Odds and Ends Vol 1

Odds and EndsI’ve had it. At any given time, I have something like 100 tabs open in my browser. Almost all of these could be filed under, “When I get an hour or two, I want to write about that!” And sometimes I do get around to them. For example, it took me weeks to get around writing, Stalin, Not the Bomb, Defeated Japan. But mostly, I don’t. Some go into an ever expanding folder called, “Story Ideas.” But even more just get deleted. So I’ve decided to do these semi-regular posts of worthy issues. And in some cases, just things I don’t have much to add to.

  1. Fox News Caught in Epic Lie: Last Friday, Eric Stern wrote an amazing article, Inside the Fox News Lie Machine: I Fact-Checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare. I read it on Friday and really wanted to comment on it. But before I knew it, Krugman discussed it briefly, Lies, Damned Lies, and Fox News. And then tonight, apparently Stern was on All In. Basically, Sean Hannity had three couples on to discuss how Obamacare was costing them and their employees. But when Stern contacted them, there was literally nothing to their complaints. The couple who owned a business weren’t forced to give healthcare to their employees because they were too small; they had apparently cut staff hours because business was slow. And the two other couples hadn’t checked the exchanges. When Stern did so for them, they ended up save huge amounts of money.

    Today, Erik Wemple at the Washington Post wrote, Fox News’s Howard Kurtz (sort of) addresses Obamacare distortions on Hannity. Kurtz is Fox News‘ media critic. But he gave the same bullshit we always get from Fox News. More or less he said that since Hannity is an “opinion guy” that he has no obligation to tell the truth. In other words, pure propaganda is just fine. If you ever see someone from Fox News on The Daily Show, you will hear that. But it is noteworthy seeing such nonsense coming out of Kurtz’s mouth, because he used to be considered an actual journalist. It’s interesting that people like him fit so well at Fox News. It really makes you wonder about the mainstream press.

  2. TED Talks Are Useless: Thomas Frank wrote a very interesting article at Salon, TED Talks Are Lying to You. I thought it was going to be about my biggest problem with the TED Talks: they are a megaphone for the elite. His argument is that what the literature about creativity in business and the TED Talks with their “big ideas” are all about one thing: telling a certain class—the professional managers—that they are smart, creative people. He doesn’t go this far, but the fact is that this class is as disposable as assembly line workers. And I suspect they know this and need to be reassured that what they do is really creative and can’t be done by just anyone. Their worst fears are correct.
  3. 60 Minutes Distorts Disability: Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes produced a program that really made me angry, Disability, USA. It was about how all kinds of able body people were scamming the disability program and driving it bankrupt. This is not even one of my issues and I could see all kinds of things wrong with it. It was pure propaganda—the sort of thing that I would once have thought would just air on Fox News. The whole thing was revolving around Tom Coburn “investigation” of the program. But clearly, Coburn doesn’t want to save the program; this is just his effort to destroy it. FAIR published a thorough debunking of the story that I highly recommend reading, What Did 60 Minutes Get Wrong About Disability? The answer is, “Everything!” But let me just leave the subject with this: by making disability rules harsher, it means that more people who really do deserve it will be denied. There will always be abuse, but compared to other programs (both public and private), it has very little fraud. Since the episode, I have been unable to watch 60 Minutes. It really has become nothing but garbage.
  4. Let Pete Rose In: I was very pleased to see Harry Reid call for Pete Rose to be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have a huge soft spot for Rose. For one thing, he played the way people did before the age of home runs that is sadly with us still. And also, I like damaged people. But most of all, what the fuck does professional baseball think it is anyway? Monsters have played the game and monsters are in the Hall of Fame. As long as baseball has been professional, it has not been pure. And a bunch of billionaires standing up for community standards is beyond ridiculous; it is appalling. Pete Rose is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Let him in the fucking Hall of Fame!
  5. No Beaver Butt in Vanilla: I read recently that vanilla comes from castoreum, which beavers excrete from their anuses to mark territory. Despite having heard this, I could not bring myself to find the flavor of vanilla anything but wonderful. It turns out, however, castoreum is sometimes used as a vanilla substitute. Actually vanilla is made from vanillin which is extracted from vanilla beans. And given what we know about fake honey, you might want to choose some expensive organic vanilla the next time you need some.

That’s it for now, but I have a huge backlog, so I’m sure that more are coming soon!

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