I have an early interview, followed by my Russian lesson, and as sometimes happens, I find myself with nothing prepared. Well, there’s this — an iPhone picture I took last night on my bike ride:
Isn’t that pretty? If only I’d had my better camera.
So, any bloggage from the night’s web-crawling? Not a lot:
Ben Stein, please shut up.
Yet another 1969 anniversary rolling around: The Manson family murders. Jezebel checks in on the ladies, sees what they’re up to.
Back in the afternoon, but I don’t know when. Behave yourselves.
Dexter said on August 11, 2009 at 2:55 am
Yeah, the Tate-LaBianca murders really set the country against the counter-culture movement, and the following link takes you to another set of murders that happened in 1969 that sort of rallied the people who hated the Black Panther Party movement for whatever reason. It took seven years before most people realized and admitted that the deaths of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murders by the US government. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhamptonF.htm
beb said on August 11, 2009 at 7:44 am
I love seeing flocks of sailboats on the lake*. Haven’t seen many this year — come to think of it, haven’t been driving along the river much this year, either. While 10 megapixels and a 3x telephoto lens would have provided greater detail, for a web photo your iPod takes good enough pictures. And it really caught some nice color.
* From time to time I’m out on Belle Island for work-related, uh, work, and out on the river there will be some kind of beginner’s sailing class, strings of small sail boats in a row practizing some maneuver. That’s fun to look at, too.
Deggjr said on August 11, 2009 at 8:27 am
Ben Stein, heh. “It is just that in this case, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Ben, most people who are let go didn’t do anything wrong. It’s called capitalism and you believe in it and defend it.
His article on Goldman Sachs was very good.
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 9:01 am
I had no idea Manson was a Scientologist. Did he sell Herbalife, too?.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2009 at 9:05 am
Friend of mine in college got ahold of one of their cassette tape training programs for being a “top selling, high achieving Amway franchiser” and used it in a piece of installation art, cutting back and forth with “Triumph of the Will” soundtrack clips. Candidly, it wasn’t as much of a stretch as you might think. I feel nervous when i see even just a bottle of Amway product in someone’s house — have they eaten the pod?
Jim said on August 11, 2009 at 10:09 am
I had some family members deep into Amway a number of years ago. They stuck with it for years, always believing that fantastic wealth was just around the corner. Amway promotes a lifestyle of money, vacations, diamonds, houses … if you just keep believing in the dream. You can make it! You just need to buy the $200 set of teaching tapes! Make in investment in your future! Eventually, and sadly, after who-knows-how-many thousands of dollars on tapes, books and conventions, they figured out they were buyers, not sellers.
Connie said on August 11, 2009 at 10:36 am
I agree with Jim. Our best friends did the Amway thing for about ten years, and it was obvious to me that the people who actually got rich were the ones who put on the seminars and sold the tapes. All of which you had to do or you weren’t giving it your all.
del said on August 11, 2009 at 10:52 am
There’s a connection between Amway and Ben Stein’s politics of capitalism – both require belief in the hoped-for.
Here in Michigan one of the Amway co-founder’s sons, Dick DeVos, ran as a republican for governor last time. His wife chaired the State GOP. Gotta be some symmetry at the rallies, though, looking out over the sea of believers in hotel lobbies.
LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 11:06 am
Amway was started by some Dutch Reformed guys in Michigan, yes? This explains a lot. If you are a good person and Godly, you will be successful. If you are successful, you are Godly. Keep trying harder. The guy who sold you the tapes and the garage full of crap is doing well so what’s your problem?
I knew too many sleazy self righteous Dutch Reform yahoos growing up to find anything astonishing about either Amway or Blackwater/Xe. It’s like the non-political interpretation of Nixon’s “if the the President does it, it isn’t illegal” theory. “If I make a lot of money doing it, God is telling me it’s right.”
I suspect Connie has run into this behavior in her part of the world.
nancy said on August 11, 2009 at 11:07 am
The election where Dick DeVos ran was my first as a Michigan resident. I watched a debate where the candidates took questions from the audience. A woman stood up and talked about how her family business (plumbing supply) was faltering in the poor economy. DeVos made crinkly eyes and said, “I grew up in a family business, too.” My head exploded.
ROgirl said on August 11, 2009 at 11:14 am
Dick Devos tried to buy that election. He spent around $40 million of his own money and lost by 14 points.
Amway sellers, keep on dreaming! You too can make the big bucks, but only if you don’t give up.
MichaelG said on August 11, 2009 at 11:21 am
Everybody’s had those pestilential Amway people plucking at their sleeve. The whole point of their pyramid is to sell the memberships. The products are just the come on.
Jim said on August 11, 2009 at 11:50 am
The products were rarely, if ever, mentioned. The only people I’ve known who actually used the products were those who were trying to sell it.
4dbirds said on August 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm
I have never seen an AMWAY product. Its soap right?
Jim said on August 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm
Household products, mostly.
Jeff Borden said on August 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm
Poor Ben Stein. I guess he’ll have to make do with his fat paychecks from Comcast, Visine and all the other stuff he hawks on radio and TV. Plus, he still has his gig on CBS Sunday Morning, which is always the prompt for me to go get another cup of coffee. I cannot abide his nasally, flat voice and his overwhelming smugness.
It’s interesting to see some of the conservative commentators –not including Ben Stein in this– who lecture the rest of us on the glories of competing in a capitalist society while they rest comfortably in a job secured by the donations of the Scaife, Olins, Coors, etc. I mean, what right does some idiot at the National Review or Weekly Spectator have to weigh in on economic issues when neither publication can make it in the marketplace without either a regular beg-a-thon from their readers or a fat check from their right wing benefactors? What the #%&+ does William Kristol know about capitalism????
moe99 said on August 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm
Does no one remember the “Dare to be Great” program founded by a guy with a harelip? When he would say it, it would come out very oddly, but he managed to become very wealthy before the SEC took him down.
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm
Jeff B., doesn’t most of print media fall into the category you describe? Probably the best magazine in the world in terms of standing on it’s own merit is Mad.
LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm
I think it’s funny that Ben Stein assumes anyone saw his movie and would use it as an excuse to can him.
Jolene said on August 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Amway, as an organization, is all you say it is, I’m sure, but I’ve used a couple of the products over the years when visiting my mother, who, fortunately, never had any interesting in becoming a seller. Their aerosol pre-wash would, I think, take the spots off a leopard. It could probably be used to clean up Superfund sites.
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm
Mary, what makes you think that any of his critics needed to see his movie any more than the critics (or proponents) of the health care proposal have any need to read any version of the bill?
Peter said on August 11, 2009 at 1:19 pm
Oh Amway, that brings back the memories. One of my friends wanted me to get in on it, but another friend said it best “If you found a way to make a lot of money, would you tell someone? No, unless THAT’S the way you make money”.
LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm
Big difference Danny. One’s a movie and the other is a complex piece of legislation that could would dramatically change the quality of life for millions of people.
Ben’s ego is a little inflated, I think. Maybe he just lost his job like lots of other people. Luckily, he can keep doing commercials and make more than most journalists.
brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 3:36 pm
So we went from a lovely picture of ‘sails at sunset’ on a quiescent lake, to sweaty, arm-twisting ‘sales inculcation’ mass meetings (at sunset?) …now THAT’S range!
And then there’s this
Man convicted of groping Minnie Mouse
although I think the lead sentence was poorly worded
ORLANDO, Florida – A 60-year-old man has been convicted of groping a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume at Walt Disney World.
Jeff Borden said on August 11, 2009 at 3:52 pm
No, most print products are not subsidized. That’s why so many newspapers and magazines are slashing staff, cutting space and otherwise looking for ways to save money. With rare exceptions –I think the St. Petersburg, Fla. paper may be owned and operated by a non-profit organization– they are businesses that must contend with the same issues as any other capitalistic enterprise.
I will listen to Rupert Murdoch, a very well-known conservative who built an international media empire that makes good money. (The New York Post bleeds red ink every year, but Rupe likes having a presence in NYC and he can afford to operate it at a loss.) He knows what he is talking about even if I disagree vehemently with his politics. I won’t listen to a smarmy piece of work like Bill Kristol, whose golden life was assured through an accident of birth to conservative royalty and, to my knowledge, has never had to bust his ass to compete in a capitalist environment like the vast majority of us.
Connie said on August 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm
At the age of 14 I myself was groped by Donald Duck at Disneyland. I was wearing a very short skirt… There is a famous family photo of 3 kids with Donald and that girl has a very odd look on her face.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm
It was not me — i’m home, have been since Saturday. Just wanted to clear that up. And i’m not 60.
Minnie’s house was pretty durn cute, tho’. She was out. In the horde that passed through while me and mine were meandering was a lady in a full burka. Head to toe, eyes only showing, Orlando, 94 degrees out. Now that’s commitment.
Joe Kobiela said on August 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm
I heard that Minnie Mouse was in the insane asylum.
She’s fucking Goofy.
I crack myself up.
LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm
Across the street from my office is the Disney animation complex. The wrought iron fence surrounding the property has the outline of Mickey Mouse’s head, rendered in wrought iron, every six feet or so. One of my co-workers said she wanted a fence with those mice on it. I told her that in my neighborhood we have real rodents running along on our fences. We don’t need no stinkin’ Disney.
mark said on August 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm
Ben Stein, Amway, DeVos, the Dutch reformed, conservatives who work for non-profit supported concerns,… I couldn’t be a progressive/liberal because I don’t have the energy to work up a good loathing or contempt on a daily basis.
I’m predicting the Obama people sealed the coffin on health care reform with the reported decision to refer to it as “health insurance reform” and focus on the evils of the health insurers. Not what people want to hear, in my estimation. The broad middle is compassionate enough to do something to extend health coverage to a lot of those that don’t have it. I don’t think they are envious of or angry with those darn insurance companies to a degree where they want to turn things over to the government. Time will tell.
On a lighter note:
Two Middle East mothers are sitting in a cafe chatting over a plate of tabouli and a pint of goat’s milk.
The older of the two pulls a bag out of her purse and starts flipping through photos. They start reminiscing.
‘This is my oldest son Mohammed. He would have been 24 years old now.’
‘Yes, I remember him as a baby’ says the other mother cheerfully.
He’s a martyr now though’ mum confides.
‘Oh, so sad dear’ says the other.
And this is my second son Kalid. He would have been 21.’
‘Oh, I remember him,’ says the other happily, ‘he had such curly hair
when he was born’.
‘He’s a martyr too’ says mum quietly.
‘Oh, gracious me ….’ Says the other.
‘And this is my third son. My baby. My beautiful Ahmed.
He would have been 18, she whispers
‘Yes’ says the friend enthusiastically, ‘I remember when he first
‘He’s a martyr also,’ says mum, with tears in her eyes.
After a pause and a deep sigh, the second mother looks
wistfully at the photographs and says…
‘They blow up so fast, don’t they…’
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm
Okay, between Joe and mark, cut it out. I tell the jokes here! (kidding)
Jeff B., when I wrote that I was thinking that the idea of a government bailout of the newspaper industry was still being talked about. I guess that is not the case anymore. Who knows, it might come up again.
moe99 said on August 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm
somehow that joke does not tell very well. Perhaps you had to have been there or something.
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm
Or not been there… or here…
brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm
I loved meeting Minnie at WDW, back in her air-conditioned house (skipped Tigger; Shelby was put off that I also very much enjoyed gabbing with the Evil Queen from Snow White); she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and when I joked with her that Mickey would throw me out of the park (a remark they must get 43 times per day) she IMMEDIATELY pointed to her ring-less finger!!
All in all, a fun time….but I wouldn’t want to be one of their “cast members”. Orlando is the ultimate “Company Town”, and last time we were there, the daily parade at Magic Kingdom was slightly delayed; they had ‘run over the dog’, killing the guy who was in the Pluto costume….but you’ll have that
del said on August 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm
Mark, your punchline comes from Spongebob Squarepants Bubble Buddy episode that ends, “they blow up so fast.” Now that episode was funny.
On a heavier note, here in Michigan an HMO will never find itself in court defending its decisions to a jury because the compassionate broad middle has deigned fit to let our legislature pass the Patient’s Independent Right to Review Act — a law that keeps HMO’s out of jury trials and affords aggrieved parties 30 whole days (I think) to review HMO decisions in a parallel legal dimension.
brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm
I don’t have the energy to work up a good loathing or contempt on a daily basis.
Gee, mark, your little joke there at the end sorta stepped on that message
Scout said on August 11, 2009 at 5:29 pm
mark sez, “I’m predicting the Obama people sealed the coffin on health care reform with the reported decision to refer to it as “health insurance reform” and focus on the evils of the health insurers. Not what people want to hear, in my estimation.”
Really? You actually know people who think of the insurance industry as something other than a syndicated protection racket? Huh. Interesting. The people I talk to do want to hear that. I must associate in different circles, because everyone I talk to is fed up to the teeth with ever increasing premiums, big co-pays and deductibles, so-called pre-existing conditions they cannot be covered for and then the ultimate slap in the face of denied claims. Let’s talk about “death panels!” Some dude in a suit without a medical degree deciding what is and isn’t necessary.
But maybe you’re right – going after the Health Insurance Syndicate has unleashed their wrath and plenty of money to fashion nonsense like grandparent euthenasia out of whole cloth. Maybe they’re the people you were referring to.
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm
Okay, big news. Mad Men will start the new season in mid-1963. Here is some dialogue reported in the news:
“I’m engaged,” says the airline stewardess seducing Don Draper on a business trip. “On the other hand, you might be my last chance.”
“I’ve been married a long time,” replies Draper. “You get plenty of chances.”
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm
Maybe the health care reform will end up working like having USPS, FedEx and UPS to choose from.
USPS = Cheap, pretty good and covers most peoples’ needs, but you may wait in line and you may not want to entrust your most valuable, highest priority shipping with them.
FedEx and UPS = Not so cheap, but very good. Caters to specialty shipping needs.
EDIT: I know this could all be moot if private health care is done away with or crumbles under it’s own weight. And this isn’t strictly analogous because the three big shippers all have their own resources, whereas in the case of medical care, they’d all be (presumably) drawing from the same pool of doctors and nurses.
jeff borden said on August 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm
I think the health care debate has degenerated into Fellini territory when you see elderly people on Medicare screaming at their Congress critters that they don’t want the government involved in their medical care. Or when you have allegedly intelligent pols like Newt Gingrich summoning up images of euthanasia, when the AARP is buying advertisements supporting health care reform. You can’t make this shit up.
And rationing? We already have it. There was a heart-breaking post on another website about what happens when a hospital patient is almost out of money. Family members face the choice of going wildly into debt and mortgaging their own financial security, or that of their children by keeping their loved on in the hospital. Or they can bring the patient home in the knowledge that they will not last long without professional care.
I’m no expert and don’t pretend to be, but sheesh, why can’t we face up to the fact that our health care system is in need of repair? Why must millions of Americans face the prospect of losing everything they own if they are unlucky enough to have an accident or contract a serious illness without insurance? And, while we’re at it, if our health care system is actually the envy of the world, which I have heard some of the Obama critics say, why are our infant mortality rates so much higher than most industrialized nations?
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 6:44 pm
The Fellini analogy is a good one, because the message machine that’s guiding the opposition to healthcare is completely skirting the nuts and bolts arguments that might facilitate the development of a more or less bulletproof system, in favor of a kind of semipsychotic journey into nationalist memory. Never mind that the memory is false. It’s a loosely poetic approach to shaping policy that requires a bizarre admixture of the veneration of insurance companies and hostility to elected officials. Once the message exceeds the brevity of Haiku, however, the base reflexively switches the remote from Armacord to Red Dawn.
jeff borden said on August 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm
We liberals have not mobilized like the rightwingers have and that’s a fricking shame, because a majority of Americans are in favor of health care reform. Time for us to quit whining and start showing up at these meetings armed with facts and not the dog whistles issued by Messrs. Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck and Dodd. These crowds are being completely Astroturfed by monied interests who represent those who benefit most from the status quo, but the puppeteers are clever enough to wrap them up in a nice little populist package.
jeff borden said on August 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm
Oh, and Coozledad? WOLVERINES!!
Danny said on August 11, 2009 at 7:05 pm
WOLVERINES!!! (I heard a remake is in the works)
jeff borden said on August 11, 2009 at 7:12 pm
What a concept. The Wolverines vs. The Warriors. Yow!
I’m a total urban liberal, but I love watching “Red Dawn.” John Milius did such a great job of creating a screenplay out of all the Cold War fears extant in that time period with the Cubans and Nicarguans helping the Soviet Russians crush the Americanskis. Plus, I dug Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey at the time and Powers Boothe is always a treat to watch in a film. I imagine the update will have the hordes of Commies pouring over the Rio Grande from Texas?
A Warriors remake would be even weirder. With all the automatic weaponry the gangbangers have today, there’s a quaint, “West Side Story” feel to that old film, where the gang members mostly use their fists and whatever props happen to be lying around when they brawl. Today, wouldn’t the Baseball Furies be using Mac-10s instead of Louisville Sluggers? Again, the genius of The Warriors was its dark and foreboding view of NYC and, by extension, urban America. Somehow, director Walter Hill made that dark and dangerous world a place I really wanted to visit.
alex said on August 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm
And this isn’t strictly anal o gous because the three big ship pers all have their own resources, whereas in the case of med ical care, they’d all be (pre sum ably) draw ing from the same pool of doc tors and nurses.
Danny, that analogy actually makes sense. I’m proud of you.
Not sure where you’re coming from with the doctors and nurses issue, though. If we the people are the customers, and the insurance carriers receive our dollars to deliver service, then the doctors and nurses are simply part of the service, as are Big Pharma, the clinics, hospitals, laboratories, etc., etc. They’re the overhead in health care the way jet fuel, gasoline, tires, vehicles, etc. are overhead to FedEx and UPS and the Postal Service.
LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 7:54 pm
mark, I come by my contempt for Dutch Reform hypocrites honestly. I grew up among them.
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm
I’ve developed a new theory about Manson. He was out to get Terry Melcher for the subpar production of his scary music. If the Beach Boys can’t make your stuff sound like something other than paranoid drivel, your avenues to fame are reduced to the axe and a bevy of young prostitutes.
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 8:44 pm
And another all-American treasure I dedicate to my friends across the aisle.
beb said on August 11, 2009 at 8:59 pm
speaking of women in burkas, as Jeff was at 27, this past
sunday the little woman and were at Metro Beach where the temps was in the 90s and humidity was nearly as right. We saw a Muslim girl there trying to be decorous. She was wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, a scarf over her hair, but tied OVER her shirt was a bikini top.
What’s up with that we wondered.
It’s weird how the conversation swung around to Amway, clearly a Ponzi by any other name. LAMary’s comment @9 that Amway dealer’s must think that if they’re making money god is telling they’re doing right. There a lot of storefront preachers pushing that line as well.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Fellini made “Red Dawn”? I had no idea.
moe99 said on August 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm
Making money = doing right is serious Mormon theology as well. I spent a lot of time in Salt Lake City investigating numerous affinity frauds informally associated with the Mormon church when I was with the SEC in the ’80s and early ’90s.
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 9:37 pm
Moe: Now that the Reagan trash is swimming in the backflow of its grift, shouldn’t we offer a state mandated program to educate people about fraud?
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 10:00 pm
The theme song of the Republican party:
coozledad said on August 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm
I’m on a Beach Boys kick. Sorry:
At this point, Brian Wilson was channeling Bach.
crazycatlady said on August 12, 2009 at 12:09 am
My cousin worked in Amway’s warehouse for 35 years and retired from there. Family members were sucked into it when I was growing up, and none of them seemed any richer than my dad who simply worked hard at his work-a-day job. It’s just a Ponzi. Selling greed and pushing overpriced household goods.
Danny said on August 12, 2009 at 12:37 am
Any of you read Camille Paglia? She has something interesting on the health care issue here.
Dexter said on August 12, 2009 at 2:32 am
coozledad, thought you might enjoy…
alex said on August 12, 2009 at 6:59 am
Interesting? I’ll say.
Camille Paglia is Ann Coulter with a bigger vocabulary, and an even greater talent for pulling factoids out of her ass that no one can challenge because no one, no matter how well educated, knows what the fuck she’s talking about.
She’s done some clever writing and I’ve enjoyed it on occasion, but I think she’s tap-dancing her way through her career as a public intellectual.
Connie said on August 12, 2009 at 7:07 am
Ditto to what LAMary said about growing up among the Dutch reformed. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and never went back. I will note for those who wouldn’t know the details that the Amway families AND Eric Prince of Blackwater were actually Dutch Christian Reformed, the most conservative of the Dutch church options. (yes I know Prince converted to Catholicism.)
My Dad and Eric Prince’s Dad were roommates my Dad’s first year of grad school at Michigan, in a sort of fraternity called Dutch House, founded in the 30s to make sure there was a good safe Christian home for Dutch boys to live in the dangerous town of Ann Arbor. Some years ago my Dad ran into to Father Prince at a restaurant in downtown Holland and was delighted to be introduced to his companion, James Dobson.
basset said on August 12, 2009 at 8:04 am
Meanwhile… today’s Velvet Underground reference:
coozledad said on August 12, 2009 at 9:52 am
basset: Heard any of Cale’s stuff with Eno?
del said on August 12, 2009 at 9:55 am
LAMary said on August 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm
It was the Dutch Reformed Boers who brough Apartheid to the world.
basset said on August 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm
Not familiar with that, Cooz, but just today I was fighting traffic on I-40 with Eno with Phil Manzanera, Simon Phillips, and the rest of 801 cranked up loud… “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the best Beatles cover ever.
And this might be of interest: