Thursday, August 31, 2006

Question for the Left

When exactly are you going to figure out that it's your blogs driving Townhall's traffic?

Seriously. I am not going to say no one on the right reads that shit, because if you sort links by freshness (in the image you'll see I sorted by authority), you find a few hangers-on to Wizbang linking to

Then again, I can't remember the last time I read Wizbang. I believe I gave up after they linked video of an underage girl masturbating. Hey, I just noticed they cleaned that up, meaning, the link isn't there anymore. On the one, stronger hand, GOOD. On the other, weaker hand, some of us never forget, perverts, and personally I hope you took it down 'cause you got sued all to hell.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fuck Your Tolerance

There are two main sources of groceries near me: One of them is a grocery chain you've probably shopped at yourself if you've lived in the West and Central United States. Because I am fanatical about my privacy we will call it Grocery Chain.

The other is Wal-mart.

I do most of my shopping at Grocery Chain. Grocery Chain is open from 6:00 a.m. to midnight 7 days a week and shopping there is fairly pleasant if you can tune out all the old Christopher Cross tunes they pipe in to ruin your shopping experience. Some days I can't tune out the muzak at all and those are the days I can be seen barreling down the aisles with my teeth bared and my brows knotted in a scowl of rage, but those days are few. Most shopping experiences at Grocery Chain are good shopping experiences. Also, their produce section is lovely, even if they do appear never to have heard of shallots.

I like Grocery Chain, but Grocery Chain's hours are, believe it or not, not always compatible with my goofy work schedule. Though not without its bargains, Grocery Chain also charges more than I am willing or able to pay for some things. Plus, Grocery Chain is unwilling to sell me a deep fryer. Last week I had a vision, a vision of me owning a deep fryer, a vision I abruptly cut off when it got to the part where I not only owned a deep fryer, but weighed 400 pounds. I ignored that part and bought myself a deep fryer anyway. At Wal-mart.

Man, I really wish this post were going to be all about the terrible awful delicious things I intend to fry hell out of with that deep fryer. Instead, it's going to be about why Republicans have been so successful at making slurs like "liberal elite" stick: It's because a thing only has to be true some of the time in order to convince enough people that it's true most or even all of the time. And some of the time, some conscientious Wal-mart objectors get on the internet and they write things like this:

Later I sat in the car and wondered why I had to be such an elitist asshole, why I had to want the people in these towns to want something they clearly don't want. They don't want to stop shopping at Wal Mart. They don't want to stop eating at McDonalds.

Yes, that's exactly the problem: Desperate to participate in their own economic subjugation, poor people throughout the heartland can't get enough of Wal-mart and McDonald's. They just don't want to stop doing business with either of them. Their simple, rustic hearts swoon at the little yellow smiley face, they melt for the Golden Arches, they're just head over heels in love with this crap, because they're mysterious, inscrutable creatures--who can fathom the ways of yon country folk?--whose wants and needs are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM YOURS.

This guy isn't an elitist asshole for hating Wal-mart. Oh, no. Wal-mart is very hateable, from the shenanigans they pull with their employees, to the way they drive out local competition, to the sweatshops they import their cheap crap from, to the way they seduce me with their dazzling arrays of super-affordable deep fryers, toaster ovens, and coffeemakers. I admit it's the way they treat their employees that galls me the most and if I had my druthers, I'd shop at Costco. This would please my conscience no end. Unfortunately for my conscience, in this town there IS no Costco but there ARE two whole Wal-marts.

No, what makes this guy an elitist asshole (his term, not mine) is that smug conclusion that people in Nebraska and Iowa and everywhere else in flyover country want to shop at Wal-mart and that's why you can't get 'em to quit doing so. Whereas I would venture to guess that you can't get 'em to quit shopping at Wal-mart because there is no motherfucking organic cooperative consumer alternative in Podunkville, Kansas, and even if there were, what in the name of nongenetically- modified, certified organic corn (plus a recyclable cupful of fair-trade coffee) makes you think someone earning Podunkville, Kansas wages could afford to shop there?

As for McDonald's, I admit it, I eat there on occasion. I eat there because I would rather pay $2.49 for a Big Mac that is going to taste more or less what I expect it to taste like, i.e. Big-Mac-cy, than pay $8.49 for four ounces of chicken breast glazed with balsamic vinegar on crusty ciabatta with fresh mozzarella di buffalo, baby greens, heirloom tomato, and an insouciant chipotle aioli, garnished with a sprig of fresh tarragon. Don't get me wrong; it's not that I wouldn't like the chicken sandwich. It's that I'm not paying $8.49 for the chicken sandwich, especially considering that no matter how stratospherically snobby the food, in this town, and in MOST towns, it is still going to be prepared by someone making minimum or even illegal, under-the-table, well-below-minimum wages, and that someone does not care about your precious artisanal chicken sandwich, and it's going to taste like that person does not care about your precious artisanal sandwich, so you know what, how 'bout I save myself the markup and just make myself pretentious artisanal sandwiches like that at home.

Is this that hard to understand? Am I being unfair to this guy? Why, why, why when people discuss Teh Poor do they never once think of maybe asking Teh Poor? To echo something Lauren said about herself recently, I am not really poor-poor. But it's a dead cert I'm spending more time shopping next to the poor-poor than this elitist asshole is, because let me let you in on a little secret: NO ONE truly LOVES Wal-mart. Don't let those squeals of delight you hear coming from the kitchen gadgetry section fool you. Wal-mart is a pit. A pit full of people who just plain look beat down by life or, vastly more depressing, like their trip to Wal-mart has been the best part of their whole day.

Of course, if you've been working a couple of jobs and the kids have been asking when they can have a movie, when can they have a movie mommy, and they're passing around colds and stomach flu and pinkeye and you live in fear that the person who watches the kids while you're at work (who is probably related to you because who can afford other childcare?) may one day not be there and then what are you going to do--if that's the life you live, then actually payday plus a trip to Wal-mart AND finding that whatever the latest Disney or Pixar family flick is has been marked down enough that maybe you can even buy the kids two movies, probably equals a pretty fucking good day, wouldn't you think? Except you'd have to do that "thinking" part first.

So fuck you and your condescending little tour of the heartland, elitist asshole, if this is all the thought you're willing to put into it.

Have a nice day!

UPDATE: You decide if it's relevant or not, but me, I can't get this out of my head:

There is the colonialism issue. How did the Chinese of Hong Kong really feel about being ruled by England? It's a complex question. Or, as a number of Chinese people said to me, "No, it isn't." Being an American, and an Irish-American to boot, I was, maybe, told certain things that the English didn't hear. "We hate the English," for instance.

When a Chinese friend said that, I said, "Wait a minute. I was in Vietnam not long ago, and nobody seemed to hate Americans. If the Vietnamese can forgive Americans for napalm, carpet bombing, Agent Orange, and what-all, surely you can forgive the English for the odd opium war and some 'Land of Hope and Glory' karaoke."

"It's a different thing," said my friend. "You just killed the Vietnamese; you never snubbed them."

It is so easy not to snub; you just bite your privileged tongue a minute until the fever passes. So why lose the rural vote over penny-ante elitism? Remember when the Democrats used to own the rural vote? That was before they discovered latte.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Now Entering a Prolonged Period of Adjustment

It always takes me awhile to adapt to schedule changes; in the spring I think it took me a month or 6 weeks or so before I figured out when I had time to blog versus when I was able to blog (these are not the same thing) versus when I wanted to blog--and that's enough use of that repulsive verb for one sentence. Anyway, bear with me.

All I can say for my compilers class is that it is taught by a fellow who is highly enthusiastic about compilers. My first thought was, "This guy is way too excited about compilers." My second thought was, "And thank goodness for that." If you are going to learn about compilers, it helps if the teacher acts like learning about compilers is not just worthwhile but EXCITING! and FUN! I mean, if this were being taught by my stand-at-the-lectern and read-directly-from-the-book C++ professor . . . well, I shudder to think. I am not that interested in compilers myself right now, but at least with this guy it is conceivable that by mid-semester I could be somewhat to very interested in compilers. And wouldn't that be fun for you? If all I did from October on was post about compilers?


The class has already reminded me of something I had forgotten: I like computer science teachers and I like computer science students. I like programmers. My ratio of like to dislike for a room full of these people has so far been and likely always will be much higher than it is for a room full of anyone other sorts of people, including (especially?) people just plucked off the street at random.

I like computer science people because once you get them cloistered off from the normals, they are the most nakedly excited people about their subject. They love this stuff and they make it so obvious that they love this stuff. It is like they have painted hearts on their sleeves: "Me + gcc 4EVER." (Which reminds me, I have forgotten everything I was ever taught about gcc and it looks as though I am going to have to use it again. Ugh.)

I don't mean like, I walked into class and found a bunch of dudes standing around exclaiming how much they enjoy Linux (although you can never rule out that scenario); I mean, they do this faux-bitching thing about the subject and it's faux bitching that wouldn't fool a three-year-old. It's SO fake, SO transparent. It's things like one of the kids (well, to me they ARE kids--I'm not meaning to be dismissive, but come on) saying, "So for almost three years, right, all this time, I'm coasting along, I'm taking, like, 13 credits a semester, maybe 15 at the most, right? Then this year I get a job, so what do I do? I take 17 credits." Like, "Oh, no, what a dumb glutton for punishment I am! Why am I torturing myself with all this computer science? Ugh, computer science! I'm such a nerd. Why do I do it?"

But I knew, and everyone in that classroom knew, exactly why: Because he fucking loves it. And now that he has a job in the field, he can't wait to be done merely studying it. He can't wait to graduate and start doing it for real, for pay. That's why he took 17 credits: Because now it's so close he can taste it.

The duller and more monotone the voice in which complaints about computer science are issued from any given computer science student, the more that student is hopelessly in love with his major. You can take that to the bank. CS majors front, but they don't front worth a damn. This is because they are geeks. They are better with compilers than they are with people. But geeks are my people, and I heart them all. I have no idea whether I will pass this course, but I know that I have missed being around geeks.

By the way, if you were wondering why I keep saying "guys" and "fellows" it is because more women need to go into computer science. Seriously, just put down that Sociology catalog right now. There is one other woman in this class and that is it, and that is not right. Anyway, I'm not saying "these dudes, plus also this one chick," every time, because that is awkward. I'll aim for just saying "students," or maybe "these damn kids."

And now if you will excuse me, it is my night off and there are like all these vegetables in my kitchen that I have to find something tasty to do with.

The Manly Aristotle

Turned up via Metafilter this weekend: A dee-licious review of Harvey Mansfield's Manliness by Martha Nussbaum, who begins with a hypothetical:

Suppose a philosophical scholar -- let us call this scholar S -- with high standards, trained in and fond of the works of Plato and Aristotle, wished to investigate, for a contemporary American audience, the concept of "manliness," a concept closely related to the one that Plato and Aristotle called andreia, for which the usual English rendering is "courage." (Harvey Mansfield himself tells us that andreia is his subject.) How would this scholar go about it?

I know! I know! He would start with the premise that manliness is under attack. Then he'd have his agent call a well-known pseudofeminist to make sure she'd be on board with blaming an insidious culture of emasculation for the decline of manliness. And then he'd--wait, Nussbaum says that's not right?

Well, following the lead of Aristotle, S would probably begin by laying out the various widespread beliefs about the topic, especially those held by reputable people. S would also consider the opinions of well-known philosophers. In setting down all these opinions, S would be careful to get people's views right and to read their writings carefully, looking not just for assertions but also for the arguments that support them.

But that sounds like a lot of work, Ms. Nussbaum. You can't really blame Dr. Mansfield for wanting to skip ahead on the research a little--

Harvey Mansfield's credentials suggest to the reader that he will behave like S. He is a prominent political philosopher, recently retired from a chair at Harvard University, who has written widely about philosophical texts. He regularly taught a well-known class in the classics of Greek political thought. By his own account, the works of Plato and Aristotle are particularly important to him. Moreover, Mansfield has become famous as a defender of high academic standards and an opponent of "grade inflation." He likes to excoriate his faculty colleagues for their alleged laxness and looseness.

Oh. Oh, he likes research. Well, then--

It quickly becomes evident, however, that Manliness is not the book that our imagined S would have written. To begin with, it is slipshod about facts -- even the facts that lie at the heart of his argument. He repeatedly tells us that "all previous societies have been ruled by males," producing Margaret Thatcher as a sole recent exception. Well, one has to forgive Mansfield for not adducing Angela Merkel or Han Myung-Sook or Michelle Bachelet, since these female leaders won their posts, presumably, after his book went to press. One might even forgive Mansfield for not knowing about female heads of state in Mongolia, Argentina, Iceland, Latvia, Rwanda, Finland, Burundi, Bermuda, Mozambique, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominica, Malta, Liberia, and Bangladesh. Those are relatively small countries, and one would have to be curious about what is going on in them. But one can hardly overlook Mansfield's neglect of the very newsworthy recent or current female leaders of New Zealand (Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark), Turkey (Tansu Ciller), Poland (Hanna Suchocka), Norway (Gro Harlem Brundtland), France (Edith Cresson), Canada (Kim Campbell), Sri Lanka (Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and now her daughter), the Philippines (Corazon Aquino, Gloria Arroyo), and Pakistan (Benazir Bhutto, a government major at Harvard who might have taken Mansfield's class). And what might one say about Mansfield's utter neglect of Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir, two of the most influential politicians of the twentieth century?

I know what I'D say! I'd say we'd better find a way to protect manliness from the scourge of MARTHA NUSSBAUM, that's what I'd say!

Okay, I've excerpted far too much of that already (but it's just that good). Check out the whole thing when you get a minute.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

And the Creek Don't Rise, This Will Be My Last Post About Jacqueline-Whoever-Whatever

In the comments here, Darleen said something about that Internet Rockstar of Sizzling Hotness, Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey* (or, as her inner circle refers to her, J-Pimp), that made a light bulb switch on for me:

It just takes me right smack back to junior high when the "popular" girl gathered her admirers into an exclusive circle and held court viciously running down all the "outsiders"...especially any other girl that her highness deemed "competition".

I don't see JMPP as someone "unafraid" to state her wants, I see her as a 7th grade bully.

I realized, then, that I did not see her this way at all. Where Darleen was seeing a 7th grade bully, I was seeing an overcompensating misfit.

I also realized I have probably been defending J-Pimp, however tepidly, because I have seen myself as an overcompensating misfit for most of my life.

When I was about 29 I joined Great Expectations (yes, that is how I met the boyfriend, eventually) in Dallas. I did something I would not ever, ever, EVER advise any other woman to do:

I put down very lenient to nonexistent criteria for "my type" in the profile. I asked only two things:

  • Please do not be a born-again Christian.

  • Please do not be a Dallas Cowboys fan.

  • And, to cap this stunning display of doormattery off, I gave a thiiiiiiiis wiiiiiide range of ages I'd consider dating. Basically it amounted to writing down, "Please do not be dead."

    (We can blame my Differential Equations professor for the generous age range. The man was 50 if he was a day, but he moved with three times the speed and agility of any slouch-ass twentysomething--it is a cliche but it always seemed as though he had been launched into the classroom, just flew into it--and my, oh my, was he sexy. So when I went to Great Expectations, the thought that my being "too picky" on acceptable ages could conceivably cost me a date with someone as molten-hot as Dr. Korzeniowski was simply too horrifying to consider.)

    The chief thing I forgot when I filled out my profile at Great Expectations was that I lived in Dallas. Dallas is a city I can recommend wholeheartedly to the Nice Guys and men's rights activists of the world. "Go ye forth and bask in thy entitlement," is what I would urge them, because I am helpful that way. And because Dallas is kind of a sea of prickitude.

    You go to a restaurant in Dallas and you're waiting--because Dallas has this herd mentality that says, if you wait at least 45 minutes for a table in a restaurant, it must therefore be a very good restaurant, and everyone in Dallas believes this even when it is categorically untrue--and you see couples who look more or less like this:

    Woman: Hair like she just stepped out of salon. Fabulous, but not too gaudy, jewelry. Silk blouse. Skirt or well-fitting slacks. Stockings. HEELS (it is the law there). Full makeup. Elegant handbag.

    Man: Dirty t-shirt or wrinkled polo. SHORTS (also, the law). Ball cap. Paunch. Sweat.

    I am not exaggerating, I am not making this up. Men go out dressed like ass. Women go out dressed to the nines. In any white middle-to-upper-middle class neighborhood, it is so.

    So you can just imagine my surprise, she said with dark irony, when hordes of 50-year-old guys of EXACTLY the type described above wanted to meet my dumb ass.

    And that surprise, I am only half-sorry to say, quickly turned to resentment and anger. I had put a truckload of money and time and energy into this and I had not-coincidentally ALSO put a truckload of money and time and energy into making sure I put my best face forward.

    You can say I'm a shallow, mercenary bitch (go on, you know you want to), but I defy you to put yourself in my shoes and feel any differently, especially if you are a heterosexual woman because, ladies, you KNOW what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the diet and the exercise and the professionally-done highlights and the makeup and the clothes (men always say clothes are unimportant to them, but funny thing: Now that I scoot around town in gigantic t-shirts and men's sleep pants, I don't get nearly the attention I used to) and--look, I know the feminists hate him, but when Chris Rock said that 75% of a woman's fineness comes from money, Chris Rock was not wrong. It's not cheap to look fabulous. It's not quick and easy to look fabulous. It's not a breeze to look fabulous. AND THESE MEN COULDN'T TAKE OFF THEIR DAMN BALL CAPS BEFORE POSING FOR THEIR PROFILE PHOTOS. OR EVEN PUT ON A CLEAN SHIRT. THAT IS NOT RIGHT, PEOPLE.

    So that is the experience that lurked in the back of my mind when I read J-Pimp's "Quality Dates Quality" post. And I still say, by all means, Jacqueline, spare yourself that. By all means.

    Incidentally, or maybe not, the boyfriend posed for his photos in a well-pressed dress shirt and a snappy tie. And that is why we are today two happy, shallow people who mutter under our breaths in Jacqueline's general direction, "Well, she's not entirely wrong."

    I Want a Wife

    This classic piece by Judy Syfers never gets old. In fact, in light of this:

    The author of another study summarizes that “wives working longer hours not do not have adequate time to monitor their husband’s health and healthy behavior, to manage their husband’s emotional well-being or buffer his workplace stress.

    --it's damned depressing how well it still fits:

    I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school. I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue care for me and my when I need a rest and change of scene. I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife's duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course of studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.

    Who wouldn't want a wife?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Dear Junkies at the Emergency Room

    I cannot say "no one," because if I do say "no one," sure as night follows day I will receive a comment of the following form:

    Actually? You said "no one ever x," but as a matter of fact, you ignorant slut, I x. All the TIME. I x like you wouldn't believe. A lot of people x. We've formed a society, in fact, and I'm going to post on our forum right now about how STUPID some people (you) are.

    So I can't say "no one," but, junkies in the ER? ALMOST no one lists allergies to morphine and Toradol. Listing your medication allergies as "morphine and Toradol" is ALMOST exactly like hanging a big ol' sign around your neck:

    "I am a junkie. GIVE ME DILAUDID, OR GIVE ME DEATH."

    Allergies to morphine and codeine are sorta common. Intolerance of NSAIDs like Toradol due to gastric upset, you see some of that too. But ALMOST the only people who put down "morphine and Toradol" are people who have faked some pain at the ER before; received, well, morphine or Toradol to treat it; and found, to their disappointment, that those didn't have quite the sweet, sweet kick of Dilaudid. Toradol has no kick at all, actually. But how much of a junkie snob are you when you're turning down morphine?

    "I am sorry, but this delectable opiate does not meet my junkie standards. I demand Dilaudid."

    What the fuck?

    At least put down "penicillin" or something nonanalgesic for the sake of realism. I just don't think you're putting as much effort into this as you could be.


    I haven't been around much due to situational depression, caused by realizing that school starts this week and I haven't even registered. Nor do I want to. As longtime readers know, I hate school. Loathe it. Wouldn't go at all if American business owners hadn't decided at some point that everyone without at least an undergraduate degree (and quite a few people with) deserves to work at Wal-mart or a call center or, since these jobs pay for shit, BOTH.

    Anyway, I can't register online because I have to go through advisement. The first college to axe its academic advising department will be the one I bequeath all my money to, if I ever have any, because academic advising is bullshit. Oh, I know the purpose: It's to prevent a lot of arguments from seniors who think they're supposed to graduate that semester but aren't going to, because they didn't read the catalog correctly and they're missing n credits of their core requirements, or their major electives, or what have you. Supposedly, seeing an academic advisor (otherwise known as "the lady who signs my registration form so I can go home and register online like a fucking normal person") prevents this, because your academic advisor is supposed to helpfully point out that underwater basketweaving does not, by itself, fullfill your arts and humanities requirement.

    But as someone who has stood in long lines outside an advisor's office listening to these fuckheads who think they're due to graduate when they are not, I can tell you that these arguments STILL HAPPEN. This is because academic advisors don't actually advise you about anything. They just thank heaven you're not there to argue about graduation and sign the fucking form. It's a formality or, as I like to think of it, a complete waste of my time.

    I'm 37 years old, is what I'm saying. Let me take second-semester Spanish without this fake-advisement rigamarole.

    So I have to go down to the school today. That's the first thing I'm disgusted about.

    The second thing I'm disgusted about is the internet phenomenon known as Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey--JMPP for short because I am NOT typing that out again. Two names are enough for the rest of us, Jacquie. Get with the program.

    I thought discussion of JMPP's dating criteria would last, you know, a day or two. But I forgot something! I forgot that JMPP is a chick. Any response to her must be disproportionate. Or: Somebody please tell me the last time a man posted an equally absurd list (and don't tell me that doesn't happen; that page by The Nice Guy is basically one long list of "dont's" for potential partners, i.e., "don't ask me for help setting up your computer and then refuse to fuck me") and got THIS MUCH SHIT for it. It's never happened, because people just laugh those guys off without questioning their rights to have criteria. The people knocking JMPP are only partly angry that her criteria are ridiculous; they're mostly angry that she has criteria and had the nerve to say so.

    Don't argue with me about this. People don't get this vitriolic over shit this stupid unless it fundamentally upsets the order of society in some way, and a woman saying "Sorry, but you're just not good enough for me" will always do exactly that, especially when she makes it clear that, actually, she's not sorry at all. In fact fuck you, ugly losers. Try mail-order brides.

    Anyway, thanks to JMPP fever I was treated to--well:

    Look, I want to make it clear I'm not saying this girl is ugly, per se. What she is is "plain." She is what I call "Bad Irish." The Irish look, but not the Good Irish look. The pasty skin, the elfin features... but not cute elfin, or better yet, hot elfin.

    What you're looking at here is a 5. A girl you wouldn't notice in the average college or singles bar, except maybe if you had recently quit smoking, and noticed she had a fresh pack of Marlboro Reds held in her (indifferent) cleavage.

    Jacquie needs to grow her some bangs to cover that high forehead. I'll grant you that. But a 5? Oh, wait. It seems we have further explanation as to how this value was derived:

    I'd hit it, I admit, but there are different levels of "I'd hit it."

    She comes somewhere on the "I'd hit it" scale between "I'd hit it, but only if it were 3am and I was drunk and really needed somewhere to crash for the night" and "I'd hit it, but only if she walked right up to me, grabbed my hog with both hands, and screamed to the bar, 'I claim this Man-Thing as mine own!!' and then vowed to fight any challengers to the death with Vulcan axe-spears."

    Let that sink in. Then, consider the source:

    Who CARES who this guy would hit? Why am I reading an Ewok's explanation of the difference between "bad Irish" and "good Irish?" Seriously, answer those questions in a way that does not boil down to m-a-l-e e-n-t-i-t-l-e-m-e-n-t, I dare you.

    The third thing I'm disgusted about was already aptly summarized here, by Tekjani. I can't add much except to say, remember when I complained a little about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? Here's my lengthy list of things you'd have to change to make that a more, uh, "girl-friendly" game to me:

  • Don't reward the player for killing hookers and stealing their dough.

  • Seriously, that's about it. You could even leave the stripper scene in, or the part where Tommy yells at the pr0n flick director to "keep the camera pointed at the poontang." I mean, I didn't really dig that part, no, but I could overlook it.

    I don't need pink games; I just need games that don't towel-snap me in the face with the message that I am not part of that game's target market and maybe shouldn't be playing it at all--maybe I should be in the kitchen fixing a tray of nachos while my man plays it, in fact. Or hey, there's always laundry! A man can always use more clean boxers for his jimmy.

    UPDATE: Registration is never as bad at this school as I think it is going to be. So why do I keep working myself into such a state over the whole thing? Because I was scarred for life by the hate-filled bureaucracy known as the University of Texas at Arlington. Their slogan? "Students Come First." I saw a lot of stickers around campus that said so. Several of them even bore an appended clarification in felt-tip: "FOR ASS-FUCKING."

    Basically the job of every employee at UT-Arlington is to reduce each student to a sobbing, incoherent puddle of misery who knows all the words to this song. Every employee of UT-Arlington is fantastically good at his or her job.

    The result is that I cannot register for classes without my boyfriend. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. In this respect he functions like a seeing-eye dog. He tells me where to park the car and where we need to go and when we walk up to the desks of various secretaries he's the one who says, "Uh, she's trying to register, but we think she has an advisement hold? Do you know who she needs to talk to in order to clear that?" (My job during all this is to stand there, shaking in fear, without crying.)

    Then he gives 'em my ID number, and they look it up, and then they tell us the wrong office in the wrong building, and we go through this a couple more times, and then eventually, finally, we find the advisor's office, and by then I can kind of, sort of articulate my problem without bursting into tears, so I do, and then the advisor turns out to be very, very nice and maybe even the type who would actually give advice? But I don't press it, because I just want to get out of there and go home.

    And then, because I've put this off for so long, I find there are no Spanish II classes open, so I sign up for a class in compilers. Compilers. I couldn't write "Hello, world" in Pascal, or even Visual Basic, if you put a gun to my head right now--that's how long it's been since I've done anything remotely computer-science-related. But I'm going to take a class in motherfucking compilers. Because I am insane.

    In the event I have forgotten to mention it lately, I hate school.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    When It's Mockery and Ridicule and When It Isn't: A Primer for the Dumb

    Okay, we'll start slow:

    There are many ways to make the point that Hollywood thinness standards are totally batshit crazy. You can take the direct route:

    "Hollywood thinness standards are totally batshit crazy."

    But that gets old and it lacks finesse. Alternately, you could show rather than tell, a picture being worth a thousand words and all that.

    But celebrities are crafty creatures to stalk in this fashion, surrounded as they are by a virtual army of black-belt airbrushers and Photoshoppers. Sometimes one prefers words--biting, incisive, acidic words--to express one's outrage at the outrageous body dysmorphic bullshit Hollywood tries to lay on a woman.

    It is often at this point that inspiration strikes: Satire! What if you pointed out how silly it was to call women fat who aren't actually fat, by--get this--calling them fat? Let the audience conclude how nonsensical that is; saves you a ton of work, makes your audience feel clever, and invites you comparison to the master himself!


    Your courage must not fail you now, so whatever you do, do not recall that there was but one Jonathan Swift and he is dead and you are unlikely to be his intellectual heir. No! That's ridiculous. Swift didn't invent satire. Satire belongs to everyone.

    Keep your chin up! You can do this. All you have to do is take a photo of a pig's ass, put the pig's rear feet in high heels as a cheeky allusion to your subject (which is, in case you've forgotten, fat actresses who are neither fat nor, in some cases, living, and how their dead bodies indicate that Hollywood is totally over its obsession with emaciation, honest, for reals), and then call your masterpiece "Why Fat is Back in Hollywood." Don't try to tie the pig into the whole business, for your porcine model is but a SYMBOL. Your readers are very intelligent. They will comprehend as much. They will recognize your intent.

    And it is your satirical intent on which you must now stay focused. Be warned: People may try to distract you. They may point out that, actually, some of your subjects who make up your photographic evidence that "fat is back" are sadly deceased. They may point out that even those who are not dead are also not fat. They may further note that using the nonfat to prove the ascendance of fat affirms, rather than denigrates, the idea that what used to be considered normal in Hollywood is now considered damned porky. Also, they may not shut about that pig. Remind them that the pig is only a symbol! For while your readers are very intelligent, your critics are often quite stupid and forgetful.

    Whatever you do, though, you must commit now to wasting not one minute of time listening to any of the following:

  • Feminists

  • Feminists who have eating disorders

  • Feminists who are fat

  • Women in general, because what could they possibly have to say about Hollywood's influence on them anyway?

  • If they absolutely will not shut up, however, you may dispatch a contingent of men to hush them. Instruct your male readers to reassure these fretful feminists and hysterical walking vaginas that it's okay, because men are overwhelmingly aroused by fat actresses who are not actually fat. When the fretful start up again about the photography and the captions, point out that the photography and the captions are COMPLETELY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT from the article. Remind these hysterics that you support their right to be fat-but-not-really one hundred percent, as long as they stay hawt. Remind them that you are on their side, and cheer them for their wise and womanly decisions to be neither truly fat nor truly emaciated, but rather Just Right for Porking. (Though you may wish to substitute another word for "porking," as it tends to rile them up again about the pig. "Boning" is likewise to be avoided.)

    To this end it is often helpful to find someone willing to write a "Shorter"-style piece about the debate over your masterpiece. A loose counterpart to what is known in organized crime circles as a "whack" or a "hit," the "Shorter" post essentially takes what was said, eliminates objectionable or inadvertently thought-provoking, self-critical content, and distills it down into something else entirely--something favorable to you. Thus can you take a nearly 500-length comment thread and obviate the need for anyone to read any of it. They will know what you want them to think of it (aim for something along the lines of, "You women are reading too much into this" or "You women are being unfair to men--honorable, decent, liberal men" or anything, really, that suggests women are being irrational, because I'm telling you, the bitches fucking LOVE that), and that is what matters.

    You can do this. Remember those who paved the way for the massacre of irony and satire when you do, for you are following in their footsteps now, and should rightly be proud.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Picky Picky

    Huh--seems some woman posted a list of reasons she probably doesn't want to go out with you. It is lengthy and detailed:

    I am a very high-quality woman. I know that sounds arrogant, but let’s consider the facts:

    * I’m slim (whereas 62% of American women age 20 to 74 are overweight)
    * I’m attractive (my new picture has been rated more attractive than 86% of the women on Hot or Not -- and the women who upload their pictures are a self-selected sample that is probably already biased towards being more attractive than the general female population)
    * I’m relatively young (whereas 82% of American adult women are over 30 years old)
    * I’m intelligent (IQ tested at 145 when I was a child, which is 3 standard deviations above the mean -- higher than 99.85% of the population. Even if I’ve gotten dumber as I’ve aged I’m probably still at least a 130, which is higher than 97.5% of the population.)
    * I’m educated (whereas 77% of American women do not have bachelor’s degrees)

    I suppose this may make me unpopular, but you know something? I don't care. I don't mind that she's being very particular. I don't even mind that she's so status-obsessed, although I admit that my first gut reaction to that list was to think that someone this "high quality" is bound to have some secret failing of the real deal-breaker sort, like maybe she robs graves or something. But I am a cynic and I own my cynicism. She's probably quite normal, in a high-quality sort of way.

    What I don't get is why some feminists enjoy pointing out that she's still single at her advanced age of somewhere south of 30:

    It’s so sad, because she’s had such terrible luck finding a good guy. And if someone like her can’t do it after countless personal ads and her very own blog devoted to the subject of her and her awesomeness, what chance do the rest of us plebes have?

    First, she's probably still single because she still wants to be. She's still looking and is, by her own admission, very particular. Second, she's probably still single because when you narrow the dating pool down first, to men who meet her standards, and next, to men who aren't intimidated by her explicit statement of her standards--wait, actually she explained what happens when she does that right here:

    Some people scoffed at the long list of requirements in my personal ad last year. Yet in less than two weeks I found five men who met my listed requirements and wanted a relationship with me. If I were to put more time and effort into looking I could probably find hundreds of high-quality men who both met my standards and were interested in dating me too. I can be picky.

    I love it that a woman is saying "I can be picky" and not adding 3 paragraphs of qualification, nullification, and apology after it. If you can be picky, Jacqueline, and you want to be picky, by all means: BE PICKY. Heaven knows dating is a rough game regardless, and you're no less likely to get your heart broken playing it than those who are less picky. You may as well weed out men you aren't interested in up front and save a little time that way. Heartache does not discriminate, I promise you that.

    But what is this with the "Ha ha, look, she's still single" business? I see people do this to Dawn Eden all the time, often in the guise of pity, but seriously: If marriage and family are not a priori the consummate goal of every heterosexual woman's life, then who cares who's still single and who isn't? I hate this "can't get a man" type of smirking coming from feminists. If it really doesn't matter whether a woman can "get" a man or not, this should never come up. No, not even with Eden. Come on, you can't say she doesn't provide plenty of other material to go after.

    I'll tell you what does anger me about Jacqueline's list: Knowing that some trademarked Nice Guy is going to blame feminism for it. Doesn't matter that she said she's a libertarian, doesn't matter that Ayn Rand wasn't a feminist--nope. Your diehard Nice Guy will overlook all that, because he will understand what Jacqueline's list is really saying: It is saying that this woman is no object to be bought, nor an object to which he is entitled by virtue of his overwhelming niceness (although aren't those the same thing? Whether a guy feels entitled to a wife because he's wealthy and a "good provider," or whether he feels entitled to a wife because he's super-dooper-nice, he's still viewing women as objects to which he is entitled). It says that she is the buyer, he is the object, and he better measure up or she's going to return his ass before the 30 days are up.

    That is progress, of a sort. Any time a woman makes it clear that she has the power to declare what she wants, however vaguely or, in Jacqueline's case, explicitly, and to stand a chance of getting it, I have to cheer it a little.

    Just not wholeheartedly. It isn't the sort of progress or power I think feminism is after, because Jacqueline's severely economic model of dating is simply dehumanizing. I think it would be fair to say she's objectifying both herself and men. Plus, it's short-sighted: What happens if Mr. Ideal Libertarian has some investments go sour and is forced into bankruptcy? What if he develops leukemia and can't lead an active lifestyle anymore? What if the confirmed atheist finds Jesus or develops an interest in zen meditation? People grow and change and even if they don't do much of that, nonetheless shit happens. Jacqueline's list is more appropriate for selecting a high-definition television than a human being.

    Further, her remark that "there are lots of fat single mothers out there who can’t find dates either," intended as consolation (oh, yes) for all the weeping men who don't meet her standards, is disgusting. If I were a dude, even a perfect-atheist-libertarian-independently-wealthy dude of the sort Jacqueline covets, I think I would date 100 fat single mothers before spending one evening proving my worth and eligibility to almighty Jacqueline. That fat single mother is much more likely to be there when my stocks plummet or leukemia strikes--not because she's a desperate, fat, single mother who can't do any better; no, because she's far more likely to know how life can whip the unexpected on a person, and far more likely to know how to roll with it, gracefully.

    Look, all I ask is that the next time some Nice Guy blames feminism for the dateless, lonely hell he finds himself in, someone remembers Jacqueline and sics him on her. Because there, Nice Guys, is part of your problem--women who interpret "equality" to mean "I can be just as much an objectifying asshole as any man." Go bother Jacqueline! The feminists are tired of hearing from you.

    ADDENDUM 1: Because someone is bound to ask this: "Wouldn't you think it was just horrible if a man made a list like this?" Yes, for all the reasons I think Jacqueline's list is a bit horrible; but also no, because at least that's one guy I can cross of my list of potential suitors. Which list is long, of course, because I am very high quality.

    ADDENDUM 2: I reference the Nice Guy thing because I very foolishly spent about a month last summer listening to one of them bitch and moan at me about this shallow, materialistic woman who'd done broke his Nice Guy heart with her vanity, her arrogance, and all the "must be rich 2 date me" qualifications she set forth. Here's the thing: The woman was a conservative and explicitly anti-feminist. So what'd this fellow do to retaliate? You guessed it: Trolled feminist blogs. Because it only makes sense, right? When he wasn't trolling them himself, he was emailing links to posts on those blogs to his conservative Nice Guy pals. If I could, I would introduce him to Jacqueline--even though he doesn't meet her standards, because come on, people like this deserve each other. You can't tell me they don't.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Pray for Me, My Brothers and Sisters

    This can't end well.

    I don't know why I keep thinking I can do things like this, I really don't. I am a brunette. I am a brunette with Caucasian brunette coloring. I have eyebrows so dark they're almost black, I have eyes as dark as coffee beans, I have cheeks too flushed to work with FIRE ENGINE RED.

    I never learn, though. I see a box of something like this on sale and it won't leave me alone.

    "Buy me."

    "I . . . I want to . . . but I can't. I'm sorry."

    "Listen, I'm not on sale for half-price every day."

    "I know!"

    "And redheads have more fun."

    "That's blondes! They say that about blondes. All they say about redheads is that they're very temperamental."

    "You're very temperamental. It'd be a good fit, don't you think? Make the outside match the inside?"

    "Quit buttering me up like that. I've been burned by your kind before."

    "That's because I'm fiery."

    "Shut up! Stop it! We're not having this conversation. I am not talking out loud to a box of hair color in the supermarket."

    "It's just you and me, baby. C'mon, take a chance."

    "Take a chance of looking like a freak."

    "A freak? Or a bold, brash, Titian-haired beauty?"

    "KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE NANCY DREW REFERENCES! I know what you're trying to do."

    "Baby, please. I just want to make you happy."

    I am seriously the only person I know over the age of thirty who's completely codependent on haircolor. A woman is supposed to grow out of this. I'm supposed to be choosing tasteful shades that will approximate my natural hair color and cover my grays by now.

    I just. Never. Learn.

    UPDATE: You know what don't lie? Shakira's hips. But also, L'Oreal Prefernce Number RR07. Because this shit is RED.

    Trust me when I say I didn't tweak a single color setting on that photo at all. It's that red, people. Until the light hits it, and then it's copper.


    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Lauren Lights a Match

    And oh, the blowback. Parenthood: What a subject!

    The weird part is, I don't think, or at least to me it does not seem like, anyone actually disagrees with what Lauren wrote:

    My identity is not defined by my parenthood, but my life is. Without a child I wouldn’t feel as obligated to work as much as I do, to avoid such debt, to secure meaningful assets, or to better myself or the world. I’m naturally one selfish wench who would rather not be bothered by real world ephemera, and I recognize that having my little one in my life makes me a better person even if he isn’t the only thing I strive for. As for other adults in my world, I hope that they have the decency to well-wish my child even if they don’t care for or love him. My parenting theory does not obligate a random adult to a stranger’s child, just hopes that they recognize that children are indeed little people who haven’t yet grown up and thus continue to make bad decisions.

    So why are the comments shaping up to be such a battleground? I have no idea. I don't even know what to say about most of them, and when does that ever happen? I ALWAYS have something to say in the Feministe comments.

    This time, not so much.

    It's weird. I guess what I'm getting from it is that the difference between parent and nonparent is more one of identity than I'd realized--and yes, I say that despite Lauren's quote above. I don't think parenthood defines identity, I agree with her about that, but it sure seems to influence the daylights out of it, and, here's the thing, I don't see anything wrong with that.

    I'm not doing well at explaining this, but let me keep trying: One thing I hear and read from new parents a lot is that becoming a parent is like crossing a great divide. There was you before the kid, on one side of the Grand Canyon, and there's you with the kid, on the other side, and it's difficult to connect with, relate to, or sometimes even remember that other you back there on the southern rim. Who WAS that person?

    This process seems to be necessary, necessary to helping little people make less bad decisions, necessary to the process of bonding, of obligating the parent to the child. I think some of the commenters here were trying to tell me as much.

    Anyway, I don't fault the process. I don't fault parents who tell me, you don't know what it's like. You're right! You're absolutely right, and I am not being sarcastic: I don't know what it's like. No clue. No idea. None. To the extent that I am able, then, I will get the hell out of your way while you go about that crazy parenting stuff you do, and I will do my best not to add to your guilt, your anxiety, your fears, or your problems. Honest. That's a promise. I cannot guarantee that I will always succeed, but I will always try.

    The identification, though, runs deep on both sides: There are nearly as many nonparent commenters feeling unjustly maligned in that thread as there are parents feeling the exact same thing. Someone says, "I don't think you need to bring the kid to a bar." Someone else says, "I don't think you need to judge parents who bring kids to bars." Someone else says, "I don't have to like children, you can't make me." Someone else says, "Why do you hate children? That's despicable." And so on, and so on.

    My friends who are mothers, I don't ever want to hurt them. I do need them to understand that just as parents identify as parents, I identify as a nonparent. That's why, when zuzu wrote this:

    I should really just stay out of this topic because it’s really pissing me off that I’m apparently not only a bigot, but self-righteous.

    I responded:

    You come sit here by me, honey.

    I didn't write that because I hate parents or children. I wrote that because I sympathize. And I sympathize primarily because, like zuzu, I am not a parent. I don't want to put words into her mouth, but for me, identifying as a nonparent while having the nerve to object to some things that some parents do is just asking for an ass-kicking from most parents sometimes. It's like, "Wait, so you mean I must never say anything critical of ANY child's behavior? I can never judge any parent? I can never wish for adults-only space? I'm a bigot who hates kids because I'd like the one behind me in an airplane to quit kicking my damn seat? What the fuck?"

    Not having kids limits my understanding of what goes on in the lives of those who do have them. I am quite willing to acknowledge that up front. But you know something? I still don't want to see your toddler in the bar. As I noted earlier in that same comment thread, I've seen it happen. What I failed to note was that I'd seen it happen more than once (three times, actually). What I failed to note was that each time the child was under 5. What I failed to note is that my problem was with the parents who got angry at the other patrons for not modifying their behavior to suit the child--not with the child him/herself.

    If you really think a preschool-aged kid belongs in a smoky bar with loud music around midnight, that's your business. That's your parenting decision. But for crying out loud, sack up and accept that some of us nonparents will never quit thinking your decision sucks. It doesn't mean we're evil, awful, wicked, antifeminist, child-hating bigots. It doesn't mean we're wretchedly intolerant. It means we'd like a little fucking time to ourselves among grownups, and only grownups. To, uh, make some spectacularly bad decisions.

    The weird thing about that is, I've heard and read so many parents talk about the exhilaration of having a rare night out with adults that I know most, if not all, of them sympathize with the need for that space, that kid-free space. It just seems at times as though it is only okay for parents to want that space; it's selfish and hateful for nonparents to want it. Because really, what have we got to get away from? We don't have kids at home, so why didn't we just stay there? What are we complaining about? It isn't like WE have to spend all day with children. How spoiled of nonparents to whine about any invasion of adults-only space. If we only knew! What parents go through! But of course we don't, because we're horrible people.

    I don't know where I'm going with any of this. I'll turn it over to y'all, I guess. Or you could read this father's defense of mommy-blogging, which I like very much, and yes, that URL is work-safe. Honest!

    UPDATE: Well, I'll be damned--if it isn't the New York Times Sunday Magazine! What would I do without you?

    It is tempting to link the popularity of active-adult housing to the bigots, contrarians and attention-seekers of the “child free” movement, who rant quotably on their Web sites about the favoritism accorded to “breeders.” But few people in age-restricted communities give vent to any such feelings. “I love children,” one fairly typical homeowner in Delray Villas, Fla., told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “But when you get to be a certain age, you want to be in a community where people around you are the same age you are.”

    “I just want to be with people like me” is the argument made in favor of every kind of segregation. It was not an unreasonable-sounding argument even when it was being made by Alabamans and Boy Scouts and club men. But it wasn’t a winning argument either. What explains our sudden readiness to make moral exceptions when children are the ones excluded?

    In part, this is the final chapter in the story of the baby boom. The 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 used their clout in the market and in the electorate to twist all of society’s institutions into the shape of their needs at each given stage of life — freedom in the 60’s and 70’s, money in the 80’s and 90’s. From here on out, their priority will be leisure. Therefore everyone else’s priority will be leisure, too.

    We have the trifecta: Racism, homophobia, and sexism. But don't get distracted from the main point, which is that the real bigots are those child-hatin' Baby Boomers. With their leisure!

    You know, if you know anything about me at all, that there are few things I love better than blaming shit on Baby Boomers. But even I can't pin this on them, or at least I wouldn't do it as harshly as Caldwell does. It isn't "twist[ing] all society's institutions into the shape of [your] needs" when your demographic is that large--at that point, your demographic IS society. Why shouldn't institutions adapt to it?

    Here's where my libertarian side takes over: If someone can make money guaranteeing residents a community free of children, why shouldn't they? (And conversely, why couldn't you have a community for families ONLY with children? Once the kids move out, you'd have to move too--that'd be one big problem.) What's the negative impact on society if this occurs?

    Personally, I think if I had young children, a community of cranky-ass seniors is about the LAST place I'd want to live with them, but what do I know? And I realize that statement is uncomfortably close to "why do [subset of people] want to live where they're not wanted?" and I realize that's a perennial favorite question of, well, bigots, so maybe I've found my argument against child-free communities already.

    Anyway. I expect people to let me have it on that one, so start loading the cannons. This ought to be something.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Helen on FOX

    I can't believe she did this, but she did: Helen went on the Fox Across America show (I've just finished listening to it) to discuss yesterday's nastiness, and I kind of think she rocked it. No um-ing or uh-ing, a few delightful quips back at the show's host, stated her positions without letting him throw her, and seemed to be having fun with the whole thing. Very jealous of that beautifully clear speaking voice, too.

    Helen Worship Level in this house right now: DANGEROUSLY HIGH.

    UPDATE: Rob to the rescue! He's got the interview for you to listen to here. Please right-click that link and choose "Save As..." rather than clicking it directly, to conserve the gentleman's bandwidth.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    For Helen: Sad Moonbat Salad (Insalata Moonbata Triste)

    4 small tomatoes
    1 red bell pepper
    3 golden pepperoncini
    3 large artichoke hearts
    1 cucumber, seeded
    1/2 red onion
    crusty bread
    1 C sadness
    2 T moonbattery
    1/4 C peace, love, and understanding

    Hack bread into chunks about 2 cm x 2 cm. Combine with all other ingredients except parmesan, sadness, moonbattery, and peace/love/understanding; toss well. Top individual portions with previously excluded ingredients.

    It is said by the ancients that if you eat this salad on a muggy evening in late summer, you will dream of Noam Chomsky that night.

    Serves 2-4 hungry Communists.


    Whatta Day

    I've got a conference call with work in an hour and I'm signed up to put in at least an hour's overtime, though I intend to do more than that, and I haven't showered yet and I slept too late and I wanted to get in some time with the weights in the workout room today but that's looking most unlikely, and my dear boyfriend is doing his part to pick up the slack by hitting the bank and the grocery store and offering to grill us some steaks tonight--thank goodness I didn't auction him off after all!--but still, did it have to be today? Did it have to be today that Michelle Malkin went after one of my bestest internet friends? Over (naturally) something I'm not sure she even read?

    Thank goodness Helen is pseudonymous, because she's already received her first death threat from a Malkinite. This is getting to be kind of a THING with Malkin, isn't it? If any of my readers ever threatened to whack somebody I would hide my head in shame and write no more forever. Luckily for me, my readers are smarter, better-looking, and vastly more civilized than Malkin's.

    Anyway I intend to have more about this later, time permitting (which so far, it isn't). I'll just throw this out there as a sorta-bleg to any of the right-leaning readers, all 3 of you whom I haven't quite driven off yet (nor do I want to! That was a joke!):

    You remember about 2001-2002, maybe 2003 even, there was an argument made by bloggers and some members of the right punditocracy that went something like this:

    "The peace protestors and those who want to try Osama bin Laden in the International Criminal Court have got the wrong strategy; we need to take the war to Al Qaeda in order to preserve our freedoms at home. A purely defensive/criminal approach would require us to surrender more of our domestic and civil liberties than we as Americans would be comfortable with."

    I know some of the lefties are going "Get the fuck out! They said that? Really? Oh, the irony," and hey, I agree--but no, really, that was one of the arguments. I swear! Take the war over THERE; prevent total lockdown HERE. Anyway, if someone could find me a post saying as much, I would be neverendingly grateful.

    Incidentally, a big "Thanks a lot, pal," to Andrew Sullivan, for making it so you can't read his archives 'cept by the Google cache if they're before January 2006. Wasn't I just complaining about this sort of thing?

    UPDATE: Longtime readers will recall that I am never in favor of wingnuts going after Helen. Quite apart from my being very fond of her personally, here's why: I respect the difference between personal and political blogs, especially when a blog's leaning one way or the other is as clearly demarcated as this:

    The way I figure it is-I know my view on modern events and media, culture, religion and politics. I am happy to talk about them, but I don't see why debating it on my blog will change anything. Now, get us a bottle of single malt whiskey and a Friday evening chat, and I'm in.

    Helen writes about Helen. That's what her readers appreciate, that's what her readers go to read; not moonbattery, wingnuttia, or any other stupid reductionist nonsense about which side Hates Our Freedoms more. Helen's blog is a refuge from all that noise, and like any other sanctuary, virtual or physical, I favor protecting it as such.

    I am not surprised Michelle Malkin is too wrapped up in her with-us-or-against-us babbling to note the difference between a personal blog and a political one; only disgusted.

    UPDATE II: Ryan worries how the Heathrow bomb plot might affect his flight to Baltimore Sunday. To Ryan I ask, in true patriot Malkin fashion, only this: Why do you hate America? (P.S. Quit whining, moonbat!)

    UPDATE III: Hear-freakin'-HEAR:

    I too am appalled by the idea that I would have to trust my cellphone, ipod, and laptop to the honesty of baggage handlers; that my nieces and nephew wouldn't be allowed crayons or snacks on a long, boring flight; that I can have my contact lenses, but not the solution I need to put them in my eyeballs; that racial profiling is a cheap shortcut in the battle against terror.

    That Malkin calls such honest sadness "whining" and "moonbattery" is beyond me.

    Ah, but subtlety has long been lost on the hacks of this world. Brava, Caltechgirl!

    UPDATE IV: More, from Beth Donovan, aka She Who Must Be Obeyed:

    Now, I may not agree with everything that Helen says(mostly her feelings about Lebanon and Blair), but I do agree with her so far as her sadness that travel has become so difficult because of evil. As a frequent traveler, I am not thrilled that the next time I go to the UK, I can't carry on my laptop, my books, my water or my mp3 player. Like Helen, I am concerned about my belongings making it to the other end without being stolen.

    But Helen has every damn right to write what she feels. And she is reasonable and sane in her post.

    Michelle Malkin, on the other hand, is very unreasonable these days. She has jumped the shark, as far as I am concerned.

    Which is weird, because you'd think, after seeing what happened to Coulter, she might learn a thing or two about inflammatory rhetoric and mistakes not worth repeating. Then again, maybe not.

    And from Cassandra at Villainous Company:

    I, too, have to roll my eyes a bit at the sudden hypervigilance that I know all too well won't last. And as little as I like it, I have to admit that Helen asks some very good questions. Questions that we might not like the answers to.

    What I always thought was worth saving about America is that it was a place where questions were accepted, even welcomed. But maybe that makes me a moonbat too.

    That's it--today, we are all moonbats. And if "moonbat" is now synonymous with "having opinions contra Madame Malkin's," I've been a moonbat for far longer than even I realized.

    UPDATE V: Food of the moonbats.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Why I Will Not Make Fun of Chris Clarke's Hair, No, No Matter How You Tempt Me

    Because really, isn't he a handsome fella anyway? And a wonderful writer. Plus, he has about 50 bazillion IQ points on me. He took calculus when he was six or something. Crazy!

    So, no. No Ted Kaczynski or Jerry Garcia jokes from me. Auguste, you shut up. I won't do it. Absolutely not. And that is mostly because freedom tastes like almonds.

    Yes, It Is and Yes, You Can

    Ten days ago, zuzu at Feministe wrote about Jennifer Moore, an 18-year-old woman raped and murdered in a New Jersey hotel room after a night of partying in New York City. Never mind the topic of that actual post, which wonders whether the New York Post didn't whiten up Jennifer's photo to play up the contrast in color between her and her suspected killer, Draymond Coleman.

    No, I'm after the comments, which were of the usual sort, the depressing sort: What did this dumb bitch do to get herself all raped and strangled like that? Gems included:

    It’s tragic what happened, but Jennifer made a number of really stupid decisions that are not terribly sympathetic (to me, at least). Driving into manhattan to get tanked (while underage no less), then not calling parents or authorities for help when she and her friend got stranded was profoundly bad judgment.

    I shudder when I see these girls all over new york getting blackout drunk…don’t they know that they are putting themselves in horrible danger? Beyond alcohol poisoning, they’re basically hanging a “fuck with me” sign on their backs.

    Oh, are they? Or are they really hanging a "rape me, brutalize me so badly that chunks of my hair get ripped from my scalp, beat me, strangle me, and toss me in the dumpster afterwards" sign on their backs? Because that's what happened:

    Chunks of her long, brown hair had been ripped out of her head and her body horribly bruised.

    That'll learn her to load up on booze! Or it would, I mean, if she weren't DEAD.

    Why, exactly, are you angry that a woman got drunk, and not that a man abducted, raped, and murdered her? Looks to me like your priorities are out of whack.

    Oh, wait--that comment actually makes sense. But fear not: There's plenty more victim-blaming to be had in this thread.

    I have seen really violent crime cases and i even though I despised the criminals I sometimes couldn’t help but think “that the fuck was that guy doing walking around such an incredibly bad section of (unnamed city) at 2AM, in those clothes, talking on a $300 cell phone, wearing a Rolex? He should of known better. What an idiot.” And then proceed to try to convict and jail his assaulter. It has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with someone acting in a way that WE wouldn’t act, I think.

    Except that we only sometimes do that with assault and robbery, but we always, always, always do it with rape.

    Now no-one except the exceptionally stupid would try to pin the blame on women who get raped, but when someone gets attacked when engaging in risky behaviours, and someone says ‘boy that’s some risky behaviours they shouldn’t have been doing’ that’s not neccesarily them trying to blame the victim. They could well just be talking about why you should be careful.

    Yes, because there's a real lack of "be careful!" admonitions to women. We don't see ourselves raped, beaten, and dead on television enough. We don't hear self-defense organizations promote their work often enough. We don't hear it from concerned family and friends enough. We just don't hear enough HOW HIGHLY RAPEABLE WE ARE. Or even if we do, it wouldn't hurt to tell us just one more time because we, women, are a very flighty sex, objectively dumber than men, and warnings about rape don't always stick in our minds the way they should. Because we're defective that way, but hey, it's part of our charm.

    Why focus on men? It’s not like women can’t be sociopaths.

    I hate this one so much because the answer is so eye-bleedingly obvious: Because we are talking about rape, a crime disproportionately committed by men, against women.

    And so on and so on and so on went the thread, prompting zuzu to post this follow-up:

    For once, just for once, I wanted to try to have a discussion about a woman getting raped and murdered that DIDN’T devolve into an extended rehash of the same goddamn argument we always seem to have whenever a rape and/or murder of a woman is discussed: Namely, we start out on topic, then someone has to come in and blame the victim (she was drunk! doesn’t she know there were consequences! she was dressed like a hoochie! she was a stripper! she must be lying! what was she doing alone at night? what was she doing trusting a man?) and we’re off to the races.

    I will give you a quick quiz to test your psychic abilities now! Guess what happened in the comments to that post:

    (a) Folks showed up and blamed the victim some more.
    (b) Folks showed up and said "You're right, but can't we at least talk about what women could do differently?" as though no one had been doing that in the previous thread.
    (c) Both (a) and (b).
    (d) Everyone chorused in agreement with zuzu and there was a great big group hug amidst a background of RAINBOWS. And then zuzu gave us each a puppy!

    I'll give you a hint: The answer isn't (d).

    The most productive comment in the discussion came from the post's author, zuzu, and I was very tempted to bold the entire thing:

    Look, you’re attempting to shift the responsibility for stopping rape onto women by saying that they need to take more social responsibility. That right there is letting the rapist disappear.

    You pretend that there’s nothing to talk about re rapists other than “boy, aren’t they bastards” and trivialize the issue by stating that there’s nothing more to say than that, and time for more cat pictures. Somehow, a post can generate 120 comments debating what a raped and murdered woman did wrong to bring this on herself without mentioning the guy who did it much, and you think that a productive discussion about the culpability of rapists themselves isn’t possible.

    Then when you do mention men in relation to stopping rape, you keep yourself very distant from the issue: you first pretend that it’s a problem of “Redneck Johnny-with-a-badge” and anti-feminist men, and you shrug your shoulders because, gosh, you don’t have any ideas what you can do. And when someone gives you one, you shrug that off, too.

    All of which brings me to this story, via Creek Running North, from the Washington Post: "Army Details Rape-Slaying of Iraqi Girl," and this excerpt from it particularly:

    Also Monday, another soldier, Pfc. Justin Watt, testified that Howard told him before the incident that Green, Cortez and Barker had planned to rape a girl, and Howard was to be the lookout.

    "There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

    Let that sink in. In fact, let's have it one more time:

    "There's nothing I've read that says what to do if your buddies have raped and murdered a family," Watt said.

    This man needed. Something in writing. To tell him what to do. If his "buddies"--and don't that send a chill down your spine right there? His buddies--have RAPED AND MURDERED. A family.

    Um, report it? Immediately?

    I am tired, dead tired, of men standing around with that "who farted?" look on their faces whenever the subject of rape comes up. It wasn't me! It was some other guy. Some crazy guy. Some guy I've never met. Some guy I don't know. Well, okay, I knew him; he was my buddy. But, gosh, what's a guy to do? If I'd-a done anything--and honest, I didn't know what to do, because I couldn't find anything in writing to tell me--but if I had, well, tried to prevent it, which of course I couldn't beings as I didn't know what to do, there being nothing in writing and all, but like if I'd said anything, why, they'd have called me a sissy, and they probably wouldn't be my buddies no more. And that's far worse than any old 14-year-old Iraqi girl being gang-raped and her entire family murdered.

    Rape is a crime committed disproportionately by men against women.

    Men can do more to stop it.

    Yes, it is your problem. And yes, you can do something.

    Yes, it is. Yes, you can.

    Wrath of the Cat Lady, or, Proof my Maternal Instincts Are Stone Dead

    You know what I love? I love stepping out onto the patio and finding two neighbor girls waving a stick about 3 feet in length at my cat while shouting "Bad cat! Bad cat!"

    The cat (this one--does she look bad to you? She looks downright docile to me, not to mention as fat as a good roasting chicken, but then I am biased) remained a good 10 feet away from the girls and appeared unfazed by their stirring lecture. She was too busy licking raindrops off blades of grass. You know how some cats are so frightened of strangers they run from the sight of them? This is not that cat. She did look over her shoulder at me briefly only, as if to say, "These kids? I don't know what they're talking about. I am not a bad cat. When's school start again, anyway?"

    Me, though, I don't like kids waving big sticks at my cat.

    "Do not tease my cat," I said, aiming for the voice my mother used to use on me in such situations, not that I was ever an aspiring animal torturer, "or I will contact your parents about it. Is that clear?"

    "I wasn't doing it," came the immediate, injured response from the girl waving the stick.

    Why are little children such awful liars? I don't get it. Did I or did I not hear you say, two seconds ago, "Bad cat?" Are you or are you not thrashing that stick in my cat's general direction? Crikey.

    "Your cat's out here," she added. HELPFUL!

    "I am aware of it," I said crabbily. "I suggest you leave her alone. She isn't bothering you."

    They wandered off shortly after that, no doubt to tell their parents about the Mean Lady Who Yelled at Them. Pfft. That's a reputation I can live with, especially if it means they start playing on the opposite side of the lawn from me.

    Just don't fuck with my cat, neighbor girls. I, Crazy Cat Lady, have spoken.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Ball 'n' Chain 4 Sale CHEAP

    All I am going to say, because you know I don't really do personal blogging, is that you have no idea how many times today I sat on my hands to keep from auctioning off my boyfriend on eBay.

    Feel free to share your relationship lowlights in the comments. I think I have a pretty good relationship, all things considered, but no matter how good your relationship there are nonetheless DAYS, if you know what I mean.

    If It's Sunday, I Must be Pissed off About Something in the NYT Sunday Magazine Again

    It takes so little to set me off: All you have to do is send Deborah Solomon to interview Andi Zeisler, founder of Bitch magazine, and let the stupid roll forth in great waves from La Deborah:

    Q: I see that your magazine, a feminist quarterly based in Oakland, Calif., and devoted to critiquing the sexist slant of pop culture, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the publication this week of a thick anthology called “BitchFest.” Why would you choose to glamorize the unappealing female stereotype of the bitch?

    Yeah, why would you do a thing like that, bitch? How unappealing! I'll bet you don't shave, either.

    I can almost forgive this question, though, because it gives Zeisler an opportunity to state the obvious, and in a "meet so-and-so" style interview such as this one, there's nothing wrong with starting from the basics:

    When we chose the name, we were thinking, well, it would be great to reclaim the word “bitch” for strong, outspoken women, much the same way that “queer” has been reclaimed by the gay community. That was very much on our minds, the positive power of language reclamation.

    Ding, ding, ding. I have such a hard time believing Solomon couldn't figure this out on her own that I would like to assume she asked the "duh" question up front simply to generate this excellent response and get the ball rolling.

    I would like to, that is, but I can't, because of the very next question:

    But is the goal to rouse an entire generation of women to become bitches?

    Well, Deborah, you're too smart for Andi! You got her all figured out. That is exactly the goal. It's right up there with acquiring an island in the South Pacific, moving 20,000 angry lesbians onto it, and birthing a bitchy matriarchal culture. Listen, it's going to be great. Any male visitors to the island will be kidnapped, drained of their precious bodily fluids, and ritually sacrificed. All conception will take place via these unwilling sperm donors and The Most Holy Turkey Baster of the Goddess. All male babies will be aborted in group ceremonies, and the flesh thrown to packs of wild dogs. Let's see, we'll need a name for this place. Oh, here we go! Perfect.

    It would be nice if news outlets would get over this notion that sending an interviewer hostile to the interview subject makes for good, confrontational, controversial reporting. It doesn't. It makes for a headache.

    In fact, if anyone's coming off as a crabby-assed bitch here, it's Deb. Challenging Zeisler's statement that "feminism is very much alive," Deb asks:

    Is it really? It seems as if its original vision of social equality has been undermined by third-wave feminists like yourself, who limit your critiques to, say, Tori Spelling’s breasts. Doesn’t the obsession with pop culture risk trivializing feminism?

    Quit using Tori Spelling's ta-tas to kill feminism, Zeisler!


    Deborah Solomon hates third-wave feminists. Also, Tori Spelling. Especially Tori's breasts.

    Andi Zeisler believes in language reclamation, thinks discussing pop culture is worthwhile, and used to intern at the now-defunct Sassy.

    Bitches are unappealing and unfeminine.

    Bitch magazine should have been called Kvetch magazine because Deborah likes that word better.

    Any money put into this interview by the magazine was plumb wasted. I can get better interviews, better commentary, and better discussion on the feminist web.

    UPDATE: I am not the only detecting a bitchy vibe from Ms. Solomon:

    Honestly, the title of the magazine fits the magazine. It’s a dig at people exactly like Solomon who think that women engaging in cultural criticism are just bitching for the hell of it. The magazine is a breath of fresh air for a lot of women my age—from the cheeky title to the music reviews, it signals loud and clear that feminism is completely compatible with the ironic self-awareness that, for good or bad, plagues our generation. What’s funny to me is that for all that Solomon thinks that 3rd wavers are full of shit, I have to say that at least we’re not sitting around wringing our hands about whether or not this is a “post-feminist” era.

    Yes, exactly. "Isn't all that oppression and sexism and stuff so, you know, 70s? Doesn't the fact that you talk about pop culture mean feminism has accomplished its more serious goals? Shouldn't you go away now and quit tormenting with me Tori's boobs? Why isn't your magazine called something less bitchy, like 'Kvetch'?"

    This, in a magazine whose chief article today is a 7-page love letter to a fashion designer who's lost his job because it turns out rich bitches want something more than ball gowns to swan around in. Something useful, like daywear and purses. The fucking nerve! THIS MAN IS SUFFERING FOR HIS ART AND LOOK HOW YOU'VE REPAID HIM, BITCHES.

    Delete Backspace Delete

    Damnit, damnit, damnit. I just went looking for a 10-12 months old post only to realize the blogger had deleted it from his archives. I know why he did it: He's trying to get published, and he figured out that politics, especially his rather hard-right politics, don't help you sell books.

    That's great, and I can see giving up writing about politics altogether in the interests of getting published, but scrubbing the archives seems a little obsessive. He's canned the Monthly Archives links, so it's already cumbersome to sift through the old material to begin with. Besides, very few people comb archives. Especially once you fix it so they don't come up on a Google search.

    I know I'm whining about something I shouldn't whine about, as I firmly believe writers should be able to do whatever they like with their writing, including destroying it, but I nonetheless really hate bloggers who do this. "Oh, that old site has nothing to do with who I am nowadays. I'm going to delete it all." What do I have to do, start saving the .html files of every post I think I might want to refer to down the road? I sometimes don't get around to drafting anything based on another person's post until MONTHS later, when something new occurs to remind me of it.

    Don't be a pain in the asses of your readers like that. Leave the shit up.

    About the only excuse I see for deleting it is, "It's going to get made into a book and the publisher made me take it down." But because you're publishing some other book? Not based on your blog output? Not a good reason to kill old posts. You figure maybe only 1 in 300,000 potential book buyers will care that the author of that cookbook he or she was thinking of buying once wrote a love letter to Ann Coulter last year. Food makes people forgive what they would not ordinarily forgive.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    This Post is Awesome

    Read it, read it, read it:

    I saw his picture in the paper when he got married a while later. I don't know his story, but I suspect I was his first. As a teen, he had dated one girl for a year, so I assumed he was having sex. I thought everyone was having sex! But I think I was wrong. He wasn't special to me or me him; we were just playing. And I might have ruined his plans for someone who was special. For that, I am truly sorry. For making him believe that his lack of desire for me that night implied a lack of desire for women in general, I am truly sorry. And for laughing at the big football player pushing my hands away, I am truly sorry. I couldn't hear him saying "no" with all those pre-programmed beliefs, about guys and sex and desire, cheering me on from the bleachers.

    I literally cried as I read it. Persephone is the sort of writer who makes me wonder why I bother. Such a phenomenal post, and one I want to come back to later when I'm not chained to that other computer, the other computer at which I must now labor in order to pay the bills.

    Work blows.

    But never mind my whining. Go! Now! I'm not kidding.

    (Via zwrk at placeholder. I just found that blog today, by the way, 'cause I'm dumb, but it's already on the "haunt its archives obsessively" list I keep in my head.)

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Friday Catblogging with the Cat Who Hates the Camera

    No, she doesn't like it one bit, no she doesn't.

    Yes, the chair seat is in terrible condition. It's an outdoor chair. It's rustic, not beat all to hell. Please. Get your terms right.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Memo to Stupid

    Dear Patterico:

    Do you really want to go down this road?

    Since we're all happily taking cheap potshots at people who have the guts to attach their names to their opinions . . .
    Patterico | Homepage | 08.03.06 - 2:24 am | #


    You seem to think there's a big step to take.

    I'm not taking it.

    But I think you're a gutless coward for hiding behind your little pseudonym.

    Whatever floats your boat, dude . . .
    Patterico | Homepage | 08.03.06 - 3:40 am | #

    Do you really? Shall we all live in a world free of cowardly pseudonyms? All of us, without exception?

    Some knives cut both ways,



    Question for the commenters: How much internet suckiness of late can be laid at the feet of right-wing lawyers? It's really proving my hypothesis that (1) lawyers become lawyers because they aren't smart enough to do anything else and (2) cannot adapt to new environments without first trying frantically to sue and regulate them into habitats that suit them better. Unfortunately for the rest of us, "habitats that suit them better" most resemble sterile padded cells filled with needledicked inmates arguing about minutiae.

    Get off the internets, lawyers. No one likes you offline and no one likes you online. Symmetry achieved.

    Follow up question for commenters: Is the aim of hinting at the ability to out, even if one does not actually follow through with the act, to intimidate? Eh, never mind. I can answer that one myself.

    (Via zuzu at Feministe.)

    UPDATE: Perhaps some definitions are in order:

    Main Entry: in·teg·ri·ty
    Pronunciation: in-'te-gr&-tE
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French and Latin; Middle French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire
    1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY
    2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
    3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS
    synonym see HONESTY

    Main Entry: prin·ci·ple
    Pronunciation: 'prin(t)-s(&-)p&l, -s&-b&l
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French principe, principle, from Old French, from Latin principium beginning, from princip-, princeps initiator -- more at PRINCE
    1 a : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right principles [a man of principle] c : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device

    And one more:

    Main Entry: situation ethics
    Function: noun
    : a system of ethics by which acts are judged within their contexts instead of by categorical principles -- called also situational ethics

    So: The next time a right-wing blogger wants to rail about how The Left has no principles, no integrity, and acts only by shifty, morally relativistic situation ethics, please remember which side demolished every principle behind this and it didn't even take them six months. Which reminds me of another definition, actually:

    Main Entry: cred·i·bil·i·ty
    Pronunciation: "kre-d&-'bi-l&-tE
    Function: noun
    1 : the quality or power of inspiring belief [an account lacking in credibility]
    2 : capacity for belief [strains her reader's credibility -- Times Literary Supplement]

    As in the sentence, "I grant far greater credibility to pseudonymous bloggers who abide by consistent principles than I do to those who blog under their real names but practice only the most convenient situation ethics."

    UPDATE THE SECOND: When I grow up, I want to be Sifu Tweety.

    UPDATE THE THIRD: Ah, that's who the esteemed Patterico reminds me of:

    Pestering? Check. Officious? Check. Perpetually outraged? Check. Anatomically suspect? Oh, let's not go there. I'm unwilling to perform the necessary verification. Besides, what a wholly uncivil thing to suggest!