Archive for Almost Yogurt

Totally umbrageous

Perpetual outrage? It’s a frickin’ industry, says Amanda Kerri:

We have turned righteous indignation into a marketable skill, and a way to make money. Fox News is a company that thrives off of anger, rage, misinformation, and disgusting behavior. I honestly cannot remember any time in my life, people who called themselves journalists working for a news organization, thinking it’s okay to call the First Lady fat. The only reason Rush Limbaugh even exists is because he figured out how to make money off of being offensive and angry. Don’t think liberals are any more enlightened. People have launched entire public media careers based off of spewing half understood academic terms they got from an Anthropology 101 class, to make money on youtube, blogs, speaking tours, etc., being outraged at every last slight. They look for things to be outraged about. If you aren’t the right kind of activist you’re worse than any member of the hetero-cisgendered-white-right handed-pull over instead of button up-dog loving but cat disliking-colonialist-patriarchy that might or might not be oppressing you. You have committed the sin of being of a different approach or opinion on the matter. And the horrible thing about these people, is that they are just so goddamned loud! They drown out those that have nuanced, educated, balanced opinions that are more interested in building bridges between camps instead of trying to figure out ways to burn down those camps. Those people get driven out of movement and shouted down because they’re more interested in talking instead of shouting (for a $5000 speakers fee mind you).

This is what we’ve become.

The key to that is in the middle: “They look for things to be outraged about.” Life’s rich pageant offers them no obvious balm for their twisted souls, so they look for incidents to reinforce their pet prejudices, and they think that’s enough — especially if somehow they can get paid for it. I have reduced my news consumption to one newspaper (local), one magazine (The Week, which reads all the other magazines so I don’t have to), and blogdom, the latter assisted by Twitter. (There are things I read which don’t specialize in news, but occasionally actually have stories worth reading: for example, Vanity Fair, whose fawning interest in rich people often produces really good financial-industry coverage.) I’m not saying I’m any more nuanced or educated or balanced than the next guy, but I don’t enter echo chambers willingly if I can possibly help it.

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Where have all gozintas gone?

An interesting theory being put forth here: “Education reforms are driven mostly by what is fun for schoolteachers to teach.” Example:

After all, what is the standard rap against “traditional” math? The main complaint is that it’s “just” teaching “rote” memorization. But what’s wrong with rote memorization? Speaking as someone who got pretty far in math, I’d say that when it comes to the basic arithmetic kids are trying to absorb at the grade-school level, rote memorization is just fine. Arithmetic is one of those things that’s utterly boring once you know it, and once you absorb the patterns. But until that happens, “rotely memorizing” it is just as fine a method as any other. “Rote memorization” isn’t a bad way to teach, it’s just a dreary way to teach. So teachers refuse to do it, and will work up whatever education theories they need in order to not have to. Even if it works.

A lot of the pressure towards New, Fun Stuff originated with the fact that not everyone learns at the most effective rate in exactly the same way, but things just got out of hand after that:

It’s true that when it comes to a typical arithmetic problem, there are multiple ways to attack it, none of them “wrong.” If you get the right answer, using right logic, the method cannot have been “wrong.”

The problem is that this sort of observation — like the buzzword “STEM” — is dangerous. Once it trickles down into mainstream educational usage it becomes an elementary schoolteacher telling her class that this or that math problem “has no right answer.” Which is totally wrong! Of course there’s a right answer! There are even right and wrong (false logic/incorrectly-reasoned) methods! In the great game of telephone that is apparently schoolteacher theory, the (correct enough) view that “there’s no single correct algorithm, algorithms that use correct logic are all equivalent and must necessarily lead to the same right answer, so one should use whichever algorithm works for them” has gotten all garbled and reinterpreted to mean something like “all algorithms are equally ok and there’s no single right answer.”

Cue Professor Tom Lehrer: “But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you’re doing, rather than to get the right answer.”

Back in the Old Silurian times, we were told that 9 X 7 was 63 because if we had seven groups of nine items, or nine groups of seven items, we would perforce have 63 items, and we could test this on anything we had at least 63 of. Since counting items took up lots of time, it became easier just to memorize the tables up to 12 or so.

(You remember gozintas, right?)

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A bargain nearly Faustian

Lauren Faust, among my personal heroines — it’s that whole My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic thing — tells the story of how she got from shy-ish kid to animator at Sony Pictures, and while her CV is packed with all sorts of stuff, pony-related and otherwise, this is perhaps the most pertinent quote:

I started developing cartoons and series for girls. I would pitch shows to executives at different studios, and people would really like the stories and really like the characters, but then tell me, “We don’t want shows for girls.” They were attributing the poor performance of these shows to the gender of the target audience instead of to the quality of the shows. It was like banging my head against the wall; I just couldn’t get through.

Faust says she basically aimed MLP:FiM at her inner eight-year-old girl, which may explain why it was so well received by yours truly, inhabited by an inner nine-year-old girl. Her current project at Sony is the retelling of the tale of Medusa.

(Via Cartoon Brew.)

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Can we all get along?

In which I attempt to answer the question posed by the late Rodney King, with a notable lack of success.

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Once burned, ice shy

The late Lou Gehrig, an eminently sensible man, would probably not have encouraged people to dump water on their heads for the sake of research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But being an eminently sensible man, he also wouldn’t have attributed the phenomenon to Beelzebub:

A WorldNetDaily writer can’t fathom why anyone would willingly dump ice water on themselves, so she did some digging and has now concluded that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a satanic ritual.

“I began to think about the IBC,” Selena Owens explains in the piece. “Whose idea was this? Why would people so easily agree to being drenched in icy water? Who participated and who didn’t? Why do people feel obligated to take the challenge if offered to them? What’s the purpose of calling out three other people to take the challenge?”

It gets sillier after that, believe it or not.

Says Lynn:

I don’t even know what to say about this, folks, except that it’s really, really effed up. Someone please go dump a bucket — no, a trash can — full of ice over Selena Owens’ head. Maybe the ritual will reboot her brain.

And since it’s Friday, here’s Rebecca Black on the receiving end:

To the guy who said she should have been wearing white: give it a rest, why doncha?

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Finally a (second!) use for Comic Sans

Two days after the first one, here’s an even better one:

There’s another scandal doing the rounds on the web and it has nothing to do with leaked nude pictures of celebrities.

A decision by the Sydney Morning Herald to use the much-maligned font Comic Sans on its front page has made it the focus of much attention, and ridicule, on social media.

The 183-year-old newspaper, known as Granny, placed comments by Independent Commission against Corruption witnesses Eric Roozendaal and Chris Hartcher in Comic Sans speech bubbles.

Response on Twitter was along these lines:

Mr Stott is the morning editor at News Corp’s news.com.au, which has long been fond of poking fun at Fairfax Media, which owns the SMH.

And come to think of it, #smh is a pretty common hashtag in its own right, quite apart from Fairfax.

Still, if we’re going to have Dueling Douchebags on the front page, Comic Sans accords them the seriousness they deserve.

(Via Fark.)

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The emetic in your refrigerator door

I am not fond of mayonnaise. (Then there’s McGehee, who is really not fond of mayonnaise.) Still, your go-to person for mayo hatred is Amelia:

When is it appropriate to use mayonnaise?
@BrianFaughnan

Dear Brian,

Never. Well, never as condiment, anyways. Mayonnaise is acceptable if you’ve ingested poison and need to induce vomiting, but only if other means are not available and time is truly of the essence.

Amusingly, this is the top of the Wikipedia page for “Vomiting”:

“Vomit” redirects here. For other uses, see Vomit (disambiguation).

“Emesis” redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Emesis (genus).

“Heaving” redirects here. For the up-and-down motion, see Heave.

“Puke” redirects here. For other uses, see Puke (disambiguation).

When the aliens come, as they must, I’ll remind them that this world of ours is so incredibly diverse that there’s a disambiguation page for “Puke.”

(Typed while eating a ham sandwich. No mayo.)

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Finally a use for Comic Sans

I admit, I wasn’t expecting this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:<br />
Whats they best text font and size for this letter?

What it’s all about:

im turning 18 and leaving a verbally abusive home in 9 days. ive thought of it for a while, saved up money, got new clothes and food. im leaving my parents house and the state and im writing them a letter explaining why im leaving, what caused it. that ill be with my boyfriend ive kept secret for 2 years and so on. i want them to know that im not “running away” but living my own life, my parents and i have different religious beliefs (they are southern baptist and im pagan) and im going off to be myself. i dont want it to sound too angry but i want them to understand ive been hurt (im a girl and once i forgot to brush my hair and got my head shaved etc)

Before you ask: yes, I’d have said the same thing were this a boy sending this sob story.

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Armed with 45s

Those of you who were taken aback at the fact that I worked a Blondie reference into a Spottings post presumably haven’t been around here very long: if a lyric comes into my head, it will almost always appear in the current post.

Even people who get paid to write stuff do this. K. C. Colwell, in Car and Driver‘s 2015 New Cars issue:

If the [BMW] M3 has been reduced to a parts-bin fluff job, well, then, God is dead and the war’s begun.

Alvin Tostig (Levon’s father) was not available for comment.

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Read it later

This is Amba’s theory of procrastination, and it makes as much sense as any I’ve heard:

For us to do anything challenging, and particularly anything creative, our regular everyday self has to get out of the way, and it doesn’t want to.

Our regular everyday self wants the credit for the work, and the gratification of having done the work, but in fact it cannot and does not DO the work. For the work to happen, our regular everyday self not only has to sacrifice the petty, reliable pleasures with which it lines its cozy nest and shores itself up; it has to sacrifice itself. It has to go away. It has to cease to exist for an indefinite unbounded while, a little death that for all it knows might be the big death. For the regular everyday self, this is not only unpleasant, it’s terrifying. It will put up a fight for hours, for days. Procrastination is its rear-guard action. A miniature version of this battle must be fought at the entrance to every workout, every workday.

Disclosure: I probably should have posted this yesterday.

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Stay out of my inbox

Nothing makes you dread the New Mail notifier more than, well, new mail, especially if it’s wholly unnecessary, as most of it is, and I have to admit, I’m not as badly squeezed for time as, say, your friendly neighborhood college professor:

“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”

And that stand was elegantly simple:

Screen shot of Professor Duvall's email policy

Which, I concede, is much kinder than RTFS (the last word is “syllabus”), and you can’t argue with these results:

It’s difficult to convey just how wonderful it was for students to stop by office hours more often, to ask questions about assignments in the class periods leading up to due dates, and to have students rise to the expectation that they know the syllabus. Their papers were better, they were more prepared for class time than I’ve ever experienced.

It is also difficult to tally the time I saved by not answering hundreds of brief, inconsequential emails throughout the semester. I can say that the difference in my inbox traffic was noticeable and welcome.

(Via the Instant Man.)

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None of which explains Goofy

Okay, I’m willing to accept Taylor Swift as an information-security specialist, but this is a bridge too far:

I (along with every other woman who was once in third grade in the early 1990’s) was shocked, absolutely SHOCKED to recently learn that Hello Kitty is not, in fact, actually a cat.

“Wait, WHAT?” you say. “But the ears … and the whiskers … and her last name is Kitty … wait, are you punking me, because if you’re not, wait WHAT?”

Well, actually, her last name is White. But still:

Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii (who is curating an upcoming Hello Kitty retrospective for the Japanese American National Museum), told the L.A. Times that she had referred to Hello Kitty as a cat in her written text for the exhibition, and Sanrio was like “Actually … no.”

“I was corrected — very firmly,” Yano said. “That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”

You have to figure that Sanrio would know these things, but I keep wondering what else they haven’t told us about Kitty, like that facial expression right out of Harlan Ellison.

I suppose I need to ask Twilight Sparkle if she is in fact a pony.

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Non-shiny happy people

Apparently it’s possible, even in this day and age:

I was thinking about my old high school French teacher again this morning as I trudged up the stairs to my office. Specifically, how I remember seeing him on his way to work (the prep school I attended had a few houses that they used to provide housing for some faculty. He and his wife had a house close to campus). He was frequently whistling and swinging his briefcase. And thinking about that makes me sad because while I value my work deeply, I never quite feel like whistling and swinging whatever I am carrying (I don’t carry a briefcase) as I head in to work. And I wonder, how does someone learn to be that happy-go-lucky? By all rights I should be like that — I have an extremely good life, unbelievably good by global standards — and yet I’m so serious all the time. And stuff, little stuff, gets to me and sucks out the joy I might feel.

I think part of it may be hard-coded into the genome. Mark Twain’s Old Man in “What Is Man?”, 1906:

I know them well. They are extremes, abnormals; their temperaments are as opposite as the poles. Their life-histories are about alike — but look at the results! Their ages are about the same — about around fifty. Burgess had always been buoyant, hopeful, happy; Adams has always been cheerless, hopeless, despondent. As young fellows both tried country journalism — and failed. Burgess didn’t seem to mind it; Adams couldn’t smile, he could only mourn and groan over what had happened and torture himself with vain regrets for not having done so and so instead of so and so — THEN he would have succeeded. They tried the law — and failed. Burgess remained happy — because he couldn’t help it. Adams was wretched — because he couldn’t help it. From that day to this, those two men have gone on trying things and failing: Burgess has come out happy and cheerful every time; Adams the reverse. And we do absolutely know that these men’s inborn temperaments have remained unchanged through all the vicissitudes of their material affairs. Let us see how it is with their immaterials. Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been zealous Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps. Burgess has always found happiness and Adams unhappiness in these several political beliefs and in their migrations out of them. Both of these men have been Presbyterians, Universalists, Methodists, Catholics — then Presbyterians again, then Methodists again. Burgess has always found rest in these excursions, and Adams unrest. They are trying Christian Science, now, with the customary result, the inevitable result. No political or religious belief can make Burgess unhappy or the other man happy.

I assure you it is purely a matter of temperament. Beliefs are ACQUIREMENTS, temperaments are BORN; beliefs are subject to change, nothing whatever can change temperament.

Aside: I’ll never know precisely how much that essay affected me when I read it as a tween. Call it an acquired belief.

A possibility:

Maybe he never watched the news. That could be part of it.

I’m sure not watching the news has helped my sense of self.

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Prerequisite to just about everything

You absolutely need this class to help navigate the choppy waters of National Discourse:

Credit hours: -3.

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Flying in an ever-decreasing radius

Eventually, you fly into your own backside, which is pretty much what this guy seems to have done:

The co-authors of Miami Dade College’s main communications department textbook have been embroiled in accusations that some of the text may have been plagiarized.

One of those sections, ironically, deals with the very definition of plagiarism.

It’s there on page 37 of The Freedom to Communicate textbook: Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work without giving them credit. It is, the textbook states, “a serious problem in today’s society.”

That’s what Isabel del Pino-Allen, a communications professor at MDC, charged that her colleague and co-author Adam Vellone did with a handful of passages — including lifting language nearly word-for-word from a paper defining 10 different types of plagiarism produced by the anti-plagiarism software company Turnitin, without providing proper credit.

The school’s own investigation didn’t go so far as to charge Vellone with plagiarism, but did identify several passages as needing clarification, and suggested that the book’s publisher may have contributed to the matter by reformatting citations. In this particular instance:

None of the references at the end of MDC’s textbook refers directly back to the Turnitin paper but there is a trail — albeit circuitous — that does link back to the original source: The textbook cites an MDC library guide, which does not contain the actual original text but does link to the website plagiarism.org. Although that link itself is defunct, plagiarism.org does link to the original Turnitin paper.

The head of the faculty union — one of the five co-authors of the text — says that the matter should be considered closed.

Isabel del Pino-Allen left the following comment on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article regarding this matter:

More important than the plagiarism in the book, which Jason Chu [education director at Turnitin] labels “sloppy scholarship” and “unethical and improper,” there were several test questions that Mr. Vellone appropriated from other books and used in his chapters’ test bank. An example of one of this questions is: “A speech on how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” (this question came from Judy Pearson’s and Paul Nelson’s An Introduction to Human Communication). Mr. Vellone slightly altered the question to: “A speech that explains how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” In other words he substituted “on how” for “that explains.” As I wrote to another colleague today, what Mr. Vellone did is “the type of vulgar plagiarism that we would expect from a marginal student,” not from a college professor. The MDC administration, in its report, stated that because the test questions were on-line, they would most likely be “in the public domain.” I disagree!

You’d be surprised — or maybe you wouldn’t — how many people think that something is fair game just because it’s on the Web.

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Bored game

The world leadership in featherbedding is arguably up for grabs, but one can’t imagine the Top Ten without France:

In Cheminot Simulator (“Rail Worker Simulator”), unionised rail staff with cushy conditions seek to work as little as possible and make life hell for passengers in a variety of ways, from strike action and work stoppages, to snow on the line and assault.

The player who wreaks the longest delays wins the game — a concept that has created a buzz at a time when millions take to the railways during the holiday season.

How would a board game like this ever come about?

Jéréie Paret, 29, the game’s inventor and a frequent rail user, said the idea came to him “when there was an incident on one line and the drivers in mine (a different one) decided to stop working.”

“They caused so much hassle for so many people that I decided to laugh about it rather than cry,” he told Le Parisien.

He said the final decision to launch the game came after he missed his train because it was, for once, on time.

Funding, of course, was tricky:

[Paret] managed to raise 11,000 euros via a crowdfunding website and by partnering with another site called Un Train de Retard (A Train Late), which publishes the total number of train delays noted by passengers. It currently stands at 752 days, 19 hours and 49 minutes this year. He has since received 300 internet orders.

Meanwhile, Bayou Renaissance Man asks:

I wonder if someone in Detroit could come up with a similar game about the UAW?

Not without getting shot, I suspect.

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Meta beyond meta

I don’t know, I’ve never (been?) thrimbened:

As he strolled among the Kenthellians, through the wide parndamets along the River Elinionenin, thrimbening his tometoria and his Almagister’s scrollix, he thought to himself, “Wow, it is sure convenient there’s a glossary for made-up fantasy words on page 1048.”

This was the winner in the Fantasy category of the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, and you only hope that the second edition of this turgid tale by Stephen Young doesn’t change the pagination.

The overall winner, Elizabeth Dorfman, contributed this stirring opening:

When the dead moose floated into view the famished crew cheered — this had to mean land! — but Captain Walgrove, flinty-eyed and clear headed thanks to the starvation cleanse in progress, gave fateful orders to remain on the original course and await the appearance of a second and confirming moose.

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…

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Gimme rewrite

Rachel Ann Nunes has written forty-six novels and published thirty-seven of them. I have to figure somebody thought ripping off just one of them would go unnoticed. Somebody was wrong:

[A]n anonymous author on the Internet, who is known only by a logo and a fake name, had plagiarized my novel, A Bid for Love (formerly entitled Love to the Highest Bidder), which is the first of a trilogy.

It has been verified by four separate readers that Sam Taylor Mullens did, indeed, add steamy scenes to The Auction Deal, her revised version of my Christian novel, and claimed it as her own. Her subsequent emails to different people and contradicting statements online while trying to cover her tracks has shown a definite intent to do fraud. This path she has followed is far more outlandish than any novel I’ve ever read.

Fiction will never be as strange as truth. (No, I didn’t just make that up.)

Oh, and the advance reader copies of Mullens’ book?

When Mullens heard of my contacting the reviewers directly, she immediately requested that all the reviewers delete the ARC.

This is not the action of a person proud to defend her own work, if you know what I mean.

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With tremulous cadence slow

One regular feature in The Week is called Wit & Wisdom; it’s simply a small collection of Famous Quotes that have appeared recently in the media they mine for excerpts. I’ve swiped several of them for the sidebar, in fact.

What’s interesting is not so much the quotes themselves, many of which are overly familiar by now, but the description, or in some cases lack thereof, attached to the original speaker. In the current issue (8 August, #680), they assume you know Henry David Thoreau, Will Rogers, Andy Rooney, Groucho Marx, and Matthew Arnold, and don’t know Muriel Spark and Douglas Adams, who are identified as “novelists.”

In a better, or at least more literate, world, we’d recognize Spark and Adams right off the bat. But I admit to being somewhat relieved that it’s assumed we know Matthew Arnold, Victorian poet, who in this seemingly post-poetic world might be overlooked just for being a (1) Victorian (2) poet.

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Double non-secret probation

In fact, it’s so non-secret it made the news halfway across the state:

Move-in day at Oklahoma State University is two weeks away, but no one will be moving into the Phi Delta Theta house.

OSU has suspended the fraternity until August 2016, citing multiple violations of university and Interfraternity Council policies regarding alcohol and hazing.

There seems to be one particular class at fault:

Students who will be juniors this fall seemed resolved to cause problems for the chapter… They threw a keg party at the chapter house May 9 — while the fraternity was on deferred suspension for hazing pledges.

So far, no one has announced a really futile and stupid gesture in response.

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You hate me, you really hate me

Even a mere downturned thumb gives me a reaction something like this:

The beauty of the world is that we all have different personalities and tastes. It’s what makes us different, interesting. It’s what sets us apart from each other.

So why, then, does a bad review affect me like it does? I should appreciate the review for what it is, learn from it, grow from it, become a better person because of it. Instead, I take it to heart and then I go through what I like to call the “Five Phases of Bad Reviews”.

The influence of Kübler-Ross, I suspect: if it makes you feel like you just want to die, you get the same five stages of grief you’d have if you were dying, except that it’s at a lower level. At least, I hope it’s at a lower level.

And I admit up front that my usual order is 2, 3, 1, 4, 5. Go figure.

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The Grey Lady has another hit

And apparently it hasn’t affected her sense of timing:

It’s almost like she knew what she was doing or something.

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St. Jeff the Heretic

The following notice appeared on the back cover of Gilbert Magazine on behalf of its publisher, the American Chesterton Society:

AMAZON IS NOT AN APOSTOLATE

“With Amazon Prime, I get free shipping” is what we sometimes hear from friends of G. K. Chesterton. Amazon.com can certainly get you that book or DVD you’ve wanted for less. But free shipping, believe it or not, is expensive. It’s expensive because Amazon never has, and never will, run an apostolate dedicated to the greatest mind of the 20th century.

Amazon’s lower prices cannot replace an apostolate that cares about the mind and soul of your family. Neither will Amazon pretend it has any stake in the restoration of sanity, common sense and education as investments for a society desperately in need of the love of Christ or the profound commitment society owes to family life.

I may as well mention here that I have ordered material from ACS, and that I didn’t price-check it with the Great Bezos Machine beforehand. (Turns out they didn’t actually have it.)

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Tootsie in the sky with hijinks

Poster for 'Cockpit' (2012)As it happens, I wasn’t anywhere near New York City Thursday night, which is perhaps something of a pity, because I might have gotten to see a 2012 Swedish comedy with the unsubtle title Cockpit, as suggested by an apparently enthusiastic Tatyana:

After getting fired from his current job as a pilot, and dumped by his current wife, Valle seeks to find a new job. Out of desperation on the job market for male air pilots, he disguises himself as a woman in order to get a job at Silver, an airline seeking a female pilot. The dividing line between his female and male self, as well as his personal and love life, starts to blur to a point which he eventually is unable to handle.

Jonas Karlsson stars as Dustin Hoffman. And anyway, I suspect Tatyana would go to this event for reasons other than seeing weird Swedish variations on American film themes.

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There are also wardrobe adjustments

About three years ago, I posted an item about one Andrej Pejić, a rather androgynous fellow who actually looked really good in a print ad for a bra. I said at the time:

[Pejić is] arguably the prettiest six-foot-two blond(e) working the runway today. I’d argue that he sells the product remarkably well, inasmuch as it brings a figure with no actual bewbage at all up to an almost-solid B.

That figure has changed a bit since then: Pejić has added an A to her first name and has undergone sexual-reassignment surgery. Apparently this is what she always wanted:

I figured out who I was very early on — actually, at the age of 13, with the help of the Internet — so I knew that a transition, becoming a woman, was always something I needed to do. But it wasn’t possible at the time, and I put it off, and androgyny became a way of expressing my femininity without having to explain myself to people too much. Especially to my peers [who] couldn’t understand things like “trans” and gender identity. And then obviously the modeling thing came up, and I became this androgynous male model, and that was a big part of my growing up and my self-discovery. But I always kept in mind that, ultimately, my biggest dream was to be a girl. I wasn’t ready to talk about it before in a public way because I was scared that I would not be understood. I didn’t know if people would like me. But now I’m taking that step because I’m a little older — I’m 22 — and I think my story can help people. My goal is to give a human face to this struggle, and I feel like I have a responsibility.

Certainly this will make matters a bit simpler for the gatekeepers in modeling:

[W]hen I first moved to London. It was like, I’d walk into the boys’ casting, and they were like, “No … you don’t belong here.” And then at the girls’ casting, they were like, “Why are they sending us boys?” So it took time for everyone to get on board. It wasn’t all sweet sailing.

For the non-fashionista, the place you’re most likely to have seen Pejić is David Bowie’s 2013 video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” the existence of which offers up two layers of irony: Bowie’s own long-ago flirtation with androgyny, circa Ziggy Stardust, and the unexpected Woman of a Certain Age appearance of Tilda Swinton, who much of the time aspires to look like Conan O’Brien. As Ray Davies once said: “It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world.”

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Turd-world problems

Remember when advertising for constipation remedies was restrained, even vague? Well, forget that crap:

Ad for Dulcolax

Copyranter explains where this came from:

Above is a new ad just pushed out the PR poop chute this week by McCann China. Dulcolax is one of the world’s leading laxative brands, made by $15 billion German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim.

The anthropomorphized “Shits” here are imprisoned in your anus, as you can see. The Shits have eyes. A couple of the Shits have boobs. Child Shits are present. One of the Shits, the one marking the days on the “prison” wall has been up your ass a long time. If you’ve ever had a colonic, you know this is accurate. Dulcolax will not save him.

And Copyranter has a lot more where that came from, so to speak.

Now I’m recalling George Carlin’s “Shoot”:

No one ever uses the word ‘shit’ really literally, y’know? … They have other words for that: doo-doo, ca-ca, poo-poo, and good old Number Two.

I suspect this assessment is dead in the water, and not the cleanest water either.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Formerly known as “public servants”

An “ugly little question,” she says:

If I had 8 more inches of height, a deep voice, a full beard, and a set of nuts (sorry), would I be treated with more respect by random bureaucrats than I am currently?

I think the key word here is “random.” From my own vantage point (two inches shorter than specified), I’m finding that there are some genuinely warm and helpful people in various government offices — but that there are also some absolute termagants, malingerers and shitbirds, and you seldom have any control over what you get.

I’m not sure it’s a function of, well, function, either: of all the bureaucracies, the IRS is in perhaps the best possible position to mess up your life for all eternity, and yet there exist, I am told, a small number of IRS functionaries who aren’t actually trying to stick it to you — though it’s admittedly difficult to find them behind the phone tree.

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Thorina, Thorina

So Marvel wants Thor to be female? I’m fine with that. But the way they did it is a slap in two different faces:

As I understand it, and these are from the words of the creative team, Thor is not turning into a woman. If Thor were turning into a woman, I’d be more OK with this, as he’s a demigod. The rules are, always have been, and always should be, unclear on what limitations that can be placed on a demigod’s physiology. No, this is a character that is in Thor’s life, idolizes him, looks up to him, and when Thor is judged unworthy, he is stripped of his power, his hammer, and his name, and it is given to her instead. In my eyes, this is a total disrespect to both characters. You’re taking a character’s very birth name from him, the name given him by his mother and father (coincidentally, demigods themselves), and you’re giving it to someone else. Not even Loki, who slept with a horse, gave birth to a baby horse, and brought about Ragnarok, ever had his own name taken from him. You’re literally taking his identity away.

Then again, who else but Loki would want it?

And here’s the part where I don’t understand why more people concerned with diversity are upset. Why Joss Whedon and TheMarySue and all the other female-centric-viewpoint-friendly outlets aren’t rioting. You’re taking a woman, erasing her previous identity, and giving her a new one, based on an existing character. There was speculation for a bit that a previously existing female character, likely one of Marvel’s super-powered blondes, would take over. Honestly, being a fan of both Valkyrie and Ms/Captain Marvel (likely candidates to stand in for Thor, based on appearance and power levels), I am certainly hoping that is not the case. Both of these characters have a pretty rich history and stand on their own merits, and to have all of that taken away from them and just have “THOR” pasted over it would be pretty insulting. There’s a lot of really awesome pre-existing female characters in the Marvel U that I’m now worried about, because I want them to keep existing as who they are, and not having the identity of Thor pasted over theirs.

This, however, should be considered a warning:

[W]hy was this announced on The View? Since when was The View considered a source of comic book news?

At best, The View is a source of news that fails to reach the level of comic books, which is not the same thing. This tells me that Marvel doesn’t really give a crap about this; they just want Aggrieved Women to shut up, and they’re fool enough to think that this will do the trick.

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Came in like a Veecking ball

In 1979, Bill Veeck (as in “wreck”) came up with a wild promotion for his Chicago White Sox: “Disco Demolition Night,” in which fans were invited to bring their disco records to a massive bonfire to be held between the first and second halves of a doubleheader. Things got out of hand, and the Sox had to forfeit the nightcap to the visiting Detroit Tigers.

You might not think that this concept was ripe for a revival, but to borrow a phrase, you better belieb it:

“Like so many, we have taken special exception to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus’s music along with his numerous run-ins with the law and her controversial performances,” said [Charleston] RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “‘Disco Demolition 2′ is dedicated to the eradication of their dread musical disease, like the original Disco Demolition attempted to do. We are going to take Bieber and Cyrus’s merchandise and memorabilia, put it in a giant box, and blow it to smithereens. It is all in good fun, and we guarantee there won’t be a forfeit of a game.”

Fans that bring Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus items to the game will receive a $1 ticket. Video montages throughout the game will pump up the fans prior to the dramatic postgame demolition. In addition, the RiverDogs will no longer play Bieber and Cyrus music at Riley Park.

The Dogs sold out all 6000 seats, and while the fans were waiting to trash the pop starts, their team was edging past the Augusta Green Jackets, 9-7.

A group headed by Marvin Goldklang owns five teams in Minor League Baseball, including the Class A RiverDogs; Mike Veeck, son of Bill, is a partner. Mike’s son William “Night Train” Veeck is working in the White Sox organization.

(With thanks to Fishersville Mike.)

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Everyone’s a critic

Peter Grant, aka Bayou Renaissance Man, has written five books — the Maxwell Saga trilogy, the first book of the Laredo Wars series, and a memoir of his days as a prison chaplain. This puts him at least four point something up on the likes of, well, me. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t post a review, but whatever the circumstances, I shouldn’t post a review as shoddy as this:

Comparing this atrocity to the work of Heinlien [sic] is like comparing festering garbage to a meal at a Michelin Star restaurant.

Without a doubt, the worst book I have ever attempted to read. The narrative has all the skill of a seventh grader writing about their summer vacation. I am offended that anyone had the gall to charge actual money for this pig slop. It was so wretched that I gave up on it after the second chapter. Do yourself a gargantuan favor and do not buy this trash masquerading as literature.

Grant, for his part, found it amusing:

I have a pretty good idea who wrote that review. If I (and others) are right, it’s someone who’s been identified as a troll by several other authors of my acquaintance, some of whom instantly remarked (when they learned about the review) that it has all the hallmarks of his grammar, vocabulary and phraseology. I don’t know for sure, but I thought most of you would find it as entertaining as I did.

I’ve always had this weird idea that if you’re going to act superior to someone, at some point you need to demonstrate some capacity for superiority. The troll isn’t born who could actually do that.

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