Thursday, November 29, 2007


After a few weeks of listening, I'm ready to declare Bruce Springsteen's Magic his best album in quite a few years. How many is quite a few? I'm still trying to decide.

It's my humble opinion that Lucky Town - the album Bruce wrote and recorded in 2-3 weeks after spending two years over-fine-tuning the comparatively lackluster Human Touch, then released 'em both at the same time - was the only studio album that matches up well with his amazing first half-dozen projects, from Greeting From Asbury Park to Born in the U.S.A.

Magic belongs side-by-side with Lucky Town on the B.W. scale, and it doesn't seem to have any clunkers in the mix ("Local Hero" and "The Big Muddy" wore out their welcomes for me on LT). But does it harken back all the way to Darkness at the Edge of Town? As Yoda says, "Difficult to say." But I'm going to say it is, indeed, the band's best studio effort since 1984. Does it crack the big six? Give me a little more time to think about that.

In case you care, here's B.W.'s list of favorite Springsteen albums, excluding live albums and Tracks, which is too chock full of great stuff from all eras to be compared fairly to the others:

1. Born to Run (hey, I'm nothing but predictable)
2. Darkness at the Edge of Town
3. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
4. Born in the U.S.A.
5. The River
6. Nebraska
7. Magic
8. Lucky Town
9. Gets a little fuzzier at this point ...

What is it about Magic, you ask? It's hard to put a finger on it, but like his best work, Springsteen and the boys have produced a solid pile of songs that linger in the mind long after you've turned them off - extremely catchy hooks, often powerful words, and they sound like vintage Springsteen without being exact copies.

I'm reluctant to put the new album any higher than #7 at this early stage because the sheen of newness is still on it. I still remember when I was designating Field of Dreams as my second-favorite movie of all time - that's how strong the initial impact was - but after further review it doesn't even make my top 10. But it's encouraging, as a guy who's about four years younger than The Boss, to see someone from my generation still pumping out stuff this good. Or maybe I should say "pumping out stuff this good again." Twenty-three years between genius projects is a long time.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sudsy setback

After my triumphant beginning Tuesday morning, a minor bump on the superhighway to literary fulfillment. The alarm went off at the same time this morning, I stumbled out of bed after an interesting dream the same way, staggered down to my play station (I shall refuse to call writing my Great Freedom Novel "work") and accomplished nothing in an hour or so.

Wha happened?

Reconstructing the previous 12 hours, I was struck by the fact that I spent three hours in front of the television set and consumed a greater amount of my favorite adult beverage than usual Tuesday night.

Moral of the story: If I spend that much time and effort shutting my brain down for the night, I should not be surprised if jumpstarting my brain is a major task in the morning.

Onward and upward.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The dream of the bugs, and the first step

Now that was quite a dream.

After an extended adventure, the details of which are a little fuzzy - was it a childhood frolic with a little pal or a traveling trip of a more adult nature? - I was sitting inside with a little pal. He was reading comics, and I still had a bit of the wandering bug, so I went for a walk outside. After a few steps, it was clear something odd was happening in the field near the house.

I couldn't see them as much as sense them, and I could hear a low buzzing. Bugs and beetles, lots and lots and lots of them, from one kid-horizon to the other, not so many that the ground was black with them - I could see all of the vegetation of a typical meadow - but enough that my concern was elevated. I wasn't frightened so much as extremely curious and knowing I should stay out of their way if they decided to swarm, and they seemed to be preparing to leave.

I walked quickly back into the house and told my little pal, "You should see all the bugs out there, there must be millions of 'em," and just then the buzzing rose in intensity and hundreds of bugs were clinging to the window screen. Not that they wanted to come in and hurt us, the screen just got in their way. Not black bugs, kind of a light brown and semi-transparent against the sun - at least the ones on the screen; I knew there were bugs of all shapes and sizes in that way that you know things in dreams. After a few seconds they moved on. I was glad to be in the house, because while they didn't appear to be hungry bugs, the sensation of millions of flying creatures banging into me and brushing past on the way to wherever would probably have been a little ticklish in a creepy way. Then, darn it, the alarm clock beeped.

The combination of my recent reading, and the reaction to my musings about The Fountainhead especially, motivated me to write down short descriptions of four main characters in my Great American Freedom Novel the other day. Not a lot of detail, barely half a page of an old-fashioned composition book I bought a year ago for 12 cents at the most amazing school-supply clearance sale I've seen in a long time. (When the cashier at Target rang my nine items up for $1.12 including sales tax, we both did a double take.) The main point is I know the basic motivations of four folks. I'm not sure how they will interact, their genders or what they will do, but I have a feel for who they are, and I know which one is the hero - or at least which one will prevail. And don't worry, I didn't copy Roark, Toohey, Keating and Wynand, except in the sense that they possess certain qualities in different measures, and four seemed like the right number. (Now I will have to resist the temptation to re-create a Dominique Falcon, though.) But that's probably true of all sets of fictional characters, I imagine. And the worst thing I could do is start second-guessing myself at this stage.

After the dream and the alarm clock, I lay in bed thinking how pleasant it would be to rest another hour or so. Then a sentence came to me - not an original sentence by any means whatsoever, but a sentence - "Even as a child, it was clear there was something unusual about him." I climbed out of bed, took my allotment of pills and made coffee while trying to hold onto the bug-dream and expanding on that first sentence in my mind.

As the coffee trickled into the pot upstairs (I can smell it - wait just a few more minutes, B.W.), I banged out four paragraphs. When the novel is done, we'll see whether "Even as a child, etc." is the beginning of the novel or somewhere else toward the beginning, middle or end. Maybe it'll even end up on the cutting room floor. But I have four characters, and four paragraphs. It's a start. (Do you think the groups of four represent a pattern or a coincidence?)

A friend who's going through one of those serious life's challenges that only are supposed to happen to other people sent me a note after I told him about the four characters. He wants an autographed copy of the book and time to read it, and the doctors' prognosis is a little less than optimistic about making it five years. Well, this is a guy with the spirit and ability to beat the odds, but just in case, I have a deadline. (Um, maybe I shouldn't phrase it with that word?) Anyone who works with deadlines knows how powerful they are. I'm moved that he would care enough to give me one.

And I'm started. Take that, you pesky little quotidian.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

B.W. At The Movies: Enchanted

You gotta understand, I am a sloppy sentimentalist when I want to be. Bogie's speech to Ilsa at the airport - The "richest man in Bedford Falls" toast - "Hey, Dad, you wanna play a catch?" - Malcolm Reynolds' little speech about how love is what keeps a bucket of bolts flying - all of those movie moments have the ability to turn my face into a sopping wet mess of sentimental corn.

Maybe Enchanted just caught me in the right mood, but my cheeks were wet from the frickin' opening scenes, when we meet an animated beauty out of a Disney fairy tale who talks and frolics with all the warm and fuzzy creatures of the forest. From those opening scenes to the happily ever after, this film pretty much had me under its spell all the way - OK, except for the stupid scenes with the dragon at the end that basically make no sense. But everything else is so pitch-perfect I forgive them - nobody can make a movie that perfect, can they???

Poking fun at the conventions of the Disney feature-length cartoons, especially the classics like Snow White and Cinderella, Enchanted envisions what would happen if one of those fairy-tale princesses were thrown into the real world with all of her childlike innocence - but also her magical powers - intact. The scenes where an army of New York's wildlife - rats, mice, pigeons and cockroaches - clean an apartment, and where Giselle (Amy Adams' marvelous forest princess) breaks into song all over Central Park are hilarious genius.

This is very reminiscent of an earlier Disney (Touchstone, to be exact) blending of live action and animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - but of course completely different. That 1988 work of genius took the cartoons into the gritty real world, film noir style. This 2007 work of genius sets up the same kind of collision with a completely different goal: enchantment. delight. exaltation.

I will pick a nit - spoiler alert. After the evil queen discovers her quest is successful - Giselle will not marry the evil queen's son and dethrone her, because she has found her Real True Love in the real world - the evil queen turns into a dragon and keeps trying to kill Giselle, setting up the big finish. Makes no sense, dumb dumb dumb, kind of fun though in its own way if slightly out of the spirit of the rest of the movie. And the rest is so terrific that this misstep is slight by comparison.

Amy Adams is a treasure in the role of Giselle, and everyone else is fun and wonderful in her reflected light. James Marsden is as spirited as Prince Edward as he was flat as Cyclops in the X-Men movies - hard to believe it's the same actor. (Think Natalie Portman comparing her Star Wars performances to V for Vendetta, only if V were a charming musical comedy.)

Charmed. I think that's the word. I was simply charmed out of my skull by Ms. Adams and this film. I can't wait to see it again, and I've spent the last day reliving some of its sweetest scenes in my mind. I think that's the goal of most filmmakers, so it's an enormous success.

Oh wait, there's an even better word: I was enchanted. Duh!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Attack of the 50-Foot Quotidian

An interesting exchange - and a new word for me - followed my book report on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I wrote about how the book had filled me with motivation to do my best and exercise my creative juices.

In case you don't follow the comments, CK wrote:
So many had that same feeling you have expressed after reading The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged; don't be alarmed, the feeling will pass.
After I replied, "CK, I hope when you said 'the feeling will pass' you didn't mean the feeling where I said 'It makes me want to go write another Great American Novel, compose a symphony or two, and otherwise exercise my muse to death,'" came the response:
That is exactly what I meant. The quotidian wins over the exalted.
In Fountainhead, Rand created archetypes; in Atlas Shrugged she fleshed them out. Finish A.S. and you will know the exaltation feeling again and a few weeks or months or years later and you re-read A.S. and wonder what happened to you in the interim. The symphony will not be finished, the Great Novel or Expose will remain inchoate; the world shaking business plan will have gathered dust in the face of the inevitable quotidian.
Quotidian: adj. (rhet.), daily, occurring every day. What a great word! What a depressing observation! And perhaps/probably true. From the launch of this blog, I have been occasionally writing about my hopes and dreams for the future, things I'm going to do someday when I break away from the, err, quotidian. The daily grind, the wage-slave job, keeps getting in the way.

Eight days after finishing The Fountainhead, I have tinkered around the edges of the dreams, set down a page full of notes about the novel, worked on a number of side projects - and worked the day job as usual, caught Sunday's ball game, Heroes and House - I don't think CK was trying to throw cold water as much as keep me grounded in reality, but I must say that without his/her little tweak, I may not even have tinkered around the edges.

That's the challenge of motivational moments - staying motivated. What I need is the fire in the belly that comes when you've lost your wage-slave job and have to find a new way to keep the lights on and put food on the table - and do it while maintaining the wage-slave job as a security blanket. Is that wanting to have my cake and eat it too? As the dreams glisten tantalizingly at the edge of my consciousness, I fear that I'll only launch the dreams by working up the guts to pursue them full time. What's that you say, B.W.? "Refuse to be afraid"? How dare I throw my own words up in my face ...

Hmmm ... ignore the cheerleader, save my world? Maybe the writer's strike will free up a few hours a week for the pursuit of happiness - or maybe I should shut up and dream.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

23 years overdue, but accurate

Within 200 yards of the home where George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-four are 32 surveillance cameras.
"According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people in the country - and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily."
Read all about it.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Bracing myself

I said last week that exposing myself to a triple-whammy of Rothbard, Chodorov and Rand would no doubt change things. The change is still percolating ... stay tuned to this Bat-channel, some Bat-time soon ...

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

B.W. At The Movies: The Fountainhead

My mind keeps lingering over what seems to me to be the single glaring difference between the novel and the film The Fountainhead: Big Newspaper Publisher Gail Wynand's final fate. After his last conversation with Randian Man Howard Roark, the camera lingers in Wynand's office to view something that does not occur in the book. I have found that the change was made to accommodate the notions of Hollywood censors of the era, but it was such a jarring change that it cinched my opinion: Not surprisingly, the film does not live up to the novel. Wynand's character is deeply flawed, and while he considers this action when we first meet him in the book, his exit from the flick is a decision that would be out of character by the end, in my humble opinion. Strike three.

Strikes one and two are the performances of lead actors Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Ayn Rand created characters who might best be described as eccentric when compared to us common folk - deep thinkers, lovers of the best that humanity can create, disdainful of compromise. But there's a word Rand throws into the mix that is utterly lacking in the performances of Cooper and Neal: exaltation. As cynical as they might be of the collective mentality that was infecting the world in Rand's time, they loved life.
When a man entered [Stoddard's Temple of the Human Spirit], he would feel space molded around him, for him, as if it had waited for his entrance, to be completed. It was a joyous place, with the joy of exaltation that must be quiet. It was a place where one would come to feel sinless and strong, to find the peace of spirit never granted save by one's own glory.
Howard Roark and Dominique Francon as portrayed by Cooper and Neal are not in touch with the joy of living or the exaltation of being free spirits. Their faces reflect the constipated angst of people who know they're right but haven't been able to convince the world otherwise. The "real" Roark especially never wasted a moment worrying about what other people thought of him. Cooper has a couple of moments where he conveys that aura, but often he seems angry and/or troubled, emotions that are mostly absent in the man Rand created.

In the "Making of" featurette that accompanies the DVD, it's said that once Cooper saw the whole movie in context, he wished he had delivered The Big Speech at the end in a different manner. No kidding. Cooper runs through it like an oration that he'd memorized during a long sleepless night; Roark would have spoken from the heart, eyes and body flashing with energy and virility. And, after watching the movie, I was more convinced than ever that a real-life jury would send this guy to prison. It's a shame, too, because in movies like Meet John Doe, Cooper has proved he can play a man of ideals and individuality who's comfortable in his own skin. He just didn't pull it off this time.

It was an interesting exercise to watch the film just a few days after finishing the novel. Rand the screenwriter did a notable job of telescoping her sprawling landscape into a portrait that strikes the notes she considered most important. Still, Leonard Maltin gives the film 2 1/2 stars and calls it "ambitious but confused." I can't disagree with him.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Buffyverse in tune

Time for an update on my journey through the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which began at the beginning of last year and has now reached the ninth week of Season 6. As any Buffarian knows, it's hard to go past the seventh week of the sixth season without commenting.

This is the famous "Once More With Feeling" episode, where Sunnydale breaks out in song. I don't have anything to add to the various ravings that place this at the top of the Joss Whedon Strokes of Genius list. Just wanted to toss in the observation: Now I get it! It's a deservedly legendary moment along the path. And of course reiterate how very stupid was Fox's decision to block theatrical screenings of the show. Fox has a well-documented track record of standing in the way of its highest-quality products so the public can't be exposed to them.

Oddly, it wasn't working to track the Buffy show and its spinoff, Angel, simultaneously. I couldn't keep up my interest in both shows at the same time - my interest slowed down for some reason - so about halfway through season one I went back to devoting full attention to Buffy. It makes it a little odd when there are crossover episodes and I only see Buffy's side of the story, but not terribly so. We'll go back later.

But "Once More With Feeling" - whoa. Not everyone has the greatest singing voice, but what fun! Especially after the dreary and depressing start to Season 6, this was just what the show needed.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


When I wrote about fear mongers the other day, I got a comment from a poster who understood half of the problem. He decried the fear mongers of the "left" who turn to government for protection against global warming, for example. But he has been caught by the fear mongers of the "right."
The real threat, of the religion of “peace” that is on a ca,piagn of ‘convert or die!’ and a global repressive Islamic Caliphate by force. (sic)
Fear mongering is fear mongering. The odds that you will encounter an "islamo-fascist" bent on your death on any given day is roughly the same as the odds you will drown in flood waters from melted icecaps or contract cancer from a passing cigarette. Yet worshippers of the state are agitating daily to restrict your freedom in exchange for protection from these phantom menaces.

Don't give in. Refuse to let fear control your life. Refuse to let them control you by making you afraid. And don't be a half-wit: Both branches of the Big Government Party are hard at work stoking the flames of fear. It's not just the "other" party that plays this game.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

B.W.'s Book Report: The Fountainhead

Depending on how much time I have left, I suspect this fall will be one of those watershed moments in my life - I believe I will be able to measure the difference made by my reading The Betrayal of the American Right, Out of Step and The Fountainhead in quick succession.

These will be random thoughts over a beer less than an hour after finishing Ayn Rand's famed book. I haven't read the afterword or other commentaries in hopes I can capture my first thoughts more or less untarnished, so I suspect some of this will be old hat to longtime Randians and others familiar with the work. If you haven't read the book and want to someday, there are a few vague >>>SPOILERS<<< below. Fair warning.

There's a black-and-white dynamic at work here - individualists versus collectivists - but two of the five major players are gray. It's the story of two pure individuals, Howard Roark and Dominique Falcon, and one pure collectivist, Ellsworth Toohey - one of the smarmiest and most evil villains I've ever encountered in literature. Then there are the in-betweeners, Peter Keating - who immerses himself in the collectivist world while jealously admiring the individuals he hasn't the will to join - and Gail Wynand, who makes millions catering to the collective while asserting his powerful individualism in private.

The black-and-white characters land on their feet in the end. I so wanted Toohey to be crushed and humiliated, but he merely fails to crush Roark and Dominique. Keating and Wynand, on the other hand, remind me of (of all things) the passage in Revelation about the church of Laodicea: "because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Life spits out Keating and Wynand, punishing them for trying to live in both worlds.

I think Rand is an intriguing thinker. And she has created some compelling characters. I don't know that the novel needed to be 700 pages, and the main reason is the tendency for these characters to bog down into philosophical speechifying. Toohey, for example, has a lengthy speech to Keating towards the climax in which he explains all of the devious machinations that he's perpetrated over the past 650-odd pages. The attentive reader has long ago figured out what Toohey is up to, and why - the scene has the feel of the clichéd speech by the villain ("So you want to know how I'm going to rule the world?") that gives the hero time to wriggle free of the knots so he can punch out the bad guy and save the day, except that Keating doesn't wriggle free.

But while the speeches make for tough sledding along the way, it's an entertaining ride for the most part. And Rand spells out in black and white the nature of the media bread and circuses that continue to this day. When I signed on to write this little entry, I was greated by Yahoo! news stories about UFO sitings and "Britney's retirement plan." It's a bit disconcerting to recall that the same thing was happening in 1943, but not unexpected.

To paraphrase a magical line from As Good As It Gets, this book made me want to be a better man. The stuff it says about the nature of creativity and the importance of one person's vision in the artistic process, that stuff is priceless. It makes me want to go write another Great American Novel, compose a symphony or two, and otherwise exercise my muse to death.

This intense period of exposure to Rothbard, then Chodorov and now Rand has shifted a great number of synapses in my brain. And that's a good thing.

And on a baser note, Dominique Falcon is hot. Patricia Neal played her in the 1949 movie? Yeah, that might work ...

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Ultimate Summer flick

To heck with the Hulk, X-Files and Indiana Jones. This is the movie I'm going to camp out for next summer ...

UPDATE: A friend sent me the toon with the subject line "Summer" movies. Do you know it took me two days to get the pun? The mind boggles.

What am I doing here?

It never hurts to review. So who is B.W. Richardson and why I am I writing this Montag blog?

Actually, who I am is irrelevant. I'm a writer with a job in the media industry. Why I'm writing this is much more interesting.

The purpose is to encourage people to live and think independently. Refuse to be afraid to be yourself. Refuse to be afraid to express yourself. Refuse to be afraid of government and any other authority that portrays itself as a way out of the scary stuff. That which they want you to fear is not as scary as the compromises to your Self that will happen if you turn responsibility for your safety and security over to someone else. Those compromises inevitability make you less free.

By the way, you should also refuse to be afraid of anything I say. I'm not trying to scare you; I'm just trying to make you aware of the fear mongers and fear-mongering, which is often done by well-meaning people. Fear is an emotion that short-circuits reason. Refuse to be afraid.

My purpose here is to emphasize the good news behind the bad news concerning the loss of our civil liberties. It's contained in the words of the theme song of the television show Firefly, which asserts forcefully, "Take my love, take my land, Take me where I cannot stand; I don't care, I'm still free: You can't take the sky from me." You can't be made a slave without your consent: "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." My goal is to encourage people to be free despite the ongoing efforts to enslave us and further empower authority. Refuse to be afraid.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

No-shows on Mukasey vote

From Christopher Floyd:
The only four Democratic senators who did not vote on the nomination of Mukasey – and the legitimization of torture and presidential tyranny it represents – were the four Democratic senators seeking the presidency.

Draw your own conclusions on the implications of these absences, and what they portend for the possibilities of genuine reform should any of these worthy paladins win the White House.
My conclusion: Sens. Biden, Dodd, Clinton and Obama were afraid. Of what they were afraid, I can't say for sure. But it was something so terrifying that they were willing to be derelict in their duty.

As for the possibilities of genuine reform, well, there will be no reform of government coming from either branch of the Government Party. The only thing I'm curious about is how a Democrat would use the abusive powers of USAPATRIOT as compared to how the Republicans have used them.


Out of the cold

The fish come inside this weekend. Hard to believe they've had six months outdoors. I was a little late getting them out of the basement, and I'm a little late bringing them in. The temps have gotten below freezing a few times lately, so I'm thinking they're not to pleased to be out there anymore.

I guess my preference would be to spend my time under the skies with some vegetation here and there, as opposed to the horse trough that serves as their home during the winter. But probably fish would prefer warmish water to almost-freezing water. I have to stop thinking in terms of aesthetics, no doubt.

That particular fish has had more down days than up days lately, but under the circumstances I don't blame him.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Ender's game is changing

I have been remiss in not welcoming Tom Ender to the blogosphere, sort of. Tom has been around since before I was, with his indispensible "Ender's Review" of the best freedom stuff on the Web every week and his invaluable "This Weekend" preview of the best freedom-related films coming up on television. (As someone who dumped premium movie channels in exchange for the ability to choose my "Netflix," it's a little frustrating to see how few freedom movies are shown on "free" cable channels - but then, maybe it's true what our rulers say: Freedom isn't free. You pay extra for organic food, too.)

Until the recent launch of "Memory, Making, Meaning," Tom has limited his writing to the occasional essay as one of Sunni's Conspirators and/or his Endervidualism site - he shared a blog or two but now he's got his own. It's fun to have another place to visit for thoughts, odds and ends every day.

Tom uses the blog today to say he's pulling back from "This Weekend" while he develops a more efficient format. Seems doing it the old way was so time-consuming he didn't have time to work on the fix.

Now there's a frustrating situation that I'll bet many of us have encountered here and there - "I know I could do this task in a better way, but it takes so much time to do the task that I don't have time to develop the better way." It takes a little courage to just stop doing the task for a while, develop the better way, and then go for it - but in the long run, everyone'll be happier, methinks.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Working smarter, not harder

As companies cull their human resources to improve the bottom line, a couple of phrases get bandied about that raise the gag reflex in me.

Let me back up: The phrase human resources is the first phrase that gags me like a spoon. A resource is something you use. Calling employees "human resources" acknowledges that they are slaves, to be used and used up. "Our employees are our greatest asset" - Oh, yeah? An asset is a thing, isn't it?

OK, so we've acknowledged that those blobs of flesh walking around the office are company property - now we're going to eliminate some of them. The rest are going to have to "work smarter, not harder." Wrong-o. You still have to accomplish the same tasks, so you're going to have to cut corners and get the work done not as well as you did with more people, or you are going to work harder.

But the phrase that corks me most of all is, "We're going to do more with less." Let me turn the keyboard over to writer/creator David Simon:
The newsroom where I used to work (the Baltimore Sun) had 460 people. Now it has 300. And there are people out there who just don’t care. They’ll make more money putting out a mediocre paper than they would putting out a better paper. They know this. It's their equation. They’re quite content with mediocrity.

And within that culture we have people that are saying, ‘oh no, we’re going to do more with less,’ which is one of the great lies of the 21st century. What it means is we’re going to do less with less. And that’s the nature of what journalism is becoming.
Simon is talking about journalism, but his thoughts apply to any place where bean counters rule instead of the pursuit of quality. Read the whole interview here.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Something in the wind

I remember when V for Vendetta came out, either I or someone like me predicted that it would take more than a few months to determine if it had any impact on Americans' thought processes. I think the impact was seen fairly clearly this Nov. 5. As skeptical as I am about the chances of changing the American Empire through the election system, it's hard to ignore the Ron Paul campaign's feat of raising more than $4 million online on the Fifth of November. Never been done before by any of our would-be emperors.

Not that it won't be ignored - I didn't see or hear it on the morning news, and the story didn't make the morning papers, and I'm not seeing it tossed up front on the local newspaper Web sites.

But maybe a wind is blowing out there, somewhere.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lots of remember-remembering today

Well, if nothing else V for Vendetta the movie made more of a household word out of Guy Fawkes in the US of A. He is cause of much reflection today, from my buddies Sunni and Wally to psychic twin Uncle Warren, as well as Guy Luongo who drew a good response from Wendy McElroy. Over at Strike the Root we find Glen Allport writing approvingly of the Ron Paul campaign's choosing the Fifth of November for a big one-day campaign contribution splash.

I actually think Uncle Warren's iMac said it best, although I suspect the words were penned by the uncle himself (wink, wink) - "This week we're celebrating Guy Fawkes Day, which is the anniversary of an attempted violent attack that Fawkes believed would end oppression in England. He was a little batty, of course, because the answer to violent oppression is never more violence. That just creates a newgroup of oppressors. Nope, the counter to violence is nonviolence. But I digress."

Actually, I don't think that's a digression at all. I think that's the whole point. As Allport says in an essay that's brilliant until he starts passing out the Paul Kool-Aid,
Even had Fawkes succeeded, the result would have been the deaths of perhaps hundreds in the Parliament building and the resumption of British tyranny under new leadership. Killing or driving out a tyrant almost never results in anything one could call "freedom," but instead sparks an often-bloody power struggle as varying factions fight for control of the coercive State apparatus.
I raise a toast to Guy Fawkes for the narrow purpose of saluting a man who recognized the brutality of the state and was willing to take a stand to change things. His plan, to meet brutality with brutality, was fatally flawed, but in his failure he called attention to the tyranny.

Remember, remember.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

B.W.'s Book Report (Prelude): The Fountainhead

Well, at some time if you're going to travel in anarcho-libertarian- individualist-whatever circles, you have to dive into the big Ayn Rand books, something I've been putting off for no other reason than I could read two or three normal-length books in the time it takes to go through one of her thick treatises.

But I decided to dip my toe into The Fountainhead last night. I gave the old girl a half-hour to pique my interest, and she passed the test. About an hour into the exercise, she got me to commit to finishing (well, unless boredom sets in somewhere between page 50 and 694). I love this scene:
"God damn you!" roared Cameron suddenly, leaning forward. "I didn't ask you to come here! I don't need any draftsmen! There's nothing here to draft! I don't have enough work to keep myself and my men out of the Bowery Mission! I don't want any fool visionaries starving around here! I don't want the responsibility. I didn't ask for it. I never thought I'd see it again. I'm through with it. I was through with that many years ago. I'm perfectly happy with the drooling dolts I've got here, who never had anything and never will have and it makes no difference what becomes of them. That's all I want. Why did you have to come here? You're setting out to ruin yourself, you know that, don't you? And I'll help you do it. I don't want to see you. I don't like you. I don't like your face. You look like an insufferable egotist. You're impertinent. You're too sure of yourself. Twenty years ago I'd have punched your face with the greatest of pleasure. You're coming to work here tomorrow at nine o'clock sharp."
So far, so good.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

They're going out there again

Well, now, this is news.
Twentieth Century Fox has at long last unveiled a release date for its forever-in-the-works X-Files sequel, announcing that Mulder and Scully will be reuniting on the big screen June 25, 2008.
I have to admit, this film has not been anywhere near my radar screen for many a year, but it's kind of cool, I guess. Dana Scully and Fox Mulder and company were one of the great TV teams of all time, and anything that raises skepticism about the benevolence of our rulers is a good thing.

Sounds like they're out to make a horror thriller rather than extend the "mythology" of The X-Files, which is too bad. But it'll be nice to see the old gang back together, as much of them as they manage to gather. I wouldn't mind seeing Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish as agents Doggett and Reyes again, but that might put me in the minority.

The list of 2008 movies already includes Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Star Trek, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Incredible Hulk, the 22nd James Bond film and a remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. Now this. Could be an interesting year.

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