Archive for QOTW
If “Why do all the candidates suck?” has crossed your mind of late, you might want to take a look in the nearest mirror:
Just as people like the semblance of getting a “real” glimpse into the Real Housewives of Wherever’s lives, we like the semblance of a genuinely approachable, relatable, human, real-keeping presidential candidate. But when the candidate says something a little too raw or real or sarcastic or even eccentric (as real people might) about abortion, or entitlements, or cronyism, or civil liberties, or foreign policy, we freak out.
When we have a choice between the more open, straight-talking candidate or the one that does everything through self-managed media so that they can control the message to the maximum conceivable degree, we go for the latter.
When we have a choice between uncomfortable substance and truth on the one hand, and reality or feel-good talking points and make-believe on the other, we reject the former.
When we have a choice between airbrushed images in magazines or seeing the way people actually look, we want the Photoshop.
When we have a choice between meeting people in real life, with all the potential awkwardness that might entail, or just sitting around texting and Facebook messaging, more and more, we seem to go for the “virtual.” We don’t want the sacrifices or pain entailed to really achieve; we prefer the comfort of telling ourselves that we are excelling, even when any objective analysis would show that is at best a half-truth. We don’t actually want reality, whether in our entertainment, our jobs, our education, our lives, or our politics. We just want something that kind of looks like it.
What’s that? You say we’re not like that at all? Too bad you missed President Santorum. Or Sanders. Or any of those folks we were told are “unelectable” for whatever reason.
Strictly speaking, I should have signed up for my “Obamacare” when the last dregs of my “COBRA” ran out last year, but after seeing that the best “Bronze option” plan I could find charged ninety-seven dollars per week and didn’t kick in until I’d spent $6500, I decided to wait until I had a new day job.
My new day job was with the same contracting company for whom I’ve done half-a-dozen gigs since 2003. They explained to me that they no longer offered healthcare for full-time employees, but that I was welcome to use their ACA exchange. So now I’m paying five grand a year for coverage that doesn’t kick in until I spend $6500 a year. This is, apparently, Mr. Obama’s miracle. Once upon a time I paid $2000 a year for coverage that kicked in once I’d spent $250. The good news is that, uh, well — every poor person I know doesn’t pay enough taxes to see the ACA penalty, and even if they did it wouldn’t change their decisions regarding healthcare because poor people have low future time orientation. That’s why they are poor.
Unless, of course, they were driven to the poorhouse by medical expenses. Then again:
I have the same problem. The only reason that I am not desperately poor is because I know how to make money in a hurry. Someday I will be desperately poor. I have the mentality of a poor person. That’s why I didn’t sign up for ACA until last month, which meant that I wouldn’t receive any benefits until May, so my dental and healthcare expenses related to this Utah Ebola would be entirely paid by me. Well, they would have been anyway — but now they won’t even count towards my $6500 deductible. Sucks to be me.
Note: He was in Utah; he didn’t exactly contract Ebola.
CFI Care (not its real initials) offers no clue as to the level of metal for which 42nd and Treadmill is probably paying $6000 a year on my behalf, only a certification that the policy adheres to the new rules; but the numbers seem to fall between bronze and silver.
(Linked to this.)
Some people look at high-rise residential and do a Marv Albert elbow jerk: “Yes! We’re urban!” Others see something like this:
… these concrete and asphalt blights where you live in twelve story stacks of people where the only view you have is into an alleyway full of garbage and dog shit which separates you from a close up view of the guy in the next buildings bathroom, who you have to obviously attempt to ignore eating spaghetti while they’re on the crapper. Sure, my Mid-Western city might be comparatively boring and uncultured, but I can walk 15 feet out my $639 a month, 800 square foot, ground floor apartment to have my dogs poop in actual grass next to a tree that was there before the apartments were built 40 years ago. I’ll trade a city that never sleeps for grass and actually being able to see stars at night. Call me crazy like that.
I admit to having eaten spaghetti in a variety of places, but that’s not one of them.
Governor Pence has already signed it, but this is what one of his constituents thought about it:
The Religious Freedom law wending its way to the Indiana Governor’s desk should have been easy for the Legislature to write. All they had to do is dig up some of the Jim Crow laws from the Deep and not so Deep South one hundred years ago.
I’m tired of people filing lawsuits because some dumbass narrow-minded idiot uses a religious reason to deny service to someone who violates their sense of right and wrong. The dumbass narrow-minded idiot has a right to his opinion, and the last I looked his business wasn’t owned by the government. A normal person thus dismissed would simply nod and walk away, and make it clear to everyone he met that the dumbass narrow-minded idiot was a bigot and should be boycotted out of business. That’s his right, too. Then the free market can take over and either the shop stays in business or goes out of business, depending on what the market thinks.
The lawyers who dominate legislatures, however, have thoroughly imbued the American public with the notion that anybody should sue anyone anytime over anything, down to and apparently including mere butthurt.
The next bozo who goes on some ranty rant about “cultural authenticity” has earned a bitchslap from Jack Baruth:
Peter Green was a white Englishman who heard the Chicago blues on pirate radio and wanted to imitate it. Robert Cray grew up in a middle-class household and was performing for a living before he turned twenty. Even Albert King, who picked cotton on a plantation in his teens and then drove a bulldozer, was firmly into the pro-musician groove by his early twenties and could afford a Gibson Flying V. None of these guys ever shot anybody or went to prison or got poisoned by a woman or worked on a chain gang or plumbed the depths of human sorrow before they started making records. They didn’t live the blues — they played the blues.
Muddy Waters reportedly told Little Walter, “We don’t live the blues, we play it.” Miles Davis said something similar to his bandmates. I repeat: The best musicians to ever play the blues didn’t live the blues. You think that’s unique to the blues? Ask Dr. Dre how much crime he’s actually done in his life, how many people he’s shot. Rick Ross was a correctional officer, not a gangster. Ice-T was a gang member once — but he’s spent a much larger portion of his life playing a cop on television. Axl Rose wasn’t born in Los Angeles. Robert Plant wasn’t actually a character in a Tolkien book. Barry Manilow wrote a lot of songs but “I Write The Songs” wasn’t one of them.
Musicians are performers, assuming a character for the purpose of performing music. If you want authenticity in your life, you’d better look somewhere else besides music, maybe “upcycling” or “curating” or something like that.
And if you ever hear me claim this five-million-plus-word unauthorized autobiography to have been “curated,” you can slap me.
Being a woman, as far as I can tell, is like walking around Chicago at night wearing a 10-ounce Credit Suisse gold bar on a necklace. Some of the people you will meet will want to buy your bar from you at a fair price. Others will want a bargain. Still others want it for free. Last and worst, you have the people who will simply take it from you through measures ranging from misdirection to naked force. Ask yourself how long you could last under pressure like that, then you’ll have some sympathy of your own. It’s a remarkable gift to be unwanted in this world, to go about your business alone and unremarked-upon. Women, particularly women, don’t get that gift. They have only pressure to yield, mighty and unrelenting as the column of dark water above the Challenger Deep, until the moment that they lose their looks and become utterly invisible to everyone.
In these times, this is perhaps the only meaningful example of so-called “male privilege” from which we are likely to benefit more than theoretically: we can be ignored. I’m thinking maybe I should appreciate it more.
Now, it happens that I am quite lazy in my rhetorical methods. That is to say, I understand that the object of the argument is to win the argument. In politics, we find that most people have profound partisan prejudices, so that there is no hope of persuading a Democrat to support, say, tax cuts or a larger defense budget. Therefore, when we find ourselves confronted with an antagonist in public argument, the simplest way to win is to ask ourselves, “How do I demonstrate that this person is a fool?”
My methodology in this regard was developed from years of youthful studies of military history: Locate the weakest point of the antagonist’s argument and pile onto that point with everything you’ve got. Deliver a crushing blow at the point of attack, and then wait for the response. The antagonist will invariably make some new error in attempting to defend the point you’ve attacked and — rather than continue your previous attack — you then shift to attacking his new error. “Unfair!” the antagonist will shriek, but as they say down home, “I ain’t never heard of no fair fight.”
These tactics work best against arrogant fools. I’m always on the lookout for such people, who always begin with the presumption that they are smarter than me and, when the argument is over, never can figure out how they got beat by a dumb hillbilly.
For some of them, it will take the equivalent of a deathbed conversion to bring the light to their eyes.
(Linked to this.)
Ana Marie Cox, founding editor of Wonkette, presently writing about US politics for the Guardian, on coming out as Christian in an atmosphere that seems hostile to it:
Conservatives might pounce on my closeted Christianity as evidence of a liberal media aversion to God. After all, my day job is all about expressing my opinions and beliefs — some of them unpopular. In my private life, and very cautiously on social media, the people close to me can see evidence of my affiliation. Tweeting out prayers and quotes from Scripture still feels subversive. But until now, I have avoided publicly aligning myself with one of the most popular beliefs in the world.
My hesitancy to flaunt my faith has nothing to do with fear of judgment by non-believers. My mother was an angry, agnostic ex-Baptist; my father is a casual atheist. (I asked him once why he didn’t believe in God, and he replied easily, “Because He doesn’t exist.”)
I am not smart enough to argue with those that cling to disbelief. Centuries of philosophers have made better arguments than I could, and I am comfortable with just pointing in their direction if an acquaintance insists, “If there is a God, then why [insert atrocity]?” For me, belief didn’t come after I had the answer to that question. Belief came when I stopped needing the answer.
As for said “liberal media,” they will happily acknowledge something greater than themselves. Unfortunately, they think it’s government.
Roberta X, on the debased condition of our politics, and by extension our culture:
[W]e live in a bumper-sticker kind of world, where Twitter’s 140-character limit about matches the typical attention span. Buckley, Vidal and Mencken are all dead and buried deep and the latter’s “boobocracy” is in the driver’s seat, encouraged by as rotten a pack of politicians as we’ve ever had — no worse than the worst, but certainly not a patch on the best.
The Right have become modern-day Know-Nothings (and even the Left has learned to drop final g’s when hectoring the unwashed); the Left encourages a culture of smug superiority, especially among the average (and the Right emulates it with a wink and a chortle), with a resulting downward pressure on the intellect of the body politic: Sure, both sides say, we’re Average Folks, but we’re way smarter than those crooks and fools who support the other party. Next thing you know, we’re all extras in Idiocracy. (I’m not talking about who does or doesn’t have a college degree — you can walk out with a Ph.D. and still be an ignorant lout about anything outside your specialty.)
By under-estimating themselves and way underestimating the other guy, by measuring “smart” and “savvy” in terms of buzzwords and unexamined bullshit, The People generally act dumber than they are — and our “Leaders,” who were supposed to be high-minded public servants, have become rulers, laughing behind closed doors at the milling pack of rubes who comprise the electorate. It ain’t no way to run a railroad, let alone a nation of people who were supposed to be largely left alone, neither run nor railroaded unless they violated the peace.
Then again, The People, or some substantial fraction thereof, voted for those “Leaders”; they can’t foist off all the blame on Washington and the state capitals. As Mencken put it, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Of course, this nation was never intended to be a democracy; but once again, The People dropped the ball.
(Linked to this.)
Almost a mocking tone here, one might say:
Harper Lee is going to publish a sequel after 55 years… and you people think I write slow.
— George RR Martin (@GeorgeRRMartin_) February 3, 2015
Well played, sir.
The entire apparatus of academic-leftist discourse, stem to stern, top to bottom, exists solely to justify the raging narcissism of rich white kids. They have everything in the world, yet still feel empty inside. They’re deathly afraid that they only exist because of their massive head start in life, and they’ll do anything to ease that pain. If you’re endlessly searching for “microaggressions,” and you’re the ever-vigilant champion of the oppressed, you’ll never, ever have to be alone with your own thoughts.
Where are the macroaggressions, now that we need them?
A three-year legal battle over the name “Van Halen” has finally been settled. Kelly Van Halen, who was once married to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s drummer, Alex Van Halen, until they divorced almost 20 years ago, has been fighting to use her famous last name on a variety of businesses like a construction and interior design company.
When Kelly Van Halen attempted to trademark products donning her name, ELVH Inc., the entity that protects the copyright of the band’s moniker, argued in various courts that Kelly Van Halen’s use of her name diluted their brand, the Hollywood Reporter writes, ultimately filing a lawsuit in October 2013 to prevent her from infringing on “Van Halen.” However, on January 5th, both parties alerted the judge presiding over the case that they want the lawsuit to be dismissed after settling the matter out of court.
The big problem with military action is that it is done by governments, and given our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wouldn’t trust our government to go to the store for a jug of milk. Okay, they might be able to get the jug of milk, but they would have to borrow a billion dollars to equip their security forces to ensure that no one tampered with the jug on the way back.
Almost an argument for mercenaries, really. What’s
Blackwater Xe Academi up to nowadays?
I am so very, very tired of “my suffering is worse than your suffering” screeds.
Listen boys and girls, suffering is always individual and very personal and is not necessarily proportional to the sufferers actual situation and the injustices suffered. What one person can easily shake off might be a deeply personal and hurtful attack to another and telling someone that “your suffering is nothing compared to mine” is just as hurtful as actual bullying.
Not to mention the fact that it’s not about you: if someone else is in pain, hearing about your pain is not going to improve matters even slightly.
This might work with mild discomfort, maybe: I know I get exasperated during the winter, and then I think about way-colder places like Flin Flon and Saskatoon, and finally I shut up. But the person contemplating walking into the front of a moving truck? Clearly there are needs that simply can’t be met by trying to compare comfort levels.
And we can start by holding our heads up and not whining quite so much no matter what our position in the hierarchy. We can show sympathy to other people who are suffering instead of belittling their feelings. We can refuse to play the game that keeps some people down while protecting those at the top.
If we’re all in this together — and we are — jockeying for position is an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and not a particularly good one at that.
The conclusion of a heartfelt piece by Brandon Finnigan at AOSHQ:
We live our lives, and make more lives, and mourn those lost, and celebrate our milestones, the milestones of others, and fuck up, and fix ourselves, and fuck up further, and triumph, and fail, and repeat all of this until our heart taps out. That is the shared experience of billions. We are well aware of the workings and complexities of the universe we live in, and for some it depresses: we get maybe ten decades of life in a multidimensional spacetime that will last trillions of years.
But those among us who see it that way get things all wrong. Sure, there is an incalculable amount of stuff in our universe (or multiverse if you subscribe to that eleven-dimension reality). Yes, there are probably trillions of life forms in this one. But the few bits of stuff lucky enough to be alive, and further, self-aware, like the bits within ourselves, have an incredible moment. The life we live itself is fantastically beautiful, especially since it isn’t guaranteed, it has no certainty, and rises and falls in the blink of a cosmic eye. Whether by chance or by divine hand, that we are even here, with the conscious ability to do and see and explore and try and hope while we are, is extremely precious. Why waste it in an introverted darkness? Why wallow? Life is promised to none of us. Live it.
This is here more for my reference than for yours.
(Linked to this. Warning: autostart video.)
The left of the Sixties and Seventies is not quite the left of today, speculates the Z Man:
Back then the radicals were building a coalition in order to take control of the Democratic Party and then the country. Today, they run the country. The reason Washington looks like a high school cafeteria is because it is an adult version of what these people experienced as kids. The cool kids were the ones smoking weed and freaking out the squares, while the dorks publicly resented the fact they couldn’t join them, but privately wish they could. Those kids grew up and became Democrats and Republicans, respectively.
It’s why liberal hectoring sounds suicidal. The people in charge are railing about the people in charge. The people in charge are raising a mob from the dispossessed to assault the people in charge. The radicals of forty years ago at least had a rational aim in mind. Today it is an aging street fighter looking for a fight when there’s no one left to fight. It is both irrational and ridiculous.
But is it dead, Jim? I still hear the screams:
It’s also why this may be the end of the Left and radical politics in America. It has burned itself out like we have seen with every Marxist-Leninist state. It’s ironic that Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba. Just as the American Radicals who were inspired by Castro are heading into an absurd decline, the end of the Castro brothers will be Walmart selling Che t-shirts in Havana.
Yeah, that ought to do it. The commodification of ideology. Another twenty years and it will be fashionable to own what North Korea thinks is a car.
Expect this report to be used to bash Republicans (without noting that President Obama doesn’t allow the capture and torture of suspected terrorists: he merely kills the bad guys with drones instead). True pacifists know this, and complain.
How can you tell a true pacifist from a fake one? If they only bash the US and the west, they are fake.
War is hell, as one General said, and the dirty little secret is that often trying to make wars more humane merely leads to the next war because you didn’t kill enough bad guys, so they regroup and attack again.
It’s only a secret to the politicians: the rest of us knew this all along. Most of the rest of us, anyway.
One of the side effects of the legal/regulatory state has been to cut off poor people from small-scale entrepreneurship. Want to open a roadside taco stand? Offer cab services with your private car? Braid hair in your living room? Clean houses without a license or OSHA inspection? Work for less than minimum wage?
Add in a host of other restrictions and requirements that effectively function as a moat to competition that protects larger, better funded businesses, and you block an entire class of people (by income) from entrepreneurial work.
Remember the history of Jews in America? Remember the pushcarts and rug peddlers and all the other modes of self-employment that kept them and their offspring warm, fed, and well enough educated to become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, scholars, and businessmen?
We don’t do that any more. And if you try, you risk your life. Because that makes you a vile criminal.
“You must play by the rules,” say the people who invented those rules to benefit themselves and their cronies.
Modern politicians, having been given the mandate of heaven (vox populi vox Dei), do not accept limitations of their authority or their moral competence, even if, in practice, only a third or even a quarter of the eligible voters have voted for them. Procedural correctness is all that is necessary for such a man to feel justified in pursuing his own moral enthusiasms at other people’s expense.
But the more firmly the politicians believe in their heavenly mandate, the more the political class is divided from the sacred people from whom that mandate allegedly derives. (I have noticed with astonishment recently how increasingly many of the potential candidates in the perpetual American presidential race are close relatives of previous candidates or at least of high-flying politicians.) Indeed, many a monarch and even dictator has been more physically accessible to the populace than modern democratic politicians, suggesting a deficiency of real rather than assumed or theoretical legitimacy. Democracy in the modern sense encourages monomania in the population, in which every citizen is viewed as, and many actually become, a potential assassin, from whom the democratic politician must be protected like gold in vaults. Where politics is the location of all virtue, politicians are the lightning conductors of all discontents.
They’ll make a monarchist of me yet.
Terry Teachout, in his obituary for Mike Nichols:
Nichols made his name in the Fifties by improvising supremely sharp-witted comedy routines with Elaine May. The lightning-quick timing that he cultivated on nightclub stages served him well when he took up directing in 1963. During a rehearsal for the Broadway premiere of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, he got into a shouting match with Walter Matthau. “You’re emasculating me!” the actor shouted. “Give me back my balls!” “Certainly,” Nichols replied, then snapped his fingers to summon the stage manager. “Props!”
Oh, Matthau got over it; he won a Tony Award for playing Oscar Madison, balls and all. (And Nichols got one for his direction.)
I have to confess that I was entirely apathetic about the midterm election, insofar as I believe both parties are pawns of moneyed interests with plans to turn the nation into an economic facsimile of Brazil where drugged-out proles play Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy all day and mobility between the classes is murdered with extreme prejudice. Mr. Obama’s milquetoast pretensions to watered-down pseudo-populism have proven to be completely ephemeral and under his supposedly Democratic administrations the holders of capital in this country have experienced a new Gilded Age while the government openly fiddles the numbers in order to turn the tens of millions of healthy and competent but utterly unemployable men in this country into nonpersons.
Still, I was pleased to wake up this morning and see that American voters had delivered a hammer to the back of Mr. Obama’s head with a staggering repudiation of his administration and his nonexistent accomplishments. It cannot be helped that most of the politicians who benefited from this ballots-not-bullets revolution are scarcely any different from the ones they replaced. What is important is that the country reaffirmed its willingness to eject major percentages of sitting elected officials for low performance.
The metaphor that works for me here is the doofus who’s gone 120,000 miles on the same automatic transmission fluid: eventually, he has to do something about the stuff, which by now looks more like Nesquik than like Fanta Strawberry, but everybody screamed “DON’T FLUSH IT!” So he had someone drop the pan and refill the unit. This improved things a bit, but it eventually dawned on him that the fluid that was in the torque converter at the time he had it serviced is still sloshing around inside there, so he takes it back to the shop, parts with another $150, and repeats the process. Eventually the fluid looks like, and smells like, what it’s supposed to be. Of course, had he flushed it, it would have failed before he got it home from the shop the first time, or so everybody says. I’ve always suspected that this was confusing correlation with causation: the trans was already about to fail, and fail it did.
(Personal note: I once bought a car that pretty much demanded the flush: the pan was vertically oriented, and the filter was internal and couldn’t be reached for cleaning. It did not fail me. Then again, I didn’t leave the same ATF in it for 120,000 miles, either.)
Which is by way of saying that if things don’t look better in a couple of years — well, a third of the Senate will be replaced in 2016.
InStyle’s fashion news editor Eric Wilson chatted with fashion reporter Teri Agins (in the November issue) on the subject of Agins’ new book, Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers (New York: Gotham Books, 2014), and somewhere in the middle of things Wilson posed this question:
I still have conflicting feelings about Kanye West’s fashion collection in 2011. Should we have held him to a different standard because he’s a celebrity? He continues to bring up his treatment by the media and our negative reaction to his desire to become the world’s next top designer.
Kanye raised his hand and decided that this was what he wanted to do. It wasn’t like he was going to try to sell a few snorkel jackets at Macy’s, like Sean Combs. He wanted to be like Balenciaga or Tom Ford. Bless his heart. He’s a talented entertainer, make no mistake about it. But just because you spent an afternoon with Azzedine Alaïa, that’s not going to make you a designer.
Bonus points for the canonical Southern use of “Bless his heart,” though Agins hails from the not-so-Southern metropolis of Kansas City, Kansas. This article (two pages total) was enough to drive me to seek out Agins’ book.
We open with a paragraph from Wikipedia, in case you missed what was going on:
Malala Yousafzai (born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani female education activist, who became the youngest ever Nobel Prize recipient in any category. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Yousafzai’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
Do you think it’s easy for me to accept flag bearers of my religion as my enemy? Do you believe that it’s easy for me to accept the fact that a 16-year-old girl fearlessly took a stand against the biggest threat facing this country while men like me were busy being apologetic on the behalf of the “freedom fighters”?
Do you honestly believe that it’s easy for me to accept that a young girl from our neck of the woods, with all the societal handicaps that one can think of, can singlehandedly orchestrate a global rude awakening? The thought rips the bigoted, discriminatory and misogynistic ideals that I’ve grown up with, into tiny little shreds.
How can I accept Malala to be a hero, when her speeches do not have any Islamic or nationalistic agenda? How can I consider her to be my future leader when nothing she says or does imbues a false sense of superiority in me as a Muslim or a Pakistani? How can I accept that a young girl was able to highlight who our actual enemies are, when grown up men in our parliaments are still hell bent on befriending them?
How can I rejoice at Malala’s global achievement when I’ve been taught all my life that a girl’s place is in the kitchen? I just can’t.
The religion I follow is inherently misogynistic. The society I live in is quintessentially patriarchal. And I’m supposed to manifest ideals of gender equality and women empowerment out of the blue?
Tough questions. But in the long run, the penalty for a wrong answer is infinitely tougher.
(Via Blazing Cat Fur.)