Category Archives: Elliot Spitzer

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and ‘success,’ defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” — Chris Hedges

A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE

A hearty hat tip to Bloomington novelist Julia Karr, who posted the above quote on her Facebook page.

According to Hedges’ criteria, laid out so clearly and forcefully, this holy land has condemned itself to death. I’ll go one step further: it’s already dead.

We’re dead. We just don’t know it yet.

Here Lie Us

We thought we were smart and superior when Soviet communism deservedly died. But as Fran Lebowitz so aptly put it, “In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.”

The making of scads of dough became this nation’s — and most of the world’s — one and only pursuit.

Home ownership? Hell, that wasn’t about putting down roots, becoming part of a community, creating a stable base for your kids, or any of that old fashioned silliness anymore. It was about serial buying and selling so everyone could make a quick buck.

Saving and investing? Not about prudent management of assets nor about slow and steady growth for the future. Hah! How quaint!

College education? Honestly, how many people in these Great United States, Inc. want their kids to go to a university to become a rational, analytical thinker? How many dream that a college degree just might make their young-un a better human being?

I Am Gonna Be So Rich

Pshaw.

I once was involved in a discussion with recent college grad and his dad. I won’t reveal who they were because I’m hoping daddy-o regrets his tone and philosophy. Suffice it to say the three of us knew each other extremely well.

The kid was trying to figure out what to do with himself now that he had a bachelor’s degree in business. Pops was giving him the fish eye because it didn’t seem as though the kid was banging down any doors trying to get a job.

The truth was, the kid really had no idea what to do.

So, silly me, I figured the kid ought to pursue employment in some field that might, you know, bring him a little happiness in his life. I said, “The first thing you have to do is ask yourself, ‘What do I love?'”

What Should I Do With My Life?

Oh, daddy-o nearly popped a neck vein.

“What the hell are you feeding him that kind of shit for?” he demanded.

See, by the time this exchange took place, the concepts of happiness and fulfillment not only were quaint — they were downright dangerous.

Anyway, Hedges is saying what I’ve ranted about in these precincts time and again.

A college education should be a good thing in and of itself, not just because it’ll bear you well as you climb the corporate Jacobian ladder. It broadens your horizons. It opens your mind. It exposes you to the world and the world to you. It helps you learn to think rather than react, to listen rather than spew, to realize that what you’re sure of today might not be what you believe tomorrow.

Blah, blah.

How quaint. How dangerous.

BOGEYMEN

Does it strike you as odd that guys who challenge capitalism’s alpha male set-up seem to get nailed on sex-related criminal charges more often than the average bear?

John Edwards. Julian Assange. Elliot Spitzer. Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Those are just four very, very high profile cases in the last couple of years.

Now, the truth is all four could be as guilty as sin. DSK, for one, has a rough and tumble sexual rep. And Spitzer really did meet with prostitutes in that Washington hotel room.

DSK May Be Warped — But…, But….

Still, I feel sort of itchy about the whole thing.

Is it that guys who see the inherent flaws in the world’s dominant economic system are unusually prone to sexual peccadilloes and transgressions? Even more so than guys whose lives are dedicated to climbing over piles of average citizens to reach an obscene pinnacle of power and wealth?

Or could there be a chance that when guys like Spitzer sniff around places they’re not supposed to go and start telling the public precisely how they’re being sodomized by the plutocracy, the sharp knives of the system get pointed at them?

Maybe I’m just imagining things. Or maybe not.

GET OUT!

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THE WORLD IS A GHETTO

War was the very first group I ever saw in concert. They led off for Parliament at Chicago’s old International Amphitheater back in 1973. I’m fairly sure of the year.

My pal Whitey and I took a couple of multi-bus, hour-and-a-half rides to and from the Amphitheater that night. We didn’t get home until around 3:00am.

Funny my partner should have been nicknamed Whitey — we were among the very few white guys in the place. Oh, and the reek of pot — we couldn’t believe our noses!

Naturally, we had to stop off at Maxwell Street Polish for a couple of dogs smothered in grilled onions after we left.

Munchies, you know.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Before I met my husband, I’d never fallen in love. I’d stepped in it a few times.” — Rita Rudner

FUNNY HOW?

Funny world, isn’t it?

Funny as in Louis CK winning a Grammy award for his “Hilarious” album/DVD/thing.

Funny as in Rick Warren promising to go to jail over the Obama administration’s new health care/contraception ruling.

Jailbird?

Funny as in me pasting about a hundred and sixty seven Facebook posts in yesterday’s Pencil, congratulating FB-ers on their brilliant thoughts and then scrolling through the social medium today and seeing that everybody’s back to being boring again.

Funny as in US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and his wife being robbed at machete-point while on vacation in Nevis.

Funny as in Apple possibly being legally estopped from using its iPad brand in China because some little company had trademarked the name there more than a decade ago.

Estop It!

Funny that I used a form of the word estop in the above item — proof that my crossword puzzle addiction has taken over my life.

Funny as in this stupid winter coming back to South Central Indiana.

Funny as in disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer defining love for Valentine’s Day on the Big Think.

Can This Be Love?

Funny as in Alfred Lawson (the founder of the College of Lawsonomy) describing his own birth as “the most momentous occurrence since the birth of mankind.”

Funny as in the dearth of imagination in Hollywood, illustrated by the fact that at least 50 film sequels or remakes are being planned at this moment — they include:

  • A “Wizard of Oz” prequel
  • A third “Iron Man”
  • A sixth “The Fast and the Furious”
  • Another “Superman”
  • “Zoolander” again
  • “Dirty Dancing” redux
  • More “Smurfs”
  • The hundredth “Austin Powers”
  • The thousandth “Pirates of the Caribbean”
  • The millionth “Godzilla”
  • The billionth “Scarface”
  • The trillionth “Terminator”

They give out awards for this stuff?

LOVE IS ALL AROUND

Valentine’s Day. Being a professional contrarian, I’m morally obligated to sneer at the whole deal.

The Loved One reminded me yesterday that the first VD we spent together (we’d been seeing each other for some five and a half months at the time), I made no mention of the February 14th shebang but instead had flowers sent to her office on the 15th.

She found the off-day gesture charming. Sort of. I think.

Anyway, we’re being flooded with VD images today so I thought I’d get into the mood, just to be a sport.

BuzzFeed lists eleven trees that look like hearts.

And getting into the more pragmatic spirit of the day, BuzzFeed also lists seven trees that look like vaginas.

Pierced

Like I said; funny world, no?

LOVE IS ALL AROUND II

I mean, honestly, which American fictional figure represents Valentine’s Day more than Mary Richards?

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you were dating her and ignored Valentine’s Day, you would soon be, well, not dating her.

The opening of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” is a piece of cultural iconography. From her big, floppy bellbottoms to her accidentally crushing Ted Baxter‘s hat, Mary Richards represents those first, tentative, sometimes stumbling steps of women into the workplace in the early 1970s.

And when Mary tosses her tam into the air on a crowded downtown Minneapolis street corner as an old-fashioned babushka’d lady looks on in probable disapproval, you know you’re seeing America change right before your eyes.

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