Victor Borge Plays “Birthday”

Victor BorgeI found this via Mustang Bobby’s Bark Bark Woof Woof blog, A Little Night Music. It is an early TV performance of Victor Borge doing the birthday song in various styles. It is both funny and brilliant.

Watching people like Borge always makes me think of vaudeville and how it helped to develop acts. (Borge didn’t perform in vaudeville per se, but it is the same.) This really allowed (required) people to perfect their acts. In fact, before filming A Night at the Opera, the Marx Brothers went back to vaudeville to perfect the bits in that movie. I wish there was more of this. But at least we have the videos.

State Department Mocks Fox News’ Clinton Reporting

Hillary ClintonI like this discussion of Hillary Clinton on The Young Turks, because it goes along with my thinking. As I wrote back at the end of last year in response to Jonathan Chait’s claim that liberals would have done the same thing to a conservative in Hillary Clinton’s place, “I would have thought the Republican was lying. Similarly, I thought Clinton was lying. I pretty much always assume that people are lying when it is an excuse for doing something unpleasant. But Chait is not asking the right question.”

The question was whether major liberal news agencies would have reported such unfounded speculation about a Republican Secretary of State. I firmly believe that not only would there have been none of that; there would have been little of it in the liberal blogosphere. As Cenk Uygur says in the video, “To be fair, I was a little skeptical about her excuse. I didn’t go on air and mock her because maybe she actually had a concussion.”

The truth is that most liberals—especially in the blogosphere—love taking down their own. But this is something completely different. And even after Clinton came out of the hospital, Fox News was still questioning her. In a normal world, this would be unbelievable.

Live Long and Eat

Fat DeathPaul Campos is a law professor. And he is not fat. So why he wrote an op-ed about our fucked up ideas of proper body weight, I can’t say. But it is a hell of an article, Our Absurd Fear of Fat. The article discusses a new analysis of data that I’ve been aware of for a while. These data indicate, among other things, that if I want to live a long time, I am better at my new pudgy weight than I was at my old skinny weight.

This paper appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But don’t hold that against it. (I’m none too fond of the AMA.) The paper is titled, Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. What it illustrates is that those that the CDC claims to be over-weight and even the marginal obese actually live longer than those considered “normal.”

Suck on that health nuts!

But really, I don’t care that much. I’m in no hurry to die, but I am glad that it is coming. The idea that I would make myself miserable for the sake of a couple of more years of life is ridiculous. And now I know that the fattening glass of wine I drink each night not only lowers my stress level, it lengthens my life. Bathroom scale: be gone!

I’m most interested in how we got to this place where we tell everyone to be thin “for their own good” even though it is not. And that is where Campos is at his best:

How did we get into this absurd situation? That is a long and complex story. Over the past century, Americans have become increasingly obsessed with the supposed desirability of thinness, as thinness has become both a marker for upper-class status and a reflection of beauty ideals that bring a kind of privilege.

In addition, baselessly categorizing at least 130 million Americans—and hundreds of millions in the rest of the world—as people in need of “treatment” for their “condition” serves the economic interests of, among others, the multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry and large pharmaceutical companies, which have invested a great deal of money in winning the good will of those who will determine the regulatory fate of the next generation of diet drugs.

So not only can we embrace our sagging figure for its health benefits, we can do it to strike a blow against our corporate overloads.

Perhaps we need a slogan: “We’re fat; and fine with that; get used to it!” If you have a better one, let me know.

It’s the Jobs, Stupid

Jobs CrisisIn December, the economy added 155,000 new jobs. As usual, the private sector job growth was better (168,000), but we lost government jobs (13,000). These are not great numbers. The government really ought to do something about this. And contrary to what many people believe, there is much that the government could do. Unfortunately, the Republicans are in favor of policies that make both the economy weaker and the budget deficit worse. The Democrats have some decent ideas. President Obama’s American Jobs Act would help quite a lot. But it is only a start.

I don’t think that people understand just how big a problem we face. The problem is largely due to the media. While the base unemployment rate was as high as 10%, all we heard about was the budget—as though that was the most important thing in the world. If it hadn’t been for the police abusing Occupy Wall Street protesters, we’d never have talked about jobs. And now, it seems we are back to fretting over the budget again.

So how big is the unemployment problem? Here is a graph from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. It shows when the US economy will reach full employment given three different assumptions. Note that even if we add almost twice as many jobs as we have been, we will not be at full employment until the end of 2017. If we add jobs as we have been, it will take until 2025:

Path to Full Employment

What do we get instead of a discussion of the employment situation? We (rightly) get discussion of the Republican plan to destroy the American economy. We get John Cornyn’s oped saying that it may be necessary to crash the economy to avoid becoming Greece, Italy, or Spain. As Matt Yglesias points out, this “solution” would be “much worse than anything that’s happened in Italy or Spain.”

It is hard to know where the stupidity stops and the bullshit starts. Cornyn, remember, is a Senator, not some idiot Representative. I hope he gets slapped down for this treasonous oped. But I doubt it. Politico reported on him as though it was just another option for how to run the government. The Dallas Morning News did much the same. And Business Insider, who I would think really ought to know better, reported it as straight news.

Meanwhile, the ultimate gauge of the employment system—total labor force participation—is flat. It seems that we are no longer going down, but we are making no progress:

Labor Force Participation

But hey: Greece! Italy! Spain!

My Favorite Scene from Romantics Anonymous

This is my favorite scene from Romantics Anonymous. It is very sweet, which is half of what I love about this film:

Angelique: My hands are clammy.
Jean-Rene: I don’t mind.
Angelique: My stomach’s growling.
Jean-Rene: I like the sound.
Angelique: I blush all the time.
Jean-Rene: I think that’s beautiful… Shall we?


This 37 second clip caused YouTube to flag it for the copyright holder UniversumFilm. I assume that like Fox before, they will okay my use. After all, I’m just promoting the film. But whenever companies act like assholes, it takes the gloss of the piece of art that they own—especially when that piece of art is something as sweet as Romantics Anonymous.