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Alterna comics from Fringe finale [21 May 2010|12:04pm]
http://www.fox.com/fringe/photos/#extras/otherside

i thought this was pretty cool of them - the only one i really noticed during the episode was the green lantern/green arrow issue that was about red lantern/red arrow - but the giffen/dematis-era JL cover and the superman-instead-of-supergirl crisis cover, along with The Man of Steel Returns were great, too. [doesn't really look like giffen's art style, tho, does it? or at least not his usual inker/colorist - and the coloring is WAY too computerized for that era... although i guess the alterna-world does have a technological advantage over us, so maybe they got computer coloring a decade or two earlier.

the crisis cover looks spot on tho, doesn't it?]
 
i don't really get the significance of the black batman cover, though - is it supposed to be a refence to the doomsday-kills-superman issue or something? seems like they could have chosen something a little more iconic... plus - would alterna-peter have been around for that? i was operating on the assumption walter had kidnapped him a lot earlier than that, which took place during the 90's - the rest of the covers seem to be in the mid-late 80's. so something with the flash - in a green costume?! - might have been more appropriate, considering all the shakeups that book was going through, with the transition from barry allen to wally west.
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awesome-sauce poured over a steaming heap of cuh-razy [17 Mar 2010|02:35pm]

http://www.jayweidner.com/ShiningSecrets.html
- you gotta check this site out.
 
this guy is fucking nuts but he makes an incredibly inventive case - hell, he makes a series of cases! - to support his central thesis: that stanley kubrick was involved in faking the televised moon landings while he was working on 2001 and altered the story behind stephen king's The Shining while making that film in an attempt to atone for his part in the moon-landing conspiracy.
 
it's crazy, goofball bullshit... but this dude makes the film his bitch in coming up with symbols and interpretations to support his thesis. and, to be clear: it appears he doesn't believe we've never gone to the moon - he just believes we went to the moon using flying saucers built by the nazis and it wasn't photogenic enough, which required the gubmint to hire kubrick to sex up the images; these kind of distinctions are important.

now, if this was just some guy, handing in a smart-assed college paper for a critical theory class where he was trying to take the piss out of one sort of criticism or another, it'd be one of the best and most subversively entertaining things i'd ever read.
 
it still is, kinda, but that's leavened with the knowledge the dude seems to really believe the moon-landing was faked, which is just sad.
 
but, really: awesome job, weird dude on the internet. i'm completely serious in my admiration, too - this completely spanks the last critical paper i read about the film, and i actually liked that one. the part about the lift-off of apollo 11 in the form of the sweater young danny torrance is wearing as he stands up from the carpet is, no joke, fucking brilliant.
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the goatwhore plot thickens; or, more in censorship news [04 Mar 2010|12:31pm]
so today i checked on the status of my library holds again - i was actually doing it in a work-related capacity, since i've been waiting for about two weeks now for the VHS copy of the 1960s film version of our book club selection, Black Like Me, to come in - several of our participants have expressed a keen enthusiasm to see the film and i have to admit i'm kind of curious myself: but, to date, no luck.
 
but i also couldn't help checking on the status of the goatwhore album i've been waiting for and, after my recent conversation with one of the librarians, i was somewhat surprised to learn that - after having been in circulation, or at least being renewed on a regular basis for approximately three months or more, the item is now listed as: "No Item Information."

this is interesting for several reasons. first of all, the item was clearly in circulation or, at least, being regularly renewed, as of three days ago - which is when i was told a library staffer would be "looking into this"... and now there's no item information? that can't possibly be coincidence, can it? someone asks some questions about an item and, huh, there's suddenly a change in it's status?
 
well, sure: if it was a perfectly innocent situation, like the disk being lost and the patron constantly asking for a renewal so they can just have a few more days to check under the couch cushions again. that might result in someone from the library checking up on the story and finally deciding, yeah, you lost it and you're gonna have to pay the fine and we're gonna have to change the records to reflect this as being unavailable.
 
but that isn't what happened. listing something under a heading like "no item information" isn't the same as saying the item is "missing" or "lost" or "we don't know where the fuck it is" - if the item is missing, lost, damaged or otherwise unavailable AND is a regularly enough requested/circulated item, then there's a decision made as whether to replace the item or not. [i know this from having worked at a library in college and having used them all my life, but it was also confirmed by the librarian i talked with today.]

and, yeah: an item with multiple hold requests and a history of sustained circulation would get replaced - that's criteria this item fulfills, as evidence by the fact it's been both requested by me [and two others] AND unavailable for our use for more than three months now. if it had been sitting unused on the shelf for months and was suddenly unavailable, it'd be a much more difficult case to make that enough people wanted it to justify a repurchase.
 
but a listing like "no item information" is  a lot more nebulous - ordinarily, that status wouldn't trigger any sort of review; it's a grey area and it wouldn't be flagged for replacement consideration since it might, as a friend suggested, just be misfiled or shelved wrong or perhaps never even purchased in the first place - that clearly isn't the case here, since the library has a record of circulation up to three days ago. but now the same item has the sort of ambiguous classification that allows things to go unremarked upon...
 
unless someone makes persistent inquiries, of course.
 
"There's something strange about this," the librarian i spoke with told me today. "It's a mystery - I'll have to check into this."
 
while she couldn't say for sure, she did tell me it -appeared- as if someone at a different library had entered this classification, which is apparently a fairly significant red-flag: you might report another library's items as lost or damaged or stolen but it's the responsibility of the home collection to enter that status into the system... and that doesn't appear to have been the case in this instance.
 
again, not to be a crazy conspiracy kook, but it almost seems as if someone at a different library became aware of something this offensive being available and got hold of it and took it upon themselves to not only remove it from circulation but do their best to make it appear as if the item was no longer available - unfortunately for them, they didn't have the access privileges necessary to completely delete the records from the system.
 
i'm not going to go so far as to say i hope someone gets fired over this but part of me thinks that a justifiable punishment - this is censorship, dammit. should an item as potentially offensive as an album by a band named GOATWHORE be not only freely available but supported with public dollars?

i'd argue yes, that a democratic majority doesn't have license to silence unpopular or divisive opinions, attitude or art. we can reasonably disagree whether the library should have ever purchased the item in the first place, because i'll agree the public isn't obligated to support unpopular opinions... but once the item entered the collection [and it may have been donated, i don't know how or why the album became library property] it should be freely available to anyone who wants access to it.
 
because what's the alternative? i don't agree with anything sarah palin has to say, for example, so does that give me a moral right to steal all the copies of her book from any library in the land and destroy them so no one else can be poisoned by her idiotic ideas? why stop there? i should probably keep them out of book stores, too, since people probably shouldn't be allowed to buy those books anymore than people should be able to check them out for free. but, you know, sarah palin herself is just gonna keep spouting her nonsense, so i should probably do something to silence her - right?
 
of course not - but that's just the sort of slippery slope this asshole started strolling down with the goatwhore album. "i don't like this" or "i don't think people should be able to listen to this" was almost certainly at work* here and i think allowing or condoning or failing to punish that sort of behavior - especially among the librarians we trust to safeguard these materials in the first place - is not only troubling but, ultimately, a danger to freedom and our security as a people.
 
*i'm not omniscient and there could be a dozen perfectly innocent explanations for this - maybe it is lost or maybe it was accidentally damaged. i don't think that's the most likely possibility, but that probably has to do with my relatively pessimistic attitude about some things, censorship obviously being one of those.
 
a simpler question: doesn't this bother anyone else?
6 comments|post comment

thugs [04 Mar 2010|09:29am]
http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=ap-coach-newspaperflap&prov=ap&type=lgns
 
what i can't understand is why no one - especially the fuckin' journalism major quoted in the story - is using the word "censorship" to describe these actions. it's so obvious to me.
 
and if it was one asshole student, i'd be a lot less upset. but when the coach describes it as the greatest team-building exercise he's ever seen, that's nothing more than organized and officially-sanctioned thuggery. at the very least, it's a form of intimidation but i'd go so far as to say it's not just censorship but an outright attack on the freedom of everyone in that community. "we don't like what you have to say, so we're going to prevent you from saying it." if i was a more hyperbolic person, i'd compare it to murder.
 
as far as i'm concerned, this coach should be fired and any players with scholarships should lose them. i realize there's absolutely no chance of this happening [especially in a state like texas, where football is basically another religion] but this is an outrage and the administration's protests otherwise are a complete sham.
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GOATWHORE! [01 Mar 2010|12:58pm]
so there's this metal band called, no shit, Goatwhore and it turns out the local library system actually has one of their albums - i like metal, i love using the library, it's a no-brainer, right?

which is why i've had this CD, "a haunting curse" on hold since late november and, since at least the early weeks of january, been ranked as first in the hold que on the library system. and yet the item, which is usually only checked out for 2-3 weeks at a time, continued to be listed as checked out. i would check to see if the item was available, see that it was checked out, verify my place in the hold que and then wait until the item was supposed to be returned... but, even though i kept moving up through the hold que - and it wasn't a huge list anyhow - the disk was always checked out to someone else. at first i thought i was just misremembering dates or something but the last time this happened [or i thought it did] i wrote the due date down of 2/20/2010 [and i also put another hold request in, just on the off chance my first request had somehow gotten gliched up in the computer.]
 
well, all last week, the computer card catalog continued to show the CD was still checked out... but the item was listed as overdue and the current due date was still 2/20/2010 - so i just figured whoever had the item had simply not returned it on time and would be racking up the 10 cent a day or whatever in fines, thereby providing them incentive to return the item to circulation and, ultimately, render it on to me for what i can only imagine is some truly hellacious rocking out.
 
well, then today i visit the site one more and it's now checked out until 3/27/2010. first of all, most CDs in the system aren't checked out for a full month at a time, so that's weird. second of all, i've got the damn thing on hold, so what the fuck?! i decide to call the library from whose collection the disk originates and got to talk to a nice lady named Paula, who clicked a couple keys on her computer and told me that someone has been renewing the item in gross violation of the computer prompts that tell anyone using the system "Cannot renew - item on hold" - unfortunately, the system also follows that prompt with a question asking whether or not you want to over-ride that denial, which librarians have the power to do. so, clearly, someone has been flouting the rules of the library and paula told me she'd talk to her supervisor about this and see if they couldn't get the matter settled.
 
because, reading between the lines, i got the impression one of two things was most likely taking place: one, some headbanging stoner checked the disk out, lost it and has been getting a buddy or his mom or whoever he knows at the library to keep checking it out to him until he can find it and drop the now scratched, muddy and probably useless disk back in the return bin - and that's the charitable assumption.
 
because my other guess, and the one i'm starting to give more credence to, is that someone on the staff took objection to the library spending tax-payer money on something by someone named GOATWHORE and has been preventing the item from circulating to the general public. paula didn't say anything to support this, and i wasn't so crass as to ask directly, but there was a little "ahhhh-ha" in her voice as she was checking the computer that made me wonder if, maybe, this kind of thing hadn't happened once or twice in the past with some other material someone - maybe the same someone - found objectionable; the fact she mentioned taking it up with her supervisor made this supposition on my part all the stronger.
 
 i may be patting myself on the back after reading too many comic books but i honestly think i may have just struck a blow for freedom and democracy against the vile scourge of censorship and intolerance, and that makes me feel pretty good about myself.
 
especially since my boss picked today to tell me how much she really liked my ex-wife, which lead to a fairly awkward conversation that had me reliving a bunch of my failures as a person over the last year or so. i don't think my boss was being malicious but it didn't make the conversation any more enjoyable. plus, i just noticed there's a small blob of candle wax on my tie - fuckin' A... superheroes shouldn't have to deal with shit like this.
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news to make you nauseous [23 Feb 2010|09:51am]
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/ed_garvey/article_1b7a454a-fc81-5435-84bb-a1c2322906fc.html
 
it's been a long time since i linked to a news story and i doubt anyone else gets as outraged about this kind of stuff as i do but this just astonished me - the blatant assholery and hubris in evidence here is just mind-boggling. if someone wrote this in a book or a movie, i'd dismiss it as too overly broad and satirical - i would be thinking: "Oh, c'mon - no one could possibly think they'd get away with something that outrageous!"
 
and, apparently, i'd be wrong.
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mommas, don't your babied grow up to drink Code Red Mountain Dew [24 Oct 2009|11:43am]
the most hyped up, annoying little shit is sitting two monitors down from me at the library right now, talking to himself while he clicks on some stupid internet videogame site. he's not even sitting in his chair, because that would probably interfere with all the dancing from side-to-side and manic gum-chewing and nonsense scat singing he's murmuring under his breath "nanaBOObookaboo...dingadingaDAH...koomakooey-wahma-flickyfluuuUUUU." for some goddamned reason he's got a small pile of change laying in front of his monitor, which he's alternating between nervously stacking and then flicking over with his pinkie. "errrhn-non-non-non-non-NON!NON!NON...chickachickachicka-wooo...burnaBAHbahhhhaboom."
 
next to his mouse? a 24oz. bottle of Code Red, 11/12ths of which is already burning through his system. i would have said something to the mom except for A] it looked like she was already at her wit's end with the little bastard B] she was making a half-hearted effort to tone his ass down and C] she had that wasted, dried up meth addict look herself, which makes me wonder if this kid doesn't have a hell of a hard road ahead of him.
 
still, it's annoying and constantly a mystery to me, how no one in the ohio valley has apparently ever heard of "library manners" - that can't possible just be a wisconsin-thing, can it?
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i'm amused but can't explain why [23 Oct 2009|05:42pm]
does anyone else understand why i found this so hilarious? it's a comment from a story on the AVClub about how Harlan Ellison recently settled a lawsuit about the Star Trek script he wrote about 30 years ago... more to the point, can anyone help me EXPLAIN why this is so genius? i can look at this and quite literally giggle at the pure genius of the non sequitur but i'll be damned if i could actually describe why anyone other than a total nerd would find it the least bit amusing, let alone comprehensible.
 
Subject line: Buy' ngop!

by wIgh

on 23 Oct. 2009 | 1:45 PM CDT

"Ellison qotlh thloy Paramount 'Iw."
 
reply by Charles Dexter Ward

on 23 Oct. 2009 | 3:28 PM CDT

"In Paramount Studios dead Ellison lies dreaming?"
 
It's really only when i get to the second, Lovecraftian response that i really crack up but even the initial comment is enough to provide me with a pleasant rush of nerd-identification endorphins...
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chicago in the news, this time [07 Oct 2009|10:23am]

read this and then, if you like, do something about it: http://www.dailyherald.com/story/comments/?id=325508

couple of things:
 
a lot of the commentary about this story has been sidetracked with broadsides against the values of conservatives and republicans and whatnot.

whether you're a republican or not, most of the people taking an interest in this story did so because they have some degree of belief in the public library system - as uncharacteristic as this might seem for me, i think that might be important to remember.

that said, this lawyer may or not be a republican but he has made donations to republican causes: such as this listing, from http://www.city-data.com/elec/elec-OAK-BROOK-IL.html:

"Xinos, Constantine Mr. (Self-Employed/Attorney), (Zip code: 60523) $200 to REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE on 09/13/04"
 
i found that while looking for the information needed to make a complaint about this lawyer. that information, again, is from the ARDC website:
 
What Kinds of Information Should I Put in My Request for an Investigation?

A request should include all important information that relates to your request. If possible, it should be typewritten or printed to be sure that it is legible. The request should include:

- Your name, address and telephone number;
- the name, address and telephone number of the attorney whom you want us to investigate (include the lawyer's full name, as well as the law firm name);
- Any court case names and numbers;
- A description of what the lawyer did or did not do that may have been improper; and
- Any supporting documents that you have, such as letters, agreements, or other documents involved.

i can't fill out your name, address or telephone number but...
Lawyer: Constantine Xinos, 134 N. Lasalle Street Suite 444 of Chicago, IL 60602, 312-263-6167
- there does not appear to be a court case... yet
- I'm not a lawyer but a description of what the lawyer did might include his failure to live up to the "general standards of conduct" someone mentioned the bar expects their lawyers to follow.
according to the ARDC website "In most cases, we will initiate an investigation where the information you provide us suggests that the attorney engaged in illegal, dishonest or unethical conduct. Filing a request accusing an attorney of unethical conduct is a serious matter to the lawyer." again, i'm not a lawyer - but it seems, at least, "unethical" to me.
- good supporting documents might be the sort of news articles that are currently being published and forwarded about this jackass


any complaints - and i plan to file one - can be submitted to:
 
the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission
One Prudential Plaza
130 East Randolph Drive, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60601-6219
(312) 565-2600     (800) 826-8625
Fax: (312) 565-2320

 

address and telephone information found at: http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/60602-il-constantine-xinos-1093867.html
 

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i have a question [15 Sep 2009|03:29pm]
i'm looking for a story i read as a kid: from what I can remember, this story would have involved a reporter and was told from the perspective of a listener on the other end of a phone or walkie-talkie or radio, listening as the reporter stayed overnight in a haunted house and who wound up being stalked by some squelching, swampy horror.

I think it may have been in one of those young adult anthologies, like the Alfred Hitchcock collections but i can't remember anything more specific than this... except that i remember the story scaring the hell out of me as a little kid.
 
why am i looking for this story? well, part of my newish job involves doing some direct programing with our clients and the first way i'm doing that is by organizing a book reading club and, with halloween coming up next month, i thought a ghost story or two might be fun. i don't know if this story i'm looking for is in the public domain or how i'd present it to the group even if it is but i'm considering printing off a small pamphlet of public domain stories like The Black Cat, The Monkey's Paw and The Statement of Randolph Carter if i can figure out a way to do that without ruining the copier budget for the month...
 
i've also been meaning to ask this question: does anyone know where i could go to get 15+ copies of the same book for this reading club? we don't really have any money to spend on this right now, but when i think of how many thousands of copies of books like DUNE or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or even pretty much any stephen king or dan brown book are probably laying around in second hand shops and library used book sales waiting to be sold for 25 cents a copy... well, it seems like it shouldn't be as hard as it has been to get our hands on multiple copies of books that have sold millions of editions. right?
 
unfortunately, i have no real idea how to go about doing this, short of just spending all my pocket change on books i like and hoping i eventually find enough copies of them to pass out to the group. [DUNE, seriously, i've probably picked up at least 10 copies over the years - only problem is, i've bookcrossed a bunch and the rest are all in storage. but i just found a copy at gen-con a couple weeks ago, just laying on top of a trash bin! i've been reading it on and off ever since...]
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i got nothing [12 Sep 2009|12:52pm]
except to say that mineolas are back in season and i love it - easy to peel, not a lot of "gristle" or pulp and sweet. i keep reminding myself to see if the local produce stand has any honey crisp's in stock yet - maybe today's the day i'll stop by and see.
 
oh, and for some reason i decided to adopt the cat some friends of mine rescued last year; i don't know what the hell i was thinking.
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this sucks [25 Aug 2009|11:21am]
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877155,00.html
 
i honestly thought the title of the story was a joke or some rhetorical argument but, nope, it's apparently a genuine legal question.
 
will someone tell my why religion is worth all the trouble it causes? yes, i'm being reductionist and over-simplifying something a lot of people find solace in but... i honestly don't understand. i'm not trying to insult anyone's beliefs - i really want to know.
3 comments|post comment

things i heard in pittsburgh this week [22 Aug 2009|12:14pm]

i attended a grantwriting seminar or class or whatever you call it in pittsburgh this week. driving anywhere in pittsburgh is a nightmare and it basically has solidified my growing conviction that i'm just not a "big city" kind of guy.
 
driving in any big city [and i consider places the size of madison or greater as big cities] can always be troublesome but, in pittsburgh's case, this congestion is magnified by the fact that all the ways into or out of the city involve crossing a couple of bridges that, frankly, are simply not up to the task of serving the sheer numbers of people involved. the only day of the week that didn't take me an hour or more to leave the city was friday, when we were finished by 1 p.m. - and it took me 15 minutes to go from downtown to the airport Half-Price Books, a journey approximately four times the length of my previous end-of-day commute to my crappy, crappy hotel [which was paid for by my employer, so i don't know why i'm complaining...] which means that i accomplished the same task in something like, what, a sixteenth of the time? [four times the distance in one fourth the amount of time?] 

i'm not a mathematician, but a tiny fraction of the time, at any rate.
 
anyhow, hear are some of the things that the 16 other strangers [two of my classmates knew each other previously] said to me at one point or another during the week:
 
"Do you mind if I ask how old you are?" [i actually got that one twice.]

"It didn't occur to me until right now but... you wear your hair in a mohawk when you're not in the office, don't you?"
 
and, "I really like your outfits - they're so snazzy!" [i wore a suit once and a tie every day except the last, when i did wear a sport coat. the only other guy to show up in a tie stopped wearing one after lunch of the first day.]
 
the other thing that bugged me about pittsburgh, besides the traffic congestion and the high cost-of-living and the frankly preposterous amount by which they tax beer and alcohol [a twelve pack of Red Strip -on sale!- was, no shit, 20 bucks... a six-pack at the grocery store was not quite seven bucks last night here in WV - and this 20 bucks in pitt was the SALE PRICE, remember! and that was a bargain compared to what they wanted for shit like Coors [$23 for 12] or some exotic microbrews [one 12 pack was, seriously, $119.  yeah - roughly ten bucks A BOTTLE, for a beer. i didn't run from the store gibbering in fear but it was close...] - no, my biggest complaint is that the brewers were playing the pirates for a three-night stretch in pittsburgh... and i couldn't find the game on television or even the fuckin' radio. what the hell?! yeah, i know the team's record sucks [although they somehow managed to sweep the damn brewers...] and everyone in town is still busy swaggering around about their latest super bowl win but to not even broadcast the games on local tv?

this is why no one cares about baseball anymore, bud selig!
 
and, yeah, with traffic and parking the hassles they were, i didn't even bother considering actually attending a game after about twenty minutes of my first night's ride to the hotel - by the time i checked in, i just wanted to lay on the bed and grit my teeth for a while. and then i found a dumb movie on cable when i couldn't find the game, so i watched that. no, i don't remember what the movie was - it was dumb.

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hear, hear! [18 Aug 2009|10:00pm]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090819/ap_on_an/us_health_care_overhaul_analysis

 here's the line i found most indicitive of my feelings - and, by "feelings" i mean my utter astonishment at the lack of backbone the democrats have been demonstrating since about february:

"Liberal activists say there's no point in the Democrats winning the House, Senate and White House unless they use their clout to enact the major measures that Obama campaigned for — with or without some Republican support."

in other news, i got to help kill a dragon during gen-con this past weekend. i've been playing D&D for something like 21 years or so and that's a first for me, so i was pretty stoked.
 
not as stoked as i would be by some real New Deal progressive initiatives, but still...
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wow. and scary-wow, not good-wow... [13 Aug 2009|10:52am]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090813/pl_politico/26078
 
this would almost be funny, if i didn't see more than one person driving around with their McCain/Palin bumper stickers modified to now read simply "Palin" - somehow, this lunatic actually appeals to people.
 
this woman is scary. i'm starting to wonder if she isn't more dangerous than george w. bush was...
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why don't more people get angry about this stuff? [12 Aug 2009|10:21am]

I read this at work today and it made me feeling like getting on a plane, tracking this guy down and punching him in the face - what a bunch of self-serving bullshit! John Carney - you suck.

[The editorializing comments in brackets are mine; I'm kinda surprised I'm not just inarticulate with rage, given how I feel... I guess there really is something to the idea that laughter is the best medicine.]

Nope, Shareholders Shouldn't Be More Involved with Executive Pay
by John Carney

From The Business Insider, Aug. 11, 2009:

Getting shareholders more involved in compensation arrangements is a big goal of corporate governance reform types. ["The gub'mint is gonna get you - watch out!"] In fact, the failure of proposals now before Congress to get shareholders more involved forms the core of objections coming from people like New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson. ["I'm not the only person whining about this - look, over there! She's complaining, too!"] But whatever the problems might be with Congress assigning bureaucrats to evaluate pay, they pale in comparison with attempts to get shareholders more involved. ["Congress has more important things to worry about than how much a bunch of rich fuckers get paid, right?"]

Despite what many think, few shareholders have a subjective interest in executive compensation at the companies whose shares they own, except during extreme cases of corporate failure or truly shocking pay packages. ["It's none of  your business - shut up shut up shut up!"] One sign of this is that when given the opportunity, shareholders rarely act to reduce pay or enact rules that would give them a 'say on pay.' ["We've been getting away with this shit for so long, why should we stop now?"]

Why don't shareholders care more? Shareholder apathy is completely rational because diversified shareholders lack an incentive to become overly familiar with the operations of individual companies. ["It makes sense that you don't spend more time thinking about how bad we're raping you, since it would just piss you off and make you miserable."] They own a diversified portfolio of investments, so their interest lies in a prosperous economy and a rising stock market rather than the governance of individual corporations. They rationally care about the big picture rather than the compensation of individual executives. ["See? It's better for YOU if -I- make millions of dollars more than you! And you should also be upset about shit like the estate tax, which will never effect most of you - go worry about that, willya?"]

This means that shareholders would likely do a poor job of evaluating pay packages. ["They would howl bloody murder if they knew how much we got paid."] They lack the knowledge of the market for executives, and don't have a reliable metric for recognizing compensation practices that encourage overly risky actions. ["Nobody understands how hard it is, earning millions and millions of dollars a year! It is tough, man."] This ignorance applies to both individual shareholders and institutional shareholders. ["We don't want our employeers to know how much the boss makes, either - it tends to have a demoralizing effect on morale."] Individuals are too busy with the rest of their lives to become better informed, and instituions are specialists at portfolio management rather than corporate governance or executive pay. ["Nobody appreciates us - woe is me, the poor little rich man..."]

What's worse, ignorant and apathetic shareholders will not actually control the debate on executive pay. Instead, the debate will be dominated by committed special interests. ["And special interests are only good when they're OUR special interests, dammit!"] The rational ignorance and apathy of ordinary investors produces the entirely predictable effect of rendering them vulnerable to special interest exploitation. ["You guys are dumb and lazy and that's why we're better than you."] Agency costs of self-serving managers are a now familiar example of this. ["Even I don't understand what I'm trying to say here... Bwhu?"] And because of our long-standing familiarity with managerial agency costs, we’ve developed various corporate structures, reward incentives and legal frameworks aimed at better aligning investors and managers. ["We know how important our job is, so why don't you let us decide how much we should be paid for it, okay?"]

Less familiar—and therefore more dangerous—is exploitation by groups of shareholders who have interests that diverge from ordinary shareholders. ["There are people out there who -gasp!- don't want us to be rich; they'll screw everything up!"] Investors lack experience in fending off the self-serving activities of these groups, and there are few legal constraints on their activities. ["Democracy is dangerous."]

Labor unions are the primary example of these would-be exploitative special interest groups. Through their pension funds, labor unions are empowered with enormous financial leverage over companies even now. ["No stupid, grubby manual laborer is going to tell someone of my breeding how I should be compensated for spending their money... Why, the very idea is an outrage!"] Any proposal getting shareholders more involved in executive pay would have the unintended consequence of allowing unions to tie their labor negotiations to proposals for executive pay. ["Just because we make money doesn't mean our employees should make money - what're you, crazy?"] The predictable result of this would be a transfer of wealth away from ordinary investors, as union leaders and executives cut self-serving deals with each other. ["Uh, socialism or something-something... Haven't you gone away yet?"]

This isn't to say that nothing can or should be done about executive pay. ["Pay attention to what I just said - NOTHING CAN OR SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT EXECUTIVE PAY. Subtle, wasn't it? If you're as stupid as we think you are, you just got one hell of a subliminal message."] But it would be far better to take small steps, at the level of the states or individual corporations, than pass nationwide mandates that will be hard to reverse and whose costs will be hard to detect. ["I want it to sound like we're willing to do as little as possible to deal with this, but couch it in a way that makes us sound noble and reasonable - that kind of shit goes over big all the time. These fuckers are too stupid to know any better..."]
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i guess it isn't just wisconsin in the news [31 Jul 2009|04:13pm]
http://theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/526653.html?nav=515  for the [poorly written] local perspective
 
and

http://omg.yahoo.com/news/police-in-parker-broderick-case-arraigned-in-ohio/25882?nc for the more sensational national take

i'd heard about the birth and the celebrities appearance locally a couple weeks ago, when one of the local rags ran a profile on one of the cops who served as part of the security detail for the couple when they showed up for the birth - it wasn't a very well-written piece and concerned something that'd taken place weeks earlier, so i didn't really consider it all that newsworthy or even interesting.
 
when i clicked on the yahoo news story, i didn't have any idea it would be related to this event. to put this all in perspective, i bicycle past these communities whenever i take the bike path that runs along the ohio river. so, i suppose, that in some sense i had a ringside seat to all this and was completely unaware of it until this afternoon.

how refreshing!
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informative and, at the end, a little sad [16 Jul 2009|04:35pm]
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/dining/15gyro.html?em
 
i've always found these tasty, even when i was attempting a vegetarian diet, so this article caught my eye. informative, as it seems to give the definitive answer regarding pronunciation [the times ain't the paper of record for nothin, right?] and humorous, what with the improbably named john garlic and even a little sad, in that the guy's widow wound up waiting tables after they had a hand in the development of a million-dollar idea... all in all, a fun article.
 
and frustrating, too, since i wish i could actually get a good gyro around here some place, dammit. enjoy one for me if you've got a chance.
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epiphany while on hold [13 Jul 2009|12:12pm]
i'm not really sure this is an epiphany but i'm enchanted with a particular brand of pen right now - the marathon zebra gel pen, with a medium .07 tip.
 
wow, is this a nice pen - it's got a wider gauge barrel than a lot of other pens, so it feels more substantial and more comfortable to grip. the ink, like many gel pens, has a nice uniform flow and a vibrant, dark line. we have them here at work in blue, which is an added bonus for me, since it's my favorite color.

why am i writing about this? because i've had to call three different phone numbers so far [and am not done yet... since i just found out i'm going to have to call back, tomorrow, when the only manager who can address my concerns will be available] in order to rent a hotel room for a conference in pittsburgh i'm supposed to attend next month. for a variety of reasons, i can't just use expedia and my own credit card to book a room - which would take about three minutes - so i find myself on hold, again. and since i'm taking notes on all the different rates and booking agents names and hotel codes i'm going to need to refer to, i'm using this pen.
 
which i really like. and, rather than get upset over the amount of time and effort it's taking me to accomplish such a simple task, i've decided to channel my energies into something positive: like focusing on just how much i really like the pen i'm using.
 
and who knows? maybe, if you like using pens, you'll be able to take my endorsement of the marathon zebra pen and get some enjoyment out of one, yourself.

failing that, maybe reading this will somehow amuse you in some small way.
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wisconsin in the news once more [11 Jul 2009|11:27am]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090710/ap_on_re_us/us_upside_down_flag

it's possible you could read that story and shrug, asking what's the big deal? it's not like they hauled the guy off to jail or beat him up or even chopped down his flag pole - right? you could argue the authorities were simply answering the complaints of the wider community and proactively decided that, on a patriotic holiday, maybe they'd defuse a situation to prevent anyone from taking matters over the line.
 
which is, i'm sorry, fuckin' bullshit.
 
where is the law that says you have a right not to be offended by someone else's opinion? this guy is trying to express his dissatisfaction with the way he's being treated by the government - now, you can argue that maybe he should have secured a liquor license before spending $200,000 renovating a business where a liquor license was going to be an integral component of his success plan. you can even argue about whether or not flying the flag upside down is "disrespectful" or "offensive" - and those answer are probably going to be pretty unique to each individual, but you can certainly have that argument if you want.
 
i don't know this guy. he could very well be a complete dickhead, acting out because he's not getting his way... and the fact the local government doesn't want to grant him this liquor license, well, you could read that as them acting in the best interests of the public. [you could also read it as just another example of small-town politics and an example of what is essentially the corruptive power of governance, shaking down the little guy for bribes and extortion... i'm not sure i want to get into all that.]
 
but i'd like to know who is actually going to argue it's okay for four public employees, who carry a badge AND A GUN, to show up and just take personal property they or their bosses find offensive - because those badges and those guns carry an implicit statement of force. they're a bullying tactic, just as sending four guys to do something it would only take one person to accomplish. and what's with this "It's none of your business" shit, when someone asks them what the hell it is they're doing? these are public employees, not kings with some divine right of power. and where does this DA get off ordering an action like that, in the first place? "It's illegal to cause a disruption"? what the fuck is that? if it's so fuckin' illegal, why didn't they haul this guy off to jail or cite him, instead of just marching in with guns and badges, and doing whatever the hell they felt like? obviously, it's because they knew their bullshit arguments like "It's illegal to cause a disruption" wouldn't hold up for shit in the court of law, and so they just decided to do whatever the hell they wanted with their guns and their badges to keep anyone from stepping out of line.

why is a goddamned parade so important that we lose sight of the ideals this country is supposed to stand for? so little kids won't ask questions that have difficult answers? is this country so fuckin' afraid of having a discussion that we'd rather just have guys with guns acting as a thought-police to stifle any dissent the majority finds objectionable?
 
if this story had taken place last year, i'm not sure i would have been as upset - for whatever reason, this is just the kind of thing i got used to hearing about under the george w. bush version of this country. the bastards lied and cheated and stole their way into office, and there were certainly plenty of instances of them trampling on free speech [not to mention human rights] to really cause me much amazement.

but that era is supposed to be over. and this is taking place in wisconsin, which isn't supposed to be a piece of shit ignorant red state. so what the hell is wrong with this country? doesn't this kind of shit make you mad? am i just crazy? what the fuck!
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