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Beauty vs. Function: On Redesigning

The thought of producing the best possible design, either from scratch or redesigning something, gives jitters to the heart of many designers. Even professionals in the field can’t quite balance beauty and function.

A few days ago I saw a comment here on 1stwebdesigner that says most of today’s web designing is just like recycling old designs. That several years ago, when CSS was first introduced, people were really ecstatic to see “new” designs which were totally one-of-a-kind. With the rise of CMS like WordPress, Joomla, and others, there are already ready-made themes that, if I may say, are used by thousands of people. Nothing unique, nothing fancy.

I am among those people who buy ready-made themes. Partly because I don’t have the funds to hire a professional designer/developer to make me a website and half the reason is it’s easier that way. I know, hold your pitchforks and listen first!

It’s pretty hard to come by a design that equally serves both beauty and function. This applies to logo, website design, illustrations, posters, and almost anything that has lines, curves, colors, and is artwork.

Let’s agree that there are certain facets of designing that take longer than others. An example is website design, it takes a vast amount of time to produce the optimal result the client wants. There are designers who have really bad experiences dealing with clients because the purpose of the website does not jive with the design the client wants. In which case, the two need to strike a bargain.

Designing for Beauty

Looking at a website, logo, or a poster and telling yourself, “well, it could be better” should always be followed by thinking about the users. Are they already accustomed to the current design, that if a change is made they’ll hate it?

Designing to solely improve the beauty is quite tricky. Trickier than adding functionality or information because a redesign means a change of identity. Now we’ll focus on web design, but keep in mind that this applies to all things that can be designed. In web designing, why do people have to redesign? For two reasons: 1. the existing design sucks, and 2. a fresh look is needed.

Reason one is the most used reason for redesigning, and is somehow less tricky because people will see the improvement and most likely love the new design. Just keep in mind that you are redesigning for ease of access, to make things better than what they used to be.

Reason number two is the trickiest. Redesigning just to keep things fresh is not really a good practice. There is a 50-50 chance that if the previous design is loved by people and a sudden change is introduced, people might hate the change which could result in a drastic decline in readership, like what happened to Digg and the Gawker Network (fairly recent).

Designing for Function

Nothing fancy here, just straight to the point like most news websites. Actually, if you look at news websites you might get dizzy at first because everything appears to be scattered. These websites take quite some time to get accustomed to, but once you know the basic navigation, all is well. A perfect example is Reddit. Over three years ago, when I first arrived on the website, I said to myself, “man, this website’s design blows” but as I spent several minutes and hours there, when I’m already accustomed to things, I’d rather have it stay that way than to have fancy colors and logos and things. Why? Because the purpose is to read, share, and view different media from external sources.

Another perfect example are management systems and eCommerce websites like eBay. I think you already know where I’m headed, designing for function is more about serious business.

The problem with redesigning

The problem with redesigning usually isn’t actually about how hard the existing design is to manipulate, but the problem is “can it still be improved?” Yes, the problem is a question of whether redesigning will improve things.

In art, there is no such thing as a finished piece. Everything is abandoned. No art is finished and perfect. But when is the right time to pull out that brush and stroke the canvas once again? I’m afraid that’s a grey area even for most designers I know. Why redesign? It looks good and it already serves its purpose, doing more may confuse your audience with the sudden change.

As you may have experienced, people have the propensity to reject changes. But there is a way to introduce change without irking people, and that is by gradually changing things, not a full-blast update. Take for example Facebook. For several years the layout has changed incredibly, there were fiascos (like the recent chat box update) and there were several successes, all without alienating the existing users.

But I didn’t answer the question, “why redesign?” You redesign when a function is needed and it changes the layout of the entire design, but only redesign if it will complement the site well. As I have stated in my previous article, the purpose of redesigning is to make things easier for the users.

Why can’t it be both?

photo by: cobrasoft

Like people, artists and their masterpiece are unique creations. These artworks have their own personality, and that their “purpose” may or may not be positively taken by the audience. To the artist his/her creation might be a masterpiece, but is it for other people?

Take for example Digg’s redesign. It was big news a few years back because they lost a big fraction of their users because of the redesign which they thought would be good, but really isn’t for “old timer” Digg users. That is how severe the redesigning process can affect things if it isn’t done right.

One thing to remember

Designing can be two things: for beauty and for function. It’s like saying “beauty and brains,” only it doesn’t work that way. One thing you need to remember when faced with a design project is that you need to figure out what is really needed. Does the material need to call out to people more or is it for a specific function.

One thing to remember: never use the color blue just because it’s your favorite color.

The problem with users

Audience are fickle creatures. Most of the time it only takes one angry reader to cause a large avalanche of people to follow them. We’ve seen this happen on the internet many times now, even outside the field of designing, where someone convinces people that Company X’s service is not good, then the whole internet brigade of justice brings out their pitchforks (or are they internet mobs?).

What do you think?

Have you redesigned a website? What was your experience? We’d love to hear!


Professional Left Podcast #91

"Time and again, however, we see evidence that they have gotten deep inside the White House's head. In letters, in offhand comments, in outbursts at press conferences, in my personal reporting, members of the Obama administration and members of the Obama reelection campaign will let slip that they are dwelling and worrying over these arguments. They may not agree with them. They may not think they're fair, or sophisticated, or useful. But they're thinking about them. And if you're the "professional left," that's exactly what you want..."
-- Eric Forman Ezra Klein.

"Yes. Yes it is".

-- driftglass

Show links:

Bernie Sanders and Lockheed Martin

US Taxpayers build an unnecessary Iraqi prison.

Daily Kos cartoon on Zip Houses with comment from Blue Gal.

Distribution of Wealth in the US (chart).

Bonus: Tthe clip from the Gerald Ford episode "That 70s Show":

Thanks again to Frank Chow for the graphic at the ProLeft website and Heather at Crooks and Liars Video Cafe for their help. And don't forget, our archives are available for free with no downloads at Professional Left.

Da' money goes here:


CloudGate: Denialism Gets Dirty, Reputations Are At Stake [Greg Laden’s Blog]

There has been a major dust-up in the climate denialist world. A study published in late July made false claims and was methodologically flawed, but still managed to get published in a peer reviewed journal. The Editor-in-Chief of that journal has resigned to symbolically take responsibility for the journal's egregious error of publishing what is essentially a fake scientific paper, and to "protest against how the authors [and others] have much exaggerated the paper's conclusions" taking to task the University of Alabama's press office, Forbes, Fox News and others.

Let me break it down for you

Read the rest of this post... |

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


Dark Matter Haters to the Left [Starts With A Bang]

"When you make the finding yourself -- even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light -- you'll never forget it." -Carl Sagan
When we talk about dark matter and its alternatives, we are talking about no less a task than explaining the structure of every large object in the Universe. This means every one of the billions of galaxies, including the way they form, merge, and cluster together.


(Image credit: Mark Subbarao, Dinoj Surendran, and Randy Landsberg for the SDSS team.)

On the largest scales -- where each pixel in the map above represents an entire galaxy -- dark matter blows all of its competitors away. In terms of explaining the large-scale structure of the Universe, not a single one of dark matter's alternatives comes close to mirroring its success.


But of course, that doesn't stop the sensationalist headlines from rolling in. We are understandably uncomfortable with the notion that we are not the most important thing in the Universe. We were against the Earth not being the Universe's center, we were against the Sun just being another run-of-the-mill star, we were against the spiral nebulae in the sky being other galaxies just like our own, and now we're against all the matter we know in the Universe -- protons, neutrons, and electrons -- being relatively unimportant compared to the amount of dark matter in our Universe.


(Image credit: AAAS / Science, retrieved from this site.)

And while dark matter's been the only successful game in town on large scales -- for galaxy clusters, for supercluster and filaments, for the fluctuations in the microwave background, for big bang nucleosynthesis, for gravitational lensing, etc. -- its alternatives have held the advantage in one spot: for individual galaxies.

In what way is this the case?


(Image credit: Bernd Flach-Wilken & Volker Wendel.)

Above is spiral galaxy NGC 6744, often referred to as the Milky Way's twin. Although somewhat larger than our own galaxy, to the best of our measurements the structure of our galaxy, including the central bar and sweeping spiral arms, are the best match to this one out of all the known galaxies surveyed.

When we look out at spiral galaxies, we discover a relationship between the speed at which the galaxy rotates and the distance from the galaxy's core. This relationship is very simple, and is better described by an empirical, phenomenological (i.e., not physically motivated, but data-motivated) model known as MOdified Newtonian Dynamics. There are a number of ways to obtain MOND, including by postulating some type of gravitational dielectric medium in the vacuum of space.


When you shove an insulator in an electric field, it's made out of matter, which in turn is comprised of positive (nuclear) and negative (electron) charges. The insulator responds to the electric field, polarizes as shown above, and changes the electric potential of space.

The analogy would hold for gravitation if there were negative gravitational masses, or some type of gravitational dielectric. This is an idea that's been around for a while, and Dragan Hajdukovic's new paper has been getting quite the buzz for claiming that perhaps virtual antimatter particles in fact do just this, and behave as though they have negative mass. This could, in fact, explain why individual galaxies look the way they do.

Of course, we'd have to explain all the other things that dark matter does, and we'd have to give up some important things like Einstein's equivalence principle. And like I told you, it's not like dark matter is a panacea; it has historically has problems for individual galaxies like our Milky Way and NGC 6744 (above).

What are the problems? Well, when we've modeled our structure formation for individual galaxies, using dark matter and normal matter in the expected ratios, we arrive at a few problems.


(Image credit: Ned Wright's cosmology tutorial.)

First off, it takes a while for these galaxies to become very bright. When we look back in the Universe, we see extremely bright galaxies -- some even brighter than the Milky Way is now -- when the Universe is just one or two billion years old! It was thought that Milky Way-like galaxies would need more time to form than that, and that they'd run out of gas to form new stars too early if they formed so brightly back then. Furthermore, simulations always gave us central bulges that were too big and too bright to be explained by conventional dark matter, and perhaps not-quite-right structure for the grand spiral arms.

Wouldn't it be some news if we could solve these problems, and explain the galaxies in our Universe -- the last great difficulty for dark matter -- without having to resort to any of the alternatives?


(Image credit: NASA.)

Well, as I said at the start, haters to the left! We've just successfully figured out where the new material to form the Milky Way's young stars is coming from: high-velocity intergalactic gas clouds! About a Sun's worth of gas falls into the Milky Way (on average) every year, and this resupplies the Milky Way's gas reserves, which get eaten up as new stars form over billions of years.

But what about the other, larger mystery? What about reproducing the structure of the Milky Way itself?

Thanks to a new study (J. Guedes et al.), and a new simulation (the Eris simulation, above), we can finally successfully reproduce a Milky Way-like galaxy using our dark matter model!



I know that some of you will never be convinced, not until a ball of dark matter can physically hit you in the face and make you cry, but this is a huge advance for dark matter! There are still alternatives worth considering, but they've got a long way to go before they stack up.

And so on this day, even as my parent company disses dark matter and promotes the alternatives, I say, "Haters to the left," and happily bask in yet another outstanding success for the best theory for structure in the Universe: dark matter.

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


“It’s not you. This is what the country is going through”

"It’s not you. This is what the country is going through"

by digby

Here's a tale probably told many millions of times, all over the country, throughout this slump:

ON June 25, 2010, Frederick Deare punched out for the last time from his job driving a forklift at the Old London factory in the Bronx. That summer, everyone at the plant was being laid off: the oven operators, the assembly-line packers, the forklift drivers, the sanitation workers. Total jobs lost: 228. Old London, the snack manufacturer that invented the Cheez Doodle, was moving its operations to North Carolina. At 53, Mr. Deare, known as Freddy or Teddy Bear to his co-workers, would have to find a new job.

Read on to see what it's like to be 53 years old and looking for work in this environment, what it does to a person. This was a man who had worked hard his whole life to attain a comfortable middle class life. The quote in the title is the soothing words his wife would say to him when he was rejected by yet another employer. It's a harrowing story of a good person, upstanding citizen caught in the maw of this awful economy.

He's actually one of the lucky ones. After going through hell for most of a year, he's found another job. But check it out --- this is the new reality:
He got an interview, and the supervisor he met with sounded optimistic about his chances of being hired. But there was no formal offer. Day after day went by. For three weeks the wait stretched on. This time, however, he got the job. And it was a union job, with benefits. He started on April 11 — 290 days after Old London laid him off.

“You’re speaking to a happy man,” he said after his first day. “I am in my glory. I mean, today was wonderful.”

There was only one downside: The work paid $10 an hour, 40 percent less than he had made at Old London. After taxes, his paycheck was even less than the unemployment benefits he had been collecting. But he tried not to dwell on this. “I don’t let it bother me that I’m getting less, because of the simple fact I have something, and a lot of people have nothing,” he said. “You have to crawl before you can walk.” Four and a half months later, he is still on the job.

Everybody sees this, whether they're employed or not. And it's made working people very accommodating. Being scared you might never find a decent job again will do that to a person.

It's great for employers, though.

And good for the NY Times for doing this sort of story. If social distance is one of the primary reasons we have have this huge disconnect between our leaders and the citizens, then stories like this might be helpful. If they never see anyone who has been dealt a blow from this economy at least they might read this and recognize that this isn't an abstraction for millions of people.


Visualized: an interactive timeline of the web

Ever wondered what the World Wide Web's illustrious history would look like if plotted in timeline form? Well, thanks to Google's "Evolution of the web," you won't have to. The delectable chart traces the evolution of HTML, the web technologies that came alongside it and the browsers that've held it all together -- all in a seriously meta HTML5 package. Ready for a trip down memory lane? Hit the source, friend, and revel at how far we've come.

Visualized: an interactive timeline of the web originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 02 Sep 2011 20:13:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceThe Evolution of the Web  | Email this | Comments

The Big Jobs Fuck

When language speaks louder than words.

As the economy shudders to a full stop again, world markets freak out again, and we wait expectantly for the President of the United States to politely invite the ambassadors from Jesusland to join hands with him in the spirit of comity and civic obligation to save the nation...

...politely receive their counteroffer to instead, say, cut his nads off with a band-saw...

...politely counter-counteroffer to instead let Eric Cantor throw seven million poor or sick Americans into the active volcano of his choice...

...politely watch as the GOP storms off in a brand new 2011 GM Huff, swearing to "terminate this democracy with extreme prejudice" to the cheers of their Teabagger Base...

...and then politely withdraw to a safe distance with his advisors to ponder the question "Why is "The Professional Left" (We're famous!) such shrill assholes?"...

...I shall relax and enjoy my memories of another (fictional) Presidential Address on the subject of another, all-out effort to save the day initiative, as it was penned by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in 1972.

Here is a snip:

The Big Space Fuck.

In 1989, America staged the Big Space Fuck, which was a serious effort to make sure that human life would continue to exist somewhere in the Universe, since it certainly couldn’t continue much longer on Earth. Everything had turned to shit and beer cans and old automobiles and Clorox bottles. An interesting thing happened in the Hawaiian Islands, where they had been throwing trash down extinct volcanoes for years: a couple of the volcanoes all of a sudden spit it all back up. And so on.

This was a period of great permissiveness in matters of language, so even the President was saying shit and fuck and so on, without anybody’s feeling threatened or taking offense. It was perfectly OK. He called the Space Fuck a Space Fuck and so did everybody else. It was a rocket ship with eight-hundred pounds of freeze dried jizzum in its nose. It was going to fired at the Andromeda Galazy, two-million light years away. The ship was named the Arthur C. Clarke, in honor of a famous space pioneer.

It was to be fired at midnight on the Fourth of July. At ten o’clock that night, Dwayne Hooblere and his wife Grace were watching the countdown on television in the living room of their modest home in Elk Harbor, Ohio, on the shore of what used to be Lake Erie. Lake Erie was almost solid sewage now. there were man-eating lampreys in there thirty-eight feet long. Dwayne was a guard in the Ohio Adult Correctional Institution, which was two miles away. His hobby was making birdhouses out of Clorox bottles. He went on making them and hanging them around his yard, even though there weren’t any birds any more.

Dwayne and Grace marveled at a film demonstration of how jizzum had been freeze-dried for the trip. A small beaker of the stuff, which had been contributed by the head of the Mathematics Department at the University of Chicago, was flash-frozen. Then it was placed under a bell jar and the air was exhausted from the jar. The air evanesced, leaving a fine white powder. The powder certainly didn’t look like much, and Dwayne Hoobler said so– but there were several hundred million sperm cells in there, in suspended animation. The original contribution, an average contribution, had been two cubic centimeters. There was enough powder, Dwayne estimated out loud, to clog the eye of a needle. And eight hundred pounds of the stuff would soon be on its way to Andromeda.

“Fuck you, Andromeda,” said Dwayne, and he wasn’t being coarse. He was echoing billboards and stickers all over town. Other signs said, “Andromeda, We Love You,” and “Earth has the Hots for Andromeda,” and so on.

There was a knock on the door, and an old friend of the family, the County Sheriff, simultaneously let himself in. “How are you, you old motherfucker?” said Dwayne.

“Can’t complain, shitface,” said the Sheriff, and they joshed back and forth like that for a while. Grace chuckled, enjoying their wit. She wouldn’t have chuckled so richly, however, if she had been a little more observant. She might have noticed that the sheriff’s jocularity was very much on the surface. Underneath, he had something troubling on his mind. She might have noticed, too, that he had legal papers in his hand.

“Sit down, you silly old fart,” said Dwayne, ” and watch Andromeda get the surprise of her life.”

“The way I understand it,” the sheriff replied, “I’d have to sit there for more than two-million years. My old lady might wonder what’s become of me.” He was a lot smarter than Dwayne. He had jizzum on the Arthur C. Clarke, and Dwayne didn’t. You had to have an I.Q. of over 115 to have your jizzum accepted. there were certain exceptions to this: if you were a good athlete or could play a musical instrument or paint pictures, but Dwayne didn’t qualify in any of those ways, either. He had hoped that birdhouse-makers might be entitled to special consideration, but this turned out not to be the case. The Director of the New York Philharmonic, on the other hand, was entitled to contribute a whole quart, if he wanted to. he was sixty-eight years old. Dwayne was forty-two.

There was an old astronaut on the television now. He was saying that he sure wished he could go where his jizzum was going. But he would sit at home instead, with his memories and a glass of Tang. Tang used to be the official drink of the astronauts. It was a freeze-dried orangeade.

“Maybe you haven’t got two million years,” said Dwayne, ” but you’ve got at least five minutes. Sit thee doon.”

... And he couldn’t look his wretched old friends in the eye, so he looked at the television instead. A scientist there was explaining why Andromeda had been selected as a target. There were at least eighty-seven chrono-synclastic infundibulae, time warps, between Earth and the Andromeda Galaxy. If the Arthur C. Clarke passed through any one of them, the ship and its load would be multiplied a trillion times, and would appear everywhere throughout space and time.

“If there’s any fecundity anywhere in the Universe, ” the scientist promised, “our seed will find it and bloom.” One of the most depressing things about the space program so far, of course, was that it had demonstrated that fecundity was one hell of a long way off, if anywhere.

Dumb people like Dwayne and Grace, and even fairly smart people like the sheriff, had been encouraged to believe that there was hospitality out there, and that Earth was just a piece of shit to use as a launching platform.

Now Earth really was a piece of shit, and it was beginning to dawn on even dumb people that it might be the only inhabitable planet human beings would ever find.

Meanwhile, Senator Flem Snopes of Mississippi, Chair-man of the Senate Space Committee, had appeared on the television screen. He was very happy about the Big Space Fuck, and he said it had been what the American space program had been aiming toward all along. He was proud, he said, that the United States had seen fit to locate the biggest jizzum-freezing plant in his “l’il ol’ home town,” which was Mayhew.

The word “jizzum” had an interesting history, by the way. It was as old as “fuck” and “shit” and so on, but it continued to be excluded from dictionaries, long after the others were let in. This was because so many people wanted it to remain a truly magic word—the only one left.

And when the United States announced that it was going to do a truly magical thing, was going to fire sperm at the Andromeda Galaxy, the populace corrected its government. Their collective unconscious announced that it was time for the last magic word to come into the open. They insisted that sperm was nothing to fire at another galaxy. Only jizzum would do. So the Government began using that word, and it did something that had never been done before, either: it standardized the way the word was spelled.

The man who was interviewing Senator Snopes asked him to stand up so everybody could get a good look at his cod-piece, which the Senator did. Codpieces were very much in fashion, and many men were wearing codpieces in the shape of rocket ships, in honor of the Big Space Fuck. These cus-tomarily had the letters “ U.S.A.” embroidered on the shaft. Senator Snopes’ shaft, however, bore the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy.

This led the conversation into the area of heraldry in general, and the interviewer reminded the Senator of his campaign to eliminate the bald eagle as the national bird. The Senator explained that he didn’t like to have his country represented by a creature that obviously hadn’t been able to cut the mustard in modern times.

Asked to name a creature that had been able to cut the mustard, the Senator did better than that: he named two—the lamprey and the bloodworm. And, unbeknownst to him or to anybody, lampreys were finding the Great Lakes too vile and noxious even for them. While all the human beings were in their houses, watching the Big Space Fuck, lam-preys were squirming out of the ooze and onto land. Some of them were nearly as long and thick as the Arthur C. Clarke.

I would, of course, very much like it if the President of the United States would break into the Strategic Motherfucking Pejorative Reserve to call these motherfucking jackals on the Right out.

Why do I think that is unlikely?

Because of "some in Washington" ...

We pause now for a brief history lesson from the Year of Our Lord 2004, which we shrill assholes of "The Professional Left" had spent screaming for candidate John Kerry to stand up and for fuck's sake fight the Hell back.

He didn't and he lost, and we thought just maybe, in the rubble of his failed Presidential bid, the Democratic Party leadership might have finally learned down to its bones the following Very Valuable Political: unless you are a saint or a famous non-violent civil rights leader, you absolutely cannot afford to stand there with a grin on your face and talk about bipartisanship and brotherhood while your enemies empty entire outhouses full of lies and slander on your head.

From Al Franken's "The Truth with Jokes" (excerpted here with eye-catching emphasis added by me):

The point is, every good candidate should have a positive agenda. But you also have to fight back.... And that's where Kerry came up short. In politics, you can never turn the other cheek. Especially when you're fighting the Christian right.

Nothing demonstrates the "viciousness gap" between the Bush and the Kerry campaigns better than their respective national conventions.

In Boston, the Democrats made the horrible mistake of responding to a very ironic attack from the Bush team, the claim that Democrats had nothing to offer but "partisan anger." Instead of hitting back with the obvious countercharge that, no, it's Republicans who were the party of partisan anger, the Democrats decided to internalize the message of their abuser and try to be nicer.

The Republicans, on the other hand, ran a convention so partisan and angry that its fundamental dishonesty passed nearly unremarked.

Even though Democrats almost to a man believed that President Bush was an unrivaled horror show who was driving the nation off a cliff, it was easy to watch the Democratic Convention and conclude that the Democrats thought everything was hunky-dory in America, and that their only motivation was the sunny belief that their nominee could do an even better job than the incumbent.

This was no accident. In fact, it was the result of uncharacteristic message discipline on the part of the Democrats. Below the stage at Boston's Fleet Center, an elite team of wordsmiths had the thankless job of "cleansing" the speeches before they reached the teleprompter. Here's how someone who worked in the speechwriting office described it to me, on the condition that I not reveal his or her name:

One of our primary responsibilities was to take out negative comments. We were very concerned about casting the party in a positive light. If there was a line like "Bush has overseen a cataclysmic downturn in the economy and is running the country into the ground," we would have to change it to something like "Kerry will strengthen our economy and put the country on the right track." We'd flip all of the attacks into positive messages. Specifically, we didn't mention George Bush by name. I'd be surprised if there were a single speech that went into the teleprompter that had the President's name in it. Some speakers said it, but they were going off-message. We weren't even allowed to say "White House." I remember somebody asking about that, and being told to write "some in Washington."
I asked him or her (okay, it's a "him") how he felt when he saw the unflaggingly venomous Republican Convention.
Boy, I hope we didn't fuck up. That was my reaction.
But fuck up they had. After the Democratic Convention, Kerry's standing in the polls went up by 4 percent, the smallest post-convention bounce in the history of the Newsweek poll. Compare that to Bush's bounce of 13 percent.
Over in the Better Universe, that would be filed under "Got it. Lesson learned".

But seven years later, over in this Universe...

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Washington, DC

Now, I know that in this tough fiscal environment, it’s tempting for some in Washington to want to cut our investments in clean energy.

And again...

August 11, 2011

The White House Blog

President Obama: There’s Something Wrong with our Politics that We Need to Fix

"There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win — and that has to stop.”

And again...

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Putting the American People First
Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Washington, DC

That’s what’s holding us back – the fact that some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.

No, Mr. President. not "some in Washington" or "Some in Congress". The words you are looking for are "those fucking Republicans who are trying to fuck me by fucking you the fuck up".

Or, what Markos said:

Bottom line, if Obama's approach to governing was proving popular, then there'd be little fault. If triangulating against liberals bolstered his numbers with independents, then that'd be cool! Heck, if slapping my first-born in the face bumped his numbers up with independents, I'd tolerate it. But it's not. His current approach isn't working. Capitulating to the GOP on matters big (and small) only reinforce the notion that he's weak. No one cares that he's the "grownup" in the room. No one cares that he's "reasonable" or "compromising" or "serious."

Because of the gutless unwillingness of anyone but shrill assholes of "The Professional Left" to name the true name of the monsters who are killing this country, we see once again how very much language speaks louder than words.

And so it goes.


Republican Protocol Droid

Discovers the Republican Party.

The further adventure of C3-BOBO, Human-Suburb relations…

In this Year of Our Lord 2011, Our Mr. Brooks has noticed that the Party of God seems to be doing some stuff that appears to be, um, harmful and consults his OEM Technical Manual --

The Republicans, and Rick Perry in particular, have a reasonably strong story to tell about decline. America became great, they explain, because its citizens possessed certain vigorous virtues: self-reliance, personal responsibility, industriousness and a passion for freedom.

But, over the years, government has grown and undermined these virtues. Wall Street financiers no longer have to behave prudently because they know government will bail them out. Middle-class families no longer have to practice thrift because they know they can use government to force future generations to pay for their retirements. Dads no longer have to marry the women they impregnate because government will step in and provide support.

Moreover, a growing government sucked resources away from the most productive parts of the economy — innovators, entrepreneurs and workers ...

There’s much truth to this narrative.

-- to figure out how this can possibly be so.

Yet as great as the need is to streamline, reform and prune the state, that will not be enough to restore America’s vigorous virtues. This is where current Republican orthodoxy is necessary but insufficient.

The United States became the wealthiest nation on earth primarily because Americans were the best educated. ...That advantage has entirely eroded over the past 30 years.

Job creation was dismal even in the seven years before the recession, when taxes were low and Republicans ran the regulatory agencies. As economist Michael Spence has argued, nearly all of the job growth over the past 20 years has been in sectors where American workers don’t have to compete with workers overseas.

Inequality is rising, and society is stratifying. Americans are less likely to move in search of opportunity. Social mobility has been flat for decades...

Republicans have done almost nothing to grapple with and address these deeper structural problems.

All of the failures Our Mr. Books articulates are, of course, not some weird anomalies of our political system, but actually the fundamental components of the Basic Operating System of Mr. Brooks' Conservatism, manifesting themselves more and more aggressively as it single-mindedly pursues its Prime Directive: Rolling back the 20th Century by any means necessary.

These are not glitches in your Republican Party, Mr. Brooks: these are its proudest features.

All of which Mr. Brooks knows this perfectly well but can never, ever say out loud. Because the day does is the day he will no longer have a job writing piffle like this for the New York Times.

What are they complaining about? by David Atkins

What are they complaining about?
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Matt Yglesias has the most profound insight into today's jobless numbers:

Looks like we had 17,000 thousand new private sector jobs in August, which were 100 percent offset by 17,000 lost jobs in the public sector.

The striking zero result should galvanize minds, but it’s worth noting that this has been the trend all year. The public sector has been steadily shrinking. According to the conservative theory of the economy, when the public sector shrinks that should super-charge the private sector. What’s happened in the real world has been that public sector shrinkage has simply been paired with anemic private sector growth. This is what I’ve called “The Conservative Recovery.” Conservatives complain about the results because the President is a Democrat named Barack Obama. But the policy result is what conservatives say they want.

Public sector job losses, private sector job gains, in a neat 1-to-1 correspondence. Isn't that exactly what the tea party crowd wanted?

The Very Serious Journalists should certainly be asking Republicans those questions.

Also, they might want to ask just how many more government jobs must be cut before private sector job gains outpace those cuts by the sorts of 10-to-1 margins that it would take to bring the country back to full employment. Probing on the exact mechanism by which firing school teachers will push big corporations to create jobs would be nice, too.

Not holding my breath, though.


A grisly sight indeed

A grisly sight indeed

by digby

This is beginning to feel like a waking nightmare where everything is familiar, but completely different. Here's Roy Edroso on the latest wingnut tsuris over Martin Luther King:

A longer-lived staple of conservative anti-racist cred has been their effusions over Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, back in the old days they hated King ("For years now, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates have been deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country" -- National Review. More here!). But when things got a little hot for them, bigotry-wise, they shifted to declaring King a good conservative; on every MLK Day, in and among their many confused tributes, you'll see many that insist King's vision of a color-blind society is exactly what conservatives have been trying to do all along. Then they grab parasols and handkerchiefs, burst into "When The Saints Go Marchin' In," and dance around. It's a grisly sight.

But that may be changing. Get a load of this editorial by Jeffrey T. Kuhner in the Washington Times, the Moonie wingnut paper:
Undoubtedly, King deserves much praise...

Yet, there was a dark side to King and it should not be ignored. Its effects continue to plague our society. Contrary to popular myth, the Baptist minister was a hypocrite who consistently failed to uphold his professed Christian standards. His rampant adultery...
Boy, nobody tell Kuhner about Jack Kennedy, that doorty Irishman! These ancient accusations are the sort of thing white supremacists like to play with, but which leave most of us who are under 80 cold, so Kuhner moves on to the sort of thing everyone in 2011 is worried about:
Moreover, King was a radical leftist. He promoted socialism, pacifism and the appeasement of totalitarian communism. He opposed the Vietnam War...

At home, he called for heavy public spending, urban renewal and a cradle-to-grave nanny state... racial quotas... affirmative action and billions in welfare assistance... identity politics...
This is the point in the peroration where a less self-possessed demagogue might start yelling about welfare queens and Cadillacs. But we're not there yet, brothers and sisters (and Jeffrey T. Kuhner may not get there with you, though not for lack of trying); instead he goes here:
King’s leftism ultimately betrayed his original civil rights creed.
Because affirmative action, set-asides, etc. Also, "King’s socialism also convinced many blacks to adopt welfare liberalism."

Roy observes, as only he can:
Gotta give Kuhner credit: This bit about civil rights hurting black people is wingnut SOP of long standing, but it takes some stones to suggest that Martin Luther King is the real racist.

Yes, but reverse racism is the new black. This fine fellow is being wingnut fashion forward. I'm sure within a year half the country will believe that Bull Connor was America's true civil rights hero, unfairly maligned by the socialist welfare queens and gay terrorist liberals.

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