1/14/2010

01-14-10 - Thursday

I can't even listen to talk radio when commuting now because it's all about Haiti. Yeah yeah natural disaster in the 3rd world, lots of people die. Is this a rerun?

Dave Moulton writes with a bit of mustard about fixie fuckers . It's a bit disturbing the way the retard fixie crowd creates so much antipathy towards cyclists. The question is - is the hipster bicycle craze as a whole good or bad for cycling? The interesting thing is that there actually two completely independent cycle booms going on right now. There's the "Green cycle commuter" boom. These guys tend to be middle aged, upper-middle-class liberals, they buy practical bikes and kit them with paniers and lights from REI and ride responsibly and put soy milk in their water bottles. This movement is pretty small, but they are politically strong because they are older and organized, they tend to be the people who join Bicycle Coalitions and raise support for better bike lanes in cities and things like that. As much as we might hate them for their oft "holier than thou" attitude, these people are clearly a force for good and give cyclists a very good name (mostly - the exception is the militant anti-car faction of this movement who are mildly damaging). OTOH the hipster/fixie movement is very large, and has gotten lots of kids into cycling. The good thing is that many of them discover they love it and become serious responsible cyclists over time. It's also just a massive benefit to have so many more people riding.

Current/recent TV watching list :


James May's * (Toy Stories, Big Ideas, Moon, etc.)

"Life" (BBC nature show)

Wild China (BBC nature show)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alec Guiness in lots of makeup)

Full Tilt Million Dollar Cash Game Season 4 (Andrew Feldman is a huge donk)

The Thick of It Season 3

Wallander Season 2

Peep Show Season 6 (I forgot I was waiting for this)

The League : mmm not bad, in an age bereft of comedy options this is one of the least bad

Modern Family : yuck no, couldn't stand it

Top Gear Season 14 : the food's terrible and the portions are too small

Current/recent reading list :


New Ideas from Dead Economists : terrible so far, will slog through a bit more

Vanity Fair : great mag, good fun, some depth

The Economist : meh, the lack of depth and superior tone makes it frustrating and worthless

The Atlantic : liberal intelligentsia pornography

The Intrepter of Maladies : utter rubbish, terrible writing, Pulitzer my ass

The Spanish Tomb : boring boring dry dry dry

2666 : so pretentious and boring and pointless, read book 1 and couldn't continue

24 comments:

castano said...

Based on your first comment I would highly recommend the compassionate revolution:

http://www.medialens.org/bookshop/the_compassionate_revolution.php

Sam said...

Hey did you ever watch Look Around You? Check out the Peter Serafinowicz Show (he made Look Around You). I think it's a return to form for British sketch comedy; there hasn't been anything this funny since The Fast Show!

Sam said...

Oh and another oldie but a goodie is People Like Us (but I might have mentioned that before).

MH said...

While the coverage has been constant, it is also necessary. 50K people dead is atrocious. 200K is unacceptable.

We have such a high level of living in America its hard to imagine people living with dirt floors and no electricity. Yet most the world lives in these conditions.

So you can fuck off in your lack of humanity.

MH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
organic said...

Ugh, I can't even read a tech blog without some whiny douche-nozzle complaining about Haiti coverage. Yea I get it, don't want to be reminded that people suffer. Is this a rerun?

cbloom said...

Yeah yeah yeah.

The Sinhalese of Sri Lanka have been committing genocide against the Tamils.

Massive deaths in Sudan and Niger and Somalia continue apace.

Earthquake in Pakistan a few years ago killed 100,000 + and the government there forbade international assistance.

North Korea semi-regularly has famines that kill perhaps as many as 1M and forbid international help.

After the Asian Tsunami did we actually do anything significant to reduce the risk of natural disasters to poor people around the world? No, not really.

I feel like it's just impossible to worry about the well being of all the poor people dying around the world.

MH said...

Yeah, that was a bit more angry than I would have liked on my part.

Still, Ide rather spend inflation increasing dollars on poor people rather than bankers.

And Ide rather spend my real money on relief organizations.

cbloom said...

One positive thing I do get out of the Haiti coverage is that the Red Cross are just really cool mother fuckers. I don't get very enthused about giving money to most causes, but I feel pretty good about giving money to the red cross.

nothings said...

I was a little irritated that the American Red Cross didn't let you donate to Haiti specifically, at least not when I looked.

Well, they had the $10 texting thing, but they said if you wanted to donate more than that, just donate an 'unconstrained' regular donation (I forget the word they used, but it had that sort of meaning).

I mean, I'm sure they'd put it to good use, but, uh, I wanted to donate to Haiti specifically! I ended up donating to the international red cross instead (foreign non-profit contributions like that probably aren't tax-deductible, so they didn't recommend it).

castano said...

Sean, you can do that here by choosing the 'International Response Fund' or the 'Haiti Relief and Development Fund'.

nothings said...

Yeah, I think they added the Haiti relief entry since I checked.

There's also an even odder thing where they pledged up front $1M to Haiti (since increased to $10M), which then leads to this weird thing where your contributions may be going into this amount they already pledged, rather than adding more onto it (I don't know, they don't really say).

Which, if true, now means you're "just" shuffling money around on their balance sheet, rather than increasing the amount of money which reaches Haiti victims, which feels a little weird. (Yet it's presumably better that they committed the money up front rather than didn't, but bleh.)

nothings said...

Here's an article staking out the opposite position (that you shouldn't earmark your contributions for Haiti):

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/01/15/dont-give-money-to-haiti/

And for all its best efforts, the Red Cross has still only spent 83% of its $3.21 billion tsunami budget — which means that it has over half a billion dollars left to spend. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s money which could be spent in Haiti, if it weren’t for the fact that it was earmarked.

Aaron said...

A nugget for those who can't stand Haiti coverage: 5500 Americans Missing in Haiti

No biggie, just a little shy of 9/11. Of course, they mostly weren't white bankers, so they don't really count. Also the overall death toll estimate is up to 200,000.

As usual, The Big Picture is the best place to get your news. #22 is particularly poignant.

I don't know why it's any more impossible to worry about fixing our broken problems than it is to worry about 'getting in shape' or any of the other things we worry about but rarely have much success at.

It's a big rock, and you might not be able to push it all the way to where you want it to go, but it'll move a little if you push, so you should push.

Aaron said...

I mean a little shy of TWICE 9/11, oops.

slyid said...

""I was a little irritated that the American Red Cross didn't let you donate to Haiti specifically, at least not when I looked.""

It's actually the same for most of (all?) these organizations: they use catastrophic events to collect more money ; but the money is not completely spent on the event ; some (most?) goes to whatever other places they're helping in.

So in the end, the money does go to people who need it. Not necessarily the ones you choose, but to someone needing it in the world.

cbloom said...

That's a great thing; it would be a shame if all the money went to Haiti. Generally relief organizations raise way more money than they need for sexy high-profile media-friendly disasters, and don't have enough money for the crucial everyday life saving work.

Malaria kills around 2M people every year. Bad water (in various ways) kills even more (mainly through bacterial diarrhea related death).

More generally the problem that makes Haiti so bad and that leads to all those deaths is just poverty.

cbloom said...

I guess it disturbs me that so many people seem to be so excited about Haiti, which while tragic is a natural disaster not of our direct causing, yet when we talk about very serious issues like the way American crop price subsidies are directly putting African farmers into poverty, everybody yawns and nothing gets done.

I actually think you could probably save more lives around the world by just voting in the next election than you could by donating to Haiti.

I guess I'm being childish, but my impulse when I see an irrational unpreportional response is to go the opposite direction.

slyid said...

Also I was surprised when there was a strong storm above west Europe and France ; and so many people (many from USA) sent *trees* to fix the Versailles castle gardens.

Huh... ok... thx you... but couldn't you have spent that money on something more useful?

slyid said...

To be more precise: here "more useful" = famine in Africa for ex. France can live without a few trees, and we have plenty enough food :)

cbloom said...

It does all make my vulgar unnecessary consumerism seem even more immoral and disgusting than I was already feeling about it.

castano said...

I guess it disturbs me that so many people seem to be so excited about Haiti, which while tragic is a natural disaster not of our direct causing, yet when we talk about very serious issues like the way American crop price subsidies are directly putting African farmers into poverty, everybody yawns and nothing gets done.

I actually think you could probably save more lives around the world by just voting in the next election than you could by donating to Haiti.


That's exactly the kind of thinking that can make a difference, and insights like these are the reason why your blog is sometimes interesting to read.

I guess I'm being childish, but my impulse when I see an irrational unpreportional response is to go the opposite direction.

We cannot solve the world problems by addressing only the symptoms. However, events like these provide people an opportunity to demonstrate compassion in a way that doesn't conflict with the system of institutionalized greed.

And that's a nice remainder that if people could actually see what's behind the curtain, then they would perhaps do something about it.

Which is why there's nothing more important than creating awareness of the institutionalized subordination of people and the planet to the corporate profit.

There's nothing more generous and kind than an act of dissent.


It does all make my vulgar unnecessary consumerism seem even more immoral and disgusting than I was already feeling about it.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Aaron said...

Humans are pretty simple herd creatures. For the most part you have to trick them to get them to do the right thing, especially in groups.

More awareness of how broken our broken world is would help. Every American should be send abroad in high school to live in a third world country for a year, etc etc, and actually learn some of history that went into making those places like they are. Cheaper would be to bring back the concept of 'investigative reporting', and haul some HD cameras around, then saturate TV and the inter-tubes with the state of the world as it is. It's just way too easy to turn away.

slyid said...

Aaron: plus that's already in place between some countries - named "Civil Service" in my country, which one could do to replace his military service when it was still compulsory. This people would then be sent to be teachers or helpers in South America, Africa or Asia.

old rants