JibJab Fun: Obama, Biden Say So Long to 2010

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— Steve Clemons

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4 comments on “JibJab Fun: Obama, Biden Say So Long to 2010

  1. questions says:

    2 stories that must be thought together:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/us/26spill.html?hp
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/25/AR2010122502277.html?hpid=topnews
    ****
    We have a post-mortem of sorts on the Deep Water Horizon/Macondo/BP/Transocean/Gulf oil leak, a disaster that ended up actually happening because of a complex and perhaps unmappable relationship between profit and speed concerns, equipment failures, training issues, the fact that in panic situations people simply don’t perform the way they do in regular life, the fact that there’s an irreducible tension between automated warning systems and human-initiated warning systems, the fact that redundancy makes people feel safe when perhaps that feeling isn’t justified, the fact that a record of safety or failure in the past doesn’t necessitate the same in the future….
    In short, structures, structural failures, and a lot of human and mechanical issues, to boot.
    ****
    The second story is the “prequel” to a story that we all hope never gets written — TSA is trying to predict, using a complex interaction of machine, human, and occult/behavioral prediction, who and what is a danger to air travel.
    They are trying to figure their way through automation, human intervention, the commercial desire for speedy results and ‘moving product’. They try to balance bored workers, over- and undertrained workers, irritated supervisors and airline corporate demands, political concerns, contracting/bribery/deceit concerns…. There’s a hope for sufficient redundancy so that any one person’s fuck up or any one machine’s fuck up isn’t a disaster on the horizon. And soon they will ban pancakes on planes, I guess.
    But there’s this structural tension that as long as there’s another layer of safety, any one person’s judgment might be just a little to conservative towards sustaining the system rather than interrupting it. After all, you have a supervisor whose job it is to make the call. There’s always another supervisor. Perhaps even the deity calls upon another deity in crisis?
    And at the same time, increasing any one person’s sense of responsibility can also make it hard to interrupt the system. False alarms, self doubt, social/psychic concerns about being sucker/sap/traitor, about being called out for interrupting the dominant meme — these get in the way of good analysis, timely decision-making, and stopping disasters while they loom in the distance, rather than in medias res.
    I am sure that these tensions exist in every potentially disastrous, prevention-oriented, complex situation. From snow storms in the east to mud slides in the west, from climate change to peak oil, from our individual love of STUFF to our collective mess-making, from any one banker’s wanting to be a billionaire so fuckin’ bad to a system in which numerous billionaires destroy the economy, we have quite a project ahead of us trying to figure out how to get individuals in complex systems to modify their behavior from a systemic rather than individual perspective.
    I think Rousseau calls this ‘the General Will’, but there are probably a lot of ways to think about what it is to be “I” in a “we”.
    2011 might be a good year to synthesize all the perspectives on “the event” so that we might be able to start ‘p/re-sponding’ as it were.
    And while we’re at it, let’s all listen to “Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut” by Das Racist. The only band I’ve ever heard to get in a reference to Gayatri Spivak! (in a different song, though.)

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  2. Don Bacon says:

    We have to thank Obama/Biden for bringing us the Thermos Threat this holiday season. Many people like myself are traveling with thermos containers and we never would have suspected that these seemingly benign objects might somehow threaten us.
    But now we know. We might be asleep some night and these buggers might clamp themselves right over our breathing organs, or even blow up right there, scattering Thermos and body parts all over our cheap motel room. Pat down your Thermos before hitting the sack.
    Change? We still have an “elevated” terrorist threat on the freeway when the real (not Thermos) threats are in Washington. Frankly, I’d like to say “so long” to Obama & Biden. Primary ’em!

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  3. Hank says:

    Forget Obama and forget his book

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    Top Ten Holiday Wishes for the New Year and the New Congress and the Reconstituted Adminstration:
    10. Start an adopt-a-billionaire program for the Forbes 400 people. 400 down and out cities/communities/counties/regions each adopt a billionaire, send the billionaire post cards and thank yous by the thousands, and teach the billionaire true democratic generosity in return for which the billionaire so selected matches investment funds for the major projects that help communities hold or increase value: housing stock improvements, basic infrastructure and commercial and communication and transit improvements. Souls, communities, oneness of purpose, sociality, generosity, humanity all will improve. Because it’s a matching program, everyone has “skin in the game”.
    9. Find some new way to get national standards into our schools aside from RttT funding. The testing regime is turning out people who sort of know how to take one kind of test, but who need deep remediation at the jr. college level despite their having a diploma. The students ain’t learnin’, the teachers can’t take the time to show kids over and over and over and over where the ‘7’ came from, what a ‘verb’ or a ‘paragraph’ or a ‘poem’ is, or why animals hibernate, some trees lose their leaves in the winter, and why balls bounce.
    8. Give Arne Duncan a new job, say, in Hawaii. It’s lovely this time of year, I’m sure.
    7. Find ways to democratize the financial sector such that the oligarchs are a somewhat lesser breed.
    6. Level with us about Social Security — is the concern really that we’re headed towards hyperinflation if we have to pay out on those Treasuries? Is there an underhanded hope to give the money free to banks? Is the hope to inflate a Wall St. bubble long enough to help with the extend and pretend program? Is there a hope to privatize pensions so that the oligarchs can eat this money in fees and leave the next generation destitute in old age? Is the hope to save Medicare money by having the next generation die younger? We seem to be losing some life span in this country. This is ugly. Level with us.
    5. Find some way to get people to see that climate change is for real, that ocean acidification is already happening in measurable ways and that shelled critters do badly in mildly acidified environments.
    4. Appeal to our better instincts and encourage us to get creative. Seed communities with arts and entertainment, making and doing. We don’t have jobs, we do have time and brains, creativity and hope. Jobs come from those characteristics. Micro lending, micro granting, even if it’s for religious tripe might not be a bad idea. For every creationist nonsensical museum, maybe a Shakespeare troupe could also be funded. Shakespeare makes us smarter, even if the other stuff makes us less thoughtful. There’s probably a balance that can be struck.
    3. Find some way to deal with the US as regions. We seem to have some significant regional tension that needs to be eased at a macro level. We don’t need another civil war.
    2. We know that I/P means two things — India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine. We know that there are some interesting interrelations regarding funding, tensions, and bad intent. Just fix it somehow! It’s above my pay grade.
    1. And finally, acknowledge the real suffering of people who have lost spirit, lost hope, have been washed over by mud in SoCal, by MERS across the country, by bad faith lenders, by pay day loans who simulate loan sharking, by for-profit post secondary schools and by k-12 schools who didn’t do their job either, by false hopes and stupid fantasies, by false media playing on stupid fantasies, by wars and torture, by an overly secretive government, by the fracturing of social trust, by all the fees paid up the economic ladder and out of local communities. Tell us, help us, encourage us to use the last little bit of “hope” in the Pandora’s Tsunami we’ve been slammed by for some 30 or 40 years.
    And with that, again, Happy Holidays to one and all.
    May the next year be filled with spirit, solution, task, process.

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