High Priest Vulture Elite at Davos

Introduce a new blasphemy:  the VIP Refugee Run.

Red vs. Blue — was David Brooks right?

Was thinking about this the other day, in the context of the blue-state exodus from NY, NJ, and CA.

Maybe David Brooks was right.  Since generally speaking, large successful cities eventually become havens for the upper-middle-class (while the middle class retreats to the suburbs), and downtowns become characterized by things which cater to the wealthy — fine arts, high-end restaurants, boutique stores, etcetera, the “blue” areas will tend to have greater “wealth awareness” than similar “red” zones, as the cities more and more become places inhabited by two groups — those who have significant amounts of money, and those who cater to them.

This cultural divide is pretty old.  Even in the 1850s, antebellum society was generally divided between Republicans (who largely represented middle-class values and especially the urge to gain financial independence, much like any contractor or small entrepreneur today), versus the large inner cities, where the great magnates of the day (then, usually cotton) held sway over a large “working class,” with what we call the middle class conspicuously absent.

This inevitably leads to class conflict, because some people will pay 18 bucks for a hamburger….and the rest either does so as a treat (eating what the former regard as crap the rest of the time), or else live beyond their means to do so.  The folks who can’t justify a 40-dollar hamburger-tab-for-two are producing goods which are beyond their own reach, while others float serenely by, uncaring what the folks behind the counter think (and reasonbly so: how often do you care about your cashier’s life story?).

One group tends to value wealth, and looks up to lawyers, CPAs, stockbrokers, etcetera.  The other generally values independence, and values small to mid-sized industry guys, contractors, entrepreneurs, start-up mavens.

You can really see this in process in Dallas, which is a huge, sprawling city, but has a downtown that culturally is very much becoming a “blue” zone, where middle-class people may come in to work or to catch a sports event, but only the wealthy, the few tourists doing the restaurant thing, and the hipsters actually stay after 6pm.  Desire aside, nobody else can afford to do so.

What y’all think?

Happycrow goes to childbirth class

… and manages not to freak out at all!  Mostly.  One of the childbirth films got me kinda edgy, but that was because yours truly is a sucker who can be moved by a cheese commercial, so four ladies in a room shrieking with joy because baby just showed up….you get the idea.

She gets the epidural.  I get the brandy.

This is why we call Europeans wimps

Man without a gun attacks day-care center, strolls out alive after knifing people.

One, read, ONE person tried to disarm the guy.  DISARM???  Okay, that guy or gal wasn’t a wimp, but wow, what a bad judgement call.  Somebody with a painted up face who’s carrying an axe and a knife strolls into a daycare center:  how about HIT HIM IN THE FACE WITH A LAMP? 

That person gets a pass.  The 50-something lady probably couldn’t do much anyway, since this guy was prepared to kill, not monkey around.  Where the hell was everybody else?  Hiding under their desks?  

Okay, let’s give the scared ladies with dick for training of any kind a pass, too.  Day-care ladies (with one very specific exception I know) are not generally known for the kind of psychological mindset required to confront a dude with facepaint and a knife.  But nobody came running to help?  Nobody saw a guy coming out of a daycare with a bloody knife and did anything?

I know y’all don’t have guns.  I know you don’t want guns, because that would make you mean people who could stop middle-aged women and babies from being stabbed to death.  But, maybe… you could try swords?  Shovels?  A big piece of wood?

Chicago Boyz: Taxpayers the helpless slaves of Tax Consumers?

Shades of ancient Rome, from whom we still apparently have not learned the lesson.  (Oh, and yes, this is a discussion about California.  There is a larger principle at stake, but I’ll get more responses if I mention California.  California-California-California. Betelgeuse!!)

In effect, government workers have hijacked democracy. Instead of state employees working for the people, the people now work for the state employees. As far as the state government is concerned, people in the private sector work merely so that they can be taxed for the benefit of the tax consumers. They’ve entered a condition not unlike like that of pre-industrial serfs. 

This is a serious problem.  The average US taxpayer is already taxed more heavily than medieval serfs were  (Full Disclosure: I iz a medievalist).  In other words, it is only because our productivity is up in science-fiction fairy-story heights compared to the medieval world that average men and women are able to do better than merely treading water and surviving — and even then, it typically takes such a couple half their lifetime merely to purchase a badly-constructed home sitting on a postage-stamp-sized lot.

Rome fell because taxes got so high that people were willing to ally themselves to other political powers (Visigoths, for instance) which would protect them from ruinous taxation which was the equivalent to slavery.  We have already reached the beginnings of this stage in the process, where it is incredibly rare for any of the monetarily-above-the-law elite NOT to have large chunks of their money parked semi-permanently in tax shelters.

Don’t have a solution, though.  Claire Wolf said “it’s too late to work within the system, but too early to start shooting the bastards.”  I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but when this sort of thing is tied to gerrymandered voting districts and outright federal robbery (big chunks of California’s financial problem is due to the FedGov saying “you will pay big benefits to illegals and house them in prisons at your own expense, or else”), the sources of relief start to look thin on the ground.

Taxpayers’ Union, anyone?  Maybe we should start cutting those guys a check or two.

Putin control cracking?

If this is true and Medvedev is actually taking swipes at Putin, then we’re seeing some serious roiling of the siloviki, who have suffered tremendous losses of (mostly-paper) wealth in the past year.  With gas prices falling, the Putin plan is not working… is the supposedly-tame Medvedev taking a lesson from the Lenin-Stalin relationship?

My brain hurts: the official 2009 Project list

Translated about 15 lines of VERY STINKING OLD Hungarian academic stuff last night.

In keeping with my usual “State of the Russ Address,” …. well, screw that.  Everybody who wants to know pretty much does already.  This isn’t exactly a high-traffic blog.  

BUT… here’s my upcoming list, starting tomorrow.

1.  Go back to work, set up the Spring classes.

2.  Finish the novel — I have one week to write at least 150 pages.  Think this is likely?

3.  Finish cleaning the house and re-arranging the house in preparation for Baby.

4.  Lose my mind doing all the busy stuff that everybody does when they have their first baby — 12 diapers per day, lots of naps.

5.  Rewrite a presentation into a paper for submission in an upcoming Hundred Years’ War volume.

6.  LEARN TO READ ACADEMIC HUNGARIAN.  This is my official resolution for the year — by 2010, I will be able to do enough academic Hungarian that a typical Hungarian newspaper will no longer require me to use a dictionary.  I figure a minimum of 5000 hours per day will be required.

7.  Finish learning the Five Elements form.

8.  I’m guessing that leatherwork and armoring probably goes by the wayside this year — I have enough armor to equip a small warband, so that’s not a huge problem.  I’d love to make some more stuff, but given the cost of the material, I’m really down to needing a justification.  So if you want shit in leather this Christmas, let me know.  Besides the inevitable baby-booties cum munchkin mocs.

9.  Design and create an online History 1302 course. (For free, no less)

10.  Interview and get re-hired from temporary status to full-time.

11.  Design (in committee) a 1301 course using Civ IV: Colonization in the classroom.

No, really.  There are ways to do this and actually have it be meaningful.  It’s all about the evil questions.

12.  Make a buff coat.  I lied, I DO have one leather project that’s mandatory — I traded primo leather for a horsebow, on the condition that I used it.

13.  Oh, and if possible, talk to some canneries in Alaska, and the University there at Fairbanks.  But this is looking less and less like “this will be brilliant!” than “this is a pipe-dream I’ll have no time for.”

14.  Begin researching the history of the Neopolitan Succession Wars.

15.  Finish alterations to a leather vest (It’s made, looks spiff, too, just needs a pair of darts and some pockets).

16.  Get some sleep.

Yours truly is going to have to begin VICIOUSLY getting organized about how his week goes, if even half of this is to come off.

Malik the Pawn

Am kicking butt and taking names on one of the trailed-over projects from 08,the novel thingy, and should be done the final rough draft of this silly thing before teaching begins later this month.

 

Then I have to decide whether I’m willing to do the hard part.

I have GOT to try this.

Meet America’s answer to turostyusza.  I mean, serious Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man-type stuff.

Of course, my best friend with the smoker has the alarming habit of being a healthy eater, so I’d have to make a salad the size of Nebraska to go with it.  But, I mean, DAMN.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, courtesy of sick minds, the Bacon Explosion.

What is it, you ask?

It’s BACON.  Stuffed with Italian Sausage.

So….what kind of beer goes with this?  You can’t have this with brandy…

Hirschorn vs Den Beste re: the NYT’s imminent demise

Mr. Den Beste, sadly, has disabled the comments to this very good post.  To wit:

Michael Hirschorn writes (regarding the impending demise of the NYT):

 

If you’re hearing few howls and seeing little rending of garments over the impending death of institutional, high-quality journalism, it’s because the public at large has been trained to undervalue journalists and journalism.

 

Ah, several things spring to mind in response to this. “Undervalue”? A thing is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and if “the public at large” considers journalism to be worth very little, then pretty much by definition they’re right, because they’re the ones doing the paying. The problem here is not that the public is undervaluing journalism, but that journalists have gotten into the habit of thinking that their work is worth more than it really is.

 

I think that Mr. Den Beste is actually missing something, and that Hirschorn has a point: journalism IS under-valued.  For instance, Michael Yon and Michael Totten  don’t get anywhere NEAR what they deserve in their tip jars.  Unfortunately, Hirschorn’s point is also a bit of a red herring based on collectivist thinking.  

You see this sort of collective category error all the time. I’m a teacher. The work that teachers do is VERY important — as a group. That has no bearing on whether or not MY lectures are a complete and total waste of time, however.

Similarly, journal*ISM* is very important, and Michael Hirschorn is correct to say it’s undervalued. However, that does not mean that the work of any particular journalistic organization, or the journalists who work for them, have been incorrectly valued. Or, in the case of the NYT, valued with pitiless accuracy.

Hamas pigfuckers reduced to 8-year-old wordfights

“We were just going to genocide you all, but now that you’re actually coming after us, we’re going to DOUBLE-DOG genocide you!!”

 

EDIT:  I realize that the title to this post might be considered crude, inflammatory, and non-objective, so I want to apologize in advance to any pigs who might feel offended by it.

“Black Flight” — an idea whose time is long overdue

This article talks about city leaders in SF worried about black flight and San-Fran turning into an upper-middle-class city.  Got news for ’em: it’s too late.  MUCH too late.  And the idea of “affordable housing” in San Francisco, is a relatively meaningless buzzword.   (more…)

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