Re: God Hates You All

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A post that demonstrates that, in the final analysis, Ogged is the whitest of us all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:02 PM
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the things we've let (and continue to let) happen are more than enough to damn us all to hell.

On the plus side, if that's the crowd that's going to Hell, that's probably the after-life club I was going to be trying get into, anyway.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:05 PM
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Who knew Ogged's hiatus was being spent on the Matt Taibbi writers' retreat?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:06 PM
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Hey, give us a break, Ogged. As that guy on NPR the other day showed, you can start with $25 and a spot in a homeless shelter and by the end of the year have $5k in savings, a car, an apartment and a book deal. (*Assuming you are a single, childless, healthy, confident, white guy with a degree from one of the best public universities in the country.)

In other news, the vagaries of social structure, the division of labor, and moral luck are indeed a bitch.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:10 PM
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Talk about strange bedfellows.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:12 PM
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Well let's all just kill ourselves and leave our estates to oxfam, then.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:15 PM
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Wow, just as humorless in the opposite direction. I am in awe.

And here I was giggling about how white people like Juno.

Kill Whitey!


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:15 PM
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you can start with $25 and a spot in a homeless shelter and by the end of the year have $5k in savings, a car, an apartment and a book deal.

I don't know about you, but I'm sticking to my plan to ride the Brooklyn ferries and wait for opportunity.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:15 PM
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I tried to explain this feeling to my Chinese roommate (a strong believer in America, meritocracy, the Ivy League and fiscal responsibility as a political issue), and he was very confused. "But, you come from an Irish background. Shouldn't the WASPs feel guilty and not you?"


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:16 PM
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Guys, you're not getting it -- he's telling you you don't have to recycle.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:16 PM
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I don't feel like a villain. I feel benign and blissfully ignorant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:18 PM
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4: To be fair, I think sometime simple* lefties sometimes pull too far in the other direction. (See, for example, this post.) From the outside, it looks like things often suck for a lot of people because (a) we're not sure why they suck, and (b) even when we think we know why, those bad conditions are more resistant to change than we expected. But I suspect you are much, much better situated to make a strong claim about whether (a) and (b) are true.

* "Simple" not meant as a slur.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:23 PM
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Is this going to be a recurring theme on the blog from now on? God I hope not.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:26 PM
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Are we not allowed to burn shit down if we're white, then? That's disappointing.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:28 PM
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13: It's all part of the celebration of Whitesuntide, which appears to have come early this year.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:29 PM
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13: To a not-inconsiderable extent, it's the theme that has been driving the site, in some fashion or another, since at least close to the beginning. Death to earnestness!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:30 PM
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I feel threads like this neutralize the benefits of white affluence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:30 PM
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I also basically disagree with this post. The world is designed that if everyone does basically good, incremental things, it will add up. The insufferable white elitests are doing incremental things; they're just mockable.

It's the fuckwads who vote for Bush, and vote against spending for education, and voted again for Bush, and on and on and on, who deserve the moral condemnation. It's the corrupt politicians. It's the people in power who do a great deal of damage out of greed and profits.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:34 PM
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Jesus, Ogged, I banned myself last night for waxing earnest, serious and unfunny like that. Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:36 PM
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I found an earnest blogger, thin and white,
On a white background, putting up a post,
Like a white person's self-reproachful boast.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:38 PM
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In fact, it's idiotic to demand that every person of means has blood on their hands for going about life as a cog in the wheel. Schindler was sobbing because that car could've saved 10 more Jews at the end of the movie, but you know what would save a lot more Jews? Not having concentration camps.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:39 PM
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Holy shit, bob got front page privileges.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:41 PM
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If this is the point, I get it, but it's lazy. You're evil whatever you do, so why try to do anything good? Like Kotsko says, this is all mordantly bitter and recognizing that all of us reading this are damned for our exploitation of the poor and suffering, but its also permission to keep on fiddling while Rome burns because nothing makes any difference anyway.

Feh. I certainly don't do enough to make any difference, but I'm not going to console myself by saying that it wouldn't matter if I did, so there's no need to worry about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:41 PM
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Yeah, unless you're taking the position of condemning anyone who doesn't dedicate themselves to creating positive political change (which is probably a bit hard for ogged to take), then I think heebie's point stands.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:41 PM
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Bob's had front-page privs forever.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:41 PM
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(And, after posting, LB's.)


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:42 PM
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Thanks, pedey!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:44 PM
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those fucked by our action or inaction

I can only assume that this is a reference for my failure to stop the War in Iraq.

Sorry, y'all. My bad.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:45 PM
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Note the capitalization, ben.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:46 PM
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This sort of thing is what's wrong with Peter Singer type arguments about your moral responsibility for the deaths of children in Africa. Their net effect is to enervate your desire to do anything rather than motivate you.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:49 PM
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You all are fucking doing it again! The exact same fucking reaction as to the website!

18 is wrong -- again, in a characteristic way.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:49 PM
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I'm not going to console myself by saying that it wouldn't matter if I did, so there's no need to worry about it.

You wouldn't believe how comfortable it is on that bench, LB. Fine Corinthian leather seats. By which I mean leather made from the shucked husks of dead Corinthians. Embrace the lazy Dark Side, LB.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:50 PM
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Let me quickly defend ogged by saying that it could be that recycling and other marginal positive changes for which I assume ogged is using it as a metonym are simultaneously absurd and very morally important.

With that said, and this is a "pot kettle black" comment given some of my recent behavior, Don't Feed The Troll.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:51 PM
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Is Ogged the troll here?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:52 PM
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You, too, Kotsko. You wouldn't believe how delicious the blood of children is. Embrace anesthesized compliance.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:53 PM
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18 is wrong -- again, in a characteristic way.

Technically, I missed that whole thread. So I like to think I'm reinventing the wheel here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:53 PM
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I like to think I'm reinventing the wheel here.

Exactly.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:54 PM
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Zing!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:55 PM
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You're the second person to have responded to me with "Zing!" in relation to this topic.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:58 PM
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If'n it's gonna be reruns all week Imma startin' my own blog.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 9:59 PM
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I'd read it. It'd be nothing but LOLcats and jokes about Canada, right?


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:00 PM
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It's not that we're boring and earnest, it's that we are so jaded with life that only simulating being boring and earnest holds any glimmer of amusement. Next, mass suicide via sled.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:00 PM
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That's the first time I heard "Enraged Caveman Uk" and thought "Ogged." Next thing I know, I'll be hearing him kinda sorta quoting Hamlet. Then we'll know we're fucked.

(Also: Kotsko, he's correct.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:00 PM
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It's really the Irsnians' fault. Before they invented horse-breeding and chariots, oppression on a large scale was impossible: peasants and their goats could run away faster than the thugs in armor and their spears could follow.

But once you have horses and chariots, we are all doomed.

Face it: no Iranians, and the world is a peaceful egalitarian paradise instead of its current messy state...


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:02 PM
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"You can't be a good person" is not synonymous with "you can't do any good."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:02 PM
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Face it: no Iranians, and the world is a peaceful egalitarian paradise instead of its current messy state...

I fucking knew it! I bet a Lur rode the first horse.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:03 PM
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"You can't be a good person" is not synonymous with "you can't do any good."

We are all sinners in the hands of an angry Ogged. Let us repent through good works.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:04 PM
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If'n it's gonna be reruns all week Imma startin' my own blog.

I posted about facial hair, and no one cared.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:05 PM
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45: Great. You've reinvented the doctrine of original sin. Remind me why this makes it productive or funny to mock people for trying to do good?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:05 PM
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Has Ogged converted to Catholicism? Or his version of "original sin" an example of convergent evolution, the way that eyes have evolved three separate times?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:05 PM
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Before they invented horse-breeding and chariots

This gene now expresses itself as a desire to own a black BMW.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:05 PM
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Remind me why this makes it...funny to mock people for trying to do good?

You can't explain comedy, LB. Look, if it breaks, it's tragedy....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:06 PM
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48: I did enjoy the post. But I had already seen the flickr pics. Which are awesome. I don't have much to say except, cool hair, and wondering whether Kriston rhymes with the girl's name Kristen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:06 PM
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47: Exactly.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:08 PM
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45: Great. You've reinvented the doctrine of original sin.

The main selling point of Catholicism is the ritual absolution and good works that allow you to roll that original sin boulder back up the hill for a bit. The functional secular equivalents of these practices include, e.g., recycling.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:08 PM
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and no one cared.

Chopped liver, I know. I'll get my coat.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:10 PM
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Pwned by LB. Motherfucker.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:13 PM
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Well - I used to hate myself for being smart, white and privileged - so I did some really dumb stuff to try and be not so smart and not so privileged - and basically I got really sick, and unhealthy - and was worth shit to my friends, shit to my family and fuck all to society. It was a short stupid idea.

Honestly, to be ashamed of privilege is pretty awfully, well, shameful.

It's more complicated than that. Something about the conventional mythology of the oppressed supplanting actual human experience - something more about growing in response to nurture - accepting gifts gracefully - giving simple respect and acknowledgment - not being such a culture bigot.

Just remember there are children starving for cultural elitism in Africa - now eat your social standing like a good boy.


Posted by: Zakko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:14 PM
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James's Princess Cassimassima is, though kind of a slog at times to read through, pretty good on this sort of thing. (Mostly presented in class terms, not so much nationality/ethnicity.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:18 PM
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Remind me why this makes it productive or funny to mock people for trying to do good?

It's funny when people engage in ritualistic, nearly cost-free gestures of social concern that make a tiny difference at the margins, while those same people allow truly horrible things to happen. They are rightful targets of mockery if they believe those gestures change their moral standing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:18 PM
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Nah, Heebie, you're wrong. It's just like sexism: the least you can do is fucking admit it, is sort of the point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:20 PM
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I see that Kotsko had a good post about this.

And now I'm going offline. You can all absolve each other now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:21 PM
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Sure. If they think doing good things makes them good people even though they don't do enough to be remotely useful, they're sanctimonious nitwits. But if they think they should do good things regardless of whether it makes them good people, what were we making fun of again? You've got this circular argument that comes out at don't bother trying to change anything, it just makes you pathetic on top of being evil.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:21 PM
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If I book a plane to S.F. to beat you up, and don't sleep through departure, what does that do to my moral standing?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:22 PM
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It's funny when people engage in ritualistic, nearly cost-free gestures of social concern that make a tiny difference at the margins, while those same people allow truly horrible things to happen.

I agree this is funny.

But the people perpetrating the horrible things are ultimately responsible for the horrible things. The cogs in the wheel are responsible for staying informed and making cog-like votes against such thing. Individual cogs who feel called for leadership roles should act on that.

What I mean is, we may go to hell in a hand-basket. But it's stupid to be eaten away by guilt on the way. Unless you feel called to leadership, just do your incremental best.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:22 PM
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49, see 61l. C'mon; as humorless feminists, you guys should totally be able to get this.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:23 PM
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It's just like sexism: the least you can do is fucking admit it, is sort of the point.

Sure, admit it, stay informed, and modify your behavior as things are brought into your worldview. But don't be tormented by guilt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:24 PM
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You've reinvented the doctrine of original sin. Remind me why this makes it productive or funny to mock people for trying to do good?

Maybe because the token gestures of goodness are more than outweighed by the destruction that keeps them in the affluent place they're in? Even just in terms of the environment: no matter how much I recycle, is the impact of that recycling ever going to outweigh the amount of carbon that I released while driving, that was released to produce and deliver those items to various places? How much fair trade coffee do I have to buy before I somehow manage to make up for all the slave labor that was done on my behalf?

Of course none of us asked to be part of the hugely destructive system of global capital -- but we fucking are! And when someone points that out, either in a funny way (and the website was funny) or in an earnest way, it's just whine whine whine until someone gives you a piece of candy and tells you that your own personal hands are clean -- because that's all that matters, right?

(This whole thing of mocking Ogged's notion of "original sin" just confirms my view that well-meaning liberals have a mental block when it comes to understanding the notion of social structure.)


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:24 PM
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There is no crime. The trees are alive. Universal love. Come on, people!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:26 PM
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your own personal hands are clean -- because that's all that matters, right?

This is terribly confused.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:26 PM
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the people perpetrating the horrible things are ultimately responsible for the horrible things.

"I didn't *personally* own slaves!"

"I've never sexually harassed anyone!"

"*I'm* not a rapist!"

What's stupid is to have the "guilt" reaction--which includes "that's not funny/accurate"--to what's clearly intended as a wry little bit of black humor. For heaven's sake. I don't think Ogged, or the website, was laying a guilt trip on anyone; he/it was making a *joke*. It was the *reaction* to the joke that was all guilt-ridden, earnest, and (continues to be) just as tiresome and frustrating as the foreverongoing threads about how x, y, or z isn't sexist because you know, a man could (be in that picture/shop at Whole Foods) too!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:28 PM
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The crime is that we do not love each other.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:29 PM
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You know, call me humorless, because I am, but I really do get, and admit, that anyone at all likely to be reading Unfogged is culpable as a beneficiary of an incredibly destructive and unjust system. We're all going to hell, we've destroyed the planet, children are dying for lack of clean water while I complain about not being fulfilled by my job. This is all true and fair and reasonable. To pick on, out of the say, 200 million Americans in that position, the ones who have some stupid, inchoate sense that all that is true, and who are making some stupid, useless attempts to do something about it, rather than all of the others who really don't give a fuck, seems poorly thought out both as humor and as ethics. (The site's not a big deal, but it would be funnier if it were better morally grounded.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:30 PM
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On the upside, if anything is ever going to drive Ogged into my loving smothering arms, it'll have been this week.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:30 PM
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I don't think Ogged, or the website, was laying a guilt trip on anyone;

meet

and why the only proper emotions for reflective affluent Americans are shame and self-loathing.

The whole tormented by guilt angle is the only part I have a problem with. Like the smart lady said, "When you know better, you do better."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:31 PM
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71: The thing is, if we're talking about this seriously, as Ogged seems to be, I don't think having the guilt reaction is stupid generally. We all should be guilty about this shit, at least if there's any chance it's going to make anyone put in some work to change anything. Focusing the guilt and the mockery on people with the gall to think riding a bike is going to do anything is off, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:33 PM
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73: LB. Don't you remember when Ogged said that (paraphrasing here, but pretty damn close) "to pick on, out of all the men in America, the ones who are probably about as feminist as you can get, rather than all of the others who don't really give a fuck, is just wrong, and you are banned?"

Because it's the zack same thing.

I mean, fine; don't find the site funny, and/or find it offensive, even. But analyzing it for three threads is *exactly* like what the guys do with that "why is this sexist?" on-and-on-and-onning thing. Ogged isn't picking on us any more than you and I are picking on the men when those comment threads go on forever; he's just losing his temper at the incredible cluelessness.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:33 PM
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75, see 77.

Anyhoo, now I have to go read to my kid. We spent about $125 at B&N tonight! (And $50 on Amazon yesterday, and $90 at the independent bookstore earlier this weekend.) Because white people have lots of disposable income and like to buy books!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:35 PM
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Get a job, hippie.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:35 PM
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LB:

I wonder if you're oddly placed to make sense of ogged's position, which I take, in some fashion, to be a shot at the smug. You're not very smug, so it might be less applicable to you. But most of us, at least for some non-negligible period of our lives, are smug in our goodness, where I take it the appropriate position is something like to recognize that our only available goal is to not be total assholes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:37 PM
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For God's sake, people, it's (probably self-deprecating) satire of the urban liberal bourgeoisie and the actions they take to demonstrate what kind of person they want to be seen as. That's all. It doesn't have any more meaning than that, and it's not saying they're inherently bad things to do.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:37 PM
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So is ogged trying to say that, really, we're all little Eichmanns?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:39 PM
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They are rightful targets of mockery if they believe those gestures change their moral standing.

Granted anyone who believes that recycling changes their "moral standing" is a twit. But anyone who goes around tracking their "moral standing" period is a twit. Priding oneself on being moral or flagellating oneself for being immoral are both acts of vanity, because they assume we are in control, when in fact we are not. We are participants in a much larger system, we do not control the consequences of our actions. Being good is an end in itself, not a means to tracking your ranking in the morality standings.

Calvin must have understood this.

This is all part of the original error we are led into when our parents implant the superego and destroy the innocence of the moral.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:39 PM
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Life is made intolerable; they make life intolerable, white people.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:40 PM
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I refuse to feel guilty about my parents, or their ancestors. Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins. As far as I'm concerned, complicity is only wrong to the extent that it entails inaction, and only to the extent that inaction is wrong.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:42 PM
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80: That's kind of what bothers me about it. By the standards of what's being made fun of there, I'm not very smug -- I don't do all that much of the self-righteous things that are the butt of the blog's joke, so it's not particularly aimed at me. I also don't do a lot of practical good in the world, and I'm pretty sure that lots of the people who do actually do some good are irritatingly self-righteous about it.

The attitude I'm seeing in the blog is "I'm going to take the weight of guilt that's appropriate for all of us, given our social position in this unjust and destructive system, and slam it on anyone who looks self-righteous to me. Because fuck practical good or evil effects, what's really important is my esthetic judgment of how you feel about yourself." And I hate that shit. The blog's not a big deal, but I dislike the attitude of the blogger.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:43 PM
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LB, You're still not getting it. It's not that you're wonderfully privileged and you're not doing enough for those starving children -- it's that the very system that makes you privileged is starving the children. Your privilege is a direct product of stunted lives.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:50 PM
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the only proper emotions for reflective affluent Americans are shame and self-loathing.

To follow up on 83 and the mention of the superego: this is what you get when you assume morality can only be sustained by causing pain to the immoral, and then bring that split within the brain by enlisting the "moral" part of it to torment the "immoral" part.

The various Christian moves, from unearned grace to expiation of sins to predestination, are all designed to manuever around this cost of socialization. Nietzsche understood this as well.

This is a hyper-charged system we live in, which has given much, destroyed much, and may yet improve human life greatly or else destroy life on earth. We all participate in it whether we want to or not. If we were more saintly (that is, a little inhuman in our capacity to negate the "ordinarily human" parts of us) we could participate much less than we do. However, we could still not be completely confident in either the results or the correctness of our actions.

I guess you can see this as an excuse to hate yourself for not being a saint. Or you can resign yourself to being just another limited, messed up human being. It's good to be a good human being, but it still doesn't make you better than anybody else.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:50 PM
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87, and other such, get it.

it's not about "being tormented by guilt"--(this topic is gonna make me unlurk, almost, so you can tell I must be a white person)--that turns it into a Woody Allen movie or some such shit. it's about an intellectual acknowledgment of how things are.

it's about.....ok, [programatically tasteless example follows] after The Terrorists strike and you're bleeding to death, if your last thoughts go like "but...but...I give to Doctors without Borders!", then you're not quite getting the point...


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:51 PM
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the very system that makes you privileged is starving the children. Your privilege is a direct product of stunted lives.

How can possibly know this, Kotsko? Have you traced the chain of causation, fully modeled all the alternative worlds, or are you perhaps pulling it directly out of your ass?


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:53 PM
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The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about payday lenders. It turned out that the tech company he worked for had a payday lender as a client. As he put it, "those guys knew they were scum".

By the moral calculus advanced by B here


the least you can do is fucking admit it

we can conclude that payday lenders are morally superior to Unfogged commenters.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:55 PM
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I haven't read any of the first thread, half of the second thread, or any of this thread, but has anyone pointed out that this is basically the latte liberal slander? The ideological aim of the joke isn't at privilege -- it's at those who express solidarity with those who haven't privilege, regardless of how successful that act of rejection is. It's not radical, it's cynical. There are superficial similarities, but the underlying attitude isn't Black Panther, it's white libertarian. Y'all should be able to read closer.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:55 PM
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87: No, I got that bit. I'm in my office ordering takeout sushi because uncounted people in the rest of the world are trying to survive on pennies a day. And anyone reading this is pretty much in morally the same position I am, whether or not they're making conspicuous or inconspicuous, effective or ineffective, efforts to do good. If someone reading this thinks they're a good person because they're trying to do good things, they're wrong, and ridiculously so.

But I don't have any right to laugh at them for it. Someone else may, but not me. I'm sitting here sucking the blood of starving people worldwide, and getting a little chuckle about how funny it is that someone else has the gall to think their petty little efforts to make that change are doing any good isn't something I have the right to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:55 PM
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92: Yeah, that's been my reading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:57 PM
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Orrin Hatch justifying his vote against the recent bill that included restrictions on interrogation methods:

Sometimes I feel as if I am on the corner of sanctimony and righteousness. Sanctimony has popular appeal--it gains the approving tut-tutting of the chattering masses. Often it is more bombast than substance, more Babbittry than bravery. Righteousness is not always a function of the approval of the masses. Those who go to war to defend do things that are lawful but sometimes unpleasant--sometimes very unpleasant. In the choice between sanctimony and righteousness, I will choose the latter.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:58 PM
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90: Have you ever fucking heard of "global capitalism"?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:58 PM
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Adam, we live in a shitty system, one that we all need to work make better, but that's just wrong. The world was a terrible place long before global capitalism came on the scene.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 10:59 PM
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The various Christian moves, from unearned grace to expiation of sins to predestination, are all designed to manuever around this cost of socialization.

Why did you kill Our Lord?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:00 PM
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98: Look, he was just getting on my nerves, okay?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:01 PM
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That fucker was on my porch, and I had a sign up clearly stating that trespassers would be shot.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:01 PM
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Pwned again by LB. Mothermotherfuckerfucker.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:01 PM
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97: The world is a shitty place in a particular way and for particular reasons because we live under global capitalism in specific. I had always assumed that LB was incapable of time travel and was thus living contemporaneously with all of us -- if I was wrong about that and she lives in some future utopia, apologies all around.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:03 PM
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My first thought on reading ogged's post wasn't Christian, it was Jewish grandmother.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:06 PM
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102: ? I know you're responding to Walt, but my name's in there, and it doesn't have much to do with anything I've said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:06 PM
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If, thanks to LB's time travel technlogy, we moved to an alternate reality at the same level of development as our own 2007, there was just be a different hierarchy with LB at the bottom. Different children would starve, but there would still be starving children.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:06 PM
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payday lenders.

Quest. What rule must wee observe in lending?

Ans. Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable or possible means of repaying thee, if there be none of those, thou must give him according to his necessity, rather then lend him as he requires; if he hath present means of repaying thee, thou art to look at him not as an act of mercy, but by way of Commerce, wherein thou arte to walk by the rule of justice; but if his means of repaying thee be only probable or possible, then is hee an object of thy mercy, thou must lend him, though there be danger of losing it, Deut. 15. 7. If any of thy brethren be poore &c., thou shalt lend him sufficient. That men might not shift off this duty by the apparent hazzard, he tells them that though the yeare of Jubile were at hand (when he must remitt it, if hee were not able to [Page 38] repay it before) yet he must lend him and that chearefully. It may not greive thee to give him (saith hee) and because some might object, why soe I should soone impoverishe myself and my family, he adds with all thy worke &c; for our Saviour, Math. 5. 42. From him that would borrow of thee turne not away.

Quest. What rule must we observe in forgiuing?

Ans. Whether thou didst lend by way of commerce or in mercy, if he hath nothing to pay thee, must forgive, (except in cause where thou hast a surety or a lawfull pleadge) Deut. 15. 2. Every seaventh yeare the Creditor was to quitt that which he lent to his brother if he were poore as appears ver. 8. Save when there shall be no poore with thee. In all these and like cases, Christ was a generall rule, Math. 7. 22. Whatsoever ye would that men should doe to you, doe yee the same to them allsoe.


Posted by: John Winthrop | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:06 PM
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Why did you kill Our Lord?

Well, Christianity cranks the guilt to the max, that's why they have to come up with creative moves to relieve it. God's unearned grace binds you so tightly in gratitude because you were so low and damned in the first place.

Have you ever fucking heard of "global capitalism"?

If you're going to locate original sin here, doesn't it have to date back to at least the invention of agriculture? What are you comparing "global capitalism" to?

And since at least 80 percent of the world's population today wouldn't be alive to suffer in the first place without "global capitalism", what's your balance on their existence vs. their poverty?

It's an intellectually incoherent position; one wonders why you feel emotionally drawn to take it.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:06 PM
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People trying to survive on pennies a day existed long before there was global capitalism.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:07 PM
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96 is even funnier if you imagine it in the same voice as Troy McClure saying "You see your crazy friend never heard of 'The Food Chain'."


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:10 PM
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I made a stronger statement than I intended to. Since I believe that we could do better, I believe that there is an attainable possible world in which we actually do better.

Global capitalism is a mixed bag. It has crapped on the environment, and may indeed kill us all, but it has done more to end poverty in China and India than all of the handwringing of American leftists. It has caused some children to starve, and other children to not starve.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:11 PM
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Sorry, posted the last para in 107 before I saw 102; I think I see your logic better now. Though I still disagree with it for the reasons stated.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:12 PM
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107: I'm not trying to locate "original sin"! I'm trying to name the destructive system that we live in and that makes some of us (me included) privileged.

And it's really awesome that I'm being driven by emotion here, rather than reason. I'm glad someone has finally grown a pair and decided to directly insult me, rather than use the passive-aggression that is so characteristic of "white people."

104: PGD was questioning my ability to know that LB was part of a system where the privilege of some was tied directly to suffering on the part of others. That's why LB's name appears in the comment.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:12 PM
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Wait, we're supposed to directly insult you? You killed Christ, Adam.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:14 PM
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what's your balance on their existence vs. their poverty?

Are you going to judge poor single mothers for getting abortions, PGD?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:15 PM
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Troy McClure saying "You see your crazy friend never heard of 'The Food Chain'."

God I love that episode.

Troy: Gettin hungry Jimmy?

Jimmy: Uhh, Mr. McClure? I have a crazy friend who says its wrong
to eat meat. Is he crazy?

Troy: Nooo, just ignorant. You see your crazy friend never heard of "The Food Chain". Just ask this scientician.

Scientician: Uhhh...

Troy: He'll tell you that, in nature, one creature invariablyeats another creature to survive. Don't kid yourself Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance,
he'd eat you and everyone you care about!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:17 PM
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And I'm going to come out and say what I really think: LB is using her time travel technology to repeatedly pwn me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:17 PM
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There is a certain type of not very effective good intentionalism associated with things like recycling and riding bikes to save gas. Just levy some carbon taxes and stop bothering me.

Actual dirty hippies have a pretty good track record for things like opposing the Iraq war, supporting the constitution, and socialized medicine. To the extent that the article was aimed at the dirty hippies, I can't support it. I don't think it was though.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:17 PM
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What makes that Simpsons bit for me is the accompanying diagram, with arrows from every animal pointing to the drawing of the person, labelled "You".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:18 PM
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I'm sorry but all of this is just confusing me. What are we arguing? Whether the blog in question is radical? 'Cos it's not. End of fucking story. If you want radical blogs they're all over the place. If you want radical satire, that's all over the place too, just not at this white people blog. So if it's not radical, then what's the point? It's just more pabulum. Good/bad, helpful/unhelpful, accurate/inaccurate -- who cares? It's just more whining.

You know, I used to think I was alienated from stuff when I was 18. If I'd known then what I know now, I'm not sure I would have tried so hard to keep from ending it all. But I'm just as bought-in as any of you (except for the not-having-a-car part, of course), so I might as well just sit back and wait for the inevitable. Fuck. I should have done something when I had the chance. Now what can I do? Type fucking blog comments.

Why does everyone have to be so stupid?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:20 PM
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It has crapped on the environment, and may indeed kill us all, but it has done more to end poverty in China and India than all of the handwringing of American leftists. It has caused some children to starve, and other children to not starve.

It hasn't reduced the number of poor people in those places. It has added new poor people, and also new rich people.


Posted by: Harold Bloom | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:20 PM
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And since at least 80 percent of the world's population today wouldn't be alive to suffer in the first place without "global capitalism", what's your balance on their existence vs. their poverty?

It depends on your take on the non-identity problem.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:21 PM
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Also, I think I'll comment as "Harold Bloom" from now on, unless someone tells me not to. It makes me feel smarter.


Posted by: Harold Bloom | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:21 PM
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Who were you before, Harold?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:23 PM
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Does it matter, dear boy?


Posted by: Harold Bloom | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:24 PM
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Yes/


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:25 PM
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Adam, you're economically illiterate. There's a lot of shitty things about capitalism but "global capitalism causes poverty" is just a LITTLE lacking in nuance, so as to just not be accurate.

Ogged, you're just being a dick.

None of which is to say that recycling & fair trade coffee or what not makes you a good person.

I had a sort-of friend in law school who would give me little David Brooks inspired soliloquies about the white privileged guilt I supposedly felt. I said: "I'm not especially guilty, what I am is LUCKY, I don't fool myself it's more than luck, & I try to act accordingly." I stand by that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:25 PM
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The claim that global capitalism is great because it is ending poverty in China is especially interesting in light of that Atlantic article posted here a while back, in which it was revealed that China's poor would be doing substantially better if China's rich hadn't decided to subsidize Americans' standards of living instead.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:26 PM
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Oh, okay. I don't know what Harold Bloom's personality is like anyway.

Katherine gets it right as usual.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:27 PM
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That's not what that Atlantic article said. Chinese in general would be able to consume more today if the Chinese government was not deliberately subsidizing American consumption. The Chinese are following the same development path as Japan, where consumption was deliberately restricted to fund development. If global capitalism was banned tomorrow, both China's rich and poor would be worse off.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:30 PM
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128 is absolutely right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:33 PM
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If global capitalism was banned tomorrow

I don't think this is a meaningful phrase.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:33 PM
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The article was unequivocal that capitalism has helped the Chinese poor, yes, but it was hardly confident that the government was correctly acting in the poor's best interest to limit consumption to the extent that they have—or that they are even trying to.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:34 PM
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129.If global capitalism was banned tomorrow, both China's rich and poor would be worse off.

What does that even mean? "Banned tomorrow?" By who, the CCP? The alien space bats? A federation of directly-democratic anarchist-communist organizations with a commitment to ending oppression and domination and distributing resources in the amount that they're needed to the people who need them? If it's the latter, then I think by definition people in China and everywhere else would in fact be better off.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:35 PM
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Ban Global Capitalism...By Dawn!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:37 PM
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I'm done with this shit. I'll try not to let the door hit my ass on the way out.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:37 PM
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Ham-Love, don't go. The Superfriends need you!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:38 PM
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You may remember me from such nature films as 'Earwigs: Ewwww' and 'Man vs. Nature: The Road to Victory'.


Posted by: Troy McClure | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:38 PM
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130 would have been better if signed by Katherine.

I'm not sure what you're trying to argue, destroyer. Is there a possible policy regime in which China's poor are better off? Yes. Are China's poor better off because China switched from autarky to export-led growth? Yes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:40 PM
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If I drove HL off, I would feel like shit.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:41 PM
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...and now I'll leave you with what we all came here to see: hardcore nudity!


Posted by: Troy McClure | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:41 PM
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The real problem here is Beck's rule that we're not allowed to argue about Obama on non-Obama threads. Our minds, consumed by our love/hatred of Obamamania but with no outlet, have no choice but to turn on themselves.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:50 PM
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FWIW, I do believe that the privatization of political action into personal consumption decisions that are supposed to make you feel good individually is reactionary, co-optation, bullshit, etc. Carbon taxes over Priuses, enforceable labor standards in free trade agreements over fair trade coffee, etc.

But that's sort of obvious.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:51 PM
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135: Hamilton, if you let Ogged drive you off with too much earnestness, the globe will reach a critical mass of irony and implode under the sheer strain. Want that on your conscience, whitey? I didn't think so.

I can't believe I missed out on all this quality race/class disharmony. Fuck.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:56 PM
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138.2: If it is the case that global capitalism could benefit poor Chinese more than it does, and if the reason this it does not is because wealthy Chinese have chosen to subsidize American decadence, that seems to strongly underline the Ogged-Kotsko line: that these people are suffering for us.

It brings it out Kotsko's apparently "emotional" abstraction into something as tangible and unconventional as you can find in the Atlantic; we're no longer talking about slaves from centuries ago here, in which the chain of causality is quite long and muddled. No: you (you) are as comfortable as you are because power brokers in China have decided to make you that comfortable, and in making that decision they have specifically neglected real needs of their citizens we can point to and easily imagine resolved.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-17-08 11:58 PM
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143: race/class disharmony is just so white, DS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:01 AM
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Incidentally, despite agreeing with ogged, I urge caution in who we say this sort of thing to. I don't want to start hanging out with people like this:

I looked over at Date. She was sobbing.
"All that money," she said. She looked around the theater. Kids were bopping to the hits. "All these children."
I didn't know where she was going with that, or what to say.
At which point Hannah Montana sang, "Life is what you make it!"
To which Date responded, "The Guinea worm. In Sudan. It exits you. Slowly. In 2006 alone, over 20,000 people infected."

Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:04 AM
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145: The house, field and immigrant negroes all disagree, but do they get any credit? Nooooo. Shafted by whitey again.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:07 AM
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Global capitalism could benefit the Chinese poor more than it does. It could benefit me more than it does, but that doesn't mean that I'm suffering for anyone else. I'm not clear on what rule you're advancing here.

The Chinese are following the development path followed by Japan, which requires suppressing consumption today for the sake of development, and more wealth tomorrow. Undoubtedly, they are not taking the optimal path, but export-led growth is the only well-marked path for a country out of poverty, and the formula that has worked has involved suppressing consumption to promote exports.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:10 AM
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if it's not radical, then what's the point?

Shorter Minneapolitan: let's just all kill ourselves now, shall we?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:15 AM
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It is so totally awesome that we've moved from defending our collective whiteness to defending global capitalism.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:17 AM
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I have a project that I have to finish by morning. I expect to be defending the Nazis by 6am.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:19 AM
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Walt, do you understand the concept of someone suffering for you? It seems like this is coming down to a strange cognitive gap, in which some commenters find themselves unable to understand the world in a certain way. (If this sounds condescending, I don't mean it to be. This wouldn't be to say that I'm right, but that there is no right here.)

Someone in China right now could be better off—not just in the sense of have nicer things, but in the sense of not getting sick and dying. The reason they are suffering is that someone else in China has chosen to enrich you instead. They suffer because you are rich. If you cannot translate that statement into "they suffer for you," it's hard to continue the conversation.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:27 AM
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Dammit people, it's class, not whiteness. Ogged is right that we in America and Europe who are nicely middle class are holed up in a nice cocoon built on the suffering of others. No matter how much we recycle personally or buy slave free chocolate or fair trade coffee, our individual actions won't change the cycle of exploitation. It just makes us feel better to buy fair trade cofee, but its very existence legitamises the system that keeps small peasant farmers poor and illiterate, as "fair trade" becomes just one more item to be ticked off when buying stuff.

What Ogged missed of course is that us nice middle class people might think we're pretty priviledged, but in the end we're just as much tools as the eight year old boys making Nikes in a sweatshop in Indonesia, just tools who've sold out their birthright for a nice car and the chance to afford a bigger mortgage. Reading The Battle of Venezuela, which details how all the Venezuelan equivalents of us were happy to go along with the 2002 coup and happy to see cops shoot unarmed protestors as long as their own priviledges were kept unthreatened brought this home to me.

So what can you do about this? Don't feel guilty, organise! Use your priviledge to achieve something!


Posted by: Humourless Socialist Guy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:31 AM
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Anticipating a response based on 148.2, which I neglected: If you're going to reiterate that, well, subsidizing American decadence is the only way for a country like China to itself become rich, I wouldn't object. And I'm not basing my argument on the narrow counterpoint that China could pursue a more optimal path, in which they sacrifice less now and end up just as comfortable in the future.

Rather, I'm arguing that the China example is perfect, in that it demonstrates that global capitalism (as it is practiced in this world, with this world's history) is structured such that the only path towards stable wealth for a country like China is to subsidize the outsized living habits of other people while letting their people languish in suffering. Some day, yes, this might all result in a utopia in which Chinese citizens are just as rich as us. In the meantime, someone is getting sick and dying so that you can have a $200 iPod instead of a $600 one.

If you want to justify all of this by pointing to three generations from now, in which the whole world lives in decadent equality, you're missing the point: all those people still suffered to create that decadence. Maybe it's justified on utilitarian grounds. But there is something creepy and fucked up about basking in comfort and, when challenged on it, replying, "Well, this is all justified on utilitarian grounds."

(Sorry if these comments seem personally aggressive. I just face alot of resistance to this argument in my personal life, most of it in bad faith, so I'm easily riled.)


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:38 AM
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When you start invoking the principle that your interlocuter is "unable to understand the world in a certain way", I would suggest a more parsimonious explanation is that you're not explaining clearly. I don't see any way in which your statement is not vacuously true. There is a course of action someone could take to make any single person better off, and me worse off, and by that definition they are suffering for me? There are people who are getting sick and dying because the government of the US won't raise my taxes and buy them mosquito nets. Does that mean those people are dying to make me richer?

It's not like the government of China is doing it because they like me. They're doing it because it's the only way they know how to make China a rich country, and not a poor one. If they followed your advice, it is certainly plausible that it would keep China poor forever. But hey, at least I wouldn't be benefiting, right? So that's something.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:38 AM
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"Don't feel guilty, organise! Use your priviledge to achieve something!"

no, no, no, labor organizers are still whitey.

Ogged is not restricting his comments to people who recycle. LB is dead right: this is the Mitt-Romney-is-better-than-John-Edwards-because-at-least-he-doesn't-pretend-to-care-about-poor-people argument. I agree that buying organic & what not isn't going to cut it--though, it's harmless to mildly beneficial. But it's not like anyone is arguing otherwise; instead, we have an aesthetic critique of those embarrassing, earnest white liberals.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:39 AM
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we have an aesthetic critique of those embarrassing, earnest white liberals.

So fucking what? It's FUNNY. You guys are getting all worked up because it's only an aesthetic critique, how dull and provincial and unoriginal of it, which is a perfect example of what it is the site is making fun of. Light. En. Up.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:43 AM
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(Although I personally am finding this ongoing discussion hilarious. But I'm afraid it might kill poor Ogged.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:45 AM
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So Ogged really is the whitest of them all?

Are those who provide services to third worlders exempt from the guilt of their fellow capitalists exploiting them?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:49 AM
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154 to 155.

A shorter 154: You must be enriched for some future people to be enriched. Some people must suffer for you to be enriched. It may be the case that, starting from the world we have right now, the best path to the best future is someone suffering to enrich you.

That that can be the case is why global capitalism is depressing and shitty; that you are the middle party, getting a free ride, ought to make you feel guilty.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:50 AM
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I don't care about the site. Of the few posts I saw, some were funny, some not so much, none especially annoyed me. This post by ogged is extremely annoying.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:50 AM
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It's FUNNY.

Meh. The "10 rap songs white people like" page was better. Probably because each entry was 1/10th as long.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:50 AM
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Guilt at the part that you play in modern capitalism is incoherent; capitalism exists as it does owing to the historical and materialist imperatives.

Steve Jobs, if you accept the left materialistic socialist critique of capitalism, is as subject to the laws of historical need as the Chinese who wishes he could work longer hours making iPods in order to get a few more dollars a week.

Guilt, in that framework, is nonsense.

If you're a nice American liberal type, on the other hand, then I do think that a healthy guilty feeling floating around is a good thing -- after all, there's a damn lot to feel guilty for, and somebody's got to do it.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:53 AM
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Are those who provide services to third worlders exempt from the guilt of their fellow capitalists exploiting them?

Clearly you're unfamiliar with the Nestle boycott.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:56 AM
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No, it's not just "an aesthetic critique." It's a criticism of the social practices of a group of people who are better positioned than any group in the world to effect change in a system of injustice, but who instead have an elaborate system of moral expiation that consists almost exclusively of convenient and largely ineffective or irrelevant gestures. To argue that this or that gesture actually does some (marginal) good, isn't precisely wrong, but it shifts the focus away from the role of the gesture in an unjust system.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:58 AM
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I wrote 155 before I saw 154. It's okay if you get riled.

Poor Chinese people are not, on average, being made worse off in absolute terms to subsidize American consumption. They are being made worse off in comparison to imagined alternative policies. If China never opted for privileging exports over consumption, those same people would be sick and dying, and many more besides.

The Chinese government is not directly trying to subsidize American consumption. They are directly trying to hold the value of the yuan down so that they can export more than they import. Export-led growth allows them to create large-scale Chinese companies that create jobs and can effectively compete on world markets. This is the formula that gave Japan Toyota and Sony. The only way to control the yuan-dollar exchange rate to hold large amounts of US assets, which means they have to use Chinese savings to fund American consumption. (They do get ownership of American assets out of it -- the Treasury bills that the Chinese government holds are worth hundreds of billions -- but they probably end up paying more than they would in an ideal world.)

The strategy China is following flies in the face of the advice dispensed by institutions that are usually regarded as agents of global capitalism, such as the IMF, and the World Bank (or the US government, for that matter). Their advice would be to float your exchange rate, and allow in all the foreign imports that your consumers can buy; don't bother trying to form your own large corporations to compete with American ones.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:59 AM
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Clearly you're unfamiliar with the Nestle boycott.

I am. But I was referring to those who provide services without any local employees to be exploited slash paid for work.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 12:59 AM
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This post by ogged is extremely annoying.

Okay, well, keep in mind that this post comes after 485+360 comments of incredible cluelessness. Ogged's allowed to get frustrated too, you know.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:00 AM
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Coming from some people, that might be convincing. In context: whatever, David Brooks.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:01 AM
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169 to 165.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:02 AM
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They are being made worse off in comparison to imagined alternative policies.

Isn't that the point? After all, in absolute terms, Laika was better off inside the capsule than otherwise, because otherwise she wouldn't have any air.

This game only works because of shonky definitions of absolute.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:03 AM
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I didn't find the site offensive, and I even found it a little bit funny, but the mere existence of it struck me as hilariously self-refuting. White people can be neurotic about being white in a certain way; it's characteristically guilty white liberal to make a website to make fun of guilty white liberals.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:04 AM
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it's characteristically guilty white liberal to make a website to make fun of guilty white liberals.

Not *nearly* as much so as parsing and arguing over it for two or three days.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:05 AM
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But if the standard is better off in comparison to imagined alternative policies, then I don't see how that standard is vacuous.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:06 AM
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is not vacuous.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:07 AM
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Poor Chinese people are not, on average, being made worse off in absolute terms to subsidize American consumption. They are being made worse off in comparison to imagined alternative policies.

I understand this, and this is just the thing. Because of the arrangement of global capitalism and the history that has brought us to this point, the only way for China to become more affluent on the whole is to allow some of their current citizens to suffer and die. That is an incredibly tragic thing. The fact that the system has not just included the allowance of suffering as a necessary means to future affluence, but the subsidization of your current affluence, is a guilty-making thing.

Now I'm off to bed, you Chinese-hating motherfucker.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:09 AM
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And I don't care about global capitalism or the coming socialist utopia. Every system will have its injustices. The question is what those who are the beneficiaries of the injustice do, given their position of privilege. The answer, for what that site calls "white people," which is to say, the affluent, educated American elites, is "not fucking much." What it sends up (at least some of what it sends up) are the strategies by which those people nevertheless try to construct systems of moral worth that allow them to seem "good" to themselves.

Finally, nothing in the post should be read as discouraging action. Quite the contrary. I held up Paul Farmer as exemplary. For all I know, he's earnest. And the phrase "more than enough to damn us" implicitly acknowledges that some good can be done.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:10 AM
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Finally, nothing in the post should be read as discouraging action. Quite the contrary. I held up Paul Farmer as exemplary.

Now this is weak.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:12 AM
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I'm not embarrassed to be a white liberal, B. Like any social group, white liberals have certain traits in common. If white liberals argue about stupid shit for three days, then so be it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:13 AM
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Who's Paul Farmer?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:14 AM
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My hatred of the Chinese is fueling my all-nighter.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:14 AM
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White liberals are frequently infuriating.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:15 AM
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Paul Farmer is the dirtiest of all hippies. Since ogged is neat and well-groomed, this makes Farmer his Exotic Other.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:15 AM
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182 may be the truest words ever spoken.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:16 AM
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Now this is weak.

Why is that weak? I acknowledged that not many of us can be Paul Farmer, but it clearly indicates that I'm not advocating quietism. That's also indicated by my obvious anger over our "action or inaction." It seems like people are still equating "can't be a good person" with "can't do some good." The former is about your role in the system, the latter is about what you can do.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:16 AM
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Is giving someone with a disease curable by treatment A no treatment bad if you have adequate and ample supplies of A? Trivially so, despite the fact you're comparing imagined alternate policies, not comparing the course of action to doing nothing.

Isn't that a good definition of choice? Comparing imagined alternate possibilities?

Or do you mean imagined as a pejorative? Well, yeah, but not implementing UHC in the US would be bad, the fact that it's basically the same argument.

(I should also note that I don't think the Marxist attack on capitalism is correct as an imagined alternative; I just don't see how one can both accept it and engage in guilt-feelings about capitalism at the same time.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:16 AM
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Disregard 180. Google is my friend.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:16 AM
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172: I don't think that's self-refuting, I think it's self-affirming. The whole site is persistently self-conscious about it, It's part of the joke.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:17 AM
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You know, I was gonna make fun of ogged for being Ward Churchill some more, but it's proving fucking impossible to find a picture of the guy that's not from some wacked-out right-wing blog. What's the world coming to when progressives can't make fun of someone who looks like this too?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:18 AM
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Yeah, this post was such a celebration of activism. You actually said, "we are history's villains, & attempts to do otherwise are absurd". It was an asshole, troll-ish thing to say--not in a way I suppose you actually mean, & you constantly troll the site this way, and I'm sure you were half joking, etc, but please don't try to bullshit me that it's some sort of celebration of activism. It says what it says.

If Paul Farmer is effective, it really doesn't matter how earnest he is, or whether he's motivated a vain attempt to escape his overwhelming white guilt, his personal neuroses, or whatever else is motivating him. And of course, a lot of


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:18 AM
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I just don't see how one can both accept it and engage in guilt-feelings about capitalism at the same time.

Where is this idea that the point is whether or not one feels guilty coming from??


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:18 AM
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...despite the fact that...

To expand: non-implementation of imagined alternatives to increase `happiness', for want of a better word, is as much a bad thing as doing stuff to lower `absolute' happiness.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:18 AM
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191 was me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:19 AM
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hmm. Well, I'm not actually sure what the rest of that sentence was supposed to say. Anyway, the idea that we're all fated to be history's victims or perpetrators & that resistance is futile is not liberal, not progressive, not activist, not radical, and not neutral either.

What exactly this has to do with Netflix, Arrested Development, NPR, or Comedy Central, I don't know.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:22 AM
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Maybe I'm missing something -- I thought that guilt was an acceptable replacement for shame and self-loathing; and that arguing about the need for shame and self-loathing was what we were engaged in?

(If I'm wrong, please tell me before I make even more of a fool of myself...)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:23 AM
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I acknowledged that not many of us can be Paul Farmer, but it clearly indicates that I'm not advocating quietism.

The hell it does, when you go on to say that there's no way to be a good person. In context, it's saying "You suck, and not only do you suck, but here's this guy who's doing what you should be doing and you can't emulate him, so you suck even more". This is not calculated to get people up off their asses and organizing.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:24 AM
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Katherine, read it how you want. Activism wasn't at issue, and it's certainly not a celebration of activism, because it was a defense of the critique of gestures of concern, and while I think it's pretty easy to read the post as not denigrating activism, it's not worth arguing about.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:24 AM
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Keir: But I don't see how that definition doesn't collapse into vacuity. The government of Brazil could tax its citizens right now to pay for treatment A for the citizens of Malawi. The fact that they don't proves that Malawians are suffering so that Brazilians can be richer?

(It's also not clear that the imagined alternative would really be better. China could make small changes, but if they just let the yuan float -- which is the alternative that destroyer is implicitly advocating -- this could destroy their economy.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:27 AM
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188: If I believed that, then I would have found the site funnier. I guess it's possible, but it didn't read that way to me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:29 AM
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Ok, I'm willing to believe that we're having a good-faith confusion here. Think of Robert Fisk, who has certainly done more for people in the middle-east than any of us. In all our usual ways, he's a good guy in our eyes. But when he was beat up in Afghanistan, his reaction was "I would have done the same thing to a Westerner, were I in their place." Now, without getting into all the specifics of that situation and his statement, it at least evinces an understanding of his place in the global hierarchy, and how he's viewed as a result of the place he occupies: as a villain. That's what I'm saying: there's nothing that we "white" people can do to change our part in the global drama; we're the villains and villains get made fun of, and pointing to this or that little good thing that we did just makes us seem absurd.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:30 AM
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Yes, it's comment 200, and I'm taking this thread to 10,000, if that's what it takes for me to not get any work done.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:30 AM
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villains get made fun of, and pointing to this or that little good thing that we did just makes us seem absurd.

Whereas complaining about being made fun of is really really gross.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:33 AM
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Yes. It does.

However, if the Brazilians were to pay for the treatment via taxes, that would then mean that Brazilians were suffering for the Malawians.

This is probably the point that the Buddha pops up and says that the First Noble Truth is that of suffering, and I use that as a cover to try and find a way to produce a position slightly more elegant than `when you don't just give all your possessions away, you're stealing from the poor!'


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:33 AM
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I found Fisk's reaction ridiculous, which probably proves I'm everything bad about white liberals today. It's pretty close to my point, too: Fisk's reaction is an example of how white liberals must always act like they are the disinterested arbiters of truth. Someone kicks my ass, and I'm hating them until the end of my days, no matter how much in some global cosmic sense I have it coming.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:34 AM
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Fisk's reaction is an example of how white liberals must always act like they are the disinterested arbiters of truth.

No, it really isn't. It's an example of someone who understands the situation he's getting into.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:36 AM
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I guess we don't disagree then, Keir. You're just embracing that which I'm characterizing as "vacuity". I think destroyer meant that I need to feel guilty in some more specific sense than the Buddha would recommend.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:36 AM
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An example of always being the distinterested arbiter of truth would be, oh, I dunno. Saying things like "yes, capitalism sucks, but there were poor people before capitalism existed."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:39 AM
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I'm missing the point of 200.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:40 AM
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"I would have done the same thing to a Westerner, were I in their place." is the characteristic vice of how white liberals understand people not like them. He has no idea what he would do in their place, because he can't be in their place. In their place, he might kick Westerners asses because kicking ass is fun, or because he hates how slutty Western women are, or a million other reasons. But liberals always think that they can know the authentic reason, based what they imagine would make them do the same thing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:41 AM
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Is "yes, capitalism sucks, but there were poor people before capitalism existed" false?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:42 AM
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The Buddha would say that feeling guilt is nonsensical, because that's clearly just the way the karma worked out.

(And also, guilt's just an expression of the self-illusion, and I'm pretty sure it's some other inadvisable things.)

I do think there's a more elegant position involving the comparison of imagined alternatives that's not quite as vulnerable to the `is it evil that we don't all just give everything away' question; however, a lot of smarter people than me haven't found it, so I'm not trying when I've got Calculus I really should be doing.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:44 AM
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I'm missing the point of 200.

The point was to make the distinction between "being a villain" and "doing good," with the former being about one's role in a system, and the latter about what one actually does--it was part of the "is the post denigrating activism" discussion. Anyway, I'm off to bed. Try not to kill any more browntrodden while I'm gone.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:45 AM
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But liberals always think that they can know the authentic reason, based what they imagine would make them do the same thing.

Um, isn't there a comment to do with strikethroughs, and replacing `liberals' with `people' here?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:46 AM
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Hey, haven't we had a discussion about complicity vs. implication here before? Because that's really all this thread is.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:47 AM
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I will continue to hate on those UK motherfuckers for their ridiculous amounts of vacation. I also demand to know what they, given their position of privilege, are doing about my shitty levels of PTO.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:48 AM
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The smarter people haven't found it because they keep getting distracted by things like Calculus I.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:48 AM
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200: yes, I do disagree with the idea that journalists & human rights activists who get beaten & shot at in Afghanistan are just Whitey & are as much history's villains as you and me. I don't know what talking about "the system" means in this context: the role of the journalist as journalist or human rights activist as human rights activist is, quite possibly, actually more important than his or her role as one of several hundred million affluent white people.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:51 AM
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But liberals always think that they can know the authentic reason, based what they imagine would make them do the same thing.

Um, isn't there a comment to do with strikethroughs, and replacing `liberals' with `people' here?

I don't think so. I think the characteristic vice of conservatives, for example, is that they think the mental states of people not like them are necessarily completely inaccessible, and that people are not like them because they're defective in some way.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:51 AM
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I agree with everything Katherine is saying 100%.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:52 AM
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210: It isn't false, but it's completely beside the point of what Adam, in this case, was saying.

He has no idea what he would do in their place, because he can't be in their place

Okay, now, with respect, this is a very silly thing to say, and it *is* the kind of thing that simplistic ideas about "cultural difference" tend to say. The man knows quite a bit about Afghanistan. And if the question that prompts the remark is something like "are you rethinking your committment to blah blah?" and he says "no, b/c I'd have done the same thing in their place," what he is effectively saying is that he understands *enough* to realize that his own personal safety isn't really the issue.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:52 AM
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217: I'm pretty sure that that's exactly what Ogged *is* saying, with the additional (and presumably uncontroversial) acknowledgment that to JoeBob Talibani, Mr. Human Rights Activist is, yes, another westerner fucking around in my country getting in the way of my powergrab (or whatever). Or to John Doe Afghani, Mr. Human Rights Activist's glowing record is probably not exactly front-page news, and yeah; Mr. HRA probably *does* look just like any other American/Brit/etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:56 AM
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200: That's pretty mean of him to assume that all the Others are dicks, and incapable of understanding the difference between individual actions and actions of an enormous system/entity of which the individual may be a part.

Pretty much everyone can understand the difference between an American and America.

Fuck, this thread is even angstier than that semester in high school when three of my good friends were committed for suicide attempts. People actually can be good people through their actions, end of story. Now, no one else could possibly assess their actions with any accuracy, and self-assessments are notoriously generous, so no one can truly know if they or anyone else is "good". But we all have something of a moral compass, and if someone really works at following it and trying to make this place a little better, they're doing as well as pretty much anyone could expect from one six-billionth of this global human system. They're probably a good person. And there are enough of them that life keeps getting generally better for the vast majority of the population. They're the reason we will probably have mostly non-carbon-emitting energy production in my lifetime. They're the reason Chinese production has brought hundreds of millions out of poverty while supplying tens of millions with shiny iPods that make us all fucking happy while going to work. And yes, that means something even when a privileged whitey is made to feel happy. Chances are, those same advances will be making everyone else feel happier in time, just as the printing press did, and the stereo, and the car, and the cell phone...

The world's getting better for the vast majority of people over time thanks to random little jumps and marginal improvements, and it seems remarkably ahistorical and horrendously unaware of how those Others actually, y'know, feel to claim otherwise.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:00 AM
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199: It's clearly written by somebody by and large describing themselves, and their circle of friends. They're a recycling Prius-driving Colbert-watching wine-drinking Apple-using urban liberal.

Some of the posts are more bitter ("Knowing what's best for poor people", I imagine, was written on a particularly bad day), but we've all had experiences with people - probably even friends - just like that. Other posts, like "Arrested Development", are pretty clearly written by somebody who sees themselves in what they're saying.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:00 AM
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@218: possibly; I do think that presuming to know the contents of other people's minds is a problem beyond liberals -- and alternatively, the converse is a problem beyond conservatives.

(See Behaviourism vs. Cognitive Analysis. Psychologists enaged in mortal struggle! Was Skinner unable to admit ideas beyond a rigid dogmatic framework? Are the cognitive types wishy washy Freudians about to spring Oedipal complexes upon us all unawares?)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:00 AM
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I don't think getting beat up should cause him to reconsider his political commitments, but those people were wrong to beat him, and saying that he would have done the same thing is condescending to all the Afghan refugees who've had the chance to kick the ass of Westerners and haven't done it.

Does Fisk understand why Americans attacked Iraq? If he were an American, would he have done the same thing? Or is this understanding of violence against convenient targets only extended to non-Westerners, who don't know any better?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:02 AM
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Joebob Talibani's an asshole, so I don't really care. As far as Joebob Afghani, it may be *understandable* that HRA or journalist looks like another white guy trying to screw up his country, but it is not, in fact correct. (It is understandable that Iraqi Civilian Mohammad looks like a terrorist to some 19 year old soldier manning a checkpoint, but not, in fact, correct.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:02 AM
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Speaking of calculus (in 211), I saw "Calculus: The Musical!" yesterday. It was at least as great as the name suggests.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:03 AM
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What's really annoying about all this is that I really liked "Stuff White People Like". And now it feels like Ogged and Kotsko are really trying to convince me to hate it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:03 AM
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That shouldn't say alternatively in 224, it should say also, or something.

Pretty much everyone can understand the difference between an American and America.

Haven't we seen that people have difficulty telling the difference between Iraqis and al-Qa'ida? The difference between America and Americans is much less than the difference between Iraqi and and al-Qa'ida.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:04 AM
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Not if they're from California. Those fuckers are _weird_.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:09 AM
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saying that he would have done the same thing is condescending to all the Afghan refugees who've had the chance to kick the ass of Westerners and haven't done it.

Oh, come on.

it may be *understandable* that HRA or journalist looks like another white guy trying to screw up his country, but it is not, in fact correct.

Look. The problem here is that Katherine and Walt are talking about Fisk as an *individual*, rather than recognizing that what Ogged was doing is using Fisk as an *example*. No, Fisk isn't an American soldier, and Ogged isn't saying he (Fisk) is. And no, actually, saying he, Fisk, would have done the same thing *isn't* condescending to other Afghanis, because he is *not* saying "the folks who beat me up are representative of all Afghanis." What he's saying is that, given the situation, *of course* some Afghanis are going to beat up aid workers.

The point is, it isn't about Fisk, and it's to his credit that he recognizes that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:10 AM
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Well, yeah. They live in crooked houses.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:10 AM
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229: Those people are dicks, and willfully misinterpreting the two. In my experience, which has involved a metric shitload of time in places which America has fucked over in various nasty ways, I've never had troubles despite being an obvious American.

Assholes are assholes. Every country has them. Historical friction between countries can be all some assholes need to choose a target for their ass-kickings, just as a fucking dick of a Hibs supporter may look for a Hearts scarf to identify the person they want to fuck with. Doesn't change that the root cause of the ass-kicking was not America's guilt and that particular person's part in it, the root cause was the ass-kicker being a dick and willfully confusing person with ginormous system that person is part of.

Now, terrorism aimed at infrastructure and large-scale, that's somewhat different (though the people doing it are still giant fucking pricks) because it's actually meant to be a broad enough hit to affect the system itself instead of being a meaningless, almost certainly undeserved, lashing out at an individual who happens to share some characteristic with a large group that has somehow wronged your large group.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:13 AM
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228: I think they're only trying to convince folks not to sit around and whinge about how unfair or inaccurate the damn site is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:13 AM
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The world's getting better for the vast majority of people over time thanks to random little jumps and marginal improvements

Actually, the neoliberal anti-development model has been the decisive factor in actually shrinking African economies, and significantly slowing growth in Latin America. This is a big part of why global capitalism is due for some serious backlash. (Cf. Ha-joon Chang's Bad Samaritans: The myth of free trade and the secret history of capitalism.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:13 AM
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If for Fisk, the issue of getting beat up is not about Fisk, then the man is out of his fucking mind. It's to his credit that he doesn't regard the incident as synecdoche for the situation in Afghanistan. The proper response to the individual people who beat him up is to wish for them to rot in hell for all eternity.

DS: Notice that China has studiously ignored the advice of neoliberalism.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:16 AM
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231: no, I really don't think he is just saying that.

200 specifically says: "an understanding of his place in the global hierarchy, and how he's viewed as a result of the place he occupies: as a villain. That's what I'm saying: there's nothing that we "white" people can do to change our part in the global drama; we're the villains and villains get made fun of, and pointing to this or that little good thing that we did just makes us seem absurd."

He may be a journalist, he may be a human rights activist, but he's a white westerner, and that's more important. Which is: 1. bullshit. 2. reactionary & politically harmful & ABSOLUTELY implicity advocating quietism.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:17 AM
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231: Well then, either he phrased his sentiment incorrectly, or he's admitting that he himself is a dick. Saying "I understand why it happened and why they may feel justified" is totally different from saying "I would have done the same thing in their place." A lot of people are in their place, or have been, and the vast majority of them have the decency to not beat on ordinary citizens going about their lives or even trying to help in some small way.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:17 AM
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236: Notice that China has studiously ignored the advice of neoliberalism.

Zigackly. I expect China was also shortly start ignoring the advice of people who think it should continue subsidizing the American consumer. That strategy is pretty close to having run its course.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:17 AM
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"was" s/b "will" obvs.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:18 AM
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236: Bah. Like I said earlier, I'm pretty sure the "I'd have done the same thing" remark was in direct response to a question about "do you regret your work now?" or something along those lines.

More to the point, I'm also pretty sure that most folks who are brave and clear-sighted enough to seriously sacrifice their own comfort enough to actually try to improve things directly (i.e., by personally showing up and lending a hand, rather than by working in an office somewhere--which might be just as helpful, so I'm not passing a moral judgment here) are fairly philosophical about the physical risks they run. They'd pretty much have to be.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:22 AM
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238: I suspect he thought about what happened to him, and then convinced himself he would do the same thing if the roles were reversed.

241: It's not in response to an interview question. It's practically the opening of an article he wrote about the attack here.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:27 AM
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237: "Get made fun of" /= "get beaten up."

And more to the point, come on. It is a fact that, in terms of global geopolitics and history, Americans of Fisks' social class are elites. This includes Fisk, who is (1) a very admirable human being; (2) *also* a member of the global elite. He is going to be viewed, by some Afghan refugees--probably a minority, but nonetheless--more as (2) than as (1). Is that really arguable?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:27 AM
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So the Afghan refugees who beat him up took into account global geopolitics and history, carefully judged him to be an American of a certain social class that made him a member of a global elite, and thus a logical candidate to beat up? I'm impressed that they put so much careful analysis into it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:31 AM
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235, 236: First, those are actually much smaller economies in terms of population than the successes of south, southeast and east Asia, so my point was still correct. Hell, that's why the global Gini coefficient has been going down for decades.

Second, I believe you're actually referring to the IMF and World Bank organizations, not some "neoliberal agenda" that can be conflated with capitalism as a broad scheme for maintaining an economy.

Third, although many mistakes have been made by the World Bank and IMF, a lot of things that east Asia did right were concentrated on the law-and-order and the stripping back onerous regulation/opportunities for further corruption. I.e. they managed to build institutions and social support for new ventures. This is a really damn difficult thing to do, and any methods that might help build them are still argued heavily in development economics, but you'd probably be hard pressed to find someone reputable that totally denied their importance.

Fourth, a lot of the western countries aren't exactly helping by maintaining high tariffs and/or subsidies on the few products that sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America actually produce. But that's out of the hands of the "neoliberal institutions out to destroy the brown people in any way possible".

Fifth, a lot of sensible plans have been ignored in these countries once their economy catches the slightest break (c.f. Argentina, like, at all fucking points in the last seventy years when their economy ticked up for a bit) and the local leader decides to throw some popular but very very poorly thought out economic policy into the works.

Sixth, complete opening of capital markets may well have been a bad move. Difficult to say, and almost certainly impossible for the people to know at the time given that basically every successful country then existing had evolved at the same time since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Fuck it all. There are books written on this. Many of them. Very good ones. Why am I bothering? Good night, people.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:31 AM
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He may be a journalist, he may be a human rights activist, but he's a white westerner, and that's more important. Which is: 1. bullshit. 2. reactionary & politically harmful & ABSOLUTELY implicity advocating quietism.

You'd always find a man leading a feminist group pretty suspicious, right? Isn't that a very analogous situation, in as much as you're judging the guy on his sex above anything else?

@236, I'm pleased to see that the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi et alia are all out of their kind. Are they Californian?

(Interesting (and relevant) story: apparently Steve Biko one hitched a ride off two Afrikaaner teens driving across South Africa; they wouldn't admit to being Afrikaans, because they knew that Afrikaaner/Black relations were even worse than English/Black relations. Eventually he told them, in Afrikaans, natch, that they were idiots for being ashamed of their heritage, and that nobody should ever be ashamed of who they are.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:33 AM
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242: I don't see what problem you have with what he's saying in that article. At all. Which is essentially the same thing Ogged said.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:34 AM
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244: Now *you're* being condescending. Knowing all that stuff is pretty much automatic if you're a refugee and some group of white guys drives by in a car. Come on.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:35 AM
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from the article

Goddamit, I said and tried to bang my fist on my side until I realised it was bleeding from a big gash on the wrist - the mark of the tooth I had just knocked out of a man's jaw, a man who was truly innocent of any crime except that of being the victim of the world.

And, uh, bashing you in the head with a rock.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:35 AM
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249: Right, which Fisk is saying was the direct effect of his being a refugee attacking a westerner. Which is the sort of thing that happens.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:41 AM
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Incidently, If y'all want to see the original article in which Fisk talks about the incident being dissected here, it's available at his website.

You can of course read it as useless liberal handwringing, but I found it to be far from the caricature that #225 and 226 make it out to be. For example, Fisk didn't meekly submit to a beating, but fought back.

The essential truth that Fisk tries to put across is that at some point, the fact that he was not responsible for what was being done to Afghanistan didn't matter anymore. He was the enemy at that point.

The larger point is that we in America or Europe may have the luxury of being able to distinguish between good and bad westerners, are able to believe that our country's soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan are for the most part "good people", but the people at the sharp end do not. For them the difference is too small to be noticable. It doesn't matter whether the soldier occupying your village is a good soldier trying to protect you from the evil Taliban, he's still occupying your village.



Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:42 AM
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Neoliberalism is a fuzzy term, but I'm taking it to mean the Washington Consensus: free trade, open capital markets, and a convertible currency.

East Asia has been successful because they protected their exporters, controlled access to their capital markets, and controlled their exchange rates. These are all strategies that can backfire, but it's how Japan did it, it's how South Korea did it, and it's how China is doing it. This is how Japan built Toyota and Sony, how Korea built Samsung and Hyundai, and how China is building whatever Chinese firms will bestride our narrow world like a colossus. The strategy that Japan followed is no secret, and is well-documented in other very good books.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:44 AM
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For them the difference is too small to be noticable.

It just seems to me that even "at the sharp end" the dude with the camera is noticeably different from the soldier with a rifle.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:48 AM
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The last time Argentine went almost bankrupt was in following the IMF's advice and it was the people taking matters in their own hands and forcing the government to stop doing so that got them back on track.


a lot of things that east Asia did right were concentrated on the law-and-order and the stripping back onerous regulation/opportunities for further corruption. I.e. they managed to build institutions and social support for new ventures.

Where for building institutions you need to read "one party states or outright dictotships" and "social support" means massacring dissidents. Cf. South Korea, Taiwan and of course Argentine's neighbour, Chile.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:49 AM
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It just seems to me that even "at the sharp end" the dude with the camera is noticeably different from the soldier with a rifle.

Much less likely to shoot you if you try to hit him in the head with a rock, for one thing.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:50 AM
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251 pwned by 241, which already links to the article.

The article is the caricature I make it out to be. Fisk's reaction is insane. It must be partially a result of the trauma of going somewhere to help people, and getting beat up, but other than the fighting back, it reads like a parody of a liberal's reaction. I guarantee the population of Iraq that understands why the US attacked in the wake of 9/11 is approximately zero. Fuck, I wouldn't expect Nazis to be understanding of why the Allies were bombing them.

There, I reached defending Nazis two hours early.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:52 AM
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255 gets it exactly right. C'mon, Gswift. You've never been cranky at someone just because you were having a bad day, even though they themselves hadn't caused it?

Now imagine that your "bad day" was "I've lost everything, my country's at war yet again, I haven't eaten regularly in ages, I'm regularly treated like crap by most of the people I have to deal with, and oh look, there goes some asshole driving by in a car."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:54 AM
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256: You're on crack. There are certainly a lot of Iraqis who knew about as much as you and I did in the run-up to the war; most educated folks in the world read about other countries a fuck of a lot more than most Americans do, especially when "other countries" are debating attacking theirs. And there were certainly Germans (as distinct from Nazis, and including German soldiers) who hoped that the Allies would win the war.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:57 AM
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I'm not arguing that it's impossible to understand in some intellectual sense what happened. What I'm arguing is that Fisk -- even after being violently assaulted -- feels that he has to publicly forgive, and say that he understands his attackers and would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed is pretty pathological.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:01 AM
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And I'm arguing that you are on crack.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:02 AM
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Crack is a ghetto drug. It makes me more authentic, and gives me superior insight into Fisk.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:04 AM
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Racist.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:07 AM
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But I like Mos Def!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:13 AM
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245: There are books written on this. Many of them. Very good ones.

Like the one I cited, for instance...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:45 AM
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So to summarize --

The SWPL blog is making fun of me, but in reality I *do* have good taste in food, I *am* open-minded about other cultures, and my political beliefs are *good* -- I think the environment is important, I think government has a responsibility to take care of the poor, I think the war in Iraq was bad, I did not vote for Bush and will not vote for McCain. This mockery of good earnest white liberals will only serve to elect more Republicans to Congress.

Or in other words, I really really don't get it, because I take myself so seriously and try so hard to be a good person that the gap between my pretensions and the good I actually do in the world is not funny AT ALL. If the blog writer would limit himself to making fun of the truly hypocritical earnest liberals, that would be one thing, but instead by laughing at my kitchen appliances that he shows an uncanny familiarity with he reveals himself to be a libertarian Romney supporter who rides a giant SUV to work.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:50 AM
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You don't think the whole enterprise is a little neurotic, Barbar?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 3:52 AM
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What's neurotic, the joke blog or the 800+ comments saying "Not only did I not laugh, but this guy is betraying the Democratic Party."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:14 AM
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(BTW, the blog author seems to have another blog where he blogs the results of his NCAA Football video game season, game-by-game.)


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:21 AM
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This is America, the land of plenty. There's more than enough neurosis to go around.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:23 AM
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How did I get Front Page privileges?

It's not an argument for quietism; nor an argument for guilt.

It's the argument Phil Ochs was making in "When in Rome"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:26 AM
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Oddly I'm with Katherine and Bitchphd.

I think I agree that this is Patriarchy all over again, you influence as an individual is often only a small sub-set of you influence as a part of the institutions (professional, national) that you are a part of. Sure I'm not personally killing anyone in Iraq, but the economic output I produce is part of what's behind the American warmachine, and that is certainly killing a lot of people unjustly. Good people help to do bad things all the time.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:31 AM
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>270 well come use, use them.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:32 AM
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at least take a step back and realize that while you can be decent to those around you, there's no way for you to be a good person in any broader sense

Feeling my weakness, a coward for company
I joined the ranks of the hot and hungry
To teach what it means to have love for your country
We marched away.
We lowered our lives for the lines of a border
We danced with the mothers, played with the daughters
We followed our fantasies, following orders
It was child's play.
After the war the bullets were bored so we capped the game
With cynical smiles we put them on trial to place the blame
Now what kind of beast would love such a feast
Have you no shame?
So we hung the by the feet
Oh, we shot them in the street
Oh, the victory was sweet
on victory day.
And all the high-born ladies
So lovely and so true,
Have been handed to the soldiers
When in Rome do as the Romans do


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:35 AM
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I guess I just don't believe that guilt is an effective basis for politics. Some people are capable of a sustaining a high level of guilt. Most people will take the first available excuse to forgive themselves. Look at the Vietnam War -- at the time there was considerable guilt about what we were doing, but as soon as the war was over, American responsibility for bad things happening to the Vietnamese people was written completely out of the narrative. By arguing that we all have this generalized guilt for Iraq (which I think is philosophically defensible, and I personally feel guilty), it helps let the perpetrators off the hook. If everyone is guilty, then no one is guilty. A narrative with more staying power is that George Bush is guilty, and he must pay. If Bush hangs for his crimes, future American Presidents will hesitate before bombing foreigners, whether or not the rest of us feel any guilt over it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:47 AM
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all things white are fair game for mockery

Although bicycling (#61) isn't one of those things. Stuff White People Like does no one any favours in making category errors. The author(s) actually meant to satirise the culture of fixies, town bikes, etc., none of which have any bearing on the basics of bicycling: i.e. relying on your own efforts rather than oil burning to get around the place. There's more to the issue than simply choosing to use a bike, of course. Low density urban planning is a strong disincentive to bike usage; as are high levels of bike theft. Changing those sorts of things requires political organisation.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:15 AM
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Obviously, since Adam told me to fuck myself I'm the last thread, I'm with LB, Katherine, et al. Isn't Ogged letting the perfect be the enemy of the good?

Yes, yes, we're all complicit in a bad system. Go do some good anyway.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:18 AM
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And isn't the Fisk argument about the difference between understanding someone's motives and justifying them. I understand why some killers kill, but that doesn't justify it. In that sense, saying I understand why they attacked me and saying I would have done the same in their place are two totally different things.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:35 AM
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This is why I embrace my evil nature. I twirl my snidely whiplash mustache and cackle as I teach my students to take money from little old ladies.

When did this blog stop being about beach volleyball?


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:48 AM
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I completely agree with B, Kostko and Ogged. And I wish I had been paying any attention tot his thread when friends of mine were going on and on about their new local food co-op this weekend.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:51 AM
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Having read this thread first, I agree 100% with Katherine and thought Ogged's post was pretty ridiculous. Going back and reading the original post, I thought "Wait, people are seriously insulted by this website? WTF?" The website is funny, people, and it has nothing to do with higher morals or whatever the hell this post is about.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:57 AM
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(I should clarify, if lines are being drawn, that while I disagree with Ogged's post, I definitely don't find the website offensive.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:01 AM
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I'm surprised. Did not one else first hear of David Brooks' bourgeois bohemian take down* and think oh god I've been nailed?

*yeah, never read the actual book. I always thought I should since I consider myself guilty as charged, but life is short.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:09 AM
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267: What's neurotic, the joke blog or the 800+ comments saying "Not only did I not laugh, but this guy is betraying the Democratic Party."

See this is where I don't buy it, I see the 800+ comments being driven by ogged, Adam, bitchphd etc. insisting that we all say "ZOMG! The self-recognition, it burns! Funniest site evah! There really is hypocrisy and self-righteousness evident in the actions of many so-called progressives like us, who knew?"

As if this is not a prominent and well-mined comedy trope that has been in play for years. Some times done effectively, some times not so much. As if it has not been a featured on many a self-skewering blog or website,as if it has not been a prominent subtext here on this very blog. As if it is some kind of crime of self-seriousness if someone opines that this particular attempt at it is not spot on, and that it sometimes veers into the territory that makes PJ O'Rourke and Dennis Miller such laugh machines among the utterly self-aware folk on the conservative side of the ledger.

Stuff White People with Overblown Confidence in the Penetrating Correctness of Their Sense of Humor Like: Using strawmen arguments to decry the sense of humor of white people who don't agree with them on a particular joke.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:10 AM
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283: Ogged, Adam, bitchphd et al never said they weren't white too.


Posted by: Satan | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:14 AM
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280, 281: Wait, people are seriously insulted by this website? WTF?"

In strawman land, yes, anything is possible. In these threads not so much.

But I now see the light, all attempts to skewer liberal pretentiousness are funny by definition. Glenn Beck rocks my world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:15 AM
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You know, when I'm offline for a bit and come upon these threads in the multiple hundreds, I usually feel like I've probably missed out on something. But I read like halfway through this one and am very, very glad I missed out.

My take? Getting morally superior about how at least you are willing/able to recognize that the great causal chain of global capitalism means your iPod is responsible for child labor in S.E. Asia is no more or less self-indulgently obnoxious than getting morally superior about the fact that you recycle.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:28 AM
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three threads about whites, entertaining
i think my wish that this whites thing will disappear in 50 yrs may be wrong
may be it's something like asking for example from me to forget my language and identity and be called honorary something in return
whites as described in the original blog are identity of the people on this blog and some are happy with that and find the blog amusing and even flattering
some are exercising various degrees of their usual traits as overanalyzing, apologizing or feeling guilty etc
while i'm sure ogged does and enjoys everything enumerated there nonetheless he has his own identity that he cherishes
my point is the lifestyle described on that blog is may be the best invented to date in terms of convenience and safety (not culturally of course, because more diverse cultures - better) and may be ideally all people should afford it without being called honorary white or social climber or what
as if it's a sole privilege of whites
just bragging about the lifestyle and being snobbish may be deservedly mockable
i think it's right not to wholly debunk the lifestyle itself, but to work on the future when all people could enjoy all the benefits of modern knowledge and technology however vague and wishful it sounds


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:31 AM
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283: Erm. Yeah. Heated arguments where people are saying "The fact that you're arguing so intensely just shows how wrong/defensive/missing the point you are," have a logical problem -- the heat is usually (and certainly in this case) on both sides.

The site's not a big deal, but as light humor it doesn't strike me as crazy funny (possibly because I'm not surrounded by sanctimonious hippie types, which means that when I do run into them, I rather like them as a contrast with the more straightforwardly evil people I work with), and if there's a deep underlying point along the lines Ogged and Kotsko are somewhat heatedly laying out, I don't agree with the blog as a reasonable way of expressing that point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:40 AM
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286.2: Oh, you betcha.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:41 AM
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Smugness is lame, including smug antipathy to smugness.

Shame and guilt are worse than useless, especially in our political culture. A whole lot of the appeal of Ronald Reagan was 'you don't have to feel ashamed [so vote for me, and you won't].'

One thing I find kind of intersting about the argument of the gnashers of teeth: we condemn the white person for accepting, uncritically but without agency, the benefits -- which are the product of the collective actions of billions of people and historical forces -- of the sweat and tears of the brown person. Then we ridicule the white person, for intentionally taking a small step -- which if replicated by millions would make a real difference, and which amounts to a positive change in the vectors of history. (ie recycling).


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:46 AM
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I'm becoming increasingly convinced that people didn't read the website. Several people have said that the website would be funny it if it were making fun of sanctimonious nitwits. But it is! You know how I know? I read the whole blog in an attempt to get around my dissertation.

Most of the stuff cited is not a liberal sacred cow. Yes, I know, the first page had recycling and (expensive trendy) bicycles. But the whole thing is not dedicated to making fun of liberal things like that, unless home renovations, hating your parents, divorce, doing recreational drugs but being afraid to take aspirin, co-ed sports leagues, music snobbery, waffle irons and liking sushi are all exclusively liberal markers.

I guess I'm saying I missed the part where purchasing granite countertops was a liberal moral duty. And so, I see the target as not liberals, but as well-off young white people, a group that skews liberal but is unreflective as all get out. And the sort of person who installs a granite countertop in their 6,000 sq. ft. home but is a sanctimonious nitwit about their fair trade coffee deserves to be mocked. The person who brags about her $15,000 diamond ring that has conflict-free side stones deserves it, too, if she's being a sanctimonious fuckwit about it. The sanctimonious nitwit bit is the key. Haven't we discussed here the troubling phenomenon of the policy wonk deciding poverty policy being an Ivy grad with a trust fund?

And none of this means that riding your bicycle is a bad thing, or something you shouldn't do because vanity vanity all is vanity. It's just having a bit of fucking self-awareness.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:49 AM
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It's not about ridiculing the change. It's about ridiculing the sanctimony.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:50 AM
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Then we ridicule the white person, for intentionally taking a small step

I think we ridicule the white person for taking a small step, uncritically but without agency.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:00 AM
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And oh, god, I thought of another one. Remember a while back there was a NYT article about 'crunchy conservatives', which the article was billing as this new type of conservative who was environmentally conscious and shopped at Whole Foods. And there was ridicule here (and near consensus), on how liking Whole Foods didn't mean you were liberal or environmentally conscious, it just meant you were rich and liked good things to eat?

Same damn thing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:01 AM
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I think somebody said it in the Obama thread, but there's nothing whiter than Ogged saying that the bad things that happen are the things that white people let happen, that the badness of the world is a revelation of the badness of affluent Americans. That's as white as you can get, man. That's the fucking heart of whiteness, to look out at the world and think somehow it's all your fault. That's why whitepeople want to recycle and all that. "The fucked ones" are as astonished by self-flagellating liberals who apologize for their role in perpetuating oppression as they are by anything else. Here's the way to go beyond that: many bad things in the world aren't a result of liberal white people failing to do anything, aren't the results of sins of omission, life is not a zero-sum game in which every winner creates a loser out of nothing. Some of what is bad in the world is bad in ways that are beyond any of us in its complexity and messiness, and some of what is bad in the world isn't about the abstract guilt of entire social classes, but just about what one bad person does to other people.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:02 AM
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i hope i'm not accused of smugness something
i did not read the whole blog, so may be there are entries which are not compatible with the best lifestyle theory of mine
i did not read about the diamond ring bragging which is not included in my ideal of rational lifestyle
most people can live without diamond rings
but if it gives thousands people job, buy it and enjoy it please


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:02 AM
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re: 291

What's wrong with you? Reading something all the way through and then having a sensible informed opinion about it? That's breaking the rules.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:03 AM
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That's breaking the rules.

...not when you're trying to avoid writing a dissertation.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:15 AM
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I havent read this thread enough to know what it means, but I like

1. women
2. riding my bike
3. my local natural foods store
4. my ipod


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:18 AM
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I know. I will feel guilty about it later.

Another one! My fifty-one-year-old mother, a lovely woman in many respects, but only liberal if your benchmark for conservative is somewhere right of Limbaugh, and politically aware insofar as it affects her daughters' immediate concerns, recycles. If you're sanctimonious about recycling, congrats. That's center-right cred these days. That's a *baseline.*

She also has a stand mixer.

Christ, she should be voting green!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:20 AM
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Wow. I missed this entire conversation, from the original post on. And now I'm still too busy to go back and read everybody's earnest comments, so I'll just say: that website is very funny. And because most of my best friends are white, I feel completely justified in making that judgment.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:20 AM
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I don't think that website is the funniest thing EVAH but I do think it's hard to respond to without falling into a trap. So I'll stick by comment 265.

For that matter, Kotsko's "don't you see that your ipod causes terrorism, you sanctimonious twit" (OK not an exact quote either) is also mockworthy.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:26 AM
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302: I think the iPod uses only terrorism-free parts. I think I saw a sticker.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:28 AM
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I think the iPod uses only terrorism-free parts. I think I saw a sticker.

I bought terrorism offsets.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:32 AM
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300. and politically aware insofar as it affects her daughters' immediate concerns, recycles.

Environmentalism used to be a Republican issue: "little old ladies in tennis shoes" and all that.

I would be a staunch defender of the SWPL if it was more hip to these distinctions. I mean, where does the author get all this garbage about "80s Nights"? The white-people-who-breakfast that I'm aware of wouldn't be caught dead at an 80s Night. Same with the 10 rap songs white people like. Go down to the French Meadow or the Bad Waitress here in S. Minneapolis next Sunday and quiz people on their hip-hop tastes -- you're gonna hear a lot more about De La Soul, Disposable Heroes, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Immortal Technique and the Coup than you will about Naughty By Nature, Tone-Loc and Sir Mix-A-Lot.

The blog posits a cultural overlap between frat boys, crunchy granolas, yuppies and stoners that just doesn't exist, even if we accept the retrograde racial calculus in use. And that's why it can't be relevant or radical.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:41 AM
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Why don't we end this thread with 303 and 304?



Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:47 AM
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The blog posits a cultural overlap between frat boys, crunchy granolas, yuppies and stoners that just doesn't exist

Okay. Looks like upper middle class people to me. (With some of the frat boys, crunchies, and stoners becoming yuppies, of course.) Maybe all even elite university grads. Probably in their early 30s.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:48 AM
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306: Agree, but, too late!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:50 AM
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307: I'm not saying there are no cultural overlaps there, although I think, as you point out, that the main commonality is more along the lines of economic class. But the very title of the blog makes a bid for cultural universality that it just can't back up with its examples.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:52 AM
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I tried to derail this thread back in 227, but for some reason it didn't take.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:53 AM
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Cala, you don't think it's a little bit funny that that site itself mocks the white pursuit of authenticity for being inauthentic? The site isn't just Bill Cosby style observational humor put in an faux observational tone. They really seemed bothered that somebody somewhere was spending $45,000 on a Prius because they thought it helped the environment. It's the exact obsession with authenticity that led to Whole Foods in the first place.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:54 AM
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309: Yes, but everyone's complaints haven't been limited to 'this doesn't capture the essence of whiteness.' (Which I think people should readily admit, but I think the broad generalization is funnier than 'young cosmopolitan people and the life that many of them aspire to.')


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:55 AM
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311: I think the whole thing is funny. Down to the absurd whiteness of cataloguing it all, surpassed only by this entire blog.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:57 AM
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LB... the very system that makes you privileged is starving the children. Your privilege is a direct product of stunted lives.

Such a shame that DeLong stopped by this thread and didn't stick around long enough to slap Kotsko down for this ridiculousness.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 7:57 AM
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312: Really? See, per my comments last night, I feel like there's some big disconnect between my response to the blog and my understanding of other peoples' responses to it. I am really, sincerely not quite getting the level of emotional investment at play here. Huh.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:00 AM
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Has anyone mentioned that living long lives is a selfish, inherently white thing?

The money spent on old white people could feed entire villages. Next time you spend money supporting your elderly parents, hang your head in shame.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:01 AM
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315: If you were whiter, you'd get the emotional investment at play.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:03 AM
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315: I am really, sincerely not quite getting the level of emotional investment at play here.

Yeah. To the extent that Ogged, Bitch, and Kotsko are asserting that finding the humor of the blog not crazy funny and, if it's supposed to mean something important, a little off itself reveals something deep about the humorless (hi!), it's not clicking for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:07 AM
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I am really, sincerely not quite getting the level of emotional investment at play here.

There, or here. I thought the site was mediocre and perhaps a bit off target. I can't believe number of on-topic comments these threads have generated. Even at unfogged.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:09 AM
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318: I would have put the emotional overreaction on the side of I am too being made fun of and this is undermining good liberal causes like stand mixers. Except for ogged. Who is overly emotional. Like a cat. (Meow!)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:12 AM
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But I would request that we have another three threads on this, because I have said my piece, and have a lot of work to do. (Seriously. Chase me off until around 7:30 tonight.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:14 AM
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cala is banned (until 7:30)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:16 AM
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320: If that's naming me, while I've been arguing (what a surprise) about it, the site's not making fun of me. Blindingly and pathetically white as I am, almost none of the entries are aimed my way -- it's all about a subculture I'm not really a part of. If you're talking about someone else, I'm not clear who was emotionally overreacting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:16 AM
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Sorry -- I wouldn't have responded if I knew you were trying to do something else.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:17 AM
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Blindingly and pathetically white as I am, almost none of the entries are aimed my way -- it's all about a subculture I'm not really a part of.

I've not read much such of the site, apparently, so perhaps I'm wrong, but I think you're making a mistake. You seem to think the site's not aimed at you because you don't do most of the things there listed. But I think the site's not aimed at you are particularly not a smug asshole. That is, the site's more likely to be aimed at Sellout-Kotsko with coin that we'll see in five to seven years from now than at you.

So your defenses against the site and investment (gawd knows what the right word is) have seemed odd to me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:26 AM
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For my part I can't really understand the investment in the site from either direction. I read a bit of it, and as far as I can see it was a pretty funny top ten bulleted list watered down by trying to expand it. That a turgid mess scattered with funny bits generated hundreds of comments here going in circles is more interesting to me that the original. I can't imagine trying to figure out why will go anywhere useful though, so I'm out.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:33 AM
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I'd like to just point out that god quite likes me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:35 AM
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No I don't.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:37 AM
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As for the site, most of the entries seem like the cosmopolitan liberal white yuppie equivalent of "you might be a redneck if...." & I think we're all taking it a little too seriously. But, the people explaining: "no, that site is right, you are THE OPPRESSOR & anything you attempt to do is futile & just an attempt to make you feel good about yourself" are making it difficult not to.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:37 AM
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313: Comity!

I don't think this discussion got all that heated, and that's why it went on so long. It was just heated enough that people were worked up to reply, but not so heated that anyone got choked up in anger. The argument about whether the guy with the prosthetics should be allowed to run in the Olympics -- that couldn't have gone on for three days because everyone was so angry.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:38 AM
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i read yesterday that the danish again published the previous Muhammad cartoons and there is again unrest and already 50 people died elsewhere because of all protests
my reaction is why they need to provoke what is predictable and don't they feel morally responsible for the deaths and what will predictably and unpredictably follow


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:39 AM
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326: I don't think there's much to be said about that -- this place can generate thousands of comments about dust. Theorizing about what about the site generated all the excitement doesn't seem likely to get anywhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:39 AM
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Danish


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:40 AM
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332: agreed (which is why I didn't pursue it)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:47 AM
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I know people with really nice kitchen stuff, who buy really nice cheeses and drink really nice wine and have really nice family summer houses and so on. These people will occasionally make jokes about all this stuff, along the lines of they wouldn't be caught dead XXX (oh I don't know, having some cheap container of Parmesan in the fridge).

But of course, it's true, they wouldn't be caught dead XXX, and it's very snobbish and aspirational but it also reflects genuinely good taste and it's not something to be ashamed of and being guilty about it wouldn't really do any good and in fact sitting around feeling like all the world's problems are your fault because you like nice cheese is in itself a sign of privilege...

My investment in this discussion was increased somewhat by the "some stuff is objectively nice, and that's where the 1-joke blog goes off-target" argument, which I take as rather missing the point. Feeling that other people are missing the point is a good way to have me become ridiculously over-invested in a silly internet discussion.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:50 AM
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I fucking love being white.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:52 AM
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I guess I didn't find the site as funny as I could because I find a) the obsession with authenticity, and b) the belief that hypocrisy is the worse sin are white people traits more worthy of mockery than any number of trips to the Co-op in your Prius.

I love you being white, too, Sifu. If you were Afghan, you would totally suck.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:53 AM
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re: 328

Look, you let me grow up in a country with decent holiday entitlement, sane sick leave policy, and widespread underage drinking. QED. I rest my case.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:53 AM
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Barbar's comment is making me switch sides. People who have self-conscious good taste need to be mocked. I take it all back. Global capitalism is still a big blanket of love that enfolds each of us, though. I'm not taking that back.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:57 AM
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Again, I've only done the briefest skimming of the bizarre reactions here on both sides, but it seems to me that most of the argument against SWPL boils down to the following exchange:

SWPL: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Unfogged: What? I don't own any chickens. And if I did, they would be in a fenced-in yard so they couldn't get to the road.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:57 AM
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That might have been an oversight, ttaM. God has been pretty busy lately devising suitable eternal punishment for charismatic evangelicals --- putting a really personal touch on each one is a real chore with that kind of growth rate.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:58 AM
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And in response, Ogged and Kotsko: You motherfuckers think it doesn't matter, but you all live by roads whether you like it or not. So quit being all "I don't own any chickens".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:59 AM
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But of course, it's true, they wouldn't be caught dead XXX, and it's very snobbish and aspirational but it also reflects genuinely good taste and it's not something to be ashamed of and being guilty about it wouldn't really do any good and in fact sitting around feeling like all the world's problems are your fault because you like nice cheese is in itself a sign of privilege...

I recently saw something on tv about making grilled cheese sandwiches with Kraft singles.

I thought, what a pathetic grilled cheese sandwich! My kids deserve Asiago or Gouda on their grilled cheese sandwiches.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:00 AM
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I thought, what a pathetic grilled cheese sandwich! My kids deserve Asiago or Goudacheese on their grilled cheese sandwiches.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:02 AM
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I recently saw something on tv about making grilled cheese sandwiches with Kraft singles.

Quelle horreur! Next thing, someone will be defending the drinking of Budweisser.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:02 AM
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No, Kraft singles suck. (And I like American cheese -- I'm eating some right now.) Fuck, now I need to switch sides again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:04 AM
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Quelle horreur!

Exactly. I wasn't even going to mention the type of bread.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:05 AM
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I'll bet that nattar doesnt drink PBR.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:06 AM
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careful ttaM. Someone will come in and argue at great length that kraft singles are objectively better than artisanal raw-milk cheeses through the wonders of industrial production


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:06 AM
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346: This is going to sound dumb, but is there actually good American cheese? We have Kraft singles around specifically for grilled cheese -- I can't think of anything that I know of that's better cheese than Kraft that's still classifiable as 'American cheese'.

What do you do, buy blocks of American cheese at the cheese counter? Or is there a different brand?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:08 AM
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re: 348

What is PBR?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:09 AM
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they should do an entry on the word "artisanal."

350: I think the problem is being individually wrapped in plastic.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:10 AM
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re: 349

Yes, I wonder who might do that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:10 AM
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What is PBR?

Exactly. Snob!

Pabst Blue Ribbon.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:11 AM
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351: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheap beer beloved by ironic hipsters.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:12 AM
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354: To be fair, I don't think PBR has a big export market in Scotland.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:13 AM
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I like the Lucerne brand of American cheese, which is presliced like Kraft (though each piece is not individually wrapped). You can get it at Safeway. I don't think it really matters for melted cheese, though, since the melting makes many cheeses taste the same.

ttaM, PBR is how we cope with our lack of vacation time and socialized medicine.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:13 AM
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I can't think of anything that I know of that's better cheese than Kraft that's still classifiable as 'American cheese'.

There are lots. Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:13 AM
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I thought it was ironic beer beloved by cheap hipsters?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:14 AM
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Ah, we don't get that here. We don't really get a lot of US beer.

Rolling Rock, Budweiser and Coors are widely available in off-licenses. But you almost never see US beers on draught.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:14 AM
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Yeah, I don't really eat American cheese in any non-melted form, which makes telling the difference somewhat difficult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:15 AM
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I don't really eat American cheese in any non-melted form

Left to his own devices, Noah would subsist entirely off American cheese slices and cereal bars.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:17 AM
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Left to her own devices, my daughter would subsist solely on two different kinds of cereal. She used to alternate, until she discovered she could just mix them together in one bowl.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:18 AM
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I think LB may be technically right, in that I've heard `American Cheese' applied in a way that only includes processed cheese (which isn't technically cheese, in some senses).

Of course, there are lots of US cheeses. American cheddars are cheap and ubiquitous (and not much like the original cheddars). As a kid I always thought (cheap) cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches were much better than processed cheese ones, but that might just be me.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:19 AM
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You know what's good? Grated cheap cheddar with a little chopped onion mixed in, grilled.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:21 AM
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350: My mother used to buy it from the deli. We usually made grilled cheese with cheddar, though.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:25 AM
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She used to alternate, until she discovered she could just mix them together in one bowl.

That's awesome. Every now and again, a "cute kid" story is actually cute.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:25 AM
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sweet jesus, have you people no self-awareness whatsoever?

Q: What's funnier than a a bucket of water falling on someone's head?

A: A sopping wet teacher, standing in the middle of the room with a bucket on his head, explaining why it isn't funny that he's had a bucket of water land on his head.

I gave up reading at roughly the five millionth attempt to say "well that's just not funny because actually it's much more constructive to blah blah blah de fucking blah". It's about as embarrassing as that awkward first week at university where the posh kids nervously explain the difference between a "public school" and a "private school" and tell you how much they love football.

In semi-related news, since this thread on "authenticity" is now at least as many words long as Zizek's "Welcome to the Desert of the Real", why not cut your fucking losses and read Zizek?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:27 AM
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There's actual American cheese that goes by the name 'American cheese'. They sell it at the deli counter (though not at Whole Foods). It's still a processed cheese, but Kraft slices aren't even American cheese. They're American cheese "spread" or American cheese "food". (I'm sure Kraft sells an actual American cheese, but it's less common.) American cheese is harder and drier than the usual Kraft singles. I like it on sandwiches because I use lots of mustard, and it goes better with mustard than cheddar does. It's pretty freely substitutable with Colby, though.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:28 AM
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isn't it obvious, dsquared? Because Zizek doesn't have a refresh button.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:28 AM
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Reading Zizek is so white.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:28 AM
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I got really aggravated at my mom when she was in town, because she was going to pick up some groceries, and doing some faux-reverse snobbery where she claimed not to know any cheeses besides American and cheddar.

So we had a really great conversation that went,
Me: "You know, the smelly cheeses. I can't think of the names."
Mom: "Cheddar?"
Me: "No."
Mom: "American?"
Me: "No."
Mom: "Those are the only two I know. What about cheddar?"
Me: "Come off it. Pick out something smelly, okay?"
Mom: "American?"
Ad nauseum.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:29 AM
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338: If God loved you you'd be suffering right now. The fact that you're not suffering, white people, is a sign that God doesn't love you. Too bad for you.


Posted by: St. Theresa | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:29 AM
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And Budweiser Boy rears his red head. It's like the mere mention of Busweiser summons him.

If I were reading Zizek, the lie in the claim "I am going to go back to work any second now" would be too obvious.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:30 AM
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369: My understanding is that `american cheese' used to be a mix of (american, not UK) cheddar and colby, but over time morphed into processed versions. But now `american cheese' is pretty much associated with `processed cheese', afaics.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:30 AM
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I make grilled cheese only with cheese processed by civet cat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:31 AM
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As slang, yes, but legally American cheese has to be mostly cheese. American cheese spread and cheese food have laxer standards of how much cheese the(Velveeta is a cheese food, I think). The packages are always carefully labelled appropriately. On a cold sandwich I like the taste of the actual cheese variant better.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:35 AM
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"American cheddar" is presumably one of those things like "Cambodian bourbon" - ie, more a sad reflection of past failures to protect a geographical appellation than anything else.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:38 AM
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On a cold sandwich I like the taste of the actual cheese variant better.

Is there somewhere you prefer the non-cheese variant? I don't really like any of the heavily processed cheese stuff (including the spreads etc.) so I'm just curious.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:41 AM
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There's American brie too.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:41 AM
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I like it when they have to call the chocolate milk esque substance "Chocolate drink!" because technically, it contains no recognizable substances.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:42 AM
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378: While that's true to some degree, I also seem to recall that american style cheddars started off as an effort to reproduce the original, village-of-Cheddar style cheese. There has been significant divergence.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:43 AM
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I don't prefer the non-cheese variants anywhere. I'm speculating that on a grilled cheese sandwich it wouldn't taste any better. I base this on my years of experience of eating cheesesteaks with Cheez Whiz on them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:44 AM
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re: 380

The French tend to be quite good at protecting their appellations. But brie is one that seems to have gotten away. There's English Brie, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:45 AM
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380: Do you mean that in the sense of Brie, made in the US. Or is it a really different cheese? The former is some variant of the Champagne/sparkling wine divide without the appelation protection, as d2 notes


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:45 AM
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385: It's the same cheese. I'm sure an expert can tell the difference.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:46 AM
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Ok, only checking because I might have missed something. I've only seen it marketed as Brie (made in X), and sometimes `French Brie' called out specifically, that I recall.

American (or Canadian, for that matter) Bries are similar enough I'd call them the same cheese made in different places. American and UK cheddars, not so much.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:50 AM
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Come to think of it, I can't think of when I've had UK cheddar. I've had cheap lousy American cheddar, and nice expensive American cheddar. But not imported from the UK that I can recall. It's a soft, spreadable goat cheese, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:52 AM
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I had no idea. If I go to the store in the US and I buy cheddar, am I getting American cheddar, which is fundamentally different from the cheddar in Britain? Is Tillamook American cheddar, or cheddar that's made in America.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:52 AM
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I find that American cheddar varies a fair bit--even the nice expensive kind. UK cheddar resembles some forms of it. And the supermarket store brand block was better than most of the stuff I've had here, so I assume it's better overall.

I assume people aren't using "American cheese" & "American cheddar" as synonymous.

Speaking of cheese, what exactly is "brick"?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:54 AM
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It's delightful that I open this thread to find, at its end, a lengthy discussion of cheese.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:54 AM
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389: The orginal `cheddar' came from a particular village/area in UK. Your default kraft/tillamook/rat trap/whatever medium cheddar doesn't resemble it that much. There are some of the `fancy' cheddars made here that are to my memory much closer to the original. I've never had them side by side though.

There's a huge variation in north american style cheddars though. (not true of UK style in my limited experience).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:58 AM
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391: My hope for this place has been restored


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:59 AM
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I'm looking at the Wikipedia pages, and discovering that I know nothing about cheese. I thought "Colby" and "Colby Jack" were synonyms, but no, Colby Jack is Colby mixed with Monterey Jack. I guess I've never hard plain Colby.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:01 AM
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393: What, I find out my entire cheese-eating life has been a lie, and your faith in this place is restored? What kind of monster are you?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:03 AM
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hard plain Colby (nsfw)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:05 AM
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Soup's got it right. The relatively widely available US cheddar I've had that was closest to UK cheddar was from Vermont, I believe. The british cheddars I always ate (just bog standard blocks of cheddar sold in the deli aisle of Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc. Nothing fancy) were white/cream colored, relatively firm but not flakey, had a distinctly detectable slightly sour tang and some small but detectable salt crystallization. Pretty delicious stuff, and melted like a dream.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:10 AM
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392 gets it right.

But even within the English cheddars, some are sharp and some are not sharp. I like the Quicke's one which is consistently at our local Whole Foods, because it's not sharp at all.

It's hard to find a good reference book about cheese, because they're all obsessed with something else.

This book is good if you ignore the 3/4 of it that is devoted to idealized lists of cheeses that go great together, which are completely pointless if you don't A) live in New York or London and B) want to spend $50 a pound for ten different varietal cheeses.

This book is good if you ignore the 90% of its entrants that are pointless if you don't A) live in New York or London and B) want to spend $30 a pound.

There might be better references, but they weren't at my local library.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:12 AM
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The relatively widely available US cheddar I've had that was closest to UK cheddar was from Vermont, I believe.

The Grafton one is extremely good. The one with all the ads on NPR (Cabot) is good too, but too sharp for me.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:14 AM
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The other night I had an amazing 3-cheese grilled cheese sandwich, where one of the cheeses was goat chevre. And a big bowl of potato-leek soup and a pint of Finnegan's -- our moral beer. It was a great meal. I'd never been in the place before, 'cause it always seemed so snooty, but whaddya know, those goddamn egghead college pukes really get into their hearty comfort food. I wish it had all come with some waffle fries from the adjacent hipster/punk dive bar. Oh well, nothing's perfect.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:17 AM
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What is the best cheese to put on cheese fries? I say: provolone.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:24 AM
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What do you do, buy blocks of American cheese at the cheese counter? Or is there a different brand?

Land O Lakes makes a decent deli American. Edible by an adult. The flavor is bland, but the texture is recognizably cheesy.

And yes, this denouement is perfect. I suspect off-blog communication.

PS - Last comment on the topic: B posing as someone who knows what's funny is more upsetting than Ogged and Kotsko telling me I'm going to Hell.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:25 AM
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The whole original thread was a product of off-blog communications to torture you, JRoth. We've run out of steam, and reverted a more natural topic of conversation for us. I voted for an 800+ comment thread on the awesomeness of mustard, but I was overruled.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:30 AM
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What, I find out my entire cheese-eating life has been a lie, and your faith in this place is restored?

Hope, not faith, Walt.

401: Cheese fries is but a pale shadow of Poutine.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:30 AM
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399: The Grafton Village Cheese Company does indeed make good cheddar. It's a fun place to visit, too. I'm especially fond of their Four Star Cheddar. So dry and crumbly and sharp.

Even better than Grafton Village, though, are the cheeses from Shelburne Farms. I think I've mentioned before that a couple of ounces of their smoked cheddar added to a mac and cheese makes for awesomeness. You don't need more than that, as the stuff is so intensely flavored it takes the entire dish over.

I'm awfully fond of this web page.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:42 AM
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And yes, this denouement is perfect.

I was just thinking the same. 1000 comments on three threads about Caucasian identity, and the answer is: cheese. Whiteness wins in the end.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:42 AM
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It's an irregular verb:

I am part of a scene
You are a sheep-like trend follower
He has funny ethnic habits.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:45 AM
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406: This link is particularly relevant. At 2:30:

"There's a new white man out here. He's refined! For example, did you know that the new white man loves gourmet cheese?"
"Wait, I'm sorry, did you say cheese?"
"That's right, cheese. You give the meanest white man a piece of cheese and he turns into Mr. Rogers."

4:10 is also particularly salient.

Hell, the whole damn thing works as a response to this thread.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:58 AM
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FYI:

Processed American cheese is the purest form of American cheese and is made from cheddar, colby, cheese curd, granular cheese or a combination thereof. It contains 51 percent of the cheese ingredient and a moisture content of 44 percent or less and 23 percent milk fat. Boar's Head American Cheese contains 40 percent moisture and is made with more natural cheddar than most for a distinct, creamy flavor.

It's still tasty even if it's only half cheese.

And poutine does kick ass.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 11:43 AM
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I like feeling morally superior to other white people. Cheese helps.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:14 PM
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I would also like an explanation of "brick" cheese, since we're now apparently talking about cheese.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:43 PM
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Brick cheese is the big ass block of cheese. Like when you buy the two pound Tillamook b/c you have three kids and make a lot of mac and cheese or something.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:46 PM
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You'd think that was the case, but among the big blocks of cheese, there are some labelled cheddar, or swiss, or whatever, and "brick" appears as though it's the name of a specific type of cheese.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:49 PM
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I don't know, but "brick" sounds to me like a subtype of cheap orange cheddar. There's some specific brand I'm thinking of, but I can't place it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:51 PM
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I think it's whitish. I've only heard the term since moving to the midwest, & mainly is Wisconsin.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:52 PM
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A ha. I guess the way to find out what it tastes like is to try some, but something about the name is less than appealing.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 1:56 PM
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413: B/c usually people mean the big Tillamook. Are there really blocks of swiss that big???


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:00 PM
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Like most foods it seems that there is brick cheese and "brick cheese". After reading the article, I am sure that I have only had the agribusiness version, but I have enjoyed even that on many a sandwich.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:04 PM
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American cheeses suck. Good cheese is actually illegal in American. Unless it's been aged over 60 days. Even then you can't find good stuff.

This is one of the worst things about America, except for the fact that we are murderous villains who kill millions of small children every day.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:05 PM
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Even then you can't find good stuff.

This is completely false.

The 60 day thing does make some cheeses difficult to obtain (although often in rural areas you can get them anyway)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:14 PM
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we are murderous villains who kill millions of small children every day

Even the finest Arabian light sweet crude makes shitty cheese. You'd think we'd have learned this by now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:16 PM
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Have you no faith in technology Apo? Do you want the godless communists terrorists to win?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:23 PM
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brick-shaped form, also known as a square, which can be construed as a rectangular shape.

Huh? Someone is unfamiliar with bricks, geometry, or both.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:29 PM
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We will know the new Christ has arrived when he feeds a crowd of five thousand with nothing more than five loaves of bread and a barrel of light sweet crude.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:31 PM
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408: 1:15 in, and I had to pause it to stop laughing. Funny!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 2:33 PM
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73

"You know, call me humorless, because I am, but I really do get, and admit, that anyone at all likely to be reading Unfogged is culpable as a beneficiary of an incredibly destructive and unjust system. We're all going to hell, we've destroyed the planet, children are dying for lack of clean water while I complain about not being fulfilled by my job. This is all true and fair and reasonable. To pick on, out of the say, 200 million Americans in that position, the ones who have some stupid, inchoate sense that all that is true, and who are making some stupid, useless attempts to do something about it, rather than all of the others who really don't give a fuck, seems poorly thought out both as humor and as ethics. (The site's not a big deal, but it would be funnier if it were better morally grounded.)"

This assumes the people behind the site think the system is as monstrous as you claim. If not your critique makes no sense. If for example they think the system is basically benign, it is perfectly in order for them to mock those who are doing well but persist in mouthing empty words about how evil the system is (but apparently not so evil that they should be expected to undergo any personal inconvenience to change it).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 4:34 PM
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I'm still waiting for the show trial of the Iranians for inventing horse breeding & chariots & s---! What happened to that?

I'll even volunteer to put my children up as codefendants as well, because through my wife's maternal grandfather they are descendants of GENGHIS KHAN!!!!


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:26 PM
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From Here: http://resignatio.blogspot.com/2007/10/angelic-wisdom.html

I'm with you. Here's what wiki says about good old american cheese:
"American cheese is a common processed cheese marketed by Kraft Foods, Borden, and other companies in the United States, and to some extent elsewhere. It is orange, yellow, or white in color and mild in flavor, with a medium-firm consistency, and melts easily. It has traditionally been made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar. Today's American cheese is generally no longer made from a blend of all-natural cheeses, but instead is a processed cheese, i.e. it is manufactured from a set of ingredients[1] (such as milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, salt) which meets the legal definition of cheese."

God, its typical of America, ain't it? Hey folks, we met the legal definition of cheese, just like the legal definition of 'war', but first we had to make the laws to fit the shit we're peddling!! I hate America sometimes!


Posted by: The FLunker | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:41 PM
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That shit would never fly in the EU, am I rite?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:45 PM
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your wife and me may be very far relatives then :)
my mom's grandmother was an only daughter of the local landlord which automatically meant they were descendants of khans, Altan Urag
but maternal line is not recognised legitimate in Mongolia
if your wife's maternal grandfather had some male offspring they are recognised his descendants
sorry, just that's how genealogy works in my land :)
it's like jewish customs i suppose everyone born to a jewish mother is a jew, but not to a jewish father only ircc


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:46 PM
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430 to 427


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:47 PM
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Not to distract over much from the glories of cheese, or the Golden horde, but I would like an explanation of how it comes to be that so many Italian restaurants in Philadelphia don't have liquor licenses. Who thinks this is a good idea?


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 5:59 PM
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Presumably the Mayor's office.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:00 PM
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432: Just Philly doing its part to live down to Pennsylvania's motto in regard to alcoholic beverages:
"Never has so much government done so little for so many."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:21 PM
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Cuts down on the brotherly love, I'd imagine. And it looks like I'll be commenting sober tonight. Who wants that?


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:22 PM
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There's a restaurant in Pittsburgh I enjoyed once on a date with a similar policy. No liquor license, but if you brought wine, they'd pour it for you.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:26 PM
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435: You've no one to blame but yourself - BYOB is the way to go in PA. OTOH, it's inconvenient if you forget (or the restaurant is in a dry boro); OTOH, it saves you damn near the cost of a bottle of wine. Also, it gives me an excuse to have my pre-dinner bourbon at home, where it's made the way I like it, and at a fraction of the restaurant cost.

Which is not to say that I'm pro-PLCB; just that it has its advantages, and you may as well take advantage of them. The advantages, I mean.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:30 PM
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Wait, you mean these restaurants serve no alcohol? Italian restaurants where one cannot order wine? Barbaric.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:30 PM
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Yeah, I could've brought a bottle. It's not very traveler-friendly.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:39 PM
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I haven't read this thread at all, and was going to link something that DeLong put up - so I searched "DeLong" and lo and behold, he showed up here.

But he still didn't link to his own post, so I will.

You can ignore the Kristol stuff - that's just DeLong bitching about the ludicrous state of the media, and we all know that the nitwit's hanbook (co-authored by Sullivan and Hitchens) counsels misinterpretation of Orwell as one of its fundamental principles.

The germane part from DeLong is the excerpted Orwell essay, which is a meditation on Kipling - and directly relevant to ogged's original post on the White Man's Burden/Privileges/Culpability.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:45 PM
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Seriously, people, read the author's flickr profile: http://www.flickr.com/people/pancakejess/ - she's very, very clearly a part of the demographic she's skewering ("Likes: ... Whole Foods, ... Gilmore Girls, ... katen sushi, ... Lost in Translation, ... Colbert Report, ... shows about property, ..."). It's not making any political point; everybody should stop being so precious.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 6:55 PM
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Now that the thread is mostly about white people's food, I can ask the question that's been on my mind since the beginning of these monster threads: what exactly are the benefits of a stand mixer? Does a stand mixer really do anything special, that you couldn't do by hand or with a hand mixer?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:15 PM
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We had some delicious blue cheese tonight. mmmmm good.

Gouda tomorrow.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:18 PM
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442: It's worth it. It mixes more evenly, with less mess, and a lot quicker.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:20 PM
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443: Gouda tomorrow.

Beta on Wednesday.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:21 PM
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442: It's worth it. It mixes more evenly, with less mess, and a lot quicker.

Also it mixes more at once and can handle stiffer (and wetter) doughs, and you can do something else while it's mixing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:23 PM
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Who thinks this is a good idea?

People who make more money off of the scarcity of liquor licenses.

I'm sure economists have a term for it. Weird phenomenon.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:25 PM
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My husband tells me my coffee is too weak. I want to be a good wife. Could Folger's Crystals help?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:26 PM
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The rule is, membrillo tomorrow and membrillo yesterday, but never membrillo today.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:27 PM
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I can see the stiffer and wetter dough arguments. I'm so consumed with white guilt that I usually think that it's me being puny and unmuscular, rather than that I should consider using a mechanical tool. I'll need more counter space...


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:27 PM
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Napi:

Perhaps that examples why people in Philly are so odd.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:27 PM
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450: Was that comment meant to be posted at alt.sex.talk?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:32 PM
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Beat vigorously until stiff peaks form, baby!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:34 PM
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Let sit overnight uncovered to allow it to rise


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:37 PM
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Does a stand mixer really do anything special, that you couldn't do by hand or with a hand mixer?

Yes. It mixes stuff without making your arm and wrist hurt. Including stuff that a hand mixer couldn't handle. In fact, it replaces a hand mixer entirely.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:38 PM
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441: everybody should stop being so precious.

Especially since the author totally tanked her credibility by trying to say white people like "Ice Ice Baby" in an age where Vanilla Ice fans are thinner on the ground than Mussolini apologists. How did nobody notice this glaring flaw in over a thousand commens? Madness.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:40 PM
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commens

The hyper-masculine version of the comma.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:40 PM
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There are still some Vanilla Ice fans around, here or there.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 8:45 PM
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Ice Ice Baby is a great song, in a kitschy way (cf #50, Irony). I would sing along if it came on in a bar (and have). Many of my friends would do the same, suggesting it's a pretty white thing to do, for the concept of white at issue here.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:04 PM
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>My husband tells me my coffee is too weak. I want to be a good wife. Could Folger's Crystals help?

Yes, but pulverizing espresso beans and cocoa nibs in the cuisinart and then adding them to the coffee until it becomes the consistency of industrial sludge would help more!

Brad "my internist says decaf! or else" DeLong


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 9:54 PM
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Does DeLong simply get a pass for ignoring house style while flaunting his own, HTML-unfriendly, house style?

Yeah, I figured as much.

And no, pf, I couldn't believe that Orwell quote came up today. Uncanny.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:26 PM
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442: A mixer is very much like a cuisinart: It doesn't so much do anything you can't do other ways, as it does it an awful lot faster an more uniformly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 10:51 PM
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but isn't stand mixer a bigger pain to clean?

The handheld kind works fine for me, but maybe that's because my baking is limited to cookies & pies with graham cracker crusts.

But wait: if you are truly white, you have a food processor, & that mixes dough just fine too (as well as being more versatile than a stand mixer.) No?

I want to learn how to bake for real. Does anyone have any good tart recipes?


Posted by: katherine | Link to this comment | 02-18-08 11:19 PM
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Food processors aren't good for batters and cookie doughs; they're also not very good for most bread doughs (really, only basic white bread doughs, which aren't too heavy, wet, or dense). Standing mixers also allow double batches of things, which neither hand mixers nor food processors do.

For the things you're already using the hand mixer for, they take half the time or so, and leave you free to do other things. Imagine making whipped cream for dessert while you have dinner guests: you go into the kitchen, start the cream whipping, then prepare the coffee, get out cups & cream & sugar, etc. All the while, the cream has whipped, and your only involvement is looking at it every couple minutes. Or imagine putting away all the ingredients while the cookie dough mixes, or measuring the dry ingredients while the butter and sugar cream. It really cuts down on prep time. Also, it's no harder to clean up than a hand mixer - the bowl and the attachments go in the dishwasher, and it's smooth, so easy to give a quick wipe with a sponge, if you're so inclined.

I was very skeptical of standing mixers, but once my wife got one (refurbished) for Xmas, I was converted. I never baked bread, and didn't bake much in general; now I do. If you're the type who might bake a lot, it's well worth it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 9:51 AM
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>if you are truly white, you have a food processor, & that mixes dough just fine too (as well as being more versatile than a stand mixer.) No?

No. It is more versatile. But it does not mix dough as well as a stand mixer.

I will be happy to answer more questions about "whiteness," but only after the Show Trial of the Iranians is concluded.


Brad DeLong


Posted by: Brad DeLong | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:19 AM
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The handheld kind works fine for me, but maybe that's because my baking is limited to cookies & pies with graham cracker crusts.

Diagnosis: correct.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:20 AM
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All you other white people with stand mixers have more counterspace than I do. I'd use mine a lot more if I didn't have to lift it down from the top of a cabinet eight feet up to use it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:22 AM
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you need to remodel your kitchen!


Posted by: The White People | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:27 AM
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The handheld kind (or the naked force of my own hands) works fine for me, and I bake all kinds of damn things. Quiches, soufflés, breads, cookies, cakes---you know, bakeable shit. I rarely make double recipes, and I have decided that croissants are unrealistic. Maybe the stand mixer would come in handy for the challah dough.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:28 AM
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I actually use my stand mixer much, much less than I used to -- I used to bake bread with very wet dough all the time, as well as things like gingerbread cookies with enormously stiff dough and seven cups of flour, and it came in handy several times a week. But now that Snark has to restrict his carbohydrates, it tends to collect dust.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:32 AM
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Oo. I like gingerbread cookies.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 11:34 AM
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I looked at your awesome tedious web site. Oh ha ha ha how funny. Dumbasses who bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch about Toyota Priuses annoy me to death. There are a gazillion of those mouth-breathing fuckers out there, and they're all white people too. No, I don't drive a Prius. I drive a sports car.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 4:13 PM
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I drive a chariot.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 4:16 PM
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Hey JM, how was Turangalila?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-19-08 4:21 PM
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Has anyone ever seen Adam Kotsko and Ward Churchill in the same place at the same time?


Posted by: crack | Link to this comment | 02-21-08 2:18 PM
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