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Speaking of Jarvis Cocker

Posted by Ben
on 03.03.12

I was thinking whilst I road my bike to the café (but before I bought skinny jeans at urban outfitters which, no lie, I did just do) about this whole hipster thing some more, and in particular Lord Castock's comment about ironic mustaches.


Naturally this brought to mind Portlandia's recent reprise of "The Dream of the 90s" in the form of "The Dream of the 1890s". Put aside the two obvious thoughts (it's not as good as the original; the guy talking about home-brewing is operating a still); it clearly depicts a recognizable "type" which it is easy to slight, or mock, or think poorly of, for reasons that are not unconnected with those that inspire dislike of the hipster more concerned with more recent things. (The preceding carefully phrased in such a way as to leave open that this too is a species of hipster, and that that's the reason for such dislike.) I myself have gone back and forth about this, though anymore I incline to tolerance (except of persons who speak of "good Italian string"; that still seems ridic).

After all, what's so silly about people who want to be butchers, or about this guy, who seems genuinely interested in making knives? Is it that, in apparently also wanting to dress the part, they give the impression of being interested in whatever pursuit they pursue for primarily aesthetic reasons? Whereas you might think that skills and styles are separate things. And there is after all a history of thinking that those who approach the question what to do as an aesthetic matter are ipso facto not really serious. (The hipster: a Schlegelian ironist, as Hegel conceived that. What is "consciousness of eternal agility" but the knowledge that "if you call your Dad he could stop it all"? (Thus begins and ends the relation of this post to Jarvis Cocker. Though obviously not everyone one would take to be this kind of refugee from the present bears that relation to his or her relation.) Connected with which is the oft-aired complaint that when our grandparents (or whoever) repaired their own clothes, preserved their own foods, spent all day cutting animals up, or whatever, it was work, and it's only something to do in one's luxury time, or to look up to, now, because you don't have to do it at all.) But, really, there's nothing inherently wrong with getting being all jazzed about handicrafts and such, even if it does point toward an unhealthy fetishization of (certain aspects of) the past (and obviously we can't just go back). So, you know, whatever. People have their enthusiasms. (Cf. No Depression-ites.) It is certainly an interesting question why people might have these particular kinds of enthusiasm and perhaps the suggestion of escapism in the Portlandia tune is not incorrect. But I really do think the primary axes of dislike of the hipster are the thoughts that there's no there there, and that what there there there is has primarily to do with organizing the right signs of there-ness about oneself. (Greif seems to think things like that. And that is, in fact, the correct destination for that link.) And if one (a) spends a lot of time learning how to (b) actually make shit, neither of those things seems clearly apposite.

About a month ago Blume shared with me this not entirely irrelevant profile of/interview with Mark Greif, which is annoying. You may read and be annoyed yourselves.


 

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Wrapping things up.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.03.12

An old friend - we've known each other since 6th grade - recently ended our friendship. I have no idea what happened - we used to see each other about once a year, and she's been chilly and avoidant the past two years. I finally emailed her and said that I've noticed things have seemed off, and that I missed her, and got no response, so I think that is conclusive. But I'm baffled as to what happened.

Does this happen to other adults? (Ie, please validate that I'm not that grating.) It seems so strange to end a longterm, low-key friendship.

I had another friend break up with me about six years ago. We were really close, so it stung more. But she was very depressed and in survival mode, and I couldn't really fault her for making cuts that she felt necessary.


 

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Everybody wants to rule this sound

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.02.12

Is it just me, or does all hipster music sound like Tears For Fears lately? (I like Tears For Fears.)

(Selena Gomez doesn't! She sounds like a disco queen. The lyrics are not just cheeseball, but cheeseball in an authentic homage to love songs of days past.)


 

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Keybored

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.02.12

I really wish keyboards had a "check mark" key. It comes up all the time, in spreadsheets, or to-do lists. I know you can reprogram your useless keys to be whatever symbol you want, but I'm just not that kind of gal.

Also, Jammies' dad types with two fingers, even though he's on a computer constantly, because he had a secretary do all his typing in the pre-email era. Here's my favorite move: when he wants a capital letter, he hits CAPS LOCK, hits the letter, and then hits CAPS LOCK again.

Also, my good friend who is an otherwise extremely competent professor, only types with one hand. It cracks me up.


 

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Cognitive Mushpot Post

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.01.12

1. From Witt:
A new study that analyzed transcripts of parents talking to their toddlers has found that the adults talk about numbers much more with their sons than with their daughters. Here's the pull quote:

"Even [when their children are] as young as 22 months, American parents draw boys' attention to numerical concepts far more often than girls'. Indeed, parents speak to boys about number concepts twice as often as they do girls. For cardinal-numbers speech, in which a number is attached to an obvious noun reference -- 'Here are five raisins' or 'Look at those two beds' -- the difference was even larger. Mothers were three times more likely to use such formulations while talking to boys."

The full study is behind a paywall, OF COURSE. I am perishing of curiosity to get the details and see what factors may be at work here. I have a lot of hypotheses (and am kind of shocked/amazed that the researcher as quoted appears to blithely dismiss "cultural" factors), but it's hard to know anything without seeing the study itself.

The above quote comes from a short article in Miller McCune magazine. Article & link to the full Journal of Language and Social Psychology article are here.

From Heebie:
Grrrr. And now I'm wondering if I do that, too.

2. Tweety sends along a link basically claiming that armchair neuro-psychologyzing is the new armchair psychologizing. I think it's because the pleasure center floods our system with dopamine whenever we're triggered by auditory speech stimulus of our anal cortex.

Tweety may have been implicating the commenters of this very mineshaft. I mean, his implication neurons maybe have been antennae-ing in your direction.


 

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So, Other Ways Of Thinking About Debt Are Possible. And?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.01.12

Anyone interested in Graeber's Debt has probably already noticed the Crooked Timber seminar on it, twelve posts by the CT regulars and others inspired by the book. While the posts, and some of the comment threads (in parts) were interesting, they largely seemed peripheral to the main thrust of the book (less trivially than my earlier post, of course).

I was hoping for more: while I found the book fascinating, I came away from it feeling as if I'd missed the point. Yes, I'm convinced that historically, the sorts of transactions we now think of as economic were often much more involved with interpersonal webs of relationship -- arms-length dealmaking is not a broad default status for how people have provided each other with resources across societies and histories. Yes, moralizing impersonal debt relationships can create horrific oppression. But I sort of came in with both of those beliefs: I'm not sure what more, if I was completely convinced by Graeber's arguments, I would have been convinced of.

Is there anyone out there who thought Graeber's book was interesting and important, who has a statement of what they thought its argumentative goal was? I still feel as though I've missed the point on some level -- that some significant part of what Graeber was arguing went past me.


 

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More from Witt

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.29.12

Witt actually sent me a bunch of links last week, which I'm milking out now.

We knew we'd have to fit in with the culture of Capitol Hill in order to gain any access at all. We could see that staffers and lobbyists dressed for business and that tourists did not. But the dress of the other essential category, the press -- ostensibly the one that included us -- was confusing. Though reporters could just as easily have passed for congressional staffers, the television crews consistently dressed as if they'd just dropped by on the way to a sports bar, apparently at real pains never to be mistaken for the people they were there to cover.....
Once we became friendly with a couple of the jeans-and-t-shirt television crews, we learned that the sanctioned times and places to shoot in Washington are well-understood .... That means everything else is not sanctioned.
That's the deal in Washington. People wielding power grant hyper-controlled access to the media in return for necessary publicity. But since that publicity is, well, necessary, the professional media corps is constantly rebalancing the power relationship. The sports-casual uniform is a strong visual signal to subjects: "I am not here because I'm impressed. I'm just doing my job, which determines your access to publicity."

It's interesting!


 

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Oh. It's not "Downtown".

Posted by Stanley
on 02.28.12

This video just had me cracking up. Lolling, if you will. I've not yet seen Downton Abbey, but someone here recommends it, right? Anyway: funny.


 

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The Greatest Healthcare System in the Galaxy!

Posted by Stanley
on 02.28.12

For a spirited morning, a few simple steps must be followed:

(1) Receive a piece of paper from your private dental insurance provider, indicating that code D34789 will be covered but code D23498 will not.
(2) Call your private dental insurance provider to seek an explanation for these codes, which are not defined anywhere on the document.
(3) Learn that it may be a simple data-entry error.
(4) Ask more questions.
(5) Learn that what's really going on is, they want you to go to a cheaper dentist.
(6) Marvel at the explanation that the insurance company is "only administrators" and that you are not, in fact, paying them money, but rather paying your employer money.
(7) Seek to clarify point #6, specifically with regard to the fact that some remuneration does, you believe, make its way to the coffers of the private insurance provider.
(8) Repeat steps 6 and 7 eleven times.
(9) Have a nice day!


 

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Your embarrassing past

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.28.12

So, should we have the right to be forgotten on the internet?


 

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Crème de la crème

Posted by Stanley
on 02.27.12

An anecdote was reported to me today. It was from a Canadian who lived close to the border with the US and regularly crossed into the US for our delicious milk and sour cream. The anecdote was confirmed and enriched by the comments of an interlocutor of Dominican descent who added that ice cream in the US is just somehow magically better in the US of A.

What's going on here?


 

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Nightmare fodder

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.27.12

When I was eight, my parents took me to see Platoon in the theater. It was traumatic, and they were super apologetic afterwards. I was very shaken by the scene where someone shoots at the mentally handicapped woman's feet and exclaims "Dance! Dance!"

Someone, one-up me with a better story of inappropriate movies they were shown!


 

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