Tonight my lovely wife and I watched the 1980 office comedy 9 to 5. For a review of the film, here's Roger Ebert, who offers highly justified praise for the film debut of Dolly Parton, but two things in particular struck me about the film. One is that I doubt -- this is my own perception, of course -- that the rampant sexism of the boss, played by Dabney Coleman, would be so easily tolerated in today's offices. (All of the honchos I've known have fetched their own darn coffee.)
The other thing that I found freaked me out slightly was that the office desks in 1980 were covered with electric typewriters and Dictaphones -- not a computer in sight. (The king-sized Xerox machine was also a hoot.)
Also, when the film's three heroines redecorate the office in late-'70s decor, it probably wasn't intended to be ugly as heck, but that's how it looks today.
Of course, the film's very titles make one wonder when in the last 25 years work became 8 to 5.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, so get thee to your local comic dealer and pick one or more up! I had seen a sign at the local library, and made a mental note to visit one of the local comix stores, but I was very pleased to discover some there at the library when I went to return some books this morning. In addition to several special free comic book day editions, I grabbed some manga previews, including one of the upcoming girls' manga digest magazine Shojo Beat. c00L!
I've foind I haven't posted about it much -- probably because I haven't found much time for regulat TV over the past few years -- but I was a big Iron Chef fan. This morning's USA Today carries a story about the new American version that has evidently proved a big hit on Food Network. The article contrasts the success of what it calls a "combat cooking" show with the rise of so-called reality television.
It's the first day of taping, just underway for the second season (likely to start in August) of a show that has become one of the Food Network's signature hits. Iron Chef America fired up Food Network household ratings by 40% over last year in its time period, Sundays from 9-10 p.m. ET/PT; its Jan. 16 premiere drew 2.3 million viewers. Even more impressive, ratings among men ages 18-49 - a tough draw for cooking shows - have jumped 77% over last year.
Combat cooking - chefs competing against each other and against the clock to make the most creative and tasty dishes - is heating up on TV. Top-notch cooks from Julia Child in the early '60s to Emeril Lagasse today demonstrated that showmanship and personality draw in viewers as much as a tasty spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed chicken breast in wine sauce.
Now, kicking that concept up a notch, new shows are taking a page from Iron Chef as well as The Apprentice and Survivor, placing cooks in a competitive environment with clear winners and losers and offering more of an emotional charge to viewers.
"It's the drama," says Bruce Seidel, vice president of program planning at
BoingBoing brings the welcome news that the DC Circuit of the US Court of Appeals has struck down the odious "Broadcast Flag" rules. The court rejected the FCC's claim to jurisdiction over what people do with TV shows after they've been broadcast.
"In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before asserted such sweeping authority. Indeed, in the past, the FCC has informed Congress that it lacked any such authority. In our view, nothing has changed to give the FCC the authority it now claims."
My lovely wife and I have had precious little opportunity this week to take in a flick -- the last three DVDs I borrowed from the local library I had to return unwatched this afternoon -- but this evening that changed, as we were able to take in the DVD of the awesome early Tim Burton flick Pee-Wee's Big Adventure I borrowed on the same trip.
Great googly moogly! The invaluable Internet Movie Database informs me that the cute-as-a-button Elizabeth Daily, who play's Pee-Wee's not-girlfriend Dottie, has enjoyed a successful subsequent career as a voice actress, including the portrayal of Rugrats' Tommy Pickles and my favorite PowerPuff Girl, Buttercup.
In this evening's Taekwondo class, I got to do something that I haven't done since I began working out again several months ago: spar -- and tournament-style sparring, yet. I was surprised and pleased to discover that, although my speed and endurance are nowhere near the level they once were, I retain the ability to spot open targets and deliver decent techniques. I even surprised myself -- to say nothing of my partnet -- by uncorking a spinning heel kick, a technique I haven't spent much time practicing since I began working out again. Overall, I was pleased, especially by the amount of fun I had.
By the way, in case it isn't obvious, that is not me in the photo.
E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column today says what more and more Democrats have realized: That you just can't trust George Bush. As an example, he notes that Bush's proposals seem more suited to phasing Social Security out than saving it.
There is a name for those who continue to sit at a gambling table even after they learn that the game is fixed. They are called fools.
Now that President Bush has proposed Social Security benefit cuts through "progressive indexing," his critics are said to have an obligation to negotiate in good faith to achieve a solution. There are just two problems with that sentence: The words "good faith" and "solution."
Bush's "plan" is still not a plan, just a few ideas. If the president is serious, let him first persuade members of his own party to agree to a detailed proposal so everyone knows what the trade-offs are. If what he has in mind is a good idea, Republicans will be eager to sign on. And if Bush can't get Republicans to go along, might that say something about the merits of his suggestions?
Opponents of Bush's cut-and-privatize project -- they include not only Democrats but also skeptical Republicans -- do have a responsibility. Their task is to subject half-baked concepts to the criticism they deserve and insist that they be fully baked before serious discussions can begin. Social Security, the most successful government program in our history, should not be overturned lightly.
...The game is also fixed because the president has narrowed the range of Social Security options to protect his most questionable policy choices.
...Bush has refused to put his own tax cuts on the table as part of a Social Security fix. Repealing Bush's tax cuts for those earning more than $350,000 a year could cover all or most of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. Keeping part of the estate tax in place could cover a quarter to half of the shortfall. Some of the hole could be filled in by a modest surtax on dividends or capital gains.
But Bush is resolute about protecting the interests of the truly rich by making sure that any taxes on wealth are ruled out of the game from the beginning. The Social Security cuts he is proposing for the wealthy are a pittance compared with the benefits they get from his tax cuts. The president is keeping his eye on what really matters to him.
...Walking away from a rigged game is hard for some people, especially when those running it and the respected opinion-makers who support them insist that this time the game will truly be on the level. But, especially when the danger involves gambling away the future of Social Security, the truly responsible thing is to leave the table.
Absolutely. It's refreshing to see that for all the whining from conservative pundits about the Democrats not having a plan -- as if Bush had not already ruled out presenting a concrete plan of his own -- the Democrats remain unified in their commitment to the Social Security plan that the American people have deemed popular, not Bush's reckless and risible alterations.
Kevin Drum expands on the "Bush does not negotiate in good faith" theme, noting that the Bush is hardly the only Republican with a his-way-or-the-highway approach.
There are plenty of other examples of this kind of thuggish Republican behavior. Keeping floor votes open for hours of arm twisting and vote buying, for example, instead of the usual 15 minutes. Preventing Democrats from so much as offering amendments to Republican legislation. Increased use of "emergency" late night meetings. Keeping the text of legislation secret until mere hours before scheduled votes. Squeezing the time for debate by allowing no more than one or two days a week for work on real legislation. Slashing the number of bills considered under open rules. And, of course, threatening the "nuclear option" to cut off judicial filibusters. You can get more details here in Rep. Louise Slaughter's detailed report. [PDF]
Meanwhile, Digby points out that Dionne is one of the few liberal pundits to get it.
The Poor Man has a good summary of the Bush Administration's failed policy toward North Korea.
Enter the Bush administration. Now, it’s not clear what North Korea had actually done, or even tried to do, with the uranium enrichment program - if they actually had made bomb-grade highly-enriched uranium, or if, strange as it may sound, the Bushies were hyping the intelligence out of proportion -but the Bush administration decided, in 2002, that this was the end of the Agreed Framework. This being the case, North Korea threw out the IAEA, re-opened their graphite reactors, and began processing the plutonium rods in bomb fuel. Crossing the “red line” that the Clinton team had set up, and precipitating the current crisis. And the Bush response was to do nothing.
So was the Agreed Framework a failure? Judge for yourself. Under that regime, the Koreans may have produced some amount of bomb-grade enriched uranium, although there a number of reasons to be very skeptical of that claim. Under that regime, which had clearly designated lines of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, the North Korean plutonium program was stopped stone cold for 8 years, a well-verified fact. Compared to The Bestest Policy I Could Ever Dream Of, then, it sucked. Compared to the current muddle, however, where in two years the Koreans have tripled their nuclear arsenal and advanced their nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities completely unchecked, it was pure flawless; but, then, so is almost anything. And it is still possible that China might organize a peaceful coup and de-nuke the DPRK, although if that is their intent I don’t know what they’re waiting for, or maybe there will be a peaceful revolution and North Korea will suddenly turn from The Craziest Country On Earth into a nice country that only wants what is best for us. As long as these things are possible, there is hope; but while hope is lovely, I would somewhat prefer a plan. Though it’s really a bit late in the day for that now.
Reading this post, I had the chilling thought that the Bush Administration may actually be pinning its hopes on the hugely expensive non-functional -- but deployed nevertheless -- ballistic missile defense boondoggle to defend the US from a North Korean nuclear threat.
Even more chilling is the thought that the nonworking ballistic missile defense system may yet be more effective than Bush Administration foreign policy.
The important thing to understand is that the attempt to turn Social Security into nothing but a program for the poor isn't driven by concerns about the future budget burden of benefit payments. After all, if Mr. Bush was worried about the budget, he would be reconsidering his tax cuts.
No, this is about ideology: Mr. Bush comes to bury Social Security, not to save it. His goal is to turn F.D.R.'s most durable achievement into an unpopular welfare program, so some future president will be able to attack it with tall tales about Social Security queens driving Cadillacs.
Bush Administration apologists sometimes snivel that Democrats are only opposed to Bush's so-called (and increasingly unpopular) "reform" because it's Bush's plan. Granting the premise for the sake of argument, what of it? The Republican Party has made no secret of its emnity toward Social Security -- after all, its effectiveness and popularity put lie to the GOP's central thesis that government can't do anything right.
Moreover, Bush's insistence on private accounts, his constant dishonesty about Social Security facing "bankruptcy" (by which standard the US Treasury is already "bankrupt," thanks to Bush's massive deficits) and his Bamboozlepalooza tour hardly support the notion that Bush truly wants to save, not destroy, Social Security. Bush started out with little credibility on this issue and has been losing it ever since. And, of course, in Iraq we have a superb example of what happens when we trust Bush to deal with an issue he claims is an urgent crisis.
No, no -- Complaints about Bush's opposition not trusting him seek to presuppose that Bush is in fact trustworthy, and that premise is simply not supportable. Democrats and moderate Republicans are right to regard Bush's proposals with deep skepticism.
Update:Mark Kleiman wonders, "[S]ince when is hamming the middle class while doing nothing for the poor in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich "Robin Hood" behavior?" An excellent point -- as Krugman has pointed out before, Bush's desire to slash Social Security -- into which working Americans like me have been paying extra since the 1980s in anticipation of the baby boom retirement Bush now cites as a "crisis" -- has more to do with making permanent Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy than preserving the system. It's a classic Bush bait-and-switch, so once again, skepticism is the only rational response.
Kevin Drum riffs off of Julian Sanchez in smacking down some revisionist history from certain warbloggers who like to pretend that Bush's main selling point for his coveted invasion of Iraq was to spread democracy.
Seriously now. We all know that this was advanced as a benefit of the invasion, but gimme a break. If someone sells you "a Porche with a nice stereo system" and you then discover you've actually bought a Dodge Dart, are you supposed to be mollified because it actually has had a nice stereo system installed?
...There were, of course, a few bloggers who thought that creating a democracy in the region was the best reason to go to war. But they all acknowledged at the time, at least, that this wasn't how the war was being sold, though they acknowleded that clever folk like them could get the message by reading between the lines.
Here's what I'd call "revisionism": Pretending that the imminent danger of some kind of WMD attack-by-terrorist-proxy hatched in Iraq wasn't, by an overwhelming margin, the major prong of the case for the war and a necessary condition of building public support for it.
[E]xcept in passing, George Bush didn't mention democracy promotion as a rationale for the war until his AIE speech of February 26, a mere three weeks before the bombing started. The fact that he went months with barely a mention of freedom and democracy in the Middle East — and then made such a lame speech when he did finally mention it — was one of the main reasons that I turned against the war. I originally supported the war as a way to "promote the values of tolerance, human rights, and democratic self-government" in the Middle East, but then switched sides when I finally concluded that my reasons for supporting the war were not George Bush's ("It's simply become wishful thinking to believe that Bush is really committed to any kind of serious effort to promote democracy in Iraq"). In other words, I have a pretty good memory about this stuff since it had a considerable effect on my own thinking.
Still not convinced? Here is Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, delivered seven weeks before the war started. Read through it. There are 1,200 words about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the danger they pose. There are exactly zero words about bringing democracy to Iraq and the greater Middle East. In fact, aside from a passing reference to Palestine, the word "democracy" is used only once in the entire speech: in reference to Iran, in a passage that specifically states that "different threats require different strategies." The United States supports Iranian aspirations, Bush said, but that's all. It's not a reason to go to war.
I can't look into George Bush's heart, but I can listen to his words and watch his deeds. And based on that, democracy promotion was not on his agenda before the war, during the war, or after the war until the Ayatollah Sistani forced his hand. Let's not demean history by pretending otherwise.
In a word, indeed. And, of course, we know that the weapons rationale was so much hot air.
Ian Snell allowed one run in seven innings and Graham Koonce hit a two-run homer to lead the Indianapolis Indians to a 4-1 win over the Louisville Bats on Saturday night at Victory Field.
Louisville scored its only run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Edwin Encarnacion that scored William Bergolla, who had reached on a single.
That was the only scoring until the bottom of the sixth, when Jose Castillo's solo home run tied the score 1-1. The Indians took the lead in the seventh when Yurendell de Caster tripled off losing pitcher Brian Shackelford (0-2), scoring Jon Nunnally.
Koonce added his home run in the eighth to make it 4-1.
Snell (4-0) had six strikeouts and one walk in the win, and Kirk Bullinger pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
I was a little worried because our Five-Year-Old seemed intent on coming home with a foul ball, and, of course, there's no guarantee that'll happen. I told her she should just enjoy the game, but lo and behold, we got one. Someone hit a foul fly ball that bounced off the roof over the bleachers, and I actually got my hand on it. (I also learned why organized baseball players adopted the glove.) I dropped it, but Cecilia dived under the seats after it and came up with it. After the game, right-fielder Jon Nunnaly autographed the ball by the dugout. One of the things I love about minor-league ball is that the players are generally accessible -- indeed, Nunally appeared to enjoy quite a bit of attention from fans.