My incredibly important work is conducted in a cramped, windowless office built by meth-addled contractors and destined to plunge two stories in the event of an earthquake. Close quarters and a maximum capacity of eleven means that getting along with your co-workers is as important as your level of productivity. We are hardly immune to the quantum physics of offices– we have one co-worker who is universally reviled and despised, whose very presence sends everyone scurrying for headphones if they bother showing up at all. He’s a workaholic who never goes on vacation and is loathe to take a day off for sickness or important events, so periodically we force him to skip a day so we can all get a little break. And we order pizza to celebrate.

A continent away two senators are beginning to push for ways to better socialize the heavily segregated floor. Holding hands in spite of their party affiliations, Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor and Wyoming Republican John Barrasso are trying to build support for their idea of shared meals. The thinking behind these sit-downs is that it would give the members of the Senate an opportunity to interact more as people than as political enemies, creating more congenial relationships which could diffuse the policy gridlock which stifles congressional work. Neither has brought their idea to the party leaders, but Pryor claims to have quietly approached his co-workers and that approximately thirty have lent a kind ear.




President Obama has signed the economic stimulus package into effect, with the catchy little name American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The deal was done in Denver, to distance himself and his new spending plan from the corridors of power in Washington where things have been corrupt for too long. Another promised measure of change which Obama rode into the White House on was one of transparency, and so the government has launched as a means for Apple Pie Americans such as you can see exactly how the billions of dollars are divided and spent. There’s no real information available yet as the money hasn’t begun to flow, but there is a video introducing the website to the American People:

As I mentioned previously in regards to The Vatican’s approach to courting a technologically advanced society, I’m pretty puzzled about the use of Youtube on a government website. It can be argued, and probably will be, that shared video sites are of the people, for the people and by the people but all it indicates to me is that the people in charge of trillions of dollars, the most sophisticated technology in the world and the mightiest army have such low standards they’ve okay with the shit resolution available on Youtube. But wait, it can also be viewed in higher resolution on Vimeo! I’m sure that world leaders across the globe can respect that option.

Okay, so it’s nitpicking and an easy way to observe the numbers as they trickle out and trickle in is a nice gesture. Hopefully by the time the data begins to accumulate I’ll still have a job and won’t be checking my e-mail at the library in between unemployment lines and soup kitchens.

Big thanks to Senatus who provide a daily news ticker of Capitol Hill events. It’s a useful aggregator, providing portions of news articles and links as they come off the wire as well as some light, non-snarky commentary. Which is why I’m also adding them to my links.

There has always been a certain joy experienced when I happen to catch stock market news filled with unhappy premonitions and arrows pointing towards hell. While I understand that the implications of our current dire straights reach far and wide, possibly even affecting someone as disconnected from money as myself, I must admit that the idea of a complete economic collapse is exciting. Not necessarily because I revel in the idea of a Mad Max-esque world with roving gangs of bandits and bizarre outposts of civilization operating on jerry-rigged technology but because I feel that the utter depths of foolishness which propel the world forward cannot be stopped without the bottom of the bucket falling out.

In a recent op-ed piece, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof examines the issue of Guantanamo, the US’s military foothold on Cuba which houses the nameless accused in America’s war on the world. Barak Obama has asserted his intentions are to close the prison down as a gesture of transparency and responsibility and Kristof argues that the military should leave as well. Ideally, his plan would have the base handed back to Cuba but realizes the political difficulty in doing this so he proposes a secondary plan borrowed from the Public Library of Science: convert Guantanamo into a research center to combat tropical disease. (more…)