Saturday miscellany

>> Saturday, August 06, 2011

(UPDATED around two p.m. with the Cosmos news.)

A few brief bits while I sit around the waiting area of Carolina Volkswagen waiting for them to fix a back-driver's-side window that no longer goes up and down unless you stand outside the car and pry it or push it with your hands (hint: it isn't actually supposed to function that way)--

•For several weeks now, I've been meaning to pimp a friend's blog, Schwingen in Switzerland; she and her husband have moved to Switzerland and are periodically blogging about it. If you have some time, head on over, take a look at the posts, show 'em some love if it suits you. They're good people and we miss 'em back here in the States.

•I almost hate to admit that it's taken me this long to see all of John Carpenter's 1988 classic, They Live, which I finally watched in its entirety last night (I'd seen the epic alleyway beatdown, of course--just not the rest of the movie). I think I'd stayed away for awhile because '80s movies starring pro wrestlers had just a whiff of cheese about them and then even when that dissipated I just didn't get around to it. It was one of the many things Borders was selling for a song because of their bankruptcy and so I bought a copy.

Anyway, I mostly mention it because I finally have an explanation for last week's debt ceiling mess.

This piece regarding a classic example of teabagger cognitive dissonance was brought to my attention by an Andrew Leonard commentary at Salon. Between the original post and Leonard's response, I'm not sure what I could possibly add: quite a lot of conservatives are indeed hypocritical Keynesians when it comes to national defense, but Leonard's absolutely right that this hardly qualifies as news. I suppose, however, that I'm not quite as blasé about it as Leonard is--I mean, I think it's still kind of hard to get one's upper brain around the idea that someone can boast about the number of jobs a shipyard or military base creates/maintains but then refuses to accept that schools and museums and highway projects have the same effect and that, yes, government spending really does stimulate the economy.

Which, of course, is part of the reason the deal that was made to cut spending was a massive failure on the part of the Democrats. If the President were as liberal as his critics claim, he wouldn't have shown up at the negotiating table offering cuts from day one. Okay, I'm not saying he necessarily had the option of showing up at the bargaining table with FDR's sainted ghost riding his shoulders; maybe a shit deal was as good as he could get, so maybe I'm offering this more observationally than critically. But, y'know, I guess there is a criticism insofar as I'm in the camp that says you pay down the deficit when times are flush, not when they're shitty and the best thing the state can do is create employment opportunities by buying goods and services.

Indeed, in principle I fully believe that it's appropriate for the government to hire one guy to dig a hole and another guy to fill it back in. But I don't see why one has to do that when we need schools and road repairs and the rest of it. The New Deal built schools and bridges and dams that are still used, not to mention wrote plays and took photographs and put up public monuments that are still a part of our cultural heritage to enjoy.

But it's more important to leave money in wealthy people's pockets so they can sit on it, right? This is why we don't get to have nice things anymore. Oh yeah, and guns. Buying guns is still totally awesome. Thank goodness we still have a coupla wars going on so they're not just sitting there, right?

•Let's end on happier thoughts: what is it about a cute girl in rubber riding a badass motorcycle? I was a little ambivalent about Christopher Nolan bringing Catwoman in for the batfinale (she's the best of characters and the worst of characters, depending on how she's handled), but I gotta admit Anne Hathaway looks pretty hot in the photo that came out this week. Go to the link to IO9 and click on the embiggenable version, it will make your eyes happy.

•And another (hopefully) happy thought: Carl Sagan's classic science show Cosmos will be returning to television in a new incarnation hosted by the obvious and natural choice, Neil deGrasse Tyson. That's great news; what dulls it a little is that it will be showing up on Fox. No, I'm not worried that Fox's mostly apolitical entertainment arm will lobotomize the series; the problem is that this is the network that screwed Arrested Development, Firefly, Futurama and the original run of Cosmos booster Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy: look for the new version of Cosmos when it airs on a different night every week (not including nights it gets preempted for sports events and random American Idol recaps) in an episode order to be determined by a random number generator, or just grab the full series on DVD/Blu-Ray when the series gets canceled after five yet-to-be-determined episodes have been aired (two of them to be aired back-to-back opposite one of the Presidential debates, natch); it'll be an awesome addition to your shelf and you won't have to sit through a bunch of commercials for pickup trucks.

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