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Back by popular demand

Looking deep in the thread of the previous post, I find that the people are one person is clamoring for new posts.  Well, Mr. Mike Roberts, your wish is my command!  But first I have to take care of some important post-ironic business.  In comment 47, Dave Maier writes,

Okay, when you said

you know I love that spacy ambient dreamy stuff

I didn’t mean to suggest that you were being insincere in saying you liked Code 46 (which, as we agree, is very nice). I simply noted the irony you seem to need to employ in expressing even this relatively straightforward fact: because as you very well know, we know no such thing about you, given that this is the first you have ever said about it, and that in a post which is mostly about how great X and Hüsker Dü and suchlike are.

Well, Dave, this is not the first time we have disagreed about the status of the natural world, is it?  In fact, I have informed my readers of my love of that spacy ambient dreamy stuff a couple of times—as, for example, in the second paragraph of this five-year-old post, and more recently in this important parenthetical remark I inserted into my two-part post on 2001: A Space Odyssey a mere three and a half years ago:

Brian Eno had the same reaction to the Apollo visuals that I did, except of course that he responded by recording this brilliant album which sought to rectify those staticky TV images by reminding us of the immense void surrounding our tiny, frail bodies.  Hey, have I mentioned that I want “Ascent,” track 5, to be played at my funeral service?  Just a reminder.

I can’t believe you don’t remember that important parenthetical remark from three and a half years ago, and no, I am not being ironic.

All right, back to your irregularly scheduled blogging.
__________

So we’re back from Rhode Island, where we did some swimmin’ and golfin’ and chowin’ down at this fine establishment (thanks to Nick for the tip!).  And lots of extended-family business.  Today, we’re off to Norfolk, to my father’s book party and some extended-friends-and-family business.  I’m not even bringing the laptop, so don’t take this opportunity to send me a whole bunch of electronical mails.

Besides, I have rediscovered the virtues of the non-electronical mail!  Before leaving for vacation, I used the Internet to buy some things, and lo, they were waiting for me when I returned, courtesy of the US Postal Service.  One was the soundtrack to Code 46, which is lots of that spacy ambient dreamy stuff I like—as you well know.  The other was Mark Alan Stamaty’s epic MacDoodle Street, which you must buy now if you want to continue reading this blog.  It’s not that I forgot how good it is, not only for individual panels and strips but also for its whole entire twisted plot; I’ve always known how good it is.  What was astonishing, reading it again after 30-plus years (during its run in 1978-79 it was the first thing I read every week in the Village Voice), was realizing how much of its humor I’ve stolen it’s influenced me over the years.  I’m willing to bet it influenced the young Matt Groening, too, though he wound up doing more in that medium than I did.  Anyway, plunk down the extra bucks at Alibris.  You’ll be glad you did—and, more important, I’ll be glad you did.  Because that way you’ll know what I’m talking about when I refer to Gustave Ranto, Dishwasher Monthly, Rebecca the Cow, and the Conservative Liberation Front.  You’ll resonate with sympathy when I say, “the mere twitching of an eyebrow is worth more than a hundred tons of gold,” and you’ll reply, “All my life I have hungered for those words.” And we’ll both be richer for it.

I may write about MacDoodle Street at some point—it’s a long-overdue assignment, since I volunteered to review the book for the Columbia Spectator thirty years ago and froze up, paradoxically because I had way too much to say about it for an 800-word review.  But on the Internets, you can run on and on and on and on and on, just like one of Stamaty’s marginal characters (really, he has characters who inhabit the margins of the comic strip, just as he has characters who are capable of climbing out of the strip and salvaging part of its plotline when the strip itself is too drunk and belligerent to meet its deadline).  So let me know if you’d like to hear more.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading about the financial crisis in Illinois, where the elected representatives of the state in which I lived for twelve years are engaging in an all-out effort to surpass California for advanced achievement in the general area of total systems failure.  The reason this matters to me, dear readers, is that part of my retirement savings lies vested in Illinois’ State Universities Retirement System, which means that part of my retirement plan is made up of IOU’s, ticker tape, and filling-station coins commemorating the presidency of Chester Alan Arthur.

But I have a solution to Illinois’ pension crisis—and the pension crises facing dozens of other states in the next decade.  My slogan is this:  Don’t default, prioritize! 

There are many different kinds of state employees, after all.  Some deserve to have their pensions honored, and some ... not so much.  If state legislatures would simply rank state employees by the degree of their patriotism, paying out pensions to the most patriotic retirees first, this would go a long way toward solving the solvency problem.  That way, states could prune roughly 40 percent of K-12 teachers as well as up to 90 percent of college professors from the pension rolls, while ensuring that state legislators themselves could collect their full pensions—indeed, more than one full pension, if they took advantage of Illinois’ “double-dipping” option back in the day.

Pension reform ... it’s about country, and it’s about time.

Posted by on 07/15 at 11:01 AM
  1. What’s the problem with the pensions? The Wimpy Solution (I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today) covers all bases, all of the time. From TFA:

    That vaunted $300 million in immediate savings? The state produced it by giving itself credit now for the much smaller checks it will send retirees many years in the future — people who must first be hired and then, for full benefits, work until age 67.

    By recognizing those far-off savings right away, Illinois is letting itself put less money into its pension fund now, starting with $300 million this year.

    See? There’s always gonna be another Tuesday.

    Captcha: seems. Reality lite.

    Posted by  on  07/15  at  01:12 PM
  2. OK, you’ve convinced me. I still miss Stamaty’s “Washingtoon,” a righteous laser beam shining through the fetid murk of the Reagan years. I will happily check out MacDoodle Street.

    Posted by  on  07/15  at  01:55 PM
  3. Here’s a good breakdown of the collapse of the States and Congress’ utter failure to do anything about it.

    From FY ‘09 to FY ‘11, the total state budget shortfall is projected at $352 billion, above and beyond the $138 billion provided by the stimulus.  Since every dollar cut from the state budgets offsets every dollar spent by the federal government, it’s just as if the federal stimulus had been cut by $352 billion--nearly half its size.  The fact that this has gotten virtually no national news coverage is nothing short of criminal.  And for the Democrats, it’s criminal incompetence.

    Posted by  on  07/15  at  02:27 PM
  4. I can’t believe you don’t remember that important parenthetical remark from three and a half years ago, and no, I am not being ironic.

    You are too!  Stop it stop it stop it!

    But okay.  Except that listening to On Land while you’re working isn’t quite the same thing as appreciating spacy, &c, in general.  F’rinstance, if you were really all about the space, you would know that such things are not limited to the pre-1985 period, but continue unabated, in diverse and sundry forms, even unto the present day.  However, wanting “An Ending (Ascent)” played at your funeral is close enough, I suppose.  For busy men such as yourself.

    I must not have seen the 5-yr-old post, which led to a long free-for-all about prog rock, since if I had seen it I would surely have commented, even if Ben said everything I would have (except that Gentle Giant flat-out rules, at least up through Free Hand).

    Anyway, check out those links!  Then and only then will I believe you.  About the status of the natural world.  In the relevant sense.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  07/15  at  03:17 PM
  5. I find that the people are one person is clamoring for new posts.

    S.W.L.A.B.R.

    Silently We Long Awaited Bérubé’s Return.

    Posted by  on  07/15  at  04:53 PM
  6. I agree on the pension distribution by patriotism, but I am not sure it would favor legislators. I’m thinking of France, which has declared the burqa unpatriotic, and I guess that means that you are not patriotic unless you bare skin, which must mean that the more skin you bare, the more patriotic you are.

    In other words, nudists should receive the highest payouts.

    Oh, wait. That just might mean the legislature. Or Elliott Spitzer and David Vitter.

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  07/15  at  11:08 PM
  7. I’m not even bringing the laptop, so don’t take this opportunity to send me a whole bunch of electronical mails.

    4797502402_1692146c4c_m.jpg

    Posted by  on  07/16  at  11:26 AM
  8. Stormcrow wins some sort of ARPANET.

    If state legislatures would simply rank state employees by the degree of their patriotism ...

    In other words, nudists should receive the highest payouts.

    Mr. Dorn anticipates me, as I recollect that “El Tigre,” the famed masked Urbana-Champaign naked tabletop dancer, had a strategically-located American flag tattoo.  Which I suspect was the inspiration for Professor Bérubé’s scheme.

    Posted by  on  07/16  at  03:19 PM
  9. yes, the total collapse of pensions in Illinois is very exciting for all of us who are living there and plan to continue working there until we fossilize into human columns holding up the very buildings in which we toil, thus helping to save valuable dollars from being spent on upkeep of the physical plant. 

    Your pension idea is a good one, but it still has too much traffic with agencies and potentially with revenooers.  My idea is much simpler: bring back tipping.  Like that lecture on free indirect discourse?  Leave me a dollar on the podium.  Wondering if I’m right about Paul Auster and “Paul Auster” in -City of Glass-?  Give me another dollar and come back for tomorrow’s special lecture, entitled “Yes, I was right, and yes, it will be on the midterm.”

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  03:43 PM
  10. Your father’s book party? Do tell!

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  10:53 AM
  11. Ms. Hitchens, you haven’t been following the release schedule for the controversial new text The Immoral University and Why We Like It That Way: Mua-HA-ha-ha-haaaa?  Regardless, I second the request for a party report, especially if dancing on tabletops was involved.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  02:30 PM
  12. Not that it matters, because they’re going to raise the retirement age to 92 3/4, but Illinois state employees also don’t pay in to Social Security.  You know, because we have pensions.

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  04:19 PM
  13. I don’t think I need to explain that what happens at The Immoral University book party stays at The Immoral University book party.  But I will say this much—it started with the table dancing, and by 8 pm things got crazy.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/20  at  09:55 AM
  14. The Immoral University

    Academia United Will Never Be Defeated!

    Posted by  on  07/20  at  11:19 AM
  15. Our public school teachers are our greatest resource as a nation, and their dedication and skill lead to the ever increasing strength of incoming college students. Give them two pensions.

    Posted by  on  07/20  at  10:47 PM
  16. what happens at The Immoral University book party stays at The Immoral University book party.

    That’s not how the Virginia National Guard saw it.

    Academia United Will Never Be Defeated!

    A-U-W-N-B-D
    Find out what it means to me
    A-U-W-N-B-D
    Take care, MRB.

    Posted by  on  07/21  at  08:40 AM
  17. Good article .. Thank you very much
    I want to know your point of view in this article

    Scalability and User Interfaces.

    A friend of mine was showing me the brand new web based ERP system that

    was developed for his medium sized company. He was very happy with its

    usability and ease of use. He showed me how you can drag and drop

    employees on the organization chart to change their positions. It was

    really easy to use.

    But it had one flow, it was not scalable. Usually when we talk about

    scalability in our business we mean how an application can be able to

    take a larger number of users without changing it. But here was a

    slightly different type of scalability, user interface scalability.

    Simply put drag and drop works very well for small data sets. When he was

    showing me the drag and drop on the org chart there were only a few dozen

    people on the org chart. If that org chart was fully populated with

    hundreds of people drag and drop would be much harder since you will need

    to scroll. Now imagine that you have a thousand employees, not only will

    you need to scroll a lot but you will also need to filter or search to

    find the correct person.

    There are solutions to make drag and drop scale, like adding filters and

    having a two pane screen where you filter in one part of the screen and

    then drag and drop to the other part of the screen, but in all such cases

    the speed and ease of use of drag and drop is reduced, and more logical

    choices for large data sets will be better. One such choice is the right

    click and move to menu that is common in many email clients. You right

    click on the element you want to move, you select move and then you get a

    filterable selection box of where you want to move your element. Of

    coarse the issue with right click these days is that you can not

    implement it well for the ipad for that you need to read my blog post

    about the ipad and its effect on web design.

    So what seamed like a good interface will actually be useless once the

    number of employees grows or once you start to actually deploy the system

    and put your data in it.

    At El Motaheda Web we are

    well aware of these issues and we choose the systems that we offer you

    with care. Most systems we use will work equally well for a small company

    as for a large company with thousands of users.

    Let us take a small example from WebGUI which is the content management

    system we use to power all our web sites and the web sites of our

    clients. Although WebGUI has drag and drop within a content page, where

    you can re-arrange parts of a page by dragging and dropping, you have a

    different interface for rearranging the pages withing a web site. Why,

    simply because if generally you will not have more than 10 elements in a

    web page, so drag and drop is perfect, but you can have thousands of

    pages in a web site and here drag and drop is not really suitable. WebGUI

    can handle thousands of pages easily, our site mashy.com has over 50,000

    pages and the official portal of the Ahly club ahlyegypt.com nearly as

    many pages as mashy.com.

    Posted by ElMothaeda Web  on  07/22  at  06:43 AM
  18. Except that listening to On Land while you’re working isn’t quite the same thing as appreciating spacy, &c, in general.  F’rinstance, if you were really all about the space, you would know that such things are not limited to the pre-1985 period, but continue unabated, in diverse and sundry forms, even unto the present day.  However, wanting “An Ending (Ascent)”

    Posted by jack  on  07/24  at  03:03 AM
  19. In other words, nudists should receive the highest payouts.

    Posted by Caldwell  on  08/05  at  03:35 AM
  20. Do not be deceived by those who may ask you to automate your site , to prepare your engine,
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    Posted by egtot  on  02/13  at  07:59 PM
  21. thank you!

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    Posted by classic250  on  04/26  at  09:38 AM

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