Friday, November 30, 2007

Death Watch Religion

Thousands march in Sudan for death of teacher who's students named a teddy bear Muhhamed during a lesson about animals and their habits. And we think we have it bad?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Le douche

Douche-bags are an underapreciated entity these days. Living in the Midwest I can attest. Our snark, boorishness and condescension can only take us so far professionally so we need other outlets of self-aggrandizement, and let's not leave out megalomania. In an effort to celebrate the d-b the Red and the Black has started a new feature: Le douche. Le douche will celebrate all aspects of la universidad that is doucheiness. The opening salvo in Le douche will be dedicated to a trifecta of doucheiocity, the three people of late that make me think "Summers Eve:"

I. Matt Cale

This guy has some problems, with women that is.* That being said he is a brilliant social observer, writer and film critic.

II. Maddox

Maybe the Provost of Douche-Bag University?

III. J.F. Page

More on this guy.

Not an original yes, but nonetheless...

*A common affliction of douche bags.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Death Watch Religion

British teacher arrested after her students name teddy bear Muhhamed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

At Stake in France

"Sarkozy wants to fight his battles one by one. France has sluggish economic growth, a huge budget and social security deficit and massive debt that is worrying the EU. At the top of Sarkozy's long list of changes for France is installing a new work ethic where the French work more and for longer. Currently France works on average 617 hours a person a year, compared with 800 hours in Britain. To the government, reforming the special early pensions perks of 500,000 public sector workers was a logical place to start. It was also symbolic: in 1995 three weeks of crippling transport strikes brought France to its knees and forced Jacques Chirac to cave in on the same reform."

Some unconventional wisdom:

"Despite the mythology surrounding French unions in reality they are weak and divided. Trade union membership in France is among the lowest in the West. At 8% of the public sector and 5% of the private sector, membership is far behind the UK and even the US. There are more unemployed people in France than trade union members. In an average year the French miss proportionately fewer working days from strikes than Americans do. The transport strike has flagged up the weaknesses of unions as hardline grassroots continued their strike even as negotiations began."

The Guardian's repoting on Sarkozy and labor.

The BBC's more measured approach.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Death Watch Religion

Saudi poobahs endorse 200 lashes for rape victim.

"The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them."

Notice the male who was raped is not getting flogged.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bringing the Public Back In


I have received the following email from a number of people and want to explain why I think it's a good idea for ALL salaries to be public information. Let's suppose you are a worker whose salary is "privately" held, this is the case for most workers in the private sector by the way. In such a circumstance two people working side by side doing exactly the same job could be paid widely different salaries by a subjective decision of their employer. It might be illegal for an employer to discriminate according to ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but if salaries are not public then how would one know? Also, even if the employer was not discriminating what good is being served by not knowing one's fellow worker's wage? The only purpose I, and employers through the ages, can see is dividing workers by favoring one type of worker over the other. Who might these privileged workers be? maybe one that works harder but it could also just as easily be one that does not "make waves" or one that is a "team player" or let's be straight forward here, one who is a rat.

Another reason public workers should be in favor of public salaries in a word is democracy. For instance, do you think we should not know the salary of Superintendent Andrekopoulos or President George Bush? Both are public employees who's salaries we know because we as voters are their boss. If we think that they are over or under paid it is incumbent upon us to change the compensation they get or fire them if we don't think they are doing a good job. Accountability is the key idea here not just for the President but for all civil servants on down to teachers, garbage collectors and secretaries. Just as we hope the people should be vigilant for abuse of power at the higher levels of the bureaucracy we should also keep our eyes open for abuse on the street level.

Now the Journal-Sentinel publishes the information because they are right wing populists pandering to the suburban anti-tax crowd who think teachers and other public sector workers are overpaid because in the last 30 years or so they have seen real purchasing power go down and they want to blame you. But this shouldn't stop us from supporting transparency and openness in government for which we all benefit.

I was reading through the Journal this afternoon and found that ANYONE can look up teacher salaries in WI. I found me at.....
Maybe the salaries have always been available, but geez, in this time of "everything is private" they put us in the paper?? UGH!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Death Watch Religion

GOLD: Biblical scandal rocks Atlanta Mega-Church. It looks like Earl Paulk the titular head of stadium prayer school has been diddling his brother's wife and lordy, lordy they have a love child. I'm sure the lord will forgive however.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE: "I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Kid Could Paint That

Above behold Jackson Pollock's "The Laughing Squid:" a masterpiece?

Yes, this painting is pleasing at some level, but something we should consider a pinnacle of our civilization? An interpretation of squid laughing only unveiled by the artist himself? Or a splotch of no meaning at all? And meant to be that.

My Kid Could Paint That sets out to explore just these issues, is abstract expressionism elaborate intellectual masturbation mixed with 94% hucksterism or something we should celebrate as a radical form of uhm... expression. I say sets out because after an initial love fest spent with Upstate New York's Gen X "Leave it to Beaver" Olmstead family with the prodigal daughter, whose 4 year old's paintings were getting ink in the New York Times, the film maker inadvertently shifts gears chronicling a family in crisis. Why the crisis? Because the intrepid journalists at 60 Minutes had once again sniffed out some bullshoot and planted a camera and mic in the basement of the budding artist's home to see if she can actually produce the works that are now fetching thousands, not just in the greater Binghamton, NY area, but soon to be at Sotheby's. You can guess the outcome. But what becomes most compelling at about a third the way into My Kid is whether Bar-Lev, the film maker, should continue now that he smells a rat. The other compelling story line is whether not beautiful mom can now believe her Eddie Vedder look alike husband who shifts and squirms on film as if recently afflicted with a bad case of Cholera when asked about the authorship of the paintings.

Amir Bar-Lev puts himself, and the issue at hand, out there. He likes the family. They like him. But he knows if he continues on he is part of the problem. So what's an earnest documentarian to do? In interview after interview, non-chronologically, Bar-Lev in a seemingly honest way, tries to figure out whether or not to continue. Is he betraying his new found confidants? Does he have a duty to expose the fraud? Some characters come off sleazy and calculatingly unconcerned with any of these issues as long as they make a buck but our films true protaganist, Laura Olmstead, the mom, seems to have an epiphany on film. And at its core it is the question of her entire life; is my husband a lying piece of da-da? The dilemma of filmer and watcher, and eventually participant, is why exactly should we be taking part in this Montell moment? The voyuerism is bile inducing, I thought of walking out, but at the same time I thought they, maybe Vedder more than she, wanted this exposure. They invited the filmmaker into their home. They cashed the checks. They mounted a defense even after the 60 Minutes episode. Did she really have no doubt? She wanted the fame and the chava.

A good film always keeps you thinking, not just about the topic at hand but about one's own dilemmas. My Kid will get you thinking.

Death Watch Religion

Saudi women who was gang raped gets 200 lashes and 6 months in jail for her "crime."

"The rape victim was punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man.

On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The East is Red

Went to the Milwaukee Bucks/Memphis Grizzlies basketball game last night. The Bucks have recently acquired Chinese sensation Yi Jianlin who is a huge star in China. Beyond his play, he's pretty good, the most incredible occurrence of the evening was presence of the crimson banner of Chinese communism in the crowd. Handed out prior to the game, the golden star of Chairman Mao's vanguard and the supporting cast of workers, intellectuals, peasants and progressive bourgeoisie were waved with glee by the proletariat and assorted petty middling classes of Milwaukee.

Harry and Lynde Bradley ,the game was at the Bradley Center, would be proud.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Cleveland, once a giant now has the dubious distinction of being the US leader in home foreclosures. The storm was thought to be over when a couple weeks ago a number of banks came "clean" on the staggering nature of the liabilities but it seems they are not out of the woods yet in the strange world of derivatives and such. 1 trillion alone in the Duetche Bank mess! This is real money.

And even the Supermodels don't want the greenback any more.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Death Watch Religion

Saint Francisco? Our latest mitered one thinks the black shirts in Spain got a bad rap so he wants 400 or so to be sainted.