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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Weekly Tendown March 25-31 2012

Dear Internet:

It's sort of like when you order off the menu at In-N-Out; U-Verse has a secret fifth Tier that lets you watch shows from the future.  Mike Mayock not only breaks down the corners for the upcoming NFL Draft but also knows who won the 2012 Masters and if you got your taxes filed on time.  It's really a helluva deal.

120 is here. This is Tendown 121.

1. Don Draper Gets Keiblered.


Here's my (spoiler alert) reading of the first episode of the new season of the television series most deserving of textual analysis, Mad Men.

Don Draper got Keiblered.

I love me some George Clooney; I'm a 40 year old white dude in the United States of America, I think Clooney's the coolest guy on feet.  He's comfortable in his own skin, right - if you had to describe Clooney in just a handful of words, that's what they'd be.  He doesn't have to try too hard to be George Clooney, the seams don't really show.

Until this year.  This year, each time I saw Clooney with Stacy Keibler on a red carpet during awards season, my immediate reaction was "she makes him seem old."

Time hits everybody; I feel like I've aged ten years in the last two, death, foreclosure, job loss, and complex carbohydrates will do that to a brother.  For George Clooney it's Stacy Keibler - in theory, it's Clooney being Clooney, he gets tired of having sex with one model and then finds another one.  There's a Chris Rock line, "a man is only as faithful as his options" and Clooney is not a man with a limited number of alternatives.

But to me there was just no question - in the span of a few months, Clooney went from this:


To this:


George Clooney got Keiblered.

More than maybe any television series ever, Mad Men is about the passage of time; consider that the main element of speculation before the beginning of each season is in what year will the next episodes be set.  To my eyes, 1966 is the year Don Draper got old; it's not because he turned 40, not because he is now disinterested in work, those are symptoms - the root cause is that he got Keiblered.  Don Draper's slept his way through Manhattan, but this:



...this peeled away that effortless veneer more quickly than a dozen visits from Dick Whitman's half brother. Draper didn't just look uncomfortable, he looked like an old man who has to work to keep up.  You see that generational shift throughout the office, Pete trying to pry Roger's office away from him; Peggy's brow furrowed when she disrupts the birthday party with work talk.  The degree to which the show has set up someone waiting in succession for the main characters puts me in the mind of Michael Corleone replacing Don Vito.  I'm not saying Draper's first name was chosen specifically to make a Godfather reference, but if Peggy ever looks at whatever hippie boyfriend she's with at the time and says "I told you never to ask me about my business" and the series ends with her closing an office door to to keep him out of a high level business meeting, remember where you heard it first.

2. What I'd Find Weird


Stevie Nicks got rolled out like a new product this week, doing appearances on both American Idol and Up All Night.

The thing that most struck me is her telling Colton that she knew who he was (well, until she told Phillip that if it were 1975 he would have been asked to join Fleetwood Mac, which I think means under California law that he's automatically married to Christine McVie). The game I play along at home when I watch shows like this is "how would I react if I met person Y".  I don't think I'd be easily star struck, but having someone who I knew the way I "know" Stevie Nicks tell me they knew who I was - that somehow, as a concept, I existed in Stevie Nicks's brain - that wouldn't be something I'd readily be able to wrap around.

3. Mark Leyner's Back
And you can read about it in the NY Times Magazine.

4. And Olbermann's Gone Again.
Jesus, man.  It's an election year.  You're driving me bonkers.

5. Meanwhile, at My House.
A good piece about Florida in 2012.

The Left should be paying attention to Florida. If you’ve ever desired a nightmarish vision of the legislature-driven austerity measures sure to proliferate around the country in the coming years, look no further than the Sunshine State’s 2012 budget. With little protest, Florida lawmakers are eviscerating public welfare and rapidly turning the state into a haven for the exploitation of workers. 


6. Obamacare
A year ago, Lawrence Tribe wrote a piece in the NY Times saying that even with the right wing lunge of the Court, the health care case was so clear that it would, at worst, be decided like 8-1.


Then this happened.



Government already forces you to buy insurance you may not want, and thereby to subsidize others, via Social Security and Medicare. The check on the abuse of this power is a familiar one: the ballot box. George W. Bush’s failed Social Security privatization scheme tried to greatly reduce this cross-subsidization. Had he succeeded, the poorest old people, who have only Social Security to support them, would have gone from watch-your-pennies poverty to grinding, desperate poverty, just above the level of homelessness and starvation. Evidently the electorate didn’t regard it as a cruel injustice for the strong and rich to help support the weak and poor.


Once you admit that government has a general power of taxation and can spend for the general welfare – and the Constitution does expressly say both those things – then there really is no limit on its powers of redistribution. The hapless Verrilli said that he was not justifying “forced purchases of commodities for the purpose of stimulating demand,” but of course that happens whenever anything is subsidized, or whenever government purchases a lot of anything. Have you ever heard of the defense industry?


I'd rather not have to buy health insurance either; I'd rather be able to be part of a Medicare like single payer program where my tax dollars aren't going to fund corporate profit but instead used in the way Social Security is used, the 80% of us who don't regularly need the use of health insurance dollars are essentially subsidizing the 20% who do, with the recognition that those populations are fluid; today I don't have a half million dollar medical bill, but perhaps tomorrow and almost certainly one day.  I'd rather that was the law that was passed; that's a more progressive law - but the law that was actually passed is one that preserves corporate dominance in the health care field, and to do that it contains the right wing created individual mandate.  That the right wing now views funneling money to insurance companies as tyranny is just politics, but it doesn't have anything to do with the obvious constitutionality of the law.

7. Broccoli


Here's Jack Balkin on "if the government can make you buy health insurance, where are the limits, what's to stop it from making you buy broccoli" argument.

8. Baseball's Back
I've got all the posts you could possibly want.

My 2012 MLB predictions. Take Kansas City's under.
The 150 best players in baseball.
All of my fantasy rankings, the gateway for which is here.
My Wrestlemania 28 preview.
And on April 1, Counterfactual Wrestlemania 27.

9. Rick Santorum's Subliminal Campaign Ad
Did you see it? Good times.

10. I Got Two Words For You...
Taco Copter.

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

Your pal,

Jim