I reckon you've all heard the controversy about the NFL deciding to deny a Super Bowl advertising slot to the gay dating site mancrunch.com, while green-lighting an anti-abortion ad sponsored by James Dobson's Focus on the Family. As to the latter, yeah whatever. But here's what's confusing to me: this is the rejected ad. Go ahead if you haven't already seen it, but be sure to make it all the way to the end. I'll wait.
Okay, that's a pretty funny commercial, mostly due to the bit after the site's logo comes up. And, as The Editors note, "nobody wants to watch a bunch of muscley men jump on top of each other in tight shiny pants and slap each other on the ass if it's going to be interrupted by a bunch of gay shit." Honestly, only the UFC could top pro football for blatant homoeroticism (and sweet Jesus, do they ever). So I'm left to ask whether anybody really believes that even one single football fan will stop watching NFL games if this ad gets aired? Did they lose any viewers thanks to this one? Yeah, yeah, I know some people called and complained, but some people are bored out of their fucking skulls and won't have anything better to do from here 'til burying time. Moreover, all that ad did was make the very same some people watch the commercials even more fastidiously for hints of the creeping gay agendification of America's favorite traumatic brain injury cavalcade. And, since the entire point of professional football is brand marketing and ad sales, hey, total win!
Seriously, the Super Bowl halftime could feature Adam Lambert fisting Clay Aiken while a Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Village People supergroup performed a medley of Broadway show tunes and everybody would still show up for kickoff next season. Frankly, after this eyebrow-raiser aired a few years ago, I'm not sure how else they're going to up the ante. So, given the politics of it all, I'm picking the Saints 41-24.
Holy crap, I learned something amazing today. Are you ready?
If you want to do a flawless high five every single time, watch the other person's elbow. I'm dead serious. Works like a charm. How had I not heard about this highly useful tip?
Apparently, it helps with slap boxing, too. So, you know, there's that.
Thus saith the LORD:
There are just 126 days until the $5000 BTUSA National Beard and Moustache Championships. Gentlemen, start your follicles.
Via infinite robot monkeys.
Today, I was asked, seemingly with kind intentions and by a stranger, if I'm a "wop". It was an older person, maybe 60? I had, and continue to have, no idea how to react to the question.
People still use that word?
This is neat: using accelerometers to compare a drummer's hand speed with a basketball player's.
I have a hard time taking accelerometers seriously, because the name sounds like something from the Jetsons—even though they're apparently legitimate devices (um, according to my deep fact-checking work of confirming this via the first couple sentences at Wikipedia). Still: neat.
Via NickS, who shares these reactions:
(1) Conceptually I'm not surprised that Bayless was faster considering that he has close to 30 years on the drummer.
(2) Watching I was surprised, however, since it had looked like Bayless' hands were moving farther, and I expected him to be slower because of that.
(3) The fact that both of them were (relatively speaking) so close in their scores suggests that the two tasks are similar and that they are both operating against the same physical constraints.
I should also note the presence, in the video, of a metric crap-ton of low-hanging fruit, which I presume everyone around these parts will ignore.
The IBTC finds you guilty as charged. My only hesistation in linking this is that on occasion, people who comment here have sighed dreamily over waiflike women with tiny breasts. Yes you're very clever for bucking the Playboy Implant Fantasy. Scrawny waifs are ever so uncharted territory for wistful misty wack-off sessions.
To everyone's credit, this has really ceased around these parts.
Some seem to think it's credible, but I say no way is Habermas really on twitter.
1. Ugly Betty was cancelled. I like that show. Also, they had a few unusual things: a transgender main character, in which was being transgender was largely incidental to most plots involving her. Also she was beautiful, so there were not many jokes at her expense for looking manly. (A few jokes about her having big feet every now and then. But not malicious.) Second, a prepubescent gay kid, and being gay is not the primary feature of the character. He's a nice, funny kid drawn three-dimensionally.
Please no spoilers. I'm in the middle of Season 3.
2. Writing a gigantic cumbersome mess is sometimes a good way to get something through a committee because no one can stomach making heads or tails of it, but everyone knows it needs to get passed. This particular gigantic mess may come back to bite us in the butt, but maybe I'll be off the committee by then.
A quick question that I've been thinking about. I've just gotten back
from vacation and, on my travels, I stopped into a gallery that
contained a mix of work by local artists and small items from various
pacific rim countries (mostly, but not exclusively, from China).
I ended up buying a jade carving produced by a neolithic Chinese
culture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongshan_culture -- it is in the
style of this piece
http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/china1999/037_010.htm but less polished
both literally and metaphorically. It's nice but doesn't appear to be
in any way an exceptional piece of jade). I selected it without any
particular introspection -- I just liked it. Of the items in my price
range (cheap) that was the one to which I returned to and felt
Since returning, I've been wondering about the ethics of buying a
archeological artifact of unknown provenance. My general intuition is
to think that it's probably okay, but it's an interesting thing to
think about. I know that, in general, the private market for
antiquities is pretty dodgy, but I still don't feel like it was a
problem for me to buy the carving.
As I see it there are two potential ethical issues. The first is
whether, by making the purchase I am contributing to a destructive
industry, and the second is whether it's an act of cultural
imperialism to purchase antiquities from a culture that is not one's
own as a souvenir. I'm inclined to think that the first is the more
serious ethical problem but that I'm probably okay just because the
scale of my purchase is so small. That's not as clear a distinction as
I would like, but there is a limit, I think, of what one is
responsible for as a consumer. The second question is interesting to
think about, but I'm inclined to think that there's all sorts of trade
in cultural artifacts and that the mere fact that this was an
archeological piece doesn't make it an inappropriate transaction.
As far as supporting a black/gray market in antiquities my first line
of defense would just be the price -- at that level nobody is making
enough money to encourage them to support much of anything. The second
that that makes me feel better, perhaps irrationally, is that it
wasn't sold on the basis of being an antiquity. There was a sign
identifying it as one of a group of neolithic pieces, but otherwise it
was presented, and I bought it, as a pleasing carving. It's possible
that I'm just rationalizing, but I think that makes a difference
because it puts it in a more fungible category. If I was specifically
interested in some ancient culture, then I'm committed to buying from
the antiquities market but, in this case, my motivations were such
that I could have just as easily bought a piece of petrfied wood or a
quartz crystal, or something else, had that been what the gallery
carried. It makes me think that the sort of trade that puts a carving
like that in the gallery that I visited is largely ancillary to
destructive looting of archeological sites. If the abuses are stopped
then trade in neolithic jade might or might not stop but the gallery
owner will be fine either way, and that isn't what drives looting.
As for the second question I believe that, unless the process by which
an artifact was originally acquired as private property was
destructive, there's nothing wrong with buying a cultural artifact
from another culture (mind you, I have no idea how this piece entered
the private market). I believe that cultural works and artifacts
aren't only produced with their native culture in mind. Almost every
nation wants, on some level, to make their culture valuable to people
in other countries. We want people to see our movies, listen to our
music, read our books, or use our typefaces (thinking of Helvetica).
Cultural artifacts are often produced to be traded as much as for use
purely within a tradition and population.
As such it's entirely appropriate that some cultural artifacts spread
to other countries. If some French blues fan wanted to buy Leadbelly's
guitar (which may well have happened) I would say good for them. It
isn't that I don't value the guitar, as an artifact, but I don't think
the value that I would place on it should, in any way, make somebody
else feel guilty about buying it and keeping it as a private
I recognize, however, that there is a point at which something is so
important, for any of a variety of reasons, to it's home culture that
it would feel wrong to sell it to somebody outside of that culture.
But I think that is a distinct minority of all artifacts and I don't
have any reason to think that this particular item falls into that
I might say, for example, that Mark Twain's writing desk belongs in a
museum, and that I would feel a little bit of a qualm about somebody
who wanted to buy it and keep it in their private residence, but I
wouldn't feel any qualms about someone buying Ogden Nash's writing
desk. In either case, it wouldn't matter to me at all if the residence
was in New York or Dubai -- the question is whether it's belongs on
the private market at all, or in the public world, not whether the
buyer is from outside of the culture.
But it's been an interesting ethical gray area to think about, and I
was curious if the mineshaft has any thoughts.
Dear Professor Smith-
My off-the-top of my head reaction is that it's bad even if it's nothing special, unless you have reliable expert information saying that this specifically is okay -- the value of the piece doesn't matter so much as not providing incentives to screw up the context of archeological sites.
But my second reaction is that you probably shouldn't feel individually bad, because the odds are that what you have is a modern carving in the style of the neolithic culture. That's a guess without much basis, but I'm figuring that at the low end of the market, most things are fakes. Which is a win all around -- you have the esthetic/cultural qualities you wanted, and probably didn't do any archeological harm.
Wow, I can make the comments box big. I mean, really big.
I think teo has mentioned being comfortable reading long-form prose from a backlit screen. That's okay, teo is a plant-based life form and can turn light into food. Me, comfortable, no. You might get me hooked on a technicolor e-Ink whatsamazoo, though.
I came across this book review, which I found interesting. First, wow did you pick a sacred cow to mangle.
The book is called "The Trauma Myth" and posits that the trauma of childhood sexual abuse occurs not at the time of abuse, but later when the individual learns the societal context of sexual abuse and starts to comprehend the size of the violation that was perpetrated. The author interviewed a bunch of adults who had been victims of sexual abuse in their childhood, and found that they often don't remember the abuse with the vivid clarity that characterizes traumatic memories in general.
This makes sense to me. As a child, you are expected to roll with the punches and make sense of it later all the time. Depending on the age and health of the child, there may be a number of valid reasons for adults to be all up in their genitalia. Then when the child gets old enough to understand that the adults had good reasons, the world still seems right.
But if you reach seven or eight and realize that an adult who was supposed to be taking care of you was actually violating a huge cultural norm at your expense, that realization is going to be what sends shock waves to your foundation and potentially turns your world upside down.
(Furthermore, today's adults might have experienced sexual abuse in a climate of more secrecy than today's kids. If you already know it's wrong when it happens to you, I assume it's traumatic at the moment.)
However, it seems like this message was delivered with a hatchet and not a scalpel, and so the book has made lots of people livid, who think that the author is excusing sexual abuse and saying it's not traumatic, etc. It seems like the book could have been more tactfully titled, at least.
In a celebrated Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin announces to Hobbes his plan not to think about unpleasant things, and then, when Hobbes asks him whether that isn't a rather self-deceptive way to go through life, announces further that he isn't going to think about that. In that spirit, I observe that there are only two occurrences on google of "Giardia de Laurentiis" that seem to be purposeful rather than typos. On the train into town today I attempted to pervert other Food Network host names similarly but, after realizing that one can go from "Rachael Ray" to "Vachel Lindsay" (which does not obviously relate to food) got no further. I feel as if Emeril Lagasse is ripe with potential. Emetic? I turn to you.
It's been pretty cold here in Bridgeplateville, but never so cold I found myself wishing a concierge had discreetly burrowed under my sheets to warm them up for me. I'd worry about how much to tip them.
One year into Obama's presidency, is there anything left of the reasons any of you voted for him? I was hoping for sanity on the human rights/detainee issues. That didn't work out -- we're still claiming the right to detain people forever without trial, and refusing to investigate credible allegations of murder by torture. I was hoping for less war. Maybe we've got slightly less, but not so's you'd notice much. I was hoping for real health care reform. This now appears very unlikely. I was hoping for sane economic policy and provision of social services. Now we've got a spending freeze in the middle of a recession.
So is there anything left? Maybe more competent and goodwilled appointees running federal agencies. I can't think of anything else.
Are you out of your mind?
I'm attempting not to freak out because (a) I don't have details and (b) I suspect this initiative was deliberately leaked to progressive bloggers in an effort to get denounced by the left and I don't want to give them the satisfaction.
Matt has the sober, cautious thing covered. By the principles of divided labor and comparative advantage, we should therefore press on with a robust freaking-out.
From Witt, an interview with Elizabeth Warren. Transcript (also due to Witt) under the cut.
(homemade transcript; forgive the typos)
ON CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION:
The real question on the agenda right now is: What kind of rules are we going to write going forward? Are we going to write a set of rules where the same banks are going to stay in control of the financial system, and they're going to do what they want to do, and in the good times they take all the profits and in the bad times they come tell the American taxpayer to bail them out? Or are we going to have a different set of rules?
I was really knocked out -- I have to tell you -- by the hearings last week when Jamie Diamond [head of Citibank?] said, [airy tone], "You know, you just have to expect this. We'll have crashes like this every five to seven years--"
Doesn't that just knock you over?
Part of what's happened is that the industry has said right from the beginning -- when the president first announced his regulatory reforms last spring, he included as the centerpiece that there would be a new cop on the beat, for consumers....
They called it the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and you know -- it's a good idea. The idea is that there ought to be.... someone who says credit cards ought to be readable. Home mortgages ought to be readable, and they shouldn't be loaded with tricks and traps that bring down families.
The industry, chastened by what had happened in the crisis -- which, always remember, started *one household at a time,* one bad mortgage sold to one family, over and over.
The industry, much chastened by that, said: "We will kill this bill. We could deal with other parts of regulatory reform, but not a consumer agency. We can't have that."
To his great credit, Barney Frank fought it through the house, and got through a not perfect, but still very strong version of the consumer bill....
It then goes over to the Senate, and Chris Dodd initially proposed a very strong verision of the consumer agency and then, frankly, the Republicans just threw rocks at it. Unrelenting.
So they all went off behind closed doors to start negotiating.
And then I read last week in the Well Street Journal that the bill is probably dead, the consumer portion has to be severed off because it's not acceptable to the industry.
And I found myself thinking: Well, fine. If we can't have a strong agency, then let's just have a vote on that.
Frankly, I don't know why anyone in Congress would want to go back home and say, "I passed the banking reform bill that the banks approved of."
ON THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY RIGHT NOW:
I'm worried. And I'm worried because I think about where we were 15 months ago. Fifteen months ago we said this crisis was brought on because there are too many toxic assets. Remember, bad mortgages on the books of the banks.
Here we are 15 months later, and most of those bad mortgages remain on the books of the banks. [...] And what we've done is we've changed the accounting so the banks don't have to tell how bad the mortgages are.
And the mortgage foreclosure problem has gotten worse. In '08, we had a million mortgage foreclosures, which I thought was astonishing. In '09 it was 2 million. And we're already estimated to have *three* million this year....
[Brief discussion of commercial mortgages: "We haven't even hit the worst part of it."]
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE BE TELLING THEIR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES?
The two ends of the spectrum. It started with consumers, and that means we need cops on the beat. We need tough consumer regulation.
And then the other end. We need to fix the "too big to fail" problem. It needs to be the case that we can say to *every* financial institution in America, "You make bad mistakes, you're going down. Your shareholders will be wiped out, your top management will be fired, your business will be gone."
In the sense, at least, that it holds out a promise of interest to me; the thing in question is over and done with and has been for over a year: an essay by Akeel Bilgrami about Occidentalism, and Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, and relata, and responses, all to be found here. I haven't read the responses or the response to the responses (hence hedging), but the essay is quite long. (Bilgrami's faculty page at Columbia describes him as writing "two small books"; I'll believe it when I see it.)
While getting a professional haircut yesterday (my first in ages; I've been auto-buzz-cutting every couple months, but I splurged), I was advised my head has The Perfect Shape. Apparently, there are lots of weird-shaped heads out there, and it really sticks in the craw of some people when the weird-headed people get close-cropped haircuts.
Not me though. I have The Perfect Shape. That, or someone was trying to sell me more haircuts later on.