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After Dad shot my laptop, I really learned to respect him.

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This is the stuff blog posts are made of.

I am not a father and cannot relate to the frustrations of having a teenage daughter. I can only imagine the impossible difficulty of having a whiny, self-righteous, indignant teenager ranting about the terrible life that results from the demands of over-bearing parents. I did that for years.

But I am fascinated, and a bit terrified, by the story of the North Carolina father that has become a Youtbe sensation. The story is thus: Mr. Jordan found his daughter’s disrespectful (to say the least) Facebook post, in which she complained about her chores, cursed about her parents, and acted like a snotty teenager.  Mr. Jordan was upset about this, naturally, so he wrote a letter to his daughter (not all that much more respectful), video taped himself delivering that message to her, then shot her laptop with a .45. Specifically, he pumped nine rounds into that machine. He then posted the video on Youtube, and it has as of now been watched 21 million times.

21 MILLION!

Responses to this event range from sympathetic  to visits from the police, and on that TRC doesn’t have much of an opinion. I don’t know these folks. But there has to be an important lesson for modern child-rearing, the role of handguns in punishing children, and the uncontrollable nature of social media as a tool for establishing parental authority. I’ll let you know what that lesson is when I have a teenager.

For better or worse Mr. Jordan, you are now famous for shooting your daughter’s computer. At least for this week.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 13, 2012 at 15:12

Posted in media, social media

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think twice, campaign teams: the Debbie Spend-It-Now ad.

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This political spot was aired in Michigan during the Super Bowl yesterday. Which means a lot of people saw it.

It is amazing that a political team can watch this video and no one said, “Sir, I’m not so sure this is a good idea.”

How about instead, Pete Hoekstra, you make your case that Rep. Debbi Stabenow’s policies are sending money and jobs abroad without appealing to imagery that belittles the Chinese with 1950s depictions of foreign individuals (you thought using that music was good for you?). This may not be “racist,” I’ll let others determine that. But this ad is, at best, terrible, and at worst, extremely anti-China.

Apparently the Hoekstra campaigned considered the possibility that this ad would be seen as racist. “We were aware of the possibility that [Democrats would] raise the race issue.” Yes. Only Democrats speak out against xenophobia. He also claimed the “ad was not insensitive to Chinese Americans.” Because that decision is up to Pete Hoekstra.

In defending his political ad on Monday, the Hoekstra campaign said: “This is about as fact-checked and accurate you can get.” Indeed. In the future, you don’t need your fact-checkers to back up an add that has no factual information and instead just makes bland statements about sending jobs to China.

Also: Here’s Andrew Sullivan with a worthy quip:

Of all the representations of a Chinese person to make an enemy of the American worker, Hoekstra had to pick a peasant girl? Not a financial tycoon in Shanghai, or a factory owner in Guangzhou? Damn those peasants for trying to escape abject poverty! 

Written by Christopher ZF

February 6, 2012 at 13:02

Obama’s “war” on Religion, from American Spectator

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Here are a few sentences from the American Spectator, in a lesson TRC wants to give to readers of news:

The recent litany of Obama’s odiousness begins with his growing, unambiguous war against traditional Christianity. He has now left no room for any pretense otherwise to be believed.

Any individual with critical thinking skills should be able to recognize that anything that comes before or after those two sentences will be completely unfounded, anti-Obama horseshit. I can think of no other way to put it.

Of course we shouldn’t be surprised that such sentiments are expressed in the American Spectator, but that does not mean that they should go unchallenged. And we should certainly educate Americans to be able to recognize propagandistic fear mongering when they see it.

I found this article linked from Real Clear Politics, an aggregate source that I value, but that I think has lost any interest in discerning valuable political discussion in the heaps of outlandish uber-conservative Anti-Obamaism. Such as this essay from American Spectator.

The real sad part of this is that the author of this essay, Quin Hillyer, has a reasonable beef with the President, one that has a place in the discourse of contemporary politics and the 2012 election. He has no interest, obviously, in reasonable discourse, however, because President Obama is not reasonable. President Obama is “inept,” “odious,” “feckless” (good one), wants to “starve the American forces” (REALLY!), and pretty much hates everything and everyone Quin Hillyer identifies as “American”.

Here’s the conclusion of this piece.

This is a man who has no interest in serving the United States that most of us know and love. Instead, he’s a man who, by hook and definitely by crook, serves the despicable vision of the utterly foreign America he wants to impose on us.
Four more years of this guy in power, and we are doomed. He is a menace, and, by every legal means possible, he must be stopped — and his maladministration reversed and thoroughly buried. 

If you want to save Christianity, America, the World, and everything that “most of us know and love,” we must align our interest against the man who seeks to destroy Christianity, America, the world, and everything most of us know and love.

Because it is not possible that Obama, a Christian and seemingly pretty good guy, just disagrees with Quin Hillyer. No, Christianity and America, and all that is good, lay in the balance. If Obama wins, the America will likely be destroyed, or worse, Foreignized.

That’s the point: Obama is not American. Obama is not a Christian. He is a foreigner.

I’m sad and mad about this. What a disgrace. And I blame Real Clear Politics for sending me there.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 3, 2012 at 12:13

MN’s Papers Highlight Men Holding Things in the Air

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It has been MN’s week in the GOP limelight, as the candidates have made their way to our humble state to ply their wares, proverbially speaking. We’ve had Ron Paul spending his money and Rick Santorum hitting Bemidji and Luverne in recent days, but yesterday was the big haul: The Mitt was in Eagan. The MN Caucus has generally not played a big role in the nominating process, but some of the talkers are saying that it just might this year. Yeah.

But this post is about photos. In the morning Round-Up today, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of the two images featured on the homepages of our two major papers.

First: Mitt Romney in the necessary, and yet still adorable, baby photo, at the Star Tribune:

Holy mackers. That baby is cute.

Then there is the Pioneer Press. A different, yet strikingly similar, picture:

Punxatawny Phil is not as cute. Though to be fair, still somewhat cute.

In the end, these two photos will likely have exactly the same impact on who get’s elected President, and how much longer winter will last…because such things are rarely decided by photos or shadows. Sorry Phil.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 2, 2012 at 10:34

David Brooks on America’s Tribes

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The truth is, members of the upper tribe have made themselves phenomenally productive. They may mimic bohemian manners, but they have returned to 1950s traditionalist values and practices. They have low divorce rates, arduous work ethics and strict codes to regulate their kids.

Members of the lower tribe work hard and dream big, but are more removed from traditional bourgeois norms. They live in disorganized, postmodern neighborhoods in which it is much harder to be self-disciplined and productive.

That is TRC’s ever-favorite “conservative” editorialist, David Brooks, writing about the widening gaps between American tribes in his piece yesterday, titled, the Great Divorce.

Brooks clearly is enamored by his idea that American culture is tribal, not classist, and he runs and runs and runs with it. As a major news and opinion consumer, TRC thinks it can be pretty easy to notice when a writer has come up with something he or she thinks is quite clever, and, maybe doesn’t think it all the way through. Thus is Brooks’ dilemma.

It looks today as though David Brooks’ piece is causing a bit of an internet uproar. Politico has the rundown. The main complaint seems to be that Brooks, that harbinger of east-coast 1950s conservatism who longs for America to regain its glory by acknowledging it is losing its moral compass and soul (or some such nonsense), is oozing with bourgouis elitism and condescension.

So, internet, I have to ask: Why are you surprised? This is David Brooks. He is a standard upper-class (ahem, upper-tribe) ideas man, who when it comes down to it, is thoughtful, but clueless about modern life. I just assumed everyone knew that was David Brooks m.o. Brooks work in the last few years at the NY Times has represented only a swan-song to golden era nostalgia.

Even Brooks’ conclusion that we need a big national service program to bring the upper and lower tribes together (I agree), falls apart in the need for one harmonious tribe that shares values and practices. He misses the entire point of what comes before in his piece: the tribes don’t have much in common, we don’t all need to share the same practices and institutions and values, and besides, the postmodern neighborhoods of the poor are probably too confusing to find their way to each other anyway.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 1, 2012 at 14:11

TRC Regrets its acknowledgment of the WSJ Op-Ed on Climate Denial

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Sorry about that.

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to open the pages of TRC to the opposition argument on climate change presented by the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page. The editorial, signed by 16 scientists, makes a terrible argument against climate change. I guess I was just feeling that day like that was a reasonable thing to do.

Of course it isn’t. I stated in that post that there is nothing new in their argument, and nothing that has not been thoroughly discredited. But still. If you want more proof, Bad Astronomy takes down the boldest of the mis-information pieces.

Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page won’t be represented here as an open and fairly treated source. Because they are unwilling to do the same. It is no surprise that they posted a global warming denialist editorial. It is actually a surprise that they won’t publish science-based reality in the same pages.

An editorial page that does not open its arms to the opposition makes them hacks. We all know that the WSJ op-ed page is an obvious supporter of Republican and Conservative politics, which is fine. We all have our biases. But I actually did not think that the WSJ was willing to stoop to such embarrassment for the purpose of political absurdity. Shit. If the NY Times will publish Robert Bryce-the fossil fuel funded “expert” on a mission to oppose any environmentally friendly energy development, you can find a place for reality.

So, when I heard that the WSJ accepted an op-ed piece signed by 16 scientists (4 of whom are climate-related) that based itself on claims that have been scientifically refuted over and over, and then turned around and rejected an op-ed signed by 255 scientists from the field in support of the accepted science of climate change, I regretted my decision to post fairly about their published ‘scientific’ editorial. WSJ, I tried to give you the benefit. What a terrible decision.

From Forbes:

The most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.

The letter, from Science Magazine.

WE ARE DEEPLY DISTURBED BY THE RECENT ESCALATION OF POLITICAL ASSAULTS ON SCIENTISTS in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Dear Star Tribune: Amy Koch was not punched in the face

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What a weekend for news, right folks?

Newt Gingrich destroyed and annihilated and embarrassed, etc., Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Primary. Which, if you are a liberal hoping to see President Obama reelected, that is only good news. Though it really makes me wonder what the hell is going on in the Republican Party. According to the NY Times, the result totally changes everything (EVERYTHING) about the race, but Romney still is the frontrunner to win the nomination. So I guess it changed nothing.

Elsewhere, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told the nation that she will not be seeking reelection. Good luck to you Ms. Giffords. You are an inspiration.

But I have one bone to pick this weekend in the media. It was from our local Star Tribune, who ran a story about the future of Amy Koch, Minnesota’s former Senate Majority leader who resigned that position after her illicit affair with a staffer came to light. Koch’s problems are only a small helping of the shit-storm facing the Minnesota GOP (for example), but her affair is her problem, and what happens as a result is her fault.

So I was very disappointed in the Star Tribune’s front page headline:  Sen. Amy Koch: Back up after ‘punch to the face’.

What the hell, Star Tribune? No one punched Amy Koch in the face. And if she wants to consider the fallout from her own bad choices a “punch in the face,” then call her on it. Say, I’m sorry Amy Koch, no one punched you in the face. Or, if you you were, you punched yourself in the face. So stopping hitting yourself.

I’m not quite sure why this got me. But it really annoyed me.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 22, 2012 at 17:38

Posted in media, Minnesota

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