Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

We're #1, We're #1!

It’s been a big month for the mitten state. In what has been called "an irresponsible misuse of crime data,” a private research group's report based on annual FBI crime statistics rank Detroit as America’s most dangerous city (and good ol’ Flint, MI as #3).

The main criticism is that simplifying such a complex issue as crime into handy “move out of or don’t move to this already ailing city, it really sucks” rankings does a lot more harm than good to everyone involved. Besides, according to the AP article Detroit “Murder Capital” has lost 1 million people since 1950, and real estate agents attempting to sell the new condos aren’t likely to use the “most dangerous city in the US” tagline in their listings.

(Prime, affordable real estate in Detroit)

The most concise commentary of the report that I’ve read came from Gawker:

“The annual list helps reinforce the cycle of poverty, white flight, and neglect that is killing post-industrial America while the rich create unsustainable fantasy worlds on the coasts. And it provides a nice way for a news anchor to fill up 45 seconds.”

New York, by the way, ranked 130-something. Whatever, tell that to my two stolen bikes and my old roommate’s snatched purse. I’ve never had anything stolen in D-town.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Squandering 'Merica

Tuesday morning I found myself voluntarily doing two things that normally would sound like a punishment: 1) working out on the elliptical machine before 8am and 2) watching CSPAN. As it turned it out, it was actually kind of enjoyable, if not interesting.

Robert Kuttner was on talking about his new book The Squandering of America, and I actually found myself interested in the trends of the economy. Especially when he started talking about the widening economical inequality in ‘merica and the effects on the struggles of the adult children of the working class to have social mobility.

I don’t know anything about the host, so I could be completly off, but she seemed like an uncomfortable closet conservative that wanted to give him a piece of her mind but couldn’t so she read a section for this awfully shallow researched politically biased editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

The entire basis for the editorial is a study from the (Republican) Treasury Department that basically says “Don’t worry, everything is great! Poor people aren’t poor anymore. In fact if anyone is losing money it’s rich people. Really it’s true, look at this totally scientific and non-bias information that we have gathered.”

Except for even glancing at the editorial there are enough holes for all of the 96,000 tax filers they examined to drive trucks though.

Here are just a few:

1) The tax returns that they looked at were for people over 25 years old, did they take into account how many of those people were single in 1996 and married in 2005 when they looked again? Did it compensate for the taxpayer having a two income instead of one income household?
2) Saying a percent as small as 24% over 10 years is “impressive” is stretching it more than a little bit.
3) It only accounts for what people earned not what they spent or lost, you know things like foreclosures, medical bills, etc. The kind of thing that poor people often have to worry about and rich people don’t.
4) You only have to file a tax return if you make over something like $10,000/year. Hows about doing a study of all the people so broke that they don’t even file their taxes?
5) They use the word “hokum.” Seriously.
6) It doesn’t account in what people have to do to earn this huge 24% more- say working more hours or more than one job. ( And it says “those who start at the bottom but have full time jobs” what about those who have to work two or more part time jobs because they can’t get a full time job and also have to live without benefits)
7) They use all of this to say that rich people aren’t getting richer, and that if there are more taxes it would hold back “regular people” from climbing the income ladder. Surely this wouldn’t be just a scapegoat for the 1% that already owns 90% of the country’s wealth and is afraid to loose even a tiny bit to those dirty poors…

Friday, November 16, 2007

Selling Out

So, journalism students at NYU did a poll of 3,000 NYU undergrads' attitudes about voting, and I think we are supposed to be horrified/surprised/confused with the results.

70% think that one vote can make a difference (cute huh?) and think voting is important, but 70% are also willing to give their vote up for free tuition, even though 60% of the people who said that also said that their families had lots-o-dough and most likely were paying some or all of their tuition anyway and so they probably just wanted the extra cash.

But what I really wonder about is the 20% who will sell their vote for an ipod touch of all things (do they think they’ll get their vote back when the thing breaks in 18 months?)

Even if voting doesn’t make that much of an impact, it's just dumb to sell yourself out like that. Then again I guess the argument could be made that if you're the kind of dumbass who is willing to sell off your constitutional rights, maybe it's for the best that you remove yourself from the political process, kind of like the Darwin Awards of social involvement.

Or maybe they think selling your vote is like selling your soul and you can just buy it back from the Comic Book Guy.

Terror Rocks My Hometown

Except not really...the suicide/murder that they were talking about actually happened in the next town over, and people have been writing dumbass notes like that at the high school for years. It is kind of amusing how quaint and close knit they try to make Plainwell seem though, yeah it’s small, but I didn’t know all 4,000 people that lived there like that lady who’s hair salon that has been open for less than five years would have you believe. Still this is the biggest thing to happen there since we won the state powerlifting title in 1998, maybe now they'll finally take it off the city limit sign.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And in my best behavior, I am really just like him

The Village Voice’s review of Sufjan Stevens’ BQE Symphony started off with this:

“All my friends who don't live in New York hate New York. Near as I can tell, they imagine the city as one giant, loathsome American Apparel ad, a crass, joyless, narcissistic, careerist, emaciated, insincere, hopelessly uptight, suffocatingly twee cesspool of white-privilege Williamsburg hipsterdom.”

This description prefaced the review to describe not only the trying-to-hard-cuteness of the show, but no doubt its audience too. My desire to go probably puts me in at least three of those categories if not all in some people’s eyes.

Sufjan’s symphony about an expressway sold out so quickly though that I didn’t get a ticket and as much as I love him wasn’t will to pay the $150 asking price on craigslist.

Still, without actually attending, I can mostly agree with the review. Sufjan is helluva talented, and yeah some of his songs make me get a little teary, and damn if he isn’t cute. Which is exactly the problem, he sometimes over does the cuteness, and sometimes gets a little too ambitious (even he had to know the 50 state thing was going to get old fast), or overkills a good thing (the wings, the Avalanche CD). Still though, he tries, which is more than you can say for a lot of people. Sooner of later he’ll realize that when he doesn’t try so hard he makes some pretty amazing music.

(Sufjan trying too hard)

As for me, well that’s in the eye of the beholder I guess. I think the description of New York isn’t totally off base, but then again I still don’t think I consider myself a complete New Yorker. I’m more of a citizen of the world…