Tag Archives: voting

Gleanings: November 11, 2012

Migrations : The Last Word On Nothing

How fragile they are. How amazing that they know the way home, that some of them make it, and that then they do it all over again.

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For Pieter ten Hoopen, Following Footsteps Into Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’ – NYTimes.com

Pieter ten Hoopen grabbed onto a rope and made his way down an incline with a sense of foreboding. He was uncertain what he would find at the end of the 300-meter blue rope. He knew there might be clothing, empty pill containers and a diary, a scene suggesting that a suicide had taken place. Reaching the end of the rope, he was relieved there wasn’t a body or human remains.

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Eleanor Arnason’s Web Log: Genre Fiction

What he describes as “literary” sounds like the classic bourgeois novel of character and psychology. These can certainly be good. But they have were done in the 19th century and early 20th century, and I see no reason to do them again. If I want to read one, I will get out James or Proust.

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Our Local Correspondents: Up and Then Down : The New Yorker

While anthems have been written to jet travel, locomotives, and the lure of the open road, the poetry of vertical transportation is scant. What is there to say, besides that it goes up and down?

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twin city sidewalks: Nine Ways the US Democratic System Screws its Cities

he game is rigged against urban life, against the very places where the most people live. Jeffersonian agoraphobia lies at the very heart of our constitutions and procedures.

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Dear Young Conservative – DC Pierson

The war in which they’ve enlisted you is one in which, if your side triumphs, you will need to hold two low-paying full-time jobs just to make ends meet, and neither job gives you health benefits because it’s hard for either company’s CEO to give you those benefits and also be as ultra-rich as they’d like to be, and if you get hurt or sick, nothing and no one will be there to help you, your only solution will be to work harder and harder for less and less until you die

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The American Scholar: Master of the Examined Life – Paula Marantz Cohen

Why not call this program the MEL: the Master of the Examined Life. The degree would not require writing, though it would encourage it. It would involve reading about deep, far-reaching subjects, and discussing them.

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Robert Ben Rhoades: The Truck Stop Killer by Vanessa Veselka

It seems our profound fascination with serial killers is matched by an equally profound lack of interest in their victims.

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Jonah Lehrer, Scientists, and the Nature of Truth – Virginia Hughes

Here is Lehrer, one of the best science writers I ever read, publishing in the most elite magazine with the help of the smartest editors and most rigorous fact-checkers. And still, still, the story isn’t true.

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‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ Uncovered – NYTimes.com

The popularity of the picture, which has been colorized, satirized, burlesqued with the Muppets and turned into a life-size sculpture by Sergio Furnari, is partly about the casual recklessness of its subjects: The beam on which they sit seems suspended over an urban abyss, with the vastness of Central Park spread out behind them and nothing, seemingly below.

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Fantasyland – Frank Rich

At the policy level, this is the GOP that denies climate change, that rejects Keynesian economics, and that identifies voter fraud where there is none. At the loony-tunes level, this is the GOP that has given us the birthers, websites purporting that Obama was lying about Osama bin Laden’s death, and not one but two (failed) senatorial candidates who redefined rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense. It’s the GOP that demands the rewriting of history (and history textbooks), still denying that Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” transformed the party of Lincoln into a haven for racists.

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Down the Ballot: choosing those other candidates

photo by Chris Coleman (iceman9294)

I both love and loathe democracy. Love it, because, as Churchill pointed out, its the worst possible system of government except for all of the others. And loathe it, because it’s hard work.

Choosing the top-of-the-ballot candidates isn’t hard: the airwaves and blogosphere are flooded with noise about the Minnesota governor’s race, and even the relatively safe DFL 5th district seat has generated some headlines because some Tea Party extremists don’t like Muslims. And the local state representatives are easy for me: I think of my state representative as the father of kids I know from after-school, park, and Cub Scouts activities, and I’ve seen my state senator enough times in the neighborhood that she’s familiar to me; I can’t say the same for either of their challengers.

But other elected positions–Water and Soil Conservation, School Board, and Three Rivers Parks–are hard ones to learn about. There’s not much information out there about the candidates, but these are potentially risky spots to overlook. Our beloved Michele Bachmann, for example, got her start in Stillwater school politics: these positions can be the springboard for scary candidates to bounce their way higher up the political ladder without the scrutiny that would stop them earlier in the process.

In trying to figure out who should get my vote tomorrow in some of these races, I’ve been relying on whatever endorsements I can find, on the assumption that an organization won’t endorse someone who might besmirch their name. And an endorsement from someone with whom I disagree can be as useful as an endorsement from a someone with whom I tend to be in consort.

In the latter category, a right-wing rant against Amber Collett, running for the Hennepin County Soil and Water board, clinched my vote: she has experience with Transit for Livable Communities and the TapMPLS water program, so she gets my nod.

For the other Soil and Water seat, I couldn’t find nearly as much information. Stephanie Zvan endorses David Rickert, though not resoundingly (she notes only that he has more experience than the others who are running). But she’s picked most of the top-of-the-ballot names I plan to vote for, so I’m reasonably sure that Rickert isn’t a nutcase, so I’ll probably vote for him. (Faint praise, no?)

The Three Rivers Park seat is a tougher one for me. The incumbent, Mark Haggerty, made some news last spring when he opposed the park district’s plan to stop selling bottled water:

I don’t like government and I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t think we should stop selling plastic bottled water until we have an alternative.

Putting aside for a moment the wisdom of the bottle ban (and I do think it’s wise: there are lots of reasons that bottled water is a bad idea): “I don’t like government”? WTF?

If you “don’t like government,” what are you doing in government? This attitude puts me in mind of Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew, in which anti-government ideologues make their arguments against good government into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Add to that the fact that Mr. Haggerty’s campaign domain redirects to his law firm’s web site, and this has all the hallmarks of someone who’s against the whole idea of public parks running for a spot on the public park board.

And yet he has the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, many of the other board members, and DFL Rep. Sandra Peterson, playing havoc with my candidate-selection strategies. His opponent, Joan Peters, has no endorsements and no web presence; she’s a board member of the Conservation Corps, which is a point in her favor for me, but I haven’t found much else about her. What to do?

I think in this case I’m going with Joan Peters: there’s just barely enough information about her to convince me that she’s not a crackpot, and there are just enough indicators that Haggerty’s approach to the philosophy of the county parks isn’t entirely consistent with mine. I could, of course, be wrong on both counts and live to regret my choice; if so, I’ll just add it to the bitter lessons taught by the worst system of government except for all the rest.

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