In addition to our Twitter accounts, we've also brought back the Brian Gongol Show podcast.
We have two weather words for the day: Brian Gongol is going with overdue, while Brian Dean is pushing for tranquil. Either way, it's clearly a much nicer day than what we had last week at this time. Stupid snowstorms.
Some people can recall any athletic moment of their high school career. Some of us don't have a single athletic feat to recall from all of high school. And some people (like one named Brian Dean) carry small pieces of Adel track around with them to commemorate spectacular crashes at the finish line.
Another year, and I still have not changed my attitude about Daylight Saving Time. It's still a waste of time and a needless inconvenience for us all. We lose an hour of sleep this weekend, only to spend more time driving into the morning sun and leaving kids out waiting for school buses in the dark and cold. The solitary good thing to come from Daylight Saving Time is that it provides a twice-a-year reminder to replace your smoke detector batteries. While you're at it, get a carbon-monoxide monitor if you don't have one (they're available for $20 or so), and put new batteries in your portable radios and flashlights. We're getting into tornado season, and you'll want a way to get WHO Radio when the power goes out during a storm.
The Register has a decent summary of what bills survived funnel week at the Iowa Legislature. Some of the proposals are pretty ridiculous, like the House File that would prohibit the sale of US and Iowa flags that are made outside the country. So what they're saying is that they'd rather act like totalitarians (telling us how we can or cannot express our free speech) than let us fly the flag of our nation. On a directly-related note: "Let's drop the pretense that [trade protectionism laws] restore 'justice' or 'fairness.'" How true. Back to the Legislature for a moment: State 29 has a much snarkier take on the survivors of funnel week than I'm willing to offer. Be forewarned: It's really blunt.
Some people seem pretty upset about the status of the superdelegates at the Democratic political convention, with some making heavy use of the word disenfranchisement. Let's be clear about this: The process may be a good one or a bad one, but disenfranchisement is the kind of word that ought to be reserved for legitimate situations in which people are being denied the right to vote by force of law. A poll tax, which you might know was in place across much of the South for many decades, is a form of disenfranchisement. What's happening within the Democratic Party right now is just an intra-party fight over rules. And even at that, we still have a remarkably open system for participation in the political process. No one was screened for entry to the Iowa caucuses based on whether they'd given money to their party -- in fact, you could have changed party affiliation on the spot. But in other democracies -- even Britain, from which we derived our own system -- only dues-paying party members are allowed to vote on party business. To get a vote among the British Conservatives, for instance, you'd have to pay about $50 a year. So perhaps people can tune down their outrage a little bit and deal with the Democratic debate for what it is: An internal party fight over rules that the party itself created, not a matter of real disenfranchisement. Come November 4th, you can put any name you want on the ballot. It's important for the rhetoric to match the actual level of seriousness -- 38.2% of the world still lives under authoritarian governments. They are the truly disenfranchised.
You may have heard of Obama Girl, whose bizarre "I Got a Crush...on Obama" video became a hit on YouTube. But she has absolutely nothing on the Putin Girls, who sing about finding a man like Putin. There's a creepy degree of hero-worship going on in the Putin song that's missing the tongue-in-cheek opportunism in making a song about Barack Obama. Putin has effectively engineered a cult of personality in Russia, and unfortunately, it's not a very freedom-minded one. On a related note, why are Communists the best marketers? No, Putin isn't a Communist, but his image is being formed straight out of the Communist Party playbook. Sure, we all know what George Washington looked like, because he's on the dollar bill. But that silly Lenin silhouette seemed to be everywhere in the Soviet world. For people who didn't believe in the market economy, they sure had a keen grasp of marketing iconography.
Some researchers in Japan have looked at how traffic jams spontaneously form, even without any apparent reason. It's right in line with an important issue I've been talking about since 2005: We have put too little thought into how to conduct mass evacuations. As much as we'd like to avoid thinking about it, some future disaster -- natural, industrial, terrorist, or otherwise -- is going to require a mass evacuation from a large American city. And we as a country have done practically nothing to figure out how to do it right.
Keywords in this show: athletics • authoritarianism • carbon-monoxide detectors • Communism • cults of personality • Daylight Saving Time • Democratic Party • disaster preparedness • disenfranchisement • evacuations • freedom of speech • funnel week • iconography • Iowa Legislature • marketing • Obama Girl • podcasting • political parties • propaganda • Putin Girls • Putin, Vladimir • smoke detectors • sports • tornadoes • trade protectionism • traffic jams • weather