(Linked to this.)
Archive for QOTW
News trucks and reporters are descending on Newtown to exploit the almost-an-anniversary by interviewing residents about how they don’t want news trucks and reporters descending on them to exploit the almost-an-anniversary.
Not one mention of the fact that not a single piece of antigun legislation proposed since then would have even slowed the killer down. Not a single mention of the fact that making a desperate loser the Single Most Talked About Person On The Television is only adding fuel to the fire of the next guy, who already has his spreadsheet laid out with the numbers to beat.
As Don Henley once observed, “It’s interesting when people die.”
That whole “separation of church and state” business, if you ask me, has it exactly sideways. Christ spoke of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; today’s Caesars are keen to have the population rendered, once their ability to mulct us fails for lack of further mulctables.
Francis W. Porretto, having noted this sort of thing before, has pretty much had it up to here with professions of [some sort of] faith as part of political campaigns:
The various Christian denominations differ on a number of things, most notably abortion, divorce, and sexual conduct. However, they are united around the Noachite Commandments:
Then someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and your mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 19:16-19]
Government’s penchants for theft and false witness should make any sincere Christian extremely uneasy about contact with it, approaching absolutely unwilling to be involved with it at any level. Make no mistake: to confiscate from unwilling Peter is theft no matter whether or not any of the proceeds reach Paul. The insertion of government, the supposedly disinterested servant of the “general welfare,” as the confiscator makes no difference whatsoever.
There’s a Catholic doctrine about “occasions of sin,” circumstances which are likely to lure the faithful into transgressions. Getting oneself parked in one of the seats of power, whether for graft or simply grasp, does not augur well for the future of one’s soul.
What is this I don’t even — oh, okay, it’s a defense of the language used on the Internet, by Tia Baheri (as distinguished from “the language used on the Internet by Tia Baheri”):
[W]e’re taking a group of people who have insider knowledge of the English language (or at least a good grasp of it) and placing them in a new, unfamiliar, virtual space. This space introduces visual aids to language in the form of photos and gifs, the ability to comment on someone else’s text in a reblog and the ability to communicate a lot of information in very few words using hashtags. We also see the creation of tone in a toneless medium. In order to simulate conversational patterns in writing we SHOUT WHEN WE’RE SUPER EXCITED or *psssst whisper when we’re pretending to tell someone a secret while perfectly aware that anyone on the internet can read what we’re saying.* slash the coolest bit tho is that u can like ironically forgo all capitalization and punctuation just write in a weird speech pattern its ok everyone will still understand maybe it even helps read the text more quickly because nothing is interrupting the flow of words
In short, this dialect results when people who already share a language are given new tools. The result isn’t a butchering of English language but a creative experiment with it. Am I claiming that the Internet as a whole is operating on a level of postmodernism that would make Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon seem like novices? maybe i am maybe im not u punk wut of it like who r u to tell me otherwise
I don’t always get a QOTW from Twitter, but when I do it’s from Nancy Friedman.
I’ve been looking into the whole male authors are treated better then female authors, how books are categorized as being boy books that girls can read or just girl books, how female authors seem to get more push back and hate. I’ve been reading quite ALOT of articles and such on this and I was just wondering: What are the perks of being a female YA author?
Apart from not having to pretend that “alot” is an actual word, there are some distinct joys:
The perks of what I do are so numerous as to be like the stars in the sky. Don’t weep for me. I’m ridiculously lucky.
But there’s also this:
Is it ALSO true that female writers tend to have a different FATE than our male counterparts? Yes, that’s true. It’s true in a thousand different ways that I often can’t even talk about, because it would involve talking about people and encounters and conversations. And it’s true in ways I CAN talk about, like when people ask me if I’ll ever write something boys can read (my books carry COOTIES that will make their penises fall off) or if I have an idea and a guy has the same idea, he is likely to get the credit (if it is good) or the fact that what I do has a far greater chance of being called slight, or breezy, or fun, or escapist, or a guilty pleasure, or light, or beach-worthy … and if a guy wrote it it is likely to magically become a masterful work of comic prose, or a subtle and humorous exploration of life and love the likes of which has never been seen before!
[insert vague Dave Eggers reference here]
I suppose, in some totally distended sense of the word, I write YA stuff: the median age of the readers of my fanfiction universe of choice seems to be well short of twenty, though my own material skews older. (Which doesn’t surprise me, given my relatively aged protagonists.) Gender considerations notwithstanding, however, I will insist that it’s slight, maybe even breezy in spots.
Gabrielle Francesca East — her friends call her Dolly — on the bill we had to pass to know what was in it:
The regime has tried to persuade Americans that Obamacare is a market-based solution. It’s not. What it is, actually, is a cargo cult attempt at making from scratch an institution which is not instituted, but grows organically. So all the hagiographic wanking in the commentariat is all better to spill your seed on the ground than in the belly of a whore kinda stuff.
But that doesn’t matter. The key, dispositive point of principle is that the government has no business in the medicine business and needs to be told to butt out — which command may need to be reinforced with a smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
Which are easier to roll these days, owing to extreme thinness caused by reduced advertising volume.
And on that “we have to pass it” business:
From a FB friend, but too good not to share with you people. It’s about “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it. pic.twitter.com/mtvFK88EPm
— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) November 1, 2013
Yep. In every sense of the word.
Over the years, the maker of the number-two erectile-dysfunction product has changed its approach to television advertising somewhat, but, says Pejman Yousefzadeh, the new version is no improvement over the old one.
That was then:
You would expect them to walk upstairs, steal a few smoldering glances at one another, and then tastefully but suggestively close the door in order to pay homage to Aphrodite.
This never happened. Instead, the man and the woman would leave the house, fully dressed, and retrace the voyage of Vasco da Gama whilst entirely on foot. And then some. They would traverse large rocks, hills, valleys, deserts, snowy tundras, and climb K2 just for kicks. Needless to say, none of these activities are euphemisms for “they had sex.” Then, to top things off, they would lug two single bathtubs into the realm of Rivendell, place them next to each other, climb into each of them, and gaze at the horizon together while holding hands, apparently waiting for Frodo Baggins to return from Mordor and report that the One Ring had at last been destroyed.
This is now:
The new ones are a somewhat different kind of awful. Various couples are still shown engaging in quasi-let’s-find-the-Ark-of-the-Covenant-and-put-it-in-the-hands-of-top-men activities, but the Choose Your Own Adventure theme is not as pronounced as it used to be back when couples were supposed to pretend that they were the Justice League on galactic patrol duty. What’s bad is the writing for the voiceover.
The conceit for the new … commercials is that the man sees the lady doing something that only she does. Something that is unique to her personality and habits. Something incredibly cute and adorable. Something that would make any heterosexual male reach for a particular pharmaceutical product.
And then, the voiceover annihilates the kinda-sorta romantic moment with words very much like the following:
“You’ve always loved her for her childlike delight when in the presence of a truly terrific Jackson Pollock painting. But your erectile dysfunction could be the result of a loss of blood flow …”
On the other, um, hand, if you’re bleeding all over the place, you could probably produce your own mock-Pollock in, oh, four hours or so.
Truth be told, this reminds me a bit of a series of Hanes Silk Reflections print ads which invariably included three factoids about the wearer, the last being the superior appearance of her legs. I shall have to dig one of those out of the archives.
Street Fight’s Terry Heaton, on the assumptions made by those who would sell to us:
In their effort to influence and produce results, marketers are simply unable to demonstrate even a modicum of restraint when it comes to the line between useful and nuisance.
Operating within the soul of every marketer is the ridiculous assumption that people want or need to be bombarded by advertising, and that any invasion of their time or experience to “pass along” an attempt to influence is justified. If this were true, there would be no looming fight over DVRs, which allow viewers to skip ads. You have no inherent right to my eyeballs, and it is precisely this axiom that makes today’s instruments and gadgets so powerfully disruptive to the culture.
How so? We’re weary of running a relentless gauntlet of jumping, screaming, frantic warnings, hands grabbing, voices shouting, noise-making, disjointed movements, and the almost demonic reaching for our wallets coming from advertising. This is Madison Avenue’s idea of perfection, and the only way you can get there is to completely ignore the effect of advertising on the very people you’re trying to influence. The Web is, at core, a pull mechanism, not one that pushes. It’s why all those big projections of advertising “potential” have turned into a commodified “pennies for dollars” reality.
Lamar Outdoor, most often referenced here for referencing me, plays the DVR card pretty well: they have a billboard which reads “Can’t >> This Ad,” where the “>>” turns out to be the fast-forward button on a remote.
Still, billboards are purely a push medium, since the shortest distance between Point A and Point B puts them right in front of you. The Web does its best to push, but it doesn’t push very well: those thousands of slots that Veeblefetzer Industries bought on Bing won’t matter if your eyeballs are glued to Yahoo!
(Suggested by Doc Searls.)
In the November Car and Driver, P. J. O’Rourke recants:
Yes, 33 years ago in the pages of this magazine I called the 911 an “ass-engined Nazi slot car.” I apologize. Not that the 911′s powerplant doesn’t loom behind its transaxle. And not that the 911′s progenitor, Ferry Porsche, wasn’t a utility infielder on the wrong team during the last World War. And not that a mistaken lift of a 911′s throttle won’t result in Aurora Plastics model-racetrack ess-bend behavior, except in 1-1 scale taking out the whole back of the hobby shop. Besides, to be precise, I was referring to a 930 Turbo, with love-handle fenders and looking like it had backed into a cocktail waitress and driven off with her serving tray. But I’m sorry.
Eventually, P. J. fesses up: he bought one. A 964-series Carrera, vintage 1990. And he loves it, kinda sorta:
The interior is as cozy as a visit home to mom. She has a meth lab in my old bedroom.
The question comes from Human Events: “Do you think the member of Congress that serves your district is doing a better job than Congress as a whole?”
Jimmy Paul Lankford? Well, he has the advantage of not being Maxine Waters, but he’s hardly unique in that respect.
[I]f there’s a lower bar than “better job than Congress as a whole”, it’s currently being used at a paramecium limbo contest. My previous representative was Andre Carson who, while a genial enough dude, I wouldn’t trust with a burnt-out match without adult supervision. His sole redeeming quality as a government official was that I got to vote against him with savage glee every two years.
A “paramecium limbo contest.” I am awed. (“How low can you go?” asked jesting Chubby.)
Africa need not be a pestiferous hellhole — except that folks of the David Attenborough stripe seem to prefer it that way:
The dirty little secret of Africa is that if you got rid of the TseTse fly and allowed irrigation, that Africa could become another Kansas (an area that was once called the “great American desert”, and where there was once a severe famine … now with irrigation, and modern variations of wheat developed in the Ukraine, it can feed the world).
Of course, David wouldn’t like that: it would mean prosperous farmers where his beloved animals now live.
As for all those starving children: David has an opinion about them too: “And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”
yeah. It was similar British Malthusian thinking that led to the millions of dead Irish in the potato famines of the 1840′s, where grain was exported and locals starved to death or died trying to migrate to other lands on “coffin ships”.
Of course, mankind is a blight upon the landscape — well, some of mankind, anyway. And it’s always amusing to see people trying to explain how it is that they, personally, are not.
(Linked to this.)
The last page of The Atlantic these days is devoted to the Big Question, posed to various luminaries, and for October 2013, it’s this: What was the greatest speech, historical or fictional, ever given?
The usual suspects — Shakespeare, Churchill, JFK — are duly listed, but the last one throws us a bit of a curve. You probably know it better than you do most of the others, too:
General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of American forces in Afghanistan:
“Great speeches can inspire nations, armies, and teams to win against the odds and to take action when things seem hopeless. In that tradition, an entire generation can recite the simple message delivered by a slovenly fraternity brother: ‘What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!’”
Thank you, General McChrystal; and thank you, Senator Blutarsky, wherever you are.
Voyager 1 has left the solar system, and as major achievements go, this one has its drawbacks:
Anyone else bothered by the fact that we sent a thing into space that contains a map to its origin planet and an open invitation?
“Hi, we’re a barely space-faring civilization that you could probably conquer and subjugate with your equivalent of a Boy Scout troop! Here’s a map to our home planet. Stop by anytime!”
Oh, they will.
What mattered about the President’s speech on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech:
The fact is that the man who stood where King stood at the Lincoln Memorial today as the chief executive of the United States of America is one who would have had to have stood with King if too many white people wanted seats on the bus. He would have had to drink with King from water fountains that said “colored,” or sat in balconies instead of on the main floor of the theater, or eaten at the back door of the restaurant because no one would seat him, or walked with King past hotel after hotel until he finally came to one that would allow him to stay.
But he does not have to do any of these things. People stand when he enters. Traffic stops when he passes. The powerful call him, “Sir,” and address him not just as “Mister,” but “Mister President.” Martin Luther King Jr., had he not been slain just five years after this speech, would be 84 today and very possibly alive to see this.
And although he might have had to pinch himself to see if he was still dreaming, he would have found — I hope to his great pleasure and satisfaction — that he was not.
Of course, it’s not 1963 anymore, as some people need reminding now and then. The greatest legacy of Dr. King may be that we’ll never have to see 1963 again.
Aristotle once said something that defined a state of being “educated,” as having the ability to “entertain a thought without accepting it.” There would be no point to calling this out if everyone could do this. I suppose it’s never been too common of a human talent, in any setting. And so for those participants who wish to display themselves as cosmetically smart, but lack this particular skill Aristotle was describing, there is another desire that takes shape right after the fidelity is pledged to this emerging consensus — to shed from the discourse any contrary thought that might rival for the position as an emerging consensus. They start to eliminate ideas, under the guise of entertaining them. They mock, they interrupt, they distract by way of loaded phrases like “let’s move on,” they engage in all sorts of logical fallacies, they “debunk” myths that aren’t really mythical. They ostracize, or threaten to ostracize. What all these things have in common is: They seek to shape the emerging consensus by eliminating information rather than by gathering it, which is a tip-off that this consensus is being shaped by way of ignorance, rather than by learning.
And you can spot these individuals rather quickly: they’re the ones who say that we need to have a “conversation” about some topic or other. You may be sure, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that said “conversation” will be one-sided.
There are somewhere around five million words on this site, and I suspect somewhere around a quarter of a million were expended on the tedious task of bewailing my Permanent Singleness. Then again, I am sufficiently self-aware to know why I’m in this state — should I need to identify the culprit, I need only pop open my wallet and look at my driver’s license — which perhaps makes me at least slightly better off than these characters described by Robert Stacy McCain:
[S]ome guys never quite figure this out, because they have never really evaluated themselves or women objectively. These guys psychologically separate women into two categories:
- Super-attractive women they really want to hump;
- Normal women they might actually have a chance with.
Unrealistic expectations — and particularly the Barbie-doll fixation — inevitably produce disappointment, and guys who fall into that pattern tend to end up pathetically alone.
Before proceeding to our example of this phenomenon, let me explain something basic: By the time you are 25 or so, you have probably already dated the best-looking person you’ll ever date. True, there are late bloomers, people who were high-school losers who get their act together by the time they graduate college and suddenly discover that they are more attractive than they were as teenagers, but this late-bloomer effect is very unlikely to occur after age 25. So by the time a guy is in his mid-20s, if he has never dated an 8+, he’s a damned fool to keep dreaming that Cinderella/Barbie/Playboy model will stumble into his life.
Ain’t gonna happen, Jack. Get over it. Life is not fair.
You really should read the whole thing, which includes a grade-A (or at least Type A) object lesson. I note for record that my own selection criteria are at least as implausible; the difference, of course, is that I know it.
Society has a stake in depicting people like Oscar Grant — people who have gone to prison, people who have committed crimes — as all one thing. Society has a reason to get anxious, as [Variety critic Geoff] Berkshire seems to, when the Oscar Grants of the world are depicted as people like us with good and bad parts, people to whom we can relate. Society runs on treating many people as less than human. Society depends on the social compact not falling apart when a young man is shot to death as he lays prone and unarmed on the pavement. Society depends on us accepting the fact that we jail people at a greater rate than anyone on the planet. Society depends on us accepting, as we are more and more enthusiastic about jailing people, that we are less and less interested in paying for adequate legal representation or adequate jail conditions. Society depends on us shrugging at brutality. Society relies on us not recognizing the essential humanity of the targets of the state’s power. Depicting people who commit crimes as one-dimensional criminals supports that social compact; depicting them as people — people more like us than unlike us — threatens it.
Society can’t function as presently constituted if we recognize the Oscar Grants of the world (or for that matter the Johannes Mehserles) as human beings, and act accordingly. Fruitvale Station is not subversive because it suggests Oscar Grant’s death was a grave injustice; it’s subversive because it suggests his life had value in the first place.
Johannes Mehserle is the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant on the first day of 2009.
Which really should be the quote of last week, since it was in the issue of Entertainment Weekly that was mailed to subscribers last week, and which I didn’t read until today for reasons you’ve already heard enough about.
The topic is the Royal Baby, and due to magazine lead times, they didn’t have the name just yet. Jessica Shaw proclaimed:
At 4:24 p.m. local time on July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge, 22, gave birth to His Royal Highness Prince Something or Other of Cambridge, weighing in at a regal 8 pounds and 6 ounces. (There was no name as of press time, but it’s got to be better than North West. I’m a let you finish, Kanye, but Kate Middleton just gave birth to one of the best babies of all time.)
Best riff on that quote I’ve seen in some time. (And it’s Prince George, as we already know.)
Step right up, ladies and gents, and see this week’s winners in the Victimhood Sweepstakes! You know you want to:
The blame-shifting, guilt-tripping, grievance-mongering Victimhood Sweepstakes mentality, which paralyzes individual initiative and invites us to rationalize our problems as resulting from indomitable historic trends over which we have no control — that’s the problem.
Pointing the finger at demonized scapegoats — “Corporate America” or whatever — as the all-powerful villains in a horror story, where we are like teenagers fleeing the bloody slasher, is neither accurate nor helpful. Honest hard-working people succeed every day in America, yet the liberal gloom-and-doom vision rewards failure with the consolation of self-pity: “It’s not your fault. You’re a victim.”
Pity is a poor substitute for success.
Honest and resourceful people who encounter disadvantage or misfortune do not surrender to feelings of helplessness, nor do they let their resentment of others’ advantages fester into an excuse. Where there is life, there is hope, and with hope there should be a determination to work harder, to ignore the advantage denied and seek the opportunity offered. Excuses are for losers, and self-pity is a trap.
Been there, whined about that. About a quarter-century ago, I was about as washed up as it’s possible to get without actually getting clean. It did not occur to me at the time that if all you can see is your duodenum, it’s no wonder the whole world looks like crap. Extricating my head from that position was a task both tedious and painful, but it had to be done.
It helped that in those days, there were far fewer Professional Victims, gamers of the system, their ambition adulterated with avarice, their industriousness supplanted by indolence, their self-respect the spiritual equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup. I saw them coming:
[W]e live in an era where nothing is more important than How People Feel, where victims are routinely assigned the maximum level of moral authority, and it’s justified because, well, they feel bad.
And nothing makes a TV audience feel good quite so effectively as people on TV saying that they feel bad. TV itself, of course, doesn’t care, so long as they buy this laundry detergent or that auto insurance.
There is ordinary butthurt, and there is Special Edition Butthurt:
[I]t’s a butthurt wrapped in an agenda shrouded in a vendetta drizzled with pettiness and rolled in a crunchy nougat of simple greed.
If you’re curious, and you probably should be, Tam was referring to this.
Dear sweet merciful lord, deliver me from these deliriously happy parents, frolicking in paradise, publishing books, competing in triathlons, crafting jewellery, speaking to at-risk youth, painting bird houses, and raving about the new cardio ballet place that gives you an ass like a basketball. Keep me safe from these serene, positive-thinking hipster moms, with their fucking handmade recycled crafts and their mid-century modern furniture and their glowing skin and their optimism and their happy-go-lucky posts about their family’s next trip to a delightful boutique hotel in Bali.
I am not physically capable of being that effective or that effusive. I can’t knit and do yoga and smile at strangers and apply mascara every morning. These people remind me that I’ll never magically become the kind of person who shows up on time, looks fabulous, launches a multimillion-dollar business, and travels the world. When I was younger, I thought I might wake up one day and be different: more sophisticated, more ambitious, more organised. Back then, my ambivalence, my odd shoes, my bad hair seemed more like a style choice. When you’re young, being sloppy and cynical and spaced-out looks good on you.
But my flaws are no longer excusable. I need to fix everything, a voice inside keeps telling me. It’s time to be an efficient professional human, at long last, and a great mother and an adoring wife. It’s time to shower on a predictable schedule.
“What’s to stop cousins and siblings from marrying, then?” — Hell, I dunno. “Decorum and good taste” is probably out and if they lack socially-normal ingrained abhorrence of inbreeding, they probably are reinforcing recessives already. So the question is really about your right to not be squicked by social deviates; you’re fine if they’ve got to sneak around.
“What’s to stop polygamous marriages? Group marriages?” Bloody-minded prejudice, if you asked the LDS at the right point in history, and that probably motivated by fear of being out-earned and out-bred. Also, these days we have plenty of TV shows demonstrating the pros and cons of one version of polygamy — I wouldn’t sign up for it on a bet. But there’s no rational basis at all to limit wedlock to only two people. And we’ve got lots of divorce lawyers who’d welcome the work. (Man, they’d get fat on it!)
“How about an adult marrying a minor or horse?” (or “…a chair?” etc.) Aha! That, there’s a basis to deny: none of those entities can give meaningful consent or enter into a binding contract.
Now there is what appears to be a concerted effort to lower, or even obliterate, the age of consent; but I suspect the culprits engaged therein are less interested in long-term relationships — children eventually grow up, after all — than in simply getting their hands into some poor kid’s Garanimals.
(Linked to this.)
U. of Colorado investigated for lack of faculty political diversity. Faculty: But we have leftists, radicals, progressives, socialists, communists, Stalinists, Marxists, Bolsheviks, Trotskyites, Maoists … how much more diversity do you want?
(Linked to this.)
A picture, we are told, is worth a thousand words. This one might exceed the quota:
Barnes & Noble, you’re hilarious. pic.twitter.com/95dO5rKKHV
— Adland (@adland) June 20, 2013
This is the one thing Amazon can’t do. (Or can they?)