Archive for Almost Yogurt

Violet thoughts

I’ve often felt like this:

He typed like a ninja with no arms, and the text flowed like a drop of blood down a katana blade sharpened with one of those automatic kitchen things you can buy on late-night television when you’re drunk but not too drunk to read off your 16-digit credit card number and security code.

This paragraph — by Alex Dering of Brooklyn — won a Dishonorable Mention in the Purple Prose division of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, dedicated, as always, to “bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.” The 2015 winners list is now up.

I probably could not have equaled this feat, compelled as I am to point out that American Express cards have only 15 digits. (Oh, and a longer security code.)

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Life is too short to laugh

There’s one in every crowd: the guy who is SO SRS that he takes it as a sign of his personal superiority, which enables him to, say, bash Terry Pratchett for being funny and popular, which inevitably conflicts with the aforementioned SRSness.

One should, of course, object to this sort of thing on general principle:

Life is short. But it’s also unpleasant sometimes and an escape is often a nice thing. I’ve read my share of “literary” novels (I read One Hundred Years of Solitude years ago as part of a book club. I tried reading Grass’ The Tin Drum but couldn’t get into it very far.) A lot of the modern literary novels — at least, the ones that seem to win awards — that I’ve tried have disappointed me; they seem mainly to be Cavalcades of Dysfunction where no one seems to be trying to be better. I get that they’re great art but in a lot of cases when I read, I am looking for diversion or entertainment.

The problem is that Great Art, according to our current gatekeepers, is supposed to Make You Think. Indoctrination, pure and simple. It is unthinkable that you should read something because you damned well want to read something. From my own distant past:

I encountered an example of this disjuncture myself, as a high-school student earnestly blabbing away about a Jack Finney novel — no, not the one you’re thinking — and then being shot down by a teacher who wondered why I was bothering with this comparatively “accessible” stuff while dust accumulated on The Vicar of Wakefield.

And besides, if I need a grounding in Goldsmith, I can always see a production of She Stoops to Conquer; it’s probably going on somewhere even as we speak.

With that in mind, I bring you the good work of Lindley Armstrong Jones, the last century’s most eccentric interpreter of Bizet:

But comedy, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect in this You Must Be Edified universe.

See also Francis W. Porretto, a man of small-c catholic tastes:

I’ve often been sneered at by persons who pretend to “higher standards.” While I can’t argue for my tastes — who can? — it’s often seemed to me that the devotees of those “higher standards” are more interested in elevating themselves over others than in what they claim to enjoy.

We have a winner.

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Last seen on the streets of Toledo

Background:

A New York City artist’s RedBall art installation has popped up around the world.

Brooklyn-based Kurt Perschke created the piece, which weighs 113 kilograms and stands 4.5 metres tall, in 2001. The project debuted in St. Louis, Mo.

Up to now, the ball has traveled far and wide, and has behaved itself. But a sudden storm in Toledo, Ohio motivated it to move out:

For the remainder of its stay, the ball was tied down.

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Downvotes galore

Author Elyse Salpeter grumbles about one-star book reviews on Amazon and such:

Most of the time if you see someone post a one star review they are either a troll (a person out to simply be vindictive to that author, or they just want to make a nasty statement to hurt someone). Why do I say this? Because if you READ the review, you’ll realize the reader many times NEVER even read the book, didn’t go more than two pages, reviews another book and mixed them up, or is upset that they thought they bought a romance and got a thriller. I kid you not. I’ve seen people give one star reviews because they bought a book in the wrong genre and are blaming the author. I saw another person give a book a one star review because they bought Book #5 or #6 in an epic series and were upset they didn’t know the history of the series because they never purchased the other previous novels.

Now, I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to say they hated a book, but make sure the review is solid. Is it poorly written? Filled with grammatical errors? Did they not like the plot or heroine? If there is a solid reason for that one star, okay, if not move on.

Some of these people have never even seen the book; they’re simply following instructions from whatever hive mind assimilated them.

I tend to be relatively forgiving myself — I’ve never given out a single-star review — but I’m also not convinced that I’m the final authority on such matters.

And anyway, it’s not just books:

People giving reviews for medications. The big thing I noticed is that most people claiming one star reviews over-medicated themselves each and every time and were trashing the products for the side effects. One medication said take 1-3 pills with lots of water. (and to START with one) These people went right ahead and claimed they took three pills and were upset they got very bad side effects like their insides were about to explode. Even when the packaging said that you should start with one, but you CAN take up to three if your symptoms keep persisting. I saw one star after one star review, all of these people took too much medication and then blamed the product. Others already have problems where they shouldn’t even take this product in the first place, others didn’t drink enough water, milk, food, with the medications and blamed the product. It’s odd to me that people will feel this need to post in this fashion. Where is their own responsibility in this? People must be participatory in their own healthcare issues. Be smart.

Which is odd, since a lot of those book reviewers, to me at least, seem insufficiently medicated.

You can imagine what sort of contumely (not to be confused with cilantro) is heaped upon recipes.

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Papa’s got a brand new blind bag

The matter only came up once. The cashier rang up the other items, came upon a My Little Pony toy, and asked, “For the grandchild?”

“No, actually, it’s mine,” I replied. An eyebrow was raised to bangs level, maybe a smidgen higher; but nothing more was said, and nothing since has been said.

So I wasn’t too flabbergasted when Target announced they were moving away from “gender-based” signage:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes — for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well — signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

This may benefit the 13-year-old boy who shudders every time he enters the pink aisles full of Barbie and Dora. But that boy isn’t me, and I’m figuring Hasbro will take this in stride:

To stay alive in marketing is to stay ahead of the game. Target may not have shifted the game in any noticeable way, but it has definitely “planted the plunderseeds” for the future. It’s possible that Hasbro’s future toy designs will have a little less pink and white than today’s designs. It’s also possible that nothing is going to change, and Target might roll back their choice in the coming years if it makes shopping more confusing and unfavorable towards its customers. However I have faith that Target’s choice is the beginning of something huge. Whether it’s the discussion of the social stigmas surrounding children’s toys, or an outright challenge to those by one toy company at a time, I can’t wait for what happens next.

Trust me on this: if the kids are along for the shopping trip, they’ll find the toys they want, whether you want them to or not.

(If you’re not familiar with the concept of the blind bag, this will help.)

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Bigger than big game

One thing I hadn’t noticed about the great outcry over the dentist who killed that lion in Zimbabwe: pretty much all of the outcryers were your white middle-class types. And perhaps there’s a reason for that:

What was done to Cecil was barbaric. I have not seen people show anywhere near the interest in the conditions suffered by millions of Zimbabwean people that they have in one Zimbabwean lion, though. My heart finds it difficult to process this.

Out of sight, out of mind? No. Worse than that:

There is a reason why the aforementioned view seems to exist so much more predominantly in Caucasian people — a deep-seated and resonant reason. And it is one that you simply cannot understand if you walk through this world with fair skin, because it has never applied to you.

Black people, from the moment they were first encountered in Africa until this very day in 2015, have been compared to animals.

This is not something that has happened occasionally. It is not a rarity. It is something that has happened for hundreds of years. Every attempt by black people to stand up for their rights, to raise their voices, to show basic human frustration at a system that was designed to ensure their subjugation, to simply live their lives — has been met with “They’re a bunch of animals!” This justification was used to whip slaves in 1815, and it is used to shoot blacks in 2015.

And furthermore, most of those bleeding-heart middle-class whites are women:

In our society there is no life considered more precious than that of a white woman or girl. That isn’t my opinion. That is fact. Black men were lynched for even looking at one for too long. If you want to know who is valued most, look at 99% of the persons who become the 24-hour news cycle when they go missing or fall victim to violent crime. A white female disappears and it becomes a natural story. Meanwhile, black and brown women and girls vanish year after year while devastated loved ones sit and watch their disappearances garner nary a fraction of the media attention.

Black girls are not peaches-and-cream. They’re not considered the everydaughter. They’re not the girl-next-door.

On my block, at least, they’re the girl across the street.

But I can see some of this. And in some of the bewailings over Cecil’s death, I picked up a vibe resonating with noblesse oblige: it is our duty, as the favored ones, to take a stand on behalf of the less favored. Rather a lot of American political activity operates on that same frequency — and several of its odd harmonics.

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Land of perversity

A report that Tesla is losing about $4000 on each car it sells drew a dismissive comment to the effect that “people aren’t that stupid,” which prompted this eloquent response:

“Its just a car and people aren’t that stupid.”

THIS IS MURICA!!!

We put 30″ rims on a Chevy Snailblazer.

Our favorite topping for a burger is another burger.

We can’t name even 10 of the people running the country.

I resent your implication that this country is intelligent.

Valerie Jarrett is running the country. Next!

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Road hard and put up with

Roberta X was talking about spiders, but there was a location mentioned, and it was at an intersection (Kessler Boulevard and College Avenue), which merited the following footnote:

By their titles, you are to be given to understand that these are Streets To Be Reckoned With, not to mention Navigated By, and Thoroughfares Of Standing indeed. I believe Avenues are outranked by Boulevards, which in turn are subordinate to Parkways — and Parkways answer only to the Almighty. Or the Street Department, which is almost the same thing when it comes to roads.

I live on a mere Street. It has no standing whatsoever, except in heavy rain, when for a few moments it has standing water. (It is, however, sufficiently irregular in surface to insure that said water will run off in any of a dozen different directions before almost making it to the storm drain on the next block.)

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Our fits grow ever hissier

Hydrogen? Stupidity? You could make a pretty good case for outrage as Single Most Common Element in the Universe, and there’s a reason for that:

Every single one of us, despite our best efforts, holds their own set of prejudices, biases, preferences, distastes and tilted priorities. We all think that we’re right, and people who oppose us are wrong. Even those of us who admit that they don’t know everything hold certain “truths” so near that they are guilty of this. The people who claim to be totally objective are usually the worst offenders.

Part of this is because, in our lifelong pursuit to know the difference between right and wrong, we all find ways to modify our criteria for determining what “right and wrong” is. Every single one of us has deeply-held beliefs that we apply to the behavior of others, but which we do not adhere to personally. This is an unavoidable flaw within us.

It’s part of being human. It is the Universal Double Standard. The Universal Double Standard is a key component of who we are. We can’t eliminate it. It’s what makes us individuals. However, we can recognize it and navigate around it in order to coexist with our fellow humans. It seems of late that we have forgotten how to agree to disagree. Nobody wants to ‘fess up to their own hypocrisies.

My own particular set of biases, for instance, states that one should do heavy rewrites rather than inflict multiple measures of pronoun-agreement failure on the reader. Then again, I’m also on record as being in favor of honoring individual persons’ preferred-pronoun requests, which can and will cause me syntactical problems in years to come. So basically, I asked for it.

Then again, at least I know when I’ve asked for it. And not that I have anything to brag about, particularly, but not everyone lives with this degree of self-awareness:

Humans enjoy being outraged. Outrage is bright and shiny and it keeps us from actually having to do anything. We can stamp our feet and huff and puff and post memes to Facebook to “make (fill in the blank generalized insult) heads explode.” When we do that, we don’t actually have to take any meaningful action or listen to opposing viewpoints or do anything more than roll over on the couch and fart. Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but outrage is the big, gooey, tooth-rotting candy of the masses. They love that stuff.

We Like something on Facebook, or we sign something on change.org, and think we’ve actually Done Something. We have not. At best, we’ve thrown up a marker for the express purpose of signaling to the rest of the world that we are every bit as good as we think we are. I’m operating under the assumption that to every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and that it’s therefore reasonable to assume that there’s a counterpart to inaction as well: it is possible, I surmise, to be even more disconnected than I am.

This is not to say, of course, that I am blissfully free of elevated umbrage levels, as anyone who’s hung around here more than a week can easily discern. But merely glaring at things, I’m hoping, might result in less exacerbation than adding to the decibel level in the echo chambers would.

(Via Roger Green.)

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Drifting together

Charleston, West Virginia has been a two-newspaper town, kinda sorta. But it’s becoming less so:

The Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail have been your local source for news for more than a century.

The two newspapers operated independently for readers and advertisers until Jan. 1, 1958, when the owners merged the business, advertising, circulation and production departments into a single corporation.

The standard Joint Operating Agreement, common in many cities in an effort to keep two papers going. But this is where things change:

Beginning [Sunday], the two newspapers are combining newsroom functions with the exception of editorial page content.

That’s right, two editorial pages, presumably facing one another, with the Gazette on the left and the Daily Mail on the right, reflecting their positions on the political spectrum.

So: still a two-newspaper town? Not with one edition a day, I think. Then again, they’ve published a jointly-produced single edition on weekends for several years, and since both papers were morning papers, the last six people on earth who preferred afternoon editions will not be further affected. Besides, it’s a single ownership, albeit with one strange twist along the way:

On January 20, 2010, the Daily Gazette Company and the Justice Department settled relative to violations in the purchase of the Daily Mail and the Daily Gazette Company’s management of it. Under the terms of the settlement, the previous owner, the Media News Group, will hold a perpetual option to re-purchase 20% of the paper, will have two of five seats on the management board, and will determine the size of the budget for its news staff and choose its editorial content. Daily Gazette will be required to seek government permission to cease publication of the Daily Mail and the intellectual property of the paper will pass to the Media News Group should it ever be shut down.

So complete consolidation may still be a long way off.

(Via Andrew Brown.)

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Quote of the week

Morgan Freeberg is old enough to remember when fun was actually earned:

You start off with this lengthy and expansive list of things you have to do today, and you make a big enough dent by 4 or 5 in the afternoon that you can take a breather. That’s why a house involved in some level of luxury would have a “wet bar,” but this led to an associated stigma of alcoholism. Now the wet bar is something you see in a really old movie, maybe a Twilight Zone episode from the first couple seasons, because we’ve gotten rid of alcoholism and replaced it with addiction to marijuana, crack, meth and illegally-acquired prescription drugs, along with the legal stuff to do something about our made-up “learning disabilities.” The casualty in all this is not the addictive lifestyle; what we’ve gotten rid of is the idea that you start with the work, and finish with the leisure which is predicated on the work actually getting done. That’s been consigned to the ash heap of history, at least within this romper room stately pleasure dome we’ve constructed for ourselves.

I suspect most “lifestyles,” to scare-quote a word I’ve always hated, have their addictive aspects; anyone’s who’s seen my standard Saturday cuisine — fried chicken and RC Cola — might suspect some sort of psychological dependency. But that $10 worth of grub was made possible by actual toil, and while I’d never say I’m addicted to work, I would hate like hell to give up any of the things it buys me.

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A glimpse of the inevitable

Everybody, it seems, knows someone who’s bilingual, though it’s usually not ourselves. (I have fumbled through Spanish, French and Turkish, but I’m nowhere near fluent in any of them.) Demographics will alter the landscape, as it always does, but I didn’t really expect it to go this way:

Most Floridians support a Spanish language requirement for all public school students in Florida, according to a newly released survey.

The results show that 67 percent support requiring students in Florida to take Spanish, which came as a surprise to researchers at the Bureau of Economic Business Research at the University of Florida, which conducted the survey.

Admission to any of Florida’s state colleges and universities requires two consecutive years of some foreign language; it is not clear whether this policy would be amended if this mandate were imposed.

Being bilingual has cognitive and learning benefits, especially in young children, and it postpones the onset of dementia by two years in older people, according to Canadian researcher Ellen Bialystok.

Ahora usted me dice.

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Too lazy to cut and paste

Even the plagiarists are becoming indolent:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there a website online that will summarize text for free and make it like its in my own words?

Not only must it do the rewrite job for him, but it must do it for free. A three-toed sloth is Usain Bolt next to this clod.

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Altitude adjustments

Most of the time, what I wear to work doesn’t have a collar to speak of, as most six for [sale price] T-shirts don’t, but it’s always understood, at least by me, that if I did have a collar, it would be blue: I may have a tech job of at least moderate complexity, but I don’t sit around and watch things happen either.

This particular ethic seems to have settled fairly well upon the next generation as well, and that’s good, because I couldn’t pull off that whole helicopter thing:

Those who inhabit the affluent uplands of 21st-century America have problems the rest of us cannot imagine. When you’re near the top of the mountain, it’s a long way down, and there are limits to what elite parents can do to prevent their child from suffering the stigma of downward mobility. Money can buy a lot of things, but money alone will not inoculate your child against failure, especially if your idea of “success” requires your kid to have perfect grades, be senior class president, win the state science fair, be solo violinist in the school orchestra, and spend her summers helping famine victims in a Third World country. This results in an over-scheduled childhood, with parents in the role of Doctor Frankenstein and their child as a sort of laboratory experiment to produce the future Harvard student.

It’s probably just as well, then, that I applied to only one of the Ivies, and subsequently did not attend it.

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Don’t want to rush things

For the most part, I can support this decree:

When I become King of the World, Arbiter of Good Taste, and Prince of Land and Sea I shall decree that the Monday following a long holiday or vacation shall be a shortened work day, six hours instead of eight, so that one can ease back into the turmoil.

Just one question: are we chopping those two hours off the beginning of the day, or off the end? (Or are we trimming one hour on each side?)

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Quote of the week

We have Dueling Quotes this week. The topic is Moral Relativism, and Brian J. is here to tell you all about it:

Back when I was a young man majoring in English and philosophy at the university 1990-1994, I took sport in asking my compatriots in the English department to ask three morals. Not any morals, not even morals that the interrogated actually followed. Just three morals. The question tripped up most of them as they were enlightened in the ways of relativism and would not identify morals at all under threat of possibly being considered a prude somewhere. Now, friends, this is a Catholic (!) university, and the Christian faith has ten prominent morals specified in Exodus and hundreds in other bits of the Pentateuch. Most people could spell out at least three of the Ten Commandments even if they didn’t adhere to them or think they could. But oh so many of those adults would not or could not.

That was then. This is now, says Tam:

I grew up with Southern Baptist preachers warning me of the dangers of moral relativism, but the problem with modern Progressivism is its absolute lack of anything even like moral relativism. Bad things are bad, and there are no degrees of badness, except maybe a +5 badness modifier if the bad thing in question was done by a white dude, with an additional +3 if he spoke English.

It’s an odd moral calculus, where Victim Blaming is as bad as Victim Stoning. If you try going Godwin, they hasten to point out that the US had concentration camps in WWII, without acknowledging that there’s a pretty substantial difference of degree between a concentration camp where one leaves via the front gate versus one where the only exit is via the chimney.

Have things deteriorated that much since the early Nineties? (Answer: Yes.)

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General Lee speaking

As The Dukes of Hazzard vanishes from cable channels, the Friar gets what ought to be the final word:

Both TV Land and Country Music Television (CMT) were airing Dukes, but are no longer. TV Land will replace it with reruns of Bonanza, a series free of racism and noted for its enlightened portrayal of Chinese immigrant cooks.

Oh, and comparatively speaking:

For the record, I enjoy Bonanza much more than Dukes, because the latter is very very dumb and there’s only so much dumb Catherine Bach’s legs can erase.

If you’d like to test that latter assertion:

Catherine Bach suitably attired

Now: do you feel smarter? Even a little?

One more try:

Catherine Bach suitably attired

Brilliance surely is within your grasp.

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A costume they dare not shed

Some of us, as we’ve gotten older, are a tad less sharp and a good deal more Shar Pei:

What is happening is that our baby-boomers have gotten wrinkly. The revolutionary-minded generation has reached the age where its members are expected to be society’s wise, respected elders, to run things, to become our latest voices of institutionalized knowledge. But they lack the capacity to institutionalize knowledge, to preserve wisdom from previous generations, “old school” horse sense that younger kids can’t bring because this is the sort of thing that has to be … what’s the word. Evolved. Irony is, although the boomers are big on the idea of evolution, they can’t bring this because they’ve never believed in it. They’ve dedicated their lives to the premise that wisdom comes from the young, and the older generation is just a bunch of doddering old geriatrics standing in the way of progress. Now that’s them, and they don’t know how to react to it. And so they react by proffering a bunch of silly ideas, forgetting to ask themselves obvious, elementary questions that drew frenzied, obsessive contemplation by the older generations of years gone by: How does this make things better? What’s the precedent? What does this do to freedom for those who are not yet born?

And so even when they say freedom is what motivates them, the idea they end up pushing has to do with more rules. It looks like they don’t even know what it is.

Even revolution-obsessed John Lennon could figure that one out. What’s the quantitative difference between carrying pictures of Chairman Mao and wearing a Che T-shirt? Exactly.

Add this to the ongoing corroboration of Gurri’s Proposition: “There is no problem in the world, the solution to which isn’t the Baby Boomers dying.”

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Not the intended goal

The Z Man has been watching a lot of women’s soccer lately, and somehow he came up with this:

If you’re inclined to the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate, soccer is a good example to use in your argument. In America, the relentless pressure on girls to play sports has resulted in high participation rates for girls soccer. SWPL-ville women always stick their girls in soccer as it is all white and safe. Plus, they are convinced it will allow them to sprout a penis, thus making them perfect women. The result is the US is very good at women’s soccer, while we stink at men’s soccer.

I am forced to assume that the guys, who have apparently reached their final forms, are at a disadvantage from that point on.

And I really don’t think I want to have to enumerate the qualities of the probably nonexistent “perfect woman.”

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A whole Heep of names

There is a very long Wikipedia page which lists various characters in the works of Charles Dickens. It turns out that he had plenty more to come:

Understandably, thinking of names for these characters was quite a task, and so Dickens kept lists to be considered for future use.

George Muzzle and Thomas Fatherly sound particularly Dickensian.

On the distaff side, you’ll find Matilda Rainbird, Birdie Nash, and two names I wish I’d thought of when I was projecting a female persona back in the Bronze Age: Miriam Denial and Verity Mawkyard. (There really needs to be a Verity Mawkyard blog.)

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Quote of the week

Sheila O’Malley reviews Ex Machina, and comments therein:

There is a deep and very human empathy at work in Ex Machina, startling and strange considering the scientific and spare environment of that house, its chilliness, its intimidating perfection. I don’t need all films to be kind and empathetic towards women. I honestly don’t. I loved Wolf of Wall Street, and was so frustrated with the “It’s misogynistic” commentary. For God’s sake, of COURSE it was, because those guys in the film were misogynistic ass-clowns. What do you want? One of those douche-bags to suddenly spout a regretful monologue, “Oh my God, I am a misogynistic asshole and I am so sorry!” Or to have Scorsese somehow point an arrow at all of them, telegraphing, “This is bad behavior.” Have you seen a Martin Scorsese film before? So what you are saying is, you would have liked Wolf of Wall Street better if it had been a bad film but showed the “enlightened” viewpoint? Get outta here with your bullshit. Showing something is not necessarily endorsement. I want to put that on a billboard.

And while we’re at it, here’s a bit from her review of The Wolf of Wall Street:

People yearn to iron out complexity because it is personally triggering for them to witness said complexity. But complexity like this should be triggering. It’s not there to make you feel comfortable, to re-affirm your own prejudices and beliefs, it is not there to provide solace for you in darker moments. Some art acts that way. I cherish a lot of it. But it is not a requirement that ALL art work that way.

Well, at least not yet it isn’t.

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Buzzless and overfed

Lileks contemplates the horror that is BuzzFeed:

Ninety-two percent of the content on the site is mediocre; seven percent has a serious subject and relies on other sources rewritten in VERY BIG TYPE yelling at you in between the pictures — there are lots of pictures, there have to be lots of pictures — and one percent might be “long form” stuff that’s supposed to make you nod and say “my, BuzzFeed is really upping their game. Bow. Down.” The rest of it is obviously juvenile, but it’s neither aimed at juveniles or written by juveniles. It’s written by self-infantilizing adults for peers who are equally unaccomplished. It’s a a bunch of chickens running around in circles, and none of them have the skill to get off the ground and fly somewhere higher.

Ever since the flowering of the hated Baby Boomers, the prolonging of adolescence past all understanding has been a priority of this culture; BuzzFeed was inevitable under those conditions.

This is the part that hurts, though:

Here’s the thing: appearing on that site is regarded as a résumé builder.

Well, yeah. It’s not that Serious Journalism is actually serious anymore: it’s a mixture of thinly disguised hit pieces, utterly undisguised hit pieces, and lots and lots of filler. There isn’t an online editor out there who wouldn’t sell her own never-to-be-born children for ten percent more clicks. Forget Strunk and White; today belongs to Titus Andronicus.

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How quickly they grow

So this came up last night:

I thought at first it was something like the old Chinese saw about “you’re one year old the day you’re born,” but that couldn’t be right, could it?

Well, no, not exactly:

Koreans generally refer to their age in units called sal, using Korean numerals in ordinal form. Thus, a person is one sal during the first calendar year of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.

The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil, which literally means “a hundred days” in Korean, and is given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once a period of high infant mortality. The first anniversary of birth named dol is likewise celebrated, and given even greater significance. Koreans celebrate their birthdays, even though every Korean gains one ‘sal’ on New Year’s Day. Because the first year comes at birth and the second on the first day of the lunar New Year, a child born, for example, on December 29 (of the lunar calendar) will reach two years of age on Seollal (Korean New Year), when they are only days old in western reckoning.

For the record, Lee Min-ho was born on 22 June 1987. We’d call him twenty-eight.

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Nor was much popcorn sold

Once in a while, the Karma Police get one right on the first try:

FIFA, the world’s most powerful soccer organization, is embroiled in criminal accusations and charges against a number of senior executives. Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter (and owner of a name that bears repeating … Sepp Blatter) recently announced he was stepping down only days after being re-elected. Meanwhile, soccer fans around the world are in the throes of both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Copa América in Chile. In spite of all this in focus on FIFA and football right now, United Passions, the $30 million, FIFA-backed vanity film about the organization’s brilliant leadership has managed to bring in about as much money as a Kevin Federline concert.

If you are suffering from symptoms of Sepp Blatter, seek medical attention at once.

I’d say “Don’t go see United Passions,” but people are already staying away in droves:

The Hollywood Reporter says that United Passions has raked in a whopping $918 at the box office, making it the worst box office opening ever in the U.S.

Well, not exactly. If I read the THR piece correctly, it’s the worst box office opening ever in at least ten theaters. Below that threshold, there is … well, there’s Zyzzyx Road, which opened in a single theater and took in $30. (Technically, $20, since two patrons were given refunds.)

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Because standards

I remember doing stuff like this in sixth grade:

We are well and truly boned.

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Ongoing Rachel issues

You remember I. P. Freely, don’t you? Of course you do. Allan Sherman did, and in The Rape of the A*P*E* he mentioned several other punridden types, such as the author of The African Princess, Erasmus B. Black.

Except that this particular joke no longer makes sense in the post-Rachel Dolezal era, and Jack Baruth contends that poor Rachel could only pull off that masquerade of hers by dint of being Less Than Gorgeous. (5/10 max, he says.)

No, really, he’s serious, and not even all that flippant:

Had she been attractive, she could not have passed as black. And what does that say about how we view black women in this society? Why are black women always portrayed as in media as either crack whores or state court justices or elementary-school principals? How much of the crisis currently facing black women can be laid at the feet of a media that promotes the black-guy-with-white-woman idea all day, everyday but can’t be bothered to show images that reinforce the idea of black female beauty?

When we, as a society, relentlessly pound home the idea that white women are the only legitimate objects of desire for black or white men, why should we be surprised when black women feel unwanted? When we turn black women into stereotypes and caricatures, both negative and positive, why be surprised when they feel like outcasts in the culture and country that is supposed to be both my land and their land? And why, then, be surprised when, after we spend all this effort turning black women into outcasts, an outcast like Rachel Dolezal feels more comfortable among their numbers?

At least this gives me part of an explanation for why I was loath to condemn the poor woman. If anything, my reaction to the incident boils down to “Well played,” packaged with a reminder to myself that my ability to spot this sort of thing at a distance is decidedly limited.

Yes, yes, I know: she doesn’t have the “authentic black experience.” But she tried awfully damned hard to get it.

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Full circle, by degrees

Warren Meyer recalls the Texas of his youth:

I grew up in the Deep South (in Houston — for outsiders, Texas acts like the South when one is east of I-35 and then is more like the West).

This explains Dallas/Fort Worth — I-35 splits into two separate highways in the Metroplex — almost perfectly.

Though my immediate family was fairly open-minded, I was surround by a scolding Southern Baptist culture that seemed deeply offended by everything — dancing, drugs, drinking, youth behavior — you name it. I remember visiting aunts and uncles and cousins who were in a perpetual state of being offended. And it carried over into the whole political culture of the place — it seemed there was always some debate about book or textbook passage that needed to be banned to save the delicate eyes and impressionable brains of the children.

So Meyer was happy to escape to the Ivy League. But now, the tables have turned:

[C]ollege students today now sound exactly like my Southern Baptist aunt. They are humorless and scolding and offended by virtually everything. Many of the same pieces of literature those good Texas Baptists were trying to censor from school curricula in my day because they conflicted with religious doctrine are now being censored by good campus Progressives because they might be triggering. What a bizarre turn of events.

At least Texans, a few Austinites aside, know a trigger when they see one: it’s right there on the weapon.

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The main disdain falls plainly on the mane

So this was a thing:

And this was the context which goes with that thing.

I decided to go in a different direction:

You’ll note that at no time did I have to explain it, of course.

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Outta there

The Lion of the Blogosphere predicts doom for his former employer:

There is absolutely no one there who can adequately replace what I was doing, and this is a combination of the fact that I’ve been there for eight years and know more about the expected behavior of the website front-end I worked on than anyone else in the company, plus the fact that the business unit I worked in (which is not IT, although I started there in IT) is really bad at hiring smart people.

Of course the company is not going to go out of business without me. They are a monopoly, and a website that gradually becomes crappier over time is not going to change that. After a time, they will probably bring in an expensive consulting firm and spend two or three million dollars to fix the problems created by my absence.

Wait, what? No. Of course not. The only Web site front-ends I work on are those I own.

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The truth is even farther out there

What would you call an X-Files/My Little Pony crossover?

Yeah, I thought so.

(Via The Daily Dot.)

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