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July 2013 Archives

July 30, 2013

NY Times coverage of the Farm Bill

On the New York Times's National News page today, these two headlines appear right next to each other:

NY Times on the Farm Bill

That's 5 million people that would lose food stamp benefits if the House version of the Farm Bill passed. (The food stamps budget is still part of the Farm Bill.)

Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture sent out over $10 million in subsidies to 1,000 farmers that had been dead for over a year, and $22 million in crop insurance payments to 3,400 people who had been dead for over two years. In order to deal with this, the Government Accountability Office suggests the USDA runs its list of farmers through the wonderfully diabolical-sounding "Death Master File" before it gives more public money to dead people.

Help poor people get enough food, or subsidize dead farmers to grow commodity corn that gets turned into high fructose corn syrup. Gee, Congress, quite the political conundrum you've got there.

July 25, 2013

TUSH 2013

Get Lucky, Daft Punk, TUSH 2013

It's late July, so this year's Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit, or TUSH, should already be out there, everywhere, an indelible, unavoidably catchy presence in your life.

So here it is: TUSH 2013 is "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk.

I suppose there's a potential title-holder in the other hit song to feature Pharrell, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", but that song has several strikes against it:

  • "Blurred Lines" came out all the way back in March, while "Get Lucky"'s release date of April is closer to the ideal early-summer TUSH debut.
  • "Get Lucky" is groovy, irresistibly catchy, features Nile Rodgers on guitar, and is 1,000 times better than "Blurred Lines".

So even though "Blurred Lines" is actually at the top of the charts right now, "Get Lucky" meets more of the classic TUSH criteria: I hear it more often, and I like it a lot more. Random people polled by New York Magazine apparently agree--GL beat BL in a person-on-the-street survey conducted in both Times Square and at 125th Street, which is close enough of a cross-section of America for me.

This is the second year in a row that a non-American has grasped the TUSH. In recent years, it's been someone like Black Eyed Peas or LMFAO, but last year it was "Call Me Maybe" by Canadian singer Carly Whatever Whatever. It's even more audacious that this year's TUSH was generated by a couple of French techno robots.

I for one support the international-robotification of the TUSH!

Note: Canadian 80's rock band Loverboy should claim a little bit of credit for "Get Lucky"'s TUSH victory because of their 1981 album of the same name. This album features enduring cheeseball classic "Working For the Weekend" and, in my opinion, the greatest cover art of all time:

Loverboy's Get Lucky

July 15, 2013

Spitzer changes his mind

Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, unlikely political candidates

Many thoughts spring to mind about Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer entering this year's NYC elections. Can a politician come back after resigning in shame? And do voters even care about embarrassing sex scandals? (In the case of Mark Sanford, I guess not.)

What's also springing to mind are the icky details and images we all have of these guys' gross, inappropriate, and/or illegal sex lives, unavoidably returning to our consciousness. I never wanted to think about, for example, black socks in relation to Eliot Spitzer again, for example, but there they are, rising from the dark corner where I had mostly repressed it. (Even if that detail turned out not to be true.)

I've also been thinking about a really good interview from Spitzer in Vanity Fair from 2009, just over a year after the scandal and resignation. In conversation with John Heilpern, he reveals a surprising level of sincerity and regret about his actions and how he betrayed his family and the public. When I first read it, I actually felt a little sorry for the guy:

"I make no excuses," he emphasized, staring at me earnestly. His contrition was palpable. He explained that he tried to do good as governor and before that as attorney general. "Then I sinned and created trauma."

"You knew the risks. Either you felt you were above the law or you had some kind of death wish."

His response was that neither was the case. "It's a story that has been repeated since our earliest days as a species. It's both obvious and not susceptible to an answer," he insisted. "Nonetheless, we are led down a certain path. It wasn't hubris or a death wish--but frailty, temptation, and common miscalculation."


"Do you think the scandal will ever go away?," I asked.

"No. My obituary's written," he replied with shocking finality. "And that is a very hard thing to live with." When he turned away, I could see he was in tears.

When asked if he'd ever return to politics, he said, "I've a hard time seeing politics as a career. I wouldn’t want to put my family through the agony." Well, his family's agony must be less of a concern these days, because I'm sure they've had a horrible week since he announced he was running for office again.

Spitzer's name recognition alone is probably what landed him at the top of a recent poll, though he does have certain qualities that would make him a perfect candidate for the job. He's not afraid to stand up to powerful corporate interests in protection of the public good, which these days is so unusual that it's automatically appealing. But he went about his vigilance against wrongdoing in a hyper-aggressive, asshole-ish kind of way, making the entire financial sector hate his guts. I half love this about him and half think it shows a stunning lack of judgment. When it turned out he was hiring hookers while fighting publicly against sex trafficking, the "asshole with bad judgment" characterization got a lot of extra points.

Given the uninspiring list of candidates we're looking at for major offices, Spitzer's immoral/criminal past alone might not be enough for him to lose the primary, but the entire financial sector gleefully mobilizing their resources to bring him down probably is. A Crain's article about corporate bigwigs responding to the Spitzer (and Weiner) candidacy shows a fascinating combination of nervousness and salivation. "This is very serious business," one business leader said last week. "The mayor is a very serious thing. Comptroller is very serious. And they have a big impact on the economy and quality of life. So the question is, do either of these guys deserve to do that, or would they be good at it?" "Neither one of these guys has any friends in the business they were in," said one business leader. "That's part of the reason they fell so hard," he happily recalled.

I doubt these guys could care less about the prostitution scandal, but they'll use it however they can to remind voters about those black socks.

About July 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in July 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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