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The Morning Grumpy – 7/16/12

16 Jul

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Since Mitt Romney is the first Mormon to run for national office, the time seems right to look into his weird and secretive religion (all of them are weird and secretive to me). And BusinessWeek does the dirty work.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Mormonism, an indigenous American religion, would also adopt the country’s secular faith in money. What is remarkable is how varied the church’s business interests are and that so little is known about its financial interests. Although a former Mormon bishop is about to receive the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, and despite a recent public-relations campaign aimed at combating the perception that it is “secretive,” the LDS Church remains tight-lipped about its holdings. It offers little financial transparency even to its members, who are required to tithe 10 percent of their income to gain access to Mormon temples.

If Obama’s religion (or lack thereof) was such an issue in 2008, why shouldn’t Romney’s religion be an issue in 2012?

2. Comparing capitalism and the state of workers to Fifty Shades of Grey? How au courant!

Ever since the Reagan era, from the factory to the office tower, the American workplace has been morphing for many into a tightly-managed torture chamber of exploitation and domination. Bosses strut about making stupid commands. Employees trapped by ridiculous bureaucratic procedures censor themselves for fear of getting a pink slip. Inefficiencies are everywhere. Bad management and draconian policies prop up the system of command and control where the boss is God and the workers are so many expendable units in the great capitalist machine. The iron handmaidens of high unemployment and economic inequality keep the show going.

Late-stage capitalism is a topic I’d like to explore a bit more in future grumpys.

3. Matt Taibbi breaks down Mitt Romney’s cynicism and awfulness like no one else can.

Romney really showed us something in his luridly self-congratulating N.A.A.C.P. gambit, followed by the awesomely disgusting “free stuff” post-mortem speech he delivered the next night in front of friendlier audiences. The twin appearances revealed the candidate to be not merely unlikable, and not merely a fatuous, unoriginal hack of a politician, but also a genuinely repugnant human being, a grasping corporate hypocrite with so little feel for how to get along with people that he has to dream up elaborate schemes just to try to pander to the mob.

So now this is the message: I tried to reason with the blacks, I really did, but it turns out they just want a free lunch.

How’s that for bridging the racial divide?

Mitt Romney is just a bad person.

4. Why are computers stupid? A history of the divide between computing and language, and why we “define and regiment our lives, including our social lives and our perceptions of our selves, in ways that are conducive to what a computer can ‘understand.’”

Computers are near-omnipotent cauldrons of processing power, but they’re also stupid. They are the undisputed chess champions of the world, but they can’t understand a simple English conversation.

When will that change and how? Awesome deep read.

5. The Chronicle of Higher Education takes an innovative approach to presenting the disturbing emails from the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.

Investigators working on the Freeh report uncovered dozens of e-mail messages in which top Penn State administrators discuss how to respond to allegations against Jerry Sandusky. The calendar below highlights two important incidents, one in 1998 and the other in 2001.

It’s all quite creepy.

Fact Of The Day: An illiterate clown was elected to Brazilian congress in 2010. – No, his last name isn’t Palin.

Quote Of The Day: “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” – Christopher Hitchens

Video Of The Day: “What Is It About 4 A.M.” – Rives, one of my favorite TEDTalks

Song Of The Day: “I’m The Man” – Joe Jackson

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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