Best ads of the year

Slate’s Seth Stevenson reviews this years award-winning ads.  He’s a little disappointed in the winner, and I’d have to agree with him.  This Old Spice ad was my favorite, I actually laughed out loud:

Given what’s going to be happening in my family for the 4th time, I was pretty intrigued by the premise of the following ad:

Stevenson’s right that it’s too long for a pretty simple point, but it is pretty good.  I have to wonder, though if a lot of kids really do feel like this.  I think it depends a lot upon the age.  Though everybody seems to like that 2-year spacing, toddlers definitely do not like to share mommy.  We haven’t actually told the kids yet, we’re waiting to find out the sex, but I am curious as to the reactions.  Once the baby comes, Alex will surely have the hardest time of it as, developmentally he’s still very much a toddler, and he is such a momma’s boy.


Worst spam ever?

Okay, they actually got their grammar and spelling right, so it comes from Americans, but seriously:

We are presently UPGRADING our NC WEBMAIL, this maintenance might close your
NC WEBMAIL account completely.

To protect your Email Account from being closed, forward your:


North Carolina Webmail Team
Customer Service.

Right– my email will be shut down completely unless I send my email address and password.  Anybody who falls for this probably shouldn’t be using email in the first place.

Colbert on Kagan

This is a few weeks old, but a friend just tipped me off to it since I was discussing Kagan in my Gender & Politics class this Summer term.  It’s more about the way right-wing media reinforces itself in a crazy closed loop (in this case, on Elena Kagan’s sexuality). It’s awfully good:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Confirming Elena
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

[Can’t quite get the embed to work quite right, but if you click on “Confirming Elena” it should work]

Stop signs

Really interesting article on Stop Signs in Slate yesterday by Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic, one of my very favorite non-fiction books of the last few years.  Anyway, the basic point is that stop signs don’t work all that effectively and too many intersections have them where they don’t need them and others would be much better served by roundabouts (we’ve got several functioning roundabouts near campus now and I love them– so much more efficient).    Stop signs are horribly inefficient:

Lauder calculated that the stopping led to a collective yearly loss in fuel and time valued at roughly $112,000. Why not just use a yield sign on the minor approach? Well, at certain times of the day a queue backs up there, and cars have trouble making the turn. So Lauder proposed a hybrid “stop-yield” sign, simply labeled “Take Turns,” paired with the instruction: “If cars are waiting please stop and alternate.”

My proposal, just allow a rolling stop.  A stop sign should mean, “approach the intersection with caution and be prepared to stop.”  Nothing more.  When I drive up to a number of intersections in my neighborhood, there’s great visibility– I can easily see for over 1/4 mile in each direction well before I need to come to a stop.  In such cases, it is entirely safe to simply slow down before proceeding, especially when making a right turn.  Yet, that’s completely illegal (and I’ve got the tickets to show for it).  Presumably, illegal traffic maneuvers have been deemed so to keep us safe, but there truly is nothing any safer about making me come to a full stop before turning from lightly-traveled Willoughby Ln to lightly-traveled Reedy Creek Rd.  Especially at off-peak times of day.  It is dramatically more dangerous every time I merge onto Interstate 40, but that, of course, is perfectly legal.  I’d like to see some evidence that rolling stops actually are dangerous.  (And if its out there, Kim would really like to show it to me).  Until then, I’ll keep at it during daylight hours, doing a quick scan in all directions for police before proceeding short of a full stop.  (Big Steve is not a fan of the full stop, either).

Where I conquer the Francophone Canadian media

So, I mentioned being interviewed in Montreal’s La Presse earlier this week about a Tea Party nut here in NC.   Went and found the story today.  Here it is.  And, while at it, discovered an awesome feature of Chrome.  It recognized that the site was in French and offered to translate it to English for me.  Did a pretty good job of it, too.   Actually, will translate into a ton of languages.  Had fun playing around just to see what they all looked like.  Didn’t even know there was a Macedonian language.

Surprise: BP made a bunch of mistakes

The thing is when you investigate any catastrophe– be it the oil spill, an airplane crash, an economic crash, or failed levees– there’s invariably a ton of mistakes and red flags that were overlooked on the way to the catastrophe.  Catastrophes are not the result of one small oversight here or there, but typically long chains of human error that were not caught and fed upon themselves (that’s why then end up being catastrophic– all the failsafes along the way are blown past).

The Wall Street Journal, nicely demonstrating that Murdoch has yet to destroy it as a news source (the opinion pages have been and remain an pathetic joke), does a nice report on what happened with the BP oil spill.  A sampling:

A Wall Street Journal investigation provides the most complete account so far of the fateful decisions that preceded the blast. BP made choices over the course of the project that rendered this well more vulnerable to the blowout, which unleashed a spew of crude oil that engineers are struggling to stanch.BP, for instance, cut short a procedure involving drilling fluid that is designed to detect gas in the well and remove it before it becomes a problem, according to documents belonging to BP and to the drilling rig’s owner and operator, Transocean Ltd.

BP also skipped a quality test of the cement around the pipe—another buffer against gas—despite what BP now says were signs of problems with the cement job and despite a warning from cement contractor Halliburton Co.

Once gas was rising, the design and procedures BP had chosen for the well likely gave this perilous gas an easier path up and out, say well-control experts. There was little keeping the gas from rushing up to the surface after workers, pushing to finish the job, removed a critical safeguard, the heavy drilling fluid known as “mud.” BP has admitted a possible “fundamental mistake” in concluding that it was safe to proceed with mud removal, according to a memo from two Congressmen released Tuesday night.

Finally, a BP manager overseeing final well tests apparently had scant experience in deep-water drilling. He told investigators he was on the rig to “learn about deep water,” according to notes of an interview with him seen by the Journal.

A depressing, but sadly, not surprising, litany of failure.

Extremism in the defense of liberty is a vice

Okay, I only said I’d try not to pick on libertarianism any more this week.  However, could not resist this terrific blog post by TNR’s Damon Linker.  It’s been almost 20 years since I read any Locke or Hobbes (shame that Lost didn’t have a Hobbes character, given John Lock and Desmond David Hume), but I remember enjoying both and they certainly both have a lot to contribute to our understanding of politics today.

So, why the dig at the Goldwater quote in the title?  Because, extremism is almost invariably a vice.  You take any good idea (be it those from Hobbes or Locke, in this case) to its extreme, and its probably not such a good idea any more.  If only libertarians could see that.  Linker explains:

On one side is Thomas Hobbes, who defended the creation of an authoritarian government as the only viable means of protecting certain individuals and groups from injustices perpetrated by other individuals and groups. On the other side is John Locke, who advocated a minimal state in order to protect individuals and groups against injustices perpetrated by governments themselves. Taken to an extreme, the Hobbesian pole leads to totalitarianism, while the Lockean pole terminates in the quasi-anarchism of the night watchman state

What makes Rand Paul’s position (as he originally expressed it on the Maddow show) noteworthy is that it’s a pure, unadulterated expression of Lockean anti-statism with little admixture of Hobbesian sentiments at all. Paul, like many libertarians and Tea Party activists, is so obsessed with the possibility that the state might commit an injustice that he’s indifferent to the reality of actually existing injustice at the hands of private citizens. As far as these radical Lockeans are concerned, the former is tyranny, pure and simple, while the latter is just life: yeah, it’s sometimes unfair, but freedom requires that we (or rather, in this case, blacks living under Jim Crow in the South) get over it.

Adding to the party, today’s George Will column celebrates a libertarian candidate for the Republican Senate nomination in Wisconsin:

the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” his “foundational book” — and now is ablaze, in an understated, Upper Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like…

From 2000 through 2008, sales of “Atlas Shrugged,” which was published in 1957, averaged a remarkable 166,000 a year. Since Barack Obama took office, more than 600,000 copies have been sold. The novel’s famous opening words — “Who is John Galt?” — refer to a creative capitalist, Rand’s symbol of society’s self-sufficient people who, weary of carrying on their shoulders the burden of dependent people, shrug. Ron Johnson would rather run.

Damn, Ron Johnson and his fellow travelers really piss me off.  Poor, Ron, the Nietzchean super-man pulled down by all these lame, unwashed masses trying to destroy his ability to create great things.   I just hate that these people never stop to consider all the chance occurrences, social support, publicly-funded education,  etc., that helped them become a successful plastics manufacturer or whatever.  No, it’s all just because Ron Johnson is better than the rest of us.

%d bloggers like this: