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Sunday Morning Reading Material: First Sunday in April 2011 – With Notably Rare Exceptions Edition

A wonderful defense of drunk driving. The obvious solution- funding buses and trains- doesn’t seem to have entered the conversation.

It’s Sunday morning. Sundays are for getting up when the alarm goes off so you can do chores before heading to work. Sundays are for sleeping in after a day spent at WonderCon. Sundays are for being in Old Vegas and celebrating your birthday. Sundays, much like the Diety of Abraham, simply are.

This week, the Afghan, Iraq, and Libyan wars continued. The Canadians and French campaigned for their previously planned elections. The Japanese are still dealing with the cleanup of their nation. The Haitians are also still trying to fix their country. This week, in other words, was uniquely like millions of others in human history.

Sadly accurate: male nerds will offer girls sex pretty much whenever girls show up in proximity to nerds. I think this sheds some interesting light on misogyny in general; male nerds aren’t really looking at the actual human being creating the works or doing the deeds they’re enjoying. It’s that failure to look past the “what” (and the tits secondary sexual characteristics) and see the “who” that is the most troubling aspect of sexism.

Speaking of identity politics: everyone knows that claims about Obama’s lack of an American Birth Certificate are racist, right? The subtext is that since he’s black, he can’t really be an American. It’s bothersome, then, that Donald Trump is making racist attacks on the Americaness of our duly elected President. Canadian general was put in charge of the NATO effort in Libya? It seems that the Canadians are a bit grumpy about being in this war at all. I think the last time they were all “aye ready aye” about anything was Juno Beach, though.

Canada is basically the best damned neighbor the US could have. We have been at peace since 1846, share a common defense, a tightly integrated economy, and have a similar enough culture that we get one another’s jokes. Every American owes it to our Canadian friends to have at least a clue about how Canada works.

Unrelated: It’s really nifty when you can do a search for movie times, and get local results. This happens because your browser can figure out where you are, and pass that information along to whatever site is requesting that information. This seems like an unwarranted step towards the million eyed “little brother” future Orwell might have imagined had he lived past 1948. Here’s how to shut it off.

The Dadaists were basically the forerunners to the contemporary “hipsters”. You know who else was a hipster?

In the short run, America absolutely needs to vote early and often for the Democratic party. We’re not on the side of angles here, but we’re the least-bad option on the table. When you’ve fallen off the high-wire and discover that there’s no safety net, the smart thing is to slow your rate of descent. That’s what the Democratic party represents: getting worse more slowly. This is preferable to the opposition who wish to make us as aerodynamic as possible.

It is fortunate that America isn’t in nearly as bad a spot as the communist Bloc in the 1980s. The irony, is that the economic problems with American Capitalism and Soviet-style communism are roughly the same: in neither system is labor able to bargain for better compensation. Obviously the political problems faced by Soviet-ruled nations were significantly worse, involving some rather violent repression by the State.

Current US tax law says that if you own part of a company, and realize profit from your ownership of that company, the tax rate is significantly lower than if you had labored for that company and helped create the revenues that became that profit. We’re told this is a right and just thing because corporations are merely collections of individuals, and since corporate profits are taxed, taxing income derived from dividends or the sale of stock is “double taxation”. Is it still “double taxation” when a corporation makes $14.2 billion in profit, yet manages to avoid paying taxes at all?

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Everyone follows incentives created by the system, and the incentives in the modern American political system are incredibly fucked up. I won’t pretend I have a robe that grants the ability to read minds, so I don’t know what Barack Obama really wants to do. I can say that no American politician can long stand on the national stage without corporate backing. We need to fix that problem first. Everything else should follow.

Let’s have a musical interlude

Microsoft failed to really grok the web. It didn’t get search, and to a large extent still doesn’t. This allowed Google the room to create an advertising empire mighty enough that Google was able to fund the next several iterations of computer operating systems. Google, though, never really understood social media. They know this is a huge blindspot, and are hoping to fix it before Facebook creates the next generation of web ads. And I just broke my “no linking to gawker” rule. Sorry guys.

This is why Funranium is always invited to my parties. That, and he’s generally a good conversationalists and devious game player.

Did you know that in the United States, it is illegal to use an intern to do anything useful? It’s true! You can’t use an intern to take the place of someone you would normally pay. This is a widely flouted law, but it’s existence says nice things about how labor ought to be treated.

Many–though by no means all– writers for the Huffington Post are doing so without pay. The Newspaper Guild has called a strike against HufPo until those free writers are paid. In theory, I’m 100% behind this: labor has value. In practice, I’m not sure. As above, it is illegal to use an intern to do work you’d have to pay someone to do. What HufPo wants from its writers is eyeballs on page– ad revenue. Are the unpaid writers delivering those eyeballs? If so, then HufPo certainly does owe those writers recompense! If not, then this strike is about as meaningful as one against wordpress might be.

One of the odd things about America is that we really don’t know how badly we have it. Our medical system is roughly 45th best in the world– just barely better than Cuba. Our income mobility is one of the worst in the developed world, and our communications technology is, frankly, a blight.

The US executive branch announced this week that it no longer considers the US legislative branch to have war making powers. It’s frightening to me that Obama is a constitutional scholar, and yet still came to that conclusion.

Another musical interlude.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Everyone follows incentives of the system before them, and the incentives in the modern American strategy game are incredibly fucked up. I won’t pretend I have a robe that grants the ability to read minds, so I don’t know what Troy Goodfellow really wants to do. I can say that no Canadian Strategy Gamer can win a game without slaughtering peasants. We need to fix that problem first. Everything else should follow.

I tend to fall on the “Art is that which elicits emotion” and “art is that which has commentary on the human experience” side of the argument. Brian Moriarty is on the other side of the argument. Even though he is obviously wrong (as are are all fools who disagree with me), his points are well worth considering.

I consider Babylon 5 to be among the best television shows of all time. I’ll go further: I honestly believe that it stands as one of the great works of human art. It is an incisive look at evil, and offers the sort of allegorical moral guidance I’m used to reading in holy texts. Replace the cool spaceship battles with a war among gods, and it might be mistaken for a contemporaneous work of Homer’s. Sadly, it has to fight for it’s place in the sci-fi cannon.

Ear-worm interlude.

That concludes this week’s Sunday Reading. The theme has been systems of dada hipsters in magical realms. Please list your favorite kitchen knives in the comment section below. And don’t forget to use the various sharing buttons below!

Bisexuals: how do they work?! #Magnets