a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Weekly Tendown August 21-7 2011

Dear Internet:


Hurricanes are scary; I don't begrudge anyone a little bit of panic when this is right outside your door.

Here's 91.

1. The Bill You Should Support
This week, Bernie Sanders proposed legislation to lift the ceiling on which income is taxed for Social Security.

Which, as I write about every week, would keep Social Security solvent without any additional changes.

When you ask registered voters if they would rather have benefit cuts or raise the ceiling on which income is taxed beyond the first $106,000, every single grouping prefers to raise that ceiling.

Democrats.  Republicans.  Tea Party Members.  People under 30 and over 65.  All of them.  And its not close.

You know who else would agree?  Economists.  It's a bill that not only has popular support, but also jibes with the factual reality of the world that actually exists.

2. Rick Perry Understands the Difference Between Left and Right
Not Democrats and Republicans.  The left and the right.

The left fought for health and safety regulations in the workplace, for the weekend, the a minimum wage, for a safety net, for civil rights.

Rick Perry told us this week what the right has fought for.  Rick Perry told us what the moral equivalent to civil rights is for the right wing in the United States.

Corporate tax breaks.

The left fights for people.  Not democrats.  The left.  And the right fights for power.  Not republicans.  The right.

Michele Bachman is willing to consider lowering the minimum wage to compete with overseas sweatshops.  And Marco Rubio, a US Senator from Florida, keep in mind, argues that Medicare makes people weak.  And there's current GOP orthodoxy, as expressed almost daily on Fox News, that the poor don't pay enough taxes.

The right wing looks at this chart:

Chart of the Top Ten Percent Income Share, 1917 - 2008.

...and they say the middle of the 20th century was hell on earth for the US economy.

The right sees that chart and says the defining moral issue of our time is lowering the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans, and squeezing more tax dollars from the poor.

That's the ring wing.  It is how they define themselves.


3. Nobody Visits the Colonel
This is a shot of Sun Life Stadium... while the Marlins-Reds game is going on Wednesday. There are not many fans in the seats - one in attendance counted 347 on hand.


This isn't batting practice.

This is the first pitch of the first game of a doubleheader this week in Miami.

Unofficial reports had attendance at 347.

There are 29 games left; the World Champion Giants are 3 back.  The NY Times had a fairly empty piece this week proposing the idea that the Giants fanbase was...I'm not really sure what the thesis was, I think that Giants fans are unhappy with the team's current performance:

It is the classic rags-to-riches cautionary tale: a boy from the wrong side of the tracks moves to a new city to make it big. After years of struggle, he gets his break: a string of hits, a hot streak and all the perks that follow, including fame, adoring fans and a television show. But, of course, it comes with a price: self-doubt, questionable decisions and the relentless, almost irrational fear of being a flash in the pan.

It's a curious takedown; we've given up more runs that we've scored, if there's "irrational fear" someplace in there I'm missing it.  Over the past two days, we've played 19 innings against the worst team in baseball and have 9 hits.  This week, we led off with Orlando Cabrera's .264 OBP and then Mike Fontenot and his .296 OBP.  My fear is that in baseball history, there's never been a World Champion with two sub .300 OBPs leading off at this point in the season.  If that's irrational, I guess I'm willing to wear it.

Here's the week ahead.

Houston, today, Cain.  Torres returns.  Maybe Romo too.  
3 against the Cubs.  Lincecum/Vogelsong/Bumgarner

You want 3 of those four games.  Arizona's got one more against San Diego and 3 against the Rox.  You really want to gain a game during that 4 game stretch.

Thursday's an off day.  And then the Snakes come to town next weekend.

Fair to anticipate that we skip the 5th starter's spot and lineup Cain/Lincecum/Vogelsong to go against Arizona.  Sweeping is too much to ask, but a series at home requires 2 of 3.  Under that scenario we're one back with 22 left.

Would be helpful if Torres could get on base.

4. Or We Could Bring This Guy Back
Bonds at game.bmp


Barry Bonds caught a foul ball this week.  Probably just to pad his career fielding percentage.

5. At a Public School in Florida
The Christian persecution complex picked up a new martyr in the past couple of weeks.

A public school teacher in Florida posted on his Facebook page that gay marriage was a "cesspool" that made him want to "throw up."

He was reassigned for a week.  The school district got blowback.  He was put back in his original position.

Putting aside the merits of his free speech claim (if the teacher in the classroom next to him wrote "Christian churches are a cesspool that make me want to throw up" on his facebook page, he would lose his position) the story was furthered this week when a portion of the public school teacher's syllabus was revealed:

"I am a man of God and I try to be like Jesus every day. I teach God's truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, 'cause I ain't changing!"


Just another day manning the wall between church and state in America.

Presumably, if that hypothetical teacher in the classroom next door had a syllabus reading "There is no God and no empty religious dogma will be taught.  I make very few compromises.  If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed" then he also would be safely protected inside his taxpayer funded job.

The next time Fox trots out the "War on Christians" bullshit consider that hypothetical teacher.

6. Also in Public Schools.
Unlike other western countries, 1 in 4 American kids receives no sex education beyond "abstinence only."
Sex Education in Schools


What do you suppose the result is?


 The United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world—more than twice as in Canada (27.9 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006) or Sweden (31.4 per 1,000).[7]


 Every year, roughly nine million new STIs occur among teens and young adults in the United States. Compared with rates among teens in Canada and Western Europe, rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among U.S. teens are extremely high.[8,9]


It isn't that American kids have more sex.  It's that sex education, like science education, is held hostage by a particular brand of Know-Nothing religious zealots in the United States.  We'd rather have teen pregnancy than teach kids about condoms.

And we'd rather spend millions of dollars teaching kids the earth is 5000 years old than hire some teachers.

But that's the next story...

7. The Next Story



Kentucky is going to give 43 million dollars in tax incentives for the building of a creationist theme park.

Meanwhile, they've cut the state budget for education at all levels.

America in 2011.

8. It Isn't Just Evangelical Disneyland We Shouldn't Be Building.
I'm sort of a sports fan, as you're aware.

And my football team, the 49ers, have been trying to get public financing for a new stadium for, maybe the past two decades.

As a general rule - you should never, ever, ever vote for public financing of a stadium.

Here's why.

Owners of teams in the “big four” sports leagues—the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL—have reaped nearly $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies for new homes since 1990. And for just as long, fans, urban planners and economists have argued that building facilities for private sports teams is a massive waste of public money. As University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson memorably put it, “If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark.”


9. Nothing You Didn't Already Know, but Still Worth Reading



Bill Simmons's new site, grantland.com, has done a terrific job discussing wrestling, of all things.  This week's
piece on Ric Flair doesn't really cover a lot of ground that longtime readers of the Wrestling Observer hadn't already read, but when you put it together, it's...it's exhausting, is what it is.  Who has the energy to be Ric Flair?

the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That's what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn't pay his rent. That's what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That's what he's called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he's still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.


The response in TNA offices, presumably, was to high five at the publicity.  "Second tier!  That's only one tier behind the top tier!  Get the fax machine cranked up - we got some press releases to send out!"


I watched 2 four star matches this week, Devitt/Taguchi v. Ibushi/Omega and Nakamura v. Naito, both from New Japan earlier this month.  And I wrote five, count them, five posts in my all time NFL roster series, to which you can get here.

10. I Am the Danger



Jason Bateman is maybe my favorite actor, so I enjoyed The Switch enough to recommend it (it includes a really good response to a marriage proposal "Probably.") but as is almost always the case, the best thing I watched this week was Breaking Bad.


Here's Walter White, sliding safely into delusion:

Let me clue you in.  I am not in danger, Skyler.  I am the danger.  A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me?  No.  I am the one who knocks.  


Depending on which show is airing, I've probably written some variation of "Mad Men/Breaking Bad is the best show on television" a half dozen times in these 91 Tensdown.

Right now, it's Breaking Bad.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,

Jim