Video interlude-Harlem Shake (The Can Kicks Back edition)

A friend posted this video on a listserve.

It is deeply disturbing, though Alice Rivlin bears a distinct similarity to my mother, dancing to suitably MOT-sanitized hip-hop at my niece’s bat-mitzvah.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

10 thoughts on “Video interlude-Harlem Shake (The Can Kicks Back edition)”

  1. Alice Rivlin is gangsta. I suspect she makes a mean hamentashan.

    I still thinkAlan Simpson is a more fearsome debt-slayer. Krugman doesn’t stand a chance. What this portends for the future of our Republic, however, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

  2. Brilliant self-parody.
    It’s perfect really: a lame message wrapped in warped numbers inside a already-passe dance craze.

    Krugman trapped the outmoded idea perfectly, if you allow me a single word insert: Deficit Hawks (Get) Down

    Consider, in particular, the case of Britain. In 2010, when the new government of Prime Minister David Cameron turned to austerity policies, it received fulsome praise from many people on this side of the Atlantic. For example, the late David Broder urged President Obama to “do a Cameron”; he particularly commended Mr. Cameron for “brushing aside the warnings of economists that the sudden, severe medicine could cut short Britain’s economic recovery and throw the nation back into recession.” Sure enough, the sudden, severe medicine cut short Britain’s economic recovery, and threw the nation back into recession.

    1. You’re comparing deficit reduction to the the Eichmann trial? Wow. What color is the sky on your planet?

      1. It’s a gloriously sunny day here in southwest Ohio and the sky is a brilliant light blue. What color is the sky today in your neighborhood?

        Sigh. It never works to explain a joke but what you and Ms. Rivlin call “deficit reduction” I call extremely destructive “austerity.”

        The video was banal — the idea of two old people dressing and dancing with “the kids” the better to relate to them *is* hackneyed, to say the least — and austerity is a pernacious policy that doesn’t work.

        The Holocaust was not the only evil humans have visited upon one another. If it was, it would have been a sort of reverse Pandora’s box and we’d now be living in gumdrop land.

        Sign me,
        I lost famly members in the Holocaust, I grew up among family, friends and neighbors who were survivors, and I spent part of my childhood convinced I’d end up like Anne Frank.

          1. No, more like, who knew the banality of evil could be so banal? And so tasteless and inartful?

            Hannah Arendt used the Eichmann trial as a kind of case study. Here was someone we all knew was evil, so what could we learn about evil by giving him a good look-over?

            I refreshed my memory of Arendt’s work via Wikipedia, which explains that Arendt decided Eichman was an ordinary person who had accepted terrible, unspeakable ideas proposed by the state, and that because he unthinkingly accepted these ideas, they had become normal and ordinary, “the way things are done.”

            Wikipedia goes on to include the following passage from her Origins of Totalitarianism:

            “Once [ideologies’] claim to total validity is taken literally they become the nuclei of logical systems in which, as in the systems of paranoiacs, everything follows comprehensibly and even compulsorily once the first premise is accepted. The insanity of such systems lies not only in their first premise but in the very logicality with which they are constructed. The curious logicality of all isms, their simpleminded trust in the salvation value of stubborn devotion without regard for specific, varying factors, already harbors the first germs of totalitarian contempt for reality and factuality.”

            I think that the idea of austerity is an ideology that is being accepted (and promoted) by the likes of Rivlin “without regard for specific, varying factors” such as 1) austerity doesn’t work and 2) it causes great suffering and 3) there are other alternatives that do work and instead of causing suffering, will make many people’s lives better.

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