Daily Archives: July 10, 2010

Video of the Day

July 10th, 2010, day 82

From the Associated Press:

NEW ORLEANS — Robotic submarines removed the cap from the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, beginning a period of at least two days when oil will flow freely into the sea [depicted in the video above].

It’s the first step in placing a tighter dome that is supposed to funnel more oil to collection ships on the surface a mile above. If all goes according to plan, the tandem of the tighter cap and the surface ships could keep all the oil from polluting the fragile Gulf as soon as Monday.

BP spokesman Mark Proegler said the old cap was removed at 12:37 p.m. CDT on Saturday.

Saturday Night Video: Brits, 80s

Joy Division, “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”

It’s no secret what the Brits did for us musically in the 60s and 70s.  But it’s  important to remember also what they were doing for us in the 80s, which was to push at the boundaries of pop music in all directions.  Joy Division (above), who begat New Order, being a major case in point. (I opted for a high quality audio version of the song with footage from the film about Ian Curtis, Control.  You can see the original band video with, unfortunately, inferior sound quality, here.)

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Chart of the Day: Only the Rich Get Richer

income-gap_692cf

And it’s only gotten worse, thanks to — you guessed it — the unrelenting trend of tax cuts for the richest of the rich:

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

New data show that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it’s been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.

The CBPP report attributes the widening of this gap partly to Bush Administration tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthy. Of the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts taxpayers received through 2008, high-income households received by far the largest — not only in amount but also as a percentage of income — which shifted the concentration of after-tax income toward the top of the spectrum. (From The Huffington Post)

Now that’s redistribution of wealth!  As Nouriel Roubini has noted, “We have invented socialism for the rich.”

The Canadian trend in income disparity is virtually identical.

In related news, 1 in 7 wealthy homeowners are in default or seriously behind in payments for at least one of their mortgages, which is by far the highest of any cohort: they’re simply walking away from what they consider to be a bad investment.  So much for the vicious right-wing meme that the financial crisis was caused by poor (i.e. non-white) people taking out mortgages on homes they ought never to have had.

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Frye in “The Meeting of Past and Future in William Morris”:

We said that culture seems to develop spatially in the opposite direction from political and economic movements.  The latter centralize and the former decentralize.  (CW 17, 321)

So few words, so much truth.  Our culture is remarkable for its lively decentralization (whose proliferating hybridization of course drives retrograde conservatives nuts — a very good sign that it’s the right way to go), while at the same time we see the unmistakable emergence of “plutonomy”: the economic and political domination of society by the few.  As an old boss of mine liked to intone: “This has gotta cease.”

Alice Munro

Alice interviewed at the Vancouver International Authors’ Festival in October 2009 on the occasion of the publication of her latest collection of stories, Too Much Happiness.

Today is Alice Munro‘s 79th birthday.

Frye in “Culture and Society in Ontario, 1784-1984”:

….[T]he [Bildungsroman] theme seems to have an unusual intensity for Ontario writers: the best and most skillful of them, including Robertson Davies and Alice Munro, continue to employ a great deal of what is essentially the Stephen Leacock Mariposa theme, however different in tone.  Most such books take us from the first to the second birth of the central character.  Childhood and adolescence are passed in a small town or village, then a final initiation, often a sexual one, marks the entry into a more complex social contract.  (CW 12, 621)

In any case, as we saw, prose in Ontario began with the documentary realism of journals and memoirs, and when fiction developed, that was the tradition it recaptured.  Documents, when not government reports, tend to have short units, and the fact may account for the curious ascendancy in Canadian fiction of the novel which consists of sequence of interrelated short stories.  This form is the favorite of Alice Munro, and reaches a dazzling technical virtuosity in Lives of Girls and Women.  (ibid., 624)

In “‘Condominium Mentality’ in CanLit,” an interview with the University of Toronto Bulletin, February 1990:

O’Brien: Which Canadian writers are you most enthusiastic about?

Frye: The obvious people: Peggy Atwood, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Timothy Findlay, Mordecai Richler, . . . especially Alice Munro, who seems to be a twentieth-century Jane Austen.  (CW 24, 1037)

Munro’s “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” (1999) in the New Yorker here.