Strikes on Black Friday




Do you know why people are having to go on strike today? Because there is no labor movement in this country anymore. There are unions, but they have greatly diminished power. There are workers being exploited precisely because there is no threat that they will form unions and get better pay and more days off.

Let's hope this turns around.

Now You've Done It


This is not good.

Women everywhere are now going to start using drugs every day because of this allegation, and that's just plain wrong.

I have a hard time trying to gin up enough interest in this case because, one, it involves super rich people being intrinsically self-obsessed with themselves and because the allegation comes from one of the great douchebags of the modern era.

If Nigella Lawson really did that many drugs, why is she still alive and how does she look like she does?

Alec Baldwin is a Hot Mess




Alec Baldwin's flameout has turned into a train wreck worthy of comparisons to Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes:

Baldwin, whose show “Up Late With Alec Baldwin” was terminated by mutual decision on Tuesday, following a backlash over his use of a homophobic slur, told Gothamist in an interview that “the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy” — in particular, GLAAD vice president of communications Rich Ferraro and gay writer Andrew Sullivan — had “killed” his show. 


While maintaining that he had not used the word “faggot” during his confrontation with a paparazzo earlier this year — Baldwin has said that he uttered “fathead” instead — the actor nonetheless singled out Ferraro and Sullivan for blame.


Baldwin has the maturity level of a child and no control over his anger or his mouth. You know it's bad when his other brothers start sounding like the real voices of reason. He has now invented something that does not exist--the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy should enter the vernacular as a fitting epitaph for what used to be his career.

Here you have someone who is at the top of their profession and is a tireless champion of the arts and charity and he ruins everything by opening his mouth. What a shame.

Whole Foods is Open on Thanksgiving




There is no reason why a grocery store should be open on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, the only things that should be open are gas stations and emergency rooms. I can remember when it was a given that stores would be closed on certain holidays. No one should expect a grocery store, a mall, or a large retail store to be open on Thanksgiving Day.

If you can't organize your life around the idea that there are going to be days when you can't spend money and shop, then maybe that's a life skill that you need to acquire. There are people who have to work two jobs and shift work and things of that nature. I'm not saying that a grocery store being closed on Thanksgiving is the end of the world or anything, and I know it can be inconvenient. But here's the point--the damned things are already open 24 hours a day. Retail stores are adopting an Amazon.com mentality--always be ready for the dollar that appears, day or night, every minute of every day of every year. But, come on. This is out of hand.

They are building a Whole Foods where I live. The people who will work there can look forward to next year when they will have to work on Thanksgiving and probably all of the holidays. At what point do you stop chasing dollars and start to realize that people need a certain measure of quality of life?

Lara Logan Will be Swept Under the Rug




CNN loves the story of Lara Logan and Benghazi because, well, Fareed Zakaria, that's why.

Logan is an advocacy journalist. That means she is willing to lie in order to make a story work. She has a stated point of view and a bias that was revealed in her work. She is an advocate for war, for killing people with drones, and for anyone who can help her achieve her goals. Her ethics? Come on. Journalists parted ways with ethics long ago.

None for Moz




The "pardoning" of the Thanksgiving turkey every year is outdated and gimmicky. It's a tradition that should be done away with. No one reasonably expects that a fully grown turkey will somehow survive into old age and live in the wild, free from worry and the hatchet.

We gave up turkey fifteen years ago. That's fifteen birds we haven't killed. Now, we have killed off some cheese and some enchilada sauce, so we're still history's greatest monsters.

This is one of those times when people won't listen to Morrissey, but they should.

The Last Recordings of Jon Brookes




Jon Brookes leaves behind a sterling legacy. Somewhere in the reels is a groove that will serve as the curtain call on his long career. Of all of the Madchester and Britpop bands, the continuing presence of the Charlatans is a comfort for many. They are proof that a band can stick together through adversity and create a legacy out of something as fragile as indie rock.

Sarah Palin is a Hatemonger




Before anyone starts wringing their hands over this, let's acknowledge two things:

One, Martin Bashir should have been fired for having no class or dignity and no common sense as a broadcaster for his commentary. He demonstrated a complete and utter lack of self-awareness and showed his employer that he cannot be trusted on the air. MSNBC should fire him and Alec Baldwin on the same day and run video of a security guard booting them in the ass as their personal effects clatter to the ground. And then MSNBC should hire some broadcasters.

Two, Sarah Palin is a hatemonger. Every time you publicize this woman's irrelevant screechings, you accord her more power and influence than she really has. Let her have her little thing on Facebook and consider it safe to ignore her for the rest of time. She will never run for office and win anything significant ever again and she is running a scam on people who want to cough up money to hear her say things that flatter their own self-hatred. Palin profits through the public act of hatemongering. She delivers hate, people give her cash. When she runs out of people to hate, she runs out of money. She and her husband don't even want to be Americans. I would suspect that her next flim-flam will be Alaskan independence. Or another book about how liberals want to eat Santa Claus and serve reindeer to the devil.

This whole thing is not a "systematic problem." It's a management problem. You need to have someone who can hire actual broadcasters and you need to have a gatekeeper who finally admits what people already know--Sarah Palin is a nothingburger.

Get Rid of Armed Forces Network




This is backward. Keep Stars and Stripes, get rid of Armed Forces Network. Deliver American television to Americans overseas for a nominal fee, and eliminate all of the nonsense that goes with AFN.

When you are stationed overseas, AFN is a pain to watch. They remove commercials for some antiquated reason and they try to shift programming so that this week's episode of some dumb show is not shown in a foreign country before the networks want it to be shown.

The death of television as an industry should indicate that we simply need to allow people stationed overseas to use sling box technology to get the television they want, on demand, from an Internet provider. Everything else is just crap.

Ride's Nowhere is Available From Rhino




I had popped over to Rhino.com for another reason and that's when I discovered that Ride's Nowhere is being advertised dead center on their front page. It has been out for a while and so I was struck by the fact that it is still selling and is still being hyped. What a wonderful thing to get for yourself. A must.

Louvre Panorama Shot




A slightly more panoramic shot of the Louvre.

Paris Street Scene




Some street photography. Paris, December 2011.

View of the Louvre




Not a great shot, but I saved this one because of the lighting.

View From the Eiffel Tower




How I Graduated at 44




There was no chance for me to wear a cap and gown because my graduation ceremony was a continent away.

When I graduated from the University of Maryland University College last year, I was sent an invitation to my graduation ceremony. I had my degree in hand almost exactly a year ago; graduation was May, 2013.

In Heidelberg, Germany.

I passed on going, and I probably wasn't the only one. I know for a fact that I wasn't the only one who was graduating with a degree earned well after a first attempt at college and that leads me to this sort of story:

Credential inflation is the rise in educational requirements for jobs as a rising proportion of the population attains more advanced degrees. The value of a given educational certificate or diploma declines as more people have one, thereby motivating them to stay in school longer. In the United States, high-school (i.e., twelve-year secondary school) diplomas were comparatively rare before World War II; now high-school degrees are so commonplace that their job value is worthless. University attendance is now over 60% of the youth cohort, and is on the way to the same fate as the high-school degree. It is a worldwide trend; in South Korea, 80% of high-school graduates now go on to higher education. The main thing that inflated degrees are worth is to plough them back into the educational market, seeking still higher degrees. This in principle is an endless process; it could very well reach the situation of the Chinese mandarin class during the later dynasties, when students continued sitting for exams into their thirties and forties— only now this would affect the vast majority of the population instead of a small elite. Different countries have gone through educational inflation at different rates, but from the second half of the 20th century onward, all of them have followed this path. 


Educational degrees are a currency of social respectability, traded for access to jobs; like any currency, it inflates prices (or reduces purchasing power) when autonomously driven increases in monetary supply chase a limited stock of goods, in this case chasing an ever more contested pool of upper-middle-class jobs. Educational inflation builds on itself; from the point of view of the individual degree-seeker, the best response to its declining value is to get even more education. The more persons who hold advanced degrees, the more competition among them for jobs, and the higher the educational requirements that can be demanded by employers. This leads to renewed seeking of more education, more competition, and more credential inflation.

What is described here is a kind of circle jerk: you're never going to get ahead because everyone else is trying to outdo you in the quest for the perfect job. I would argue that a job that requires an advanced degree, or several degrees, is a job that becomes less attainable because there are so many people with lesser degrees willing to work cheaper at the same task.

If you consider the coveted prize to be a position where someone is a tenured professor at a university, let's look at the trends. By and large, that tenured position is under siege. It may require a PhD to get there. But the university knows it can hire two people with Masters degrees to teach the same coursework. They can pick up adjunct faculty, pay them a lot less, discard them when they ask for more money, and they can keep raising tuition. The product is the course schedule, not the professor. Instead of adding more dead wood in the personage of the old, litigious tenured professor, why not get two part-time prospective professors right out of graduate school and pay them nothing to deliver the product that matters?

I had a fair number of these professors. They weren't all awful but they weren't always a great experience. Do I now go fight my way into graduate school and try to become a professor who will work cheap and teach online courses?

Nope. The ones who are willing to work cheap, and already have their degrees, have saturated the market. I work in an industry where my Bachelors of Science is all the degree that I need right now, barring some new trend in being over-educated which could force me to go back to school in my 50s. There's no point in trying to attain more education when there's no where to land once the degree floats down from above. So, with one fewer person in grad school, problem solved.

Take That, Radio 1




If you go by the numbers, Robbie Williams should be the king of British music right now. He is not. Oh well.

Rush Limbaugh Explains Rape




There is no good reason why decent people shouldn't boycott each and every advertiser on the Rush Limbaugh show, if only to ensure that society does not reward this kind of discourse with money.

I'm not saying that he should be censored. I'm saying that capitalism should be applied to the idea that an advertiser who associates with this man should have their product shunned and avoided. How on Earth did we get to this point? The man will never be fired and it is now possible to use rape fantasies to explain procedural changes in the Congress.

Unbelievable.

How Did That Music Sharing Website Work Out For You?




It would seem to me that people just want free music and they just don't care how they get it. This is bad news for artists, of course, since not getting paid means you are not going to make music for free because the Internet said so a decade ago.

Two years ago, this is what the service was about:

Here goes: You and up to four other people take turns streaming just about any song you want for anyone who wants to listen, for free, in one of the site’s “rooms.” A deal withMediaNet, a digital content provider, gives Turntable access to millions of songs, and if the song you want to play isn’t there, you can upload your own MP3 to the site and play that. There’s a chat feature so you can compare notes, and you can “follow” your pals.

Here is the residual effect of the "napster" mentality where everything "free" is a "great thing for the music business" but not necessarily artists:

And while it seems blindingly obvious that Turntable.fm is a great thing for the music business — it lets music fans tell other music fans about music they like, the best possible advertising — I wouldn’t put it past a label or two to gripe about the service. 

What is blindingly obvious is that people got sick of the service. How many artists got paid? Any? Are we supposed to feel bad for the websites that are now going under, too?

Deny, Deny, Deny




I really don't think Oasis will reform. 

Having said that, I reserve the right to change my mind. When Oasis split, Gem Archer and Andy Bell followed Liam into something called Beady Eye and Noel Gallagher went his own way; that indicated to me that there was a plan to allow the more active members to do their own thing while Noel glides along in semi-retirement. It's interesting to see that both camps are working at exactly the pace they would have been working if Oasis hadn't split at all. Their last three albums came out spaced exactly 3 years apart. Beady Eye are going to be a little ahead of that and Noel will probably put something out every 4 years or so.

By denying the possibility of a reunion, Noel follows the John Squire school of thought. Do whatever it takes to make it seem like there will never be a reunion and then reunite the band for a big payday. Squire wasn't being dishonest--he was looking at the fact that there was no relationship between him and Ian Brown.

Noel, on the other hand, doesn't need the cash.

The Severity of the Danish Character




The problem with this painting is that it is rendered on a black background. Without the ability to see the context of where the children are arranged against the backdrop of their parents and grandparents, the eye is drawn to the fact that they appear to be superimposed against one another, floating in gloom and doom.

In five minutes, someone could photoshop a tiled floor and the barest details of a simply room onto this painting and it would immediately change the way that the eye is drawn to the fact that the subjects are floating in the ether. I think that this is what undercuts the painting. That, and the eye is drawn to the light that illuminates the structures in the background.

My other lame piece of analysis centers around the harshness of depicting people without anything flattering to offset their inherent lack of appeal. This is a royal family? They could be Kardashians. There is no majesty, only the dark severity of the Danish national character.

There is No Such Thing as a Psychic




One of the great frauds of the 20th Century has died. There is no such thing as a 'psychic' but there is an endless supply of people who want to believe in bullshit.

When you consider the money that Sylvia Browne has separated from people who are desperate to believe, it's easy to see how a lady could make a living for herself preying on others. There really should be laws against this sort of thing. It really isn't entertainment. It's fraud to claim psychic abilities and abuse the lack of sophistication of others.

That's Why Kim Deal Left



It would seem to me that Kim Deal left Pixies because the new songs weren't that good.

If someone else has an alternative theory, I would be glad to hear it. When it isn't working in a band, and when people don't want to hear your new songs, you either leave or soldier on. Deal decided to leave at exactly the moment where releasing new music became an issue. What's refreshing is that this probably wasn't about drugs or money which is what it's normally about.

Apples




This is the Worst Internship Ever




Sorry, Mr. Pierce. This is the worst job ever.

Money Will Buy You Freedom




There is considerable evidence that the Skakel family is simply buying the freedom of convicted murderer Michael Skakel and that they are waging a war of influence in order to "clear" his name.

It should be noted that murderers from less wealthy families are going to have to step up their game if they want to compete in the highly competitive world of buying freedom for criminals. The old way used to be simple. A family would donate a lot of money to build a Presidential library or a governor's backyard pool or something along those lines and receive a pardon in return. Now, you have to find better lawyers and completely subvert the rule of law.

The Limits of Power






President Bush ducks after a shoe is thrown at him


I think we need to get out of Afghanistan and not bother signing a security agreement with the Afghan government:

A small, bipartisan group of senators are seeking legislation to force President Barack Obama to seek permission from Congress to keep any U.S. troops in Afghanistan past the end of 2014. 


Following a report by NBC News on Tuesday detailing a draft security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan, which envisions continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan following the conclusion of combat operations, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and three other senators have offered an amendment to an annual defense spending bill to limit Obama's authority.


Whenever anyone tried to limit the authority of President Bush, in relation to the Iraq War, the media and the conservative movement howled in protest at practically the same time. Now they are silent as a group of Senators decide to step into the debate, which isn't happening, over whether or not to set up a permanent presence in Afghanistan. It's okay, I guess, as long as you are only limiting the power of a Democratic President.

Can you limit the actions of a President who inherited a war that was already authorized by the Senate? My guess is that the answer will be, how dare you.

He Knows How to Play This Game


There are no words for how George Zimmerman has gamed the system, elicited sympathy and money from people who were blinded by racial hatred, and has gone on to be an even more dangerous man in notoriety than he was when he was a cop wannabe.

They are going to let him out of jail when someone posts a mere $9,000 worth of bail. Is that really enough for a heavily armed man who doesn't think twice about pointing a shotgun at a woman? What the hell, people of Florida. What the hell?

Zimmerman is a threat to public safety. He is an inherently unstable and dangerous man. He has a track record. He has no regard for the law because the law has never been applied fairly to him. He has no business walking around a free man right now because, um, he threatened a pregnant woman.

Wow.

Why Did Steve Martin Get an Oscar?


Why did Steve Martin rate an honorary Oscar?

And, before you say anything, let's consider this fact: Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson and Gary Oldman now have fewer Oscars than Steve Martin. Oh, wait. Those guys all come from the British Isles. That shouldn't even count, right?

Steve Martin is a funny man, and he's a talented man, but his films are almost consistent in their mediocrity and his film career has seen a litany of failures and mistakes. Apart from Bowfinger, has he ever even tried to do something ambitious or interesting?

I'm still not getting why you'd give him an honorary Oscar. For which body of work? His?

Good God. Why?

The End of Arbitron




This is sad:

Media ratings firm Nielsen Holdings plans to lay off 333 workers in Columbia — more than one-third of the workforce at what had been Arbitron Inc.'s headquarters — as the two former rivals combine their businesses. 


New York-based Nielsen, which closed the $1.3 billion purchase of Arbitron in September, immediately renamed the radio ratings company Nielsen Audio and told Wall Street analysts it expected "wonderful cost synergies" as it meshed the two firms. 


Company officials declined to comment on the cuts but said they are "implementing changes across the company to enhance growth and to align our resources."

I worked for Arbitron for several years, gaining a lot of experience and working with a lot of fantastic people. When I left Arbitron, the company had just weathered the loss of the CEO (fired for lying to Congress) and the implementation of the Personal People Meter device in about 45 markets. Things looked good, and the idea was, it was time for Arbitron to go after Internet ratings and improve the PPM device. That's not going to happen now. To me, it's a lost opportunity for a great American company. 




Arbitron was special. It antagonized the radio industry for decades by being honest. The radio industry is now a turnkey operation. That station you used to like? By and large, the radio stations that used to serve communities have disappeared. They are now automated and run satellite programming. Everyone who used to work there, except for a few salesmen, were all replaced by a corporate syndication service in another part of the country. And the people that run it are still mad because Arbitron told them their listeners abandoned them in droves.



There's an inherent problem in this article. Nielsen isn't being honest about what they're doing. Here, you have a quote about who they're letting go:

Nielsen CEO David L. Calhoun, speaking to analysts last month, outlined areas where he saw duplication. 


"The headquarter stuff is easy, because you don't need two headquarters," he said, according to a transcript. "The functional support stuff is relatively straightforward, because you only need one accounts payable processing. You only need one receivables. ... I'm confident that we can express big synergies quickly, because I know that path and we're on it."

Here you have a quote from someone being let go:

John Borchers, an employee at the Columbia complex, said he was told his job will disappear at the end of February. That gives him a few months to prepare. His job is in the panel relations division, which works with radio listeners and is among those facing cuts.

Panel relations for radio is a service that Nielsen doesn't have; Nielsen does not deal with radio ratings. You would think that if Nielsen was simply going to reduce all of the redundant positions, it would NOT be forcing cuts in areas like panel relations, which is a position that directly interacts with radio customers.




Mr. Calhoun is, apparently, lying about what's happening. The profitability of radio ratings measurement is at question. Can Nielsen make money from radio? Or is it simply going to profit by wiping out Arbitron and keeping it from making inroads into other areas?





I have no idea. I suspect they are simply going to dismantle Arbitron and keep what they want or write it off and take a loss. They don't seem to be in it to make radio measurement a permanent and viable part of their business model.



Obamacare and Federalism




Obamacare is working in states that have embraced the idea that this is an issue of Federalism, not ideology. Our working media is not capable of explaining this, of course, since everything is a horse race.

Each of the states that create and evolve and implement along with the Affordable Care Act will find a way to make the system thrive. The states that choose ideology and plan for it to fail will make it fail at their level. It's as simple as that.

If you want to have health care, plan on moving to a state where they understand Federalism.

Kris Kristofferson is More Than Just a Country Singer




Articles like this one bug me.

Kris Kristofferson is more than just an old country music star. The fact that he plays country music is not the problem nor is the fact that this is what he's doing nowadays. He's one of the great actors of his generation and he's way, way more than just a singer.

If would be nice once in a while to read something rooted in an understanding of who people are and what they have done. Anyone can look a Wiki page and see that he was a Rhodes Scholar. Not everyone can grasp the fact that this was a man who wrote scores of great songs and performed in films at a high level.

MSNBC Should Fire Alec Baldwin




The definition of 'limousine liberal' is loosely based on the idea that conservatives need to find people on the left who they can bash at any cost. Wealthy people who support the left are called limousine liberals in order to discredit them and cause dissension among the broad numbers of people who identify themselves with liberal ideas and issues. Many of the derisive comments about limousine liberals are directed at people in the entertainment industry. Is it fair? No, but life is never fair.

It is fair to say that Alec Baldwin has led one of the messiest public lives in our time. He's not as bad as some, but he's bad enough that it is easy to make the case that MSNBC should have fired him outright. Whether it is out of loyalty or the money he made for NBC, I don't know. They have lavished money on him and they have used him to build their brand. He goes on Saturday Night Live once a year and that, in and of itself, creates a lot of buzz for the network. The show 30 Rock was never a ratings giant but it was a show that NBC executives could point to as being of a quality that did not embarrass anyone. Alec Baldwin, it could be said, was a good enough actor not to embarrass anyone while he performed his craft.

He is not a good enough liberal, or a good enough actor, to get away with the kind of bigotry expressed in calling someone a cocksucking fag or whatever he called that person. He is comfortable with the language of denigrating people. He is free to use that language. He is not entitled to then enter the marketplace of ideas and get a pass for his crass behavior. Fuck him, as the kids would say--he's a douche.

I say this because the public version of Baldwin is petulant and destructive. He can barely function in polite society because he has never accepted the fact that people want to take his picture when he's out and about trying to be seen. If you don't want to deal with paparazzi, don't walk around outside so much and go live in a gated community. He is not a feeding frenzy celebrity. But, somehow, he's really easy to find and they keep finding him and he keeps getting mad about it. A little reordering of priorities are in order.

His narcissism ran over his paranoia on the way to taking out a hit on his self-esteem. To further play the armchair quarterback, I think he has an inability to accept the fact that his film career was more Michael Keaton than it was Tom Hanks (the important number here being counted in Oscars, not dollars). The mere existence of someone like Ben Affleck, a man who can barely act and has so much less talent than Baldwin, has to make him want to gnaw the head off of a dead paparazzi. The fact that Bill Murray has a best actor nomination and he doesn't? Wow. His loss, for a best supporting actor Oscar, to Tim Robbins in 2004 may have put him over the edge. Who knows? It is without question that there are far too many actors of lesser achievement, ability, and talent who have way more accolades and Oscars and Oscar nominations than Baldwin. If this is the reason for his douchebaggery, fine. If not, then he's counting some other coin of the realm and he's coming up short enough to inspire some ridiculous public rage. All the damned time.

MSNBC is hoping liberals will give him a pass. He's done with getting those passes. Decent people should turn their backs on this man until he gets some help.

HAM Radio and the Philippines




HAM radio operators are helping out in the Philippines and that's a good thing.

I am a Ham Radio Operator and as you all know we do our very best as radio communications volunteers in devastated areas and Haiyan-13 is another one we are helping with. I belong to a couple organizations but the one I work with the most is GEM (Global Emergency Communications) http://www.gem-int.org. We are in the midst of it again. What we are able to do this disaster is provide Health and Welfare information to people requesting it. If you have a loved one we are on the ground in Cebo and Manila and other areas where there is power getting messages to and from the affected area.We thank CNN for doing their part and hope we can do our part by working together. -Ray, KA1AAA

When the Internet breaks down eventually under the weight of porn and hackers, go back to your dusty old HAM radio and reconnect.

Beck Says Spotify Does Not Pay Enough




If an artist like Beck says that Spotify isn't paying him enough, you have to ask two things. One, is Beck expecting to get paid like he was getting paid back in the '90s and two, is Beck paying his sidemen a little too much?

It is never going to be enough. Services like Spotify are there to enrich themselves. They're there to maximize their profits and reap the rewards. If you consider them a modern record company, then all you can conclude is that the economics of artistic exploitation have continued into the modern era. The people making the devices and providing the Internet service to people love things like Spotify--it allows them to sell things to people for a good profit. People forget that the iPod was never given away free nor was the Internet connection.

Michael Palin and American Television




I've never understood how Michael Palin's brand of television has not caught on in America. His travel shows, which began decades ago, amounted to one of the earliest forms of "reality television." Nothing could be more real than a man trying to get around the world in 80 damned days.

American television seems short on the kind of quality that Palin has been giving audiences for many, many years. And this is not just about travel. His special on Vilhelm Hammershoi might reek of being twee and obscure but it was anything but that.

The Guano Piles of Rome

The great writer Robert Hughes wrote a history of the city of Rome and there should be someone--anyone--who can work this incident with the bird guano and bring it into the modern day. Between Berluscnoi and the starlings, what's not to love?

Bill O’Reilly is Running Out of People to Hate




One of the last groups you can safely hate in America are people with transgender characteristics. There are a number of people who fall into the category of transgender and they deserve all the rights and the protections every American should be afforded. We are so heartbreakingly slow about guaranteeing rights to people that it should be a no-brainer--discriminating against transgender people is wrong.

And Bill O'Reilly knows he's wrong, but he's safe when it comes to making fun of transgender people because his employer won't feel any heat for his actions. His geriatric demographic isn't going to break out into an impromptu boycott because O'Reilly had the good sense not to mock the wrong kind of people. He knows that he has to champion the attitudes and opinions of a rapidly fading population of people who have organized their lives around hating the Other. This is in direct conflict with their faith, of course. Their Christianity hasn't caught up with us yet. And that's the inherent tragedy--transgender rights are so far behind the curve right now that it is permissible for this man to say and do what he's doing precisely because he knows that accountability is years away.

The business community has failed to elevate transgender issues to a level where someone like this could be frog-marched out of the building in which he works with someone trailing behind with his belongings.

I remember two things. I remember when sexual harassment in the workplace got to be a serious enough issue for people to hold classes and fire people who engaged in the practice because it was a liability. Transgender people should have the same recourse under the law when they are discriminated against. That will force companies to adopt a high standard and remove people with questionable ethics. And I remember when my employer, in 1995, put out a memo specifying that there was a bathroom designated for an employee with transgender issues. That was almost twenty years ago and we are still talking about bathrooms? Bathrooms?

Come on. This is a no-brainer. Accommodate people and respect their rights. Why be an asshole like Bill O'Reilly?

Trapped




The mobility trap is here, and it has been sprung, and people are stuck.

U.S. mobility for young adults has fallen to the lowest level in more than 50 years as cash-strapped 20-somethings shun home-buying and refrain from major moves in a weak job market. 


The new 2013 figures from the Census Bureau, which reversed earlier signs of recovery, underscore the impact of the sluggish economy on young people, many of them college graduates, whom demographers sometimes refer to as "Generation Wait." 


Burdened with college debt or toiling in low-wage jobs, they are delaying careers, marriage and having children. Waiting anxiously for their lucky break, they are staying put and doubling up with roommates or living with Mom and dad, unable to make long-term plans or commit to buying a home - let alone pay a mortgage.


When you force people to put their live on hold, it resonates through society. Not only are marketers and planners going to take advantage of people who are now reluctant to make big changes in their lives--a sales pitch designed to help someone take a risk-free step into owning their home can't be far away--but that lack of risk is going to create stagnation and economic problems that are hard to identify right now. It's going to lead to people inheriting more property than they go out and acquire themselves--a new legal or real estate specialty could pop up in the area of figuring out how to keep the home that someone was raised in and lived in virtually all of their adult lives. Social media has exploded at exactly the point where fewer and fewer people have anything to say about what they're doing with their lives because, well, who can afford it? Do people who are out actually living their lives really care whether they've updated their social status?

The American economy thrives when people take risks--especially when it comes to small business creation and innovation. That's being stifled right now.

Baltimore Harbor




Something blue, something nautical.

Crocs




Do you still have a pair of Crocs?

When it comes to the study of trends and functionality and design, you have to concede that Crocs were a brilliant product. Using almost next to nothing in raw materials, these shoes combined color, curves, looks and functionality and made a big splash. The problem was, they weren't indispensable. They were disposable and inspired copycats. And while it may have been fashionable to be comfortable, Crocs received some bad press along the way.

The biggest knock against them seemed to be a pervasive urban myth: kids were getting them caught in escalators. Then, they were banned in schools because they couldn't provide enough protection and support, especially in bad weather.

Is that what started the decline in sales? Or could it be that the trend simply died out? I have no idea--I've never owned a pair and probably never will.

Something to Remember About the European Union


I found something worth pointing out in this drab, lifeless piece about the European Commission, which runs the European Union, which is, you know, that thing in Europe.

Read this again:
The Commission is also scrutinising 15 other European countries for not meeting EU economic targets. 
France, Italy and Hungary were also told to take "decisive policy action"
What that means is that if you are a voter in one of those countries, the people telling your government what to do about economic issues don't answer to you directly. They might answer to the parliament that makes up the European Union, but if you've just voted out the government of Italy, too bad. The people you voted for are being dictated to by the European Commission.

You can vote for your own government in Europe, but you can't vote out the commissioner who is part of the body telling your government to swallow more austerity. It is a superexecutive body, and it weakens democracy in Europe by undermining the ability of each country to alleviate its economic suffering.

So what if the Germans are harming the European economy? The Germans have bankrolled the euro and can do pretty much whatever they want. They just had an election; they kept the current government in office. Does that mean that an un-elected body can now derail Germany's export policies?

The answer is, apparently, yes.

The Joke That Is Niall Ferguson



This again?

Niall Ferguson is a sad joke of a historian. His works are well on their way to being popular with people who don't understand the difference between for-profit historical works and actual academic history. His attacks on Paul Krugman are nothing more than player hating. His gut, not facts, are what drives his analysis of things. Surely you can't expect him to be wrong when he comes up with fascinating things like this.

Ferguson can't buy the distinction nor the accolades he covets so he has to play courtier to people who lavish him with things that are intended and designed to give him status in the academic world. This is why he's the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard--money, not academic achievement, is what Ferguson is beholden to. He's holding the chair that a billionaire had to pay for. If you saw an actual academic with real credentials, you'd go nuts, too.

Move Over, Maryland




Hey, Cletus! Move over.

The "move over" law requires drivers approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights activated to change into an available lane so drivers are not next to the emergency vehicle. If there is no available lane to move over, drivers should decrease speed and carefully pass.

Law enforcement officials in Maryland are going to stop you, ticket you, and ruin your day if you don't move over or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles.


Violating the "move over" law is a primary offense with a fine that can range from $110 up to $750 if the violation contributes to a crash resulting in injury or death, according to police.


My take on the problems associated with a change in the law like this are not profound or anything. I like laws like this and I have no problem with the fines or the enforcement. I think that, when you change any law related to driving, it will take years to get people to bend their habits and adapt to a new procedure. We already have too many bad drivers out there and we have far too many inattentive drivers. Now you want them to move over? That's going to take a lot of effort.

No Respite For Hucksters


Kevin Trudeau is an American success story. He lied, he stole, he cheated and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for the fact that our reckless government is out of control and harbors an intense hatred of success and entrepreneurship. Or, you could look at it realistically and note that a proven liar and fraud should be subjected to an international auditing of all of his bank accounts so that everyone he stole from can have a chance to get their money back.

I guess it depends on whether or not you think a fraudster should be allowed to walk away with the money he has stolen. I do not.

Soccer Stadium Made of Legos




To give you an idea of the scale, each and every Lego "person" is depicted here as their normal size. There are thousands of Lego characters here, and the model is very interesting to study and look at. You can't "take" any of the pieces because, of course, everything at Legoland is superglued.

Legoland River Scene




Neuschwanstein Rendered in Legos




Legoland River Buildings




I think this is supposed to be Venice but everything is really made out of Legos.

Legoland Gate, Ulm




Austerians All Around Me




Paul Krugman is being shrill again:

[...] it’s hard to see why France deserves any particular opprobrium. So again, what’s going on? 


Here’s a clue: Two months ago Olli Rehn, Europe’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs — and one of the prime movers behind harsh austerity policies — dismissed France’s seemingly exemplary fiscal policy. Why? Because it was based on tax increases rather than spending cuts — and tax hikes, he declared, would “destroy growth and handicap the creation of jobs.” 


In other words, never mind what I said about fiscal discipline, you’re supposed to be dismantling the safety net. 


S.& P.’s explanation of its downgrade, though less clearly stated, amounted to the same thing: France was being downgraded because “the French government’s current approach to budgetary and structural reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services and labor markets, is unlikely to substantially raise France’s medium-term growth prospects.” Again, never mind the budget numbers, where are the tax cuts and deregulation? 


You might think that Mr. Rehn and S.& P. were basing their demands on solid evidence that spending cuts are in fact better for the economy than tax increases. But they weren’t. In fact, research at the I.M.F. suggests that when you’re trying to reduce deficits in a recession, the opposite is true: temporary tax hikes do much less damage than spending cuts.

The social safety net in France, which is socialism, of course, is actually helping to contain the economic damage that has been pervasive throughout Europe. Their health care costs are a fraction of our health care costs, Obamacare be damned. That's one major aspect of their economy that isn't following them around like a boat anchor in a wagon made with square wheels. Not every socialistic, evil idea is actually economically unsound, apparently. Otherwise, why would France be surviving Europe's economic debacles?




As we apply these facts to the situation in America, remember this: the presumptive nominees for the presidency in the Republican Party worship at the altar of austerity and would cut off their entire nose if it would spite their face and gain them a single primary victory in the deep South. Chris Christie has repeatedly refused to spend money to alleviate the suffering of people in his state unless, of course, they are people who might vote for him. And if you have an opinion different than his, he uses that old charm of his to scream hell into your face. Americans are going to vote for Christie because they want to see the fat man bellow at The Others and make the economy go bust on purpose. Hell, the man ought to just be handed the presidency outright.




The Republican Party loves poor rural white people. They've been making more and more of them for as long as anyone can remember and they're doing it through the old chicken wing technique. Austerity bends the economy's arm back like a chicken wing--try and make an honest living walking around like that.

Miscegenated




Richard Cohen, Washington Post

 Richard Cohen should have been fired a long, long time ago:




It reminds me of the lines from O Brother Where Art Thou. "These boys is miscegenated. And they ain't even old timey."

If you like your ignorance served with a helping of outdated old jackass, you're already in love with Richard Cohen. Will they fire him? Of course not. He merely says what many of his kind already think. Mixed race, biracial people who inspire a gag reflex in "conventional" people really should have run their life decisions through Cohen before they went and made babies.

Shakespeare in the Digital Age




Exposing old books and manuscripts to more interaction and more scholarship is a good thing; however, I sometimes wonder if there isn't an unhealthy fixation on certain eras. The fixation on all things Shakespeare means people rarely get a chance to expose themselves to the people who lived fifty or a hundred years before or after him and if there are no collections, no emphasis on those parts of the canon and no exposure to the best and the brightest, not all of whom lived at the same time of course, then they will further suffer and be ignored.

If someone could be exposed to Richard Brinsley Sheridan, John Skelton, or Thomas Carlyle in such a ways as to evaluate their works and compare them to their peers, could they not elevate these literary giants to the level of Shakespeare? Or would bias doom them all? Ben Jonson could easily challenge those who claim that Shakespeare was the greatest English writer. I hope they are putting out his works digitally as well.

Shakespeare invites a lot of bias. Why not let people argue that he wasn't as good as they say he was?

The Inadvertent Slam




Spencer Kornhaber meant to give the new Arcade Fire album a positive review; when he talks about listening to it on "portable speakers" while folding laundry, it makes for an interesting point.

When did music become so lame? When did a powerful new album by one of the most significant bands of the decade become laundry folding music? How did we get here?

Video games have replaced music in terms of generating excitement about a new release. The way people behave for a new video game--obsessively playing it over and over again, coveting the copy they have purchased, shutting down all outside distractions in order to maximize the initial experience--is how they used to greet the new Led Zeppelin album. Amazing.

The release of a new album used to mean something. You heard it all intensely, sometimes with headphones, and without distraction. Being pounded with new sounds and a new experience and introduced to music that had never been heard before was supposed to be a thrill, an experience, something to shut out the mundane.

Laundry folding music? What a classic, inadvertent put down.

Assessment Phase in the Philipines




This is where the United States Navy can really bring the logistics and support needed to assist the sovereign government of the Philippines. The assessment phase really needs to be stepped up, however:

[Updated at 3 p.m. Nov. 11: Pentagon Press Secretary George Little later officially announced the deployment and said the carrier, which includes a crew of 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, will be accompanied by the cruisers Antietam and Cowpens and the destroyer Mustin. Other U.S. Navy vessels were already underway for the Philippines, Little said in the statement.]

U.S. military and civilian officials are still helping Philippine authorities assess the scale of the humanitarian disaster from the storm, known in the Philippines as Yolanda.
 


“There have been a couple of initial flights, but for the most part it’s still the assessment phase,” said Sgt. Ben Eberle, a Marine spokesman. “In the next 24 hours, there should be a significant increase in resupply for Tacloban.” 


The additional deployment of Marines and sailors from the U.S. base in Okinawa, Japan, brings the number of U.S. personnel who have responded to the disaster to 180, Eberle said. 


A U.S. Agency for International Development assessment team in Leyte province found that in some areas, 90% of the housing had been damaged or destroyed, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

If you listen to the panicked demands for aid and help, it certainly doesn't sound like these people have a few extra days to spare. The demand for help seems to be far outstripping anything previously seen. And, as always, send money. Don't send high-heeled shoes, sport coats, or Viagra.

Staying on the Bank's Books Forever


The advantages of wealth keep piling up.

We would like things to be fair, I suppose, but things being fair would immediately come under the heading of socialism! or worse. But when things are fair, consumers tend to have a little more confidence, I would imagine, since the inherently rigged financial system doesn't seem to be inspiring anyone anymore.

This is evidence that the game is rigged and that it is becoming institutionalized favoritism and that it is being rigged at a higher and higher level. Once you have eliminated the possibility that the wealthy can't help but get more favors and better rates than everyone else, the stratification of society is complete and there's no reason for someone willing to work and improve a property will try to get a mortgage. What incentive is there? Unless you're at a certain level, you're going to pay a higher rate and that will cut into your already razor-thin property margin.

I used to be down on the idea of "flipping" houses until I started watching some of what happens on channels like HGTV. Instead of being entirely a cutthroat operation, you see houses that are rehabilitated, brought back up to code, and sold for an honest profit after some investment and hard work has been done--nothing wrong with that. And I know it is difficult to signal a trend based on reality television programming, but the end result of a flipped house that sells for more than what it was sold is supposed to be a family living in a decent house.

When a family lives in a renovated home, it can save a neighborhood. It can lift the values of properties all around it. That's positive economic activity that should not be thwarted or discouraged by the unfair rate tiers given to the super wealthy who are simply trading in misery and ruin. I don't believe they are taking the time to invest in and flip houses. I think they're trading in assets that they can use to build a new and fancier version of the "big shitpile" made famous by Atrios.

Cross Over Haigerloch




Römerturm in Haigerloch, Germany




An Open Letter to the Woman Who Tried to Kill Me Today




Thanks for trying to kill me this morning.

At around 11:35 AM, you tried to run me down in the parking lot of the TGIFriday's restaurant at the Arundel Mills Mall. You were driving an SUV and the license plate, Maryland Plate M254411, was given to Anne Arundel County Police via 911 call. I'm putting this out there because I just don't care about your feelings or your vehicle because, well, we know what you thought of me this morning. I was someone you figured could be scared into never walking across a parking lot in front of you again. Fuck you, by the way. Having never seen you before, I know one thing. I'll be glad to testify against you.

I do take it personally when people try to kill me. Intentionally. By accelerating their vehicle while I'm walking in a parking lot. By passing close enough to me to touch me with their vehicle. And by honking you seemed to assert the right of way. In parking lots, there really is no right of way because it is private property. There is a fundamental belief that running people over isn't the way to do things. I don't really know the law, but I do know that when you stopped and started jaw jacking with me, a number of people immediately began to act on my behalf because what they witnessed crossed the line from inadvertent mistake into an act of violence.

Who else have you done this to? I don't mind saying this--I hope I'm the first person you've tried to kill and hopefully I'll be the last one because not everyone will stand there and confront people who don't care about the basic rules of decency. So, instead of this being about me, think of all of the other people you've tried to run over. This one's for them. I like to use words to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. They used to call this journalism but that died and so now it's called blogging. It doesn't pay anything and you have to put up with crap. I do it because I'm not afraid of people like you. I think that you should be afflicted in a way that is appropriate for our society because what you did was irresponsible and dangerous. You could have hit other people today as well.

My mistake was turning and hitting your passenger side window hard enough to make you stop and then standing there. I should have run away and cowered under a dining table. Instead, I popped your window with my fist and scared the crap out of you and the passengers in your vehicle. I'm surprised that you allowed your friend to get out and get in my face. She was immediately set upon by two of the witnesses and put in her place, even though she called one of them a bitch and acted like it was your right as the driver and her right as the passenger to run people down in a parking lot.

You don't get to try to run me over and then make it my fault, especially when you hit your gas and did what you did, which is what caused the witnesses to get involved when most people could care less. You crossed quite a few lines by gunning your engine. You don't get to try and kill me and not have me write about it, either. That's kind of what I do.

With the size of your SUV being what it was, it could be said that you were being a bully. In point of fact, you were attempting to intentionally injure a pedestrian with a motor vehicle. I hope that the Anne Arundel County Police do treat you fairly and actually do something about this incident. Given how busy the police are in the Arundel Mills vicinity, I doubt anyone will inconvenience you and try to find out why you thought it was okay to try to run me over.

Decent people don't run others over on purpose. In case you don't get it, the reason why I'm still alive is because you were stupid enough to hit the gas and honk at me as if you had the right of way. That's why your passenger side window got popped. You don't get to come at me. I'm no different than anyone else and I'm not one of these tough guys on the Internet. Your friend seemed to think I had come down to your level by hitting your window. Sorry, but I did it to call your attention to an unsafe act. Your window isn't broken and Thank God I'm still alive. But you probably don't care so whatever.

The fact that you and your passengers were all women is probably why I'm not still throwing pieces of your vehicle around for fun. In a less polite society, I don't know what would have happened. I was pretty mad, and I wasn't happy about the fact that your passenger got in my face and asked me what I was going to do about the fact that you tried to kill me. Typically, in a situation like that, I don't know what I would do. I do know this--I dearly wanted to pull the keys out of your ignition and begin dismantling your vehicle for fun by hand. Call me crazy, but once you get the doors off, it's like riding a bicycle.

The adrenaline rush that I get is amazing. I haven't had this feeling in a long time. It's scary enough as it is, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to feel like this again so please stop trying to run people over on purpose.

Had you actually hit me, there's a very good chance that I could have bled to death before an ambulance could arrive because I have to take medication which thins out my blood. I have to remember not to get involved in anything physical for that reason. I have to go to the hospital immediately if I notice severe bruising or if I hit my head. Hitting your window with my hand didn't even hurt so, don't worry. I don't have to go to the emergency room and get it checked out. I tend to have some self control. Not much, but enough to take a picture of your vehicle and tell the police what you did and who you are.

I suggest you don't kill people. In this day and age, they do tend to lock people up for it and get all upset.

And, yes. It was hilarious watching your passenger scurry back to the vehicle, get in, and urge you to flee the scene of an attempted murder. All of us heard her tell you to get out of there. All of us watched you panic and drive away as fast as you could after I made it clear to you that I was calling 911 in order to have Anne Arundel County Police come and sort out the situation. How smart was that? We all laughed when you drove away. The 911 operator that took my call really wasn't in any mood to hear from me so I suppose you'll get away with it, but that wouldn't surprise me. Petty things like this in the vicinity of Arundel Mills are keeping people away from that place. It's like the wild west over there nowadays.

It's my belief that you just have to let the cops sort it all out. The cops need to sort out Arundel Mills, and fast. We can't let people solve their differences by running over pedestrians. You cannot take the law into your own hands. You have to stop yourself from dismantling a car by hand and you have to try to remain calm. I have no idea why I am not being evaluated in the hospital right now after kicking in a windshield and throwing a rear SUV hatch across the highway. No idea. On many different levels, that's probably what I should have done because getting you off the road would probably save lives.

Lunch was fabulous, by the way. My day continues, and I get to write about it and live a good life. For that, I am grateful. But, I have a responsibility to ensure that people like you aren't out there, running over helpless people. Sorry, but you tried to kill someone who is anything but helpless today. And a veteran, too. On Veteran's Day.

Why don't you turn your car keys in and get off the road? Why don't you get help for your insecurity and your inability to function in polite society? Did you lose a fistful of money at the casino?

Honestly, I stopped thinking about you when I hit publish.

UPDATE: More than 24 hours after the incident, nothing. Anne Arundel County Police have not attempted to find the driver. They have issued a "look out" for the vehicle so, unless the tag is run somewhere, forget about it. This is why I tell people that you have to respect the rule of law and accept the fact that people just don't give a shit about anything. They will run you down and the cops won't do anything and as soon as you take the law into your own hands, suddenly, that's the only crime they're going to pursue or investigate and they'll light you up like a Christmas Tree and go after you, not the person who taunted you after trying to kill you. People can do whatever they want. What? Someone's gonna complain? Too bad.

In other words, another day in paradise, bitches.

The Keith Moon Movie Rumors Start Up Again




Roger Daltrey is still trying to make a Keith Moon movie. This lengthy bit of history should tell you just exactly how successful he will be. Let's get in the time machine and travel back about eleven years:

I've been getting a lot of e-mails and phone calls recently about the supposed Keith Moon movie. A story made its way into the British tabloid the Sun on Friday Feb 8 it which it was claimed that Roger Daltrey had auditioned Mike Myers for the role of Keith Moon in his proposed biopic. "Mike is a genius," Daltrey was quoted as saying. "I can really see him as Keith. I went to some of the filming of his new Austin Powers film and it's hysterical. He's amazing when you meet him, so clever." 


That same day, Mike Myers denied through his spokeswoman that he had auditioned. Daltrey, it was claimed, had only visited him on set. 


But by then the story was out and doing the news rounds. Meantime, a lot of people have been getting in touch asking what this all has to do with me. The answer is very simple: absolutely nothing. 


Roger Daltrey has been talking about a Keith Moon movie for well over ten years. [emphasis, mine] He was talking about it a long time before I started doing the Keith Moon book, he was talking about it while I was doing the Keith Moon book - it was the main reason he gave not to take part in my biography, that my research would conflict with his project - and he was talking about it after I completed the Keith Moon book. Indeed, he called me before the book came out and in the middle of a strange conversation in which he alternately criticised and praised my biography, he asked me to hold publication of the book for six months, after which time he assured me there would be a Keith Moon movie on the screens that I would be able to better tie in publication with. That was 1997. It's now 2002. I can't say that his Keith Moon movie is not getting made - I know he has financed various scripts with his own money - but I can say it hasn't yet gone into anything close to production. Along the way, Daltrey has occasionally bad-mouthed my Keith Moon biography in public, which I think is a shame. I recognise that Roger loved Keith greatly, and I can understand why he might feel he has a more accurate and sympathetic view of Keith than does a biographer, but of course I stand by the quality of my book, and I regret that Roger doesn't agree with the many thousands of Who fans who feel that it told Keith's story with love and integrity.
Having stated all of the above, I think it is clear that if Roger Daltrey does get to make a movie on Keith's life, it will not be based on my biography. It will be based on Roger's own memories of KEith's life.
 


To complicate matters, there had been another movie in the works. Around the end of 1995, just as I was starting research on 'Dear Boy,' Robert de Niro's company Tribeca bought the rights to Dougal Butler's book Full Moonand set about planning to make a 'buddy movie' based on the two mens' escapades. To this end, they had Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais ('Auf Wiedersehn Pet,' 'The Commitments,' 'Still Crazy') write a script, which I have not seen. This movie got held up, possibly even waylaid, when Pete Townshend refused Tribeca permission to use Who songs; by 1996, once the Who had gotten back together, then to my understanding Daltrey leaned hard on Townshend to ensure that the only person who would get permission to use Who songs in a Keith Moon movie would be Daltrey himself. Roger was particularly put out by his feeling that Tribeca's movie would simply trivialise Keith's life and has always claimed that his own movie will concentrate on the real Keith, the sad Keith, the tormented Keith.

Will it happen? Who will play Moon? Mike Myers is now simply too old to do it. He's fifty years old and there is no way he can convincingly play a young Keith Moon. To do the part justice, they will have to find an actor who can transmit Moon's physicality and hyperactive tendencies. The man was sheer muscle and movement and had a number of qualities that are going to make casting difficult. Whoever plays Moon won't necessarily have to be an amazing drummer but they will have to be athletic enough and capable of portraying Moon's manic personality.




One of the things that has always bugged me is that people think Moon actually played his drums the way he was shown on television. The difference between Moon playing along in a television studio with a pre-recorded song and Moon playing live drums is like night and day. If the filmmakers decide that capturing Moon's abilities is secondary to his behavior and his interactions with people, the film will be incomplete. I don't know how you can tell his story without showing people, in some dramatic way, just how good he was on the drums.

The Scam Continues


The graph that you see above is old data; it's from 2011. The wholesale scamming of money from Vets through the prism of the 21st Century GI Bill has not been addressed. What are these idiots screaming about? They could have done something years ago and they chose not to.
America made a commitment to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: In return for their service, the country would help pay for their college education when they came home. 
Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect in August of 2009, the federal government has paid more than $30 billion in tuition and benefits, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released on Friday. The VA said this money has now helped 1 million vets, servicemembers and their families get college degrees or technical training. 
Most of this money goes to for-profit colleges and universities. Eight of the 10 schools receiving the most GI Bill dollars are for-profits, according to a 2012 report from the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP). 
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who chairs that committee, accuses some non-profits of using “predatory and deceptive tactics to target servicemembers and veterans for enrollment” in order to tap their federal educational benefits.
Tom Harkin has no credibility here, nor does anyone else in the Congress. Instead of bringing for-profit colleges to heel, they rolled over on regulating them and they have allowed the scam to continue. That's why the old graphic matters--it was plainly evident two years ago that there was a crisis because Veterans were throwing up their hands and choosing default when they couldn't translate their degrees into jobs . The Congress did nothing.

I used about two calendar years of my 3-year 21st Century GI Bill benefits. I have no student loan debt and I have my degree, a double major in History and English. It's a Bachelors of Science from the University of Maryland University College and it comes from a school that caters to Veterans and active duty service members. The only reason why this worked for me is because I didn't have to work for two and a half years. So, the benefit is still not generous enough and it should not go to any of the for-profit colleges that have issued worthless degrees to Veterans.

The transfer of education to Veterans that will help them get jobs should have been predicated on the idea that the only route to take would lead straight through an actual school or university with a credible degree program. The lobbying done by for-profit colleges and universities was successful. Veterans are not getting degrees or jobs, and they have been saddled with massive debt. Tom Harkin didn't do a goddamned thing to stop that when he could. Now we're supposed to believe this is news?

I Do Not Want Your Thanks or Your Pity



I like everything about this piece by Alex Horton. He is truly a gifted writer and is capable of commenting on these issues in ways that our media complex simply cannot comprehend. He's way more eloquent than I am on this subject.

But the missing word in this piece is "guilt."

Horton writes about the pedestal that Veterans are put on, and that pedestal is constructed on a bedrock of shame and guilt. There are many reasons for the pedestal, but the main reason that I see is built around two kinds of guilt. There is the guilt that civilians feel when they're reminded that there actually are Veterans who served while they did not and then there is the guilt that comes from the people who should be doing something to help Veterans and simply won't. They won't because it will cost them money.

In some ways, there simply is no shame left in America. None. Shame for not having done something to guarantee our freedoms? That's an antiquated, remote idea in American public life. What did you do during the war Mommy and Daddy. We made money. Oh.

You have virtually an entire generation that didn't have to join the military because they had the economic opportunity not to serve, and they took that opportunity and now they see all of the praise given to Veterans. But it's hollow praise and it's based on the idea that they somehow need to feel sorry for the people who joined because they didn't have any other skills. That mindset has translated into "thank you for your service but we're looking for someone else" because "you would be qualified, except you couldn't make it in the real world, so you had to join the military." That pity is killing more Veterans than anything else because not allowing the normal to come back into their lives is what is exacerbating the economic cutoff and the social cutoff that keeps people from getting help and from getting their status in our society back.




Don't give them your pity. Give them a job, quit cutting their benefits, and quit running a for-profit educational system that is systematically draining people of money while giving them useless degrees.

What about the Veterans who are actually serving? We're kicking them out, we're housing them in cramped quarters, and we're denying them the right to register their legal spouse just because some Red State governors want to make a stand against gay marriage. How's that supposed to honor people who are serving?





Then you have all of the substandard people now serving on active duty who go out and kill themselves even though they have never been deployed. Why is that? Guilt, perhaps, but also a lowering of standards. We are still trying to force a military with 19th Century rules into a 21st Century reality without even bothering to figure out who is able to put something else ahead of their own basic needs and adapt to military service. They are on the pedestal, but they are failures at almost every level. We're not serving them well, either.

So, it's Veteran's Day, and no one talks about the guilt. The guilt of not having served and the guilt of serving while being a hot mess. Figure out where the guilt comes from and then we can have a discussion about why this generation is no different from any other. The "greatest generation" theme is badly flawed.




I dread Veteran's Day precisely because we use it to give false thanks and praise to people who need health care, jobs and a way back to a normal life. We just shut down the government, slashing these people out of their attempt at getting to normal, just so some wingnuts could stand at the edge of the World War II memorial and scream at some Government employees.

I am proud of my 7 years on active duty, grateful for never having heard a shot fired in anger, and I wish I had done more and been better at my job. Would I do it all over again? Of course not. This country thinks I'm a sucker because I put on the uniform.