Wednesday, January 9, 2019

o to be a blogger

1. A few days ago my paper reprinted (the better part of) an excellent New York Times background article on Trump and the Wall. And what occurred to me, though the article doesn't mention it, is how similar the Wall problem is to the Brexit problem.

The problem is that the Brexiters campaigned on a glorious free-trade, regulation-free future, but it turns out that that option does not exist. Brexiters don't like May's deal because it's not what they voted for, and Remainers don't like it because it just makes things worse. And so they're stuck.

The Wall was sold as a solution to illegal immigration into the US. But the problem is that the Wall won't do that. Most unauthorized immigrants aren't scuttling through the desert, but coming through checkpoints, smuggled or often just overstaying visas. There's no equivalent of the May deal, but Trump wants his Wall because it'll make him feel good, and everyone else wants not to spend billions of dollars on a replica of the Iron Curtain just to make Trump feel good.

There's another resemblance: Brexit was based on a fundamental but questionable assumption that EU regulations were strangling the UK, and the Wall is based on an even more obviously questionable assumption that this immigration is harming the US. Immigration in general as actually good for us; illegal immigration is going down; and if we really wanted to stop it, we'd more vigorously apply existing systems that verify residency at the time of employment. But employers (mostly Republicans) don't want that, because they need the undocumented workers. They'd rather distract attention to the Wall instead.

2. Sophomoric article on commodified fantasy. "Sophomoric" means "half-wise, half-foolish." I'll just note that the foolish part includes the account of complaints against Jackson's LOTR films, which is a typical insulting parody of the actual complaints.

3. Humor column on being a lesbian who doesn't fit the DIY stereotype. A lot funnier than anything Ellen DeGeneres has done lately.

4. Interview with John Cleese. Cleese argues that ethnic jokes don't have to be insulting. Do you agree that his examples meet the mark?

5. Something musical for Monty Python fans: the specific full performance of Sousa's "Liberty Bell" which was used for the Flying Circus theme music. I've never heard another performance of "Liberty Bell" that sounds exactly like this, so I'm sure it's the right one. (And, extra added attraction, a convenient compilation of the opening credits from all four seasons, animation and music both.)

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