Brain rot leaves me ill-equipped

From its assumptions I shouldn’t be able to respond to this with proper analysis, mostly due to the copious amounts of blow I snort off the backsides of my prostitutes (when I don’t get distracted by the room full of monkeys I keep to torment mentally-challenged children for my own amusement), but I’ll give it the old (state) college try:

MTV’s own reticence aside, we can think of another reason not to celebrate the past 25 years. Almost every behavior and image the station’s name conjures up is a reminder of cultural decline.

Think about it. The phrase “MTV generation” is routinely used to connote young people with the attention span of fleas and an insatiable appetite for the next thrill.

Stereotypes and directing blame at the purveyor of “pornography” instead of at the parents of the small minority actually impacted (impacted, not impaired) by the current incarnation of MTV who don’t bother to parent is so much easier. These editors should stop writing, sit on their front porch, and scream “Get off the lawn!” at the neighborhood toughs. Then we’ll finally realize our full cultural decline, leaving every one of us incapable of anything beyond anti-social attacks on the integrity of our upstanding past.

Let’s live in huts and wear animal skins

Ummm, the definition of capitalism is not this:

The deteriorating relationship between the German government and business was underscored on Wednesday when a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union called on the party to shed its “capitalist” image.

“The CDU is not a capitalist party,” Jürgen Rüttgers, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and one of the party’s four deputy chairmen, told Stern weekly. “It is a community of values that is not just rooted in materialism.”

Mr. Rüttgers should get his reasoning correct, since capitalism is not as he describes it. I believe the term he’s searching for is consumerism.

Consumerism is a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption.

Compare that to capitalism:

Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are mostly privately owned, and capital is invested in the production, distribution and other trade of goods and services, for profit. These include factors of production such as land and other natural resources, labor and capital goods. Capitalism is also usually considered to involve the right of individuals and groups of individuals acting as “legal persons” (or corporations) to trade in a free market.

Capitalism, as Mr. Rüttgers should realize, means that individual Germans can decide how much or how little materialism is appropriate in their lives. The CDU’s responsibility is to get out of the way. I’m sure Christian social awareness will survive the purchase of a new iPod or twenty.

Lust for power isn’t a virtue

Inept responses to emergencies are unacceptable but understandable because humans are involved. Mistakes happen. But covering up an inept response is unforgivable. The threat of new attacks means that an honest accounting of our past responses and how we can improve them must take precedence over any concern for public shame or bureaucratic humiliation. As such, this is infuriating if true:

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold and Col. Alan Scott told the commission that NORAD had begun tracking United 93 at 9:16 a.m., but the commission determined that the airliner was not hijacked until 12 minutes later. The military was not aware of the flight until after it had crashed in Pennsylvania.

Tell me why we should grant ever-expanding powers to government over more areas of our lives when government can’t be honest about not accomplishing one of its few legitimate tasks.

Hokies thank you for free WiFi

This story is a few months old, but since I visited Blacksburg last week, I learned about it now. The facts:

The New River Valley will soon be more connected than ever as Blacksburg Transit goes wireless with a pilot program offering Internet service aboard select buses.

The new service, created as the result of a partnership between Citizens Telephone Cooperative, based in Floyd, and Blacksburg Transit, has already begun wireless Internet service aboard a single bus, but plans are in the works to add six more by the end of May. “We’re still testing, but we should have them all done by the end of the month,” said Tim Witten, manager of BT Access.

“We’re doing it as a pilot program. We’re deploying this to see how it works, and hope it would be a really attractive part of our service, and serve as an example to the rest of Virginia,” Witten said.

That’s fancy enough, but I don’t imagine students clamored for this service. Although my experience is eight-plus years old, I’m confident that local travel patterns among Virginia Tech students haven’t changed that much. Most users aren’t on the bus long enough to scan for the wireless network and connect, much less to check the status of their fantasy football. Those students who are on the bus long enough and want to download the latest Paris Hilton song should pay for it themselves.

The program is being paid for by a series of grants from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the federal government, thus restricting the number of buses that will receive wireless service.

Because it’s some tech nerd’s vision of cool does not mean it’s a public good. Should I also point out that Blacksburg Transit does not intend to test the program on specific routes? That the routes could change daily? I’m sure that will inspire riders to bring their laptops on a regular basis. Hopefully this flawed premise will help the program fail. As long as it’s in place, when the Hokies take the field and the leaves change colors this fall, you should stop by Blacksburg and surf the free wireless you’re providing.


(General hat tip to Kip for the basic structure of this post.)

Only consumers of redistribution count

Shouldn’t researchers ask you and me what we think?

Most senior citizens who signed up for Medicare’s new prescription drug coverage say they are happy with their plans, but some report that they are not saving money and many say the overall program could be better designed, two new independent studies show.

I’d also say the program could be better designed. Barring the obvious course (elimination), those receiving the “benefits” should pay for them. Those of us not receiving benefits shouldn’t. The phrase private markets comes to mind, but I’m probably being selfish.

Leslie Norwalk, deputy administrator of the Medicare agency, said, “I was heartened to know that we were largely successful.”

Let’s wait more than two months to pop the champagne. The longer-term success might need different standards to determine success.

He served us, but I might have that backwards

Nothing like ambitious standards:

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona let it be known yesterday that he is stepping down, saying in a letter that he would judge himself successful if he had persuaded one student to make good health choices or one mother to stop smoking.

I suspect he was working more to persuade politicians to force all students to make “good” health choices and all mothers to stop smoking.

Baseball has no shot clock

So what?

Federal regulators said yesterday that Comcast Corp. may have discriminated against a regional sports television network by refusing to carry the network’s broadcasts of Nationals games.

In a 10-page opinion, the FCC said it found that MASN had made a “prima facie showing” that Comcast had discriminated against the network and had “indirectly and improperly demanded a financial interest” in the network in exchange for carrying it. The FCC also said, however, that there were factual disputes on both points that would have to be decided by a judge.

Media lawyers said the FCC’s finding shifted the burden to Comcast to prove that it has not broken any of the agency’s rules. The lawyers said it was possible that the judge could find Comcast had played by the rules and was justified in declining to carry the network.

I don’t know the specifics of the rules, but shouldn’t we first be asking whether or not the FCC should have rules governing this? Is this regulatory burden in the interest of customers, or is it in the interest of regulators? Let’s all ponder that for a long nanosecond.

Does this sound familiar?

Remember, the argument is that male and female circumcision are not the same, despite evidence that justifications are often the same.

Although female genital mutilation among the Pokot is a threat to girls’ education girls are keen to undergo it, the district Vice- Chairperson in Charge of Children Affairs, Ms Helen Pulkol, has said.

In her view, parents sometimes influence the practice, but the girls too are interested in the practice and are inspired more by peers.

I’m in no way objecting to Ms. Pulkol, as the article later explains that she’s working to end female circumcision. It’s just useful to remember that cultural influence is powerful, and when parents start with irrational adherence to the opinion of others instead of logical acceptance of normal anatomy, harmful practices and violations continue. Change female to male and Africa to America and the argument remains unchanged. That isn’t a sweeping revelation, of course, but it is another data point demonstrating that violations of genital integrity are not unique to one gender.