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      Let’s run thru the most likely possible victories in the upcoming federal election and consider what they mean for America’s future. Put them in 4 baskets. Trump wins. He does more bad stuff, situation continues to get worse, American post-WWII style multilateral hegemony and trade order takes huge hits. Biden or Harris win. Harris will […]
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Wednesday: Life, the Universe and Change!

I was hanging around YouTube the other day, aimlessly clicking away, when I found what looks like the entire catalog of James Burke’s Connections and The Day the Universe Changed series in neat little 10 minute packets.  For those of you who were mere twinkles in your fathers’ eyes at the time, James Burke is a historian whose specialty is the history and philosophy of science.  His series traced the route of technological breakthroughs from their humble beginnings to the modern era.  He’s full of nifty facts and his presentation style is wry and witty.  Yesterday, I got to episode 8 of The Day the Universe Changed, Fit to Rule, where Burke lays out Darwin’s theory of natural selection and describes how three societies got it horribly wrong in three different ways.  Yes, America is in there as example number 2:

Now, why bring this up?  I think it’s because at the time this series was produced, back in the early eighties, we were right in the middle of a renaissance of the “rugged individualist” model.  Ronald Reagan had been elected and the movie Wall Street, with Michael Douglas in suspenders chanting “Greed is good!” was just around the corner.  Burke doesn’t pass judgment on our attitudes and misinterpretation of Darwin.  But let’s face it, the two other examples of the social Darwinism, the Third Reich and Soviet Communism, aren’t exactly great company.

What Burke discovers is a peculiar characteristic of the American culture.  Our mindset and philosophy is very much formed by our experience of leaving it all behind and facing new challenges on the wild frontier.  It was shaped by the need to survive a hostile environment and sometimes hostile native Americans.  But the interpretation of natural selection that the pioneers understood, violent struggle and take what you can before someone else takes it from you, has outlived its usefulness.  What Darwin really said was that organisms that had the ability to adapt to their environments would survive.  Right now, our country is failing to adapt.  In part this is due to the Randian business culture that sees globalization and the race to the bottom in wage compensation as an inevitable thing.  But the problem with that philosophy is that what allowed wealth and prosperity to flourish in the United States was the rule of law and democracy that gave average Americans the opportunity to succeed, protected from the most of the outrages of corruption that plague less prosperous countries.  That is not to say that the industrialists didn’t have their way before The Great Depression.  But the years following World War II saw one of the greatest expansions of wealth and equality that the world has ever known.  And part of that was due to the fact that Americans who had good ideas were not confined to the lower stratums of society where birth determined their futures.  If you’ve seen Slumbdog Millionaire recently, you know what I’m talking about.  The idea that a mere chai walla would know the answers to some pretty sophisticated questions in India still seems to be improbable in that country. However, those of us who are losing our jobs to globalization know that even in India, there are hundreds of thousands of well trained people who will do the job cheaply.  What they *aren’t* allowed to do is create.  The PhDs in India are merely a pair of hands to their corporate masters in the United States.  They’re overqualified.

What would happen if individuals had the power to create again?  That is the part of Darwin’s theory that I think our MBA culture ignores in its pursuit of the bottom line and one of the reasons I think America is going to go the way of the do-do if it doesn’t change its ways.  Back when Pell grants were not impossible to get, before Reagan came into office, it was possible for a person of humble origin, yours truly, to become the first in her family to go to college.  Back in those days, people still had health insurance and pensions.  Social security meant that if you decided to strike out on your own and create a business, you had something to fall back on if you failed.  Yes, crime was a problem, but corruption was dealt with more seriously.  What made this country successful as an organism were the institutions that allowed creativity to thrive.  What happens to a country that rips all of that away in its pursuit of draining the public of its wealth just because it can?

Let’s not get too depressed.  There is still plenty of opportunity in this country to turn this around.  For example, we *could* make sure that students get the financial aid they need to go to college without it becoming a lifelong crushing debt and indentured servitude.  We could invest in alternative energy and become world leaders in the field.  We could get it into our heads that teleconferences in the middle of the night with programmers in India are not the best use of either country’s personnel.  We could recognize that if we don’t shore up the middle class and improve their compensation packages and safety net, there will be significantly fewer consumers of new products in the future.

The question is, how do we neutralize the Randian MBA culture that brought us to this point?  Maybe that is the Change! we all need.

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71 Responses

  1. Wow, RD. Helluva post here. The Randian MBA cuture explains why ER nurses are told to get an MBA if they want their careers “accelerated”.

  2. Good post. The USA is de-evolving.

  3. Exactly right. Our educated work force and democracy working together was the envy of the world. We prospered when we seriously enforced the concept of the Level Playing Field and investment in the Middle Class.

    In the 80s we went back to robberbaronism (the new individualism of cutthroating your way to the top). Restraint, regulations, rules and laws is for suckers and socialists.

    Corporate America had it all. Just had to play by the rules, invest in your most valuable resource, and everybody wins.

  4. You comment that there’s plenty of time to turn this all around…

    But what if the plan is NOT to turn this around?

    What if the design is to drag everything down along with us? Deliberately?? We’re fretting about this recently.

    As you comment: “Right now, our country is failing to adapt. In part this is due to the Randian business culture that sees globalization and the race to the bottom in wage compensation as an inevitable thing.”

    Right on the mark! So, when we write about the North American Community, Canada and Mexico, etc. it’s from that vantage point.

    Well, today we look at Canada and the “ties” pop up no matter how hard we try to avoid seeing them…it’s in the language and the actions. You see how things are tied together… It really like tentacles of a huge octopus…

    What’s Going On North of the Border: The Canadian Economy and Stimulus Plan

    http://insightanalytical.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/whats-going-on-north-of-the-border-canadian-economy-and-stimulus-plan/

    And that is the BIG QUESTION–as you say, how do we “neutralize” it? Especially without leaders who want to do it??? And a public that doesn’t see it all?

  5. They rerun that Burke series now and then on Public TV. It’s great.

  6. Let’s welcome the overqualified Indian PhDs to the US. All of us overqualified and undervalued folks around the world should get together and displace the stuffy, underqualified, over-inflated people who are currently making a mess of things.

    Can you believe that Congress is getting an automatic salary increase?!

  7. BBoomer, you mean get together while we still can, before we are solidly displaced by a permanant underclass, chai wallah equivalents.

  8. Thanks for the memories!! We weren’t allowed too much tv growing up (only had a about 4 channels anyway), but we always allowed to watch the Burke series. Great show.

  9. RD, I would join the Opportunity Party – where we emphasize education and a safety net. We need a revised American Dream. I think PUMA is leading in this direction.

  10. What made this country successful as an organism were the institutions that allowed creativity to thrive. What happens to a country that rips all of that away in its pursuit of draining the public of its wealth just because it can?

    Spectacular post….and it discusses a very troubling part of what we are experiencing . When the corporate mind set takes over every aspect of a society , the new and invigorating is stopped, and that = death.

    Corporate only understands the known…and sees “progress” as pumping up the known to further heights …. But that does not vitalize the whole , as the new does .

    It maybe a silly example, but I can’t get over how for years now every 60’s TV series has been made into a movie and a musical…rather than promote something new .

    The corporate mind set is a tool, not a guide post. If the corporate mind set is the deciding factor in all things, we are all on the block. IMO

    • “It maybe a silly example, but I can’t get over how for years now every 60’s TV series has been made into a movie and a musical…rather than promote something new .”

      Interesting point. All those PBS specials related to the 60’s too. Of course, they want to get pledge dollars from their older audience. And musicals are seen by the people who have expendable income – not as many people can afford to go now.

      As we have discussed on this blog there is a spirit from the sixties that was broadly shared. We have not had a similar widespread empowering generational phenomenon since. The 60’s is still seen by some as the “radical” lifestyle to emulate. Whatever its not so revolutionary outcomes, the sixties was a time of hope and a belief in the possibility of making a better world. And, of course, whatever the radicalism of the times – it’s not at all threatening now. Didn’t I hear a Dylan song used in a commercial during the Super Bowl?

  11. paper doll, on March 11th, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Creativity died in the entertainment business. There is really nothing new anymore. So many remakes.

    OT: what happened to Pat J?

  12. DT, Pat is around. She had some great posts yesterday. She’s also appearing at other blogs.

  13. “Creativity died in the entertainment business.”

    Ha! It’s true. There’s a handful of formulas that the people in charge keep rotating. Whenever something becomes a hit, there will be many more just like it. I’ve worked on reality TV shows for a few years and the networks keep putting restraints on what we can do. There was a fantastic docu-series I worked on about a group of American women traveling through Africa for the Travel Channel a few years back. One of the first things Travel did was send us a few episodes of another travel show they had about a group of banal 20 year olds doing stupid things around the world – and they told us to try to emulate that garbage. We did what we could to resist. We still made a very good series, but the very fact that the network wanted our different idea to be just like another idea they’ve already put on the air pretty much sums up how the industry works.

    “Can’t you just see it! It’s The Terminator meets The Golden Girls! It’s gonna be a hit!”

  14. America made a wrong turn somewhere.

    My father was selling newspapers on the streets barefoot as a boy, to keep his widowed mother and poliomelitic sister. Yet by the late 40s he already had his degree in electrical engineering.

    Today people in those kind of straits, could never ever have a son going to university. And if they ever did, they would be saddled with debt.

    • My dad was selling papers and magazines during the Depression too. Later he became a full professor and has a nice retirement. But after the war he had the GI Bill, he got a GI loan to buy a house and paid about 2% interest for a 30 year loan. In the 1950s and ’60s, the rich and corporations had to pay taxes. In 1980, we headed back on a course toward the new robber baron days. Most of my generation did not do as well as their parents.

  15. In this house we stopped making jokes like, “My Mother the Car, The Musical” because we felt we were giving them ” ideas” ! lol! The regurgitation of these 60’s TV series went though the movie mill. They are now humming though the musical mill. When corporate is all and culture becomes another product …this is what you get , 2nd hand sausage.

  16. I’m reposting from the previous thread, speaking of TV shows:

    Any “Angel” fans out there? I was thinking about this: Obama is just like Jasmine! Remember her? The evil being that hypnotized the world into a bunch of brainless “shiny happy people?” Only Fred can see the truth of how evil Jasmine is – and everyone tries to kill her for it? It’s positively prophetic.

  17. Laurie, on March 11th, 2009 at 10:12 am Said:

    ….Today people in those kind of straits, could never ever have a son going to university. And if they ever did, they would be saddled with debt….

    It’s extra cruel when young people have these post collage debts loads and there are no jobs at the end . Your Dad got a degree in electrical engineering and he could go to work here . As you say, today kids are faced with somehow scrapping up the tuition , then having the huge debt, then no job on top of that ? ….how long will collages keep open.?

    Charging kids 26-30% on thier already high tuition is insanity for a society .

    • Yes, my son is trying to get a place on an Erasmus project. It’s an exchange program for students in Europe. Basically if accepted, but it’s not difficult to get in, you can spend 3-6-12 months at a foreign university. In his case, art school-it’s all free and they give you a small grant towards living expenses. The exams you do at the foreign European uni are recognised at your home college.

      Anyway, to get to the point, he wants to go to Helsinki in Finland. Finland I’ve found out has a fantastic system. ALL colleges and Universities have no fees-those are paid by the State. It’s what’s known as State socialism.

      When I see Repubs saying that Obama is a socialist-I’ll believe it when I see UHC and free schooling.

      • ALL colleges and Universities have no fees-those are paid by the State. It’s what’s known as State socialism.

        When I see Repubs saying that Obama is a socialist-I’ll believe it when I see UHC and free schooling.

        France, Scandinavian countries, Germany, Belgium and maybe Switzerland and England all have free education up to universities.

        I think Hillary would have made better changes and had more options for students to get a higher education. It would never be free (too much socialism for many) but better loans and more opportunity to grants can make a difference. Universal preschool would have been a great head start and then maybe universal education after people had gotten used to UPS.

        • yes, pre-school can make a lot of difference for deprived kids.

          However , I’ve always wished I’d done home schooling with my kid. Just to get away from the drudgery of the same walls and subliminal boredom.
          At the time I was worried about the lost social aspects of keeping him at home, so off he went to pre-school.

        • On the stump, Hillary made a point about the interest currently on student loans….asking people to shout out what they were paying…usually mid to high 20%.

          Hillary then said she was charged about 2%, I repete, 2.% Because it was done though the government. ; not to make a huge profit, but to educate our youth.( amazing concept, I know! ) Once lending to kids for collage became a for profit industry, the parents had to get involved and then whole families….now families can’t plan for collage. It’s for the wealthy again.

          Hillary pointed out that because she was just charged 2%, she could afford to take a year off after getting her law decree for activism. That kids cannot do that now is not progress.

  18. DYB, on March 11th, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Since you work in the tv business I need to ask. What is the deal with all the reality shows? I don’t understand it. Since reality shows became popular a few years back, plenty of junk (Kid Nation, Love or Money, The Bachelor, Punk ) has been put on to our tv screens. People will apparently do anything for money. Why do networks keep investing in these shows since only 3% of it is good.

    I like some documentaries

    What was the name of the docu-series?
    Two years back I watched this documentary about Jesus and there being two other fellows who had the same gifts as him but I don’t remember the name of the documentary. Still looking.

    “Can’t you just see it! It’s The Terminator meets The Golden Girls! It’s gonna be a hit!”

    It has become too much about money and instant fame that tv networks stopped caring about content and quality. I think so many promising shows are cancelled way too early. Five episodes and it is cancelled. This is the reason I gave up watching new tv shows. I no longer have the time to invest in something that won’t last long.

    • If I remember correctly the avalanche of reality shows came about during the last writers strike. After the shows in the can ran out the networks went with unscripted reality shows.

      • No, Europe has been invaded by them too. It wasn’t the strike’s fault. They’re just cheaper to produce and have an audience.

        • I think were overwhelmed with them during the writers strike but yes they are still with us because of their lack of cost.

    • Also reality shows are much, much cheaper to produce than scripted shows — what with all those “writers” having to eat (not to mention the “stars” of the shows getting big heads & demanded $1 million an episode). Like Rachel’s new haircut is going to save the world {rolls eyes}

      • I think since that network was getting lots of money, the salary increase was deserved. Not all actors demanded 1 million per episode every show

        The problem is now they don’t invest in any really good shows. The good ones are all cancelled too early. Something is lost if money is all they think about

    • Reality shows (some of which are good, most of which are watchable, and a lot of which are nauseating) are around for a few reasons.

      1) People actually watch them!

      2) Networks want them because as angie points out: they are cheap to produce. Scripted shows you pay not just the writers, but directors, actors, multiple locations, etc. etc. etc. Scripted shows cost a fortune and if they flop – the network can lose millions. Reality shows cost a lot less and so the risk isn’t as great. (Interestingly, the pay scheme is very different on reality shows than scripted/feature films. For example, assistant editors make more money on reality shows than scripted/features. Most of the money on scripted/features goes to the actors/directors/locations/special effects.)

      3) There’s a lot of channels out there and something has to fill up all that air. Reality TV costs little and can be done quickly.

      That Travel docu-series about Africa I mentioned was called “Moms On The Road: Africa.” It was an 8 hour program about eight women trucking through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. Visiting everything from a UN Refugee Camp to the Delta to Victoria Falls.

      • Yeah. Cable probably killed good drama on TV. God knows how Law and Order keeps it up. Turns out reality is cheap, we like being voyeurs (see youtube), and we like identifying with “real” people as much as oogling over celebrities. Of course, these “real” people have become celebrities too. NBC is planning a reality show around Seinfeld now. So it’s all mixed up. DYB would know better, but maybe everything turning to crap on TV has been good for the movie business. Dunno. The web definitely benefits.

      • DYB– That’s too bad about the show, we would have watched that at my house. You have proven that some reality shows can also be positive.

        Reality shows also give us a vicarious thrill as well as opportunity to criticeize others in a non hurtful way. Personally, I’m venting myself through “Highschool reunion.” I just can’t believe how some people after 20 years haven’t gotten over their highschool issues!

        • I wish I’d had more high school issues, my head was so buried in homework..

        • “Moms on the Road: Africa” aired in autumn of 2006. The ratings were middling and the network did not order another season. We were hoping they’d order an episode about India, China, etc. (And yes, I know Africa is a continent! LOL.) But it was not to be.

          I watch very little television myself. “The Amazing Race” I watch. And the new Joss Whedon show “Dollhouse,” though it’s not great. And that’s about it!

          Three Wickets> I don’t know nutin’ about feature films. It’s a very small and closed circle and impossible to break through, especially in NYC and especially in post-production. I’m afraid I’m doomed to making reality TV for the rest of my life!

  19. Clean up needed in “Obama define’s Obama” thread @ 10:22 “ProgressiveSoup”

  20. DYB, on March 11th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Maybe Obama has special powers we don’t know about. He doesn’t need to do anything for one to know he is the best 🙄
    A tv character I can compare Obama to is President Palmer from 24. I never understood the fascination of this man. He was also a hypocrite and thought he was always right. Had others do the dirty job for him and when things did go wrong he started his righteous bull. He could never do wrong and his wife was more gutsy than him.

  21. My memory of the Reagan years is that greed went from being a vice to being a virtue. Folks boasted of their greedy “I got mine Jack!” attitude. And IMO this is were that attitude has brought us. To the economic, cultural and moral brink. Do we have the mettle to set things right and save ourselves from ruin? Sadly, I’m just not sure.

    • That would be great, kb. Actually, I was thinking it would be a great bookclub selection.
      It has a lot of important issues – so-called tort reform (name has people fooled – I know a few “liberals” who don’t really get what it means. Of course, they are also obots.), the horrible destruction of our environment, and actually murder, by polluting corporations, pesticides, water, trial lawyers (they’re mostly the good guys, though not always), and, creation of a candidate.

      Thanks, kb, for waiting until I finish it. Maybe it could be a group discussion.

    • Remember that spate of books with titles like Looking Out for Number One, lots of others of that ilk. I think that may have begun in the late seventies.

      I remember going to work in advertising in late seventies. I was a copywriter, thought it would be creative and make me rich. But I was caught up in the get rich thing. Very disappoining, though, past the first rush of getting a “man’s job” on Madison Ave.

      First, they chose the most uncreative commercials in my group. Second, both of my bosses, together actually, that’s how blatant they were, starting taking me out for drinks after work, or for three martini lunches, and tried to convince me that going to bed with them would be good for my c areer. I wonder now if they meant separately or together. Both were married, with children, one with a pregnant wife. I was in the process of getting separated, still married myself. Cosmopolitan articles convinced me that it would be bad for my “career”. I told them this, and always said “no”, but there was no such thing as sexual harassment suits at the time.

      When there were cutbacks a year or two later I was fired. I found out then that my co-young female writer was sleeping with the big boss. She wasn’t fired, and I found her work pedestrian and boring. Of course, that probably helped her. I guess Cosmo was wrong, too. I’ve always been naive in that way. Thought flirting would be enough.

      • What a story… I remember years ago reading about a young women in the ad business, she finally started her own agency, yeah one could do that way back….but her best story was about when she and others ( white men, natch) traveled to a client house in a chauffeured limo . During the meeting, she, the lone woman, was kept waiting out side .The AA driver asked if she’d like anything from the house, she said she’d like a glass of water. When he gave it to her, she said thanks…and he said that’s ” ok honey, us nigg*rs have to stick together ” .

        • Wow, pd. That was probably a few years earlier, like in Mad Men.

          By the late seventies women were starting to be hired, a few even becoming creative directors (maybe 5%). But from the very first day, flirting and downright harrassment was going on. But I think most of us were so grateful to even have those jobs that we weren’t to make waves that way. I think the same was true for “men’s jobs” in Hollywood, too. Of course sleeping your way to the top was probably an attractive option for many people, both men and women.

          • Mad Men , I can’t watch it! It’s TOO good! lol! It brings on horrid flash backs and I was just a child then . Awful. There really wasn’t any concept of ” domestic abuse” etc….it was called ” life. ” People lived in such fear all the time.

            That woman created her agency, but got guys on board, you betcha, because you had/ have to have guys in the room to be ” serious” . In fact, I think one was her husband. However she created it in the latter 60’s when talent could get you somewhere. The early 60’s and the later 60’s are two very differant places

          • Today women are 60% in the ad business, thought maybe 20% in upper management.

  22. Darwin doesn’t cover greed or fairness. That’s an affliction and gift respectively which is unique to humans. Scarcity of resources on the other hand is very much Darwin. America became wealthy because of its abundance of resources which capitalism harnessed for maximum efficiency. Resources can mean land, food, water, fuel, human capital and ingenuity. Nations that had it or stole it prospered, nations that didn’t suffered. Greed flourishes with the luxury of abundance which enables freedom and individualism, and wall street is its supreme manifestation. Fairness says there is something wrong with people starving in Bangladesh while Donald Trump lives in a mansion with too many room, and most institutionalized religions represent corrupted movements to embody that ideal.

    Today the world is a smaller, overpopulated place where national boundaries mean less, natural resources are becoming scarcer, and human capital has become more important than ever. In the animal world, this is when survival of the fittest kicks in and leads to ultimate conflict. So how will humans respond. Will we defer to greed or the twisted aberrations of social darwinism that Burke describes in the marxist ideal of the perfect form or the aryan ideal of a pure r@ce, in both cases hell bent on annihilating all opposition. Or will we reach for our collective better nature and look out for the survival and well being of the human r@ce in our drought stricken, bickering global village. I agree RD that our ability to adapt, create and innovate will make the difference. I might add compassion, collaboration and leadership to the list. As for Rand, though I’m not a big fan, there is a place for efficiency alongside fairness when resources become scarce, in my opinion.

  23. The quality of TV shows has declined, along with everything else. Not that TV was ever of really high quality, but there have been a few interesting and even ongoing shows – Northern Exposure, Thirty-Something, even The Rockford Files. It doesn’t have to be brilliant (though that would be nice), just well-written with interesting characters, good plot, something to entertain, that still has ideas. Same is true of contemporary novels, even movies have declined.

    The only things I find to watch any more are Ovation (about the arts, PBS, on occasion, and news shows, which are mostly unwatchable, because they are total propoganda for Obamanation.

    It’s a zeitgeist of stupidity and mindlessness, which I was hoping
    would change after Bush, under Hillary, but now it won’t. So sad.

    A book I’m reading now, which I recommend, The Appeal, by Grisholm. Far from great literature, it reads almost like non-fiction, about how the corporate structure defeats the little guy. About a lawsuit against a polluting giant that created a cancer cluster, intentionally and knowingly.
    An interesting twist is how the corporations put up their own tort reform candidate to control the Supreme Court (state), how they create him out of nothing (sound familiar?), market him and…..I’m not finished yet.
    Basically, they can’t lose because they have unlimited money, and money controls everything. Makes it all hopeless, doesn’t it? Campaign finance reform was our only hope, but Obama squashed that. How can ananything good happen , when corporations own every candidate? That’s probably our only hope for change, but can that happen?

    Grisholm was a Clinton supporter, book dated 2008, so I wonder how much pertains to the creation and marketing of Obama.

    • Speaktruth, I read that last spring just as reports were coming out about a tiny town in Missouri that has a cluster of 15 brain tumors. (I don’t want to spoil anything but, I’d love to talk about the book once your done)

    • I like Grisham and the fact that he and his wife were Hillary supporters to the end makes it better. She said that was going to vote for Hillary at the convention. I wonder if they witnessed any of the delegate intimidation.

    • That is a great book. Grisham’s point is that, the only way to ensure an impartial judicial system is by having appointed rather than elected state supreme court justices and appellate judges. As we already know, it’s all too easy to fix elections.

      I saw him on a talk show discussing the book last year. He said this stuff is happening right now in many states. If I remember correctly, he specifically mentioned MS and AL. It’s very frightening and under everyone’s radar.

      • I would appointments could be corrupt, too.
        See buying off superdelegates.

        I didn’t know Grisham’s wife was a delegate.
        I wonder if there’s any possibility that he could expose the fraud.
        I think the only problem with exposing it at this point is that it would only open the way for Repubs to win, which would solve nothing really, make it even worse. Yet that fraud should come out. It feels as if we’re trapped with only two choices – Obama and corrupt corporate shill Dems on one hand, Republicans on the other. How do we get back the old Dem Party? Or do we need a new Puma Party? Is that possible? Or Liberal Party that can win.

    • There was always bad television, and some of it is considered classic. I tried watching “Mission Impossible” and it is easily the stupidest thing ever put on television. But it’s a classic…go figure!

    • I can’t wait to read that one, but must be after my new book by David Baldacci “Saving Grace.” Love me them govt conspiracy novels.

  24. Oops, sorry, kb, somehow my reply to your comment came out in the wrong place, a few comments above. I think it was my fault, I was about to creply on another comment, and then saw yours, not realizing I pushed reply above.

    Still don’t like this nesting thing.

  25. City University of New York used to have *free* tuition and some of its alumni: “jurist Felix Frankfurter, the financier Bernard Baruch, the medical researcher Jonas Salk, the actor Edward G. Robinson, Mayor Edward Koch, and General Colin Powell.”
    http://www.answers.com/topic/city-university-of-new-york

  26. Has anyone seen nesting on internet explorer? It’s awful.

    Whereas on firefox or opera it’s fine

    • Hmm. Hadn’t thought to check Laurie. Nesting works fine for me on Firefox and Blackberry. Just checked out Explorer. At first glance, the visuals and formatting seem ok, but word and letter spacing in the reply box is kinda funky.

  27. speaktruth – its toture. Nesting is anti-lurking.

  28. This was just a great piece. I never could tolerate reading Rand, m’self — it always amazes me how many took her to heart.

    You are so right on this RD. That movie Wall Street does mark a turning point. We did have it “good” in college in those days. It was a creative time. When we went to work — companies had insurance — this is pre all the “choices” like HMO and so forth. Everybody in the company had the same plan, and it had eye and dental as I recall.

    People actually got raises! There were pensions of various sorts. Last night I was so happy to see your old Rico post. It seems I hadn’t seen that in ages! (and it brought a smile) —

    But that paperwork you were talking about? That all came in in the early late 80’s-90’s — so much paperwork, so many performance reviews — and so forth. Goals and so forth — it was insane! It was never like that before — was it? Frankly — too many middle managers were birthed just to handle shuffling all that paper back and forth.

    And insurance companies began to dictate! I feel that is the crux of it. I loved what you said about the “pioneers” because yes, we are — that is in all of our blood. It is our spirit — because our ancestors are part pilgrim perhaps? The ever outward press westward…
    It’s that “grit” that makes us survivors against harsh landscapes and times. One thing we also do have is inventiveness — we really do — and I think it is one of our cultural strongpoints — you would find that in any American regardless of education?

    There is something at the bottom of us — buried deep that stands up against injustices.

    I think I got 4 Pell Grants — $400 each — for the University of CA system. I had two part time jobs in college — I put myself through — like you did.

    It was so hard, sometimes — getting through — but see, that is part of the grit? In a way. This post-corporate era of my life has to do with the creativity you mention. For some reason I have thought a lot about my life at 13 this year — as you spoke of Brook.

    Like, where did it all start off? Once upon a time? And, what did I love and was best at? Like that. Like what is my basic skill pack?
    When a person starts to look in that pack deeply — man is there a lot in there! —

    So many years toiling as a corporate slave was non-fun. Those of us who worked for big companies can relate? To all the stuff RD talks about. I see the entrance of the computer in the 80’s as having “cubified” that creativity? For instance — in my company — the new software was always a battle — it just kept coming and coming with all the new machines — it took up TIME — just like all those papers to shuffle. It was so BORING to have to keep adapting to all of that — it really was. To have to learn all of that, over and over. Plus it cost fortunes! Fortunes to buy all of that — and it seems to me that Personnel Departments changed their name to Human Resources sometime in that era too.

    That cubification has been stifling –for creative types. I see science as an artform in a way — Newtonian? —– anyway off to watch that vid now but this was great — what a great piece of writing with so much truth and thought behind it.

    ps: RD — I ditched biology when it came to those frogs. I just couldn’t. So if Brook can’t, well? I admire you! By the time it came to college you could pick Geology and Geography and Anthropology and stuff like that…….!

    I probably would have been in detention too — except my mom wrote the notes. That rebel yell is in our gen. It must have been all the music…..

    hugs RD and Co.

  29. James Burke – now there is someone who I think would qualify as a true intellectual (as opposed to someone playing an intellectual with prompter in hand). I have the companion books for two of his series and what I always liked about them is that his approach encourages you to think and ask questions.

    Now – does You Tube have Cosmos (I never thought to look for these old treasures there).

    At any rate, my mother told me about this article on a life long friend of hers so I looked to see if it was posted on the web. Its a little something for Women’s Month :

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/lifestyles/fooddrink/s_614094.html

  30. As a nation, culturally, we are all waiting in Jerry Springer’s green room

    • LOL! At least those of us who aren’t on the set breaking chairs over each other’s heads.

      • Or screaming at our grandmother for sleeping with our husband.! Indeed, there is that to be greatful for! lol!

  31. vbonnaire, on March 11th, 2009 at 11:38 am Said:
    ……..the new software was always a battle — it just kept coming and coming with all the new machines — it took up TIME — just like all those papers to shuffle. It was so BORING to have to keep adapting to all of that — it really was. To have to learn all of that, over and over. Plus it cost fortunes! Fortunes to buy all of that —

    Over and over, just when one got the kookkoo hang of certain software, it was changed, and usually for the worse. My husband worked at a newspaper’s research dept ( when they had them) and this happened over and over… and indeed it cost fortunes.

    So often the new wonder software co and any tech support disappeared shortly after the sale , to be replaced by another company hired to fix the first co ‘s systems bugs….on and on

    In my husband’s situation,( and I’m sure, many others) it was all about doing way with people. That’s what drove management to search out buggy machines they never had to implement themselves,to replace people. Then 20 years later, they figured out they could just axe the dept. or go to India….So simple!

  32. All I needed to know about Ayn Rand I learned from Matt Ruff (Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy). Something tells me it’s probably the most enjoyable way to familiarize oneself with her work.

  33. What I understand about Ayn Rand is survival of the ” fittest, ” a casting off of the “weak”, gave her a deep sexual charge…and she dignified it all with a philosophy…and was rewarded for that. These folks never think about when THEY will be in a full diaper and the nurse doesn’t show up….

    Her work may have had other aspects’ but it seems it’s the casting out of the infimed as a positive that is highlighted

  34. I read Rand when I was a teen travelling through India, and it had a powerful effect on me simply because it was different. Interesting stuff. If only I could be so selfish, life would be so much easier *g*

    3W –

    from below, because nesting has gone wierd for me.

    “So I guess the general election will be this June, not next. And depending on the outcome, the PM will be Cameron, Clegg, or Brown. Is Boris Johnson in the mix at all? I gather he’s a Conservative, wild hair and all, but endorsed Obama. Wondering if Obama is waiting to return the favor.”

    General election 2010, unless you know something I don’t! Quite possible, since I’ve been hiding from UK news in an effort to reduce my blood pressure *g*

    PM will either be Brown or Cameron. Clegg is still pretty off-field. Boris is part of the Conservative Party, and unless there’s rebellion to install him as the leader instead of Cameron (unlikely), he’s not in teh running.

    It’s different from over there where the party nominates people for Pres. The leader of the party here is the nomination for PM.

    • On the election being this June, I just came across some blogs who think the general could be this year to coincide with the local elections, admin savings and all. But I believe that’s a decision for the incumbent Labour party to make, and given Brown is struggling, they are likely to defer to 2010?

  35. OT
    MSNBC is conducting a poll on Obama’s grade so far… 60% of approx 130,000 participants have given him an F

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29493093/

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