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End-Stage Softness

Posted by Ogged
on 02.23.08

Lately I've been thinking that I need to move, because I can't take the weather anymore.


 

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All That She Wants

Posted by Becks
on 02.23.08

While all of the attention has been focused on the nudie Lohan pics, the article that I found best in this week's New York Magazine was "All I Want Is Foundation That Matches", a chronicle of one beauty editor's quest to find makeup that was dark enough for her black skin and the embarrassments she went through at the beauty counters. I think any woman who has felt that she didn't fit into the standard ideals of beauty can relate to the emotions.


 

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Covet And Sneer

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.08

All but the youngest among us appreciate good real estate porn, and the Times "Property Values" series, which compares three houses at the same price in different parts of the country, is damn good real estate porn.


 

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Cheap Blogging

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.08

Yglesias is on fire today. Go and read all his Feb. 22 stuff.


 

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Good Luck

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.08

It turns out that it was apparently the Secret Service who decided to stop screening the crowd at an Obama rally in Dallas. That's stupid, of course, but as Michael Froomkin notes, stupid is the more hopeful interpretation.

Although: SP, in the comments as Froomkin's, explains it this way.

They did this in Boston the night before super Tuesday, it was the only way to get everyone inside in under 6 hours (line formed at 5, event start scheduled for 8, security dropped at 10, Obama spoke at 11.) People who hadn't gone through security were separated from those who were by a double line of metal barriers at least 300 feet from the stage with a line of state troopers in the aisle formed by the barriers. I couldn't even see the speakers from the non-secure area, the press stands were also in the way. I thought I could see Obama's red tie but it was actually Deval Patrick's.

That seems insufficient. Granted it wouldn't be easy to pull out a rifle and aim in a big crowd, but who knows, and a good shot can easily hit a target at 300 feet.


 

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Where "Maverick" Slips Over The Line Into "Gross"

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.22.08

Swampcracker has some gossip about McCain -- it's third-hand, so take it for what it's worth.

McCain was in Iraq last year, and his official escort was none other than my son-in-law, whose responsibility is to accompany celebrities and politicians on official visits to the war zone.

According to Captain Son-in-Law, John McCain has a stubborn and obtuse way of not paying attention to protocol -- as in "Sir, we are running late. We must leave NOW!" In other words, he does not listen to handlers despite the implication that his dawdling may put others at risk.

Time will tell whether or not there is merit to the NYT story. Nevertheless, here is a legitimate question for voters to consider: How sound is McCain's judgment as our possible future commander-in-chief?

(Another observation about Senator McCain's quirky personality: He never flushes the john after he uses it, at least according to Captain Son-in-Law.)


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Problem Promotion Edition

Posted by Becks
on 02.22.08

A reader asks:

Today at work, I was offered a promotion of sorts to a position as a trainer/superviser-ish role. I would be training new people on the job along with monitoring the progress of my co-workers after the training and helping them see missed opportunities, yadda yadda corporatespeak. The problem is: some of these duties were just surrendered by a co-worker (let's call her Linda), who gave up the tasks in what seems to have been a move to force the departmental manager to create an actual "Team Leader" or "Coach" position, which is the standard set-up for a department right like ours. So, if I accept, I'll be kind of shitting on Linda, who trained and has helped me ever since, and whom I consider a good friend. So, mineshaft: what should I do?
Additional details:

-The offer comes with no immediate increase in pay, but rather the promise that such an increase will be considered based on performance/results. This is fairly standard for the company, but kind of irksome. I know for a fact that Linda got a little bump in pay for doing some of this stuff, so I feel like so should I. But maybe just wait it out?
-The position would be an improvement for me: I'd like the work better and generally be good at it and thus happier.
- In addition to some of the things Linda used to do, I'll have some additional tasks and duties that she did not. So I don't feel like I'm taking her old spot exactly. I just kind of figured we would eventually share these duties in a weird sort of hybrid supervisory way, even though the company would prefer to bundle the tasks in one position. Also: there are parts of the position that I am qualified to do that she is not; but the opposite is not true: I'm qualified to do what she did; she was just senior and already doing it when I arrived. So I'm thinking I'm a better choice if it has to be one person. It's entirely possible and perhaps even likely that this is self-delusion on my part.
- At least one other employee is almost certainly going to be miffed that she wasn't considered. She's been there longer than I have and will probably cause a stir they aren't interviewing for the position.
- I'm supposed to give them an answer by Monday if possible.


 

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Anticipate

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.08

Y'all don't seem sufficiently impressed with the prospect of fireworks in the Democratic debate that's going to start in about ten minutes. I'm telling you, she just might shoot him dead. In it to win it, baby.

Anyway, this here's your debate thread.


 

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Not A Bad Thing

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.08

Just passing this along.

A senior adviser to Republican favourite John McCain has promised to stand aside if Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination because of his admiration for the Illinois senator.

Mark MacKinnon, who designs Mr McCain's advertisements, said he could not face being part of a campaign that "would inevitably be attacking" Mr Obama.
"I have met Barack Obama. I have read his book. I like him a great deal. I disagree with him on very fundamental issues but it would be uncomfortable for me and it would be bad for the McCain campaign," he told National Public Radio.

via kaus


 

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Penny For Your Thoughts

Posted by Becks
on 02.21.08

So I was in a taxi the other day and the ride was pleasant enough and I'd already counted out my money for the fare plus tip. It was then, about two minutes before we arrived at our destination, that the radio program returned from commercial break and revealed itself to be crazy right-wing talk radio. (Michelle Obama is the new Teresa Heinz Kerry! She hates America!!!) I quietly peeled part of the money I had already counted out for the tip off of the bills I had assembled and put it back into my pocket.

Fair? Unfair? Not far enough?


 

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Republicans Heading For A Brokered Convention?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.21.08

I haven't seen anyone suggest that the McCain 'sex scandal' (geez, the NYT sucks, doesn't it? If you haven't got more facts than that, don't write the story. I mean, I'm sure it's true, just because I expect that sort of thing to be true, but write it or don't.) has been floated by Republican kingmakers because they think McCain's toast against Obama (I'm assuming Obama's won the Dem nomination) in the general election, and they're trying to pick a different candidate. I don't know if it's true, but it seems like a real possibility.

I may be overestimating how hopeless McCain's chances are, but I can't imagine anyone who might possibly ever vote for a Democrat voting for him over Obama this year. No one likes McCain on domestic issues. That's exaggerated, but to Democrats, he's a Republican, without anything particularly attractive about any of his domestic positions, and to Republicans he's a campaign-finance-reform-pushing immigrant-loving loser. And on his big selling point, a 'strong' foreign policy, he's got the wildly unpopular war hanging around his neck, which is going to be hell to get past. Anyone else think the GOP is desperately riffling through its Rolodex, looking for someone who wasn't in the primaries to throw into contention at the convention after they've twisted McCain's arm into withdrawing?


 

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More Quickies

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.08

1. Radley Balko continues to do more than any writer in America, save maybe Bob Herbert, to bring some justice to those abused by the criminal justice system, but what makes me really happy about Balko is that this champion of the black and poor looks like a skinhead who should be stomping on someone's face with his boots.

2. Tony Karon has a great post up about Fidel Castro.


 

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What She Said.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.21.08

Megan's taking advantage of having comment moderation on to get some things off her chest, and she's cracking me up. Everything I've got a personal opinion on, she's right -- given her track record, I'm perfectly willing to assume she can also kick my ass.

Also, MOTHERFUCKING COCKSUCKER!


 

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Innnteresting

Posted by Ogged
on 02.20.08

Lawrence Lessig is considering running for Congress.


 

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Quickies

Posted by Ogged
on 02.20.08

1. Nobody can answer Belle's question?

2. Something for any classicists (and history buffs) in DC. Thanks to Napi for the pointer.


 

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Total Eclipse of The Moon

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.20.08

Courtesy of Gary. Well, not that he personally is blotting out the sun, but I'd have forgotten about it if I hadn't noticed it on his blog. Look out the window between 8:45 and midnight.


 

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I See You

Posted by Ogged
on 02.20.08

Drum gets whimsical and cynical.

But then I thought twice about it. After all, there are two sides to this..: the coolness of invisibility for me vs. the extreme annoyance of invisibility for all the rest of you. How does this balance out?

In my case, pretty clearly on the non-invisibility side. After all, I don't really have much use for being invisible, do I? I work at home, I'm not excited by the prospect of risk-free shoplifting, and it would probably scare the hell out of the cats. On the downside, other people being invisible could become a very serious pain very quickly. Just imagine what Michelle Malkin could do with it.
So here's today's question for you. Not "Would you like the power of invisibility?" Rather, "Would you like other people to have the power of invisibility?" Well, would you?

There are basically two good reasons to be invisible: to hear what Dick Cheney and David Addington are planning, and to see your neighbors naked. But we have to balance those good things against Drum's point, which is actually profound: giving everyone the power of invisibility would utterly disrupt our social arrangements. Absent anti-invisibility measures (and someone is always ahead in an arms race; it's not as if viruses are obsolete because of anti-virus software), you could never be confident that you were alone. It's actually hard to imagine what state of mind we'd be in if that were the case; there must be societies where people are almost never alone, but even that is just an approximation of never knowing whether you're alone. Maybe the solution would be for everyone to be invisible almost all the time; that's a kind of privacy, but obviously that would be an even bigger adjustment.

Maybe y'all have more developed thoughts on this topic, but for now I cast my vote against invisibility.


 

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Backdoor To Gays In The Military

Posted by Becks
on 02.20.08

Reading Yglesias's recent post on how recruitment shortfalls still haven't improved prospects for letting gays into the military, I was struck by a central irony of GOP policy - the same conservatives who advocate keeping gays out of the military are also pushing to privatize large numbers of military services. And those private contractors? Frequently have very gay-friendly policies towards their employees.


 

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What Are The Boundaries Of Plagiarism?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.20.08

Eugene Volokh says what I was thinking about the Obama 'plagiarism' flap:

Here's why I don't excited by plagiarism allegations. As I've argued before, when a typical writer uses another's words, he commits two sins. (1) He deceives readers into wrongly giving him credit for originality. (2) He wrongly denies the original author credit that's important to the original author's reputation. That's why, for instance, scholars, whose stock in trade is original reasoning and writing, must be careful to properly attribute material they borrow from others, especially other scholars.

But I don't think this sensibly applies to politicians copying from other politicians. Politicians are admired for having sensible ideas and moving rhetoric. They're not expected to have ideas or words that are genuinely original in the sense of being their own invention; many high-level politicians' words are written by speechwriters, and even the ones that they write themselves are admired for their soundness or rhetorical effectiveness, not for their creativity. (Politicians are looked down on for having tired, boring, overused rhetoric or ideas that are the same as everyone else's; but not being cliché is not the same as being entirely original.)

Another point on plagiarism is that it's a serious, important sin in the areas where it applies. Scholarly plagiarism can end your career; plagiarism in writing for publication is just as big a deal. There are clear rules, and no excuse for intentionally violating them. (Mistakes happen to everyone, but an intentional plagiarist has done something very wrong.)

And political speeches aren't like that. As Volokh points out, it would be absurd to expect a politician to namecheck their speechwriters in every speech, much less to credit every idea they'd picked up in a conversation with an advisor. The clear rules that prohibit plagiarism just don't apply to political speechmaking. At which point, conversations that act as if there were such clear rules, and therefore as if violating them was unambiguous wrongdoing, don't make sense to me. Someone whose political rhetoric is overly derivative might be dull, or hackneyed, but calling them a plagiarist seems just mistaken.


 

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I Don't Know Anyone Like This.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.20.08


 

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Carbon Neutral Solar Gasoline?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.20.08

Neat little "maybe this is the technological fix that will solve everything" article in the NYT yesterday.

The scientists, F. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic Jr., are proposing a concept, which they have patriotically named Green Freedom, for removing carbon dioxide from the air and turning it back into gasoline.

The idea is simple. Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel.

Of course, you're not getting energy out that you didn't put in, and the energy has to come from somewhere. But this kind of thing, where you're producing a product, not powering the electrical grid, seems like a natural for solar or wind -- any renewable, carbon neutral power source where the problem is that output isn't reliably constant. And then when you burn the fuel, it's carbon neutral, because it's not putting anything into the atmosphere that didn't just get pulled out of it.

I'm sure there are a million reasons why it won't work, but this sort of thing does sound hopeful. We've got a lot of empty space out West that we could fill with solar plants. (Come to think of it, the Saudis have a heck of a lot of desert, investment capital, and energy industry expertise. It'd be funny if they ended up still selling us gas even after the wells ran dry.)


 

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More outrage!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.20.08

I just saw my first Bolle rendering of Gil Thorp (the character). Lame.

Check out the way things used to be:

old_gil.jpg

Classy. Old school, rugged but handsome.

Now for the new model:

new_gil.jpg

Weak. You call that a chin? I haven't been this upset since the Brawny makeover.


 

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OUTRAGE!!!

Posted by Ben
on 02.19.08

BOY, THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL! Apparently New Yorkers are so functionally illiterate that the appearance of a semicolon in a public place merits mention in the paper of record. This article is so amazingly idiotic it's hard to know where to begin. Were you aware that sometimes serial killers have employed semicolons? That even city employees are capable of writing? That saucy youngsters have employed the semicolon to represent a wink in "emoticons"? That, if you're the NY Times, you can get Louis Menand to assess a sentence for correctness as to punctuation? (This should be heartening to all the Modern Linguists in the crowd, I suppose: if you find yourselves with careers like Menand's, holding a named chair at Harvard and reaching out to a fairly substantial popular audience as well, the Times might come calling at your door, too, when all their regular copyeditors are indisposed.)

I didn't even notice on the first reading that they also managed to get quotations from Chomsky (figured, primly, a sniffer), Geoff Nunberg, and the former style-setter for the paper, who rightly notes that a colon would be more meet. (I can't complain about Truss, since I imagine this sort of thing is about her speed.) (Armsmasher sent me the link, pointing out the correction.)

AND HERE'S ANOTHER THING! What the fuck is up with this trailer? The movie, which hails from FRANCE, is evidently a sort of silly romcom of deception and mistaken identity. The trailer's so narrated and arranged that the absolute minimum of dialogue is present; certainly no subtitles. Is the idea on the part of the importers that no one who'd want to go to a movie of this type would want to go to a movie in a foreign language, but that one can be put over on them by omitting dialogue and subtitles from the trailer? Surely the cat will get out of the bag eventually? (On the other hand, maybe the movie just has almost no dialogue; that could be interesting.)

BAH!


 

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Firewall

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.08

Seems like the notion that Ohio and Texas are Clinton's "firewall" is a frame that's favorable for her, but isn't accurate anymore. There's no realistic way that she can make up the delegates in those states, and wins there aren't as significant as they would have been if Obama hadn't won nine (ten?) in a row with large enough margins to open a real delegate lead. "Firewall" makes it sound like she just needs to win to stop Obama's roll, be back in the game, to make this an even contest, but that's no longer true, and Obama's people shouldn't let it seem true.

And does anyone want to speculate about how they'll try to throw Obama off his game in the next week or two? That seems to be Clinton's only hope at this point.


 

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Wisconsin

Posted by Becks
on 02.19.08

If you must.


 

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Drama Wants His Mama

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.08

Remember the kicked puppy ex-boyfriend? Last night I went to see some friends of the bpl, including her ex, perform and at one point between "sets" (people playing in a basically empty bar) he came over and was talking to the person sitting next to us, while definitely not looking at me. I can stand only so much childish ridiculousness, so I extended my hand and introduced myself. He shook it, while saying "yeahhh" as if he wanted to say something devastating, but instead he turned to the bpl and said "I can't believe you were stupid enough to invite him" and walked away. Then, apparently worried that I hadn't quite grasped the immaturity and emotional fragility that he was prepared to wield, he sat at an empty corner of the bar with a glass of water and his head literally in his hands, until moping out a little while later. Now I feel like I have to show up at every gig just to see if he'll cry.

After his remark, of course I laughed, but I figured the gallant thing was to ask the bpl if she wanted me to beat him up. She said she wasn't bothered if I wasn't bothered.

More generally, how have y'all managed with a new date's friends? I tend to have...chilly relations with them, partly due to my natural introversion, partly due to the fact that I'm petulant enough to sit in silence next to someone that I'm resentful I'm being forced to socialize with. Eventually I make my peace with a few, but it's always been a source of friction between me and the person I'm dating.


 

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Suspicious

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.08

Over at The Edge of Yadda Yadda, Rauchway has an interesting reading of Gatsby that's kicking up some good discussion.


 

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Breaking down the Pakistani election.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.19.08

Posts like this are the very reason why the internet gods created Juan Cole.


 

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Mting

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.19.08

[redacted, just because]


 

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3Gil

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.19.08

Everyone's been talking about this, but man, what a letdown. Gil Thorp is now being drawn by Frank Bolle, the guy who does Apt 3G. As you can see from today's GT, he has limited range.



 

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Wrap Your Minds Around That

Posted by Becks
on 02.18.08

If, under the Anna Nicole Smith rule, one is not allowed to masturbate to pictures of dead celebrities, what about photos of living celebrities who are recreating famous photo shoots done by dead celebrities?


 

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Lead Me To The Rock

Posted by Ogged
on 02.18.08

Went rock climbing for the first time today, and loved it. I was at a gym doing what's called bouldering, which is climbing a short wall that doesn't require ropes or a partner. It turns out that rock climbing is basically two kinds of puzzle. The first puzzle is mapping the route that you'll take, and although climbing up a bunch of color-coded nubbins doesn't seem like it should be mentally challenging, there were a lot of moments of me staring at the wall until finally thinking something like "Aha! I'll put my left foot there!" The second puzzle is how to move your body up the route. There are basic tips to keep in mind, like keeping your body as close to the wall as possible, but then there are also a series of moves or maneuvers that involve torquing just so, or positioning this or that elbow or knee inside or outside your body to allow you to get to the next hold without putting your center of gravity somewhere that can't be supported by what you're holding on to. Brute strength in your arms and forearms helps, but it's really a crutch and a distant third in helpfulness to mapping and maneuvering.

I managed to finish a couple of the most basic routes (V0) and that was just encouraging enough that I'll surely go back soon. But I didn't manage to finish them until I gave up on sneakers and rented climbing shoes, so do that if you try it. Oh, and despite expecting the people there to be too cool for school, I found both the staff and other climbers were friendly and ready with advice.


 

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Scrape Scrape Scrape; A Familiar Sound Indeed

Posted by Ogged
on 02.18.08

Is it sexist to speculate that Clinton's internal polling must show her getting creamed? That's what I think when I hear her campaign accuse Obama of plagiarism (it's all over Drudge), for using phrases that his good friend Deval Patrick, another young, gifted and black politician, used when he was responding to charges that he was all talk. Of course, Patrick quickly and predictably knocks it down.

"Sen. Obama and I are long-time friends and allies. We often share ideas about politics, policy and language. The argument in question, on the value of words in the public square, is one about which he and I have spoken frequently before. Given the recent attacks from Sen. Clinton, I applaud him responding in just the way he did."

And almost a year ago the Globe ran a story noting that the friends have similar messages and rhetorical styles. (A clip comparing the speeches is here.) Maybe I'm in the tank for Obama, but I file this under "in it to win it," which I read as "do whatever it takes."


 

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Weird Moments In Internationalism

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.18.08

So I'm vaguely attempting to teach myself Spanish, but haven't had time to work on it much actively for the last couple of weeks. And I figured there must be 'Teach yourself Spanish' podcasts, where I could lazily listen to someone speaking elementary Spanish while I commuted, which wouldn't be much, but would be something. I went on iTunes, found that there was such a category of podcasts, and downloaded something free called "Coffee Break Spanish" without actually looking at what it was.

I started listening to on the train this morning, and realized that something very weird was going on -- I was listening to a couple of Scots discussing the preterite form of -er verbs. And you know, I know not everyone's American, and not even everyone who wants to learn Spanish is American, but I was not expecting that.


 

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Texas Messes With Itself

Posted by Becks
on 02.18.08

Via Smasher, this article on Texas's primary is messed up. Could it get any more complicated? And how on earth is it that Clinton's folks only figured that out last month?


 

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Average White Band

Posted by Alameida
on 02.18.08

I'd like to pour oil on the waters by letting you all know that I gave money to Obama in my first-ever political donation. There was a sort of "message" space in which I explained that my gift was in honor of "my internet hero, bob mcmanus."


 

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God Hates You All

Posted by Ogged
on 02.17.08

I've only read to comment 40 in Labs' whiteness thread, but it's clear that no one except baa and W-lfs-n get it. What's wrong with Netflix? What's wrong with recycling? What's wrong with missing the point? Do you know how if you were born poor in 19th century London, or 21st century Mississippi, you were (or are) fucked? A victim of circumstance, with very nearly not a damn thing you can do to change your role in history: fucked poor victim. That's the position that reasonably affluent professional Americans find themselves in, but instead of being fucked poor victims, we're history's villains. You can't sit at the top of the empire, particularly an empire that fucks over millions of its own citizens, and not be a villain. I'm sorry, those are the breaks. You can pull a Paul Farmer, but there aren't many Paul Farmers. That's why things that are well-intentioned, like recycling, are absurd, because nobody cares if you spit shine the bullet before you put it in someone's head. And that's why innocuous things like Netflix are on the list, because they mark you as belonging to the group. So, whiteys, (and that includes the Cosbys, for fuck's sake) 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: the things we've let (and continue to let) happen are more than enough to damn us all to hell. Now I realize that this really isn't funny, but the response to that blog has been, in its way, hilarious. We're not good people, people. Try to think of how your recycling looks to those fucked by our action or inaction, and you'll begin to get an idea of why all things white are fair game for mockery, and why the only proper emotions for reflective affluent Americans are shame and self-loathing.


 

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Dereliction of duty

Posted by Ben
on 02.17.08

Becks, who lives with the fellow, ferchrissakes, has somehow managed not to point out to those of us who don't troll the unfogged flickr group for hot hot Armsmashing action that the man with the girly name, aka Salty Sam, had, however briefly, some fierce muttonchops. Though he's missing a cane to twirl (and, laydeez, a shirt). Best to part with the deed to your ranch nice and easy.

Thus it falls to me, as a fan of extravagant facial hair, to point it out to you.


 

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Green

Posted by Becks
on 02.17.08

IANAEnglish Major but this article on Gatsby's relevance to The Kids Today seems a bit...flawed.

[via somebody but I can't find the link]


 

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My thought on whiteness

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.17.08

Damn thread is too long. Anyway, that blog would be funnier if it were just composed of the post titles and pictures. A lot of the post content just kills the joke because it's heavy-handed.

Because I am a white person with a PhD I will overanalyze by suggesting that the project is incoherent in the following way: the salutary (and funny) effect of thinking about "whiteness" is that it emphasizes that white mores and customs are one way of getting along among many, rather than some natural default position from which other communities deviate. (The humor comes from seeing the familiar as ridiculous.) But the moralistic text often suggests that there damn well is a better way to go, and it's just not the white-culture way. White people own the master's tools. Oh yes. Oh yes.


 

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