Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can You Break A 100,000,000,000,000?

I just read that Zimbabwe recently printed a Z$100 Trillion note. Zounds that's a big number. It makes the Z$50 Billion note pictured seem quaint.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Drinking the Kool-Aid

I certainly enjoy hyperbole in the service of humor. I love it! In earnest public debate, however, I usually find it to be tiresome and/or grating at best, and all too often repugnant and offensive. Lately a noxious and outlandish comparison has come to my attention that to my knowledge no one has thought to comment upon: "drinking the kool-aid." It's been said that Obama supporters have "drank the kool-aid," that faithless members of the Right have "drank the kool-aid," that a few brave conservatives have refused to "drink [Obama's] kool-aid." This is the worst kind of hyperbole: stealthy and pernicious.

The kool-aid in question was a refreshing beverage and mass-suicide potion served to cult members by their charismatic leader in South America in 1978. Now, I will grant that Obama does have undeniably messianic, charismatic qualities. I will also grant that these qualities bring out a devotion in people that extends well beyond what is rational. But this weak comparison ends there. Barack Obama is a scholar and statesman, a man with a taste for debate and intellectual rigor. He is not a man who seeks blind obedience, nor does he have any apparent megalomaniac tendencies. He seems to be measured and thoughtful and deliberate in all things.

On the other hand, there was a president who for eight years demanded unquestioning support, who shrouded his administration in an unprecedented veil of secrecy, who claimed sanction from God, and who kept his own counsel of what is right and what is wrong, much of which flew in the face of the U.S. Constitution and international laws and conventions. Now that does sound just a bit like a cult figure.

The Man-Machine

I might possibly be getting stranger. Or perhaps I have adult onset OCD. I noticed today with some embarrassment that I always sit on the east side of the bus. When I am going north to work, I seat myself on the passenger's side of the bus. When I am southbound and returning home, I seat myself on the driver's side of the bus. This is compulsive, unconscious behavior that I am at a loss to explain. Why do I it? How long have I been doing it? Why did I notice it this morning? Weird.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pretty Much Sums Up The Bush Years

Three cheers for David Rees, who made the insanity of 9/11 and the grotesque politics that that tragedy spawned hilarious, if painfully so. After seven years, he's wrapping up Get Your War On this month. It was a brilliant web comic. Godspeed my friend.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just Plain Ugly

Oh man, I've gotta stop. I've been binging on economic news and the inner workings of the colossal scandal on Wall Street for the past few weeks and I'm starting to get really depressed. Why do I do that to myself? Probably because I'm a "liberal."

Around election time, journalists trot out the curious results of annual surveys that clearly indicate conservatives consistently self-report being happier than liberals (incidentally, I meant to write about this year's crop of stories on the subject earlier, but I was just too damn pleased about the election results).

Generally I consider myself to be a pretty happy, optimistic person. I always have. But I cannot truly say that I am a "very happy" person. So I suppose I fit this poll and these broad categorizations neatly. But why don't I consider myself "very happy"? I just can't when I feel so much outrage about the about endless war and poverty and violence and environmental degradation and unemployment and any number of issues. I feel human misery in my bones and I want to help. In other words, I pay attention to the news and I believe that people can and should do something about each other's problems.

Good grief that sounds corny. Maybe I should just tune it all out! That might just be how conservatives do it. After all, Stephen Colbert is fond of saying, "facts have a well-known liberal bias."