Bobbing And Weaving Around The Impact of Globalization on Income and Employment

Posted in Cryptojournalism, economics with tags on August 23, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

It has always been a dream of mine to own a cash only business.  For a person of my ilk caliber, that would mean a laundromat or a hair salon.  IF I were to own a hair salon, it would be called Bob and Weave.  It would be boxing themed (in case you missed it there in the title).  Like a homeless man told me, a play on words is worth two in the bush.  Too right, sir.

Ok, enough juvenile foolishness.  We’ve got another Foreign Affairs article today.  “The Impact of Globalization on Income and Employment,” by Michael Spence is the most recent farcical article from the esteemed publication.  So let’s get into this piece, see if we can pull any interesting bits from this dry white paper.

Please check your coat and enjoy deception, baby

I sincerely encourage everyone reading to click the link above to the actual article.  Remember, most of cryptojournalism is taking things out of context and ferreting out bullshit.  Do not take this as an honest interpretation.  It’s cryptojournalism, so get your salt shakers ready.

Please note, this was published before the most recent tanking of the stock exchange.  But since at least 5 of my 6 readers are too poor to own stock, that’s a moot point.  Jumping right in:

By relocating some parts of international supply chains, globalization has been affecting the price of goods, job patterns, and wages almost everywhere. It is changing the structure of individual economies in ways that affect different groups within those countries differently. In the advanced economies, it is redistributing employment opportunities and incomes.

C’mere son, sit on grandpa’s lap as he tells a tale about the haves and the have nots.  If you’re a little fuzzy with the paragraph above, it’s smoothly describing globalization as a vehicle for class warfare.  Those ‘different’ groups of people are (spoiler alert) rich and poor.  This is not very promising.

On the bright side, at least Spence is spot on concerning redistribution.  He’d only be better off declaring it’s time for plebes to take up driving a gypsy cab, or webcamming for the ladies.  I know, I know, the women reading this are shaking their heads.  Webcamming?  Yes, webcamming.  Hey, when the economy consists of pushing paper at a financial institute, working in the vast service sector or being unemployed, why not venture into a liquid market, safe (for now) from the IRS.  Setting up a web cam, PayPal account and mortgaging your dignity probably sounds pretty good to some people these days.  Especially if you can’t get into the paper pushing racket.

Moving right along….

the structural evolution of the global economy today and its effects on the U.S. economy mean that, for the first time, growth and employment in the United States are starting to diverge.

Ahem, this is the FIRST time for a divergence of growth and employment?  After a decade of flat growth for wages?  The Economics Policy Institute has a nifty article FROM 2007?!!? touting how growth (strictly in wages) has been flat for 95% of Americans since the turn of the century.  Take a look for yourself.  It’s astounding that now, today, in the year 2011, we’re actually starting to see a divergence.  I’m just going to call bullshit and trudge ahead.

Spence continues on:

major emerging economies are becoming more competitive in areas in which the U.S. economy has historically been
dominant, such as the design and manufacture of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and information technology services.

We’ve still got Mariah Carey, and nobody can take her away from us.

Mariah Carey?

Yes, Mariah Carey.  Put it this way: if you’re traveling abroad around the holiday season, you’re probably going to hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at some point on your journey.

In other words, we’ve still got entertainment.  It’s our most reliable export: culture.  That’s not going to change anytime soon.

Entertainment and culture are not real brick and mortar industries, though.  Lucrative, yes.  But not lucrative in a meaningful way.  If that makes sense.

Hey, I’m grasping for something we export.  Basketball, movies, Beyoncé…..uh, financial disarray and porno spoofs.  All entertaining, yes.  Not always necessary.

An appropriate metaphor for contemporary America

We’ve become so complacent our pornographers aren’t even trying.  Choosing the above graphic was tough, since there are so many shitty spoofs to choose.  Enough of that smut, we have important issues to discuss.

Before I get into this next blurb, allow a short rant.  Writers and journalists of all stripes do an admirable job of pointing out the myriad problems surrounding whatever topic/issue they’re covering, but rarely have answers.  Case in point:

…job opportunities in the United States are shifting away from the sectors that are experiencing the most growth and to those that are experiencing less.The result is growing disparities in income and employment across the U.S. economy, with highly educated workers enjoying more opportunities and workers with less education facing declining employment prospects and stagnant incomes.The U.S. government must urgently develop a long-term policy to address these distributional effects and their structural underpinnings and restore competitiveness and growth to the U.S. economy.

Radical.  There’s a problem.  “Distributional effects and their structural underpinnings” is the problem, but what’s the solution?

There are two possible solutions, neither of which is elaborated upon: a tax hike on that segment of the populace on the winning end of that income disparity OR a wholesale devaluing of the dollar.  One could contend through quantitative easing we’re seeing that devaluing (gold bugs would tend to agree), but this is not addressed.

What good is an article on income and employment issues without solutions?  Not bloody much.

Don’t fret.  That will just make you think about things.  And who likes thinking?

At least Mr. Spence gives some real information on the U.S. economy, specifically how it has grown over the last two decades:

Between 1990 and 2008, the number of employed workers in the United States grew from about 122 million to about 149 million. Of the roughly 27 million jobs created during that period, 98 percent were in the so-called nontradable sector of the economy, the sector that produces goods and services that must be consumed domestically.

Wow, what a buzzkill.  98 percent of the jobs created since ’90 are (no offense to workers nationwide) useless outside the United States.  Now, watch this nifty trick of the tongue:

The retail, construction, and hotel and restaurant industries also contributed significantly to job growth.

He forgot to mention the reality television industry.

I’m going to go out on a limb and call that the service industry.  Why the author is compelled to parse the service biz into specific components is beyond me, unless it sounds better to perceive these things as different.  They’re not.  They’re people serving other people.

Don’t worry, folks.  The service sector is not the only part of the economy that’s grown:

Employment is growing, however, in other parts of the tradable sector-most prominently, finance, computer design and engineering, and top management at multinational enterprises.

All you’ve got to do is ditch that shitty job at Zumiez and become a top manager at a multinational enterprise.  No big whoop.  Ok, maybe it’s a medium whoop.

Ready for a truth bomb dropped on your head?  If you’ve got a bomb shelter, I’d advise taking your laptop down there before reading this next passage:

the range of employment opportunities available in the tradable sector is declining, which is limiting choices for U.S. workers in the middle-income bracket.

And there it is, laid bare for all to see.  Like Lenin’s body.  You’re a worker in the middle-income bracket in America?  Well, soon you’ll be a copper thief.  Or a gypsy cab.  Or doing the aforementioned webcamming.  Because your choices are limited.  I’m only speaking slightly with the slightest twinge of hyperbole.

As a random (and generally unread) blog, I’ve got to go fishing for page views.  Honestly, who WANTS to read something from a cryptojournalist?  So I try to link to articles featured on The Drudge Report.  And boy, Matt Drudge loves articles about copper theft.  It’s like a trend or something.  For criminals.

I’m beginning to see a trend emerging in this article.  Most everyone is getting crunched.  Except the highly skilled or morally bankrupt financial wizards.  I imagine Mr. Spence chuckling as he actually states things clearly:

The overall picture is clear: employment opportunities and incomes are high, and rising, for the highly educated people at the upper end of the tradable sector of the U.S. economy, but they are diminishing at the lower end. And there is every reason to believe that these trends will continue.

Sorry to burst the bubble of everyone reading this with a Masters Degree, but he’s not talking about you.  Highly educated people get their MBA, not a teaching degree.  They study at MIT and Harvard, not University of Phoenix or Hamburger University.

Sorry, thought I had a zippy graphic for Hamburger University.

Oh. There it is

This wouldn’t be cryptojournalism if I did not take umbrage with some of what Spence lays out in this article.  Look again at that last quote above.  It’s misleading, but it’s so soft and subtle that it’s very easy to gloss over.  Specifically, his use of ‘at the lower end’ needs to read ‘everyone else.’  I’m at a loss for a zinger, so let me hand this one off to Maude Lebowski.

Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey

With our SAT word of the day out of the way, we can get back to the cruel joke education plays in the American economy:

The highly educated, and only them, are enjoying more job opportunities and higher incomes.

Well, the highly educated, and the Kardashian Klan.  Mr. Spence keeps forgetting the reality stars who’ve made it big.  I cannot overstate that a Masters Degree DOES NOT QUALIFY one as ‘highly educated.’  Post graduate is the game here, which in stunning turn of events, costs money to acquire.  Yup, you’ve just been zung.

Now let’s touch on one of my favorite aspects of cryptojournalism, which is calling out misleading qualifiers:

[the global economy’s structural evolution]…is creating a distributional problem in the advanced economies.  Not everyone is gaining in those countries, and some may be losing.

Some, not most.  May be, not are.  Sleight of hand, not lying.  I think you see my point.  It gets better:

Declining employment opportunities feel real and immediate; the rise in real incomes brought by lower prices does not.

Lower prices?  Where?  In Venezuela?  I guess that the 15% rise in food costs the World Bank reports took place between October 2010 and January 2011 is poppycock.  Fuck, even the United Nations admits a 39% bump in food costs from June 2010 to June of this year.  In which fantasy realm does the author of this article reside?  Asgard?  Big Titty Heaven from South Park?  Where can I buy a slice of pizza for $1.25?

If you’re going to deceive, try a lie that’s not so easily refuted.

This passage is what I like to consider cute, in a ruthlessly cutthroat sort of way.  It’s a bit of truth with some deception, baby:

according to recent surveys, a substantial number of Americans believe that their children will have fewer opportunities than they have had.  The slow recovery from the recent economic crisis may be affecting these perceptions, which means that they might dissipate as the situation improves and growth returns. But the longterm structural evolution of the U.S. and global economies suggests that distributional issues will remain.

We’ve already shown that growth, well, didn’t grow for the overwhelming majority of Americans.  But don’t fret.  As soon as these stupid perceptions dissipate, it’ll be back.  And better than ever!

Don’t be fatuous, Michael.

At least he has the nerve to couple that with the factual statement that people believe their children are being shafted.

So, uh, what exactly is crippling the economy in slow motion?  It’s not technology or multinationals, that’s for fucking sure:

If giving technology as the preferred explanation for the U.S. economy’s distributional problems is a way to ignore the structural changes of the global economy, invoking multinational companies (mncs) as the preferred explanation is a way to overstate their impact. Mncs are said to underpay and otherwise exploit poor people in developing countries, exporting jobs that should have stayed in the United States.

I hope this paragraph is dripping with sarcasm, and it’s jut lost in translation from statement to print.  For one, shrinking multinational companies into an acronym is simply adorable.  I’m also fairly certain there should be air quotation marks around “said to underpay and otherwise exploit poor people in developing countries,” but that’s just a hunch.

MNCs are 'said' to 'underpay' and 'exploit' people living in a van down by the river

Now here’s something which is so painfully obvious, it almost hurts to type:

In short, companies’ private interest (profit) and the public’s interest (employment) do not align perfectly.

Oh, that’s it.  The alignment is off.  I’m not even going to throw an axle joke out there.  That’s too easy.  Once again, I’m fairly certain there are ironic quotation marks that should be around “align perfectly,” but I never can tell what’s irony and what’s mere farce.

Know what I was saying about misleading qualifiers?  Here’s a doozy.  Warning: this is a half a quote taken completely out of context.  Still, it’s too funny to pass up:

…the risk of a second economic downturn…

Silly me.  Here I thought it was one long, slow decline.  Nope, we had a rebound there, and now there is a RISK of a second economic downturn.  I don’t need to rub the Dow Jones in the author’s face.  He probably realizes how dumb that sounds now.  Especially when that risk is biting the stock market on the ass.

*cough* Corporate Fascism *cough*

With considerable uncertainty about the efficacy of various policy options, a multistakeholder, multipronged approach to addressing these distributional problems is best. The relevant knowledge about promising new technologies and market opportunities is dispersed among business, the government, labor, and universities, and it needs to be assembled and turned into initiatives.  President Barack Obama has already appointed a commission, led by Jeffrey Immelt, the ceo of General Electric, to focus on competitiveness and employment issues in the U.S. economy. This is an important step forward. But it will be hugely difficult to invest in human capital, technology, and infrastructure as much as is necessary at a time of fiscal distress and declining government employment. And yet restoring opportunities for future generations requires making sacrifices in the present.

We’ve got business, the government, labor and universities with seats at the table.  How about, oh, I dunno, regular taxpayers?  Some shmuck off the street?  Feh, what do they know?

Here’s a zinger, plain and simple.  Nothing more, nothing less:

Improving the performance of the educational system has been a priority for some years, yet the results are in doubt.

‘Bout that highly educated workforce.  Where is it?  Seemingly not coming from most educational institutions domestically, according to Mr. Spence.  He doesn’t just throw wild statements out there.  He backs them up with vague almost statistics, but, well, without the numbers:

…the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administers a set of standardized tests, the Program for
International Student Assessment, across more than 60 countries, advanced and developing, to measure the cognitive skills of teenage students. The United States ranks close to the average in reading and science and well behind most countries in math.

Close to average….is that above or below?  Vague and generally useless.  It’s like I hit the cryptojournalism lottery!  Once again, we’re confronted with problems, but no solutions.  Oh, there are suggestions.  Hilarious suggestions.

And when I say hilarious, well, see for yourself:

To break this pattern, it will be necessary to shift communities’-and the country’s-values about education through moral leadership, at both the community and the national levels.

Moral leadership.  Good thing this is an article and not a speech, since I doubt anyone could say that with a straight face without bursting into hysterics.  All along, all we’ve needed is moral leadership (from the national level!), and our students would magically be better performers at reading, math and science.

So I have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale, I sez.

One last tidbit, then we should have this wrapped up tightly:

Mncs with earnings outside the United States currently have a strong incentive to keep their earnings abroad
and reinvest them abroad because earnings are taxed both where they are earned and also in the United States if they are repatriated. Lower tax rates would mean a loss in revenue for the U.S. government, but that could be replaced by taxes on consumption, which would have the added benefit of helping shift the composition of demand from domestic to foreign.

I may be mistaken, but wouldn’t consumption taxes, I don’t know, fall on consumers?  Sounds like just another way ‘the lower end’ would get fucked over.  Yes, the author claims that the burden would be shifted to some foreign entity.  He also claims we’ve got low prices.

Like I try to do with many of these articles, I want you to think about what you’re reading.  If you’re reading.  Often, you’ll find the most egregious lies are balancing on a qualifier, or a quip.  Keep your eyes open and your brains sharp.  Even if you can’t afford to be highly educated.

Kelis Is A Pharmacologist

Posted in Cryptojournalism, Music, popular culture with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

If you remember a while back, I wrote about Kanye West’s Gold Digger.  Well, we’re back with another strip club anthem, this time “Milkshake” by Kelis.  One of my personal faves.  And once again,we’re going to break it down, lyrically, that is, and see what Kelis is really talking about.

Those are italics.  That should indicate I mean business.

Ok, enough posturing.  I just believe many of the more popular strip club anthems can easily be misinterpreted to mean all kinds of craziness.  Is Kanye West really portraying a corporate lobbyist within the lyrics of Gold Digger?  Only as much as Kelis is a pharmacologist.

A pharmacologist is one who practices pharmacology.  Sweet.  Study of drug action.  Sounds like junior year of college.

Just a few of the ingredients in Kelis' Milkshake

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Dude, it’s a song about her milkshake.  Her milkshake.”  There are those damn italics again.  Much as Peter Griffin wants you to think so, that is simply not the case.  Not for a cryptojournalist, at least.

The belief this song was made to do nothing more than get hoochies to shake their jubblies is, well, exactly the point.  I’ll tell you, though, after this, you’ll probably never hear it the same again.

Here’s the video.  Oh so good.

Let me clarify before we get into the lyrics, Kelis’ Milkshake is nothing like a Darvon Cocktail.  Although, it is killer in its’ own right.  Suicide jokes aside, it is a tad disturbing that you can Google Darvon Cocktail and, well, get multiple recipes for a suicide mixer.  Just….odd.  That’s one use for prescription drugs.

I’ve found this link has the most comprehensive lyrics.  Other websites spell “they’re” like “their” or “thee” like “thee,” and these are vital matters!  Exclamation point worth matters, even.  Who wants to misinterpret something that’s already misspelled?

 My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And they’re like
It’s better than yours,
Damn right it’s better than yours, [DING]

That Mrs. Nas Escobar sure is a confident one.  I’ve already begun to lay the fatuous claim her milkshake is indeed a pharmacological milkshake.  The Pavlovian ‘Ding’ throughout the beat does nothing to dispel the notion the song is about elaborate methods of mind control.  Or so the legend goes.  I’m taking the liberty of adding the dings to the lyrics.  They say as much as any word.

Word thru the rumor mill is the song was originally going to be called “Fribble,” but a marketing agreement between Friendly’s and Kelis fell thru at the last moment.

My Fribble brings all the boys to the yard.....

Fake internet rumors aside, who is the ‘they’ in “they’re like”?  Skeptics?  Haterz with a Z?  The FDA?  Astra-Zeneca?  Only Kelis and The Neptunes may know.

I can teach you,
But I have to charge

Get those sexist thoughts out of your head immediately.  I know where you’re going with this.  You think Kelis is an escort?  Psh.  That does not even dignify a real word.  Kelis is talking about her day job, as a professor at the University of Minnesota.  She works in the Graduate Pharmacology Program.  What did you think?

Great program, from all I’ve heard.

Now that we’ve established this song is NOT about selling sex, but about the pharmacology business, let’s get to it.

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, please note this first verse is repeated.  Repetitiously.  Throughout the entire song.  Over and over and over again.  There is no need for analysis of the same verse.  Right?

Moving right along…

I know you want it,
The thing that makes me, [DING]
What the guys go crazy for.
They lose their minds,
The way I wind, [DING]
I think its time

There is no way to move forward without first giving a tip of the cap to perhaps the greatest face in any music video, ever.

Oooooooooohh

With it established that Kelis studies pharmacology, we clearly see what she is saying here.  Pretty straightforward.  You just need to realize the thing that makes the guys go crazy is probably Xanax, or perhaps Oxy’s.

You may be wondering, “But what about the way she winds?”  Good question.  This is an example of the rare double entendre by word pronunciation.

Yes, she has proven quite apt at winding people up.  That’s what you get with effective use of Pavlovian triggers.

BUT, and this is a mild leap of faith, she also winds.

Like the winds in the sky.

In other words, she is a blow hard.  Instead of saying someone’s ‘talking shit’ you can say he’s ‘blowing winds.’

It’s like that famous Welsh saying, “Blood is Irony.”

Most people do not see the ironic nature of blood.  But it sure is packed with iron.

Thanks, folks.  Don’t forget to tip the wait staff.

[Chorus x2]
La la-la la la,
Warm it up. [1st Chorus DING]
Lala-lalala, [2nd Chorus DING]
The boys are waiting

In case you’re confused, the dings are staggered between the two repeated choruses.  Note the use of the word boys.  When you have someone snared with a pharmacological cocktail as powerful as Kelis’ Milkshake, you are not dealing with men.  Even the most powerful mind can be reduced to mush.

It has a very powerful sedative effect.  Like a TNA television show.  Just look at all those sad faces in the background.

I'd probably be dazed too if I saw this live

Look at those glazed over faces.  Apparently the girls is dubbed ‘Cookie’ (smrt!) and the guy’s name is, I don’t know, The Conundrum?  I’m not willing to take the time to find out, because then I’d know.  And if knowing is half the battle, that’s a losing fight.

So never forget: always be careful as possible with prescription pills.  Lord knows what you’re doing to yourself.  We know Kelis knows, but tuition these days is steep.

I can see youre on it,
You want me to teach thee [DING]
Techniques that freaks these boys,
It can’t be bought,
Just know, thieves get caught, [DING]
Watch if your smart,

Hmmmmm, it sounds like we’re dealing with someone beyond mere pharmacology.  Freaking techniques are not tips for the dance floor.  She’s talking about freaking out your mind.  Like the 60’s, man.  The 60’s.  Man.

No, Ms. Kelis seems to be boasting a mastery of some other sort of mind altering practice.  Does she use DMT?  I bet it’s DMT.  If it isn’t DMT, then it has to be marketing.  Focus group market studies.  That’s some hardcore shit, either way.  But…if it can’t be bought, how could it be marketing?  Has to be N-Dimethyltryptamine, slyly referring to its natural occurrence in the brain.

As for thieves getting caught, that’s probably a veiled reference to Canadian generics.  Or to outright industrial espionage, to turn a phrase from a time ago.

We’re about to leap right into the sickening underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry.  Namely, how there appear to have been so many dodgy drugs put on the market over the last 15 years.  Here is a list of various prescription drugs pulled from the market.  Note how much more frequent it has become since 1995.

Some of this, undoubtedly, is due to new knowledge on older drugs.  Darvon, on the market since 1957 and only taken off the market in 2010, proves that point.  There were only thirteen drugs withdrawn from the market up to 1986.  SINCE 2000 there have been twenty six.  Twice as many over the last dozen years than from the 50’s through the 80’s.  You want an example of pure malfeasance?  Take a look at the pharmaceutical business of the 21st Century.

That’s why Kelis provides words of wisdom.

Oh, once you get involved,
Everyone will look this way-so, [DING]
You must maintain your charm,
Same time maintain your halo,

Consumer advocates, the FDA, nosy health food devotees, they’re all skeptical.  Be charming, look virtuous.  Here’s a note to aspiring pharmacologists: take a public speaking class.  It always helps to nip those pointed questions about whatever dangerous prescription drug was brought to market with pesky side effects. And there have been more than a few.   A witty story, or a proper aside about nothing in particular, can defuse these tense situations.

Take notes, pharmacology students!  I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.

It’s really good advice for any aspiring criminal: halo maintenance and charm go a long way in the world.  Further than you’d think.

Side note: my favorite epic fail of the pharmaceutical industry this past decade has to be Vioxx.  Merck knows the problems with the medication in 2001?  Check.

Merck was advertising in 2004?  Check.

You must maintain that charm.  That’s a must.

There’s one last half verse, then this bit of cryptojournalism is in the books.

Just get the perfect blend,
Plus what you have within,
Then next his eyes are squint, [DING]
Then he’s picked up your scent,

Not anyone can be a pharmacologist.  You need something within, and that something would be a brain.  Laboratories aren’t full of monkeys on typewriters, not by my knowledge at least.

This isn't Pfizer's main lab, is it?

So there you have it.  Second in a not-too-frequent series of a cryptojournalist’s interpretation of strip club songs.  Hopefully you see how easy it is for what might be called prevailing thoughts to be found in music.  Till next time…..

Rhyme and Reasonable is on Facebook

Posted in Cryptojournalism on July 25, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

You can find my Facebook page for this zany corner of the web right here.  WordPress.com nixes the ‘Like Box’ or I’d add that.  So hop aboard!

And for no reason in particular, here’s a picture of Hank Scorpio.

 

Bit of a task master, but Globex Corporation DOES have a great severance package

Cake Having, Cake Eating

Posted in Cryptojournalism, economics with tags , , on July 24, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

I would like to once more touch on the story of the whitebark pine tree.  Mentioned previously, it is recognized as capable of being classified endangered, but monetary semantics and a backlog of other, higher priority listing actions, have precluded the listing.  Why bring this up?  Have I gone eco-hippie, back to Mother Gaia and such?

No.  It proves an illuminating backdrop for this article from The Economist (which apes a lot of ideas from this New York Times opinion piece), proving once again that words sound great, but words unattached to reality are fantasy.  Both articles are arguing that the REAL bubble we’re experiencing is a deflation of the consumption bubble.

The last quarter century of GDP was really smoke and mirrors (my words, not theirs), and now that people cannot charge and accumulate debt to the hilt (my words, not theirs), there is nothing propping up the economy.

Upbeat stuff.  I guess I agree, but when the financial system is predicated on fractional reserve banking (literally making a dollar outta fifteen cents), what do you expect?  People are getting wise to this, and [spoiler alert] not spending their money in a tight economy.

I know, right?

The American economy is built on consumption.  People are not consuming.  So…..the government should intervene.  And spend.  That is the sentiment from both The Times and The Economist.  It has been noted on this blog how the Bank for International Settlements is calling for governments to de-leverage (shed debt).  Which means either economics writers for prestigious publications glossed over the BIS annual report, don’t want to recognize the, dare I say, prophetic words of the BIS, or live in La-La Land.

That isn’t a Los Angeles joke, either.

Which brings us back to the whitebark pine.  It’s not listed as endangered because it costs money to do the leg work.  A $5.38 billion budget is big bucks.  That’s the U.S. Forest Service budget for 2011.  As much as that is, that includes a $10.7 million budget cut for so-called “Forest and Rangeland Research,” which sounds just like where the whitebark is being pinched.

And this is actually almost strictly a problem of the Federal Government.  In a stunning twist, 96% of the whitebark pines in the United States are on federal lands.  You will also note a similar request made in 1991 was ignored.

So this is a problem for the feds.

And guess what?  Capital Hill can’t afford to foot the bill.

Which, if you’re keeping notes, is the call to arms from economics writers.  Although, if you take the time to read an economics writer, you’ll probably find they’re full of shit.  From The Times article (emphasis added):

The biggest flaw with the past stimulus was that it imagined that the old consumer economy might return. Households received large tax rebates, usually with little incentive to spend the money (the cash-for-clunkers program being the exception that proves the rule). People did spend some of these across-the-board rebates, and kept economic growth and unemployment from being even worse, but also saved a sizable portion.

If it pleases the peanut gallery, I would like to point out the notion of paying down debt.  Shitheads spend money given to them when they have debts to pay down. 

The Times seems to believe we needed more shitheads during the golden era of for-clunkers programs.  Or unemployment and economic growth would have been even worse.

Imagine that?

The day Cash For Clunkers ended, panic ensued. Thankfully, Max was there

Consider it imagined.

Let me get this straight.  Pundits are calling for more federal expenditures when the feds are not able to pony money up for anything?  Sounds like a plan.  Having your cake, and doing something with said baked good.

What gets me most is that nobody has thought of what may be the simplest solution to the whitebark pine: crowdsource the problem of designating a critical habitat.  If finding a suitable tract of land to serve as protected environment is the problem, use technology.  This is simple stuff, folks.

How much would it cost to make a GPS based app, one where hikers in parks and forests could ping whitebark information to build a database.  THAT database could be used to find a suitable critical habitat to actually protect, on the cheap.  Call it, “If a tree falls in the forest….Say something.”

Inform park visitors of the problem in the tree’s region.  If they were willing to use smart phones to help build this map, would that not be a good, cheap use of technology?

Seems obvious.  If the feds can’t afford it, pawn it off on citizens.  For good measure, I’ll even throw a “Duh” in there, for good measure.  And poor form.

Not a forest enthusiast, more an ice cream, Juggalo and Faygo enthusiast

While I’m discussing the ridiculous nature of economics writing, I’ve got another dandy piece from The Economist I’d like to cryptojournalize.

That’s one of the perks of being a cryptojournalist.  Getting to make up new words on the fly.

This article is a rubbernecker’s dream.  It’s that much of a train wreck.

Some juicy tidbits, clearly dis-ambiguous and without context:

If we’re worried about the very real possibility that the long-term unemployed will drop out of the labour market altogether, we need quick-acting policy.

The plight of the discouraged worker is one that has been conveniently overlooked.  I’m fairly surprised it is even mentioned here, as it is SO overlooked.  Who wants real unemployment numbers?  Then people would panic.  Still, I am glad to see this overlooked aspect of the labor market at least referenced.

I have become increasingly averse to the idea of once again becoming a permanent salaried or wage-earning employee. I suspect I’m not alone.

Um.  Sure.  That is not from the mouth of CM Punk, to be clear.  Not everyone hates working, that’s just the impression from 95% of workers.  And the vagabond community.  And hobos, derelicts, the homeless, vagrants or whatever else you might call bums.

OK, so some South Park residents have embraced this lifestyle

Now I could be taking that quote out of context.  Or the writer has a Neo-Randian viewpoint.  Me-centric, where ‘I’ trumps all.

…the sort of self-rental involved in the employment relation is regularly experienced as a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection.

If you feel “a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection,” at your job, it may involve something dubbed “The Lollipop Ride.”  For those who don’t know what that is, well, it involves a man lying on the floor, a Blow Pop and a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection.

I read this next quip, and wanted to tell him, “Buck up, sport.  Welcome to the real world.”  But I don’t think he wanted to listen.

It just sucks to have a boss.

From the mouth of a teenager, working his first summer job.  Or a freelance writer for The Economist.  The level of rhetorical sophistication sometimes leaves me confused.  Does it suck, or just blow, to have a boss?  This is major stuff, people!

Head fake.  It’s not important stuff.  Merely the equivalent of the Sunday funnies for a cryptojournalist.

Regrettably, many intelligent people take economics writing seriously.  It’s better with a grain of salt and dose of cynicism.  Taken seriously, we all may be gypsy cabs, banking on the next dose of government largesse.

I’m not an economist, but I know if revenue is down and budgets shrinking (like the Forest Service), we should expect more whitebark pines than Cash for Clunkers.  If you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

“This Woman Is Dead Inside” – An American Gumbo

Posted in conspiracy theory, Media Farce, popular culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

[Spoiler alert]

I’m going to be darting all over the place today.  If you’re prone to vertigo, take a pill now.

Everything sort of revolves around the premise of blind devotion, some of the many horse blinders you’re likely to see if you look hard enough.  There’s a catch to mental blinders.  Sometimes you look ridiculous and simply become a cold spot on the grid.

Huh?  Cold spot on the grid?

It’s a general way I use to view the world.  Energy being finite, there are hot and cold spots on the grid.  The grid being a cheap metaphor for people.  If overall karma is neutral, some people will be at the far reaches.  So I sort of adapted that as a way to look at people.  Someone that’s always complaining about their problems and the unfairness of the world, forcing other people to expend mental energy on their woes, I’d consider a cold spot on the grid.  The clinical term is a Debbie Downer.

Brrrrrrrrr

Blinders are good for race horses.  For people left to stew over perceived injustice?  Ooooooooooh, not so great.

Which brings us to the Republic where everything is bigger, Texas.

Would you?

The story this week that’s left me in stitches is the Texas cheerleader Title IX discrimination case, which made it to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit?  Through the appeals process.  Four words from the Dallas Observer blog jump out and sum this case up nicely: petty, meddling and deeply entertaining.  True story.

Samantha Sanches (poor girl) is the cheerleader who put this turd in punch bowl.  But her mother, Liz Laningham, took that turd.  She’s clearly the star of the final appeal.  Take the time to read, as it’s a great piece of high order satire.

Crib notes: Ma’ Dukes seems to complain about anything.  Squeaky wheel, as they say.  It’s all baseless.  When she doesn’t get her way, the family appeals.  To the 5th Circuit?!??   To sum THAT up, total waste of court time and federal money.

Laningham and Sanches twisted high school petty teasing into sexual harassment.  It is not.  The insult to jurisprudence by this case is comically mad.  The court sums it up nicely, saying, “the sort of unpleasant conflict that takes place every day in high schools, and it is not the proper stuff of a federal harassment claim.”

That it got so far shorts out my brain.

Didn't get your way? Ain't your fault!

Emotional trauma from not making the cheer squad is probably not an uncommon occurrence.  Working your way through federal court over it, that is an uncommon occurrence.  I could go on to disparage the poor grammar and spelling of the plaintiff’s paperwork, but that’s piling on.  Check it for yourself, though.  I’ll guarantee at least one laugh to anyone who reads the ruling.

This whole tale is a case of piling on.  I’m easily stunned when this chews up federal cash, when the EPA won’t declare the whitebark pine tree endangered.  Actually, the conclusion was,  “the agency said that it found a listing was “warranted but precluded,” meaning the pine deserved federal protection but the government could not afford it.”  Right.  How much does listing a tree as endangered cost exactly?  Wild guess, $5 million? Proclaiming something is endangered costs loot.

Only in America.

She's a patriot

Counter-intuitive as this may sound, but small town squabbles should not rise to the level of my amusement.  Cryptojournalist rule #7.

The kicker?  If this does anything, it will probably hurt the anti-bullying movement that’s apparently a thing.  Cheerleader Moms’ hyperbolic abuse of every conceivable semantic loophole to gain her comeuppance from the school (for naught!) diverts attention to real problems while diminishing real bullying.  Crying wolf has that effect.

Which leads us to CM Punk.  Trying to stay in the vein of blind devotion, I bring you the messianic leader of the Straight Edge Society.  Think messianic leader is overblown?  Here’s one of his past vignettes.

He’s in the news thanks to breaking the fourth wall during a promo gone awry on Monday Night Raw.  Or an angle.  Whatever that is.  Much like cheerleading, pro wrestling is an eminently (North) American pleasure.  (With a tip of the cap to the countless Canadians who’ve left their mark.)  For those who haven’t seen the CM Punk shoot from Raw…

You’ll notice Punk has his mic cut towards the end after referring to the WWE’s anti-bullying campaign.

Nice segue, but it’s not the point.

The (newly minted and newly unemployed) champ landed an interview with GQ after this episode, where he talks about himself and the wrestling business.  Ego and chutzpah are two things he does not lack.  The interview has a bit of ‘inside baseball’ on the wrestling realm, but it’s an interesting read for anyone.  As Punk even points out, aside wrestler deaths, when does this subculture garner any media attention?  True story.

He says something towards the end, which I find illuminating.

“I think everyone’s dream is to do nothing.”

As a do-nothing, it’s not all berries and cake.  It’s nice, even easy, but not redeeming at the end of the day.  If you bear with me, though, I believe it harmonizes with Ms. Laningham’s unreasonable demands.

Both ring of the same credo: belief that all ‘my’ demands be met.  I doubt that is what CM Punk meant when he said that, but the claim everyone wants to do nothing is me-centeric, to say the least.  Punk’s interview has captivated minds similar to how Latrell Sprewell did on the Golden State Warriors.  But in a good way.

Hasn't everyone felt like choking their coach at least once in their life?

Saying “Fuck Off” to the boss is 3rd on the list of American Dreams, after a white picket fence and banging a reality show contestant.  Punk captured that spirit.  I believe that is a very me-centered viewpoint.  I’ll indulge myself so much to call it a Neo-Randian perspective.  For you West Coast book nerds.

Pro wrestling, err, the re-branded sports entertainment, is still a cultural influence.  Also, a fine stage for blind devotion.

Here is probably the most overlooked comic gem of the last decade.  Harvard educated wrestler Chris Nowinski is having a debate with juice monkey Scott Steiner a.k.a. Big Poppa Pump also dubbed Big Bad Booty Daddy.  This is the sort of archival comedy I adore.  Props to WrestleCrap for bringing this to my attention. Archival comedy everyone needs to see.

“The Great Debate” is over Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Right.  Aside from comparing this to Lincoln/Douglas and Nixon/Kennedy (daft in its own right), the fans are prompted to Booooooo the heel (villain, for those out of the biz), who (obviously) argues the anti-war view.  Because people boo heels.  Priceless.  Both agree on freedom of speech, which is nice.

“Terrorism, they started it.  Terrorism started it, not us.  Terrorism drew first blood on 9/11 and you can bet your sweet ass we’re gonna get even, and we’re gonna finish it.”

^^^Actual quote^^^

A nation getting even with an idea.  Simple, right?

Some naysayers out there are probably skeptical of pro wrestling’s cultural influence.  May I present (drumroll……….)

Extreme Couponing

Paul E. Dangerously should get intellectual property rights for the word extreme by now.

Without me, you'd simply be couponing

Royalties, at least.

Another ingredient in the American Gumbo, extreme couponing is the new trend.  Or is it a fad?  I can never tell.  Irregardless, it’s…..interesting.  Or I wouldn’t be talking about the extreme nature of coupons.  Like the blind devotion we see from cheerleader mom and wrestling fans booing sensible foreign policy (not their fault,really), extreme couponing demands blind devotion.  To shopping.  Or consuming.  Or eating crap food.  Guess I’m trying to say there’s plenty of blind devotion involved.

It also provides a rare glimpse into some Real Grade-A American Madness.  Take this 21st Century Norman Rockwell below.

I think you can just bathe in them

Thankfully Mr. Rockwell has passed on.  But 600 lbs. of obesity marveling over dozens of bags of potato chips is a quintessentially American image.  Don’t confuse this as mean spirited.  It’s not.  The above image is sad.  This well meaning couple’s life revolves around food shopping and hording snack foods.  Is that a way to live?

Rhetorically speaking, only if your dream is to do nothing.  Clearly I’m not a shopaholic.  I do not shop till I drop.

But buying 3 dozen Maalox because you have a $5 off coupon still means you’re buying three dozen bottles of Maalox.  Which probably makes sense if all you eat is processed food you buy with coupons.

Trudging through some of the YouTube channels of extreme couponers, there is some definite comedy.  Take this clip below.

Whoops, that’s Coupon: The Movie.  I guess 1996 was the first time coupons were marketed as entertainment.  Ahh, Mr. Show with Bob and David.  If you’ve never seen it, for shame!

“Honey, guess what?”

“What?”

“I got ya some socks!”

Deadpan at its finest.  And 15 years before its’ time.  Cutting coupons as entertainment.  “Genius,” the marketer squawks.

There really are funny clips on YouTube.  I should qualify my use of the word ‘funny.’

Hobo With A Shotgun, as I have mentioned, is comic platinum.  Not gold.  Platinum.

Bridesmaids, on the other hand, I found dull.  I’ve been actively seeking out female perspective on how exactly that film was a comedy.  I didn’t get it.  The catty, backstabbing antics of Annie and the bridal party lieutenant were just unappealing.  I found it hard to find a character worth rooting for.

And Maya Rudolph pooping in the street in a wedding gown does not pass muster.  Ain’t funny.  A clip from a Maury Povich paternity test was the closest I got to a laugh.  So please, if you’re a woman that can explain the comic elements in that movie, please leave a comment and explain.  I’m totally stumped on this one, since the movie appears to be funny to people.

Hell, I got more laughs from The Hidden Faith of The Founding Fathers.

A three-hour docutorical (that would be a rhetorical documentary, to be taken with 2-4 salt grains) production from a Christian film ministry.  Yup.  A Christian film ministry.  It’s about how the Founding Fathers were [spoiler alert] NOT Christians.  More laughs than Bridesmaids, easy.  Bridesmaids didn’t have any gems like, “The Bible doesn’t promote freedom of thought.”

[Lingering in the air like a hot fart]

The Bible doesn’t promote freedom of thought

[Still lingering]

That’s a quote from the mouth of Christian J. Pinto.  A cryptojournalist’s dream, I sez.  If you want to see for yourself, it’s at the very end of the video, the 2:56:53 point to be precise.  Unreal.  The Bible doesn’t promote freedom of thought.  Priceless.  Thank you, Mr. Pinto, for generating more laughs for a cryptojournalist than a summer comedy blockbuster.

He also employs cherry-picking tactics, with Barack Obama calling himself a Christian.  He contrasts this technique with how David Barton (a Christian minister) apparently misleads Christians into believing the Founding Fathers were Christians. At 2:09:55 of the video, Christian Pinto drops this chuckle bomb:

How would it be if somebody like David Barton came to your church and they put up a picture of Barack Obama, and they showed this quote from Obama and they said, “Wow, this is proof that Obama is a Christian.  And he’s really.  No, he’s not a closet Muslim.  Um no, he’s a Christian.”

Yeah.

That’s right.

You’re not hallucinating.

He played the “Barack Obama closet Muslim” card.  Gangster.  Super gully.  And MUCH funnier than the airplane scene from Bridesmaids.  Not as humorous as touting the Bible doesn’t promote freedom of thought, but good laughs nonetheless.

Pinto inadvertently makes the strongest argument FOR the Illuminati I’ve ever heard.  The video, if you’ve got the patience to sit through, is a train wreck.  Total shit show.  Cynical I may be, but this is very funny.  In a twisted way.  Blind devotion?  Stuffed to the gills.

Phew.  Hell of a qualifier.

I laugh at strange stuff.

Which brings us back to the YouTube exploits of extreme couponers.

A slow building laugh, but the progressive inadvertent comedy of watching this episode of “Coffee with Collin” builds through the clip.  Using a “hot” coupon in the travel section, “So beautiful,” is one thing.  The comic progression of watching her start the clip with a Starbucks coffee, purchasing Wet Ones at WalMart then buying Taco Bell for lunch is too much.

And the comments section.  Well, one dude sums up his opinion like this, “This woman is dead inside.”  And I might agree.  If not dead inside, perhaps gassy and irregular?

You know what?  People watch.  And like the videos.  So I guess there has to be something to the extreme coupon fad.

I’ve decided it’s a fad.  Trends are indicative of future momentum.  Fads fade with time.  Real people aren’t going to dedicate 10-30 hours per week to their shopping alone.  That’s a very shallow life in my opinion.  There is a real payoff for parents if they’re getting diapers for a nickle apiece.  Smart as hell, since babies poop.

Then there’s this.  These twins, dubbed the Double Saving Divas, are unmarried and childless, giving advice to mothers on buying diapers and wipes.  I would give advice to my buddies with kids on parenting, but what the fuck do I know?  Single childless women have more disposable income and free time compared to mothers.

Am I off target here?  Granted, they give good tips.  But, I feel like I’m missing.  Also, a pair of twins (as noted on their Extreme Coupon episode on TLC, in their early 30’s) who dub themselves divas and stockpile diapers?  I bet they’re beating suitors away with a stick.  Only if they got that stick on sale, though.

Sarcasm aside, there appears to be a disconnect here.  How many mothers have the time and loose cash to do this?  Some, but I wager not many.  A lady with no kids giving advice (at the end of the video) on buying size 3 diapers, because your baby tends to grow out of smaller sizes much faster.

Experience counts for nothing, I guess.  And I am not trying to be a typical man, a chauvinist, woman bashing or not P.R. but the way these two operate is very intimidating.  A nutless, beaten down brave man would he be who walks into a diva’s home to the sight of a wall of diapers.  Just my 2 cents, but that sort of crazed, blind devotion (in this instance, to their theoretical babies) is off-putting.

Good luck with that, though.

The cheerleading, wrestling and extreme couponing subcultures, while aesthetically different, are all ingredients in American Gumbo.  It would appear so is blind devotion.  Mental blinders, thinking (more aptly stewing) without perspective, begets nutty stage mothers dragging a school district through the federal court system.  Or bowing in fealty to shopping and consumption that’s never satisfied.  When ‘my’ demands trump everything, and everyone wants to do nothing, let that simmer over medium low heat for 3-4 hours.  Stir occasionally and sprinkle with Neo-Randian perspective for a delicious American Gumbo.

Anders Rasmussen’s Fogh-gy Plan For NATO After Libya

Posted in Cryptojournalism, defense with tags , , on July 12, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, recently published an opinion paper.  Titled “NATO After Libya,” and published in Foreign Affairs, Anders Fogh Rasmussen discusses European austerity and the future of the global defense shield.  If I had to write a crib sheet to fit on a pin head, I’d sum it up as “spend smarter and integrate.”  As a blurb, it would be “prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis.”  Too right.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Point Man for Nato

The essay itself is rather short, and everyone should read it for themselves.  Do that now, since at the jump I’m going to play a game of Statement –> Translation.

Statement –> Translation is where I take a chunk of information, dust off the debris, and translate.  Cryptojournalistically, of course.

Without further ado:

…military might still matters in twenty-first-century geopolitics. The security challenges facing Europe include conflicts in its neighborhood, such as in Libya; terrorism from failed states further away; and emerging threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyberwarfare.

Sounds good, right?  Only I didn’t know the internet was susceptible to traditional armaments.  Nuclear proliferation is also something which does not bow to tanks and air power.  I’ll give NATO’s Secretary-General the benefit of the doubt.  I am a mere cryptojournalist, and he wields the power of NATO.

Continuing with the theme of military might:

…in an unpredictable environment, hard power can enable peace. Just as the presence of a police officer may deter a burglar, the projection of military power can help prevent and, in extreme cases, diminish threats, as well as ultimately open the way for political solutions.

This is one of the great misnomers of our time.  Soldiers and police are not the same.  If you wanted to protect your home, would you buy a dog or a cougar?  Yes, that’s the analogy I’m drawing.  A dog is a domesticated animal, while a cougar is as likely to pounce a homeowner as it is a thief.  Trying to craft an analogy of soldiers in a war zone being equivalent to beat cops is daft.  That’s right, the underlying premise of many of our military excursions is daft.  Military personnel are not police.  Nor should they.

Sorry if I’m breaking the one to break this to you, but cops and soldiers are not the same.  If you do not see the difference, I’m surprised you’re even reading this blog.

Even with all the military might at NATO’s disposal, Rasmussen reminds us mere physical power is not the goal:

the way forward lies not in spending more but in spending better — by pursuing multinational approaches, making the transatlantic compact more strategically oriented, and working with emerging powers to manage the effects of the globalization of security.

Sounds like “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”  Hard work is overrated, anyway.

If a beaver revs a chainsaw in the forest and there's no one there, does the chainsaw make a sound?

Sounds like more cooks in the kitchen.  “Better, not more,” while an admirable sentiment, is contradictory when said in the same breath as multinational approaches and security globalization.  Ever competed in a three-legged race with two extra people tied to your leg, with another three on your back?  That’s what to expect from better spending with a more multinational approach.  Expanding bureaucracies is never a streamlining move.

But it gets better.  Here is Mr. Rasmussen’s description of “smart defense,” and how to implement this idea.  It’s fun:

Smart defense is about building security for less money by working together and being more flexible. This requires identifying those areas in which NATO allies need to keep investing. The operation in Libya has underlined the unpredictability of threats and the need to maintain a wide spectrum of military capabilities, both frontline and enabling ones. Keeping a deployable army, a powerful navy, and a strong air force costs money, however, and not all European countries can afford to have a bit of everything. So they should set their priorities on the basis of threats, cost-effectiveness, and performance — not budgetary considerations or prestige alone.

Another great piece of rhetorical sophistry.  Who wouldn’t want a smart defense?  Now wait a second there, chico.  Read that passage carefully, since there are a statements that do not reconcile.  Rasmussen declares the need to build security with less money.  Without missing a beat, he then points out the need to “maintain a wide spectrum of military capabilities,” which is never cheap.

A Brussels favorite

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, though, or you’re likely to miss another irreconcilable contradiction.  Mr. Rasmussen points out the “unpredictability of threats” which have arisen in Libya.  By the end of the paragraph, however, he is calling for European countries to “set their priorities on the basis of threats,” which sounds like a job for a soothsayer or guru.

NATO countries are being encouraged to prioritize their individual military spending on the basis of something unpredictable? Sounds familiar, but I’m struggling to put a finger on it.

That's more like it

Remember the calls years back to buy visqueen and duct tape?  To protect your home from biological agents?  Of course you don’t, that was years ago.  It falls along the same lines as Rasmussen’s thinking about threats.  Using NATO logic, namely ‘on the basis of threats,’ well, everyone would have rolls of visqueen (which is a brand-name for plastic sheeting material, FYI) in their homes from the anthrax scare.

As you can see, I’m having a difficult time reconciling the notion of threats and their unpredictability.  How do you predict the unpredictable?  How can thy ground that which is ungroundable?

Pardon me, I have a meeting with the Supreme Allied Commanders, per se

I’m generally impressed.  I normally expect that level of rhetorical trickeration from a banker, not a military man.  Well played, Fogh, well played indeed.  Since we’re beginning to delve into the fantasy world of banking rhetoric, let’s wrap this up before we fall into another topic altogether.  Bear in mind this is in reference to leaning on so-called emerging powers to pick up some of the slack in global defense:

Working together could eventually lead to a common understanding of how to build twenty-first-century global security, which entails a sense of shared responsibility. This way, what too often seems like a zero-sum scenario can be turned into a win-win one.

Zero-sum games by their nature cannot be mutually beneficial to all parties.  Talk about the cart in front of the horse.  Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes he’s a general manager of a football team.  What he fails to grasp, is the world plays soccer.  The powers of persuasion are not going to change this. He’d like to assign each nation a position, while the countries themselves prefer to run back and forth, in the vain hopes of a tie.  Does he even know what he’s asking for?

Hone in on the word ‘seems’ for a moment.  Rasmussen is not even proclaiming planetary defense is a zero-sum game, yet hopes to turn the notion of global security into a plus-sum (win-win) scenario.  By hypnosis?  Which leads me to wonder, how?  There is no foundation for defense (at least in this article) being either/or, so what is it?

Coupling the seeming state of things with a hopeful outcome leaves a lot of wiggle room for what peoples’ genuine opinion of defense is, be it zero or plus sum.  Broad and vague, just how I like it.

Since I’ve got an affinity for statements twinged with the doom and gloom of apprehension for the future, here is Mr. Rasmussen’s closing statement:

Making European defense more coherent, strengthening transatlantic ties, and enhancing NATO’s connections with other global actors is the way to prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis.

Just to be a speculative prick, I’ll go out on a limb and guess the premise “prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis,” becomes a talking point around Labor Day.  It reeks of the sort of fear mongering that will play almost too well domestically.

Will NATO’s budget dry up after the Libyan incursion?  Doubtful.  If you believe the next theater of warfare is the Arctic Circle, well, then it’s clear there will always be a place for NATO.  Now, is that in a zero-sum, or plus-sum world?

Nuanced Plot Devices

Posted in Cryptojournalism, Media Farce with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

I’d like to start with this headline yesterday from The Peninsula Daily News, out of the great state of Washington.

“Keep distance, don’t urinate: Olympic National Park revises plan in wake of goat-goring death”

Seems rather benign: goats like salt, urine is salty, therefore hikers in Olympic Park shouldn’t make salt licks.  National park enthusiasts should feel confident that park officials have revised their mountain goat action plan.

I’m not even sly enough to make that one up.  Mountain goat action plan.  Sounds like a song title out of thrashcore, or synthetic electro dub step or bloodcore or some other contrived style of music.

The kicker?  Somehow the Associated Press picks this story up.  Since the week-to-week management of a national park is really important news.  Here’s the AP’s headline.

“Olympic Park visitors urged not to pee near trails”

Somewhere, there’s an editor quite content with the crispness of that headline.  It really lays the meat and guts of that hard hitting story right out there for the reader.  Elsewhere, the premise of an informed public silently dies.  But, hey, good to know.

If I find myself hiking the Pacific Northwest this season, I’ll make sure to do my best to aid and assist in whichever way possible with the mountain goat action plan.

The next time someone wonders aloud, “What’s wrong with the news?”, you have your answer.  The Associated Press is using the nuanced plot device of pee to drive traffic.  On a wholly unnecessary story.  I would not call this news, I’d call it bullshit.  I should know, I’ve been dabbling in bullshit for a while now.  “Guys, don’t just turn around and piss,” being pawned off as news is bullshit of a relatively high magnitude.

Metaphors: Sam, y'see, has a smart daughter. Who draws

Speaking of magnitudes of bullshit, there’s the debate over the debt ceiling.  Scratch that.  There is the bi-partisan support shown for the defense budget.  The Pentagon stays fed, and our operations abroad continue unquestioned and unabated.  Which is great, except, well, um.  Oh, how do I say this, it’s just so tough.  Yeah, over there, in Washington D.C., uhhh, politicians are haggling over a $14,300,000,000,000 bill that’s moving in the wrong direction.  But in a vote of 336-87 the defense budget passes.  In fact, it’s the only growth sector in the federal government.  And 80% of the elected officials made sure of that

Citizens?  Eat a dick.  Explosive toys, that’s what gains support from both Republicans and Democrats.  Hence, why politics is a generally lost cause.

I’d be remiss to not pull the dads of this generation aside for a minute.  Fellas, look, I know it’s bad out there.  Unemployment, inflation, Danielle Staub is returning to television.  Bad times.  Although, maybe I’m speculating wildly, but putting Heidi Montag, Danielle Staub and Ashley Dupre together with Three 6 Mafia on set would work out great if they were casting a rap video.  Opening a chic restaurant?

I was hoping they'd serve crunk juice. Sizzurp at the very least

Either way, VH1’s Famous Food will help usher someone from that cast that much closer to the porn life.

Danielle, do that butterfly again girlie!

Joking aside, something is going sideways.  Guys, I don’t know what’s wrong, but please, for the love of God, don’t rampage and kill your kids.  To what end?

If you didn’t read about Rodrick Dantzler’s wild ride through Grand Rapids, well, it’s not fun.  He killed his own daughter, two ex-girlfriends and four of their family members.  He shot two others, held a house of strangers hostage, then shot himself in the face.  No justice.

That’s insane.  Beyond my feeble comprehension insane.  Fathers of America, is the future so bleak you’d rather murder your own children?

This is where I should post some wry video, or have some snappy photo.

Well, instead we’ve got the news of Everett Conant III.  He decided to kill his three sons, his brother and shoot his wife.

I’m literally stumped.  There’s no cynical jokes to make, nothing to make light of from these two grizzly acts happening in completely different places at the same time.  This is the world today.  People so far gone they’re killing their own progeny.  For a cynical person, that’s tough to grasp.  An indictment of life by these twisted men.  Hence why I post this Friday evening, so nobody will have to read about these tragic messes.

While I’d like to leave on that upbeat note, the three intrepid readers able to make it through that dour mess deserve better.

Here’s a little zinger.  Caterpillar completed an acquisition of Bucyrus, a maker of mining equipment, for $8.8 billion.  Hard economic times indeed.  This little quip in the body of the article caught my eye.  Bear in mind Caterpillar is based in Illinois, Bucyrus in Wisconsin:

Caterpillar Inc. said it completed the deal Friday after getting regulatory approval from China. The U.S. Justice Department already approved it.

Forbes reports the same.  But they (nor anyone else) report why two American companies need Chinese approval.  Oh, so the zinger?

Free market democracy

You have been zung