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Sunday Morning Reading Material Fifth Sunday in October 2011- What the hell happened in Oakland Edition

It’s Sunday morning. Sundays are for reading in bed. Killing orcs, because Orcs Must Die!™ Sundays are for grading papers. Sundays are for prepping character sheets. Sundays are for playing games, visiting friends in the hospital, and being Occupied. Sundays are for having a chocolate hangover. Sundays are for having a day of(f from the) rest.

This week, police got violent against various Occupy movements- most notably across a small bridge from where I live. This week European leaders saved the world economy by decreeing that bankers who made bad loans to Greece would take a loss on the deal- rather than a profit. Also this week, global warming was disproved when snow hit the East Coast of the US. Also also: Saint Louis became the best Baseball team in the world.

Speaking of Baseball: the penultimate game of the World Series was possibly the best of all time. The eventually winner… here’s a graph.

When I stopped owning a car, I relaxed in places my wallet didn’t know I had. No more car insurance. No more stockpiling cash for inevitable breakdowns. No more exorbitant and ever-rising gas prices. I know that not everyone is able to live somewhere where a car is optional. I fully understand that- in most of North America- people live in places designed for cars. I want people to understand that this is a problem to be solved, rather than a public good which must be embraced.

Please, no one explain this to me.

I am a huge classical music fan, but I’ve never been to the symphony. Now that I think about it, this is bizarre. The article I’ve just linked to is an ad for a book that is an ad for the author’s company. Nevertheless, I am intrigued that parking is the single biggest factor keeping potential symphony-goers from enjoying a nice evening. That’s right. Available parking is a bigger factor than quality of music. Given that very few of us live in places where symphonies have to compete with one another, this makes a great deal of sense. It does, however, tend to support my belief that Americans need the freedom that comes with good mass transit.

The world economy sucks because Europeans seem to have gotten here most recently. All things considered, they’re probably going to be the ones to have had the most lasting impact on these continents. I’d love to believe that the Chinese hit San Francisco at some point before Columbus got to the Bahamas, but it doesn’t seem to be true. Were it true, it doesn’t seem to have mattered.

I will sell your children.

Occupy [city name] has struck a major chord. Or maybe 3 major chords- that’s all you need for punk rock. What they’ve been extremely good at is opening the Overton Window enough to begin a discussion about wealth inequality. When your uncle someone or other explains that the rich are just like you and me, you can explain why they’re not.

One of the most depressing studies I read in college was an examination of ethnic and sectarian conflict. The short version: those sorts of conflicts almost invariably end with either mass displacement or genocide. The idea that an American might have been involved with perpetuating such a conflict is sad. The idea that such a person could find themselves gainfully employed by a major US politician is terrible.

Sunday Morning Comics!

Back in the days before digital, companies had to guess at the impact of prices and promotions on their bottom line. A company might have no idea if a temporary discount on a durable good would lead to lower overall revenue. VALVe is very good at running market tests and understanding the data they gather. It actually seems to spring from their strengths as game programmers.

What we are afraid of– by state!

Earlier today (I am writing this on Saturday), a potential customer called my restaurant and asked for something I was pretty sure we couldn’t do. I asked them if I could place them on hold, (which is the way my company demands I treat potential customers) and got a manager. The manager said “can’t be done”, and looked at me expectantly. I shook my head at him and he sighed and grabbed the phone. They don’t payme enough to say “no” to customers. Turning down money is something that you only ever want to entrust to the very top levels of your organization. I’ve never been sure why companies don’t understand that every interaction with a customer- or potential customer- will have monetary repercussions. Of course, good customer service is something Americans seem unwilling to send a market signal in favor of.

The myth is that if they work hard and play by the rules, anyone can get ahead in America. this is false. For as long as I’ve been alive, only the top 10% of income earners have been getting ahead. The American dream died a long time ago. We simply cannot call fair a system in which only 10% of people see their hard work rewarded. And we must call out the implied lie which calls 90% of the country lazy.

One of the reasons that I like Google is that they’re upfront about this kind of data. Also: I’m scared to live in a world where police think they have the right to hide their bad behavior.

If you click just one link:

A recurring theme on this blog over the past year and a half has been the need for more labor solidarity. Those longshore workers are fighting for us all. I hope they win.