‘An idiocy of immeasurable power’

‘An idiocy of immeasurable power’ October 16, 2012

At Lawyers Guns & Money, SEK highlights one of the more atrocious moments from the vice presidential debate:

The one thing you don’t address — the one you know better than to pursue — the one that must be avoided at all costs — the one that must not even be mentioned in a debate with Joe Biden is a tragic car accident. The attempt to elicit sympathy for Romney by anecdotal proxy is a poor enough of a play. The decision to do so via an anecdote about a tragic car accident in a debate with Joe Biden means you’re either a sociopath or possessed of an idiocy of immeasurable power.

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Farhad Manjoo has a righteous screed against website pagination: “Stop Pagination Now

Pagination is one of the worst design and usability sins on the Web, the kind of obvious no-no that should have gone out with blinky text, dancing cat animations, and autoplaying music. It shows constant, quiet contempt for people who should be any news site’s highest priority — folks who want to read articles all the way to the end.

Pagination persists because splitting a single-page article into two pages can, in theory, yield twice as many opportunities to display ads — though in practice it doesn’t because lots of readers never bother to click past the first page. …

When Gannett switch to a click-chasing template that split even the shortest articles into multiple pages, we called it the “F–k the Capricorns” rule. Even the daily horoscope was split into multiple pages on the paper’s site — with the first 11 horoscopes on the first page and the 12th, all by itself, on page 2.

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Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, is facing what looks to be a growing wave of strikes. What’s most interesting here is that Walmart is — quite famously — not a unionized company. The current state of American labor law makes unionizing worksites at a company like Walmart extraordinarily difficult, and the political outlook for major revision to the relevant laws is extremely poor. So the question of whether it’s possible for workers to effectively organize themselves and engage in industrial action outside the context of the formal legal framework that governs collective bargaining in the United States is a very important one. Legislative change has often been seen as the key to a revival of labor activism in the United States, but obviously unions didn’t become influential in the first place because of a friendly political climate — like any new social movement they became powerful despite the hostile political climate and then thanks to their growing power were temporarily able to create a friendly climate.

— Matt Yglesias, “The spreading wave of Walmart strikes

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• At some basic level, it’s puzzling: Others are happy; therefore we must be furious, indignant and un-happy. Why? It seems like some kind of instinctive attempt to preserve a constant level of misery in the world.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” is a biblical commandment, remember. It’s also good advice, for your own sake.

Even if the pots are already clean and you’re just posing for a cynical photo-op, you should still take your watch off.

• The Public Religion Research Institute finds that: “A slim majority (53 percent) of Americans favor tougher laws and regulations to protect the environment even if it raises prices or costs jobs.”

Which is to say that a majority of Americans favors tougher environmental protections even if PRRI decides to frame the question using the most corporate-friendly, Frank Luntz-concocted jobs-vs.-environment hogwash phrasing.

• I’m pleased I finally got the chance to work with Amy Poehler. You can too.

• “Violentacrez,” the creepy old man of Reddit’s “Jailbait” forums, is outed on Gawker by Adrian Chen.

Once his identity became public, Chen reports in a follow-up, Michael Brutsch was fired by his employer: “Since 2004, Brutsch has worked as a programmer at the Arlington, Tex., company First Cash Financial Services, which offers payday loans and operates pawn shops.”

Yes, Brutsch is that sleazy — so skin-crawlingly awful that he got fired by a payday lender worried that being associated with him might damage its reputation.

• “Let’s meet at the same table, with the same host, to remember the same things.” Election Day Communion, Nov. 6, 2012.

Interesting. Seems cool, although the language at the link seems so eager to rise above the fray that it seems to look down on it. That’s troublesome, because the fray is pretty darned important.

• The Atlantic Wind Connection, “a massive transmission backbone along the Eastern seaboard connected to a series of offshore wind farms,” could create more than 70,000 jobs.

But it probably won’t get built, because American energy is still controlled by the worst minds of the early 20th century. “Drill, baby, drill” is why our supposedly “exceptional” nation still has the same number of offshore wind farms as landlocked and impoverished Malawi.

• “According to the Innocence Project, Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th person to be exonerated of a wrongful conviction by DNA evidence in the United States.”

This is both a triumphant milestone and an appalling one. That these 300 people have been exonerated is a Good Thing. That they were all wrongly convicted is a Very Bad Thing.

Damon Thibodeaux was on death row. He spent 15 years behind bars for something he did not do.

And that means, of course, that whoever did murder his cousin has been free — unpunished, unstopped, unpursued and unperturbed — for 15 yeears.

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