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The Column of Lasting Insignificance: December 26, 2009

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

“There’s no other way to say it: Barack Obama…has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads. Instead of reining in Wall Street, Obama has allowed himself to be seduced by it….an economic team made up exclusively of callous millionaire assholes, that has absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place. ‘You can’t expect these people to do anything other than protect Wall Street.’ says Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican from Florida”
— Matt Taibbi, pointing out in Rolling Stone that Obama has packed the key economic positions in the White House “with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place.”

JUST SUPPOSE THAT you wanted your Congressman to vote for something you needed, what would you do? Well, obviously, you’d go and give him some money. And if you wanted him to vote for something that would affect a lot of other people adversely, then your bribe would have to be a lot bigger. Doesn’t this sound a little….er…. unethical? Yet it’s what lobbyists do every single day, and it’s so commonplace that everybody takes it for granted. But what if lobbyists were to be banned altogether, forcing legislators and their staffs to do their own research — and then vote on the idea’s merits? Glory, be! That would be a real democracy, folks.

AT LEAST TEN PERCENT of the millions the Pentagon pays to military contractors in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban is handed over to the Taliban to “protect” the passage of convoys that carry the weapons to fight them. “The American soldier in me is repulsed by it,”  Col. David Haight told the Nation. “I know that it is what is essentially paying the enemy saying ‘Hey, don’t hassle me’. I don’t like it, but it is what it is”.


OLD-FASHIONED JOB APPLICATIONS are becoming extinct says Anne Kadet who went in search of a sales job to write about it for Smart Money. “Even Fredericks of Hollywood told me to go home and download an application.” Ms. Kadet reports that retail applications over 55 have jumped by 25% in the past year, that retailers are hiring only three workers for every 100 applications, and a new gimmick is the group interview. She quotes Restoration Hardware’s DeMonty Price who explains that group interviews “reveal high-energy people who can energize others.”.

Former Marvel Comics artist Stan Lee ( the Hulk, Spider Man ) confesses: “I was never a  businessman. I remember the board asked me to come up with a three-year plan for the company. I said, ‘Guys, I don’t even know how to predict where we’ll be in three years. I don’t even know what I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow.’ I resigned as president after about a year. I mean, I can add and subtract, but I hate to read sheets of numbers. I like to write stories.”

NARCISSISM AND GRANDIOSITY are among the reasons why so many celebrities act like know-it-alls, in the opinion of Dr. Gad Saad. Expressing his views in Psychology Today, he writes: “Most celebrities have at best graduated from high school. Hence it is quite extraordinary that they should feel sufficiently knowledgeable to contribute to complex issues in physics, psychiatry, medicine, and biology…the problem has gotten so out of hand that there is now an organization, Sense About Science, that seeks to combat such celebrity-driven idiocy.” Dr. (of philosophy) Saad suggests that a lack of negative feedback from those close to them plus “existential guilt” contribute to the stars’ misguided cockiness, i.e. a need to demonstrate to the world that they are more than ‘mere celebrities.’

EUROPEAN CRITICS ARE raving about another of those almost impenetrable books that literary eggheads love so much. This is
Poison, Shadow, and Farewell, the final volume of the trilogy by the Spanish novelist Javier Marias,  and described by one critic as a “work of sublime lunacy.”

WHEN COPYRIGHT IS WRONG is the title of Forbes’ piece about William Patry and his view that “unjustified expansion” of the copyright laws has squelched creativity. A copyright now protects works for the author’s life plus 70 years which, says Google’s intellectual property expert, “is inefficient because it wildly exceeds necessary incentives.”

The copyright industries, particularly the motion picture and record companies, want to control customers, not satisfy them, Patry told the magazine. “They seek ever-expanding rights and draconian penalties to solve their problems…they’d rather litigate than innovate.”

THE WILCOCK WEB: Global warming would be reduced if all the politicians going to Copenhagen to talk about carbon emissions would stay home and keep quiet,” wrote Timothy Stroud in the Daily Telegraph. “The hot air being produced by politicians to show that they care is ludicrous”….. That snake Joe Lieberman thinks he’s invulnerable at present, but that advantage won’t last forever……How much will Hustler’s Larry Flynt be offering for a pageful of Tiger’s ex-lovers?….Now that we know that Harvard law school grads start work at around $160,000 it’s easy to see why lawyers charge such rip-off hourly rates…. Eddie Murphy’s 2002 movie Adventures of Pluto Nash which reeled in a pathetic $7.2 million, and basketball star Michael Jordan’s 1994 dud baseball career are among Parade magazine’s list of 50 Biggest Flops……The latest in an apparently endless stream of variations is Sheila Kohler’s novel Becoming Jane Eyre in which the author re-imagines the childhood of Charlotte Bronte’s fictitious heroine…. After 62 years, the last of the weekly crossword puzzles constructed for the Nation by Frank W. Lewis appeared this week….. And the 125-year-old Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul (1,400 miles) closed down….Five white tigers newly installed at China’s Chongqing Wild Animal Park which had lost their savage instincts while starring in a circus, ran away in terror when a supposedly ‘dead’ chicken–thrown to them for food — woke up and squawked….. British police have started tracking, and taking to court, hackers who steal “virtual goods” from such cyber games as Runescape…. A  new version of Rubik’s Cube entails twisting a plastic globe until six colored balls drop into their correct slots….. The ancient art of crafting dry stone walls without any reinforcement is under threat in England by theft of the stones for garden decoration. Now some walls are being strengthened with cement …Research scientists in China claim that fruit bats practice oral sex…. The expensive dual cameras needed to create 3-D television may be bypassed by a company called Hdlogix, reports Communications Technology. The firm “has developed mathematical logarithms” to synthesize the first view with a duplicate…. Somebody should make a 21st c. version of Citizen Kane, but with the acquisitive Rupert Murdoch as its anti-hero…..What we have in this country is socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.” — Gore Vidal (1925 —)