Archive for Bread and Circuses


Happy Birthday Freddy!

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Off the YouTube machine via Upworthy:


“From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio.”

Karoli dug into the origins of this event in an Irish pub:

[Radio talker] Graham was going down the usual neocon astroturf Tea Party road, and President Higgins served him a hefty helping of humility with applause included. This clip starts in the middle of the interview, where Graham has evidently labeled some people — I’m not sure who — as antiSemitic, which causes Higgins’ Irish temper to boil over and explode on the air. Graham had no idea what hit him.

The funniest part is that Higgins does to Graham what Graham was hoping to do to Higgins. The crowd was stirred, all right, but not in Graham’s direction. As he moves from health care to tea party racism to foreign policy and back again, all Graham can do is sputter.

You’re welcome.

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Unequal Pay Makes Me So Angry!

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Do Capuchin monkeys have a more finely honed sense of fairness than ours?


From The Atlantic:

Many humans have highly developed senses of fairness and morality, and it seems monkeys aren’t far behind. Alex Tabarrok highlights research by Emory University psychologist Dr. Frans B.M. de Waal, who studied how monkeys and other mammals share many of our social mores. The reaction to unequal pay is (ahem) priceless.

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On the Origins of Hooligans

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Via the Atlantic Cities’ Arts and Lifestyles pages, The Original Hooligans:

Dating back to at least the 1880s, the word “hooligan” was actually the name of a family of cartoon characters who, during the 1890s, frequently graced the cover of the English comic literary journal Nuggets – “A Serio-Comic Budget of Pictures & Stories.” The Hooligans were a family of Irish immigrants living in London, but not quite fitting in. Drawn by T.S. Baker and captioned with thick Irish accents, the Hooligan family typically displays odd and buffoonish behavior that’s juxtaposed against the properness of English culture.

Deriving from the Irish surname Houlihan, says the Online Etymological Dictionary, “which figured as a characteristic comic Irish name in music hall songs and newspapers of the 1880s and ’90s.”

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Bele Chere Post Mortem Ficelle Libre

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Use this space to offer up your Bele Chere thoughts/experiences, or anything else you may want to make known to the world.

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So first thing you need to know is that there is no Internet access here, so my promised live tweet of this Buncombe YD meet and greet/forum is coming to you not instantaneously as you have perhaps become accustomed. Also, I’m no court stenographer, but I did the best I could in transcribing the candidates answers to the various questions…

  • 9:39 Gordon Smith enters the theatre wearing a fancy hat.

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Drive-By Blogging

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Really tied up this week with a) work; b) events in Egypt; c) a new Democratic Party state chair (David Parker); d) the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte; and e) the sudden resignation of longtime Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Otto DeBruhl.

The BCDP has zealously guarded this office for years, as well as closely watching the makeup of the body charged with filling such vacancies in the event of death or resignation — the members of the elected official’s county Executive Committee. Now the party has 30 days to appoint someone to serve the remainder of DeBruhls’ term (until 2012). Will it be a battle royale? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, events in Egypt have Glenn Beck in full conspiracy froth. And you thought he was over the top before. Salon‘s Joan Walsh thinks he’s losing his mind. Mother Jones‘s David Corn calls it a bad version of Network:

It reminded me of this little ditty from the 1940s my dad used to recite. It’s just how Glenn Beck thinks.

Why fire engines are painted red
Fire engines have four wheels and eight men
8 + 4 = 12
12 inches = 1 foot
A foot is also a ruler
Queen Mary is a ruler
The Queen Mary is also a ship
A ship sails on the sea
In the sea are fish
On the fish are fins
The Fins fought the Russians
And the Russians are called reds
And because fire engines are always rushin’ down the street
That’s why they are painted red

And yes, some people take Beck seriously, and they vote.


Nerd Revenge Porn

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Wherein John Scalzi, the Creative Consultant for Stargate: Universe and current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shares his thoughts on Atlas Shrugged and the sociopath Ayn Rand:

… it’s a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs… Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. Then these nerds can begin again, presumably with the help of robots, because any child in the post-Atlas Shrugged world who can’t figure out how to run a smelter within ten minutes of being pushed through the birth canal will be left out for the coyotes. Which if nothing else solves the problem of day care.

All of this is fine, if one recognizes that the idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else. Yes, he’s a genocidal prick with excellent engineering skills. Good for him. He’s still a genocidal prick. Indeed, if John Galt were portrayed as an intelligent cup of yogurt rather than poured into human form, this would be obvious. Oh my god, that cup of yogurt wants to kill most of humanity to make a philosophical point! Somebody eat him quick! And that would be that.

That’s why Scalzi has a Hugo Award and makes his living writing Sci-Fi, while I make mine designing factories…

[h/t Digby]

Categories : Bread and Circuses
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Catastrophe and Social Change*

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So now that the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is over and we are onto more important things like hot Russian spy on spy action I would like to take a few moments to reflect back on what we learned from this most recent spill. Other than the fact that most sea birds and fish are not, unfortunately, oil resistant not much. Sure it made great television for a few weeks, lots of attractive news correspondents furthered their careers (I am assuming this, I don’t actually have a TV), We all felt that special bond that only comes from ritually and communally tarring, feathering and then executing some BP executives. We had boycotts and vigils, people cutting their hair and mailing it to the Gulf. We had outrage and then more outrage, conspiracy theories and a glimpse into the corrupt world of our fabulous corporate suzerains government. But other than that what did we have? Oh, we also had suspension of 1st amendment rights, but really the 1st amendment is quaint, and was always a bit overrated.

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Some legislators are concerned about jobs, the environment and banking reform. North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan issued this press release on Monday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and a group of Moderate Democrats have sent a letter to Senators Kerry, Graham, Lieberman, the lead authors of clean energy legislation, urging them to include measures that will strengthen the American manufacturing sector as the country transitions to clean, American-made power.

“This plan must promote manufacturing competitiveness, create and maintain American jobs, and recognize that a strong manufacturing base is a prerequisite for both a domestic clean energy economy and long-term economic recovery and growth,” wrote the Senators. “Our nation’s economic future depends both on our global competitiveness and access to reliable energy sources…A strong manufacturing base is crucial if the United States is to build the clean energy technologies of the future and achieve energy independence.”

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, in 2008, manufacturing made up 19.5% of North Carolina’s economy with an output of $78 billion. That year, the industry employed 514,000 individuals across the state. Hagan has emphasized she will not support legislation that would stifle growth and competitiveness in North Carolina.”

Meanwhile, on Planet Wingnut

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