The Problem With the Future

… is that it keeps turning into the present: [the future!]

  • 2010 isn't really over until you've read Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review.

    Let’s put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.

    Contains much actual not-made-up content.

  • Bad news for fans of Barackrobatics: as near as Pun Salad's crack research staff can determine, the President did not assert that the US economy was moving "in the right direction" in December of 2010. I thought for a moment he'd done it when he signed the tax deal on December 17:

    All while keeping our economic recovery moving in the right direction, providing immediate -- an immediate economic jolt, and giving more than 150 million Americans help where they need it most, in their paychecks, in their wallets. I believe it was the right thing to do.

    Unfortunately, this was spoken by Vice President Biden, who was also in the room at the time (for some reason). So it doesn't count. This ends a streak of nine consecutive months where the President made the "right direction" claim.

  • The voters in New York Congressional District 19 voted to fire their Democrat Congressman, John Hall, in the past election. The New York Observer obtained his exit interview, an interesting mix of sour grapes and historical illiteracy:

    Speaking about the Citizen's United decision, which allowed unregulated flow of cash into campaign coffers, Hall said, "I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism. So that's really the question— is that the destination if this court decision goes unchecked?"

    Let's leave aside Hall's hysterical mythologizing about Citizen's United, and instead look at his use of the Other F-word. Who knows whether that was what was actually taught in Hall's "social studies" class, or if Hall just wasn't paying close attention. Classic fascism viewed business as one more cog in the totalitarian system, as Oswald Moseley put it, "performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole." They certainly weren't envisioned as running the show.

    Timothy P. Carney was similarly unimpressed with Hall's scholarship.

    I suspect John Hall would argue that corporate control of Congress yields deregulation and tax cuts. I think he's wrong. I think the Wall Street bailout, the Chamber of Commerce-backed stimulus, and the PhRMA-backed health-care bill are fruits of corporate-controlled Congress -- and Hall backed all of them, of course.

    Stimulus, bailouts, mandatory health insurance, lengthy prescription-drug monopolies -- these all represent "corporate control of government" in a more precise sense of the word. They involve corporations using government to get things they couldn't get without government.

    In other words, if Hall is looking for creeping fascism, he could start with his own voting record.

    Hall whines "The country was bought," in reference to the election outcome. Interestingly, his campaign outspent that of his opponent; independent expenditures on the race also went his way. He lost anyway. And good riddance.

    The Observer notes that Hall is "a former front man for the rock bank Orleans". I think they mean "band." Nevertheless, now I'm especially embarrassed to own this album on vinyl.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:15 AM EDT

Tampa Burn

[Amazon Link]

This is number 11 in Randy Wayne White's series of novels about Marion "Doc" Ford, a marine biologist living in southwestern Florida, with a darker, violent, past doing shady things for Your Federal Government. Nowadays, though, he's content to run his biological supply business, do a little research on spawning tarpon in captivity, and hang out with his colorful friends.

But that wouldn't make much of a book. Doc has—or so he thinks—a bastard son, Laken, living in the fictional Central American country of Masagua. Doc is still somewhat captivated by the boy's mother, Pilar, who was once married to an now-exiled Masaguan general. The boy becomes a pawn when he's kidnapped by Praxcedes Lourdes as part of a plot to bring the general back into power. But Lourdes is a terribly disfigured psychotic freak, whose highest joy is in setting people on fire. And he has his own plan in mind, almost immediately double-crossing the general.

The kidnapping brings Pilar back into Doc's life, much complicating his relationships with ex-lesbian Dewey Nye and his drug-soaked buddy Tomlinson. The general and his thugs are also in the picture, trying to recover their shattered plans. But Doc's overriding purpose, of course, is to discover the whereabouts of his son, and to thwart Lourdes' gruesome scheme. As it turns out, Laken is not content to be a passive victim, and he manages to drop ingenious clues to Ford. It all leads up to an exciting climax at sea.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:14 AM EDT

Big Brown Eyes

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The first movie in a Cary Grant DVD double feature. It's pretty easy to fit two movies on a DVD when one of them is only 77 minutes. But the director, Raoul Walsh, knew how to fit a lot of plot into 77 minutes.

Here, Grant is Danny Barr, NYC police detective, looking for a gang of jewel thieves. His insanely jealous girlfriend Eve (played by Joan Bennett) is a manicurist at a high-end barber shop. Through a fortuitous coincidence, it's a hangout for both Danny and the thieves; this makes solving the case much easier.

The movie is a disquieting mix of crime and screwball comedy. Ms. Bennett's character is very similar to Rosalind Russell's in His Girl Friday: she's cynical, sassy, and always has a snappy comeback. (Danny: "Oh, how I wish you were a man!" Eve: "Same to you.") There's a considerable amount of physical comedy as well.

All that screwiness would have worked better if the thieves were more genteel. Instead, somewhat shockingly, they commit a truly heinous murder. The jokes seem forced after that.

Still, it's Cary Grant. They don't make 'em like that any more.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:16 AM EDT