General Chaos

Wall Street Journal Haiku

I've often thought the “What's News” box on the front page of the Journal would work better if editors wrote the items as haiku. For example, from today's front page:

  • SEC files suit:
  • “WorldCom bosses cooked the books!”
  • Bankers do gut check.
  • WorldCom's bewildered
  • workers wonder “Were we blind?”;
  • ponder unemployment
  • Sam Wyly sharpens
  • yet another proxy axe.
  • CA's Charles Wang sweats?
  • Dennis Kozlowski
  • gets two more felony counts;
  • tax crime posterboy
  • Martha Stewart's broker
  • getting federal thumbscrews
  • to testify she lied

Well, at least it would save newsprint.

General Chaos

Today's sign of the coming apocalypse: Pledge Patented
Glen Reynolds (the “InstaPundit”) and I are in apparent agreement on the state of the patent system, and the whole Pledge thing…though, I suspect, we've come to the same conclusions from slightly different directions.

The patent system, as Glen says, is now more about creating monopoly power than encouraging innovation as Thom Jefferson intended. It's time to toss it. When A kid can get a patent on how to swing a swing sideways, the system is broken.

The whole question of having “under God”
in the Pledge of Allegiance is somewhat moot to me in the first place–I have a general problem with kids having to swear an oath of fealty to a piece of cloth, no matter wht the symbolism involved is. It smacks of Masonic flag worship (there, that ought to get the religious right going). Aside from the fact that the “under God” part was added in the 50's through pressure from a quasi-masonic paramilitary religious organization, it runs against the libertarian (and secular) roots of the American Revolution and the Constitution. It's a loyalty oath like those of feudal Europe–it just replaces “king and country” with “flag and country”

So there.

The uproar over the ruling is just another indication that the “war on terror” has only slightly glossed over the long-running “culture war” in this country–it certainly hasn't ended it.


MP3 Mysteries

MP3 Mysteries

  • I've ripped a significant chunk of my rather eclectic CD collection now–about 2115 songs worth–8.3 gigabytes– according to iTunes . That's (theoretically) almost 6 days worth of music.
  • That much music, put into a random shuffle, generates some pretty interesting sequences of songs: the Beatles' “Here Comes the Sun” to James Cotton's “High Compression” to, er, Adam Ant's “Ant Music”.
  • And it gets one to thinking…what the hell does Dewey Bunnell mean exactly when, in Ventura Highway. America sings “alligator lizards in the air”? Was that all he could get to rhyme with “no despair”?
  • Standard
    General Chaos

    Deja vu all over again.

    I can't help but notice how much the current Bush administration is starting to look like the Reagan administration–except Dubya can't read from a teleprompter as well as Uncle Ronnie could. Reagan got lots of sleep; Dubya gets lots of sleep. Reagan delegated details; Dubya delegates details. Reagan used homey charm (and his total cluelessness due to creeping dementia) to hide well-oiled realpolitik; Dubya uses, er, colorful malaprops (and his total cluelessness, cause indeterminate) to do the same.

    Reagan cut taxes, then embarked on a massive deficit-bulging military spending spree. Dubya cut taxes, then embarked on a massive deficit-bulging military spending spree.

    As the Intifada began, Reagan's administration gave tacit approval to Ariel Sharon's “broken bones” tactics of suppression. As the Intifada restarted, Dubya's administration gave tacit approval to Ariel Sharon's “broken bones” tactics of suppression.

    Dig deeper, and does the comparison hold up? Let's see with a matching game:

    Let's start with my personal favorite, ATTORNEY GENERAL:

    W: John Ashcroft
    Trampler of the Constitution.
    R: William French Smith (vanilla corporate lawyer), Edwin Meese III (Two words- IRAN-CONTRA). MATCH.

    W: Colin Powell
    R: Alexander Haig (2 years…out after slight misreading of order of succession), George Schultz– MATCH.

    Secretary of Defense:
    W: Rumsfeld.
    R: Cap Weinberger.–MATCH

    Secretary of the Interior
    W: Christie Todd Whitman
    R: James Watt –well, not necessarily an obvious match, but the way Whitman's getting rolled over….

    Get the picture? No wonder 80's nostalgia is picking up.

    General Chaos

    As I was sitting around waiting for the fickle finger of fate to point the way yesterday, I had a good deal of time to read. I read the Times. I read the Wall Street Journal. And I read about half of Noam Chomsky's Understanding Power–not quite the most subversive thing I could find to take to read in a courthouse, but I had already read David Hilliard's autobiography the last time I got summoned, and Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries the time before that…well, you get the picture. Plus, I had just picked up the latest Noam volume at Atomic Books a week or so ago, so I wanted to break its spine in a bit.

    Anyway, jury duty is probably the only major block of relatively uninterrupted reading time I get these days where I don't feel like there's something else I should be doing: working, writing, sleeping, mowing my 250 square feet of urban lawn… and there's nothing better than a good anti-establishment screed to get you in the right frame of mind if you happen to be selected for the average Baltimore trial–young black man, on trial for property theft, arrested with little evidence beyond, say, the word of a police helicopter pilot who identified him from an altitude of 400 feet without the benefit of a stabilized video camera.