Canada's postal service will phase out door-to-door delivery over the next five years. Citing the rise of digital communications and a projected loss of CAD$1 billion by 2020, Canada Post today outlined a series of actions that it would take to streamline its organization and reduce losses. In particular, cutting out direct to-door delivery — which is currently only used to service one-third of Canadian households — will "provide significant savings," Canada Post says. Mail will still be delivered to community, grouped, lobby, and rural mailboxes, which make up how the remaining two-thirds of Canadian households receive their mail.
The cuts will put somewhere between six and eight thousand Canadian postal employees out of work. Man, this is depressing. You're supposed to be our sensible, stable older sister, Canada! Don't you foresee a time in which a national delivery network might be a valuable thing to have? Can't you do a better job at this being-a-country thing than us? If we don't have you to look up to, Canada, who will provide an example for us?
Ed Murray just unveiled much of his new staff at a press conference. We'll get to editorializing soon enough (you know we will!) but for now, a quick list of the new hires.
There are three larger structural changes he's trumpeting today: First, he's hiring two deputy mayors—one with an external, community focus and one with an internal, city government focus. Second, he's bringing the position of budget director back inside the mayor's office. And he's also creating a new department, called the "Office of Policy and Innovation," full of people serving as in-house policy consultants.
The new "executive leadership team":
Deputy Mayor, external: Hyeok Kim
Interim Deputy Mayor, internal: Andrea Riniker
Budget Director: Ben Noble
Director of the Office of Policy and Innovation: Robert Feldstein
Communications Director: Jeff Reading
Lead hires in the new Office of Policy and Innovation:
Deputy Director: Mike Fong
Transit and Transportation: Andrew Glass Hastings
Organizational Effectiveness: Steve Lee
Police Chief Search and Police Reform: Tina Podlodowski
Waterfront and Seawall: Jared Smith
The mayor also announced new department heads, including a replacement for Julie Nelson, whose firing we reported this morning. Three are permanent, two are interim:
Another reason that I was mad at the protester who was pretending to be a snotty, anti-poor tech guy: The world is full of snotty tech guys who are blatantly, unrepentantly anti-poor already. Valleywag's Sam Biddle introduced the world to AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman this morning. Gopman published a (public, but now deleted) Facebook post complaining about the poor people in downtown San Francisco:
Just got back to SF. I've traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little...The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it's a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that's okay....You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us. It's a burden and a liability having them so close to us. Believe me, if they added the smallest iota of value I'd consider thinking different, but the crazy toothless lady who kicks everyone that gets too close to her cardboard box hasn't made anyone's life better in a while.
Philip W. Eaton wrote an editorial for the Seattle Times in October that was very similar in spirit to this internet rant. The thing I don't understand is that the people who complain about having to see homeless people—and that is exactly what these internet rants are, they're people who are upset that they have to lay their eyes on poor people—are usually the same people who don't want to pay more in taxes. How are you supposed to "remove" these people from the streets if you're not willing to fund the programs that will help them? Do you want to wall off the poor into their own ghettos, or make it illegal for them to exist in downtown areas? Both those "solutions" would result in a very different America than the one we were born into. If we all agreed to put a significant portion of our taxes toward "solving" the homeless "problem," we could make a significant dent in homeless populations. But we as a society have decided that low taxes are our priority. This is a direct result of that decision.
A 3.5 billion-year-old freshwater lake on Mars, now dry, may have been an ecosystem where life could thrive, according to an analysis of data collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover.Mars has become for humans (or the human imagination) something like the plot we find in the 80s horror/noir movie Angel Heart. Every new discovery—it once had water, it once had lakes, it once had a rich atmosphere—has the aspect of a clue to a crime, a murder that was committed by the very person investigating the case. Is what's happening here (the anthropogenic extinction of animal after animal; climate change; the depletion of the ozone) what happened on Mars?
Though Mars is now cold, rocky and sterile, it was once warmer and wetter. The lake that may have fostered microbial life is now the crater where the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Curiosity landed in 2012, according to six papers presented at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco and published online in the journal Science.
When Sofie Knijff asks children in remote areas of Mali and Greenland to dress up as whatever they want to be when they grow up, the props are just a prompt to train their focus. The kids don't smile in these portraits.
Knijff calls her series Translations, referring to the doubleness between and within the pictures: child and adult, present and future, reality and fiction, portrait and landscape, individual and type.
Like Knijff, the Seattle photographer Eirik Johnson traveled to a faraway place—Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States—to take double portraits. He went in the summer of 2010, creating images that sparkle with color, shot under the midnight sun. Then he went back, in winter 2012, to the same places, during the few hours of daylight, completely blanketed in snow, "like a positive erasure," he says.
Updated at 12:18 with confirmation.
Sources at city hall say that the much-lauded director of the city's Office for Civil Rights, Julie Nelson, is getting canned by the incoming mayor. Mayor-elect Ed Murray is throwing a big press conference right now to announce new staff, and we'll soon learn who her replacement is.
Yes, new mayors always fire and hire people. But Nelson in particular has worked on many of the big social justice wins at city hall in the last few years—she and her office worked to ban discrimination against job seekers with criminal records; she's the co-chair of the city's task force on gender pay equity, convened after the city discovered in July that, on average, it was paying women less than men.
When I talked to her this summer regarding that pay gap, she said she'd worked for the city for 23 years. We've requested comment from Nelson and Murray, and we'll update this post when we hear more.
UPDATE AT 12:18 PM: Nelson confirms that Murray fired her in an e-mail to her staff. It's posted after the jump. Her replacement will be Patricia Lally, who is currently a civil rights lawyer in the US attorney’s office in Seattle and is a past president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington.
Adrain Chesser is not just a photographer, he's an envisioner. What he makes, he wants to make happen. And the people he photographs want something to happen; they're in a moment of longing, desiring, rewriting the old stories.
Several years ago, when Chesser had to break the news to friends that he was HIV-positive, he took their portraits right then and there, as part of their process together, as a community. Despite the delicacy of the moments, nobody wanted to stop him. For a later series, he returned to his Pentecostal Floridian home turf, but to a campground that serves now as a queer safe space—the kind of space he needed growing up but never had.
He began to create small campgrounds of his own with friends. He'd get a crew together, of maybe 10 or 12 people, and go out into the wilderness. These small worlds—seen in photographs, some staged, some candid—are marked by rituals, but the rituals are not performances. They enact ways of living that diverge from the cruelty, competition, greed, waste, despair, and materialism the mainstream calls "normal" life.
This work is called The Return.
The subjects in The Return are predominately not Indigenous. Most carry European ancestry. And most come in one form or another from the disenfranchised margins of mainstream America. Most are poor, some are queer, some are trans-gendered, some are hermits and some are politically radical. All believe that major shifts are needed in the way modern society interacts with the natural world. And all are willing pioneers, stepping off into uncertain terrain searching for something lost generations ago. Perhaps poetically, those attempting to live these ideals could be viewed as a rainbow tribe. In their search they struggle to be released from old ways of being. Cars, soda pop, cell phones and cigarettes follow them. Convenience has a magnetic power. Addictions, cravings, and desires are hard to break. These pioneer's seek a new way in the world, while still learning to let go of the old. These are uncommon Heroes shedding layer by layer the learned domestication of the dominator culture.”
Those are the words of Timothy White Eagle, Chesser's collaborator. White Eagle lives in Seattle; Chesser has moved to Portland. I wrote about their extraordinary lives last year. (Steven Miller, another sometime collaborator, recently showed at Vermillion.)
The Return is now becoming a book. On Kickstarter, where it has just one day left in its campaign, you can reserve a copy for $50. The book will be printed in spring. The project hit its original funding goal, but that accounted for only half the actual cost of printing, so Chesser's throwing in free signed prints to try to break even. Want to buy art this holiday season? These photographs get under my skin. I find myself having all kinds of reactions to this alternative world—excitement, jealousy, suspicion, curiosity. On top of that, they're flat gorgeous, of course. It's hard to ask for more than all that from a body of artwork. See what it does to you.
Look! It's another sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise:
I don't wish Tom Cruise would retire. I just wish Tom Cruise would do something different, is all. This INTENSE LEADING MAN schtick is beyond tired. We're now in the third decade of Tom Cruise willing himself into an action hero mode, and everything about his acting style has become so aggressive that it's off-putting. Sometimes a director can use Cruise to his best ability—Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible movie was incredibly entertaining because it didn't force Cruise to even try anything outside his comfort zone—but for the most part, his movies are highly generic. He's got such an iron-fisted control over every aspect of the movie-making process at this point that Cruise overrides most directors and forces them to put his will up on the screen. Cruise movies are always about so-called perfect men, doing things perfectly. Who, outside of Ayn Rand, thinks that's an entertaining film? And how much more money does Tom Cruise need?
I'd love to see Cruise, at age 51, try something new. Something smaller. Something about a perfect man who finally failed. Something where he plays a small-town loser who thinks he's the greatest man alive. Something where he has to come to term with his flaws, in a small supporting role. Something where he doesn't have to pretend to care about wooing a love interest. Why does he have to keep doing the same thing over and over? How does he get himself out of bed to make the same movie every morning? In that respect, this trailer for Edge of Tomorrow maybe represents Tom Cruise's life better than most roles: He's stuck in a time loop of his own devising, acting out blurry action scenes over and over again for some unknown purpose.
But at that point, I'd only read part one. All five together are pretty astounding. Add to that the videos, PDFs of reports on shelter conditions, and all the Internet discussions, and the story is generally sticking around like a nightmare that won't shake off. Which in this case I take to be a good thing.
If you only read one story before the end of 2013, please make it this one.
I especially love the way Elliott's approach—tight focus on Dasani herself—cuts off at the knees criticisms of Dasani's parents for having too many children, being on drugs, et cetera.
Because Dasani is the focus of the story. She exists. This is her life. This is what she's up against. This is who is coming of age.
The piece is also a stunning damnation not just of gentrification, but of the way the conditions on either side of the gentrification process have become so extreme: artisanal absolutely everything versus dead babies and sexual assault and rats. It's not just Brooklyn; when Dasani's family moves shelters into Harlem, it's the same stark difference all over again.
At 9:26 p.m., Chanel and her children board the last van just before it pulls away. An hour later, the van approaches their new residence.
They are in Harlem.
Of the 152 shelters where Dasani’s family could have landed, they have somehow wound up at a six-story brick building on West 145th Street.
It feels different here. The block is awash in streetlights and teeming with pedestrians. There are fewer trees. But in other ways, Harlem is like Fort Greene. Nearby is a new bistro called Mountain Bird that offers a foie gras soup and a shrimp-bisque mac and cheese.
Remind anyone of anywhere around here?
We're observing Slog silence from now until 11 a.m. while we have an editorial meeting, but look—we made an entire paper's worth of stuff for you!
1. GOLDY is apparently a grown man. He's been writing for well over a decade now, and the various personal anecdotes he cannot refrain from spilling throughout his writing would indicate that he's been on this earth for at least four, maybe five decades. Why, then, would a man who's so firmly entrenched in midlife write a news story with the headline "Fuck the State" that accuses state legislators of terrorism? In another "news" story in this very issue, Goldy complains about the price of fast food. Explain in a brief essay exactly what is wrong with Goldy. Examples of a useful diagnosis include: He's suffered an embolism that has impaired his judgment, he recently lived through a personal loss that inspired him to act irresponsibly as an attention-getting measure, or the name "Goldy" is simply a pseudonym that is passed from Stranger writer to Stranger writer, with the most recent owner of the sobriquet being a teenage boy.
2. Speaking of teenagers, DAVID SCHMADER wastes nearly a thousand words on Morrissey's new autobiography, ultimately concluding that perhaps Morrissey is not very bright. Rather than appearing in the music section, where this kind of puerile diatribe is the norm, it's instead published in the books section. If you can, identify any literary merit in Schmader's review. Use a microscope if necessary.
3. DOMINIC HOLDEN crows about the end of the Seattle City Council as we know it. Unfortunately, the city council is still going to be around in its current iteration for two more years, which means that Holden is essentially burning a bridge before he crosses it. Imagine if you were to hold an "intervention" of sorts for Mr. Holden. Which of his self-destructive behaviors would you bring up first?
4. Did you read CHARLES MUDEDE's article about Black Weirdos? Why?
5. In the theater section, CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE gleefully rips apart 5th Avenue Theatre's staging of Oliver! This "review" is as pretentious as it is wrongheaded, failing to appreciate the play's deft use of child actors and its willingness to choose crowd-pleasing over the too-theatrical. Similarly, in the chow section, BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT denounces a sandwich-and-teriyaki shop on the grounds that it is merely good enough for the neighborhood in which it exists. Shouldn't The Stranger utilize a positive worldview and encourage the city's arts and business communities instead of constantly running them down? (Submit your answer to this question as a comment on any article on The Stranger's website.)
We interrupt Slog silence to bring you this MASSIVELY EXCITING update/opportunity!
As you know by now, Seattle’s very best hometown heroes—that’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pearl Jam, and The Stranger’s elf-powered blog, Slog—have joined forces this holiday season to raise money for YouthCare’s Orion Center. The question is: Whose fans will do the most to help homeless youth right here in Seattle? And look! IT’S WORKING!
TOTAL $$$ RAISED SO FAR FOR THE ORION CENTER: $62,082.41
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans have donated: $29,838.14
• Pearl Jam fans: $23,048.27
• Slog fans: $ 8,321.00
And Seattlish fans are still donating: $875.00 so far!
THIS IS JUST AWESOME. M&RL are back in the lead, and in the middle of a three-night stand at KeyArena... hometown power! Suddenly, I feel like a Dick's cheeseburger.
Anyway! If you donate right away, you could win a pair of three-day passes to the 2014 Capitol Hill Block Party PLUS two nights at the Hotel Monaco! Are you getting this?! That’s you and your bestie seeing every damn band that plays, then resting your sunburned heads on the cushy pillows of a top-rated Seattle hotel. Just donate by noon on Friday, December 13 (any amount counts!), then forward your receipt and tell us in 100 words or less why you want to party at the Block Party and what you're going to do in your hotel room after. The best reason wins! The winner will be announced Friday afternoon on Slog! Donate to the Orion Center right now!
Seattlish fans can go here to give and make a note that it's pro-Seattlish/anti-Dan-Savage! The fans that raise the most for the Orion Center by December 24th WIN the title of the Best Fans of the Best Band or Best Blog in the Universe Forever!
And give at least $25 to the Orion Center, then forward us your receipt and your commenter handle, and we'll give you a commenter tag on Slog that says SLOG FAN, MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FAN, or PEARL JAM FAN! Your choice!
Four illustrators envision what Washington, D.C. would look like if its height restriction is removed—Congress is in the midst of debating the issue. The Washington Monument and the White House disappear, essentially. But more folks can afford to live there?
Hmm. How's that density working in keeping other American cities affordable these days?
H/t to the great Kriston Capps of Architect magazine.
The Whole World Is Making Unofficial Sign Language at Him Now: Reuters reports on the scandal of the day: "A fake sign language interpreter took to the stage during a mass memorial for anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, gesticulating gibberish before a global audience of millions and outraging deaf people across the world." Here he goes—with an inset of an actual interpreter to compare and contrast!
Make a movie about this guy!!
"yup, i can sign language"
*gives you the finger, elephant nose, jerkoff motion*
"great you are hired!"
— Dana Bell (@danacbell) December 11, 2013
Fox News: Breathless and scandalized by president Obama taking a selfie at Mandela's service.
Can Republicans Swallow? That's what folks are wondering about the GOP-controlled House accepting a bipartisan $85 billion budget. While it undoes $63 billion in sequester cuts, it also reduces the deficit by $23 billion without tax increases. But now that he's made a deal with Senator Patty Murray, GOP Representative Paul Ryan is struggling to sell the budget to his Tea Party caucus. The House will reportedly vote tomorrow.
Time Person of the Year: It's Pope Francis. That's a superficial choice, though; Francis hasn't reformed any of the hateful Catholic doctrines that poison international affairs, just talked about wholesome stuff. Shoulda been Edward Snowden, who's taken risks to actually make the world a better place.
Any Chief Is Good as Long as It's Nobody We Know: That's the argument for hiring a new chief from outside the Seattle Police Department, regardless of interim chief Jim Pugel's performance.
Obamacare Enrollment: More than doubled in November, compared to the previous month, but with only 365,000 folks total, it's still far behind the 800,000 target.
Tunnel Obstruction: An old locomotive? A metal beam? A gigantic unstable boulder? They still donut what to do.
Forget smartwatches—smartrings are the new thing now. An Indiegogo campaign for a product called the "Smarty Ring" has hit its funding goal. Smarty Ring is a 13mm-wide stainless steel ring with an LED screen, Bluetooth 4.0, and an accompanying smartphone app. The ring pairs with a smartphone and acts as a remote control and notification receiver.
The ring supposedly has a 24-hour battery life. Here's video:
Now join me in a thought experiment:
At its core, the rule bans banks from trading for their own gain. The practice, known as proprietary trading, is one of Wall Street’s most lucrative — and riskiest — activities.
Supporters of the Volcker Rule, the brainchild of Paul A. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman and adviser to President Obama, said it would help prevent the buildup of the kinds of risky positions that nearly sank Wall Street in 2008. And they argued that, to help prevent future bailouts of Wall Street, large banks that enjoy forms of taxpayer backing should not use customers’ money to make bets on the direction of stocks and bonds.
In other words: The rule tries to prevent large banks from gambling with your deposits in ways that end up crashing the economy—leading to huge bank bailouts using your tax dollars. Makes sense. But there are loopholes.
Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization....
Cannabis consumers will be able to buy a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) each month from licensed pharmacies as long as they are Uruguayan residents over the age of 18 and registered on a government database that will monitor their monthly purchases.
When the law is implemented in 120 days, Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes a year, or as much as 480 grams (about 17 ounces), and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.
Uruguay legalizing pot—the fact that the US didn't stop them, that it's politically safe for their lawmakers, that this will pass by without much fuss—is proof that the drug war as we've known it since the '70s is over.
They successfully avoid using the word "stuck." Statement after the jump:
The Verge has published Adi Robertson's long look at trollfic, which is kind of the bottom-feeder of the fanfic community:
Trollfic, as pop culture-annotation site "TV Tropes" would call it, spans many years and many genres: wherever there were fans, there was room for stories that spurned all laws of grammar, character building, and canon in order to rile those fans up. But 2006 would prove a turning point: it was the year of Harry Potter fan fiction "My Immortal," written by a teenager named Tara Gilesbie. Tara was a self-described "goff" who liked My Chemical Romance, Hot Topic, and Evanescence — the latter so much that she named her story after one of their songs. She also seemed to be in the midst of an extremely awkward adolescence.
In Gilesbie’s less-than-capable hands, the struggle between good and evil in the wizarding world became a pitched battle between "goffs" and "preps," frequently interrupted by detailed physical descriptions of protagonist Ebony (variously called Enoby, Evony, Egogy, and Tara.) But the real star of "My Immortal" was its author. From the beginning, Tara was telling insufficiently gothic readers to "get da hell out," and she soon started using copious author’s notes to defend her spelling, dialogue, and bizarre reworkings of major characters.
You should read the whole thing—especially the lengthy excerpt from "My Immortal." I almost wouldn't mind reading this thing in book form. It goes from terrible back around again to fascinating—not in an entertaining Ed Wood so-bad-it's-good sort of way, but more like a public grooming sort of way.
A few days ago, Thailand's main opposition party said it would collectively resign from parliament to further delegitimize prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her administration. (And we thought Republicans were difficult to deal with.) Yingluck—whose exiled, tycoon brother Thaksin is at the heart of the current unrest—countered by dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections.
"Now that the government has dissolved parliament, I ask that you stop protesting and that all sides work towards elections," she told reporters today. "I have backed down to the point where I don't know how to back down any further."
But protest marches, which had been planned and mapped on Google days in advance, have continued anyway.
From the Guardian:
Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, dissolved parliament on Monday and called a snap election, but anti-government protest leaders pressed ahead with mass demonstrations in Bangkok in an attempt to install an unelected body to run the country.
Police estimated that about 160,000 protesters converged on Yingluck's office at Government House, but there was none of the violence and bloodshed seen before the demonstrations paused last Thursday out of respect for the king's birthday.
The protesters want to oust Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, the former premier who was toppled by the military in 2006 and has chosen to live in exile rather than serve a jail term for corruption.
There was a carnival atmosphere as protesters gathered at Government House, with unarmed police and troops inside. In a speech to supporters after nightfall, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said: "From this minute onwards, all Thais have taken power back for the people."
He gave no clues about his next move or how exactly he planned to take over the levers of government. Aware that allies of Yingluck and Thaksin would almost certainly win any election, Suthep has called for a "people's council" of appointed "good people" to replace the government. As such, he dismissed the early election. "The dissolving of parliament is not our aim," he said.
Sounds like everybody's stuck—the king has decreed that the new elections will happen on Feb 2 (two years ahead of schedule), and there's not much for anyone to do until then, unless Suthep is serious about trying to chase Yingluck out of the country with a mob.
According to our man in SE Asia:
The opposition resigned (they are the protesters) in part to force the government's hand, but also to avoid dissolution as a political party for engaging in anti-government activities—but now the legislators are no longer immune from prosecution.
This is really big, so it might be a last-gasp measure. Then again, last week when the protesters beat the police back, they hugged the cops and the cops gave them flowers in return—so who knows what will happen?
The protestors' demands that democracy be disbanded and that a non-elected council be allowed to rule the country (and then restore democracy) seems a bit far-fetched.
Yingluck's move to dissolve the government, thus calling for new elections, is a smart move. The opposition has not won an election since 1992. A friend of mine said that there are too many "watermelon" troops for a coup to happen—that is, green on the outside (the fatigues) and but with red-shirt sympathies on the inside.
And then there is this, the world's worst travel promotion—free riot insurance for tourists.
Reporter Richard Barrow Tweeted just a few minutes ago that things might heat up again soon:
Protesters expected to go mobile at 10:30am after 12hr deadline for police to withdraw expires. They will probably target ministries again.
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) December 10, 2013
UPDATE 3:14 PM: "I am happy to report that Senator Murray and I have reached an agreement," Ryan begins. He says the deal reduces the deficit and doesn't raise taxes. "I see this agreement as a step in the right direction," he continues, calling it "a clear imporvement on the status quo" that makes sure "we don't lurch from crisis to crisis.
UPDATE 3:18 PM: Ryan thanks Murray, saying she has "fought every step of the way." Murray then takes the podium, saying that "compromise" has been considered " a dirty word" for far too long. She also talks about "lurching from crisis to crisis." She says the budget will build on deficit reduction and also "help millions of Americans" with Meals on Wheels and medical research. "This isn't the plan I would've written on my own," she says, and she adds that Ryan wouldn't have written this plan on his own, either. Murray cites the fact that the deal doesn't close even one corporate tax loophole as a particular failing of the agreement, but she says it's a step toward fixing the public perception of Congress. She thanks Ryan, even though they cheer for "different football teams" and "catch different fish."
UPDATE 3:21 PM: Question for Ryan: Are conservatives going to be happy with this? Ryan says yes, because it reduces the deficit and doesn't raise taxes. He says this is the first bipartisan budget agreement since 1986. "I think conservatives will vote for this," Ryan says. He'll bring the agreement to the House this week.
UPDATE 3:25 PM: Question: How much vetting have Murray and Ryan done with the rest of their respective parties? Murray says she's been in close contact, though she admits that the agreement will not please one hundred percent of either the House or the Senate. Ryan says he's been in close contact with leadership.
Question: How much sequester relief is there in the agreement? Ryan says 63 billion dollars. Murray clarifies that it works out to 45 billion in the first year and the rest in the next year.
UPDATE 3:28 PM: Ryan says "we think it is only fair" that government workers pay more toward their pensions in this deal. Murray clarifies that there would be more furloughs and layoffs if this agreement doesn't pass. "I think alleviating government shutdowns' does make the economy a lot more stable, Ryan says.
UPDATE 3:30 PM: And that was it. Most of the questions had to do directly with how Ryan would deal with conservative pushback against this budget agreement. That seems to be the question of the week. For what it's worth, Ryan handled himself a lot better than he did on the stump for Mitt Romney last year, sounding in charge and confident, but Murray sounded more passionate about helping people.
UPDATE 3:35 PM: You can find the press release about the agreement here. It lays it all out pretty clearly:
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.
The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.
Maybe customers and potential customers would have been less annoyed with Lululemon founder and chairman Chip Wilson if he hadn’t gone on Bloomberg News and called them all fat in response to an interviewer’s question about his company’s controversial sheer-butt yoga pants. It doesn’t matter now: Wilson is stepping down as chairman at the end of this fiscal year, even though he’ll stay on as a board member.
A whole fucking section dedicated to Duck Commander products...
I've gone on about the virtues of the Oxford comma before, so I'll spare you the harangue.
I just wanted to share this:
Originally posted August 5, 2010
My boyfriend and I have "history." We dated casually and weren't ready to stop seeing other people, so we had an open relationship. This phase was awful: lots of fights, a couple minor breakups, and eventually I called it quits for good, cutting off all contact. A month later, we started talking again and decided to commit for reals. No fucking around this time. This is his first monogamous relationship, and while he claims to miss the variety, he says he wouldn't trade having me for having it.
Here's my question: I'd like to have a three-way. While I trust him, I don't want to make it seem like it's okay for him to fuck around again. Is this too dangerous a proposition?
One More Time
My response after the jump...
Charles Mudede already told you about the Birkensnake reading happening at Vermillion tonight. It looks like it's going to be a really good time, with readings from Maged Zaher, Charles, Ezra Mark, Matt Briggs, and Robert Mittenthal. But it's not the only thing happening tonight, by a long shot. To start with, there's another group reading happening just down the street from Vermillion at the Hugo House. It's called "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two." It features local poets Kelly Davio, Nicelle Davis, Maggie MK Hess, Sierra Nelson, and Alexis Vergalla reading new work about Miller's Law, which says that we can only retain so much information in our memories. I like these kinds of theme readings, which are kind of like one-night-only anthologies.
But if you're looking for non-fiction, you should head north. At the W.H. Foege Building Auditorium in the U District, Tom Reh will give a lecture titled "Restoring Sight to the Blind: the Future Looks Bright" as part of the UW Graduate Program in Neurobiology & Behavior-sponsored NeuroTalks public lecture series. And at University Book Store, Daniel James Brown will be reading from The Boys in the Boat, which is subtitled Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It's about the UW rowing team that fought the Nazis, which makes it a very interesting piece of overlooked Seattle history.
You will never think of them as the Dark Ages again. Griffith's command of the era is worn lightly and delivered as a deeply engaging plot. Her insight into human nature and eye for telling detail is as keen as that of the extraordinary Hild herself. The novel resonates to many of the same chords as Beowulf, the legends of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones—to the extent that Hild begins to feel like the classic on which those books are based.
When Neal Stephenson congratulates you on your historical fiction, you know you're doing something right. Find out more about everything else happening tonight in the readings calendar.
If you were in the streets of Doha, Qatar, today, you might see a large black sedan drive past, trailing a life-size mockup of Damien Hirst's sculpture of a real dead shark suspended in a tank. This is how an exhibition of Hirst's sculptures at Doha's Al Riwaq Art Space is being advertised. It's also being advertised through this massive social media campaign. It's sponsored by the woman named the most powerful person in contemporary art by ArtReview this year: Sheikha Mayassa.
James Panero has a fascinating piece in this month's New Criterion on what the collecting power of certain Middle Eastern states means.
They've imported high-ticket Western art, modern and contemporary. American universities like Texas A&M, New York University. The Guggenheim. Leading architects including Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Rafael Viñoly, Jean Nouvel.
There's no question what those entities get out of the deal. It's green. It makes the world go round. Oh, yeah, and there are some niceties.
The cultural partners that Qatar and the other Emirates are importing to their principalities largely claim to be there in the interest of greater global understanding. There is a “conviction that interaction with new ideas and people who are different is valuable and necessary, and a commitment to educating students who are true citizens of the world,” as New York University says of its presence in Abu Dhabi. Of course, our Western elites would show little interest if these countries were still merely made up of poor fishermen and pearl divers. They are there to sell, but what precisely are these countries out to buy?
Soft power, much like the American C.I.A. wielded in the Cold War, and cover for continued basic human-rights abuses, Panero writes.
He tells the story of the Qatari poet imprisoned for 15 years for allegedly insulting the Emir. One of his poems asked the same question Panero poses: "Why, why do these regimes/ import everything from the West—/ everything but the rule of law, that is,/ and everything but freedom?”
Panero then goes on to share the story of the expensive Western art bought under the Shah in Iran, which, in order to avoid being destroyed during the revolution, had to be scurried off into storage—where it remains.
The terrible history of Iran demonstrates what can happen when a modernist culture merely overlays a repressive regime. In such circumstances, artists and organizations might profit by spreading modernity, but they are also abetting a compromised state. The two go hand in hand, liberalizing on the one and oppressing on the other. The art, meanwhile, continues its own transformation, evolving from images of Provençal peasant life and visions of abstract thought into symbols of autocratic power. Should a state like Qatar ever collapse, the results would leave a hole not only in the art market but in the culture of art itself. In the meantime, épater la bourgeoisie has become state policy in the modernizing capital of Doha, while épater l’Emir remains a capital offense.
This "hole in the culture of art itself" is interesting. Does he mean that if a state like Qatar, holding all this art, were to collapse, then the art would either be destroyed or disappeared, and that would constitute a "hole in the culture of art itself"? Like a bullet through the body of Western art?
If that were to happen, I could hardly sympathize with any of the players. (Maybe some of the artists, the dead ones, but certainly not with someone like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons.) Because the wound is self-inflicted. In fact, a "hole in the culture of art itself" is a preexisting condition. Rich Americans are not Mother Theresas, even if you compare them to rich ruling Qataris. This art is already made of the conditions of widespread inequality, and you might even call it human-rights abuses, when you consider statistics about how the poorest Americans live today.
Anyone who follows the rise of the art market can safely say that global demand has moved beyond the realm of aesthetics on to other concerns. Blue-chip art has become a speculative sport, a trophy hunt, a diversified hedge, and a means for money laundering. Art now serves any number of functions that have little connection with value and connoisseurship.
When I.M. Pei says he wants culture to be more emphasized in oil and gas states, yet culture at these levels means little more than money, then who is influencing whom in these purchases? It's just money versus money. The rich and the ruling always find their way to each other. The real borders are not between countries but between them and everyone else.
Hat tip to Mister Sean.
The Washington State Department of Health has released its list of top 100 baby names for 2012, and surprisingly, Cienna is nowhere on it. The number one most unoriginal girl's name last year was Sophia (473 out of 42,719 girls born in the state last year), while the number one most boring boy's name was Liam (409 out of 44,696).
In case you're interested in avoiding this same mistake for your own children, here is a sampling of the top ten most boring and unoriginal boys and girls names in Washington State:
Take it from David Goldstein (the "John Smith" of Judaism), you can do better.
Seattle Police Officers Guild president Rich O'Neill has announced in the December issue of the SPOG newspaper, the Guardian, that he will not seek reelection. Citing the '60s pop song "Turn, Turn, Turn," he writes, "Like the song says there is a time for everything and the time for me to move on is now."
O'Neill, you may recall, has made more than $100,000 a year in his position as union president, a salary the city has attempted in the past to negotiate their way out of paying; they don't pay any other city employee union heads a full-time salary. And O'Neill has been a problem for the department in that he makes for pretty bad press on a pretty regular basis—complaining about the "media frenzy" after the shooting of John T. Williams or calling the DOJ investigation into our police department "flawed from the start."
As an anonymous city hall staffer once told us, "The city pays Rich O'Neill to be a total dick."
As for those salary negotiations, Mayor Mike McGinn's spokesman Robert Cruickshank says: "The City and SPOG are still in negotiation over the president’s salary. The City remains committed to obtaining 100% reimbursement for the SPOG President's salary."
In the meantime, the Guardian's not online, but here's just a bit of O'Neill's announcement:
In 1965 a group called The Byrds released a song that was taken almost exactly from the Bible. The song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" told us that "to everything there is a season and a time to every pupose under Heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to laugh and a time to weep." I found the lyrics to that old song very relevant as I sit down to write my column this month.
After much discernment and many hours of discussion with my family and others, I have decided not to seek re-election for a fourth term as your SPOG President... Three years ago we were in the middle of contract negotiations and it was not the right time for change. Many people asked me to stay on and I agreed. I am flattered this time that again many have asked me to keep going, but like the song says there is a time for everything and the time for me to move on is now. I am not quite ready to retire from SPD so I will spend the next three months working with the board and the newly elected president to ensure a smooth transition and then I will start my new assignment on March 1st.
He also says he'll stay on the SPOG board in the role of "past president" for a year.