel sense of humor, Newt Gingrich will pass like a tantrum. That leaves us with a general election between two serious and certifiably sane candidates. Phew!!
If you want to go into hibernation now and re-emerge in August for the campaign home stretch, I understand. But just to put the season of vaudeville firmly behind us, let’s contemplate the choice that awaits: two confident, intelligible, no-drama, rather distant men, each of whom seems to have overcompensated for bigot-arousing origins (Obama’s race, Romney’s religion) by being rational to a fault.
This is the way the euro ends — not with a bang but with bunga bunga. Not long ago, European leaders were insisting that Greece could and should stay on the euro while paying its debts in full. Now, with Italy falling off a cliff, it’s hard to see how the euro can survive at all.
But what’s the meaning of the eurodebacle? As always happens when disaster strikes, there’s a rush by ideologues to claim that the disaster vindicates their views. So it’s time to start debunking.