Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the Long Run, We're All Dead

I was just over at the Huffington Post, reading something Arianna wrote about the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The WEF is an annual gathering of CEOs, world leaders, entrepreneurs, activists (they're usually roped off), journalists, and, finally, economists dedicated to finding ways of making our planet a more prosperous place for all. If at first you don't succeed...

Anyway, Arianna interviewed one of the attendees, Niall Ferguson, a history and business professor at Harvard University. Ferguson feels our leaders (he didn't specify, but I'm guessing he means President Obama and the Democratic Congress) are making a big mistake by looking to the theories of John Maynard Keynes as a way of solving our current economic crises. In case you've never heard of Keynes, he believed a recession or depression could last indefinitely unless the government provided a stimulus, or, if you will, primed the pump, by either direct relief, public works, or tax cuts (for everybody, not just the rich).

Why doesn't Ferguson believe priming the pump will work? Because Keynes book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was written in 1936.

Hmm. Well, 1936 was a long time ago. Keynes himself would have to admit nothing lasts forever (see post title.)

Yeah, when I think about it, anything invented or devised or discovered that long ago probably just won't work.

Incidentally, the atom was first split in the same decade that Keynes wrote his book.

Say, I guess we don't have to worry anymore about Iran acquiring nukes!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Are Van Helsing and Dracula Next?

Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize winning author who was dumped as a foreign policy advisor by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster", will soon be hired as a foreign policy advisor by now-President Barack Obama, according to the Associated Press.

Wait a second, it's not the victim who's supposed to rise from the grave.

Then again, Jamie Lee Curtis did star in at least two Halloween sequels.

How does the monster, er, Hillary Clinton feel about all this? According to an official close to the transition, the two have decided to "bury the hatchet." As senior director of multilateral affairs (is there a director of single lateral affairs?) at the National Security Council, Power will have close contact, and maybe even travel with, Clinton, now Secretary of State. No word as to whether Power will bring along wolf bane and garlic, just in case.

You have to hand it to Obama. If nothing else, he knows how to bring about reconciliation within his own party. Of course, it was something of a surprise when, after all the insults traded between the two campaigns, Obama appointed Hillary to State in the first place. I remember the press conference he gave right after that announcement, in which he dismissed all that dissing back and forth as "just politics, heat of the campaign, you know."

Huh? They weren't serious?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sweet Charity

Me and Eddie Templeton were walking down the street, and shooting the breeze when--wait, have I introduced you to Eddie Templeton yet? You know Eddie, don't you? He just got his fifteenth ticket for parking in a handicapped space, remember? Let me quote him:

"I don't know what the hell's the matter with that cop! I told him I've got Premature Hunch Elbow!"

Anyway, me and Eddie were walking down the street, and he fell behind me for a moment.

"Hey, Jusko!"

I turned around. "Huh?"

"You dropped a quarter."

He picked it up and handed it to me.

"Thanks," I said.

I continued walking.

"Say, Eddie," I said. "What say you and I go over to the Looking-Glass Cafe and see if Garret and Marty's there?"

Eddie didn't answer.


I turned back around. Eddie was way behind me, still at the spot where I dropped my quarter. His arms were folded, and he was tapping his foot. He had an expectant look on his face.

I walked back over to him.

"Eddie," I said. "What gives?"

"I'm waiting," he said.

"Waiting? Waiting for what?"

"I'm waiting for God to shower me with fame and fortune and all the sex I can handle as reward for the good, just, and selfless deed I just performed."

He looked up toward the sky and started snapping his fingers.

I handed him my quarter.

"Here," I said. "I think you need this more than I do."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Nanny State Here

New York Governor David Patterson has appointed Congresswoman Kristin Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's seat in the Senate. Patterson praised Gillibrand for introducing balanced-budget legislation in the House. If he really means that, than perhaps we can save a few bucks by excluding New York state from the upcoming stimulus package.

That aside, who else could Patterson have picked? Carolyn Kennedy dropped out. And I have no strong feelings one way or the other about Andrew Cuomo.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Pop-up Quiz

Recently, I was at a Joseph Heller web site, deeply immersed in a discussion of Milo Minderbinder's place in literary history, when I suddenly noticed something in the lower right hand corner of the screen. It wasn't part of the site since it had nothing to do with Catch 22. Here's what it said:



I thought to myself, hey, it'd be kinda cool to know my IQ, so I clicked .

Ever since I clicked, a box has popped on to the screen every ten seconds asking me to, variously, try a new anti-wrinkle cream, take advice on how to pass a civil service exam, give a gold-plated pendent to that very special person, join a health club, try liposuction, dine at a new Chinese restaurant in a city I never heard of, take pills that will cleanse my body of impurities, buy a Humvee, rent a condo on the shores of Lake Huron, and buy a mousetrap that glows in the dark.

I think I flunked the test.

Quips and Quotations

"Bill Clinton will be the most problematic Cabinet member's spouse since Martha Mitchell"

--Pat Buchanan, on Morning Joe.

(Never thought I'd be quoting THAT guy, but, hey, a good line is a good line--KJ)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quips and Quotations

"Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. It's power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crises has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control--and a nation cannot prosper long when it only favors the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross national product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart--not out of charity, but because that is the surest route to our common good.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers...our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideas still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, not does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

--President Barack Obama, inaugural address.

(Don't mistake this for a wholesale endorsement of Obama's speech. Much of it made me either yawn, sigh, or roll my eyes...but I did like this part--KJ)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Well, It's Not Exactly New York Harbour...

Got things to do today, so I'll have to catch Obama's speech tonight on C-span. They'll play it a couple of times, I'm sure. True, it's not the same as watching it live. But the live version's not necessarily live. There's a rumor on the Internet that Obama's inauguration speech is on a five-second tape delay. Networks execs are afraid a strong wind might knock over Dick Cheney's wheelchair, and the subsequent curse words will be caught on mike.

Even though I'm not watching the inauguration live, I will pass this along to you. Earlier this morning, I was in Berea, driving down Bagley through a mild snowstorm, when I suddenly see this guy on the side of the road dressed like the Statue of Liberty, and waving a cardboard torch! He certainly seemed to be in a good mood.

Something written by Emma Lazarus popped into my head.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp besides the golden door!"

Lamp? Golden door? Speaking for this wretched refuse, after eight years of Bush, I'd be willing to follow a Zippo lighter through the garage door entrance!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recommended Reading

Even though the medical mart/convention center hasn't been built, I find myself paying it yet another visit.

If you live in the Cleveland area, or you're merely a follower of fucked-up government, then read Frank Lewis's latest in Scene.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Corrections and Retractions

In an earlier post (Finite Feagler , 12/15/08) I inveighed against The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation for never having the induction ceremony here in Cleveland. Well, it turns out this year it IS in Cleveland, at Public Hall on April 4.


In Memoriam: Andrew Wyeth 1917-2008

Artist. Christina's World, the Helga paintings

"I think most people get to my work through the back door. They're attracted by the realism and they sense the emotion and the abstraction--and eventually, I hope, they get their own powerful emotion."

(Speaking for myself, whenever I view Christina's World, I feel like driving up to Christina and asking, "Do you want a lift?"--KJ)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brain Damage

There was was an interesting discussion on Hardball last week. It was all about whether Dick Cheney was really the one in charge these last eight years. Chris Matthews had two guests, one a Democrat, the other--surprise!--a Republican. The Democrat was positive Dick Cheney was the brains of the operation. The Republican not so sure. Now, I usually agree with the Dems more than I do with the GOP, but this time I wasn't so sure. I mean, since when is the belief that a VP shouldn't be pulling the strings an integral part of liberal philosophy? Does that mean we can't have a fair, just, and equable society unless every word that comes out of a president's mouth has it's origins in his brain? As long as a president agrees with the thought, idea or sentiment, whatever it's source, isn't that enough? As long as We, the People, approve of the outcome, then what do we care that some shadow government's not getting it's proper due?

Leaving all that aside, just why do people think that Dick Cheney is running things? Well, I suppose, he SEEMS smarter. To begin with, Bush is stuck with a southern accent. After years of watching shows and movies like Gomer Pyle, The Beverly Hillbillies and Forrest Gump, we've all come to associate that dialect with dimwittedness. Even Scarlet O'Hara was a little dingbatty, what with picking a fight with Rhett Butler when she was at the TOP of a flight of stairs. Wait until you're closer to the source of gravity, you hoop-skirted bimbo. None of this means southerners are actually stupid--they're not--but that's how they're often portrayed, and they suffer accordingly.

There's also the President's mangling of the English language. He shares this trait with his prep school-dialect father. But talking is different than writing. The spoken word, sans teleprompter, is always a first and only draft. Part of the problem may be that leaders tend to think they're smarter then their followers. Why else would they want to lead in the first place? Would you want to tell someone smarter than you what to do? "Hey, Albert, forget that E=mc2 shit. Just say the relativity theory has something to do with cousins not marrying!" What I'm trying to get at is the Bushes may have been trying to talk down to all of us, and, not unlike Scarlet O'Hara, they lost their balance.

But none of the above would matter if Cheney didn't come across as so damn smart. He talks in a low voice. Do you know why smart people talk in low voices? They have no other choice. The extra energy it takes to fuel their giant brains must be absorbed from other parts of their body, such as the lungs. So much of a drain is intelligence on the rest of the body, in fact, that not only do smart people mutter, they also move slower, are prone to heart attacks, have difficult time aiming rifles, and show up at solemn Auschwitz ceremonies dressed like retirees about to snow blow their driveways.

So, yes, maybe Cheney is the "brains" of the operation, the man pulling the strings, the power behind the throne.

Where does that leave us?

4226 Americans killed in Iraq. The worst economic crises since the Great Depression.

In a recent radio interview, Dick Cheney said, "There was never any question who was in charge. It was George Bush."

Smart move, Dick.

Friday, January 9, 2009

R.I.P. (Roland in Perpetuity)

When asked if his Senate appointment was the result of a secret pay-to-play deal between him and the beleaguered Poe-and-Presley-quoting governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris replied:

"I have no money."

He blew it all on granite

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quips and Quotations (Happy Hour Edition)

He who wakes up with a a sex maniac!

I got a lot of sun on my vacation. I found a bar with a hole in the roof.

I've got seven kids. The three words you hear most around my house are "Hello", "Goodby" and "I'm pregnant"

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.

--Dean Martin

In Memoriam: Edd Cartier 1914-2008

Science fiction illustrator

"I put a bit of humor into what I drew. I was even told at times that I put too much humor into drawing science fiction. It's a serious thing. When I started out doing science fiction, it was all kind of a weird thing."

(Weird thing, indeed. Why I am I giving this guy an "In Memoriam"? In the last couple of years I've become interested in what's now called the "Golden Age of Illustration," roughly from the turn of the last century into the 1960s. As printing techniques improved, and magazines proliferated, there was a great demand for artists to illustrate stories, covers, and, lest we forget, advertisements. So what we're basically talking about here is commercial art. The most famous of these commercial artists was Norman Rockwell, but there were hundreds of others toiling, drawing, and painting away in obscurity. This was work-for-hire rather than art-for-art's-sake. That didn't make these guys any less creative. Or, if it did, you can't tell. No more is this true than with the gloriously goofy sci-fi art of the era, of which Cartier was a master. Just Google Edd Cartier, or science-fiction art, click on any sight that features art work, and you'll wonder if these guys weren't tutored by Timothy Leary. As more and more artists, sci-fi or otherwise, from that Golden Age pass on, expect to see their names pop up here from time to time--KJ)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bad Medicine

(Another Cleveland-related post. The out-of-town readers ain't gonna like this...)

Forest City Enterprises is just a little unhappy at our County Commissioners. And when Forest City is upset, the Plain Dealer editorial board is downright apoplectic.

Relations between FCE and CC weren't always thus. Used to be if Ratner, Miller and co. bought a piece of land PCB cheap, the county would ensure they got a decent return on their investment (google "Forest City" and "Quincy Avenue". The article I unsuccessfully tried to link is on the PD's own

Now, those same three folks (actually, two of them have been replaced since the above deal went down, but they're still commissioners) have just granted the Kennedys--I mean, Merchandise Mart--a month extension on a final decision as to where to build the medical mart/convention center. It was supposed to be adjacent to the FCE-owned Tower City, which has been losing tenants lately. Now there's word that they may want to build a smaller convention center on the site of the present convention center, which, you may recall, is already small, which is why, the wise men tell us, we need a new convention center in the first place!

Anyway, the editorial in the Sunday Plain Dealer took the commissioners to task for not cracking the whip on the Kennedys (who may, you know, have other, you know, political fish to fry.) I don't particularly want to defend the commissioners, especially since one of them could be arrested any day (oddly enough, the sole survivor of the Quincy Avenue deal), but Peter Lawson Jones (named in the editorial, along with Tim Hagen) was skeptical about this whole thing from the very beginning.

Not the PD . They endorsed both the mart, and the undemocratic way the mart was brought about (closed meetings; a tax citizens weren't allowed to vote on.)

And they're STILL endorsing both the Mart, and, apparently, an undemocratic way of bringing it about. Read the last line of that editorial (italics mine):

"Cleveland needs the medical mart--much more than it needs an elected board of commissioners."

Maybe even more than it needs a daily newspaper.

Recommended Reading Revisited

In my last Recommended Reading I said I couldn't believe the last Dick Feagler column, which initially ran in the Sunday Plain Dealer, would be a waste of time. Well, was it? That dependson whether youhad a difficulttime reading itwith allthe wordssmooshedtogether.

The PD printed a more readable version in yesterday's paper. Try reading that, or, seeing as you're sitting in front of a computer, anyway ...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recommended Reading

To those of you living in or around Cleveland, Dick Feagler's final column will be tomorrow in the Plain Dealer. I obviously haven't read it yet, but I can't believe it will be a waste of your time. Or your old-timer's time.

Incidentally, I've already said my goodbyes to Feagler.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years TV

Watched Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve with Ryan Seacrest the other night. I didn't see the whole thing, so don't expect some in-depth analysis. Rather, think of it as me...shooting off my mouth.

People like to make fun of Seacrest, but I've always thought he was OK on American Idol. It's been the biggest thing on prime-time for a number of years now, yet he seems not to take it all too seriously, knowing that it's just a combination of two earlier shows, Star Search and The Gong Show, Simon Cowell being the gong. So why did Seacrest seem to me a little awestruck that he was following in the footsteps of Dick Clark and Guy Lombardo? The guy needs to relax. Next year he should have Paula Abdul there. That girl knows how to party. She could drop in on Times Square on that big ball.

In an earlier post, I confessed to being out of touch with the current music scene. Well, I have to partially recant my confession. I actually recognized a few of the songs performed on the show, if not the names of the people actually performing them. Contrast this with my parents, and other kids parents, back in the 1970s. Then, they seemed to recognize such names as Elton John, Kiss, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. They just didn't know what the hell they sang. Just variations of the Beatles, as far as they were concerned. As far as I'm concerned, what I heard New Year's Eve were just variations of the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. People much younger than me, already on their third iPod, and who know vinyl only as the type of upholstery you definitely don't want in your car on a hot, summer day, assure me that what I heard wasn't disco. That's good. At his age John Travolta might fracture his ass in 17 different places imitating the kind of dance moves I saw Wednesday night.

Fergie was there. Now, that's one name I recognize. I see she's no longer a redhead. I wonder if Prince Andrew and the rest of Buckingham Palace knows she's appeared on American TV in a sexy mini dress? I know she's divorced, but she's still the Duchess of something or other.

Finally, there's Dick Clark. Due to a stroke, he slurs his words almost as much as Paula Abdul. You can finally tell he's had plastic surgery. I say "finally" because when I was growing up he was often referred to as "the world's oldest teenager" due to his seeming immunity to the aging process. Actually, he was pushing 50 and looked 10, maybe 15 years younger. Quite an achievement, to be sure, but I doubt if he was carded much. Now he's pushing 80, so, if he hadn't had his stroke, he'd probably look 65. Again an achievement, and I can just imagine some aging baby boomer watching him on TV and saying "Jeez! He looks the same as he did in '62! He really is the world's oldest teenager!"

Speaking of the world's oldest teenager, wasn't that Bill Clinton in Times Square?