October 2012 Archives

This Rolling Stone interview with Obama features this gem:

As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, "Tell him: You can do it."

Obama grinned. "That's the only advice I need," he said. "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer."

"Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked.

"You know, kids have good instincts," Obama offered. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"


"I'm absolutely sure," says Obama, "that we've got the better argument:"

And Governor Romney understands that. It's the reason why, after a year and a half of campaigning on plans that very clearly were going to involve $5 trillion worth of tax cuts, he's trying to fog up the issues, because he knows that the American people aren't buying what he's selling.

fact-checking faith

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MediaMatters explains a Fox article of faith, the fictitious Obama "apology tour" [see #15 on this list of 25 Obama "mistakes"]. Megyn Kelly, for example, "concluded it simply wasn't possible to claim the 'apology tour' hadn't happened:"

Why? Because many Fox News viewers think it did. It's one of their core beliefs. It's an article of faith.
KELLY: The words speak for themselves. Either people believe that was president Obama apologizing for America or they don't. But how can a fact checker say it's not true?

How can fact checkers say the claim of an "apology tour" isn't true when conservatives heard the clips and decided it is true? (This is akin to George Costanza logic: It's not a lie, if you believe it.)

MediaMatters asks frustratedly, "where does it end?"

Lots of Obama haters are sure the president's a foreign-born Muslim who can't stand big business. Is there any possible scenario in which fact checkers can convince those hardcore critics otherwise?

Not likely. Because they believe those things to be true. And you can't fact check faith.

the end of jazz

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Benjamin Schwarz describes the Ted Gioia book The Jazz Standards as "the sort of compulsive, encyclopedically knowledgeable enthusiast the jazz world engenders:"

Gioia here offers a guide to more than 250 key jazz compositions--the "building blocks of the jazz art form," as he puts it. He intends that this volume, made up of two-to-four-page entries for each song, will serve as a reference work for jazz lovers and as a practical handbook for musicians: "I have picked the compositions that ... a musician is most frequently asked to play," Gioia writes. "Not learning these songs puts a jazz player on a quick path to unemploymen

However, writes, Schwarz, "I question Gioia's neglect of four songs in particular," listing Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Where or When." and three Cole Porter compositions: "In the Still of the Night," "Begin the Beguine," and "I've Got You Under My Skin." He continues:

These four songs are all indisputable entries in the so-called Great American Songbook--a notional catalogue of classic popular songs, a body of refined, complex work that stands at the apogee of this country's civilization, mostly written for the musical theater from roughly the 1920s to the 1950s... [...]

The result: the Songbook formed the lingua franca of jazz; its material provided the basis on which to assess a performer's improvisations; and jazz musicians constructed their own compositions on the chord structures of its entries.

He calls the Songbook "the crucial wellspring of jazz:"

Both jazz and its progenitor are worthy of radical--indeed, reactionary--efforts to preserve them. But despite Gioia's ardency, there is no reason to believe that jazz can be a living, evolving art form decades after its major source--and the source that linked it to the main currents of popular culture and sentiment--has dried up. Jazz, like the Songbook, is a relic--and as such, in 2012 it cannot have, as Gioia wishes for it, an "expansive and adaptive repertoire."


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Has Voyager 1 entered interstellar space? After 35 years, Voyager 1 (11 billion miles from earth) and its sister (Voyager 2, 9 billion miles) "are now poised to become the first man-made objects to leave the bubble around our sun known as the heliosphere and enter what is known as interstellar space."

Noting a steep drop in "the rate of particles (mostly protons) from the sun hitting the probe" as one sign, "there's still one major piece of data that will take Voyager's scientists longer to analyze, [and] that's the data from the magnetometer, which will show changes in the magnetic field."

For now, the best guess is that "We don't know, because we've never been there before."

In other space-related news, Alpha Centauri has a planet!

Astronomers have announced they have found a planet orbiting one of the stars making up the most famous star in the sky: Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own! At 4.3 light years distant, this is far and away the closest exoplanet known... and of course, it has to be.

Interestingly, Alpha Centauri Bb "is only 1.13 times the Earth's mass, making this one of the lower mass planets yet found!"

...we are very close to finding a planet with the same mass as Earth at just the right distance from its star to have liquid water, and therefore, potentially life [...] statistically speaking there should be millions of them in the galaxy. It's only a matter of time before we find the first one.

It's especially intriguing that one of them is so close to home!


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It looks like political polarization is here to stay:

While Obama invested vast time and energy in trying to achieve a bipartisan health reform bill - adopting a Republican framework, postponing action for months while waiting for Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus to achieve a deal - voters continue to think the result is a unilateral imposition of a far-left scheme, using the fact that it had no Republican support, rather than the law's content, as an indicator.

The piece notes that "Democrats and liberals can't make polarization go away:"

They can't change the modern Republican Party by changing their own. [...] "So the question for liberals is not, should we play the same game as the conservatives? It is, how do we hope to achieve some progress in a structurally polarized system?" [...]

The paradox for liberals is that the public is not as polarized as politicians are, and that's particularly true for younger voters, who are responsible for the rebirth of Democratic liberalism since 2004 and for its future. The Millenials are overwhelmingly Democrats, tolerant social liberals, environmentalists, and see the need for government action to solve problems - but they are not "Fighting Dems," seeing Republicans and conservatives as mortal enemies.

It concludes that "The challenge, not only for liberals but also for moderates and for conservatives who hope to find some middle ground that makes progress towards their own goals, is to build institutions and strategies appropriate to this new alignment."

Pandit the bandit

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ThinkProgress comments on CEO Vikram Pandit's resignation from Citigroup:

"For his five years of leading Citi, Pandit will receive compensation in the neighborhood of $260 million..."

On a time-served basis, that's still less than the notorious WaMu deal.

9/11 vs. Libya

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Will Saletan looks at four deaths in Libya versus nearly 3,000 on 9/11, using this common analysis:

"The president was warned of an impending threat of terrorism. He failed to act. The attack came, Americans died, and now the administration is covering up the truth:"

This is a reversal of right-wing attitudes a decade ago, when "the Republican Party line was that anyone who accused the president of neglect or deceit was unpatriotic:"

Maybe, if Obama and his underlings had heeded the danger signs, those four Americans would be alive today. But it's pretty rich to hear this complaint about "the events of September 11, 2012" from the people who presided over the original events of Sept. 11. You know, the ones in which nearly 3,000 Americans died. [...]

The difference between the failures of Sept. 11, 2001, and the failures of Sept. 11, 2012 isn't just 2,900 deaths. It's the ferocity with which Republicans, when they held the White House, denounced their critics as unpatriotic.

He snarks, "I'm sure we can count on this kind of pulling together now that the president is a Democrat, the attack was overseas, and the casualty count is four."

decreasing deficit

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Steve Benen points out that the US budget deficit has reached a 4-year low, and reminds us:

The [Romney/Ryan] attack overlooks Paul Ryan's role in creating the massive deficit, the inconvenient fact that Romney hasn't presented a deficit-reduction plan, and the problem that the Romney/Ryan agenda would appear to make the deficit significantly worse...

Also, "thanks to fiscal years, Obama inherited a deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion from Bush/Cheney the moment he took the oath of office:"

When the president's critics spin this, they'll say, "The deficit was over $1 trillion again," and that will be accurate. What the criticism fails to note, however, is that (a) the deficit is now much smaller than it was when Obama took office; (b) this is the smallest deficit we've seen in four years; (c) this new figure represents an improvement of over $200 billion since last year; and (d) the main drivers of the remaining deficit are Republican policies.

"Obama has something to brag about," he notes, that "very few presidents of the last generation can say they managed to shrink the deficit by over $200 billion, even during difficult economic times."


Russell, P. Craig. The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, Volume 5: The Happy Prince (New York: Nantier Beall Minoustchine, 2012)

The first four volumes of this series (reviewed here) were delightful, and this tale (representing Russell's Opus #66) is no less so. Comics Bulletin notes that "Based on the evidence shown in this slim but breathtakingly beautiful volume, Russell is still producing material that is strikingly gorgeous," and observes that "wonderful as Wilde's story is, the real star here is Russell's wonderful art:"

For anyone who knows the man's work, you will recognize his ornate and pastoral style immediately. As always, Russell's art is filled with a sensuous attention to beauty in its depiction of gorgeously rendered forms. Russell's cartooning shows a master's understanding of just how much detail to include in a scene.

"Russell's ultimate achievement in this book," the piece continues, "lies in the way that he somehow gives life to the statue of the prince:"

I keep paging though this book trying to discern how Russell manages to pull off this trick and actually manage show the statue's emotions, but the truth of that skill eludes me. He somehow magically uses judicious camera angles and shading to emphasize feeling, and brilliantly makes the emotions come alive. I guess that proves Russell's artistic mastery and his remarkable ability to compose a scene perfectly.

The masterful art of P. Craig Russell makes this book special. In his use of classical techniques and allusions, perfect use of camera angles, and a thoroughly intelligent approach to page design, Russell shows that he is still one of the greats of comics art -- fan favorite status be damned.

Publishers Weekly writes that "Russell's sensitive, belle epoque-inspired artwork brings the story to life with a matched sensibility that makes other comics adaptations look clumsy," and Scripps News concurs, opining that "As usual, Russell's art is transcendent, transporting the reader to a world where even trash dumps have their own textured, fine-lined beauty." Comic Book Daily refers to Russell as "A meticulous artist who doesn't do anything without a reason:"

Wilde's work is wondrously descriptive in The Happy Prince and so Russell had an easier time around then the earlier four volumes but it's his classic and timeless art style that elevate and enhance this story so well.

Only one of Wilde's tales ("The Fisherman and his Soul") remains to be adapted by Russell for the as-yet-unscheduled sixth and final volume of this series; I would love to see an omnibus edition.


See publisher NBM's page for the series for more.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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