Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday grab-bag

● Among my readings on the government shutdown this week were these pieces by Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman, who are both appalled by GOP brinkmanship; this interview with Grover Norquist, who thinks his long game is playing out beautifully; and lastly, Marc Thiessen, who thinks risking U.S. default for partisan ends is every bit as cool and normal as torture.

Oh, and Martin Wolf.

● Researchers found significantly elevated radiation levels in water downstream from a Marcellus Shale wastewater treatment plant.

● Heard this interview with songwriter Billy Bragg while I was in Pittsburgh this week. A few minutes in, the interviewer asks Bragg for his opinion on the Obamacare defunding fight, and Bragg gives a cogent and eloquent answer, not only getting the essentials right (America has the most expensive, least effective healthcare system in the developed world) but also making a larger ethical point about societal compassion.

Video of the week: Billy Bragg doesn’t get to sing in this, he just strums a guitar, but Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe both have better voices than he does anyway. Quite a lovely take on a John Prine song:

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