A week without many upsets still produces changes to the top 25, with 2 top 10 teams losing to other ranked teams. Clarity at the top has set in.
1. Oregon (1)--dominant win at USC.
2. Auburn (2)
3. TCU (3)
4. Boise St. (4)--why is there never anything to say about Boise? Oh yeah, because they never play anyone worth talking about.
5. Utah (5)--survived a tough matchup at Air Force the week before TCU.
6. Alabama (8)
7. Wisconsin (9)
8. Ohio St. (10)
9. Oklahoma (11)
10. Nebraska (12)
11. Stanford (13)--that Andrew Luck v. Jake Locker matchup proved every bit the mismatch I figured it would.
12. Missouri (6)--tough loss to Nebraska, still a quality team. But not necessarily better than the teams above it.
13. Arizona (14)
14. Michigan St. (7)--exposed as the frauds we all knew they were against Iowa
15. LSU (15)
16. Oklahoma St. (17)
17. Iowa (22)--dominant win. Still behind MSU because they have 2 losses.
18. South Carolina (18)
19. Arkansas (19)
20. Virginia Tech (20)
21. Baylor (23)
22. Mississippi St. (24)
23. North Carolina St. (NR)--nice win over Florida St. They have popped in and out of the top 25 all year, but they are back now.
24. Florida St. (16)
25. Nevada (NR)
Out: USC, Miami
Key games for next week (5 games featuring ranked teams playing each other!):
1. TCU at Utah--not only the battle for the Mountain West title, but a game for a possible BCS berth. I see no reason to believe that Boise is per se better than either of these teams and the winner will have a legitimate claim for a BCS berth.
2. Alabama at LSU--the loser of this game will basically be out of the BCS hunt. Two one-loss teams. I completely believe Alabama is going to hammer them. But it is in Baton Rouge. And I hope LSU wins, as I believe they will probably lose later on. So hurting Alabama's BCS hopes would be great for what I really want--2 Pac 10 teams in the BCS.
3. Arizona at Stanford--the battle for 2nd in the Pac 10. Oregon is clearly the dominant team. But the winner of this game, especially if it is Stanford, will be in excellent position for a BCS berth. Because of the rule forcing the Rose Bowl to take Boise or the Mountain West team this year if Oregon goes to the title game, they are facing an uphill battle. But maybe they can sneak into the Fiesta Bowl. I do think Stanford is a significantly better team--witness Arizona's struggles to beat UCLA yesterday. But it's going to be a really good game in any case.
4. Arkansas at South Carolina--very good SEC matchup.
5. Baylor at Oklahoma St.--everyone is wondering if Baylor is for real. Well, they keep winning and beat Texas in Austin yesterday. Can they keep it up in Stillwater. I think they probably can. Should be a very interesting game.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
A week without many upsets still produces changes to the top 25, with 2 top 10 teams losing to other ranked teams. Clarity at the top has set in.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
What are the chances that, within the next 24 hours, a leading right-wing pundit calls the explosives on the UPS flights an Obama-created conspiracy to save Democratic chances in next week's elections? I'd say 50%. I'll go farther and lay my nonexistent money on Jonah Goldberg, but obviously there's so many possibilities.
Posted by Erik Loomis at 3:33 PM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I often find Kristof unreadable, but today he sums up the many, many good reasons for marijuana legalization. I don't think the California measure for legalization is going to pass, but like gay marriage, it's in the wind and will probably happen in the next decade.
Posted by Erik Loomis at 5:15 PM
Nestor Kirchner's death is a huge blow for Argentina. Boz puts his presidency in its proper context--that one can disagree with his policies but in the context of democratization and stability, Kirchner has played an indispensable role.
On Tuesday, Grove Press, a publisher once known for daring fare like "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and "Tropic of Cancer," announced that it will release "Sterling's Gold: Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man," a real book inspired by the autobiography that everyone's favorite silver fox wrote on "Mad Men."
Sadly, "Sterling's Gold" will not include any actual biography, which means no detailed reports of what really happened that night after Roger lured Joanie into a hotel room with a brand-new fur coat. But it will include 10 color photos from the show (we're hoping at least, say, 10 of them feature Joan) and a confessional introduction by "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner, written in Sterling's voice.
"I'm not a writer," it says. "On some level, that's a point of pride because it steered me away from the cliche of autobiography. I had no desire to waste your and my time trying to turn a list of events into a campaign of triumph."
Glenn Kenny has an excellent discussion of Ingmar Bergman's The Magician and the snide comments upon Bergman's death that he was now passé.
This past July marked the third anniversary of Bergman's death, and the continuing—as opposed to waning—fact of his stature as a cinematic master makes Jonathan Rosenbaum's new-conventional-wisdom op-ed in the Times in the wake of the filmmaker's death seem even more churlish than had likely been intended. With a "case closed" confidence, Rosenbaum stated,"The hard fact is, Mr. Bergman isn’t being taught in film courses or debated by film buffs with the same intensity as Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard. His works are seen less often in retrospectives and on DVD than those of Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson — two master filmmakers widely scorned as boring and pretentious during Mr. Bergman’s heyday." I've never quite gotten over that last bit, which seems to blame Bergman for the scorn straw man Rosenbaum erects. But the more germane self-satisfied faux-"tant pis" occurs earlier in the piece, with Rosenbaum's oh-gee-isn't-that-tough-luck shrug, "Like many of [Bergman's] films, 'The Magician' hasn’t been widely available here for ages." But—ooops!—here's The Magician on DVD, on Criterion no less, in a gorgeous restoration that gives amazing solidity and depth to Gunnar Fischer's black-and-white images—I was practically hypnotized by the steely frames of the eyeglasses worn by Naima Wifstrand's crone and Gunnar Björnstrand's inquisitor. And there's a major Bergman retrospective at, which moved Mike D'Angelo in the L.A. Weekly to insist that coming to grips with Bergman is a necessary "rite of passage" for the "budding cinephile." That doesn't sound like much fun, mind you, but it does sound important. "Like almost any other significant, prolific artist," D'Angelo, slightly adopting Rosenbaum's shrug, proclaimed, early in September, "Bergman produced both towering masterpieces and self-indulgent drivel." There's a different kind of confidence at work in that assessment; as much as I might dislike or object to a particular work of Bergman's or a particular aspect of a Bergman work, I've never been sure that I could apprehend it well enough to dismiss it, literally, as drivel; for me in this respect it's a case of not having enough context. Is the monologue on Mozart from Hour of the Wolf, which Bille August later transposed to A Song For Martin, inspired musicological analysis or just something that sounds nice? I can't rightly say. But someday I may learn. Until that point, I believe that we'll continue to keep arguing about, and learning from, the great Ingmar. And, yes, actually enjoying a good deal of his work. As you should definitely do with this really great disc of The Magician.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Can I go on record as saying that I think Dennis Miller is funny … and P.J. O’Rourke and Chris Buckley and Andrew Ferguson and Matt Labash. Plus I see that the director of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” is conservative, movies that include at least two of the 10 funniest scenes in recent Hollywood history. Overall, I think conservatives are at least as funny as Al Gore, and I say that with all due respect and affection for Gore.
Dennis Miller is funny? OK then. And clearly his stint on Monday Night Football was a highlight in the history of American broadcasting!!!
Of course, conservatives are not as funny as liberals. They may be more evil and thus more effective at winning elections. But funny, no. I mean, unless you think the Half-Hour Comedy Hour was comedy gold!
The best part is his discussion of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert later in the discussion:
I also wonder if you think there’s a jump-the-shark danger here for Stewart and Colbert. After all when comedians stop being jesters they are notorious for jumping all the way over and becoming preachers, with no middle ground.
Which of course doesn't describe Dennis Miller at all.
As for the Al Gore comparison, that's useless even for Brooks. I mean, I might argue that liberals are at least as shallow as Jonah Goldberg, but that obviously wouldn't be true, even if I could find one or two who might be. Of course, they would be pot-smoking college students and not millionaire columnists, but there's conservatives for you.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Mean Jean Schmidt is awesome in her brazen tastlessness. Schmidt spoke before a class of 1st graders recently. At the end of it, she decided to tell the kids about abortion. The letter from the school to parents:
"Unexpectedly, towards the end of her address, Congresswoman Schmidt brought up the topic of abortion, and I am writing you to make you aware of this. Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home. I do not recall the exact words she used, but she paused towards the end of her speech and stated that this would be the only time when she would be ‘political’ in her address. She defined abortion as the taking of a child’s life in the mother’s womb. She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born. She was not graphic or any more detailed in this regard. Later, when a child asked about it, she indicated that an abortion is something that a doctor does when a mother requests this. It was not a particularly long segment of her address (1½ minutes or so), and these words may not match the exact words she used, but this description does, I believe, express what your child heard. Her point was to address the increase of governmental activity in the abortion issue and her political resolve to fight against this."
Wow. Of course, as you can see from the letter, the kids didn't even know what abortion was. Nor should they. And Mean Jean will be elected once again to represent the fine suburbs of Cincinnati.
At a Watsonville, Calif., strawberry field, a gaggle of the agriculturally curious -- a state representative's aide, an anthropologist, a food service company employee -- gathered around Ann Lopez, whose voice gained intensity as she careened through a farm worker's tale of woe: pesticide exposure, low wages, backbreaking labor.
Lopez, a Santa Cruz-based activist and academic, was leading one of the "Farmworker Reality Tours" that her nonprofit, the Center for Farmworker Families, hosts about five times a year. Lopez is on an evangelist's mission: to show and tell everyone she meets about the plight of Mexican migrants who toil in California fields.
"I think the only way it's going to change," Lopez said, "is if the public says, 'No more.' "
Farmworkers exist behind a drawn curtain. No one sees them. No one even knows where their food comes from. We buy our pre-washed organic spinach, our baby carrots, and our bell peppers (so nice in their 3 packs of yellow, red, and green!). But we never see the fields in south Texas, in the Imperial Valley, on the back roads of western Oregon and central Washington. The same could be said for workers in meat packing plants, which have also been strategically placed in isolated areas, particularly in rural Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Getting people to take tours of farmworkers lives could have an exploitative side to it, but drawing the curtain back on their lives is the only way to create any change.
Similarly, I fully supported Stephen Colbert's appearance before Congress last month. While some called it an embarrassment, if Colbert wasn't there, no one would have talked about farmworkers' lives at all. That's what United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez knew and why he had Colbert speak. Congressional hearings are almost totally worthless; no one's mind is going to be changed by them and they get no attention from the media. So why not turn it into a circus? It was a great publicity move, even if it took attention away from actual farmworkers and placed it on a privileged white guy.
Of course, most people taking these tours already support the plight of farmworkers. It'd be great to get conservatives on these trips. If I knew of something like this, I'd definitely schedule my classes in. Visiting these fields would be more educational than anything I could tell my students.
It can be hard to tell which major newspaper has more worthless columnists. The Times has Friedman and Dowd and Brooks. The Los Angeles Times actually pays Jonah Goldberg hard cash for his garbage. But it's really hard to beat the Washington Post for sheer worthlessness. This is the newspaper that employs Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, and any other right-wing hack who wants a job. It is so bad that you almost forget just how terrible Richard Cohen is.
Lemieux reminds us of Cohen's badness today. Cohen, who has been disciplined by the Post before for sexual harassment, actually goes out of his way to defend Clarence Thomas' well-documented history of sexual inappropriateness, saying basically that, hey, Thomas is a guy, and guys like to tell women how much they would enjoy giving them blow jobs. So what are you going to do? Ladies, stop taking these things so seriously.
Well, that's just great. Not only does such a column completely lack value, but it's completely inappropriate for Cohen to write such a thing given his personal history.
How could the Post's editorial section get worse? I hesitate to say it couldn't. After all, I'm sure Christine O'Donnell would love to write for them. And that they'd love to hire her. But it's really, really atrocious.
Likely future Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey is really going to improve our government. Unlike most Teabaggers, Toomey knows just what to cut in order to offset the massive tax cuts he supports. Study abroad programs.
Fantastic. If there's one thing Americans need, it's to know less about the world. But this is a classic from the right-wing playbook. For instance, Joe McCarthy was violently opposed to the Voice of America, thinking it a communist-inspired organization with goals of bringing down America. That we would want the rest of the world to know about America seemed absurd. Similarly, Toomey represents the right-wing desire to hunker down in our suburban houses, stay ignorant about the world, and use the military to bomb any country that gets in our ignorant way. And when we do bomb those countries, we want to be sure to not understand anything about them or speak their languages or have gay people in the military who might have expertise in a particular culture. That way, our future military adventures can be as successful as they were in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan! After all, who needs to understand the differences between communism and nationalism or between Sunni and Shias, when you can just kill 'em all!!!!
Monday, October 25, 2010
That diagram is missing a few very important steps outside of the manufacturing process, most notably the lobbying and contributions from the zinc industry, which is one of the main defenders of the worthless coin.
It's fantastic to know that the government loses 2 cents on every penny it makes because of zinc industry lobbyists. Doesn't the fact that a single industry holds up any kind of reasonable and what should be non-controversial currency reform say all you need to know about why this country is so screwed? I think so.
Posted by Erik Loomis at 7:50 PM
This week's photos will revolve around early 20th century radicalism. Inspired by Elliott Gorn's superb biography of Mother Jones, entitled, Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America.
Protest demanding the release of Mother Jones from jail. Trinidad, Colorado, 1914
Sunday, October 24, 2010
3 straight #1 teams fall. And Oregon plays at USC this week. Very scared!!!!
1. Oregon (1)--complete domination over UCLA. Really looking forward to this week's matchup!
2. Auburn (5)--I'm a believer after that win over LSU. Cameron Newton is amazing
3. TCU (2)
4. Boise St. (3)
5. Utah (6)
6. Missouri (11)--awesome win over Oklahoma. Maybe they really are a force to reckon with
7. Michigan St. (7)--Still very much not a believer
8. Alabama (9)
9. Wisconsin (12)--Nice win over Iowa
10. Ohio St. (13)
11. Oklahoma (4)--tough loss to Missouri, but the Tigers dominated the game. Sooners have been up and down all year so this isn't too surprising to me.
12. Nebraska (14)
13. Stanford (16)
14. Arizona (17)--made Washington look like the patsies they are
15. LSU (8)--exposed against Auburn.
16. Florida St. (18)
17. Oklahoma St. (10)--played tough against Nebraska. They have a lot of talent, but the defense is too suspect for them to compete for the Big 12 title.
18. South Carolina (19)
19. Arkansas (21)
20. Virginia Tech (22)
21. USC (25)
22. Iowa (15)
23. Baylor (NR)--Baylor? But they keep winning
24. Mississippi St. (NR)--Mississippi St.? But they keep winning
25. Miami (NR)
Gone: Georgia Tech, Texas, West Virginia
Key games for next week:
1. Oregon at USC. There seems to be a curse on #1s this year. Let's hope it ends. In any case, there are going to be a lot of points scored.
2. Michigan St. at Iowa. A very interesting game. Is Michigan St. really that good? How will they play on the road against a very tough opponent? How will Iowa respond to their loss against Wisconsin?
3. Missouri at Nebraska. For the Big 12 North title more than likely.
4. Florida St. at North Carolina St. A good Thursday night game between 2 ACC teams that have been up and down all year.
Monday, October 18, 2010
My joy at the Cowboys 1-4 start is well-explained over at Deadspin. Discussing why people hate the Cowboys so much, they state:
A third of the teams in the league have won Super Bowls since the Cowboys last did, so they're not the unstoppable juggernaut who wins too damn much. The Packers were a mid-90s mini-dynasty who emerged from dark days to be lovable underdogs, so it's not as if historical trends dictate our rooting interests. Yet there's still plenty of hatred for Dallas.
You know why? Because they're the motherfucking Cowboys. You don't get to dominate a decade with an unlikable team of criminals, monopolize the Thanksgiving day game, have a prickly, senile drunk of an owner who should be a cartoon character, draft and promote a pretty-boy semi-celebrity as your quarterback, build a billion-dollar stadium in the middle of a recession as a monument to a legendary status to which only you subscribe, put a hole in the roof because you're convinced God likes your team, call yourself America's Team, have bandwagon fans around the country, and just generally be insufferable twats who genuinely believe you're some kind of institution that's bigger than the game, and not have the nation dance in the streets when you're piddling around in your own mediocrity.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
For an Oregon fan, a better day of college football could not be had, at least for a bye week. Two top competitors to the Ducks lost, Ohio St. and Nebraska. There were top games all around. Things are falling really well for my Ducks. Except for the 6 tough games they still have to play...
The other big change I made I boosting Oklahoma St. and Missouri. They are undefeated and come from major conferences. I don't expect them to stay where they are. But they've deserved the chance to prove themselves with the big boys. When they lose, Ohio St. and Wisconsin and Nebraska will rise right back up. I did keep Alabama ahead of them simply because I believe they are better than those other teams.
1. Oregon (2)
2. TCU (3)
3. Boise St. (4)--another tough win, this time over San Jose St.......
4. Oklahoma (6)
5. Auburn (7)--a little defense might help me believe in this team more. Cameron Newton is pretty awesome though
6. Utah (8)--still the nation's most underrated team
7. Michigan St. (9)--given their amazingly easy schedule, they really could go undefeated. And then get crushed in their bowl game
8. LSU (10)--I still don't believe after another uninspired effort against McNeese St.
9. Alabama (12)
10. Oklahoma St. (20)--I don't believe in them, but they deserve the big bump because they keep winning
11. Missouri (21)--I believe in Missouri even less, but they play Oklahoma this week so we'll see if they are for real or not.
12. Wisconsin (17)--Huge win over Ohio St.
13. Ohio St. (2)--better than the 13th best team in the country. Jim Tressel is a massively overrated football coach though. Way to punt down 13 points with 6 minutes left from your own 50. Loser move.
14. Nebraska (5)--I didn't expect Nebraska to lose to Texas, but if you stop their running game you can beat them.
15. Iowa (14)
16. Stanford (15)
17. Arizona (16)
18. Florida St. (19)
19. South Carolina (11)--nice let-down at Kentucky.
20. West Virginia (24)
21. Arkansas (13)--SEC defenses are clearly superior.....
22. Virginia Tech (NR)--they may have lost to James Madison but they've won every game since and probably will win the ACC.
23. Texas (NR)
24. Georgia Tech (NR)
25. USC (NR)--I didn't expect them to reappear but they absolutely crushed Cal. And now I'm scared of Oregon's trip down there in 2 weeks.
Out--Nevada, Oregon St., North Carolina St., Air Force. Tough week for lesser west coast teams.
Key games for next week:
1. LSU at Auburn. Time for one of the SEC undefeateds to be exposed as a poser. I expect it to be LSU big time.
2. Oklahoma at Missouri. This is an interesting game. I don't really expect Missouri to win but then again, they are playing at home in a pumped atmosphere against a top opponent. This is exactly the kind of set-up for an Oklahoma loss. Plus, other than the Florida St. and Iowa St. games, Oklahoma hasn't looked great in their wins.
3. Wisconsin at Iowa. Key Big 10 matchup. Not for the Rose Bowl, but certainly for pecking order in their upper-tier bowls.
4. Air Force at TCU. TCU doesn't play a lot of tough opponents the rest of the way. This is one of them. Air Force lost this week to a much improved San Diego St. team. So I don't think they can beat TCU. However, if they can move the ball on TCU's tough defense, this could be an upset. As an Oregon fan, I'm really hoping so.
And for an Oregon fan, other than rooting for the Ducks crushing UCLA on Thursday, I am a huge Missouri and Air Force fan this week.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Now, after four consecutive years of drought, this heartland of the Fertile Crescent — including much of neighboring Iraq — appears to be turning barren, climate scientists say. Ancient irrigation systems have collapsed, underground water sources have run dry and hundreds of villages have been abandoned as farmlands turn to cracked desert and grazing animals die off. Sandstorms have become far more common, and vast tent cities of dispossessed farmers and their families have risen up around the larger towns and cities of Syria and Iraq.
“I had 400 acres of wheat, and now it’s all desert,” said Ahmed Abdullah, 48, a farmer who is living in a ragged burlap and plastic tent here with his wife and 12 children alongside many other migrants. “We were forced to flee. Now we are at less than zero — no money, no job, no hope.”
Of course, climate change isn't all of it. High modernist governmental plans have contributed as well. But climate change makes human mistakes (not that we can really separate climate change from human mistakes) all the worse.
But hey, in nations as stable as Syria and Iraq, what bad could possibly come from millions of displaced peoples!
David Brooks plays a game of Let's Blame the Worker by attacking state workers' pensions as the reason for state government insolvency.
This is of course absurd. One can point to many causes for problems within state governments--overflowing prison systems, poor lawmakers, the anti-tax mentality that has created budget shortfalls across the board.
Most of the problem revolves around tax revenues. And no one wants to talk about this. The general public knows that they are paying taxes and so pointing a finger at public employees makes a certain amount of sense. But of course, those who aren't paying taxes are the wealthy, corporations, and other entities that have received tax breaks, writeoffs, incentives, and other corporate handouts that have impoverished states increasingly reliant upon sales and income taxes from a recession-plagued population that is working less, living in devalued homes, and spending less on consumer goods.
Of course, Brooks supports all of this. So, in the classic American conservative tradition, Brooks blames pubic sector workers. Lest we forget, public sector workers could almost universally make more money in the private sector. And they provide vital services that we need for a functioning society. A decent pension seems like a good pay-off for giving up so much income during the working years.
We all play Blame the Worker in discussions of school reform. Unfortunately, even Democratic politicians and writers (I'm looking at Yglesias here) play the game with teachers. Obviously, they say, the problem with public schools is teacher unions who don't want test scores deciding their futures and who protect the worst teachers from being fired. Michelle Rhee's resignation today as Schools Chancellor in Washington, D.C. is seen as a defeat for these reformers who want to cripple unions and force schools onto a business model.
I'm glad Rhee's gone. As Richard Kahlenberg convincingly argues, teacher unions are leading reform efforts, not holding them back. They oppose testing partially because it takes away from the education (particularly for subjects like history) and because the reformers who want to tie testing to pay or employment completely ignore issues such as poverty, race, and educational background of parents in determining successful education. Rather, it's a simple reliance on testing they want. And if tie employment to test schools, why would you choose to work in an impoverished inner-city school? To be unemployed in 2 years? That's crazy. This just hurts kids' education in the long run.
But of course, it's always easier for Americans to blame the worker instead of fixing the structural problems plaguing our society. There's little political cost to be paid, it rewards lazy thinking (thus attracting pundits), and doesn't cost a lot.
Unfortunately, each time we blame the worker, we damage our institutions for the long-term, undermining public confidence in government, and telling young talented workers to avoid the public sector.
BYU's decision to become an independent in football hasn't worked out so well in the early weeks. Not only do they suck this year, making their decision to leave the Mountain West look premature, but they can't get a schedule together very easily. Athletic Director Tom Holmoe:
Holmoe said three weeks ago that he was “fairly close” to finalizing BYU’s 2011 and 2012 schedules, but since then the only scheduling announcements he has made involve a game against West Virginia in 2016 on a neutral field and the report Thursday that the series with Utah will continue — for at least the next two years.
“It has been difficult,” Holmoe conceded. “If it wasn’t, maybe other schools would do it. It is hard to do, but I think it is going to pay dividends. So, I would disagree that it can’t be done.”
As Terrance Heath so thoroughly chronicles, Republicans have fully committed to turning the United States into a Third World country*, in part by destroying all wage laws. For people whose ideal period in American history remains the Gilded Age, this is to be expected. For the rest of us, we can look forward to a future of poverty, social unrest, high rates of prostitution, drug use, and petty crime. Good times.
Even if Republicans lose, Democrats reflexive desire to steal Republican talking points will no doubt create a situation where by 2020 a "centrist" will be someone who believes we should only lower the minimum wage rather than repeal it entirely.
* I realize that the term "Third World" is considered a pejorative today. As well it should be. I always use the term "developing world" myself. However, given that the Republicans actively want to turn the U.S. into what they consider a Third World country, it seems depressingly appropriate to use the term here.
Ethan Persoff uncovers yet another amazing comic book of the past, with this pro-coal mining comic from the 1960s.
I don't know that this matches the George Wallace comic book from 1962, but it's pretty great nonetheless.
It seems that Olivier Assayas' 5 hour film on Carlos the Jackal may actually be quite good. Certainly I've always found Assayas' work impressive. Unlike Steven Soderbergh, who seemed like precisely the wrong director to make a film about Che, this seems like a good fit, even at 5 hours.
Certainly the buzz surrounding Carlos is quite positive.
The Louvin Brothers, Satan is Real, 1960
My understanding is that they basically set a bunch of tires on fire and stood next to them. Also, the cardboard cutout of Satan is pretty awesome.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A fascinating week of college football. Alabama's loss shook up the college football landscape. It also puts a giant question mark at #1. Who is the best team in the country? We are halfway through the season and it's really hard to tell. Oregon didn't play like a #1 team last week; moreover, their questionable defensive scheme puts a lot of pressure on the offense which could bite them someday. Ohio St. hasn't played anyone--1 road game (which they played very poorly in) and their win over Miami doesn't look so hot now. So I don't know. Boise? TCU? Auburn? Michigan St? Many possible candidates. In lieu of making questionable judgments, I won't change too much up this week among the undefeated teams, thus making another questionable decision.
1. Oregon (2)--Didn't like all those injuries against Washington St. Great time for a bye week.
2. Ohio St. (3)--Can they win at Wisconsin in their first real road test this year?
3. TCU (4)--I don't know why no one thinks they are better than Boise. I don't know of course, but they look pretty good to me. People of Texas still don't care--5000 empty seats in a 40 odd thousand seat stadium last game.
4. Boise St. (5)
5. Nebraska (6)--I'm still not a true believer. Let's see what they do to Texas this weekend.
6. Oklahoma (7)--that win over Florida St. looks much better. Still, they've been pretty mediocre in their other wins.
7. Auburn (8)--could be #1 by the end of the year. I don't actually think this is going to happen. But they are very good.
8. Utah (11)--Nation's most underrated team.
9. Michigan St. (12)--nice win over Michigan, could be a very very good team. They are Michigan St. so; I'm sure they'll blow it.
10. LSU (13)--Lucky
11. South Carolina (21)--I do like the idea of an Auburn-South Carolina SEC title game.
12. Alabama--Do I really believe Alabama is the 12th best team in the country? No, even though South Carolina did wallop them. But there are 10 legitimate undefeated teams. And how can I rank South Carolina below Alabama? (1)
13. Arkansas (10)--Arkansas did nothing to fall but circumstances dictate them right here. They did lose to Alabama after all.
14. Iowa (14)
15. Stanford (15)--outlasted USC, though I thought they would blow them out.
16. Arizona (9)--Choke
17. Wisconsin (19)--I think they are going to beat Ohio St. this weekend. As an Oregon fan, I hope so.
18. Nevada (20)
19. Florida St. (24)--dominant win over Miami, probably the ACC frontrunners now. Not that this is any great shakes.
20. Oklahoma St (22)--Need a signature win for me to take their undefeated status seriously
21. Missouri (23)--see what I wrote about Oklahoma St.
22. Air Force (25)
23. Oregon St. (NR)--we've seen this story before--Oregon St. loses to tough nonconference opponents, everyone forgets about them, and then they start winning all their games. Luckily, this story also usually has Oregon beating them so they can't go to the Rose Bowl.
24. West Virginia (NR)
25. North Carolina St. (NR)
Gone: Miami (16), Florida (17), Michigan (18)
Key matchups for this weekend:
1. Ohio St. at Wisconsin--huge game with clear national championship implications. Go Badgers!!!!
2. Arkansas at Auburn--a real test for both teams. Is Arkansas a fraud? Is Auburn what they seem to be? This game will go quite a ways in determining that.
3. Iowa at Michigan--I think Iowa is going to go into Ann Arbor and show that Michigan is nothing more than the Denard Robinson game. A really key game for Michigan's season. Iowa is more defined as a upper-level if not elite Big 10 team, yet a victory is necessary for them to retain that image.
4. Texas at Nebraska--A Texas loss probably means a free fall for the Longhorns. A Nebraska win solidifies them as elite. I clearly believe Nebraska will win this game fairly easily.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Woodrow Wilson's been getting a lot of attention lately because Glenn Beck has been holding him as a straw man to attack modern progressives. Of course, there's lots of reason to hate Wilson--he was an extreme racist and a moralistic bastard mostly. This discussion from leading historians and Wilson scholars show Beck's hypocrisy and distortions in attacking Wilson--both in the sense that Wilson was a right-wing moralist, that Beck's attacks on Wilson are precisely because nobody knows anything about him (as opposed to FDR or LBJ), and that he's cherrypicking the bipartisan nature of Progressivism by attacking Wilson and not Theodore Roosevelt.
But then again, no one expects integrity from Beck. What surprises me is that no one mentioned the real shocker in all of this--that Wilson was a hero to the administration of George W. Bush because of his moralistic and totalizing foreign policy. Is Beck rejecting the Wilsonian foreign policy so beloved by neocons? I doubt it. More likely, Beck would easily come around if a Republican president again invoked Wilson. Because of course, Beck is an opportunistic hypocrite.
This week's theme is something I've meant to do for a long time--country music album covers. The country music album cover is quite a phenomenon--subtlety goes out the window in favor of utter absurdity.
Loretta Lynn, Your Squaw is On the Warpath, 1969
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Mildred and Richard Loving, the interracial couple who fought against Virginia's anti-interracial marriage laws, leading to the landmark Supreme Court case from 1967, Loving v. Virginia, which overthrew miscegenation laws.
Friday, October 08, 2010
As I've said a few times here, I'm as horrified by the firefighters letting the Tennessee house burn down as much as anyone. However, it's hard for me to really accept the Humane Society approach as very helpful:
The Humane Society of the United States is issuing the following statement in response to the heartbreaking news that four animals died in an Obion County, Tenn., fire because the homeowner didn’t pay a service fee, and firefighters were told they could not extinguish the blaze:
“It is inexcusable that three dogs and a cat would have to die in such a horrible way, with firefighters ordered to not intervene, because of an unpaid $75 service fee. Putting out fires is a matter of life and death for people and animals, and South Fulton city officials should quickly reconsider their emergency response policies before others are put at risk,” said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS.
OK--I don't disagree with any of this. But shouldn't we be focusing on the human effects? This seems minor, but it goes back to my strongly held belief that unless environmentalism becomes about people, it is doomed. If we save the house and the human possessions, we save the dogs and cats. I'm all for saving the dogs and cats. But I'm even more determined to save human society from disintegration because if that goes, animal rights go with it.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Well-deserved. The War of the End of the World is one of the most brilliant novels I've ever read and I've enjoyed other Vargas Llosa novels as well.
Vargas Llosa is also a right-winger. And that fact has the aesthetic Stalinists on the right jumping up and down. Edroso has a good run-down of the idiocy. But Thers found the cake-taker of the evening:
Vargas Llosa is not only a white male, he’s also a free-market libertarian who believes in democracy. His books have been bestsellers for decades.Fantastic. Vargas Llosa's race (and in the racial paradigm of the United States, is any Peruvian white?), gender, and economic and political beliefs determine the quality of his work. Of course, I don't think Vargas Llosa's books have been "bestsellers" at all but whatever.
Really, I'm right there with the aesthetic Stalinists--if you can't judge the quality of a book by its politics, you might actually have to read the thing. And we can't have that.
Stephen Hyden at the AV Club has started a series thinking about 90s rock and has some really spot-on reflections about grunge. It's a super smart piece throughout, but I want to focus on two paragraphs:
But it would all be ruse. The truth is that I feel little nostalgia for ’90s grunge, and almost no connection to the version of myself that once felt part of the Alternative Nation. I once believed that the rise of so-called alternative music in the early ’90s was the greatest thing to happen in my lifetime—world-changing, no less—but now this notion seems almost too embarrassing to admit in print. Over the years I’ve written these bands out of my personal history: Old concert T-shirts have been worn out or tossed away, CDs have long since been sold off. I remember the ’90s, but it’s like I wasn’t there. Like many people of my generation—including practically every band that was originally associated with the term—“grunge” for me has become something to live down, like cuffed jeans or bad Luke Perry sideburns.Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains seemed so important to the history of rock and roll in the early 90s. You really felt that a welcome revolution had changed the music--no more did I have to listen to Poison and Motley Crue and Cinderella. Now, I actually didn't much care for grunge at the time. And if it comes on today, I still don't. But I knew it was important and I'd rather listen to it than Warrant any time.
Somewhere along the way, grunge-era alt-rock got tiresome. Today, it’s all but unbearable. Scanning the latest Billboard rock chart, you’ll find bands like Shinedown, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace, and of course Nickelback, who have adopted the pained, groany vocals and sludgy guitars associated with grunge and merged them seamlessly with a leather-pants and soul-patch sensibility that comes straight from hair metal. Unbeknownst to Kurt, Eddie, and Layne, they created a sonic blueprint that would go on to inspire disreputable bands for the next two decades. You can’t blame those guys for inspiring much of what’s awful and soulless about the state of “modern” rock music as we’ve come to know it, but their music is inextricably linked to it nonetheless.
Twenty years later, it's importance can't be denied. But you can sure question it's quality. I can't think of a more important movement in rock history that is less listened to today. Much of it is just not very good. I don't think it's the cheap imitators like Nickelback that are the problem; after all, how many bad imitators of 60s bands have there been? And there's plenty of 90s nostalgia out there. But it's for different bands in different rock genres. Perhaps someday there will be a grunge revival. It seems almost inevitable. But I don't know. Now that the 90s are memory rather than contemporary, bands like Yo La Tengo seem a lot more remembered than Alice in Chains.
Yesterday, I linked to my new article on climate change and the poor.
Today, we see one of the manifestations of how climate change will affect the poor--higher food prices. The Napa cabbage shortage in Korea, which is the main ingredient for kimchi, is probably short-term. And it's being portrayed as somewhat humorous given Koreans' devotion to this difficult food (which in full disclosure I absolutely love). But this is the beginning of a long-term trend. A terrible year of extreme climate decimated the cabbage crop in Korea--extreme spring cold, crazy hot summer, devastating fall rains. This is the template for food shortages. And the cost:
An unusually long stretch of bad weather nearly halved the latest cabbage crop, causing prices to soar. At markets in Seoul, shoppers were up before dawn fighting to buy heads of napa cabbage that once cost about $4 but now go for as much as $14.
In the short-term, Koreans can import cabbage from China. But in the long-term, these sorts of climate-change related agricultural failures will create real challenges for the world.
On an unrelated note, for a such an industrialized and modern country, I'm amazed at how many Koreans still make their own kimchi:
South Koreans consume an estimated 1.45 million tons of kimchi a year, said Lee Jeong-sik, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. About 450,000 tons of it is made at factories, and the rest at homes or by restaurants.
Though the mouth-scorching dish can be readily bought in stores, many people make it on their own at home — a laborious process that requires it to be stored and fermented during the winter months. Many homes have special kimchi refrigerators that regulate temperatures to maintain the preferred level of fermentation.
Few peoples in the world have such devotion to a particular food as Koreans do for kimchi, but this is pretty remarkable. What's the equivalent in the U.S.--could we survive a shortage of Cheetos?
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
America today presents the paradox of a rich country falling apart because of the collapse of its core values. American productivity is among the highest in the world. Average national income per person is about $46,000 – enough not only to live on, but to prosper. Yet the country is in the throes of an ugly moral crisis.
Income inequality is at historic highs, but the rich claim they have no responsibility to the rest of society. They refuse to come to the aid of the destitute, and defend tax cuts at every opportunity. Almost everybody complains, almost everybody aggressively defends their own narrow, short-term interests, and almost everybody abandons any pretense of looking ahead or addressing the needs of others.
What passes for American political debate is a contest between the parties to give bigger promises to the middle class, mainly in the form of budget-busting tax cuts at a time when the fiscal deficit is already more than 10% of GDP. Americans seem to believe that they have a natural right to government services without paying taxes. In the American political lexicon, taxes are defined as a denial of liberty.
The result of all this is likely to be a long-term decline of US power and prosperity, because Americans no longer invest collectively in their common future. America will remain a rich society for a long time to come, but one that is increasingly divided and unstable. Fear and propaganda may lead to more US-led international wars, as in the past decade.
And what is happening in America is likely to be repeated elsewhere. America is vulnerable to social breakdown because it is a highly diverse society. Racism and anti-immigrant sentiments are an important part of the attack on the poor – or at least the reason why so many are willing to heed the propaganda against helping the poor. As other societies grapple with their own increasing diversity, they may follow the US into crisis.
It's hard to argue with this. The complete collapse of America's positive values into an abyss of greed, corporate domination, intolerance, and racism truly threatens the nation and has led me to the greatest pessimism of my life. I literally believe that if I have kids, their lives will be far worse than mine. It's true that young people are more tolerant than their parents and that the Tea Parties are dominated by old white people, but that doesn't mitigate the potential for long-term damage.
My students, who I would characterize as relatively liberal with some exceptions, even sometimes show this lack of caring. We were discussing welfare and the Great Society in class today and I was surprised at the vitriol expressed toward those on welfare, even though there are so few today because of the 1996 reforms. There's just not a lot of caring about others in America today. And I don't know what to do.
Posted by Erik Loomis at 7:09 PM
Among adults, young men, ages 18-34, are the biggest bingers. Whites are the ethnic group most likely to binge. And when you take a look at income, the bingeing prevalence was highest — 19 percent — in households making $75,000 a year. Bingeing was lowest at the other end of the income spectrum — 12 percent for people in households making less than $25,000.
Why would rich people be the biggest bingers? For people who only have cell phones, the numbers are higher:
Finally, the CDC's main conclusions about binge drinking come from a phone survey of more than 400,000 people conducted over landlines. A smaller, though still big, survey of nearly 16,000 people with cellphones showed an even higher rate of binge drinking — about 21 percent.
So rich young people drink a lot. Do the rich drink more because they can afford it? Do we all wish we could drink more but we just can't work it out? Unless we are really poor of course.
I have a piece at Global Comment on how the environmental movement has done a terrible job making climate change about people instead of polar bears and why this matters. Here's an excerpt:
I am volunteering for an environmental justice organization in a large northern city. This group works on environmental health issues with the city’s poor, mostly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans, and has started focusing on how climate change will affect working-class people. Rising temperatures will lead to any number of problems for the economically disadvantaged, including air pollution, higher rates of asthma, greater populations of cockroaches and other unwanted insects, rising food prices, a greater percentage of income spent on energy, and increased mortality rates for people who do not have access to air conditioning.
Climate change has proven difficult to explain to people; scientists’ unwillingness to declare anything a certainty combines with climate change’s complexity to leave people confused. My organization went to its constituents and tried to explain climate change to them. The organizers messaged this campaign in an interesting way: openly attacking the environmental movement’s framing of the issue. They created buttons that featured a crossed-out polar bear. They repeatedly told the attendees that climate change was about people, not bears. And yet, when the question and answer session began, the overwhelming response was, “Why should I care about bears?”
Why should poor people care about bears? That’s a great question. I can’t think of a good reason. Now, I don’t really approve of the anti-bear message. The idea of polar bears going extinct because they lack polar ice makes me want to vomit. However, this scenario demonstrates the horrible job the environmental movement has done in framing climate change.
By focusing on bears instead of people, the environmental movement sends mixed messages. It might reinforce the responsibility humans have to protect other animals and ecosystems, but it also suggests that climate change won’t affect people like bears. Moreover, it creates an image that the poor don’t count in environmentalism, reinforcing the inability of environmentalists to connect with working-class people over the last thirty years.
I'd be nice if Obama quit treating liberals like the problem. His scolding of liberals both misses the mark on the problems of his presidency and makes him come off like an abusive jerk. Saying that liberals need to support him because conservatives are worse isn't going to get us out to the polls. Obama is completely delusional if he thinks he can create 2008 levels of enthusiasm based around the idea that Republicans are evil. Perhaps he believes that 100,000 people would come see him in 2008 because they supported his education platform, but that's not the case. It was because they saw in Obama their hopes and dreams. He hasn't shown the slightest inclination to listen to his supporters, to use his support networks of 08 to rally for his policies, or to govern to the left of Bill Clinton.
There are many reasons for the likely Republican landslide next month--mostly the economy but there are other factors as well. However, if we are talking about the enthusiasm gap, Obama blew this on his own. Obama says, “You can’t sit it out. You can’t suddenly just check in once every 10 years or so, on an exciting presidential election, and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we’ve got a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.”
OK--well you can't just ask liberals for their support every 2 years and then isolate us, complain about us to the media, and expect us to follow you around like a puppy.
During the 2008 primaries, my students asked me who I supported. I simply said, "I'm ready to be disappointed by someone new." And indeed I have been. Not for the continued struggles with the economy or any one policy per se. Rather, I'm disappointed in the attitude of the Obama Administration when it comes to governance, its relationship to the base of the party, and its willingness to tack right at the first opportunity.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
An interesting week of football, dominated by my Ducks eviscerating Stanford. Last week's ranking in parentheses.
1. Alabama (2)--completely dominated Florida. Clearly the #1 team.
2. Oregon (3)--almost dominated Stanford. Clearly #2
3. Ohio St.(1)--really struggled against a bad Illinois team. Made me wonder about them.
4. TCU (4)
5. Boise St. (5)
6. Nebraska (8)--interesting game coming on Thursday at an undefeated Kansas St. team. I don't believe in Kansas St. at all, but still worth keeping an eye on.
7. Oklahoma (9)--beat up on Texas, but then again, who cares at this point.
8. Auburn (10)
9. Arizona (11)
10. Arkansas (13)--they look a little better to me after seeing what Alabama did to Florida
11. Utah (15)
12. Michigan St. (20)--kind of starting to believe in this team after they beat Wisconsin
13. LSU (12)--a crock of a win against Tennessee.
14. Iowa (16)
15. Stanford (6)--I still believe this is a very good team, but Oregon ran them ragged.
16. Miami (17)
17. Florida (7)--so overrated this year. Alabama really slapped them around.
18. Michigan (19)--terrible defense and a near loss to Indiana after the near loss to UMass suggests actual losses very soon.
19. Wisconsin (14)
20. Nevada (21)
21. South Carolina (22)
22. Oklahoma St. (23)--tough win against Texas A&M, maybe they are for real.
23. Missouri (NR)
24. Florida St. (NR)--we'll see how long they stay here since they play Miami this week.
25. Air Force (25)
Gone: USC (18), Penn St. (24)
Key games this week:
1. Alabama at South Carolina--another tough game for Alabama, who is definitely having to earn a repeat SEC championship. I'm not such a believer in South Carolina, but at home they might have a chance.
2. LSU at Florida--a probably overrated LSU team at an angry but also overrated Florida team. The loser is probably in trouble for a good bowl birth.
3. Michigan St. at Michigan--A real challenge for Michigan. I think MSU is going to wallop them. But then again, the Spartans have had their share of miracles too.
4. Florida St. at Miami--probably the 2 best teams in the ACC, not that this says a lot. Could be a preview of the ACC Championship game,largely because the other 10 teams all kind of suck.
Yesterday, I noted that it was only a matter of time before Republicans embraced the town of South Fulton, Tennessee after firefighters let a home burn because the owners hadn't paid into the voluntary fund for firefighting protection. I suggested that this was the future of America.
And it took all of one day for those Republicans to start moving this idea into national policy.
And, for their trouble, the South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton’s firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives.Jonah Goldberg:
Here’s the more important part of the story, letting the house burn — while, I admit sad — will probably save more houses over the long haul. I know that if I opted out of the program before, I would be more likely to opt-in now. No solace to the homeowner, but an important lesson for compassionate conservatives like our own Dan Foster (Zing!). As Edmund Burke said, example is the school of mankind and he will learn from no other.
And of course, Derbyshire:
I am entirely with the South Fulton fire department here. In the terms of Nico Colchester’s great 1996 essay, they are being crunchy rather than soggy:
Crunchy systems are those in which small changes have big effects leaving those affected by them in no doubt whether they are up or down, rich or broke, winning or losing, dead or alive. … Sogginess is comfortable uncertainty. … The richer a society becomes, the soggier its systems get. Light-switches no longer turn on or off: they dim.
One of the duties of conservatives in this soggy fallen world is to stand up for crunchiness. For the fire department to have extinguished the Cranicks’ fire would have been soggy, even aside from the considerable degree of sogginess it would have left on the property.
How long does it take before the Tea Parties take up this mantra? And then how long before Gingrich endorses it? Friday?
Posted by Erik Loomis at 5:34 PM
But one other option that Popkey reports is under contemplation is cutting tax credits that help Idaho’s poorest residents afford food:
One possibility, though no legislators want their name on it yet: Ending the grocery-tax credit, which saves taxpayers $100 million. That would mean conflict because it would hit the poor hardest during hard times.
The credit is intended to refund some of the state’s sales tax to its poorest residents, as, unlike in many other states, the Idaho sales tax is levied on groceries. In an editorial, the Lewison Morning Tribune slammed the notion of cutting grocery credits, writing that “when it’s time to cut taxes, it’s Idaho’s wealthiest who get the breaks. When there’s a tax to be paid, it’s the people on the bottom rungs who get soaked.”This will surely solve the state's problems.....
Monday, October 04, 2010
This week's images will revolve around the theme of marriage in American history.
March in support of gay marriage, San Francisco, 2010.
This week's theme is inspired by Christina Simmons', Making Marriage Modern: Women's Sexuality from the Progressive Era to World War II, published by Oxford in 2009.
I just can't wait until I'm old and this sort of thing represents the standard of American social services:
Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won’t respond, then watches it burn. That’s exactly what happened to a local family tonight. A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay. The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck. [...]
We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception. “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” Mayor David Crocker said.
I think the Republicans have a new campaign theme--that South Fulton, Tennessee is a model of correct government.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Today's Cincinnati-Milwaukee game is probably the worst played and slowest major league game I have ever attended. For an NL 9 inning game, it took 3:39 to play it. And that's with a significant quickening in the last couple of innings.
Phil Collins doing straight covers of his favorite Motown songs.
I would say that Barry Gordy is rolling over in his grave except that a) Barry Gordy is still alive and b) Barry Gordy has no soul.