Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Being bored is the only time you are creative."

Dyson Freeman is probably the only climate change denier I genuinely admire. [Via The New York Time Sunday Magazine]

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Exists: Rainbow Raider

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thing I Never Knew

This may be old news to some of you, but: Wow, Gordon Lish is like the Malcolm McLaren to Raymond Carver's Sex Pistols. [via NYT]

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Friday, March 13, 2009

You Know, Begrudgingly ...

I am impressed by how much this stupid "If You Seek Amy" Video operates simultaneously as a vicious celebration of, and a mea culpa for, Britney Spear's career of acting innocent while selling sex to minors. Congratulations America for the schizophrenic culture that could produce these three juvenile minutes of David Lynch by way of Madonna and Robert Mapplethorpe.

[This week's South Park about the Jonas Brothers couldn't have happened at a better time.]

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well, That Jim Cramer / Jon Stewart Thing Happened

For anyone looking for the take-away message from the Jon Stewart / Jim Cramer interview this is it:
It was uncomfortable and somewhat breathtaking to watch. What I hope people get from this interview, though, is not just that CNBC is a really shitty journalistic institution. This is how ALL cable news works (and most websites, and some newspapers). Access is so difficult to find that journalists end up being mouthpieces for different points of view rather than arriving at some kind of truth. I have no idea how this problem gets solved, but until it does it seems to me that cable news does more harm than good.
[Via Some Gawker Commenter]

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Ok, I'm Going To This ...

... whether or not I am still coughing up new characters for "The Mucinex Expanded Universe."

I have no idea which one of my friends would also want to go, and I'm frankly enthusiastic about doing something by myself, but I'm just gonna throw this out here anyway:
SUN, MAR 15: Lizzie “Elizabeth” Skurnick reads from Check-in — which [Lauren Cerand] once bought a dozen copies of, and then resold them in ten minutes, it’s that good — on Sunday evening at KGB, along with John Reed and Amy Koppelman. 7PM, FREE.
[Event via Maud Newton. Video below via Caketrain.]

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cramer On Cramer: I Say My Show Works Basically Because I Pull Stock Picks Out Of My Ass

From the May 28, 2007 issue of New York Magazine, Jim Cramer on his show in comparison to his recent sparring partners:
Look at Mad Money in contrast to The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, two programs that ought to be able to sue for libel after being included in the same sentence with Mad Money. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are both very smart, they’re both entertaining, and they both appeal to the kids. But at the end of the day, even they are heavily produced. On Mad Money, we cannot be produced because we are pretty much at the whim of whoever decides to phone in and ask me a question. And even the parts of the show I control are a lot more off the cuff than you would expect or even believe.

[This next part is technically earlier in the article.]

Forget Real World or Survivor—all these reality-TV shows go only part of the way because they’re so heavily produced. I have an hour-and-a-half tape delay. I say whatever pops into my head, and we keep it in the show even if it makes me look like an unsophisticated moron, a way too sophisticated know-it-all, or the worst: when I come off as a Marxist-Leninist, even though I’m a Trotskyite at heart (an easy mistake to make given my close resemblance to Lenin). On some level, the show is dedicated to the proposition that 98 percent of my education, or at least the parts my parents paid for, was not irrelevant, or at least the Western-civ stuff, along with that Shakespeare course, because it lets me confuse the bard with C.R. Bard, the medical-supplies company.
Mercurial? Counter-intuitive? Unapologetically unreliable?

On an unrelated note, the Lenin portrait on his set was one of the things I liked about Jim Cramer years ago:

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I Want This To Get Ugly

If you've been following the recent Jim Cramer / Jon Stewart feud, you're probably already aware that Cramer will be appearing on The Daily Show Thursday for the title bout.

Now, up until this point, Stewart has mostly hit three honest and unassailable points:
  1. By a luxurious margin, neither CNBC nor Jim Cramer live up to their marketing slogans.
  2. Their failure to do so makes them at least as dumb as Rick Santelli's "losers" who took on mortgages they couldn't afford.
  3. Like Stewart's last famous cable news target, Crossfire, many of CNBC's shows have titles (Squawk Box, Mad Money, Fast Money) that betray a serious contempt for the viewers' intelligence, while actually attempting to convey a smirking, insouciant camaraderie with the audience.
There's a good chance Cramer's appearance will be a gentle ribbing on par with Bill O'Reilly's appearance. However, it would be really great if Stewart and the team ambushed Cramer on the long circulating accusations of his illegal activity and market manipulation.

Here's one example of what I'd like to hear come up, taken from former Columbia Journalism Review editor Mark Mitchell's long expose on a still developing short-selling scandal:

Not long before [Jim] Cramer announced his SEC subpoenas, Rocker sold all of his shares in Cramer sold around $2 million of his own shares. If Cramer knew about the SEC investigation before he sold his shares, which was almost certainly the case, he was trading on insider information - another jailable offense.

But Cramer don’t know nothin’ about nothin’. And Herb thinks the SEC investigation is an outrage. So Herb and Cramer have commandeered CNBC. They are live on CNBC. Herb has jabbered something about a conspiracy - a conspiracy to get Herb.

And now Cramer is going to show us something.

He’s pulled out a big, red magic marker. Veins are popping, rope-like, from his bald cranium. And he’s snarling. Cramer is actually snarling while he uses the big red magic marker to scribble something on a piece of paper.

He holds the paper up to the camera.

It’’s his government subpoena...Cramer has vandalized his government subpoena! On live TV... in big red letters...

It says, "BULL!"

[This and more via Daily Kos diarist TocqueDeville]

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Monday, March 09, 2009

“A world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core.”

Stanley Fish, whose new book Save the World On Your Own Time is meant as a salvo against political activism in academia, took to the New York Times recently to better define his stance in lieu of accusatory contrasts to the typical neoliberal agenda for college institutions.

He didn't mean to, but his cursory definition reinvigorated my disdain for neoliberalism and left me interested in what the hell he thinks universities are for:
The objection (which I am reporting, not making) is that in the passage from a state in which actions are guided by an overarching notion of the public good to a state in which individual entrepreneurs “freely” pursue their private goods, values like morality, justice, fairness, empathy, nobility and love are either abandoned or redefined in market terms.

Short-term transactions-for-profit replace long-term planning designed to produce a more just and equitable society. Everyone is always running around doing and acquiring things, but the things done and acquired provide only momentary and empty pleasures (shopping, trophy houses, designer clothing and jewelry), which in the end amount to nothing. Neoliberalism, David Harvey explains, delivers a “world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core.” (”A Brief History of Neoliberalism.”)

Harvey and the other critics of neoliberalism explain that once neoliberal goals and priorities become embedded in a culture’s way of thinking, institutions that don’t regard themselves as neoliberal will nevertheless engage in practices that mime and extend neoliberal principles — privatization, untrammeled competition, the retreat from social engineering, the proliferation of markets.
Not interested enough to read his book though.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

I am about to start doing my taxes.

“We fill pre-existing forms and when we fill them we change them and are changed.”—Frank Bidart, "Borges and I"