Monday, July 31, 2006

From Way Back

This is a repost of an old (December 2003) post I wrote for my original blog at ilyka.journalspace.com. Journalspace finally deleted the damn thing, which is GREAT because boy howdy, did my writing smell, and now I never have to look at any of it again unless, as I did to retrieve this piece, I nerve myself to go edit-finding through the enormous .txt file I made of the blog.

I'm reposting this piece because there's a concept (that I take roughly 900 more words to articulate than necessary) within it that I want to reference for something later. I've eliminated some dead links, left some others, and killed the parts that made me cringe all the way down my spine, but 95% of it I left as originally written.

I would ask you to please forgive the pedantic, preachy tone but I don't believe in asking others to do anything you wouldn't do yourself.

*

Both/And Versus Either/Or
posted Mon, 29 Dec 2003 07:58:09 -0800

One thing I think all people, myself included, are often prone to is confusing that which is binary with that which is not. This causes a lot of problems.

The classic binary example is pregnancy. Either you are pregnant, or you are not. Don't get all up in my face about ectopic pregnancies, either--those still count. Either your hCG is positive or it is not. Either you're pregnant, or you aren't. Whether the pregnancy results in a viable delivery is a whole other issue, one that is both/and rather than either/or. An ectopic pregnancy normally is not viable, so now you're both pregnant and not going to have a baby.

In fact, the question of whether something is limited to two states or not is itself binary. Either there are two possible states or there are not; there may be one, many, or none (i.e., a male pregnancy).

Which brings me to what Andrea Harris calls "You Can't Possibly Understand" juice (to be employed in washing down your generous serving of Misplaced Anger Pie).

What I think has happened is that the ability of human beings to understand and empathize with each other has been cast as a binary issue. Either we can understand any experience outside our own existence, or we cannot. I'm specifically referencing this part of Andrea's post:

See, maybe I can't "understand" what Jews go through, not being Jewish myself. But, you know, by that criterion I can't understand what it means to be Chinese, or Yanomamo, or male, or a victim (yet) of a suicide bomber, or anything but Andrea Harris. This is an absurd attitude, which assumes that since no one can truly know 100% the experience of someone else then you can't possibly have anything to say about that other person's experience. If people were truly this way, we'd have no novels, no poems, no marriages, no.... anything.

I've added emphasis to the part with which I'm in complete agreement. I dislike it when people play the You Don't Know What it's Like card; my instinctive response is always, "No, but I can imagine."

The problem is, my imagination has its limits. So does yours. I can understand what some things are like via my imagination, but the set of things I can understand about you and the set of things you can understand about me do not overlap completely. The sets form an intersection, but I will always retain a part of myself that you cannot understand and you will always retain a part of yourself that I will not understand.

(Note that we're also confusing imagination with understanding. The two are not equivalent; you employ one to achieve the other.)

So my point is I both agree with Andrea and with Meryl, who argues:

You cannot possibly understand our anger, Michele. You cannot possibly understand our anger, Andrea. And I say this knowing full well what stalwarts you are in rejecting all Jew-hatred. But you're not Jewish, and you don't get what it feels like. Lair and I feel it in our guts.

My personal experience with, for lack of a better term, minorities, is that one annoying thing nonminorities can do is pretend to understand completely what it is like to be discriminated against.

Some things are only understood through direct experience. Yes, I can imagine what it's like to be pulled over simply because a police officer thought there was something "suspicious" about a black woman driving a Mercedes-Benz--but I can't know. I am able to imagine how events like that might shape my world view and my subsequent interactions with others, but even so, what I imagine will be partially informed by my current, actual background, which is not that of a black woman--no matter how much I might try to imagine that it is.

I was actually thinking of this when I read this post at Healing Iraq:

I stared hardly at [Saddam's] eyes and tried to convince myself that this was the same man who destroyed Iraq and sent millions to their deaths. I found myself talking to the screen "Why did you have to do this to yourself?", "Why did you have to put us into all of this?", "Why didn't you fight back or at least kill yourself to spare us these images?".

I had no reason to, but I felt humiliated. I sank into an overwhelming depression and sadness, and I had a desperate need to get terribly drunk. I should have felt joy but I didn't. And I'm still dissapointed with myself.

Leave the "Oh, it's Stockholm syndrome" statements aside for the moment and imagine, if you will, that Bush and Ashcroft have gone mad with power and instituted martial law and Bush has declared himself President for Life.

Chaos ensues. Secret police are everywhere. Public executions replace Monday Night Football. In whispers, people hiss that they hate the tyrant and want him gone--but everyone is too terrified to plan anything. It's too dangerous to attempt to overthrow him. Life continues this way for, oh, let's say 'bout 30 years. Everywhere people are being tortured, dying if they're lucky, scraping out pitiful existences amid the rubble if they're not.

Now imagine that Canada comes to the aid of the American people and, after months of combat, captures the Chimp of Evil.

You'd be damned glad he was gone, and plenty grateful for it, but I guarantee you, you'd still be muttering to your friends, "Fuckin' Canucks need to get back over the border where they belong. Just damn. This is our country and we want it back."

You might even feel a tiny bit sorry for Bush. Yes, he was a brutal dictator, a thug of the lowest order--but he was your dictator. He didn't eat his fries with vinegar. He was one of you. He was a really, really craven and disgusting version of you, but still . . . .

So I can imagine what it's like to be in Zeyad's position, but even so, I can't know. There may be a whole host of other thoughts and feelings reeling around his mind that I do not have direct experience with, and my imagination is limited.

It does not mean I should give up trying to see where he's coming from.

Likewise, just because Meryl says there are things I'll never get about being a Jew doesn't mean I should quit trying to understand that, either. Do I think what Laurence wrote was childish and, frankly, shitty? You betcha . . . but I can see how maybe, if I were him, I might write the very same thing--and while I might later be ashamed of writing it, my point would still be, "you don't know what it's like," and this would also be true. You'd know what some things were like for me, but not all.

You can both understand and not get it. It isn't a binary issue.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Oh Yes I Absolutely WILL Gloat About This

Remember when Jewish leaders (and bloggers) were concerned about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ fueling anti-Semitism? Remember how many Christians were all, "I can't believe you'd even think a thing like that! It's like you're trying to crucify us all over again?" And then the Jews were going, "Well, Catholics don't exactly have the best track record, and also, Mel Gibson's father is very crazy?" And it kept going back and forth, back and forth like that, and meanwhile the atheists kept muttering, "Can we talk about something else now? Please?"

Well, make of this what you will:

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"

The deputy became alarmed as Gibson's tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, "What the f*** do you think you're doing?"

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?"

And don't protest to me that he was "just drunk." The boyfriend and I get drunk plenty, but somehow we manage to leave the hate speech out of it. You're supposed to drink for fun, not for vengeance.

(Gibson tirade link via Pam at Pandagon.)

UPDATE: I'm truly speechless.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Toast

"To me learning to recognize when I'm just being premenstrual, and resisting the temptation to throw myself a miserable pity party in public."

"Hey, at least you didn't take it out on me."

"That's true. I took it out on the internet."

[clink]

"And did you see what the internet did? The internet done ga'e me the fanger."

"That's what it's there for, honey. That's what it's there for."

I'll clarify a few or several or maybe many things on that post tomorrow. But now, brandy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Increasingly I Don't Know What to Say: The Exciting Conclusion

Let's see, where was I? Oh, right:

Several months ago I read on a friend's blog something like the following: "I'm so sick of writing about politics, but I can't stop reading political blogs." I wondered if that statement came from roughly the same place it would have come from had I made it myself. I still don't know whether it did or it didn't, whether there were other issues not divulged in that post, whether it was a temporary ennui or something more significant.

Here's what I know for me, though: I don't really want to write about anything but politics. I never have had. For one thing, I'm not that interesting a person; I can't work the personal-blog angle. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to do personal blogging effectively. The more risks you take, the more you share, the more you give people to identify with and the greater rapport and popularity you build. I can't do this. I'm a very private person by nature, and I've already had the bitter experience once of having a so-called friend counter an argument I was making by throwing it in my face that I'd been to reform school.

Never again. So the personal blogging is not for me.

I am not sure anymore whether political blogging is a good fit either, though. I don't fit well with either party; I'm not at home with either right or left for long. I doubt that I ever will be. I have this massively conceited belief, for one thing, that the mushy middles are vital to the success and stability of a democracy. The fickle are the sand in the gears of potential totalitarianism, provided the fickle get to vote. That's why both right and left package their most extreme positions in "reasonable"-sounding messages. And yes, both sides do it, but lately the right has had the most success with the formula.

"It's time to roll back the gains of the women's movement" becomes "Aren't you concerned about boys falling behind academically? Don't you think that's an issue it's important to at least talk about?"

Geez, whoever could be against talking?

"We need to sweep through the Middle East and remake it in our image" becomes "Don't you care about the Iraqi people suffering under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein? Aren't you worried about Iran's nuclear capability?"

My gosh, do you want us all to blow up?

You get the idea. You've probably got other examples of your own.

As a political blogger, then, I am likely to please no one for long. I could deal with that, maybe, if I were stronger, thicker-skinned, took things less personally. I'm not, though. And it doesn't help me that the bloggers who appear to me to be the most centrist have, for the most part, all gone out of business. I don't have anyone to go to for backup. I can't sic a team of bloggers on some other team of bloggers if I get into a pissing match with anybody--not that I'd want to, you understand, but knowing that the solidly-left and the solidly-right each possess that option is intimidating.

I didn't want this to turn into a poor-pitiful-me thing, though. That's another thing I notice: Someone tries to walk the middle, that someone gets a heaping ration of shit from whichever side he's pissed off the most, if not both sides, and then, this is the best part of it all, THEN Mr. Middle gets told he's feeling sorry for himself and throwing a pity party for complaining about it. It's a no-win. The message is, you in the middle there, pick a side of the fence awreddy, or just SHUT UP.

Sometime between 1999-2002 I started moving rightward politically. I am not sure what did it, exactly. Let's just say I found the 90s a little irritating and leave it at that. It's beside the point anyway, because I want to talk about what that's like, to move rightward.

Here is what happens when you encounter a group of righties online and tell them you're having second thoughts about some of your liberal ideas: You get the fucking welcome wagon. It rolls right up to your door and a bunch of surprisingly suave wingnuts pop out the back and they shower you with approval and reinforcement.

"You know, heh heh heh," you say nervously, "I still don't agree with you about the gay marriage thing."

"Perfectly okay!" they chorus. "Schwarzenegger! Guiliani! You're in good company! It's a big tent! Plenty of room for a little healthy disagreement among friends! It keeps us honest!"

"And, uh, I'm pro-choice. Pretty strongly, actually."

"Not a problem at all!" they shout. "Why, there are plenty of pro-choice Republicans! Schwarzenegger! Guiliani! Uh, do we still count Specter? Ooh, maybe not him. But it's a big tent! Really!"

"Not too sure about the religious right's involvement--"

"Why, hell, we've got atheists on board, child! And some of our evangelical members are actually very moderate. They just want to be free to practice their faith is all! Surely you're against religious discrimination? We sure are! We like a big tent 'round here!"

Then, when you try to stand up for the very principles you claimed from the outset, some closeted, acne-backed Dungeons & Dragons motherfucker boots you out of that big tent so fast you can't even believe it. That's when you realize you've been Charlie Brown with the football and Lucy just owned you. Then some lefty stands over your prostate form and chides you for ever having been that stupid in the first place.

Seriously, this is what happens. Test it yourself: Hit up a proxy server, visit a right-wing blog, and tell them you're a lefty who's been having second thoughts about a few things. Then all you have to do is sit back and FEEL THE LOVE.

Here's what I see happen when someone moves left: Basically the opposite. Lefty bloggers seem to want everyone who defects from the right to do heavy penance first. Then again, the only political bloggers I've really seen move left have been John Cole and Andrew Sullivan, and I don't like either of them myself. Maybe they deserve to do heavy penance. Maybe everyone who voted for Chimpy McHitlerburton does. I'm just not convinced it's an effective way to swell the ranks. The welcome wagon works better. It worked on me, but we shouldn't rule out that I might just be extremely fucking gullible. I did spend my formative years in the Mormon church. And let's not forget reform school! That doesn't speak well of my mental acuity at all, does it?

Anyway, while the welcome wagon usually winds up being 100% USDA Prime Bullshit, it is nonetheless extremely effective bullshit. Flattery gets you everywhere with people. That's been true since time immemorial.

I just realized that nothing I wrote up there is going to dissuade anyone from posting a scathing, "Oh, so not ONLY did you fuck up and vote for Bush and not ONLY do you want to be forgiven for that, but to top it all off, you want us to roll out the red carpet for your dumb ass? I DON'T THINK SO, WINGNUT."

That's where I'm at, anyway: I feel pretty down, pretty hopeless, and very intimidated. It is impossible for me to criticize the right from within it, and it is not possible for me to feel wholly comfortable on the left, and best of all, it's finally dawned on me after all this time online that no one really wants to hear my shit anyway. It only took 3 years of basically no traffic whatsoever for me to figure this out. I'm so fucking proud I could spit.

Y'all have fun.

Love Affair with Smallish Desert Town Continues

How could I ever leave a place so adorable? From the page of one of the local parishes:

VISIT OUR PATRONESS PAGE! Here you can find a short history of our patroness and a prayer for the intersection of Saint Genevieve.

That is just so wrong.

But adorable!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More Faces

See here for background. I wasn't kidding when I said I turned up a whole lot of them, but I hated to have them all on the front page at the same time 'cause I got relatives still on the dial-up connection.











I notice my collections are heavy on the musicians. Well, that only makes sense. I spent probably too many hours looking at musicians in my youth. I like them better than actors, as a rule.

Instead of Hard-Hitting Current Events Commentary, I Bring the Hate Against a Minor Celebrity

Five thumps on the head, I've got five thumps on the head to deliver.

  • The first one goes to Michael Chiarello, for not being able to get through one single cooking show without reminding his audience that he is a VINTNER in the NAPA DAMN VALLEY. Imagine if I began every friggin' blog post with, "As a medical transcriptionist, I am often privy to . . . ." or "My background in medical transcriptionist enables me to . . . ." You would puke, right?

  • The second one goes to Michael Chiarello, for his persistent, egregious abuse of the English language. I'll give you an example from today: While pouring olive oil over slices of artisan (BUT OF COURSE) bread for crostini, Chiarello was heard to utter more-or-less the following:

    Do you see how literal* I'm being with this? Now you could just splash it around very loosely, that can be a fun way to cook sometimes, but see how much of the bread remains undressed if I do that? I want to get very literal coverage so that each piece soaks up the maximum amount of flavor.

    I would note how much evidence this provides for Chiarello LITERALLY being a walking asshole, but why fight fire with fire? Why stoop to his level? He is not literally a walking asshole. He is only remarkably similar to what I imagine a walking asshole would look, talk, and act like, if assholes could talk, and as long as we're imagining one walking around on legs, I see no reason to let their natural muteness interfere with the metaphor here.

  • The third one goes to Michael Chiarello, for observing that "radicchio has a lot of iron, ladies." Fuck you, Chiarello. Are you my hematologist? My nutritionist? No, you're a VINTNER. In the NAPA VALLEY. I know this because YOU TELL ME SO ALL THE TIME.

  • The fourth ones goes to Michael Chiarello, for taking the most gorgeous filets of beef I have ever seen and stuffing them full of pesto. ABOMINATION. Really good meat gets salt-pepper-garlic powder-onion powder and then it goes on the grill for just a very short time, THE END. I am a purist about these things.

  • Finally, the fifth thump on the head goes to, yes, Michael Chiarello, for observing that one can use anything handy to flatten the butterflied filets--"I use the heel of my hand, but you could use a wine bottle or a meat mallet or your husband's hand." What could I use to beat this doughy vintner to a pulp, I wonder? I am thinking MY THUMB.


  • This man makes me miss Bobby Flay, people. I'm not kidding.


    *I know what you're thinking: "Ilyka, you've gone half-deaf; you just misheard him say 'liberal.'" I swear to you that this is not so. He stone cold mixed them up and he didn't even seem to be aware of it. That is what made the whole thing so galling.

    Increasingly I Don't Know What to Say

    You probably thought I forgot about that request for feedback I posted, didn't you? I didn't. I read and enjoyed every response. Unfortunately, for reasons that are obvious to me now but should have been obvious to me then, none of those responses gave me the answer I needed (because they couldn't): Why the hell do I blog?

    Here were some of the answers I received from all of you:

    Started one to see where it might lead and to hopefully improve my writing and computer skills. Still don’t know where it will lead. My writing hasn’t improved even slightly but my computer skills may have.

    Please note that Rob is being a dirty, dirty liar about his writing skills.

    I enjoy writing, and blogging allows me to vent about issues that I might otherwise bend poor Mr. Cracker's ear about incessantly (not that I don't do that anyway sometimes).

    Oh, yes. I am a talkative person in a relationship with a taciturn one. Blogging keeps the peace (and quiet).

    I'm a great big ol' ball of narcissism.

    Margi demonstrates how to win, in one shot, both the "Most Honest Answer" and the "Most Applicable to my Own Situation" awards.

    John done gimme a whole post about why he keeps a weblog. Here's some of it:

    First and foremost, it’s a way for me to exercise my non-technical writing muscles. I’m still not in shape, but the atrophy that had set in over the past 5 years has been halted, possibly reversed. As I stated in the first post (and tried to reflect in the blog title), most of what’s on the Net is garbage, possibly including this site.

    Nah! to that last remark.

    I also got a couple responses from the blogless about why they read weblogs. From 1bodyand2faces:

    For enjoyable writing style, for intelligent people whose sense of humor clicks with mine, for people who can come at something from a different angle than the party line, and get me to see their POV, for people who can tell an interesting story in an interesting way. And did I mention sense of humor? Key.

    I have to agree about the sense of humor. There are, at least among the political weblogs, too many bloggers who treat this as a negative, as a sign of unseriousness. May they be sentenced to a continuous, week-long slapping upside the head with the P.J. O'Rourke essay, "A Serious Problem:"

    Life is weighty, important, grave, critical, momentous, etc. Not for nothing does Roget's Thesaurus say, "Antonyms--See DRUNKENNESS, FRIVOLITY, PLAYFULNESS, UNIMPORTANCE." Yes, indeed, let's see them right away.

    And from Ron:

    I like essays. The blog is a great format for it. You generally get a lot of the writers personality or personna.

    I agree. I love essays. One of the things that first cheesed me off about weblog rankings is the relative underranking of essayists versus, say, masters of the I-shaped post.

    (More later--I just realized Molto Mario's on. I don't know why it's so helpful to me to work out to fat men cooking fatty foods, but I can go twice as long on the treadmill to that kind of thing, provided "that kind of thing" is not "Emeril." Perverse!)

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Chefs Annoy

    I love the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I love it even though every third article within it irks me, even though there's always at least one article that's Manhattan-centric fluff, even though some of the articles cross that fine line between fluff and stupid. My personal scorecard for the magazine today is typical:

    Thumbs Up:

  • No Ordinary Counterfeit (Note: If you're fascinated by Kim Jong Il, and I kind of am, I can't recommend this one enough. Seems he's been into the counterfeiting business, and it turns out he's good at it.)

  • Silent Green--about how it's easier to sell environmentally friendly products if you don't hype the "environmentally friendly" part. I can believe this. I have an ingrained tendency to translate "eco-friendly" to "not as good as the toxic stuff" myself. I'm not proud; I'm just sayin'.

  • An Insurgent of My Acquaintaince--just read it.


  • Thumbs Down:

  • Recipe Redux: 1968: Gazpacho

  • Everything I hate about foodies is packed into that last one. Everything. Foodies, I've decided, are not people who love food. They're people who love making simple things complicated out of bloodyminded competitiveness. This revisiting of an old recipe from--the horror--a home cook is perfectly emblematic of the problem. Here's what I mean:

    Earlier this summer, I gave the M├ílaga gazpacho recipe to Michael Tusk, the chef and an owner of Quince Restaurant in San Francisco, to see what it would inspire in him. Deceit, at first: Tusk said he had to sneak around the San Francisco farmer’s market in a hooded sweatshirt with a bag of local hot-house tomatoes, hoping that none of his watchdog chef friends would catch him with the contraband.

    I'm not sure what he was sneaking around for; are local hot-house tomatoes bad? Should they have been vine-ripened? Organic? Imported? See, the implication is I'm supposed to know this stuff, that only a pariah would not know this stuff. This is 1980s wine snobbery all over again, and I hate it.

    Back in the privacy of his kitchen, Tusk stripped out all of the flavors from the original recipe and essentially gave each ingredient its own stage. He ran a variety of tomatoes through a food mill to get a dense base. Into this, Tusk floated a simple cucumber granita, given a little zip with cucumber vinegar (although Champagne vinegar also works).

    And screw you, I guess, if you can't get Champagne vinegar. But let's look at that "simple" cucumber granita. Oh, I get what they mean by "simple" here; they mean simple in composition, not simple in execution. And a good thing, too, because it definitely isn't simple in execution:

    To make the cucumber granita: Place the cucumber in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir in the cucumber vinegar and salt, to taste, and place in a shallow, wide pan in the freezer. Run a fork through the granita every 20 minutes for approximately 2 hours. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. (This can be done the day before.)

    This whole article should be subtitled: "How to Take Food Preparation from Fun to Fatiguing."

    Well, I was after a good gazpacho recipe anyway. I'll use the 1968 one. Let Michael Tusk fart around with food mills and granitas; gazpacho originated as a simple (in composition and execution), summertime food of the poor. In my kitchen, that is how it will stay.

    Saturday, July 22, 2006

    Emily

    Because I don't read FARK.com--I used to, but at some point I got over it--I am apparently the last person on the internet to find out about ThatGirlEmily. Thanks to Buck at Exile in Portales for tipping me off.

    "Emily" is, in all likelihood, a viral marketing campaign, but as Buck says--

    OK…it’s a scam “viral marketing campaign”, but it’s a damned good one! (By way of explanation…I followed Morgan’s first link, read the entire “Emily” blog, wrote the narrative above, went back to Morgan’s place and followed the second link, whereupon I realized I’d been HAD. But…the blog is cleverly written, you should go. And it’s indeed a cautionary tale for would-be philanderers.)

    The premise, for those of you who don't read FARK either: Emily's a pampered yuppie wife living in the suburbs of New Jersey; the only remarkable thing about her is the way her friends, her sister, even her brother, keep asking her whether things with her husband are really okay. Finally, Emily's brother insists she go to a meeting with a private investigator he has hired for her, and it's there Emily learns the awful truth: Husband Steven has been cheating on her with her best friend, Laura.

    From there things get wicked delicious:

    In the last few days, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’ve done some number crunching. I’ve done some brainstorming. I’ve made some phone calls. I’ve thought about what the rest of my life will entail. And the rest of my life starts tomorrow. Tomorrow, the world will bear witness to a woman scorned. After tomorrow, husbands all over the country will think twice before inviting their divorcee secretaries out for a mojito. They’ll check themselves before they wander into online singles chat rooms. After tomorrow, husbands will be rubbing one out in the shower, instead of signing the room check for their mistress at the Plaza. Steven and Laura have been doing a lot of fucking lately. Now, it’s my turn.

    You knew I wasn't gonna just yak about a viral marketing campaign, though, right? I'm more horrified by what I'm reading on the FARK thread. In fact, the FARK thread is reminding me: "Oh, yeah--this is why I quit reading that tired-ass site." It's fun things like:

    Someone needs to sit her down and tell her she's making a fool of herself.

    As opposed to the guy who thought it'd be a swell idea to fuck his wife's best friend, right?

    I feel sorry for her. Not because her hubby cheated on her but because she is so self-absorbed that she seems to think that publicising the cheating will give her pleasure or some sense of satisfaction.

    I hate to break it to this fella, but you know what? Delivering well-deserved comeuppance feels AWESOME. That's why people do it.

    This girl is nuttier than a squirrel's scrotum. I bet she bangs like a barn door in a storm though. Especially if you drop in a line about her sister joining us for a threesome halfway through.

    I agree. It's totally crazy to hate it when someone cheats on you.

    Oh well. It's almost certainly a fake anyhow. Kinda too bad. If I were ever forced to hang out with the sort of spoilt rich wife who plots acts of petty revenge against her Pilates classmates, I'd want her to be at least a little like Emily.

    An Unfortunate Side Effect of March's 'Blog Against the Strawfeminist' Week

    I get search hits like, "How to castrate your boyfriend."

    Girl, don't do it. Not worth the jail time.

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Vanity Kills

    Random topic generated by a conversation with the boyfriend today:

    Have you ever had someone tell you you're so funny, LOL and ROFL and so on, and right as you're starting to bask in it, right as a Grease chorus starts belting out "Tell me more, tell me more" in your mind, that person switches to telling you about someone else who's so funny, LOL ROFL--except, that someone else happens to be someone you don't find funny at all? I don't mean like, you're outraged by them, or they're just not in line with your particular comic sensibilities--I mean like, to you, this someone else is simply not funny, not ever, not even a little bit, not even accidentally. That someone else has never been even six blocks south of funny. Maybe that someone else is, in fact, your personal definition of the opposite of funny. The Unfunny. The Laughslayer. The Comedy Antichrist.

    And then it hits you: "Wait a minute--maybe that means I'm not funny either, because clearly my friend here has no taste in comedy."

    Substitute someone telling you you're a good dresser and then, I don't know, raving about Chloe Sevigny in the next breath, if you prefer. But you know what I mean? You know what general phenomenon I'm talking about?

    What the hell do you do when that happens? Besides cry.

    (NOTE: Don't nobody get paranoid--this is not anything recent. The man and I were just reminiscing.)

    You've Come a Long Way, Baby

    As evidenced by these responses to the posting (and subsequent, inevitable mocking) of the latest super-ridiculous video log from Atlas Shrugs:

    What hell hath the Internet wrought.

    By the way…I’d hit that.

    By the way, no one cares.

    One of the more convincing transexuals I’ve seen.

    One of the more convincing examples of tolerance and sensitivity.

    Bend that hottie over and boink her in the butt!

    NO. Let's bend you over and boink you in the butt with a splintery stick bearing the words, "Women are human beings."

    I can't wait for someone to suggest that I'm defending Pam's vlog. I am not. I am defending her right to be treated like a human being. A more-than-slightly crazy human being? Sure. A human being worthy of much parody? You betcha. Some sorry tool's rapetastic wank object?

    Nuh-uh.

    FINE, I WILL MAKE THE COUNTER-ARGUMENT MY OWN SELF--AN UPDATE: What's the difference between "I'd hit that" and calling the parody blog "Atlas Juggs?"

    No, seriously. I'm askin'.

    My gut feeling: When a woman objectifies herself as, I think, Pam does, she lets herself in for a certain amount of derision based on that. Thus, "How My Titties Saved Eretz Yisrael." (Plus I'm inwardly twelve, so I just always laugh at "titties," in nearly any context.) The implication there isn't, "Pam's an object for me to stick my parts into." The implication there is, "Pam's a human being who thinks way too highly of her titties."

    Titties.

    TITTIES.

    TITTIES 4 ISRAEL.

    Hahahaha--okay, okay. Sorry. Uh, I'm good. Crikey, I need to stop before I get this site caught in Blogger's spam trap again.

    But I always read "I'd hit it" as an almost bored, knee-jerk expression of privilege: "If I really wanted to, honey, I could shut you up right now--with my cock." And we know who's especially fond of making THAT nonargument, so . . . yeah. I get a little disgusted, I guess.

    Notice

    Comment moderation is no more! (See here for why I ever had it turned on in the first place.) You have no idea how much it was irritating me. For one thing, the foolish GUILT I felt for not always being able to put comments through immediately was overwhelming; one day I actually had the boyfriend monitor the inbox to make sure no one got hung up in the queue while I went to the store.

    For another, I really think it inhibits discussion. I don't always comment at comment-moderated blogs myself, because I have no patience and the time delay annoys me. I have to figure I'm not the only person out there with that attitude.

    But back to the guilt, about which I'm so not kidding: I left about 3 comments myself on this post in an attempt to explain to someone that I did not can his or her comments. For the record, I canned ONE comment during the period moderation was enabled, one I received from a Vox Day (just Google it) reader that was nothing, I mean nothing, but personal swipes at me. It was the sort of comment that on my old blog I'd have just edited to say something silly like "I eat manure for breakfast." I don't think this weblog really suffered any loss of integrity for that comment's disappearance.

    If I have another incident of someone posting personal contact information in the comments, I'll have to turn moderation back on. I think--I hope--that we're past that for the moment.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    For My Internet Boyfriend, McBoing



    Viva empowerment, dude.

    . . . And What I've Been Reading

  • Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Why Dems Don't:

    On the contrary: the GOP knows that the middle DOES matter. They know that by playing to their base in very well-crafted ways, they can shift the very definition of what the middle is. By introducing radicalism into the public discourse (and taking initial heat for it), whatever used to be radical within this context becomes moderate by comparison.

  • Your Final Exam in Eighties Canadian Song Lyrics

    Please study the lyrics to Rush’s 1981 chart-topper, “Tom Sawyer”, and then answer the questions below.

    QUESTIONS:

    1. If his mind were for rent, would you be more or less likely to put him down as arrogant? Defend your answer. What if you could lease with the option to buy?

  • Doing Scales:

    I liked him because he was messy and self-absorbed, and didn't shame me for the crazy shit I was doing that summer, a lot of which involved riding the subways at 4 a.m., eating takeout Chinese for breakfast, sleeping with him, and never opening my mail so that it would pile up in stacks on bookshelves, my coffee table, my dresser, my windowsills - collection agencies shrieking at me like a bad dream.

  • Ignorance on Parade: Richard Cohen's Mistakes:

    Ignorant man: Read your modern history. Half of all Israelis are now Sephardic Jews, refugees from Arab lands that expelled their Jews or drove them out through pogroms. Israel took them in, gave them homes and lives, and their children are now running the country.

  • CrabAppleLane Sunday

    Patsy throws whole corn out on the grounds for the larger birds that don’t go to the feeder. This one hasn’t learned to fly yet. When he does, I think we're moving.

  • Assertions Were Meant to be Challenged:

    The aggro-rant isn’t for everyone (though I freely and wholly love one), but honestly, it doesn’t mean they aren’t participating in examination and critique. If something makes a person angry and they pontificate about it, who’s to say they aren’t hungry for someone to come back at them equally vociferously? Often, people who make passionate, assertive arguments love nothing more than when someone makes another one right back at them.

    (I add: That last sentence is definitely true for me, as is its opposite. This is probably not strictly healthy, but fact is, I interpret failure to engage me in an argument as failure to engage me, period.)


  • Fat Tony:

    I've had a couple of guys try to get too detailed, and not in a good way. I really don't need clumsy back story like, "And then, I pull off your skirt and feel you up and your clitoris comes out to say 'Hello.'" A dude said this to me once, and my clitoris ran back inside and refused to come out to play for the rest of the night.

  • Monsoons Indeed!:

    Imagine a life in which a sixty-mile hike in triple-digit temperatures, a one in ten chance of dying at least, is something you would think reasonable to face more than once in order to pick lettuce for five bucks an hour or less.

  • Keep It Up:

    So, what do we have? Greenwald is “illiterature”, a moron, a liar; he is a douche, the uberdouche, the biggest douche in the blogosphere, the Babe Ruth/Bill Gates of douches; he is McCarthy, befuddled and/or manipulative, more than a bit of a fascist, intellectually and morally bankrupt, an absolute disgrace, gay (tee-hee!) and therefore insane; and, of course, a terrorist lover. The transgression which occasions these remarks is patiently cataloging, recording, and referencing what these people say, every single day. And it makes them insane.

    (I add: I know that's two links from the same site. Is there a rule that I can't do that? Because fuck your rules, then.)


  • Unequal Weapons on the Pitch: A Partial Defense of Zidane:

    Leaving aside gendered and sexualized insults, what power do the words "honky" and "cracker" and "redneck" have to hurt compared to, say, the word "nigger"? If you call me a "cracker" (a term more accurately used to refer to poor rural whites), I'm going to laugh -- there is no history of violence and hatred behind the word. If I call a player of African descent the "n" word, I'm going to expect a different reaction -- not because he has less self-control than I do but because of the extraordinary legacy attached to that term.
  • Monday, July 17, 2006

    Where This Blog Has Been

    Right here, of course--only, I couldn't post in it. Blogger locked it, said it was a spam blog. It was only just given the Not Spam designation today. Tedious.

    Blogger's spam prevention robots likely objected to all the language (and the pn0r search link) in this post, and they locked me out of this blog until the site could be reviewed by a person.

    That is what's new with me. What's new with you?

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Faces

    Via Sheila--faces I love. I'm going to have to do at least two three of these, because once I got started hunting up image files, I had a hard time stopping.

    If you don't know who it is you're looking at, either mouse over the image file or leave a comment and just ask.

















    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    So It's Come to This, Has It

    You know what posting format I am way sick of?--The point-by-point refutation, also known as the fisk. Sadly, some items still require it, like the post I termed "an avalanche of stupid" here. (I don't really feel like linking it again.)

    Fine, let's just get this over with:

    Have you noticed how many women think they can use the internet to make threats against toddlers, flash their tits, and air their dirty laundry in public, all without repercussions?

    Yes, Mom. I mean--no, wait, this is just ludicrous. I could be here all day just unpacking this sentence.

    I've noticed how many people think they can use the internet for all kinds of behavior I don't approve of, whether that's trading hentai collections or fantasizing about giving bloggers they don't like a Dirty Sanchez or--listen, there's a whole lotta nasty out there. A WHOLE lot. I'm not about to link to it here, but there exists on these internets an entire blog written by a convicted pedophile and serial child killer, and not only that, there are entire sites devoted to analyzing the weblog output of said pedophile and murderer right before he, you know, abducted more kids and tortured, molested, and killed one of them before finally being caught.

    It's horrible, I'm sorry I ever saw it, and I wish I could unsee it, but here's the point I want to make about it: Number of posts moaning about how many men behave badly on the internet, arising from the actual, not threatened, deaths of children? Oh, that number equals ZERO.

    And why is that? It's because we don't, as a rule, blame men as a sex for the acts of a few of their most depraved members, that's why. And we don't do that because it doesn't make any sense to do that, any more than it makes any sense to blame "women" for the actions of one fruitcake psychology professor.

    As for the rest of this sentence, I confess I am just all like, "Whaaaaat?" Why is the wife of the right blogosphere's main cheerleader for porn upset about women baring their breasts on the internet? My head hurts and I need a drink and I can't even have one because it's six in the morning and my drinking at this hour would only swell the ranks of WOMEN BEHAVING BADLY ON THE INTERNET, all without repercussions (unless you count my subsequent and sadly inevitable hangover), and heaven knows we can't have that.

    About those repercussions, though: What repercussions should they face? Deb Frisch is out of a job and will hopefully VERY, VERY SOON be out of our thoughts and our lives forever, because hands up who's sick of this loon? I for one am very sick of this loon. Get off the stage, Deb. Oh, wait; looks like she already did. Repercussions delivered and received, then.

    No, I quite understand Frisch deserving repercussions. I don't understand what in the hell repercussions we're supposed to bring down upon the titty-flashing women of the internet, and I'll bet you anything an anonymous poll of heterosexual guys on the internet would only yield responses like "Encourage them to flash more titties."

    I have read that women are often afraid to comment on blogs because they do not want to stand up to criticism. However, it seems that there is also the opposite extreme: those women who think that they can say and do anything and no one is supposed to take notice or hold them accountable.

    It would be easy here for me to make a "men do it, too" argument, but that's a trap I'd like to avoid for the moment. The better argument would be that someone needs a refresher on the hasty generalization. For kicks, though, feel free to substitute other subsets of the population into that paragraph--"African Americans," "homosexuals," "Catholics,"--and watch the fallacy leap out at you, wrestle you to the ground, and do horrible things to your faith in humanity.

    I keep wanting to add that I'm not sure women who pose semi-nekkid on the internet really believe "no one is supposed to take notice," but that damned fallacy keeps throwing me to the ground and it really makes typing difficult.

    My guess is that these women feel so ineffectual that they do not believe anyone would take them seriously, kind of like when a woman slaps a man, it is seen as funny since she is so "powerless."

    For crying out loud, which women? You appear to be conflating Deb Frisch and some exhibitionist whom I don't even know and I . . . hey, you know something, people, I hate to be melodramatic but I CANNOT WORK UNDER THESE CONDITIONS. And by "these conditions," I mean "conditions in which I am not even sure who or what this writer is talking about."

    So let's make this easier and assume it's Frisch, because I'm already tired of coming up with synonyms for knockers. Except, no, I can't even take that cop-out, because this post isn't about Deb Frisch behaving badly on the internet, it's about 51% or 52% of the population (I can never remember the exact figure) behaving badly on the internet.

    And I swear on the Bible that I have no recollection of ever meeting any woman or man who thought a woman slapping a man was funny. I have met too many people on the internet who think that putting scare quotes around a word is the same thing as making a relevant point.

    On the other side, there is the possibility that these nutjobs have such a sense of entitlement (reinforced by society) that they can get away with saying and doing anything.

    There's also the very real possibility that Deb Frisch hears voices in her head. Guess which possibility I favor? Guess which possibility there's more evidence for? And don't make me bring up Occam's Razor. I hate having to bring up Occam's Razor. It's so this-one-time, in-1997, on-Usenet, I-got-in-this-flamewar-on-alt.rec.whatever with-this-guy, and . . . .

    Luckily, people are catching on to these nutcases and taking action-- for example, the professor who threatened Jeff Goldstein's toddler lost her job.

    So we're all happy now, I trust, and I will never again have to go to Right-Leaning Blog A and hear about how Deb Frisch is So Typical of The Left, nor will I ever again have to go to Left-Leaning Blog B and hear about how Wingnuts Are Such Hypocrites--right? Right? Please tell me I'm right. Please, somebody, anybody. Because otherwise I'm going to second the suggestion that we all put the internet down for its nap now.

    Oh terrific, we've come to the really bad part:

    Good for Goldstein for standing up for women's rights everywhere by holding this woman accountable and not letting her off the hook--maybe women will learn that their actions are not as ineffectual and powerless as they would have others believe.

    Attempting to follow this logic for too long would make me at least half as crazy as Frisch. Of this I am certain. I must tread carefully.

    Here is someone who stood up for women's rights everywhere.

    Here is someone who stood up for women's rights in Iran.

    Here are some who stood up for women's rights in Africa.

    Here is someone who stood up for women's rights in South Dakota.

    And I could go on--oh, how I could go on--but all the people I listed took action to increase women's autonomy and they did so at considerable personal risk to themselves and THAT is what I call making women less "ineffectual."

    Women aren't children. Women don't need old what's-his-name to "hold them accountable" in order to "learn that their actions are not as ineffectual and powerless as they would have others believe." In fact--and I know I keep returning to this theme; forgive me--but in fact, what are you even talking about here?

    I mean, I know that if all you read are Christina Hoff-Sommers and Cathy Young, it might be tempting to conclude that feminism is all a great con orchestrated by badly-behaving women who want, however perversely, to make us all believe that they're powerless; believe me, I'm very familiar with that gender-feminism-as-victim-cult notion. But I'm familiar with it because that's what antifeminists keep telling me feminism is, not because that's what I see when I read just-plain-feminists. Being a just-plain-feminist these days is like having people come up to you all the time making absurd, easily disproved statements like, "You're purple."

    "No, I'm not," you answer.

    "Yes, you are," they say.

    "No, really, I'm not purple. I'm not sure where you're getting--"

    "Oh, you're definitely purple. I can't believe you can't see how purple you are!"

    "But I'm NOT purple. Look, here's a mirror. I'm checking, and, nope, not purple."

    "Boy, they've really brainwashed you good, haven't they?"

    "What?!?"

    "You're totally purple and you don't even know it. The feminazis did quite a number on you, my friend."

    Anyway, listen, this isn't hard: Saying this guy's handling of Frisch constitutes "standing up for women's rights everywhere" is positively Orwellian in a "Freedom is Slavery" sort of way, and as I cannot believe that anyone would be so stupid as to be Orwellian on accident I am just going to assume that it is being done on purpose. And that is an appalling way to diminish and demean the real, measureable achievements of those who actually DID and DO stand up for women's rights everywhere.

    I'm sure that Roya Toloui, for example, would be pleased to know she's in the company of a guy who's so utterly freaked out by women disagreeing with him that he has to imagine them sitting on cucumbers just to revive his ever-flagging sense of manhood. I'm sure that was totally worth her being tortured to learn. Thank you, Dr. Helen. Thank you so much for standing up for women's rights everywhere. Sweet fancy Moses on toast*, but you've got a nerve.

    And for those who suffer from a sense of entitlement just because they are women?

    You mean the overly made-up dolls who complain about those nasty feminists emasculating men all the time, even as they're swapping stale "10 Reasons Why Cucumbers are Better than Men" email forwards with each other? The ones who never learn how to change a tire because some man will be happy to do it for them, just so long as they remember to always leave the house with their hair done and their lipstick on? The ones who simper and flirt with men and then joke later with their girlfriends about how eeeeeeeeeaaaaasssy it is to wrap men around their little fingers, like taking candy from a baby? Those women? The ones who come over here and lecture me that Men and Women Are Different?

    Oh, why am I by now positive we are definitely not talking about those women? That would make too much sense, because that's where I see a definite sense of entitlement. "I'm a girly-girl who really knows how to handle a man, so, like, men should give me stuff." Never mind how insulting it is to men to treat them like problems to be HANDLED; in the minds of these women, they're the Real Ladies and I'm just some nasty dyke feminist who hates men. (But just catch me kissing the internet toads they do in order to build a little traffic. Just catch me.) And yet I suspect that in Dr. Helen's eyes, I'm the one with the sense of entitlement regarding my sex, because the feminists, you know, they are all about the hard work for nothing and rewards for free.

    Maybe a dose of reality will help those women realize what men have always known

    --because they've always run shit--

    --freedom and justice requires people to be responsible for their own actions, regardless of gender.

    I swear, reading this conclusion makes me wish a feminist actually had written a defense of Deb Frisch's behavior from a feminist perspective, JUST SO THIS MISERABLE POST WOULD FINALLY MAKE SOME SENSE.

    In the interests of completeness I should note that the post now has an update in which the good doctor clarifies the breast-baring business, but it's a whole lot of hearsay-ish "This is my interpretation of events" and I'll be honest, by now I don't trust this person to give me a coherent summary of the sun rising.

    Suffice to say that ostensibly, the REAL problem is that this flasher of the headlights is discriminating against men in the classroom, and worse, she thinks posting pictures of her ta-tas will somehow get her out of the trouble she's in, the trouble she's in for discriminating against men in her classroom, because . . . uh . . . yeah, we're back to entitlement again . . . good gravy . . . look, the update makes no sense either. Can you just trust me on this one? Okay.


    *Basically stolen from here, except I like it better without butter.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Please Stand By

    Having survived a weekend of unbelievably bad video, and only scarcely having recovered this very morning from the unearthing of footage of actual Mormons performing The Mormon Rap (what are you trying to do to me? What?), I was all set to post a few items when I was suddenly buried under an avalanche of stupid.

    Posting will resume when I can dig myself out. Offers of help gratefully accepted.

    UPDATE: The avalanche?--That was Roxanne's fault.

    Why New York City is a Great Place to Visit, Wouldn't Wanna Live There

    Three words: Bags of feces. Definitely, definitely click for bigger on that image (but only if you're feeling strong of stomach).

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Denunciations

    Why I resist calls for them, generally:

  • Well, really, the whole "denounce him!" thing is kind of Stalinist, don't you think?

  • If an act is sufficiently repulsive as to be deemed abhorrent by society, by the overwhelming majority of a society's members, then the presumption must be that any individual member of society is innocent, i.e., utterly against Outrageous Act x, until proven guilty, i.e., completely in favor of Outrageous Act x. You may imagine all the preceding as a separate post here entitled, "Why This Blog Has Never Condemned B-stiality, Slavery, or the Wholesale Slaughter of Adorable Little Puppies and Kittens."


  • Why I resist calls for them, specifically:

  • Because fuck you if you're too ignorant of my character to figure out that if it's wicked repulsive, I'm probably not in favor of it. I shouldn't have to break it down for you, dumbass.

  • Because I'll decide who represents and speaks for me, not you. Who asked you to determine that? By what right do you attempt to do it? Who do you think you are?


  • Don't tell me whom I have to denounce in order to prove things that should be bleeding obvious. That's a sure way to get me to give you the finger.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Oh Please

    I love when people who were mere TODDLERS in the 80s think they have any idea how bad it was. It wasn't all Love is a Battlefield back then, you know. Oh, no.



    And Lionel Richie? Lionel Richie doesn't rate a pimple on the ass of 80s adult contemporary. We had bigger problems.



    Luckily we had synth-pop to soothe us.



    And every woman Prince ever fucked wrote a song for.



    So I guess it wasn't that terrible after all. Never mind.

    I Am Switzerland

    I take no sides in the horrifying YouTube wars initiated by The Editors and Sadly, No! that have now spread so far and wide. That would be wrong. I am a neutral party. I come only to bring healing.



    HEALING.



    Healing, I said.



    Hmm. My mouth is dry.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Feedback

    Pull me out of a morose and self-indulgent mood, please, by telling me a thing or two about yourselves.

    For people without blogs:

    --This isn't a question, really, but sometimes I envy you so much, you don't even know. Just thought I'd start with that.

    --This is a question: Why do you read weblogs?

    --Do the weblogs you read tend towards one topic or focus, or do you regularly read blogs on a variety of subjects?

    --If you could make bloggers shut up about any subject at all, what subject would that be? What do you earnestly want never to read about again?

    --If you could request more coverage of any subject from bloggers, what subject would that be?

    --Is there a weblog you'd like to recommend? (I'm always running out of stuff to read. I think I need a wider range of interests.)

    --Do you read mostly weblogs with comments, mostly weblogs without, or a mix of both? Do you have a strong preference one way or another? Does it bother you when there are no comments?

    --If you were going to start a weblog, what would it be like? Mostly personal? Political? Entertainment-oriented? Technical?

    --Again, if you were going to start a weblog, would you use your real name or a pseudonym?

    For people with blogs:

    --Why do you keep a weblog?

    --Does your weblog have a main topical focus, or is it more grab-bag?

    --Has your weblog ever changed its focus?

    --Which posts (feel free to link them!) have given you the most personal satisfaction to write?

    --Which posts do you regret writing, if any?

    --Has anything really terrific ever happened to you as a result of writing your blog?

    --Has anything really terrible ever happened to you as a result of writing your blog?

    Those are just to get you started, so if you have other things to say on the general topic, feel free. I am sick to death of my own opinions, so give me yours. Please!

    There. I begged. I hope you're happy now.

    Safety in Numbers

    A quote from "Davey," a little boy character in Anne of the Island, one of the series of Anne of Green Gables novels by L.M. Montgomery:

    I was at Mrs. Isaac Wrights funeral at White Sands last week. The husband of the corpse felt real sorry. Mrs. Lynde says Mrs. Wrights grandfather stole a sheep but Marilla says we mustent speak ill of the dead. Why mustent we, Anne? I want to know. It's pretty safe, ain't it?

    When Rob Smith of the blog Gut Rumbles died about a couple weeks back, I didn't write anything about Rob, even though I read him pretty regularly, because I didn't have anything nice to say of him--or, more accurately, I couldn't figure out a way to say ONLY nice things about him. I don't speak ill of the dead. It's not out of respect for the dead, though. I figure they're past caring what I or anyone else on earth has to say. No, it's out of respect for the survivors.

    I guess others are more of the "pretty safe" school.

    You know what else is pretty safe?--Cultivating an online army of yes-men and cheerleaders that you can send to swarm and taunt anyone who disagrees with you. That's pretty safe. It isn't patriotic, brave, upstanding, moral, or even particularly American, but it sure is safe.

    And you know what they always say: Safety first.

    Hey, but you know what else is pretty safe?

    It's a pretty safe bet that I don't want to hear from anyone trying to argue me into agreeing with Malkin on this one. It isn't going to happen. I don't want to hear your false equivalencies ("why aren't you condemning the leftists who said mean things about Ken Lay?" for example), I don't want to hear your twisted First Amendment arguments (did I say she didn't have a right to say it? Show me where I asked the government to take away her internet access?), and I sure as hell don't want to hear your tired-ass "people need to take responsibility for their own lives and deaths" argument, because I'm not saying Malkin killed anyone.

    I am saying she's a hateful, despicable, hyperpartisan bully who wasn't brought up with even the most basic trappings of civility, least of all that trapping that says you don't speak ill of the dead because to do so is to play what is strictly a coward's game, and it's needlessly cruel to those left behind besides. To clarify for the dense, I refer to this sentence of Malkin's:

    If I had said anything, his ilk would have jumped all over me for not having the compassion to keep quiet about her various scandals and corruptocrat ways and let her loved ones mourn in peace.

    Let's rewrite that in Decent Human Being:

    If I had said anything, his ilk would have jumped all over me for not having the compassion to keep quiet about her and let her loved ones mourn in peace.

    See how easy that was?

    Anyone who's uncomfortable with any of the above is hereby invited to read something else. It's a great big internet out there. I am sure you can find something more to your tastes.

    Have a nice weekend!

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Raise Your Horribly Prominent Humerus if You're Sure

    Keep the diagnostic criteria for anorexia in mind--especially item C--as you read the following:

    "I've got a lot of experience with anorexia - my grandmother and great-grandmother suffered from it, and I had a lot of friends at school who suffered from it, so I know it's not something to be taken lightly and I don't. But I don't have it, I am very sure of that."

    Uh-huh. Whatever, Keira.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Analogy

    There's a debate in the comments here regarding Michelle Malkin's decision not to remove the press release issued by members of Students Against War, a UC-Santa Cruz activist group.

    The press release included the home phone numbers of the students. Zuzu at Feministe says the contact information was included mistakenly and that, when asked to remove the information, Malkin declined to do so. In the comments, meanwhile, Jim Treacher says Malkin denies ever having been asked by the students to remove it.

    Both Jim and Darleen Click also point out that it's a press release, which is by definition public, and Jim for one doubts the students would include their contact info "mistakenly." I am inclined to agree on that point, as it's my understanding that when issuing a press release, there's some editorial review before the whole thing is approved for release. I think it's far more likely they DID mean to include it, never expecting to encounter the backlash they received.

    But honestly, that's immaterial to me. Here's how I see it:

    In the late 1980s sometime--I don't remember the exact year for, um, herbal reasons--I attended an REM concert at a depressing little outdoor venue called the Mesa Amphitheatre. Go ahead and GLORY in the cheesiness of that web site. I dare you. Believe me when I say it doesn't to justice to the cheesiness of the venue itself. And more proof that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet: The site's claims to the contrary, Mesa categorically DOES NOT ROCK.

    I'm lifting one of the photos from the site because I need to explain something about the setup at the Amphitheatre back then:



    See that concrete area down in front of the stage? That used to be a moat.

    No, really. A MOAT. FILLED WITH WATER.

    Guess where they ran a lot of the electrical cables needed for the lighting, amplifiers, etc.? Did you guess "through the moat?" Did you guess "through the moat filled with water?"

    So I'm at this REM show and the crowd's going crazy and people are being assholes and trying to dunk each other in the moat. And Michael Stipe stops the show and goes totally high-school principal on the crowd, telling them that if ONE MORE PERSON goes anywhere near that fucking moat, the band's gonna quit playing THAT INSTANT and walk off the stage and if you don't like it, kids, then STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE MOAT.

    And I remember at the time I was righteously indignant. I kept saying to my friend (this guy, actually), "I get what he's saying and I know he had to say it and all, but did he have to be such a dick about it?"

    But that was then, when I was a stupid kid. Looking back on it, I realize: Yes, he did. He did have to be that much of a dick about it. It was the only way to make sure no one got electrocuted.

    It wasn't REM's fault that the Mesa Amphitheatre had such a dangerous setup. It wasn't REM's fault that the kids were getting too rowdy. And it damn sure wasn't REM's responsibility to try to solve the problem.

    Nevertheless, REM was in the best position to solve the problem. The kids would have ignored reprimands by the security staff. They would have ignored reprimands by the stage hands. They would have hooted and jeered at reprimands from the police. But the band threatening to walk off the stage? Oh, that got their attention, you bet.

    Coming back around to the Malkin vs. UC-Santa Cruz thing, then: I don't care whether the students meant to put that information on the release or not. I don't care whether Malkin issued a one-line statement saying she doesn't condone death threats. I don't care whether they did or did not ask her to remove the release. But about that, a question: Why wouldn't they ask her? Just to make her look bad? Doesn't that imply they were probably lying about the death threats? But after what's gone on this weekend, do you really think they were lying about the death threats?

    What I care about is who's in the best position to put a stop to the nonsense. And there, I think, the answer is "Michelle Malkin." Whether she condones death threats or she doesn't, it appears people were issuing them, and they were able to issue them on the basis of materials she posted and left posted. That puts her in the position of being best able to resolve the matter--whether or not it's her fault and whether or not it's her responsibility.

    Sometimes you have to be a hardass to prevent a bad outcome. That's how I see it. You can dicker about who's to blame and who's responsible after you get the kids away from the moat.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Off the Rails

    Apparently some looney tunes posted personal contact information for the New York Times photographer who worked on the Travel section article about Cheney's and Rumsfeld's vacation homes. The post has since been deleted, mercifully, but fear not: These douchebags are standing by their decisions to publish, link, and promote this information. They're the real patriots, see.

    You know, I always did wonder what it'd look like when Timothy McVeigh rose from the dead and learned to use the internet. Now I know.

    See further coverage here, here, and here. Now excuse me, please--I've got an overdue letter to write.

    Querida Clearly Insane People:

    Hi! Supposedly you clearly insane people are "on my side," but you know something? This is no "side" I recognize. This is utterly despicable, is what it is.

    It'd be nice if some of the bigger bloggers on "my side" would denounce this insanity--after all, they reach far more readers than I do and their words have far greater influence--but somehow I don't expect anything of that sort will be forthcoming, either. I must say, clearly insane people (and your enablers), that it's just swell how, when I look around, I see the ostensible "party of grownups" tantrumming on the floor en masse screaming, "They did it first!" It's as though you want all the thankfully sane people to register Democrat, clearly insane people (and their enablers)!

    Here's a thought: How about everyone quits sulking over who did it first and just STOPS DOING IT AT ALL, EVER, PERIOD. Okay, clearly insane people (and your enablers)?

    Wait--that didn't translate in your clearly insane minds to something like, "Research more personal information on even more enemies of America and post it on the internet even more often," did it? Because that is not what I said, clearly insane people. You need to turn down the radio receivers in your heads and read more carefully, because what I said was, the next time your clearly insane minds start thinking it might be a good idea to post personal contact information on the internet and encourage your readers to make real-world use of it, please take your typing fingers and stick them all firmly up your asses UNTIL THE MEDICATION KICKS IN. Once the fog of insanity clears, I think you'll all agree that the only way doing something like that can appear to be a good idea is if you are clearly insane.

    In closing, let me just thank you, clearly insane people, for really having a handle on how to fuck up a holiday weekend. I would say "Go USA!" but it seems I am mistaken and really, I live in the Balkans.

    Love,

    Ilyka

    UPDATE: Thanks to some asshole who posted Rocco whatever-his-name-is's address in the comments to this post, I've had to enable comment moderation. Your comment will appear when I approve it, and not until.

    I think you should all know that I HATE COMMENT MODERATION, because it's a pain in my ass and yours. But that's the way it has to be so long as imbeciles think the solution to this problem, this problem of people posting personal information on the internet, is to post more personal information on the internet.

    Just terrific. I can't even take a nap without some dipshit bringing the crazy here.

    UPDATE 07/03/2006: Happy It's-Not-Actually-Independence-Day-but-it's-What-We-Get-off-from-Work Day, Americans. Just a couple of links here: One, this piece at Obsidian Wings had me going for more paragraphs than I'd like to admit:

    But as serious as publishing this secret information was, the disclosure of the location of Rumsfeld's and Cheney's vacation homes is far more troubling. Glenn Greenwald hinted at the scope of the problem when he noted that the Times had also published the location of Bill and Hillary Clinton's home. However, that just scratches the surface of this vast conspiracy. Here's the horrible truth:

    The media has published detailed information about the homes of hundreds of government officials. As far as they are concerned, the entire federal government might as well be one big hit list.

    (Emphasis in original.) My favorite example, and there are MANY, is the Times' publication of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's home, about which hilzoy says:

    You might say: well, but they didn't publish the street address, did they? Think again: if you've ever seen a map of Searchlight, Nevada, population 798, you'd know that a terrorist wouldn't need one.

    With that few people in town you could take the cold-call approach and eventually hit it. "Is Mr. Harry Reid at home?" "I'm sorry, you must have the wrong address, there's no one here by that name." And if small-town friendliness in Searchlight is anything like small-town friendliness in any other small town, I'd bet you wouldn't get far before one of the neighbors cheerfully provided you the right address.

    Also, I've been meaning to link this even though he gets at least 5000 times the readers I do (and thus you've probably already seen it), but Jim Treacher's parody that was overtaken by events is the best counterpoint out there to the "oh everyone already knew that" argument being made in defense of the Times' article on Cheney's and Rumsfeld's vacation homes. It's not that everyone already knew that; it's the way "what everyone already knew" was presented.

    The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the New York Times story wouldn't have elicited a peep anywhere if it hadn't led with a photograph of the hidden camera setup outside Rumsfeld's house. If I had a security system in place, and especially if I were as controversial a public figure as Rumsfeld, I sure as hell wouldn't want anyone pointing it out in the newspaper. Neither, I suspect, would any of the Times' staff. Really, how exactly is that a public service? To WHOM is it a public service?

    Anyway, that's a point Jim makes better than I do, so see him.

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    A Favorite Example of Minimalist Humor That I Now Share Here for No Reason at All

    Wig.

    (IMDB link.)

    UPDATE: Wig.

    Don't Know What You're Whining About, Sweet Tits, You're Already my Equal

    A perfect illustration of an oft-repeating pattern:

    1. Incendiary post written.

    2. Correction: Incendiary post written by a woman. Commence sex-based villification immediately. All synonyms of "bitch" report for duty.

    3. That goes double for you shop-worn dismissives. "Sweetheart," "honey," "ladies," ON DECK.

    4. Foul-mouthed bitch fails to respond positively to dismissive form of address, but come on, that's just because she's a lonely, bitter, feminazi, rape-obsessed slut.

    5. Stealth bitch engages, lingers undetected, is actually responded to halfway civilly.

    6. As is everyone else in the thread with a gender-neutral handle.

    7. Thrilled to have finally run off those irritating bitches, the gentlemen combatants on both sides soldier on in heated, manly dialogue before parting amicably for the evening, pleased to have had a jolly little argument sans bitches, and all but exchanging phone numbers with each other.

    Don't worry if you didn't quite follow all that, because, believe me, it'll happen all over again the next time a bitch talks smack on the internet. I honestly, no joke, once participated in a lengthy thread in which the issue of whether or not a particular pundit was in fact a feminist was eventually decided by two men--but only after a hundred or so comments directed mainly at getting the mouthy bitches to quit volunteering opinions on the matter already, because, geez, why would a chick even care about something like that? Doesn't she have laundry to do?

    As for the subject under discussion at the post linked above, I'm not getting into that because I'm not interested. I'm interested right now in the pattern. I'm interested in what makes a guy think it's perfectly okay to storm over to some woman's site, sneer at her femaleness, settle into a cordial debate with the male commenters that includes such pompous jolly-goodisms as "my good man" being exchanged, and insist that the woman has really gotta get over her obsession with inequality and oppression. How does a dude do that without collapsing under the weight of the irony?

    Don't even start me on the faux civility guys so freely grant each other and how irritating that is, especially when you know they'll rip the mask off in a nanosecond in order to snarl at even the mildest rejoinder from a woman. That's not "civility," that's "I accept the possibility that my male opponent may well be capable of kicking my ass; to guard against that outcome, I must at least pretend to be nice to him. If I am not sure of the sex of my opponent, I will assume it to be male, because that's the default. But you, slutface, you really need to take the 2 x 4 outta your ass."

    Then it's right back to "I say, my good chap--wherever might a bitch obtain such quaint notions as these? Right-o! Well, I've so enjoyed our little back-and-forth this evening, truly I have. Indeed, perchance we should meet again at the pub for a pint and a good row, what say you? Oh, jolly good then!"

    Thank goodness there are no double standards so we can finally get rid of feminism forever. That's what I say. Oh, quite so!