POLITICS
03/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Scritti Politti: February 20, 2009

If you've spent any time in the Federal bureaucracy - or just a half-hour in the basement of the General Services Administration building - you know: it's not always the most soul nurturing place! Like it or not, there's something about our government's intra-agency Byzantium that tends to beat all of the personality out of its denizens. It's just tough to be a free spirit. That's why I love this set of instructions, that comes via email to anyone who wishes to use the Federal Register listserv, that Ana Marie Cox posted today. It's withering, it's metaphoric...it just has a real live pulse of humanity.

An excerpt:

To send a message to all the people currently subscribed to the list, just send mail to FEDREGTOC-L@LISTSERV.ACCESS.GPO.GOV. This is called "sending mail to the list," because you send mail to a single address and LISTSERV makes copies for all the people who have subscribed. This address (FEDREGTOC-L@LISTSERV.ACCESS.GPO.GOV) is also called the "list address." You must never try to send any command to that address, as it would be distributed to all the people who have subscribed....It is very important to understand the difference between the two, but fortunately it is not complicated.

The LISTSERV address is like a FAX number that connects you to a machine, whereas the list address is like a normal voice line connecting you to a person. If you make a mistake and dial the FAX number when you wanted to talk to someone on the phone, you will quickly realize that you used the wrong number and call again. No harm will have been done. If on the other hand you accidentally make your FAX call someone's voice line, the person receiving the call will be inconvenienced, especially if your FAX then re-dials every 5 minutes. The fact that most people will eventually connect the FAX machine to the voice line to allow the FAX to go through and make the calls stop does not mean that you should continue to send FAXes to the voice number. People would just get mad at you.

Whoever wrote this, YOU ARE A NATIONAL TREASURE. Please, do not change.

Remember To Define Your Terms: A Talking Points Memo reader offers an important reminder: "Please stop using the highly inaccurate term "nationalization" which connotes permanent government takeover of the banks. The correct term is receivership, which is by definition temporary and a routine staple of our capitalist economy and banking regulatory system."

No Chutes For You: Governors Perry, Barbour, Jindal, Sanford, Palin, and Otter may turn down bailout money for their states. Are they idiots? Or heroes? Ryan Avent suggests that they're finally refusing the teat on which their states have long suckled:

A look at net federal tax burdens by state reveals that with the exception of Texas (which more or less gets a dollar back for each one it sends to Washington), these states typically have no problem accepting government largesse. Idaho gets $1.19 back for each one it pays out. South Carolina receives $1.35. Alaska gets $1.83. Lousiana receives $1.85. And Mississippi doubles its money, receiving $2.02 from the federal government for each dollar in federal taxes it pays out.

So perhaps we should thank these governors. They're doing their part to help spread the wealth around, so to speak.

Let's Face It: You know, in their defense, that Worcester's buttonquail sure looks delicious.

Humor, By Degrees Of Separation: So, it would appear that Oscar ceremony host Hugh Jackman has been "brainstorming" jokes with Ricky Gervais. That's good news, I suppose. But maybe next year, we can, say, cut out the middleman?

Wag Of The Finger!: I've been known to speculate that politicians get up to their worst behavior when they know The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are in reruns, so that they are spared the mockery. Obviously, it's not something I can back up, it's just fun to speculate. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that all of this week's monkey misbehavior was timed to coincide with Colbert's absence, because otherwise, this would have been the best "Monkey On The Lam" week ever. How can Colbert ever go on vacation in good conscience again, knowing that the simian takeover could come at any time?