Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

Decline & Falling: Part I

For some inexplicable reason, I happily stumbled across Piers Brendon’s riveting book about the decline and fall of the British Empire this morning, so it seems appropriate to post clips each day from this provocative 2002 TWI/Carlton documentary about the same subject.

Here’s a great quote from the introduction where Brendon attempts to extricate himself from the inevitable connection to Gibbon and the unavoidable analogy the title of his book invites: “Rome was vast palimpsest of human experience, barely legible, hard to decipher, inveterately oracular.”

On a personal note, my parents were part of that wave of emigrants described in the film — something that for many years I resented deeply and still to this day have rather mixed feelings about.



Filed under History

Glenn Beck’s “Secret Army” Myth

The claim: “They’ve been allocated five billion dollars, your money from the Treasury…”

The reality: “On May 7, 2009, President Barack Obama released his detailed fiscal year 2010 budget request. The budget requests $1.149 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service [AmeriCorps] and its programs.”

I won’t even venture into the ludicrous conflation that the “five billion dollars” (which itself is utterly bogus) Beck asserts is being funneled into Obama’s “Secret Army” is “pretty close to the budget for the military for day to day operations…” other than to note that the Pentagon’s annual budget works out to approximately $1.4 billion per day — and that doesn’t include routine expenditures for the two wars currently being waged that are largely accounted for off the books. So, the bottom line here is that the actual budget request for various AmeriCorps initiatives for the next year is roughly equivalent to one day’s worth of spending on the military.

Darn those pesky “liberal” facts!

p.s. Bonus comedy at the end of the clip when Glenn previews his show tomorrow and warns of the coming “OLIGARH” (one letter is missing — but it’s not “G” apparently).


Filed under Wingnuts

Saying One Thing – Doing Another

It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

To be honest, I don’t really have any problem with Harper’s appointments, but they are quite amusing in light of his past statements about the issue. Safe to say than any statements the Dear Leader said in the past about his so-called “principles” are now completely irrelevant as he extemporizes his way forward…

Update: Too funny. And for more hilarity, check out this unctuous stream of addlepated drivel. WARNING: Use of motion sickness bag is recommended.

Douche Crux of the Matter Update:

To all those who have left nasty comments (that I didn’t approve) about how Mr. Harper has said, many times, that he didn’t want to have to appoint Senators — that is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

It never fails to amuse witnessing the elaborate rhetorical hoops that Sandy “I’m not a Conservative partisan” Crux will jump through to painfully rationalize and justify her insanely slavish hero-worship of the Dear Leader and unqualified approval of every single one of his contradictory, hypocritical policies and so-called “accomplishments” as she likes to describe the routine business of government.


Filed under Conservative Hypocrisy, STEPHEN HARPER Govrnment of Canada

The “Surprising” Science of Motivation

An interesting and highly entertaining talk by Dan Pink (former speechwriter for Al Gore, amongst other things) about the apparent disconnect “between what science knows and what business does” when it comes to the challenges of motivation and productivity. Evidently, the familiar rewards and extrinsic motivators traditionally employed in the past are actually far less effective than has been generally assumed.

While the findings of the various studies mentioned are at best marginally surprising (if only to the extent of having one’s preconceived notions about such things scientifically verified), the conclusions drawn from them don’t seem all that relevant to the majority of work environments that are inherently quite monotonous and necessarily require little (if anything) in the way of innovation or creative candlepower from employees.


Filed under Management

The Outer Limits

Q: What happens when Glenn Beck invites Rush Limbaugh on his show?

A: Hysterical speculation about “hidden agendas” and a “secret army” and other hypothetically nefarious subterfuge leading to… well, something. Glenn and Rush aren’t exactly certain what (the threat of a sudden Communist coup d’état perhaps?), but most certainly it’s “dangerous” and SCARY!!!

Alex Jones must be kind of pissed that these guys are now horning in so aggressively on his bailiwick of wild-eyed, lunatic fringe nuttiness and freaked-out paranoia — and, it has to be admitted, importing it with a considerable degree of success into the mainstream of the “conservative media ” (and yes, Rush did actually use that expression).

Update: Uh oh! Bad news for Beck, Rush and their ilk. But then I guess that the 79% of people in favour of having a federal government health insurance option on the table aren’t “real” patriotic Americans, but are Communist/Fascist thugs, Obamacrat bullies, leftist zombies, baby killers and chainsaw murderers…

h/t: Woman@MileZero via Twitter.

Update2: Don’t you just hate those “ANGRY liberals”…?


Filed under Obama Administration, Wingnuts

Healthcare Reform & Privacy

Howard Dean responds to a question at the Reston, VA town hall meeting about whether healthcare reform might potentially threaten the privacy of individuals.

It’s interesting to see how Dean turned what might otherwise have been casually dismissed as nothing more than unfounded paranoia into a thoughtful response addressing the much broader issue of legitimate privacy concerns vis-à-vis both the government and private corporations.


Filed under Health Care & Medicine

Countdown: UHG Exposé

It defies understanding why anyone in their right mind would defend a system that allows companies that are by all measures dreadful service providers (e.g., rated 91% unfavourable by hospitals in a LAT survey) such as United Health Group not only to exist, but actually thrive with fantastic success. Last year, United Health Group made an astounding $5 billion in profit; an amount that unless you’re fortunate enough to be a shareholder of UHG, seems like a completely obscene amount of money.

And yet, there are many Americans who will vigorously defend the concept of “for profit” healthcare despite such egregious examples of waste, fraud and abuse on the part of companies such as UHG, and view any attempt to introduce a “public option” as an attempt to undermine the free market system. To them, the premise that decent, basic healthcare is an inherent right of every citizen — as opposed to a privilege that must be earned — is nothing short of an ideological anathema.


Filed under Health Care & Medicine