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Guest Post - The Vacuum

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.05.19

Mos Cha writes: Of any kind of global awareness, much less strategy, in Germany:

A year in Berlin, my thinking went, would serve as a much-needed breath of fresh air. No more talking about Trump's latest tweet at children's birthday parties. No more circular and heated debates about state of American democracy. In Berlin, I would spend my time on bigger questions of grand strategy. I'd interview Germans and other Europeans grappling with the future of Europe and the future of the rules-based order. I'd attend thought-provoking conferences and debates. I'd be inspired.
Fast forward seven months. I'm not inspired. I'm worried.
For examples, consider Merkel's useful-idiot stance on Huawei; or the response of Kramp-Karrenbauer, her anointed successor, to Macron's Letter to Europe, rejecting any actions that might make a difference ("communitization of sovereign debt, a Europeanization of social systems and of the minimum wage would be the wrong way."), and offering counterproposals ranging from trivial ("EU officials should no longer be exempt from national income tax") to laughable ("a permanent seat for the EU on the UN Security Council") to astoundingly tone-deaf ("Europe should try to shape a version of Islam that is compatible with its values"). More charitably, an interesting, not-too-long paper on sources of German thinking since 1989.

Heebie's take: (traveling, posting without comment)


 

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Guest Post - Butt Momma, that's where the fun is...

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.04.19

Moby Hick writes both the post title and the following: Among the many questions raised by the woman who wrote the Notre Dame student paper to ask that women not wear leggings, the one that still confuses me is why this letter wasn't written three or four years ago when leggings were more novel. Maybe the writer hasn't walked on a college campus since her own college years? That might also explain why she wrote a letter that was almost certainly going to provoke a stronger counter-response than any boost in support for her position.

The likelihood of a provoking a stronger counter-response than any positive response was something that also hit me a couple of weeks ago when I was required to certify that I wasn't boycotting Israel in order to receive a check. I hadn't realized these kinds of requirements were so common until today, but it makes me want to boycott Israel just spite a state legislature. It also seems like free advertising for the BDS movement, since I bet more people receive money from states with anti-BDS laws than read long articles about what is happening to the Palestinians.

(I haven't read the second link because it looked really long and it seemed very unlikely that the story would be accompanied by a picture of a butt.)

Heebie's take: Well, she wouldn't bother to write a letter until her own kid's eyes were in danger of making eye-babies. Or having eye-technical-virgins-sex? I think she's repressed her own sexuality. She's obsessed with those delightfully taut heinies. As well as delightfully jiggly ones. All kinds.

Also: I am a person who absolutely does not like to wear form-fitting clothes, and somehow leggings (especially thicker exercise style leggings) don't feel revealing to me whatsoever, when I wear them.

Also: swimsuit season is coming up, and I'm once again reminded how much I loathe the fact that women's suits follow the cut of underwear, up the sides of the legs. It was a major milestone for me, a few years ago, when I realized I can opt to never, ever wear something like that again. I've switched to something like bike shorts which is truly deeply frumpy, but being active in them feels great. (These.)

The Israel thing is ridiculous.


 

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May I riff with CBD-curious?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.03.19

Here in the edge of civilization, CBD is still pretty fringey. It gets sold at head shops, I believe, and even my pothead friends don't visit head shops because that's such a specific silly scene.

I was bouncing around different podcasts and ended up listening to the first half of this episode which is absolutely straightforward and not going to blow your mind, just wandering through the evidence of different scientific fads.

Anyway: do ordinary people like yourselves use CBD oil, in your urban lives, in your various blue state locales? What does it help with? Does it actually do anything noticeable, or is it just a skunky placebo?


 

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Guest Post - May we suggest "Buttigieg-Curious"?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.02.19

Chill writes: Link to an extended, thorough, no holds barred takedown of Buttigieg, whom I had more or less ignored because why bother when he has no chance. I didn't even know how to pronounce his name* until a friend I spent Saturday with professed her undying admiration for him and somewhat piqued my interest. But after reading about 1/10th of this I recalled my friend's susceptibility to David Brooksian arguments and it made sense.

*rhymes with "meet"

Heebie's take: All I know about him is the Norwegian language thing, which sure is a charming detail.

If you know only one thing about Pete Buttigieg, it's that he's The Small-Town Mayor Who Is Making A Splash. If you know half a dozen things about Pete Buttigieg, it's that he's also young, gay, a Rhodes Scholar, an Arabic-speaking polyglot, and an Afghanistan veteran. If you know anything more than that about Pete Buttigieg, you probably live in South Bend, Indiana. This is a little strange: These are all facts about him, but they don't tell us much about what he believes or what he advocates. The nationwide attention to Buttigieg seems more to be due to "the fact that he is a highly-credentialed Rust Belt mayor" rather than "what he has actually said and done." He's a gay millennial from Indiana, yes. But should he be President of the United States?

It makes him the anti-Trump, at least, which is probably the appeal. But this link pretty thoroughly decimates the notion that Buttigieg is a fired-up progressive. He's smart and charming, but he is not the guy for the job.


 

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Guest post: My two favorite April Fool's Day posts

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.02.19

Witt writes:
- The Los Angeles Times trolls the New York Times.
- Greater Greater Washington trolls white suburban liberals

I respect a good satire, and both of these are excellent.

Heebie's take: The second one is particularly good.

I had a perfect April Fool's day: everyone in my life forgot it was the day, and I saw a few funny headlines.


 

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Guest Post - The Matrix Came Out 20 Years Ago

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.01.19

Mossi Charri writes: Vulture has a whole series, of varying quality. I liked this one:

But back to 1999. In short, if you'd walked into The Matrix on a balmy night in March and proclaimed that it would be the single most influential American movie since Star Wars, you would have sounded insane.
Which did sound insane to me: I would have named Pulp Fiction. On reflection though its influence was mostly arthouse, not commercial; only Tarantino himself got established in the mainstream.
Comic books rely on people in ridiculous outfits routinely bending physics, two elements for which movies had not yet found a convincing visual language. The Matrix provided that language and, what's more, made it look awesome.
I had never connected those dots, but that's pretty convincing. Elsewhere, this ill-written but more personal essay on the film's shifting gender politics:
In 2012, Lana Wachowski gave a speech where she revealed that, as a teenager, she battled with depression brought on by feelings of gender dysphoria and an inability to express those feelings. She once nearly committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a subway train. In The Matrix, Agent Smith, the ever-present symbol of social order within the Matrix, holds Neo in front of an oncoming subway train, telling Neo "That is the sound of inevitability. That is the sound of your death." Neo only is able to resist Smith and the oncoming train after resisting Smith's insistence on calling him "Mr. Anderson," stating:
"My name is Neo."
(I remain a fan, including the sequels. People just didn't pay enough attention. Also, OMFG when did I get so old.)

Heebie's take: It's interesting, but I think it 1. understates the degree that The Matrix blew everyone's mind back in 1999 in a way that seemed to have some staying power - tapping the fear of using technology to sedate the world, cutting edge computer graphics. How do you even dodge bullets, dude? and 2. overstates the staying power of the movie - very few of my students have seen it (and I know this because I did a short thing with first year students where we read Plato's Cave and then watched it, and it was new to nearly everyone). I can't think of any taglines from the movie, the way I can from Speed.

That said, I'll buy that it influenced movies more than it gets credit for.


 

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