• Might As Well Just Scrap the Thing

    District Judge Rosemary M. Collyers just exploded the union-busting new workplace rules the Bush administration attached onto the Dept. of Homeland Security. She said they left unions bargaining on quicksand, tied to a set of contracts and agreements the Bush administration could change at any time. She said that a contract that is not mutually binding is not a contract. She said the new scheme is illegal, and the Bush administration can't just contravene settled law because it wants to. Wait, has anyone told that to the President!? (yuk, yuk, yuk) But Bush and Rove don't care whether these worker rules are thrown out, they never gave a damn about firing flexibility anyway. The genesis of the new regulations was political: Joe Lieberman thought up this popular new department, George W. Bush stood in unpopular opposition for seven months, the 2002 midterm elections loomed, Rove decided to flip their position, they realized this was the sort of killer issue that they should put...
  • Thanks to Weekend Salon Members

    I had a lot of fun, and I hope you readers liked it too. If you have ideas for how it could be improved, put 'm in comments. Otherwise, big thanks to Nick Beaudrot , Daniel Munz , Shakespeare's Sister , Neil Sinhababu , and Pepper .
  • A Question of Balance

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Neil's Ethical thoughts offer an a useful way to advocate change -- appeal to the desire for excitement and fame -- that doesn't require laying on "there are starving children in Africa" guilt. It's a wonderful argument, since liberal guilt is really unpleasant; lots of people, and I dare to say even a fair number of liberals, would rather simply avoid thinking about all the problems in the world that ought to be solved than be put in a situation where they feel guilty about them. However, whether the motivation for liberal problem-solving is excitement or guilt, the conclusion in extremis is that we should dedicate our lives' work towards relieving the suffering of others. This quickly comes into conflict with the basic desire for comfort -- it's exceedingly difficult to swallow the pay cut that often comes along wit non-profit work, politcal work, or joining the Peace Corps; even if you can take the pay cut, you're often "putting your...
  • RFK, Man of Confidence?

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Ezra (?) writes : What struck me about Shakespeare's Sister's post wasn't that she was a girl playing video games, but that she'd articulated what I miss in video games, what I miss in culture, what I miss in politics. I miss heroes, and the sort of society that wants to see them. I want an RFK* to stand up and fight injustice ... * A tortured soul if there ever was one, but not publicly. Bwuh? Robert F. "I dream things that never were, and ask why not" Kennedy wasn't publicly a tortured soul? Bobby "I have come here because our great nation is troubled" Kennedy? Bobby "There is difficulty and division in the land" Kennedy? I could go on, but eventually I will shoot all the fish in the barrel.
  • We are all Spider-Man

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf One feature of commonsense moral thought is the doing/allowing distinction. It's generally believed that it's worse to do some evil yourself than to allow another person to do the same evil, even if you have the power to stop them from doing it. I think this distinction plays a big role in shaping our social and political behavior -- for example, why we're unwilling to inflict corporal punishment on criminals, but willing to imprison them in situations where other inmates will abuse them. One of the most unfortunate ways this distinction operates in the world is by inhibiting action that would make faraway suffering people better off. Since you're not doing any actions that make the people in Sudan suffer, you're not obligated to act so as to prevent their suffering. Sure, it'd be great if you did something, but no obligation binds you. One of my favorite things about the kinds of heroes we find in fantasy is that this distinction has less of an impact on...
  • Gabba Gabba Hey CBGB Is in Trouble!

    By Pepper Given that there's a new quiz asking us to find out which 70s glam icon you are (I'm David Johansen of the New York Dolls), it's time to think about the state of legendary punk club CBGBs. CBGBs is in deep debt to its landlord. According to CBGB owner Hilly Kristal in a Spin magazine interview, CBGB and homeless nonprofit the Bowery Residents' Committee are fighting over big bucks: "They've tangled in court over $300,000 in back rent (which Kristal agreed to pay in installments in 2001), unbilled rent increases amounting to $85,000."
  • Stick to Baseball and Wall Street

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Michael Lewis, whose book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game almost upended my life, is apparently the last pro-Arnold commentator standing . You should read the article, but make sure you're not drinking any fizzy drinks when you do. Lewis is falling for the siren's call of the anti-politican; the notion that most professional pols are lesser men (how many fomer CEOs and multi-millionaire small businessmen are in the Senate?), and that just putting someone into office who's more in touch with the rest of us (why, exactly would a twenty-million-bucks-per-movie-actor fit into that category?) will both result in better governance and be more entertaining for the rest of us. Well, I suppose Arnold does make the headlines a bit more often; there aren't many other governors digging potholes so they can hold a photo-op to fill them. Meanwhile, in the Reality-Based community, the Governator is currently losing head-to-head matchups with...
  • So LA

    By Ezra Went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery ("Resting Place of Hollywood's Immortals!") last night for their Movie on the Mausoleum. It's one of the weirder LA events I've been to: 600 attractive young folk, about 80% of them hipsters, tromping through graves and between tiki candles to set up blankets and picnics in the spaces not occupied by plaques. A DJ spins creepy (but very good) house music while old movie posters flicker on the walls. At 9PM, everyone breaks out the alcohol, Hitchcock comes on screen, and the move begins. Last night was Perfect Strangers. Hollywood Forever, for those who don't know, is a cemetery for the lions and lionesses of the entertainment industry. Think Arlington National, but instead of JFK, you have Cecil B. DeMille. And instead of resting in peace, the expired celebs are still public attractions: people tour the cemetery, watch movies on the lawn, make pilgrimages to see their favorite stars. The men and women buried there lived in the public eye...
  • Journalisming Done Right

    By Ezra This LA Times debunking of mythical lawsuits is the best piece on tort issues I've read in a major paper in the last year. I just exited a class where the teacher taught almost solely through the lens of a few weird, anomalous court cases, cases that either didn't seem to exist or he radically misinterpreted. That, unfortunately, is the same level on which the tort reform debate operates -- scare stories about criminals tripping on sideway cracks and grannies fleecing fast food chains for millions because they didn't know coffee was hot. It's crap. All of it. It's crap in the context of malpractice , and it's crap here. And major props to the LA Times for pointing that out. It's a reality check that's long overdue, and they couched it in an article that's both comprehensive and entertaining. Read it.
  • Heroes

    Shakes' post on female gamers has gotten much deserved attention, from men and women alike. Earlier today, she e-mailed to ask me why, saying that she knew the secretly violent femmes would respond, but not the stereotypically violent mens. I couldn't quite answer then, but I can now. And it was her other post , on Cindy Sheehan, that clarified it. What struck me about her piece was her articulation of what's always attracted me to games; the desire to be a hero. If you read her blog, it's the same thing, there's a subtext that says one girl and her keyboard can change the country, one girl and her keyboard can light enough fires on enough mountains that, Lord of the Rings style, the other bloggers will see the flames and wave the torches in front of their audiences, the audiences will light flares before their politicians, the politicians will set fireworks in front of the media, and all of us will finally snap out of our stupor, strap on our swords, and march on her political Mordor...