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Merry Christmas, 2008

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Merry Christmas, 2008

Click to enlarge

Settle down, my little goslings, and let Aunty Rosalea dispense your gifts this sunny but cold Oakland Christmas morning. (Yes, I know it’s Boxing Day Down Under, but let’s pretend.)

::Yuletide greetings::
First, from my house to yours—the Yule Log! For the past two days, local station KOFY-TV (pron. “Coffee TV”) has replaced its regularly scheduled programming (often infomercials) with a yuletide log accompanied by a variety of Christmas songs.

INSERT: Yuletide.jpg

::Ho, ho, halt!::
Otown is all a-dither over the conundrum of whether it should prostitute itself to HBO by allowing a drama series to be filmed here that focuses on a former pimp trying not to go back to his old lifestyle. The Mayor and several councilors say it doesn’t fit with the city’s attempt to re-brand itself as a “Model City”; the series’ producers say that it could do for Oakland what The Wire did for Baltimore, bringing in jobs and money while the filming takes place and boosting tourism after the series airs.

For a nice local take on both sides of the argument, including a common criticism of Mayor Dellums that he has done nothing to improve the city, see this story and its accompanying comments. Personally, I think that slapping Model City makeup on an acne-ravaged face does nothing to cure the acne so let’s hope HBO is interested in promoting deep cleansing. The Wire certainly got people to look at Baltimore in a more holistic manner.

::Ha, ha, help!::
At the state level, a showdown in the California legislature which has led to a budget impasse, and lost jobs and wages for state and municipal workers, has also led to this funny video from California’s Courage Campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger facing the ghosts of California Past, Present and Future.

::It’s the economy, stupid!::
On the national level, the graph in this blog post from November 19, comparing the Dow Jones during the eighteen months leading up to the Great Depression and its performance today is your lump of coal.

But as an antidote (perhaps), read this wonderful series of articles by Italy’s “Gandalf”, Giancarlo Livraghi, about the power of human stupidity. Most date from the late 1990s. Unfortunately, the link often results in a Server not Found message, so you might try this link to Rageboy instead. One quote I especially love is:

“Stupid people can combine instantly into a super-stupid group or mass, while intelligent people are effective as a group only when they know each other well and are experienced in working together. The creation of well-tuned groups of people sharing intelligence can generate fairly powerful anti-stupidity forces, but (unlike stupidity bundling) they need organized planning and upkeep; and can lose a large part of their effectiveness by the infiltration of stupid people or unexpected bursts of stupidity in otherwise intelligent people.”

“Stupidity bundling”—is there any better explanation of what has happened to the world economy than that? It should be noted that Livraghi, an advertising executive turned philosopher, thinks that stupidity is common to everyone, but only those who can acknowledge their own stupidity are not completely stupid. His book entitled The Power of Stupidity will be published next year.

::The reason for the season::
If you haven’t caught the BBC’s series in which one of their reporters retraces the steps of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then you can watch it online here.

::God rest ye, merry gentlefolks::
Well, my little goslings, the roast is ready (not fowl, you’ll be pleased to hear!), and the wine is poured, so it’s time to take my leave. To the strains of the San Quentin Mass Choir, I raise a glass to wish you good cheer, a merry Christmas, and a hope for peace, love and joy, both in your personal life and on this magnificent blue pearl we all call home.



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