Wednesday, July 31
Following up on Jason's post: While it's excellent that Ford decided not to build another generation of the Excursion SUV, Lincoln, another Ford company, is pushing their new Navigator
. Starting at $48,000, it's an easy replacement for the Excursion, but unfortunately only a hair better
in its green rating. You might have seen one of their new commercials showcasing the Navigator
with the tagline, "There are those who travel and those who travel well." I say they change their tagline to "There are those who pollute and those who pollute in luxury."
Victory! Ford has decided not to build another generation of the horrid Excursion SUV.
As a little eulogy, let's cite a few of the vehicle's best traits: 10 MPG, emits 130 tons of CO2 over its lifetime (compared to 23 for an average car), it's 7 feet tall, 19 feet long and at $45,000, a lousy seller. (NYT; username: opensewer; password: iswatching.)
We're probably not going to see the end of the SUV any time soon and in truth, to the extent that new models are created that do not harm the environment and do not present a threat to public safety (wishful thinking), let them be. That said, I do have hope for one thing: Perhaps the death of the most excessive SUV is a sign that the chasm between "what's good for the environment" and "what the market wants" will become narrower in the future. Every citizen of the world has to hope that in the very long run, what we want and what is good for us will become one in the same.
The kind people at the Columbia Journalism Review have done an excellent job compiling who owns what in the media
--what business interest controls your news. Take a look, you might be surprised.
Tuesday, July 30
Monday, July 29
This is a fairly trenchant prediction
of how the economy and the stock market might relate to one another after the effects of the current economic “bubble burst” dissipate. Let me add one thing: We'll see a return to business models that *always* work. That is, create a product or service, and then sell it for a price greater than the sum of production, distribution, marketing and overhead. It seems so simple…why is it recently so elusive to large corporations? Why is cooking the books so much more appealing? The reason seems pretty obvious: It has a lot to do with the Wall-Street-driven obsession with quarterly profits. Real life doesn't operate on a quarterly basis, but for some reason the stock market expects it to.
From the New York Times:
When studies last year showed that the share of the nation's children living in single-parent households had declined in the late 1990's, many welcomed the results as signs that the 1996 welfare overhaul was working.
But new research underscores a smaller, unwelcome trend: a rising share of children, particularly black children in cities, are turning up in no-parent households, left with relatives, friends or foster families without either their mother or their father. (Username: opensewer; password: iswatching.)
Doin' it for the kids, are we?
Just remember, if parties are outlawed, only outlaws will party.
Sunday, July 28
Nine miners alive
, eighty-three dead
in air show accident, and today someone will complain about the humidity. The wheels just keep turning.
Thursday, July 25
It's nice to see that the contemporary religious leaders
of the world are not finding themselves irrelevant:The perception of the child as a consumer is clearly more dominant than it was a few decades ago. A relatively innocuous example is the familiar 'tie-in,' the association of comics, sweets, toys, and so on with a new film or television serial; the Disney empire has developed this to an unprecedented pitch of professionalism.
And Welsch, too--my kind of guy.
What technological invention is credited with the summer blockbuster, the rise of Las Vegas and the demise of southern literature? Air conditioning
. (Real Audio link; here
is the Talk of the Nation program page.)
This little girl
is my hero. (NYT; user: opensewer; password: iswatching.)
Wednesday, July 24
Remember all those un-democratic hi-jinks that went on during the aftermath of our most recent presidential election? It's not just the State of Florida that produces un-equal representation in our government. Un-democratic features, like the Senate, are built right into our beloved national Constitution. Do you know how the Senators were originally chosen? Do you know who the electoral college is really beholden to? Maybe we need to look our sacred constitution more critically
Tuesday, July 23
Now this article
is a little bit interesting, don't you think?
A recent New York Times article reveals the following:
Hard as it may be to believe in these days of infectious greed and sabers unsheathed, scientists have discovered that the small, brave act of cooperating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generosity over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.
Can it really be true? Is there hope for us yet? Read all about it here (login: opensewer; password: iswatching).
Monday, July 22
Black Americans have made substantial progress in nearly every aspect of our culture over the years, but they still do not experience the same level of representation and opportunity that whites do
(National Urban League
). Even though it's very much reality, I still find the state of racial relations in our country amazing. I'm "white," and I feel ashamed sometimes that I don't have more black friends. If you're white, how many do you have? If you're black, same question? Of course this doesn't really matter (?), but it's an interesting signifier of how little blacks' and whites' spheres of influence cross--intentionally or unintentionally. I look to explanations like this
to make myself feel better, but they don't really satisfy me. What can be done, really? Is Hip-Hop
still our best hope of bridging this invisible gap--a gap that no one seems very interested in talking about right now?
under "cool." (NYT; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching.)
Sunday, July 21
We have a problem here at Opensewer HQ: we don't watch enough television to keep up on current trends in popular entertainment. So today, I was overjoyed when I learned (somewhat late) that this past spring, the wretched "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was dropped without fanfare from network prime-time because of sagging ratings. This is the kind of thing that makes us very happy. It was a stupid show that insulted our collective intelligence. We despised it, and proudly ridiculed it from the beginning. If you ever watched the show and enjoyed it, you should feel ashamed of yourself (boy, that was harsh, wasn't it?). When a piece of trash like this fades into obscurity, it makes us feel for a moment that there is hope for the American mind. But then, just when we think that the era of "that which is really bad will be called good" in popular entertainment is over, another misguided bomb stays off target and kills a large number of our unwitting mental civilians: Big Brother 3.
Friday, July 19
We flip out when we hear about people burning a live kitten on the grill
, but what about the other millions of animals who are mistreated every single day so that we can have fresh meat at the grocery store? Mark Morford writes about the mass hypocrisy in his latest Notes and Errata
Thursday, July 18
Keeping the waters safe for all men, but not animals
The more modern man ravages
nature, the more he reveres
it. (The paradox is best exemplified in America, of course, by the popularity of SUVs
Wednesday, July 17
Do you know what your neighbor is doing?
Do you care? Are you watching? If you're a good American, you'd best be watching and reporting any suspicious activity to the authorities
, before they report you.
“…the continued existence of the European City depends on allowing it to become ‘Americanised’.” Hmmm
Tuesday, July 16
Ahhh… the art of conversation. Is it lost? Margaret Wheatley at Utne claims all social change begins with a conversation
. I agree.
“… Many pre-industrial societies … [saw] time as a circle, not a straight line. From the Mayas to the Buddhists and the Hindus, time was circular and repetitive, history repeating itself endlessly, lives perhaps reliving themselves through reincarnation. … Linear time was a precondition for industrial views of evolution and progress. Linear time made evolution and progress plausible. For if time were circular instead of linelike, if events doubled back on themselves instead of moving in a single direction, it would mean that history repeated itself and that evolution and progress
were no more than illusions…” –Second in a series of outtakes from The Third Wave
by Alvin Toffler
Monday, July 15
Sometimes, you can be an American citizen and get your day in court, even after fighting against the U.S.
in a war. Other times, you can be an American citizen, be part of an alleged plot to maybe do something, and not get a trial
, but instead hang out in prison for an undetermined amount of time. Guess which one is white?
Friday, July 12
An interesting article on the war history of the United States and the limits of American supremacy. Author Immanuel Wallerstein claims the demise is captured in four symbolic events - the war in Vietnam, the revolutions of 1968, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the terrorist attacks of September 2001- each built upon the prior one, culminating in the situation in which the United States currently finds itself—a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global chaos it cannot control. A long article, a very interesting read
Thursday, July 11
New artist Kaite Ripple
sees the world as honestly as she can. She observes emotion and beauty, and captures it simply--without narrative, pretense or didacticism.
“Built on the factory model, mass education
taught basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, a bit of history and other subjects. This was the ‘overt curriculum.’ But beneath it lay an invisible or ‘covert curriculum’ that was far more basic. It consisted—and still does in most industrialized nations—of three courses: one in punctuality, one in obedience, and one in rote, repetitive work. Factory labor demanded workers who showed up on time
. … It demanded workers who would take orders from a management hierarchy without questioning.” --Alvin Toffler
Wednesday, July 10
Todays headline: United State Vice President Dick Cheney accused of accounting fraud
and overstating revenues by $445 million from 1999 through the end of 2001. Sounds very familiar to the Enron scandal that apparently the entire Bush administration was aware of
. If we reelect these people, something is very wrong.
Tuesday, July 9
Sunday's New York Times Magazine
hosted an incredible article about America's dietary vision (or lack thereof) titled, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" Did you see it? If not, read it here
. (NYTimes login: Opensewer/password: iswatching.) The article touches upon so many topics - the perils of fast food, an abundance of overweight kids in America, the Government's pushing of the Food Pyramid, and the criticism of AMA doctors to the Atkins' Diet
And here's a CNN interview in response to the Times article regarding the "skinny on good fats, the good carbs." Fast forward to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women and its abrupt halt due to a general concensus that the health risks outweigh the benefits, which doctors have argued for years.
What is the answer to all this? Who do we believe? One day something's good for you, the next day it's not.
Monday, July 8
Where have I been? A manned mission to Mars by 2015
? And the whole thing will only take 440 days. When you look at the planet’s surface
, it almost seems livable.
A Simpsons episode has "Marge reminding Homer that he loved the movie Rashomon, which elicits in Homer the rejoinder, "That’s not how I remember it."
Do you get that joke/reference? Maybe you do. Maybe you even get it without even having seen Rashomon
. It's the reference game, the frantic cannibalization that keeps pop culture alive. I'm not a serious student of pop phenomena, but here's a good article
that discusses what concerns me most with the popular arts (similar to this more alarmist article
I blogged some time ago).
Saturday, July 6
Well I never thought I’d see the day, but I’m linking to a USA Today
article. (The hotel
where we stayed last night provided the paper for free, which is the only way I’d take it.) Anyway, in it there was a nice article about management sage Peter Drucker’s take on the recent corporate scandals
. This man has seen the boom-bust cycle in our economy no less than four times in his lifetime. A nice quote: “As to ‘ethical problems’ in business, I have made myself tremendously unpopular by saying, again and again, that there is no such thing as ‘business ethics,’ there is only ethics.”
Wednesday, July 3
Predatory Lending is one of my favorite topics. The last time I commented on the issue was back in December '01
, so I think it's time for an update. Take a look at the rowdy activist group ACORN
, who have placed Predatory Lending at the top of their hit list and are engaged in some wonderfully obnoxious protest-antics. (That's three links to Alternet in one day...good stuff!)
A follow-up to my post on Saturday
about school vouchers: ...dollars for vouchers subsidize religious schools, leave the poorest of poor students behind in even poorer and more racially isolated schools which further perpetuate the cycle of educational neglect, and are a scheme by conservatives to torpedo public education.
Across the nation, tonight and tomorrow night, millions of people will watch thousands of fireworks displays. Every year, after the fireworks are over, and the sky is filled with smoke, I always wonder why I continue to come out every year and watch. Of course, people have been setting off fireworks during celebratory events for more than a thousand years. Traditions like that are hard to break. But how often do we consider the environmental repercussions of all these exploding chemicals? Don't we have enough pollution to worry about? AlterNet reporter Gar Smith is asking these same questions: Is 15 minutes of pyrotechnic entertainment worth poisoning the earth?
Tuesday, July 2
Ouch. A very interesting
article about the U.S.'s penchant for flexing its muscles.
to start your morning.
Monday, July 1
This story on Living On Earth
made me feel a bit more hopeful - Ecovillage
. It's about a community in the middle of L.A. who have "turned a forty-unit apartment building in LA into a place where neighbors plant vegetables together, create and install solar panels, agree not to own cars, and even use odorless composting toilets." The community is even the focus of international tourists.
Money follows the mongrel. ... The adept handling of diversity is the secret of economic competitiveness and national vitality.
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