Thoughts on the president’s immigration speech?

Well, I’ve been fighting serious problems with my laptop for the past hour (including one appearance of the dreaded blue screen!), so I’m not going to say as much about this as I would otherwise. Bottom line, I thought the president argued his case ably. And I think that logically, the onus is on the members of Congress who will criticize him for acting: If they want a different approach, pass a bill. You’ve got a perfectly good one sitting in front of you, House members. Just take a vote. The president wants you to. I want you to. Most Americans want you to. But because a very angry, vocal minority don’t want you to, you don’t. And that’s no excuse. I couldn’t find an embed code for the speech, but it’s contained in the Tweet embedded above, in case you missed it. It’s not very long. Here’s the full text. Below are my Tweets from during and right after the speech. Below that is a video reaction from Lindsey Graham. I was not favorably impressed. He knows the problem. He says “the broken immigration system” three times. He doesn’t explain why the president is wrong to try to fix it, and he in no way backs up his statement that the president  “has done great damage to our nation” by making the attempt. But anyway, here are the Tweets:

This morning’s CRBR legislative panel

Sen. Joel Lourie, Rep. Nathan Ballentine, Rep. Beth Bernstein, and Otis Rawl of the state Chamber.

Sen. Joel Lourie, Rep. Nathan Ballentine, Rep. Beth Bernstein, and Otis Rawl of the state Chamber.

I went to this morning’s “Legislative Lowdown” breakfast sponsored by the Columbia Regional Business Report. I waited and let Chuck Crumbo go ahead and write about it, since he gets paid to, and here’s his report. Use that as a baseline.

The panel was the same as this one in 2010, only with Rep. Beth Bernstein in place of Rep. James Smith.

Here are a few random impressions I formed:

First, while I think these annual sessions have been highly informative and fair to all viewpoints, CRBR should probably make an extra effort to get more Republicans on the panel, just to more accurately reflect realities. I wouldn’t take any of the Democrats away; I’d add a couple more Republicans — maybe Kenny Bingham and John Courson, or Katrina Shealy.

Here’s the one thing I Tweeted out during the session:

Otis wasn’t saying we shouldn’t have ethics reform, but he certainly seemed to regard it as a distraction, as a plate of vegetables with no meat, saying, “I know they’ve got to do this,” but… His tone reminded me of the bank examiner in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Remember George Bailey, all animated, telling him about the fact that his brother is going to the White House to receive the Medal of Honor from the president, and the bank examiner says, without a shred of interest, “Well, I guess they do those things….”

Well, that’s Otis being told about ethics reform. He supposes legislators have to get this ethics stuff out of their system, but he’ll be glad when they’re done and move on from it.

Now in his defense, he sees the urgent need for workforce preparation, infrastructure and other things that bear on our economic well-being, and he should be focused on those things. But he was really a wet blanket on the ethics stuff.

Others were more interested in the topic. Rep. Bernstein predicted that, again, the sticking point will be independent oversight, instead of lawmakers policing themselves. She said that was key, but signaled willingness in a pinch to accept a “hybrid” approach, with some lawmaker participation.

On Medicaid expansion, Sen. Joel Lourie said two things that interested me. First that Christian Soura, the guy Nikki Haley just appointed to replace Tony Keck at HHS despite his never having done anything like that, is a very impressive guy. I’ve gotta meet this guy, if Joel thinks that. Or at the least, hear an elaboration on what impressed Joel. Then, he said he appreciates the position of those who oppose Medicaid expansion because they’re worried about the state having to pay 10 percent of the cost after three years. I usually don’t hear Democrats say things like that.

As Chuck noted in the lede of his report, there was pretty much a consensus that for lawmakers to act meaningfully on paying for roads, there would have to be a lot of pressure on them from outside the State House. Sen. Lourie said there are three kinds of people in the Legislature on this — those who clearly see the need to come up with road funding, those who can maybe be talked into it, and “the not no, but ‘hell no’ group.” Republican Nathan Ballentine said that was accurate, and “The majority in the House, the majority in my party, are in the ‘hell no’ category.” He says he’s not afraid of raising the gas tax, and noted that he voted for the cigarette tax increase awhile back. But getting the rest to go along will take heavy lifting, especially with the governor’s veto threat. There was discussion of raising fees for driver’s licenses. Otis Rawl noted that we only pay about $2 a year for those, and certainly, he asserted, it’s worth more than that for our families to travel on safe roads (and for our goods to get to market, he was quick to add).

It was predicted that roads, ethics and one other matter — reacting to the Supreme Court decision saying the Legislature hasn’t done enough to educate children in poor, rural districts — will dominate the session. The general consensus among these suburban lawmakers was that whatever is done for the poor, rural districts, it not be taken away from the affluent suburban districts. Which to me indicates more money would have to come into state coffers, although I didn’t hear anyone say that overtly.

And of course, more than money is needed. After talking about how bad things are in Marion County, Sen. Lourie said, “Maybe we don’t need three districts in Marion County.”

That caused me to break my rule about not asking questions at such events. I rose to suggest that everyone talks about school district consolidation until it strikes close to home. I agree that there shouldn’t be three districts in Marion County, but I asked, “should there be three districts in Richland County, and five in Lexington?”

He actually had a good answer. As he said, if the state is going to help out Marion County in ways that Richland and Lexington districts aren’t asking it to do and don’t need it to do, then there’s an extra expectation that Marion should do some things it can do on its own — like getting rid of duplicative administration. Rep. Ballentine agreed, saying there’s a much greater imperative to consolidate in districts with fewer students total than you would find in a single school in the city.

Yes, they’re right. The case for consolidation is much more compelling in the rural districts. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good thing in the big counties, as well.

Anyway, that’s my rambling report…

 

Video Rorschach: Your thoughts on this clip of an angry cop?

A reader shared with me this video clip, which I watched in a vacuum, having heard nothing about the case behind it. The text accompanying it on YouTube says:

Police Chief Edward Flynn speaks to reporters after a Fire and Police Commission meeting Thursday night concerning the shooting of Dontre Hamilton. During the meeting, Flynn learned that a 5-year-old girl was shot and killed. Video by Ashley Luthern

Here’s the latest on the Dontre Hamilton case. The chief in the video above has fired the cop involved.

The reader who brought this to my attention implied that what the chief is saying is something that should be heard more often. Of course, there are radically, profanely different views out there regarding the same clip.

What do y’all think?

 

What Mike Nichols achieved with ‘The Graduate’ was unique

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Upon the passing of director Mike Nichols, I find myself marveling yet again at “The Graduate,” and how there’s just nothing else like it in the history of film.

How do you describe it? A farce, a drama, social commentary? If so, it was like no other farce or drama or social commentary I’ve seen. I like this description from the AP:

Mixing farce and Oedipal drama, Nichols managed to capture a generation’s discontent without ever mentioning Vietnam, civil rights or any other issues of the time. But young people laughed hard when a family friend advised Benjamin that the road to success was paved with “plastics” or at Benjamin’s lament that he felt like life was “some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”

At the time, Nichols was “just trying to make a nice little movie,” he recalled in 2005 at a retrospective screening of “The Graduate.” ”It wasn’t until when I saw it all put together that I realized this was something remarkable.”…

Yeah, well… they thought they were just cranking out something routine with “Casablanca” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” too… Maybe you can only achieve greatness when you have humble intentions.

How does something work as comedy — as heartwarming comedy… when it’s about a guy who falls in love with the daughter of the woman he’s having sex with? More than that… How do you come to love a movie like that, to want to see it again and again, because it strikes a chord in you, even though God forbid you should ever be in a similar situation?

And that is what makes it unique: That it is such a universal cultural touchstone for members of my generation. It’s not that it was topical — as the quote from AP mentions above, it doesn’t mention any burning issues of the day. That’s one of the many things that separate it from self-consciously “topical” films that end up being eminently forgettable — such as, say, “Getting Straight.” Oh, you don’t remember that one? Then you’re making my point.

What makes that connection? What makes the film essential to our sense of that time? Is it Simon and Garfunkel? Aside from it being my favorite soundtrack ever, is the music essential to the film’s appeal? Would it be “The Graduate” without “The Sounds of Silence” or “Mrs. Robinson?”

No, it wouldn’t. But it wouldn’t be “The Graduate” without Anne Bancroft, or Dustin Hoffman, or even Buck Henry’s hotel clerk (of course, Henry’s main contribution is as screenwriter). Or the “plastics” guy. Or that wonderful long camera shot of the Berkeley campus.

SPOILER ALERT (In case there’s someone left who hasn’t seen it): The closest thing to social commentary on the ’60s that I can think of is the film’s enigmatic, excruciatingly ambivalent ending. The young lovers have triumphed! They’ve dramatically left behind the corrupt older generation and its agents and all it stands for (even to the extent of using a cross as sword, then as a lock to keep them in their church)! They’re together! They’re free! So they laugh uproariously; Ben claps his hands in glee. Then, you can see the thought enter their minds — what’s next? When you’ve rejected all that went before, and must now make your own life, your own way of living, your own morality — what then? And they stare straight ahead, with a smile still occasionally flitting across their faces, alternating with the stare of people who are overwhelmed at the enormity of what lies ahead. What now, indeed?

It comments on the sexual revolution and on the delegitimization of institutions, and the consequences those developments entail, without words. Just with looks.

The only film I can think of that does anything like it, or does it as well, is “Carnal Knowledge” — also directed by Nichols. Of course, that’s much darker, and hence not as beloved — although nearly as admired. And that one beats you over the head with the point, not least in the title — although it does so magnificently.

Carnal Knowledge” is a great film. I’m also really fond of the way Nichols brought Catch-22 to the screen. (And it just hit me — Art Garfunkel plays a key role in each of the three.)

But if he had never done anything but “The Graduate,” Mike Nichols would still be one of the great filmmakers…

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Open Thread for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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It’s been another busy day for me, allowing little time for blogging.

But here are some possible topics:

  1. Lawmakers getting “creative” on paying for roads — Robert’s cartoon above reminds me of what I have been meaning to write about, but hadn’t gotten to. Lawmakers continue to contort themselves in trying to figure a way to pay for roads in this state (when we HAVE a way to pay for roads, the gasoline tax — which should have been raised long before now). The most bizarre nonsolution I’ve heard is this shell game in which the same inadequate amount of money would simply be divvied up to the counties and let THEM take the blame for crumbling roads. I am somewhat intrigued, though, at the idea of simply applying the sales tax to gasoline — which addresses one of the greatest weaknesses in the gas tax, which is that it’s per-gallon and doesn’t rise with the price of fuel.
  2. POTUS about to announce executive action on immigration — I couldn’t figure out a way to embed the president’s video on this subject, but if you click on the picture below, it will take you there. It’s showdown time. For my part, I await what the president is specifically proposing to do, and I hope that he reaction to it will be, you know, rational. You know what would be the BEST, most constructive, reaction? For the House to pre-empt the president’s executive action by passing the comprehensive immigration reform that the Senate sent over to it.
  3. SC Supremes say probate judges can issue same-sex marriage licenses — This came down at about 4 today, lifting the court’s own Oct. 9 injunction pending a decision in a federal court case, which has since been decided at the trial court level. Interestingly, the case in question wasn’t about whether a couple could get married, but about the related issue of whether SC would have to recognize a marriage granted elsewhere — the very same scenario that prompted conservatives to push for their constitutional amendment on marriage several years ago.
  4. NBC pulls Bill Cosby sitcom amid renewed sexual assault allegations — It’s fascinating to watch the way public consensus develops. For years, the world ignored the young women making these accusations, refusing to believe such of “the Cos.” Then, a tipping point was reached, and suddenly this much loved media figure falls, hitting every branch on the way down. It’s got to seem pretty weird to the women who’ve been trying to get us to listen for years.

Or… you can talk about whatever you want to talk about…

Obama immigration

 

Pope Francis, the protopunk pontiff

I very much liked this piece in The Washington Post today about Pope Francis:

The pope himself seems unconcerned, continuing his unpredictable riff. He embraces the big bang. He appears in selfies. He criticizes euthanasia. He invites Patti Smith, the godmother of punk, to perform at the Vatican. He cashiers opponents. He calls the kingdom of God “a party” (which is precisely how the founder of the Christian faith referred to it). He is a man, by his own account, with no patience for “sourpusses.”

As a Protestant, I have no particular insight into the internal theological debates of Catholicism. But the participants seem to inhabit different universes. One side (understandably) wants to shore up the certainties of an institution under siege. Francis begins from a different point: a pastoral passion to meet people where they are — to recognize some good, even in their brokenness, and to call them to something better. That something better is not membership in a stable institution, or even the comforts of ethical religion; it is a relationship with Jesus, from which all else follows.

Instead of being a participant in a cultural battle, Francis says, “I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” First you sew up the suffering (which, incidentally, includes all of us). “Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds.” The temptation, in his view, is to turn faith into ideology. “The faith passes,” he recently said, “through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus; in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. . . . The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”…

As I’ve said before, this pope hasn’t said anything new, in terms of doctrine. I am bemused when nonCatholics, or extremely inattentive Catholics, express wonder that the pope embraces, say, evolution. I had never before run into any basic conflict between the Catholic faith and evolution.

But the very simple, and yet amazing, thing that he does is make sure that you hear what’s important about the faith. He makes sure you hear the love. You patch up the suffering first — heal the wounds. The rest is secondary.

Who cares that Patti Smith’s “Gloria” doesn’t start “Glory to God in the highest,” but rather, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine?” Well, OK, I guess we should care to some extent. But what this pope does is reach out to Patti where she is. He tries to get her to feel the love. And she seems to dig it.

And so it is that we now have our first protopunk pontiff…

Pelosi, Clyburn keep their House posts as Democrats opt for more of the same

Democrats in Congress evidently think they’ve been doing everything just right for the last few years, based on this:

House Democrats on Tuesday elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top four lieutenants to remain atop the party in the 114th Congress.clyburn cropped

The move was hardly a surprise, as none of the current leaders — including Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.), Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Vice Chairman Joe Crowley (N.Y.) — faced challengers in their bids to lead the party for the next two years.

But the leadership votes came amid some grumbling from rank-and-file members that the Democrats need a new direction after failing to take the House majority in three straight election cycles. In two of those cycles, 2010 and 2014, they were clobbered.

Pelosi and Hoyer have been in the top spots since 2003, fueling anxiety among a younger crop of Democrats who aren’t able to move up….

I can certainly understand the grumbling.

Meanwhile, down on the ground level, a couple of party operatives reminded us of what parties are all about. I liked this take on it, from Ed Rogers:

A leaked e-mail thread started by two Hillary Clinton operatives, Robby Mook and Marlon Marshal, has drawn some ire from Republicans who take offense at their message. Highlights include operatives calling themselves “Deacon” and “Reverend,” and threats to “smite Republicans mafia-style” and “punish those voters.”…

Can you imagine if these e-mails had been sent by a Republican –- say, Karl Rove? I can picture the New York Times and the other usual suspects swooning in faux shock, weeping and gnashing of teeth, their eyes rolling back in their head, struggling to maintain consciousness while pounding out another tired piece about how the Republican Party has destroyed politics and debased our political discourse with their cynical hate speech or whatever. Gasp!…

What does the Democratic Party stand for today if not just grabbing power, holding power, government for government’s sake and offering and maintaining dependence in exchange for votes? The Democratic brand and what it means to be a Democrat should get a hard look after the party’s six years in power. These recent incidents are not isolated -– they are indicative of a party that is moribund and needs a new reason to justify its existence.

And yet today, they just decided to continue on their merry way, doing what they’ve been doing…

How did LinkedIn manage THIS?

linkedin

Yesterday, I received an email urging me to “ADD PERSONALITY TO YOUR PROFILE:”

Now you can make your profile pop by adding a custom background. Just upload an image that reflects your passions, projects, or inspiration and show people what you’re about.

But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that LinkedIn provided the above suggestion for how such a new custom background might look.side

And the coffee cup in the picture is a dead-ringer for one of our branded ADCO coffee mugs. Not only that, but the notepad in the shot looks for all the world like one of our ADCO-branded notepads. OK, it’s a little bigger, but that’s about the only difference.

Below is a shot I staged using our own official ADCO items.

How weird is that?

It was like an invitation to the Twilight Zone. Cue the weird music: Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo

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Open Thread for Monday, November 17, 2014

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Not a lot of news today, which is why I haven’t posted. Well, that, and I’ve had a lot of work to do.

Here are some possible topics:

  1. Obama and insurers now allies on health law — Because he needs them, and they’re making money from it.
  2. Kassig’s conversion to Islam didn’t protect him — Latest Westerner beheaded by the monsters of ISIL.
  3. Doctor’s false Ebola test result proves tragic — When he tested negative, his friends threw off their protective gear and embraced him. But he had Ebola. He died of it today.

  4. Nikki Haley in India — She seems to be having a great time, except for a row over a sword. Maybe she should go back to automatic weapons.

Or whatever interests you…

The Haleys and staffers Rob Godfrey and Katherine Veldran have been having a great time with the selfies. The one on top made the front page of the Sunday Times of India.

The Haleys and staffers Rob Godfrey and Katherine Veldran have been having a great time with the selfies. The one on top made the front page of the Sunday Times of India.

 

What’s WRONG with these poor young women?

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I mentioned earlier about going to the mall today.

While there, I puzzled over this poster in the Victoria’s Secret window: What’s wrong with this young woman? Is she ill? She looks peaked. Does her stomach hurt? Is she wasting away? Is this supposed to be a come-hither look? It seems rather off-putting instead. Has she been bitten by a “walker“? I want to offer her a blanket, and then step away in case it’s catching. It’s not exactly heroin chic, but it’s off in that direction. Are they trying to sell that bra? If so, this is no way to do it. It seems to be a burden to her, causing her shoulders to slump in defeat.

Poor thing…

But wow, she’s not nearly as strange as the one below, from a window a few yards away. What’s her thing? More like Devo chic, or wind-up doll chic?

Are these images supposed to be appealing? If so, to whom? Men? Women? Robots?

The popular aesthetic has taken a strange turn. Again.

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Important business tip: Know your market

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I had to stop and get a picture of this when I was driving down St. Andrews today.

First I saw the vegan sign, and wondered how that business was faring, and whether it was doing better as that than as a Mexican place (going by the facade), then I saw what it was becoming. And let’s just say I was not shocked.

Know your market.

When I was driving back after visiting the thing that has replaced Barnes and Noble on Harbison, and I saw this sign again, I experienced a moment of identification: There was probably someone who really dug having this vegan restaurant here, and hated to see it go. And seeing that it would be replaced by yet another sports bar, he or she must have thought, “Like we need another one of these.” Just like the way I felt at the former B&N

Like we really needed another place like this…

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Yesterday, my wife was trying to dress my grandson, who’s two-and-a-half, to go outside and play in the chill. She couldn’t find a coat that fit him. Then, she found one of his older sister’s heavy coats, and tried to put that on him.

“No!” he said.

What was wrong?, she asked.

“Purple!”

She corrected him: “No, it’s pink.”

“Girl!” he said. He has lately taken to calling himself, rather emphatically, “Boy,” and instead of struggling the way he used to to call his sister by name, she is “Girl.” As are each of the Twins, his cousins.

We don’t know where he’s gotten this all of a sudden (not from me, not from my wife), but it’s taken quite a hold on him. Call it pink, call it purple, call it what have you, he wasn’t having any of it. Nothing against girls; they can wear that if they’d like. But it’s not for him.

So today, we went to find El Machito something he would accept at Once Upon a Child in Harbison. We found something that we hope he’ll like. It’s safety-vest orange on the outside, and has an olive drab quilted liner that he can pull out and wear separately. He might think the orange is too much like pink. We’ll see. The main point is, it’s warm.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…

After we got the coat, I dropped my wife off at the store that went into the space that once held my favorite store in the world, the Harbison Barnes and Noble. I wanted nothing to do with it. I went to run an errand at the mall.

When I came back, she was still in there. So I made myself go in. And you know what I found?

I found a place that looked, to me, almost exactly like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx and Ross. Yet another place like those. Nothing special about it. OK, technically, this place had brand-name items those other places lack. My wife showed me a pair of canvas Adidas shoes the right size for our grandson, as she was explaining this place was a little more expensive than those other places.

I said it wasn’t too bad — less than three dollars for a pair of toddler tennis shoes. She said, “What are you talking about?” I said, look, they’re $2.97. Then I looked more closely: $29.97.

Thirty dollars?!?!” I said. “Thirty dollars for a little kid’s canvas shoes, like Keds?” She told me to lower my voice and said yes, and that this was very reasonable; elsewhere they’d probably cost $45.

I was happy to get out of there. Is just seemed so unfair. The B&N had been a special place. Yes, it was as chain, but I liked it better than any other B&N, and I like them all.

There was nothing special about this, not to me.

But you know what really hurt? I had had trouble finding a nearby parking place outside. That never happened when it was a Barnes and Noble. Which doesn’t seem right. In that same shopping center were two other stores that looked just like this one, regardless of quality of merchandise. The bookstore was special. But there it is.

Yet another reminder politicians are people

Two quick contact reports:

  • Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a cup of coffee with Mike Cakora, who recently returned to the blog as a regular commenter after a five-year absence. It was great to have him back, and I was happy to get to catch up with him. I knew Mike from before I started blogging. He was one of the guest columnists we recruited at The State, back in the days when we had the money and staff time for such things. We’d have these column-writing contests, and I was always gratified to see the hundreds of entries that would come in (considering that the rules required submitting three columns with little hope of their being published). Then we’d pick 8 for a year, and they’d each write a column a month, and we’d pay them a nominal amount for the columns. Mike was one of our winners one year. Anyway, we had a wide-ranging conversation about politics, working for a living in the New Normal, espionage (specifically, the TV show “The Assets”), and the social alienation that forms people like Edward Snowden. Mike and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but not everything.
  • Earlier, I’d had breakfast with Rep. James Smith. We talked about a number of things, too, such as whether he might run for governor in four years (he doesn’t know) and if he did, what lessons he might have learned from his friend Vincent Sheheen’s failed campaigns. (As it happened, Sheheen texted James while we were eating. He was in a deposition, and trying to adjust to getting back to earning a living with the campaign over.) At one point in the meal, Attorney General Alan Wilson came over to say hey. Any casual observer could see he and James get along well. But then, I’ve noticed Alan gets along well with a lot of Democrats, and James does so with a lot of Republicans. Alan turned to me, pointed to James and said, “This is my lawyer!” Rep. Smith represented his re-election campaign. After Wilson left, James said he has a lot of clients in the Legislature, including a number of Republicans. (So obviously, Kevin Hall and Butch Bowers don’t have all of them.) I noted that if he did run for governor, he might find a formidable opponent in his client Alan Wilson. He agreed. He said the same might be true of Tommy Pope (whose Twitter feed says he’s “working toward sc governor in 2018“).

Anyway, it was a perfectly ordinary slice of life, illustrating gently the point I try to make so often, because so many voters don’t seem to understand. Politicians aren’t just Democrats or Republicans. They’re not monolithic. At least, the good ones aren’t. They’re many-faceted. They’re actual, complete, three-dimensional people, who are capable of interacting with each other in normal, human ways, instead of as partisan automatons.

But y’all probably get tired of me making that point. Which I know sounds like such a stupid point: Of course they’re people, right? Well… I often think we don’t get that, going by what I see written and hear said about politics.

And maybe I do it in part because, after another election season in which most elections are foregone conclusions because of the way we’re separated into districts in which one or the other party dominates, I need to remind myself…

 

Why does Pandora get me, while Netflix doesn’t?

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I had Pandora playing on my iPad while showering and getting dressed this morning, and I marveled at this sequence:

What did those tracks have to do with Radiohead? When I listen to Pandora on my laptop, there’s a place where I can click to answer the question, “Why was this track selected?” I don’t see how to do that on the iPad app, though.

After that Tweet, I continued to be mystified by Dylan’s “Temporarily Like Achilles.” What really blew my mind, though, was that it was followed by Leon Russell’s “Shootout On the Plantation.
Dylan, maybe. Beatles, OK. Even the Stones. But Leon Russell?

Even when I can check, the answer to the question doesn’t help me much. Here are songs I heard later on the same station on my laptop, together with the “explanations:”

A Salty Dog by Procol Harum
Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features acoustic rock instrumentation, folk influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, thru composed melodic style and acoustic rhythm piano.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Live) by George Harrison
Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features electric rock instrumentation, blues influences, gospel influences, intricate melodic phrasing and thru composed melodic style.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Leon Russell
Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features basic rock song structures, blues influences, gospel influences, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and acoustic rhythm piano.

Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features a subtle use of vocal harmony, repetitive melodic phrasing, major key tonality, electric rhythm guitars and a dynamic male vocalist.

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features acoustic rock instrumentation, folk influences, call and answer vocal harmony (antiphony), demanding instrumental part writing and repetitive melodic phrasing.

To me, these explanations are non-explanations. The commonalities are just so generic, in pop music. What matters to me, though, is that I like all the songs. Pandora is able to go, “You, Brad Warthen, like this, so we think you’ll like this other, too.” And they’re so often right.

But Netflix, which has thousands of ratings from me to go by, is still befuddled as to what I’ll really like. Almost never does it suggest something I haven’t seen before, and then when I watch it, I think, “Wow, that was awesome; I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. Thanks, Netflix!”

Almost never. And yet, it happens all the time with Pandora.

What is it — is musical taste easier to predict, because of fewer variables? I don’t know…

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Open Thread for Thursday, November 13, 2014

I realize it’s kind of late in the day for this, but I figure some of y’all might still want to discuss these things, even if you don’t get to them until the morning.

I only have a couple or three proposed topics:

  1. Obama Said to Plan Moves to Shield 5 Million Immigrants — Looks like he’s going to get in the GOP’s faces over this. Will this endanger his ability to find common ground on other things? Maybe. Should he do it anyway? Maybe…
  2. US military considers sending combat troops to battle Isis forces in Iraq — That headline, from The Guardian, perhaps goes a bit far. But Gen. Dempsey was floating the idea today.
  3. Secret Service Blunders Eased Way for White House Intruder — This just in. Report details failures by the protective detail.

Sorry I didn’t see anything good local. Mostly crime news, it seems, and that tends not to catch my eye. I mean, we’re all against crime, right? So what would we discuss?

But maybe y’all have a good local topic in mind…

Joe Wilson questioning SecDef Hagel about ISIL

Just a little slice-of-life from Washington today. I’m listening to it myself as I post this. Here’s a release Wilson sent out with the clip:

WILSON: PRESIDENT NEEDS TO DEVOTE MORE ATTENTION TO ISIL

(Washington, DC) – Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statement after questioning Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about the Administration’s strategy and military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East.

“The complete and systematic defeat of ISIL is imperative for the United States’ national security and the safety of our allies around the world,” Chairman Wilson stated.  “Achieving this outcome is growing increasingly difficult due to ISIL’s changing tactics and the President’s reluctance to listen to the advice of his experienced military advisors.  After today’s hearing, I am further convinced that the President needs to devote more resources and attention to effectively destroy ISIL. Additionally, I believe that a comprehensive plan, which considers all options presented from our military leaders, is critical to complete our mission, protect our national interests, and bring peace to Iraq and Syria.”

Are yard signs gone yet in your neighborhood?

The morning after the election, a black sedan was stopped on my street. A man got out and removed a campaign yard sign from the yard of one of my neighbors, got back into the car and drove on toward the next one. I didn’t recognize the guy, couldn’t see whose sign it was and couldn’t remember having noticed it before.

But I was impressed with this one campaign’s diligence in cleaning up post-campaign clutter.

Beth Bernstein reminds me that the process of cleanup continues:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

A necessary evil of campaigning is the proliferation of campaign signs, and I really appreciate those who agreed to put a yard sign in their yard.  The day after the election, my family and I worked diligently to collect as many yard signs as possible.  Although we collected around 300 signs, I am sure we still have some out there.  If you have a sign that needs to be picked up, please let me know.

The last of my billboard signs was picked up yesterday. Unfortunately, it was more labor intensive to collect those so it took a little longer to coordinate that effort.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you and our community in the Legislature!

Warm regards,

So, are all the signs gone in your neighborhood?

Court rules for poor kids in 21-year-old lawsuit, says SC hasn’t done enough to educate them

I hadn’t intended to post today beyond the Open Thread, but this is major, historic news.

I wish Steve Morrison, who led the charge on this for so long, had lived to see this:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that state government is not doing enough financially to guarantee a “minimally adequate” education for public school students in poor areas of the state.

The court ruled 3-2 Wednesday in favor of plaintiff districts in the 21-year-old school equity suit.

The court rejected state lawmakers’ arguments that decisions on school funding belong to the General Assembly, not the courts. Lawmakers had argued that they alone should determine what the state constitution’s “minimally adequate” means.

Justices, however, found that the school districts must better identify solutions for their districts’ needs and work with state lawmakers on how to fix them….

Of course, the big, billion-dollar question is, What will South Carolina DO about it?

It is, unfortunately, up to our General Assembly. As Chief Justice Jean Toal wrote:

“it is the Defendants who must take the principal initiative,” the ruling states, “as they bear the burden articulated by our State’s Constitution, and have failed in their constitutional duty to ensure that students in the Plaintiff Districts receive the requisite educational opportunity”

But WILL they? They, after all, are the ones who have fought this. How can the Court compel action in this case? I don’t know enough to say…

Open Thread for Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rosetta

I’ve got a lot to do — I’m feeling rather overwhelmed by it all, in fact — and haven’t felt particularly inspired today. So maybe y’all can keep the plates spinning for me. For us all…

Some possible topics:

  1. Judge rules in favor of same-sex marriage in SC — The judge in question is Richard Gergel, who signaled this intention a week or two back.
  2. Rosetta mission makes history, lands on comet 300 million miles away — Very cool stuff. It’s been so long since we’ve had a space milestone like this. Too long… Of course, “we,” as Americans, didn’t accomplish this. But “we,” as a species, did.
  3. US and China strike deal on carbon cuts in push for global climate change pact — I wonder what, if any, will be the practical effect of this. Will the Chinese, with the phenomenal rate at which they’ve been building coal-fired power plants, uphold their end? Will this country, given the president’s lack of political capital, uphold our end? I don’t know enough to answer that, but I’m not optimistic.

Or bring up your own topic; see if I care…

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I enjoy serendipitous juxtapositions

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I enjoyed this juxtaposition of headlines on the business page of The State today. The headlines go to this story, and this story.

For a split second, I thought maybe the stories actually were related. And in a global, trend-tracking sense, I suppose they are. Except, of course, that the larger posteriors some women seek are more of the muscular variety. Doughnuts alone won’t give you that…