Don't say your government's plans for "stimulus" and "recovery" can't get worse. They can. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to be building roads in Alaska.
The road runs for over two thousand kilometres through the wildest terrain of the Asian continent, connecting Magadan and Yakutsk, and making an enormous loop through the Siberian mountains in order to reach the hundreds of gold mines that once operated there.
Forced labour was used to construct every inch of this incredible project -- at first by inmates of labour camps, but later by the unfortunate denizens of the gulags that began springing up all over these near-uninhabitable provinces of Stalin's Soviet empire. Many were Russian POW's, banished to the region after being labelled German "collaborators". Many were Russian Christians who refused to renounce their faith under the Communist regime. Prisoners were chained except when they were working their twelve-hour shifts. Many died during transport alone, and thousands were shot by the officers for not working hard enough. And any worker who died during construction of the road was buried where he fell -- survivors' reports indicate that bodies were as common a sight as fallen logs.-- Stalin's Road of Bones
Happy Workers Camp with Pictures of Dear Leader
Today's most influential critic of fine-art photography, Ace d'Allahpundit has cracked the Johnson referential surface once again and offers up this penetrating, and exclusive, analysis:
"With 'The Molesting Post' Johnson at once presents us with what at first glance seems to be an out of focus post and bar motif set starkly against his trademark soft and fuzzy ocean with a soupçon of foam. This, however, is only the signifying surface of his deeper signifier.
Mark how the stark black shaft of the post is topped with a broad black knob just above the cut part of the shaft. Reflect on how the top of the knob just barely intrudes into the clear off blue of the sky above after rising out of the weedy mud below. Recall that placed against the wet of the ocean the shaft and knob must obviously be, if not soaking wet, at least pleasantly slick with sea spume. Reconstructing this deconstruction of angst, desolation, dark childhood fears of being locked in the closet, plus the profound isolation of the self from the self implicit in all of Johnson's work, and we can ultimately "decode" the inner confession that lurks just beneath the surface of all of Johnson's mature work.
With 'The Molesting Post' Johnson has finally broken free of his previous inhibitions and become, at last, a mere self of his former shell. I, for one, am glad that the fierce internal pressure that writhes within Johnson's most tortured work has finally found it's release in the eternal truths of soft-focus photography."
Hidden here is a photograph of the moment before a public execution in Yemen, that cool pool of advanced civilization on the Gulf. It's from Photo Journal's Pictures of the Day, and although not explicit, it is all the more terrible for it.
A man convicted of a heinous crime receives a public execution. "Pour encourager les autres." You might think it's hard to look at, but for the assembled Yemenis it seems, from the cell phone cameras held up to record it, just another day in old Arab Culture Land.
I ask myself what I think of this moment and the assembled men gawping in the background. I want to say something deep and insightful. Something I could go on about for several hundred words. But if I am honest with myself I really think something very blunt and much more concise. I think, "Democracy? Freedom? Prosperity? For these people? Why bother?"
No, I don't know exactly what that means, but I think I'll soon find out.Continued...
The original caption reads, "Secret Service agents stand watch as Mr Obama practises before an event."
I'm sure we can do better.
I'm an adamantine supporter of the "Secret Service" and it's mission to protect the President. But couldn't that agency spin-off three or four agents for a "Stupid Service" whose bizarro world duty would be to seek out the people in the White House stupid enough to pull off this stunt and
drown them in the shallow end of the gene pool give them a stern reprimand? Would that be asking too much?
"On edge?" On EDGE? I'd say that when you have people fleeing the Hudson River waterfront screaming, "on edge" doesn't quite cover it.
As someone who stood across the East River and saw the towers fall, I know exactly what was going through the minds of New Yorkers today when this gigantic clusterfuck showed up in the skies. And that was terror. (More than a few might have spared a moment to regret voting for the current clump of zombie bozos lurching about in the West Wing gnawing each other's brainzzz.)Continued...
But the question is, are you still master of your domain?
The Brothers Judd note "That's nothing, what's really troubling is their Ayn Rand blow-up dolls."
Sippican Cottage tells you why in The Greater Fool Theory Of Housing Excerpt:
There's Postmodern evil afoot here. Everything is boiled down to a pastiche, and you put all these disconnected totems into a blender and put the mixed up parts on a concrete rectangle. It's making us all crazy in a very subtle but profound way.
There has been a concerted effort to dismantle all standards of right and wrong and beauty and truth. If ever truthiness was put into sticks and bricks, this house is it. When you rebel against standard things, sooner or later you run out of ways to be original, and all that is left is to do the exact opposite of good. It's the only permutation of new that's left to you after a while. The American house is becoming that prefect distillation of bad ideas. Everything exactly at cross-purposes with its stated purpose.More....
"The past is prologue"
An Obama aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, took back David Axelrod's remark last month that Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich had spoken recently. "What the president-elect said today is correct, David Axelrod misspoke," the aide said. -Ben Smith - Politico.com
These are early days. The Obama Administration will not start for another six weeks, and it is already building scenery for an opera worthy of "All the King's Men." We do know the end of the first act: Obama takes the oath of office, and the orchestra frantically signals trouble ahead. - Untouchable - What's News Tonight by John BatchelorContinued...
THE OLD PINE BOX is pleased to be able to offer a special line of coffins in support of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Designed by the folks at PETA and built exclusively by THE OLD PINE BOX, these coffins allow you to voice your defense of all creatures even after your own voice is silenced. Every coffin purchased from this selection will result in a net contribution of $75.00 to PETA. - About The Old Pine Box
Via the eversharp copyranter: Peta coffins.
"According to the documents, Biden, 65, received several deferments while he was an undergraduate at the University of Delaware and later as a law student at Syracuse University. A month after undergoing a physical exam in April 1968, Biden received a Selective Service classification of 1-Y, meaning he was available for service only in the event of national emergency.Speaking as someone who remembers well the endless University discussions -- in private and in large meetings -- about how best to get a 1-Y deferment if you couldn't get a 4-F, I can only say that I applaud Biden for being awarded, at such a young age, the Asthma Get-Out-of-Vietnam-Free card. By 1968 that was a particularly hard sell. It had simply been used too much. I got my 1-Y at about the same time, but asthma was not an option for me. I had to go all the way to an Air Force Base outside of London to make it happen.
"As a result of a physical exam on April 5, 1968, Joe Biden was classified 1-Y and disqualified from service because of asthma as a teenager," said David Wade, a campaign spokesman.
"In "Promises to Keep," a memoir that was published last year and became an instant best-seller after he was tapped as Obama's running mate, Biden never mentions his asthma, recounting an active childhood, work as a lifeguard and football exploits in high school."
File Under: Things to Do in Spain While Insane
If you don't like heights, you really, really, REALLY don't want to watch this.
El Caminito del Rey (The King's pathway) is a walkway, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Álora in Málaga, Spain. The name is often shortened to El Camino del Rey.
UPDATE: From a suggestion in the comments, I nominate this to be the "match-up" that decides the Democrat candidate for President. Both Clinton and Obama must traverse this walkway on skateboards. The one with the best time will be declared the nominee. Should neither survive the replacement nominee shall be.... RON PAUL!
Via The Presurfer
First they take away your secretary and assistants and give you voice mail, email, and a Blackberry. Then they take away your office and slap you in a cube about the size of a hamster cage. Then they attach a keystroke recorder to your computer to monitor your "productivity." Then they put you on-call 24/7 and even on vacation. Let's see, what's been left out of your productivity profile? Yes, the ability to get work done while exercising! Fear not. That too has now been overcome.
Meet the workplace Focker called The Walkstation
"The Walkstation is the combination of a fully integrated electric height-adjustable worksurface with an exclusively engineered, low speed commercial grade treadmill. At a maximum speed of 2 mph, the Walkstation lets you walk comfortably, burn calories, feel healthier and more energized... all while accomplishing the work you'd normally do while seated. No sweat!"
There's a constant passion for increasing our work day that's particularly evident here on the web (See Merlin Mann's self-worshipping and obsessive 43 Folders and the thousand of spin-offs from this site), but it all strikes me as so much overkill. Indeed, it strikes me as a serious variation of my favorite quote from Time Bandits
Supreme Being: Dead? No excuse for laying off work.
It's all really an extension of the common fear that "The hurrier I go the behinder I get." And with job cuts likely as we chat ourselves deeper into economic trouble, people are only going to become more obsessed with proving to their Corporate Overlords that they really do have value.
Of couse, the truth is that -- for the vast majority of people working in corporations -- their jobs do not make them nearly as busy as they could be. Much of the work that gets done in offices, the real work, gets done.... Tuesday, after lunch. The rest of the week many, if not most, of our current crop of office workers spend a lot of time padding out their tasks and just goofing off at work. Indeed, the Web itself is the greatest work goof-off invention ever made. Right? Right.
Now get cracking like the little corporate hamster you are!
With all the hoopla and the crowds swarming over the sidewalks of New York like the world's largest unleashed antfarm, it surprises me that no enterprising soul has tried to gin up some meaningful souvenirs to palm off on delegates and demonstrators alike.
Here's two quickies that would probably sell out the sidewalk book tables in no time. And, because they're books, you don't need a license to hawk them:
Tom Brokaw: "Did you know that [Berger] was under investigation?"
Kerry: "I didn't have a clue, not a clue."
Brokaw: "He didn't share that with you?
Kerry: "I didn't have a clue."
-- The Kerry Spot on National Review Online