Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Worst Night of the Year Won’t Go Away

Believe it or not it’s been three years since I posted how much I hate Daylight Saving Time, and particularly the night in which we must “spring forward” the clock 1 hour.  I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow and dragging myself through the day.

I’ve nothing new to write, but here are my previous four posts on the topic:

EDIT ON MONDAY:  Here’s something that might make me wonder.  How about instead of having the time change occur on a weekend in the middle of the night, why not have the time change on a Monday afternoon.  That’s right, at 1 pm on Monday afternoon everyone sets their clocks ahead to 2 pm.  A shorter workday for everyone once a year!  And yes, employers, you still pay your hourly workers for an 8-hour day.

 

 

Movie Review: In The Loop

TitleIn The Loop
Release Date: 17 April 2009
Director: Armando Iannucci
Production Co: IFC Films,  BBC Films
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Comedy | Satire
Rating: ***

This satirical film depicts mid-level government officials in Britain and the US as they work towards declaring war against an unnamed Middle Eastern country (an obvious parody of the run-up to war with Iraq).  Some of them hope to avert the war due to the obvious holes in the rationale behind the invasion, but most of the characters simply want to do whatever will advance their careers.  Every character in this movie has sharp acerbic wit and insults are hurled left and right.  Kind of  a mix of The West Wing and The Office and Dr. Strangelove.   It is funny with a lot quotable dialogue.  On the other hand, the general mean-spiritedness of the affair leaves a bad feeling in my mouth.  Good performances by Peter Calpadi, Tom Hollander, Anna Chlumsky, James Gandolfini, and others carry the film.

Book Review: The spirit level by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Author: Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
TitleThe spirit level : why greater equality makes societies stronger by
Publication Info: Tantor Media (2011)
ISBN: 1452655057
Summary/Review: The thesis of this book is that greater equality creates a better society is a no-brainer for me.  But we live in an age where there are some who promote greater inequality and deny the need for society at all.  The authors richly illustrate the advantages of equality and the disadvantages of inequality in our world. This is probably not a work to listen to as an audiobook as I think  for my mind it requires greater attention and study.

Rating: **

Book Review: The Whites of Their Eyes by Jill Lepore

Author: Jill Lepore
Title: The Whites of Their Eyes: the Tea Party’s revolution and the battle over American history
Publication Info: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010.
ISBN: 9780691150277
Summary/Review: Harvard historian Jill Lepore investigates the rhetoric of the Tea Party particularly the claim by many right-wing politicians to speak to the original intent of the Revolutionary generation and the framers of the Constitution.  Lepore meets with Tea Party activists in the Boston area and respectfully reports their views while not leaving them unchallenged.  Lepore also writes about the historical figures of the Revolution and how their memory is claimed and interpreted throughout American political history (particularly by left-wing activists during the Bicentennial celebration).  The book skips around a bit  – especially distracting in the later pages – but it is a good, brief journalistic take on the politics of cultural memory.
Favorite Passages:

The founders were not prophets.  Nor did they hope to be worshiped.  They believed that to defer without examination to what your forefathers believed is to become a slave to the tyranny of the past. – p. 113

Citizens and their elected officials have all sorts of reasons to support or oppose all sorts of legislation and government action, including constitutionality, precedence and the weight of history.  But it’s possible to cherish the stability of the law and the durability of the Constitution, as amended over two and a half centuries of change and one civil war, and tested in the courts, without dragging the Founding Fathers from their graves.  To point this out neither dishonors the past nor relieves anyone of the obligation to study it.  The the contrary.

“What would the founders do?” is, from the point of view  of historical analysis, an ill-considered and unanswerable question, and pointless, too.  Jurists and legislators need to investigate what the framers meant, and some Christians make moral decisions by wondering what Jesus would do, but no NASA scientist decides what to do about the Hubble by asking what Isaac Newton would make of it.  People who ask what the founders would do quite commonly declare that they know, they know, they just know what the founders would do and, mostly it comes to this: if only the could see us now, they would be rolling over in their graves.  …

That’s not  history.  It’s not civil religion, the faith in democracy that binds Americans together.  It’s not original ism or even constitutionalism.  That’s fundamentalism.  – p. 124-25

This, I guess, was the belly of the beast, the alarming left-wing lunacy, the godless irreverence, the socialist political indocrination taught in the public schools of the People’s Republic of Cambridge: an assignment that requires research, that raises questions about perspective, that demands distinctions between fact and opinion, that bears an audience in mind — an assignment that teaches the art of historical writing. – p. 161

Recommended books: Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman, The Purpose of the Past by Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionaries by Jack Rakove, and The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution by Alfred F. Young
Rating: ***

Retropost: Confessions of a St. Patrick’s Day Curmudgeon

In honor of this special day let’s revisit one of my favorite posts.

While most kids look forward to Christmas, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day (along with Thanksgiving) was one of my favorite days of the year.  It was a big day in my family usually involving going to the parade in New York and seeing family and friends we hadn’t seen in a while.  Then there was the music, the stories of St. Patrick, the history of Ireland and the Irish in America.  Growing up in a town where the dominant population was Ital … Read More

Related Posts:

Worst Night of the Year Keeps Coming Back

A friend of mine called me “crankypants” yesterday because of it, but I still hate switching to Daylight Saving Time.  I’ve been congested and sleeping poorly the past week so I didn’t need to lose an hour of sleep on top of that.

Anyhow, I like this quote attributed to some unnamed Native American (who is thus probably entirely fictional) but speaks the truth:

When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said… “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.”

I also like this article “The 5 Stages of Daylight Saving Time” by fellow conspiracy victim Jennifer Fulwiler.

Earlier screeds against Daylight Saving Time:

Book Review: Pedal Power by J. Harry Wray

Author: J. Harry Wray
Title: Pedal power : the quiet rise of the bicycle in American public life
Publication Info: Boulder, Colo. : Paradigm Publishers, c2008.
ISBN: 9781594514623

Summary/Review:

Wray writes in a dry, professorial tone about bicycle culture in the United States through a political science approach.  While not the best written book it does have a lot of interesting facts and ideas about American cyclists.  I think this book is best summarized with a little bit about each chapter

  1. Contrasting Visions – Wray introduces his political science method and explains that he will be writing about the political importance of bicycling.
  2. Biking in Amsterdam – A visit to the bike friendly city delves into the history of how bicycle accommodations were created and what effect they have on that city’s politics and culture.
  3. Culture Storm – Examining the way that Americans self-identify as “individualists” and how this identity appears to clash with bike culture.
  4. Biking Eccentrics – The stories of a people Wray knows in Chicago who have committed themselves to a bicycle-based lifestyle.
  5. Building the Case – Political advocates such as the League of American Bicyclists and Chicago Bicycle Federation.
  6. Pushing the Envelope – Organizations and leaderless movements on the cutting edge of bicycling including Critical Mass, SHIFT, ChiTown Cruisers, and The Rat Patrol.
  7. Politicians Who Matter – Portraits of a few elected leaders who have bicycle-lifestyles and are leaders of bicycle-friendly legislation.
  8. Metapolitics, Minibikes – The political effect of bicycling in reaction to environmental degradation and global warming.

All in all this is a good introductory look at the important political issues of the day relating to bicycling.

Recommended books: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt, Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back by Jane Holtz Kay
Rating:  ***

Book Review: The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman

Author: Paul Krugman
Title: The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008
Publication Info: Books On Tape (2009), Audio CD
ISBN: 1415965080

Previously read: The Great Unraveling

Summary/Review:

Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes a brief overview of what he calls “depression economics” that arose from the perfect storm of events that brought down the global economy in 2008.  Much of the book is a revised form of an earlier book about fiscal crises in Latin America and Asia in the 1980s and 1990s.  These earlier crises should have been a clue to what could go wrong with the bubble economy of the 2000s but most of the people who should have known better thought that depression economics were a thing of the past.  Krugman does a good job of explaining what went wrong and offers solutions to prevent a repeat: regulate anything that works like a bank as a bank and allow governments to offer stimulus to the economy when needed.  These solutions seem obvious of course but Krugman also explains how these reforms work and what happens when they’re missing.  In short this is a good overview of the fiscal crisis for the non-economist that is written in an engaging, sometimes even humorous, manner.

Recommended books: Free Lunch David Cay Johnston, What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank and The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz
Rating: ***

Worst Night of the Year…Redux

Daylight Savings Time begins today meaning that we will have a greater risk of on-the-job injuries according to Scientific American.  And The Christian Science Monitor reports that changing our clocks will cost us money.  The Monitor rightly asks why is that we spring forward again?

Ugh!  Join me in hoping that this silly — and dangerous — tradition will end someday soon.

Related posts:

Left Ahead Podcasts on Transportation

One of the local blogs I read regularly – Marry in Massachusetts – is written by a man who also participates in the Left Ahead podcast.  I don’t listen to this podcast regularly but I did download the latest two episodes since they deal with an issue near and dear to my heart: public transportation.  The first episode interviews Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray and the second is a talk with former Governor Mike Dukakis, two leaders who seem to get the importance of public transportation.  I highly recommend listening to these two podcasts.

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