Fascism TV

I have nothing against cops on TV, per se. Like many others, I think The Wire was one of the best offerings in the history of television. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Without a Trace, Law & Order and CSI. My new fave rave is Justified.

That said, I’m increasingly tired of the whole genre. It’s gone way beyond the saturation point. In recent years we’ve had The Shield, The Academy, Cold Case, and Flashpoint. Today, we have The Closer, Criminal Minds, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, Prime Suspect and multiple clones of Law & Order and CSI. We have NCIS and now NCIS: LA.

It gets better. Tuesday nights on CBS, all of prime time is dedicated to cop shows. Last week, I had a gander at the ironically titled Unforgettable. It’s about a beautiful woman cop who never forgets anything. It’s a predictable procedural, but with a twist. In this episode, she tells a bunch of activists to go ‘camp out in the park, knock yourselves out.’ You could cut the sneering condescension with an axe.

Friday night, confronted with a vast wasteland, I had a peek at CSI: New York, which is typically all too forgettable, and with no twist in sight. We find a noble cop talking with his adorable girlfriend. It’s an intimate morning-after scene and all very affectionate — right up to the point where she makes a smirking reference to some “sexually ambiguous” person of interest.

In the cop show called Person of Interest, we recently had the computer-savvy-nerd half of a vigilante team make an approving remark about fracking.

You get the picture.

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Banks buy politicians — on sale, now!

Bill Moyers on PBS, February 13, 2009

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the Obama administration’s plan to address the crisis in the financial sector. The strategy he outlined calls for the largest Federal intervention in banks and finance since the Great Depression, flooding as much as $2.5 trillion into the system. Given its size and scope — the bill’s lack of detail drew a widely negative response from analysts and economists.

Although he thinks the details are important, Simon Johnson, Professor of Economics at MIT, worries more that Geithner and the Obama administration won’t address a big underlying problem and be tough enough on the politically powerful banking lobby.

 

Too Big To Fail?

Johnson explains to Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL that the U.S. financial system reminds him more of the embattled emerging markets he encountered in his time with the International Monetary Fund than that of a developed nation. As such, Johnson believes that the U.S. financial system needs a “reboot,” breaking up the biggest banks, in some cases firing management and wiping out shareholder value. Johnson tells Bill Moyers that such a move wouldn’t be popular with the powerful banking lobby: “I think it’s quite straightforward, in technical or economic terms. At the same time I recognize it’s very hard politically.”Without drastic action, Johnson argues, taxpayers are merely subsidizing a wealthy powerful industry without forcing necessary systemic changes: “Taxpayer money is ensuring their bonuses. We’re making sure that banks survive. And eventually, of course, the economy will turn around. Things will get better. The banks will be worth a lot of money. And they will cash out. And we will be paying higher taxes, we and our children, will be paying higher taxes so those people could have those bonuses. That’s not fair. It’s not acceptable. It’s not even good economics.”


IBM, Smart; Forbes…

Nissan smart roads

Nissan smart roads

Infrastructure

IBM’s ‘Smart’ Moves
by Andy Greenberg
Company revamps its infrastructure offerings just as the Senate is expected to approve billions in IT spending.

First came the lofty pronouncements. Now, comes the products–and the timing couldn’t be better.

Since November, IBM Chief Executive Sam Palmisano has been making futurist statements about the need for a “smarter” national infrastructure, using information technology to upgrade the nation’s roads, electric grid and health care system in a bid to increase their efficiency; to make America more internationally competitive and to create thousands of jobs.
_____________

Warning to fellow writers: I sent a query to the Silicon Valley editor at Forbes about a year ago, re: HoloGenomics.

He declined, saying it wasn’t the sort of thing they do very often.

Except he did — on the same subject, a few weeks ago.

I asked the editors at Forbes how they were going to make this right.

Thus far, their worships have not deigned to reply.

I also proposed a piece on why the old media are dying …

Bank on America

Bank on this.

Bank on this.

 

Community-based movements to halt the flood of foreclosures have been building across the country. They turned out in Cleveland once again in October, when a coalition of grassroots housing groups rallied outside the Cuyahoga County courthouse, calling for a foreclosure freeze and constructing a mock graveyard of Styrofoam headstones bearing the names of local communities decimated by the housing crisis. (They did not, unfortunately, stop the more than 1,000 foreclosure filings in the county the following month.) In Boston the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America began protesting in front of Countrywide Financial offices in October 2007. Within weeks, Countrywide had agreed to work with the group to renegotiate loans. In Philadelphia ACORN and other community organizations helped to pressure the city council to order the county sheriff to halt foreclosure auctions this past March. Philadelphia has since implemented a program mandating “conciliation conferences” between defaulting homeowners and lenders. ACORN organizers say the program has a 78 percent success rate at keeping people in their homes. One activist group in Miami has taken a more direct approach to the crisis, housing homeless families in abandoned bank-owned homes without waiting for government permission.

It’s unlikely, though, that any of these activists will be able to relax soon. 

The Nation

 

When I was a lad, I ran off to San Francisco, like hippies from all over, to be free and unconventional and rid of the whole corporate America trip.

I ended up working at the Bank of America, thanks to a pink collar stoner chick who fudged my typing test.

While working at their headquarters, I learned about the proud heritage of the bank, which had rebuilt San Francisco in the early 20th century, in the wake of its great earthquake. 

Today, of course, bankers are universally regarded as monuments to heroic greed, spectacular corruption and epic incompetence–one short step above child molesters on the social scale. Adrift in their bubbles, intoxicated by their own emissions, only they remain unaware of this downward turn in public perception.

When a reporter for the AP politely asked them what they were doing with billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ bailout ransom, they sniffily replied to this effect: “Listen, you tawdry little man–we don’t give a fig about you and your shabby readers. We have parties to attend. Kindly pay up and shut up. Then find your way out.”

Men have short memories. It wasn’t so long ago in the long view of history that, faced with a similar situation, the rabble roused themselves in the streets of Paris and handed the nobility their heads. Good times.

Today, gun shops can’t keep up with demand.

Being a peaceful sort and averse to noise, I got to thinking that maybe it doesn’t have to come to bloodshed and armed insurrection.

Is it conceivable that bankers today are capable, if only in theory, of once again doing the right thing? Could they ever, even in an imagined world, earn their fat paychecks and lead us out of the mess that is largely their own creation? 

Trying to wrap my head around that wild notion, I am once again transported back to a more innocent era.

All across the nation

Such a strange vibration …

 

 

 


Camelot

You are One, under the stars.

You are One, under the stars.

That’s it… and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then… this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, ‘I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!’ For it is the doom of men that they forget.

– Merlin, Excalibur

Letter to a friend

Here’s an item from today’s Washington Post that might interest you.

Sorry to hear you have to lay off people — that’s a hellish amount of stress on all sides. On the other hand, I’m glad it’s you and not some heartless bastard who will make the situation even worse and possibly cause the other party to go postal.

I look around me when I’m out running errands and I see lots of people whose faces are frozen masks of pain, anger and resentment. A reporter on a news program recently said how the people he interviews on the street are incensed at what’s been going on — and that the anger is beginning to turn to fear. Not good.

Entering “multiple robberies” on Google News returns pages and pages of results.

So, yes, you’re quite right about the possibility of a severe recession and that would be bad enough — add in all the effects of economic distress and … Well, you get the picture. Not to add to your troubles, but … forewarned is forearmed, right?

On the other hand, I’m mindful of the danger of self-fulfilling prophecies and of the fact that what happens tomorrow depends on what we do today.

As for me, I try to do everything I can to buck people up — including myself, ‘cuz it’s hard to be around people who are stressed out without absorbing some of their distress. Humor and kindness can work wonders, of course, as can helping people vent so that they can move past their anger toward problem-solving.

Do you know about all the networking sites like ecademy and LinkedIn? They’re among the oldest and the best of their kind — like Facebook, for adults, they can go a long way toward helping the unemployed find new opportunities and also alleviate social isolation, with all the problems that brings.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day. Please take good care of yourself, OK?

Dream on!

Bridge to the Future

Bridge to the Future

I was watching the News Hour a few days ago. Two economists were talking.

One was a thoroughly dismal character (no doubt a lot of fun at parties), who saw only boondoggles coming out of Obama’s economic stimulus package — more bridges to nowhere.

The other was more optimistic, reminding listeners that previous programs had given rise to marvels of modern engineering, such as the Golden Gate Bridge — investments in infrastructure which continue to pay dividends today and which are also totally bitchin’ cool.

That got me to thinking: Given what we can do in the 21st century and given the crying needs before us, isn’t this an excellent opportunity to dream big — to envision a bold, beautiful, sustainable future that we and our posterity can take pride in?

We can do this.

We can make it better.

Hey! Ho! Let’s go!