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Superpowers
Defies gravity Can spit really far Almost touch my toes Can cut a fly's legs off with a beer cap from 20 paces Know how to say useless stuff and prattle on in a dozen languages Don't know when to shut up
Favorite Quotes
To be for or against the Plague, it's much the same thing. Fiddledee, how a body shure do get around - just 2 weeks ago I was in Mississippi and now I'm all the way to Tennessee... Eat or Be Eaten Better to be pissed off than pissed on.
Biography
Born in swaddling clothes (designer, of course) at the confluence of big waters, my first recorded words were "Dad, can I have the keys to the car?" Raised a Southern Pedestrian, my musical talents were recognized at an early age, leading to my being exiled to the shed out back with a stack of books that became my eddykayshun - advanced readin', writin' & ritmytick, creating a major quandary of "what will I do, oh what will I do?" (Gunslinger) As an old black man advised in song, "You Gotta Move", so move I did, traveling the byways sideways even a lot of driveways, picking up sticks and psychological tics, even movin' to Beverlee through a quaint misunderstanding of the seriousness of TV series, until finally I blew up so big the carry nation incarnation tarnation couldn't hold me no more, so I fixed my sights on yonder sitar, and like Queequeg and Paul Bowles and one of those abducted kids by the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I ventured forth to the larger world, pickin' and grinnin', doin' me some reckonin' and naughts from naughts, occasionally rightin', building me some buildings and wiring and just trying to understand the babble comin' out of people's mouths and heads, I finally ended up in what Rummy quaintly calls "New Europe", which ain't so new from what I sees, but that pit in my stomach from lack-of-moving-sickness finally disappeared, and instead I sit behind a whopping big desk stacked with missives from all the chiefs with big whampum around the world telling me "what's going on". Which seems like a load of boolshit to me, but I guess that's what keeps me busy and entertained now, separatin' the weeds from the chapstick. So my name is Perry Keys, or Peracles to you, and since my mammy always said, "say please and thank you", I added the please, but I'm holdin' back on that thankee until I feel you've earned it. But do welcome, and I hope we's a gonna have a real good time. It all starts with, "I wuz born a poor young white chile livin' in the South..." and we cycle through again, like Nietzsche and his infernal regurgence. So enjoy, and let's spin a spell...

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Post-Millennial Bug: NeoJournalism & the New Collusion

[Recycled Rant to Art Appraiser & Michael Wolraich]

This new social fact-challenged journalism is not a dissertation, is not your father's evening gazette, is not a bunch of freshman working at the college paper or cub reporter learning the ropes. It's war & politics by other means. It's eat or be eaten, except we're always so close to winning we're lulled into thinking we're almost not losing.

There are elections being stolen, there are good policies being killed and bad ones being created, and just because we've made a slight dent in righting the record doesn't mean we're terribly succeeding or that the system isn't broke or needs a drastic update to function well in 2017.

There's a meetup of a rigged media factory, politicians in permanent state of collusion, a bigger influx of money than we ever thought possible, then came a new-found acceptance of blatant lies as both palatable and even a positive to rally behind, and now hacking by a foreign government both stealing and spouting out fake "news" on a broad top-to-bottom scale to make it even worse, yet supposedly we just need to stay grownup and write the truth and we'll prevail. Not even much done on the psychological Kahnemann/NLP/other alternative ways of understanding how we digest (& don't digest) information and are easily deceived.

Shot across the bow: NY District gets its Russian ruling

Amidst all the speculation and soft (fake?) news blowing about this week, 1 piece popped out on Friday that you can put a stick in - the Acting US Attorney for Manhattan (Joon Kim) announced a plea bargain for Prevezon and other Russian fronts - especially focused on real estate companies - for laundering money through New York.

The amount of money in the settlement was trivial - only $5 million, based on New York's part in the $230 million laundering scheme. But it signifies the Attorney's Office's willingness to go after bigger fish even if the Manhattan take was relatively small.

If you've heard of Prevezon, it's likely due to the stir over the Steele Dossier and involvement of Fusion GPS in both digging out info on the holding company and the involvement of Denis Katsyv, son of the Russian Transport Minister and lobbyist against the Global Magnitsky Act, designed for international ethics enforcement [note - that unregistered lobbying is just one area where US laws may have been broken].

Fashionistas in our time: an anti-review

In B School, there's a classic tale of unbalanced industry influence in Vlasic Pickles v Wal-Mart only a decade ago, where Wal-Mart got Vlasic to offer a gallon of pickles at bargain basement prices, and then wouldn't let them stop til bankrupt - a variant of Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea.

A similar case of riding it to the bottom is portrayed in Andrew Morgan's The True Cost, an expose on the effects of "Fast Fashion", when a Bangladeshi sweatshop manager notes the pressure to lower his cost per shirt from ridiculous to subridiculous, all to allow the US shop to sell a shirt for $3.

One of the claims of international trade is that the low pay of workers will eventually rise to pull people out of poverty, that a rising tide lifts all boats. This is true in the case of China, which has seen wages rise hugely over the last 3 decades. But it's arguably a fantasy or missing context in the case of the Bengal shop where a female seamstress starts at $10 per month and even after years is forced to send her daughter to live with her mother, seeing her twice a year, in order to afford the cost of living, all the fees from child care to school to food. It's a fantasy in the Cambodian factory where workers asking for $160 a month are locked in a room and beaten. 

Abortion: Unifying Issue

There are some who focus on class and economic issues, others who look at social fairness and identity politics. Abortion rights are critical to both.

A UCSF study notes "Women who attempted to get abortions but were denied are three times as likely to fall into poverty than those whose efforts were not blocked," adding " one of the main reasons women sought abortions in the first place was monetary: 45 percent were on some form of public assistance and two-thirds had incomes below the federal poverty line".

So cutting access to abortion is an attack on the poorest classes,and a direct cause of increased poverty, "statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line" as well as more likely to stay in an abusive relationships.

Views on abortion have become a litmus test for the Supreme Court, 31 abortion clinics closed in 2016, as have 75% of clinics open in 1990, especially accelerating since the 2009 assassination of George TIller and the GOP's full-court press 3 years later.

War by Other Means: Citizens United v. Hillary

When the Supreme Court ruled for Citizens United in early 2010, it was largely seen as opening the floodgates for untracked money, including corporate gifts, into presidential races.

The ruling was especially significant for Hillary Clinton, as the challenge to the FEC was over small non-profits being able to pool whatever money to create DIY attack ads on... (drum-roll please)... HILLARY!!!

Of course the FEC still maintained some control over the process, as PAC money can't be directly coordinated with the candidate - an arm's length relationship must be maintained.

HA HA HAAAAAHHHH HHEEEE HEEE GIGGLE KERPLAT SNICKER GUFFAW WHEEEE HAWWW WE BE HAVING SUM FUN NOW!!!!!! PANT PANT PANT....

Sorry, I'm back. Yes, that's what the law claims.

Now check out the "arms length" relationships for just 1 such PAC, the eponymously named "Make America 1 Again", aka "Defeat Crooked Hillary" or "Keep the Promise I"...

Interview with the Umpire

Having put off reading Michael Wolraich's "Unreasonable Men" on the Roosevelt/La Follette saga for almost 3 years, the following exchange sprung from my wish to snapshot my reactions before I forgot, as well as take advantage of having the author in our midst. Being historical but somewhat akin to our times, the book provides the opportunity to look at a more crystallized version of today's issues, institutions and personalities. Rather than trying to keep the cross-hairs on a confusing, ever-moving target, we can evaluate these events more leisurely, with the luxury of hindsight and room to contemplate, without getting mired down in too much "he said, she said", thus avoiding the trap of “having a dog in that fight”. Sometimes our emotional attachment to events seems to be our biggest hindrance to grasping them.

This "Entrevista" took place over email on Michael's return from Mexico ("don't destroy Dagblog while I'm gone!") largely as a single block of questions focused on the book's events and a couple followups. Many thanks to Michael for playing along and giving us a chance to play hookie from the exhausting current political chaos. A followup installment is expected to dig more into contemporary parallels.

For readability, my questions and comments are in bold or brackets, Michael's in normal type.

 – Peracles Please

Unrisible Irrascible Men

Michael Wolraich's Unreasonable Men is an engaging exercise in political map making, following the fashions of the times with the entrenched interests of every year. The period in this case is the turn to the 20th century up to pre-WWI America, when her social development lagged significantly behind her economic success, but I found myself wishing for similar vignettes in other ages and historical climes. It's not the most weighty of tomes - finished in 1 day - but I'm not alone in not having time for say Carl Sandburg's 6-volume set on Lincoln - Unreasonable Men is more in the spirit of Hamilton, the Musical - a theater piece you can enjoy and put down, though revert to and contemplate with pleasure.

Maleing it in: Masculine Mystique & the Savior Complex

Elaine Chao, Washington veteran, noted at Politico's recent "Women Rule" that, 'Men don’t prepare that much, so why do we have to?' and continues "“I prepare so much more than some of my male colleagues,” Chao tells POLITICO editor Carrie Budoff Brown in the latest “Women Rule” podcast interview. “And I know women who are prepared more and we get ridiculed and it's like, ‘Oh, my gosh. She's just preparing so much. She's such an automaton. Can't she just like, wing it?’”"

The reason, of course, is our millennia-old mythos of men being born for glory and greatness, ready to roll, walk-ons for greater things. We call this "The Natural", like that Robert Redford movie.

You might think of it as Magic Johnson vs. Larry Byrd - roughly comparable skill & success, but in popular lore largely "the guy with the screaming God-given talent vs the Hoosier who always had to work so hard". 

Charting Progress: Workers' Pair of Dice

In discussing Kaep & whether he's being blackballed, I came across some graphs at Business Insider showing the typical NFL player's increase in salary - and the steadily decreasing chance he'll make it there:

 

And then I thought of the implications for workers in general - what's our expected salary and performance trajectory, how many times will we be "traded", or have bad seasons or not make the cut in spring training and be pushed down to the minors?

Where would *you* chart? Because we have the technology, the analytics to chart *everyone*, whatever industry. Like in sports, we have a window of productivity, peak performance, and then we often fall off or find a different groove and work from there.

Projection Some: Russia's Sea Change

In 2014, with Russia's shipyard lease in Crimea to expire in 2017 and the deal to extend it another 30 years on the rocks with Yanukovich's ouster, Putin brazenly occupied the peninsula militarily, invoking historical precedents and the image of "Greater Russia". But despite Donbas Ukrainians dreams of uniting with Russia, Putin's heart didn't seem to be into the conflict so much as reinvigorating Crimea, and the only significant action since was a brief push towards Mariupol in the presumed attempt to give Russia an easy land route to Crimea. But aside from laughable attempts to get Russian tourists to keep Crimea afloat economically with horrendous lines at the ferry, the Russians started rebuilding their Sevastopol fleet, where most of their global naval power is housed, within weeks of occupation (scroll down for better pics of the whole fleet).

But perhaps Putin had a change of heart or wisdom about maintaining the bridge or land route to Crimea, as Russia's new $1.4 billion base is meant to open in 2020, not in Sevastopol, but in Novorossiysk heading down the Black Sea's east coast towards Sochi - firmly in undisputed Russia.

This Black Sea investment might not have seemed the greatest idea what with Russia's relationship with Turkey on the rocks, but suddenly amidst significant surprise, Russia's Turkish relations vastly improved (with Turkey & Russia now arrying out naval maneuvers together in lieu of the short-term gas embargo). Erdogan also took advantage of the "beginning of a beautiful relationship" to crack down on Islamic dissenters at home and take off the gloves as to Kurdish rebels in Syria. [Some think Erdogan is just playing East off West, but it's hard to see what he wants from the West at this point, aside from a foil and scapegoat]. Putin's obvious benefit? Anything in the Black Sea comes out the Bhosporus Straits, i.e. through good ol' ancient Byzantium, aka Istanbul.

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