What a D1ckhead!
An art museum at Oxford University just paid $387,000 for this 16th-century Italian maiolica plate
, featuring a man's head (that is, the one on his shoulders) made up entirely of, uh, male organs of regeneration.
Aside from the chuckle at artistic talent put to smutty purposes, and the usual marvel about how little human nature seems to change over the centuries, I as an etymology buff find it fascinating that this minor, inelegant but eloquent bit of slang has lasted for 500 years.
"Women Who [Don't] Love France"
A feminist acquaintance has forwarded me a "Call For Submissions" email that originated from Avalon Publishers
, which is seeking essays and stories from "Women Who Love France." Subject matter, they say, can include things like one's youthful infatuation with the language and the culture, the culinary offerings, manners and customs, travel experiences, experiences living, uh, in-country, etc. (Note: I couldn't find anything about it on the website.)
Well, I have some other topic suggestions:
Le Métro Puant: Write about how you managed not to pass out from the reek of several hundred unwashed Frenchmen the first time you rode the subway in Paris. Tales about being groped during the ride optional.
Au Revoir, Le Rasoir!: Enthuse about your new-found liberty of letting your armpit and leg hair grow so long that small animals started nesting in it.
Où le fuck est McDonald's?: Getting tired of eating pretentious, overrated food [*cough* escargot *cough*] cooked in filthy kitchens every night...and dreaming of a big, juicy, well-done Quarter-Pounder drowned in (quel horreur!!) ketchup?
Nique Ta Mère Les Juifs: The enlightening experience of being a Jew in France, especially if you have Semitic features or a recognizably Jewish last name. Bonus points for any photos of a Star of David carved into your wrist by Parisian street hoods.
Nous Détestons Tous les Américains: Discuss the gracious cosmopolitan manners of French shopkeepers, including pretending not to notice you, sneering at your attempts at a French accent, and trying to swindle you.
L'égout Appellé la Rue: Paint a word-picture of the typical Parisian street, afloat with urine,
hocked loogies, cigarette butts, dog shit, and other detritus.
L'importance de la Famille: Tell us about that lovely vacance you took with the Valettes on la belle Côte d'Azur this summer while, in her Paris apartment, M. Valette's Mémé died a slow, agonizing death in the heat, then proceeded to bloat to the point of explosion, to the great delight of the resident flies, rats, and other vermin (other than the two-legged kind).
Before I end, I must comment on this suggestion that Avalon actually made: "Maybe you worked there once and learned something about the French work ethic."
Vive la Grève!: Learning how to hold down a job for years while getting absolutely nothing done; and getting bent out of shape, then going on strike when anyone actually DARES to ask you to actually do what you were hired to do.
I don't know why I bother...but I do.
(Revised a bit for the Web.)
To the Editor of the Boston Globe
In Ellen Goodman's rather clueless column
about the idiotic "latte tax" of Seattle, there is, unsurprisingly, the obligatory reference to "slash[ing] taxes for the rich."
Who are these "rich," whom Globe
writers and their fellow ideologues love to hate? The word's use seems intended to conjure up images from the Monopoly gameboard or "The Great Gatsby." But, more and more, Americans who have too much money for Goodman's comfort are entrepreneurs who — in the face of 4-1 odds against, not least because of heavy taxation and a straitjacket of regulations — invest nearly all their time, money, credit, and sweat to succeed. What's more, these horrible "rich" people provide an ever-increasing number of jobs for their fellow citizens.
Remember the Globe story not too long ago about how the Northeast and California are losing population to states in the Sun Belt and the Rocky Mountains? It's in big part because when a state makes it harder for people to succeed in business — not just the ever-vilified Big Business but also, say, a group of four women who buy clothing in wholesale lots and list it piece by piece on eBay — those people leave, taking jobs with them.
As far as the "latte tax" itself goes, there may be plenty of coffee drinkers in Seattle willing to pony up for what they consider a good cause. But the net effect will be to hurt sales at coffee shops (many patrons object more to the principle of the thing than to the dime itself), and that may also affect neighboring businesses. That will translate into a hit to Seattle's tax base, and will probably cost a few "baristas" (English translation: counter clerks) their jobs as well.
Besides, the correlation between income and coffee preference isn't absolute. For example, a recent college graduate making $25,000 a year and whose parents never taught her how to get the most for her money may think nothing of paying $3.50 a day for a cuppa joe. More importantly, though — lament it though our intellectuals will as what they consider just another display of American ignorance and "overconsumption" — people gravitate toward products and brands that they feel fit in with their own personal style
. A bohemian type living in a house with seven other people might wish never to be caught dead in a downmarket cafeteria where the only choices are regular or decaf. Meanwhile, a successful building contractor may get his caffeine fix at the local donut shop because it matches his Joe Average persona: no "foo-foo" coffee for him.
Getting back to economics in general, Goodman writes, "The repeal of the estate tax is due to take $162 billion out of public coffers and hand it over to private and rich heirs." Uh, no. That money was never in
"public coffers," which in any case is just a euphemism for my money, your money, and everyone else's money. That $162 billion has never left the savings of individual men and women, the majority of whom worked hard all their lives and wanted to leave their children and grandchildren the means for a home or college tuition after their deaths. And it's already been taxed at least once, during its original earning. You don't have to be rich (I'm currently unemployed) to find the estate tax as distasteful as you'd find a corrupt mortician who picks gold dental fillings off the floor of the crematorium and pockets them.
Goodman and others on the left can drone on all they want about "compassion" and "social justice." They can continue to roll their eyes as if on cue at the word "socialism" when economic conservatives warn that redistribution of income never works quite as advertised. And, like the Globe
's Robert Kuttner, in his online debate with Johan Norberg of the Cato Institute
, they can resort to argument ad hominem
when disputed on specific facts. But it would be nice if they were to abandon demagoguery for empirical observation and learn how their ideas actually play out in the real world.
In a postscript specified "not for publication" (not that I'm worried), I suggested that the Globe
expand their "Ideas" section (Sunday section encompassing opinion pieces, letters to the editor, and book reviews) beyond liberal ideas, and I provided links to people like Virginia Postrel
, Victor Davis Hanson
, Charles Johnson
, Brink Lindsey
, and Cox & Forkum
But, not kidding myself that they'd even click on the links, let alone read the content and consider it for an opinion piece, I couldn't resist adding, "I highly suggest removing yourselves occasionally from the echo chamber of the Globe, Harvard, and the Democratic Party, and listening to some intelligent opinions that differ from your own. Preferably without hacking them into sound bites that make them look bad." Terrible me. :-P
A liberal Muslim friend (yep, they exist — though by the standards of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she's a "right-winger") forwarded this article
to me today.
All the trends that the writer laments...I consider good things. The "economic liberalism" he writes of despairingly is just the thing Egypt needs. It'll raise everyone's standard of living — yes, even those of the very poor — so that instead of being drawn into religious fundamentalism and knee-jerk anti-Americanism, they'll have a chance instead to focus on the things that really matter: dressing the way they like, enjoying good music that takes artistic risks, exploring new paths toward psychological health, obtaining an education, falling in love, and working hard toward success. The Egyptians should pay as much attention to the Islamist scolds in their midst who condemn such things as we pay toward the elitist intellectual scolds in our midst who condemn such things. That is, absolutely none.
Of course, the fruits of freedom are bringing the usual canker worms: "thoughtful" young Muslims interested in joining the anti-globalization movement. Oh, well. Foolishness is part of both youth and of human nature, and certain brands of it seem to be inevitable when a populace becomes wealthier and thus better-educated. I think it's reasonable to hope that most Egyptians, like most ordinary people with common sense, think there are better things to do with one's life than follow the protest circuit Deadhead-style.
My letter to New England Cable News
To whom it may concern,
Up with insomnia this morning, I was flipping between New England Cable News
and The Weather Channel
, trying to get updates on the hurricane. I happened to catch the "Newsnight" segment about the fence Israel is proposing to build to protect its citizens from homicide bombers.
I watched perhaps only the last three to four minutes of the segment. The Arab academic who had been invited to counterpoint the Israeli government official was talking about how the fence would inconvenience Palestinians: instead of it taking a few minutes for them to travel to a given destination, it would take them up to three or four hours.
Not having seen the earlier part of the segment, I wonder whether the Israeli minister had been allowed the air time to describe the horrific deaths and injuries caused by Arabs who strap explosives to their persons, board buses or enter pizzerias or discos, and detonate themselves. Or to describe how the bombs are so often packed with nails, broken glass, or even contaminated medical waste, all designed to inflict maximum damage on human beings. Bombs that so often damage brains, cripple bodies, harrow nervous systems with severe chronic pain, and destroy faces that their "survivors" may wish they had not been so "lucky."
Or, even more reprehensible, Arab snipers who deliberately target Jewish children, such as one infant sleeping in her bassinet on her family's porch. Or two older ones slaughtered between the cartoon-printed sheets of their beds during a home invasion. If these murders of innocents are ever mentioned in wire reports or on most TV news broadcasts, they are buried somewhere below the loaded terms "settlers" and "settlements." Those who write and file such reports are largely outraged by any Israeli plans to delay Arab entry into Jewish neighborhoods for security reasons, but somehow do not think Jews should be permitted to live in Arab neighborhoods. And the slaughterers are always described as "militants" or "extremists," never "terrorists," though any current definition of the word would fit them well.
In general, however, I have found NECN to be, shall we say, somewhat less than objective. The mere fact that "Newsnight" partners James Braude -- one of the "activists" who, as former head of the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts, has contributed the most to keeping taxation levels in this state among the highest in the U.S. -- is partnered with Chet Curtis, long a highly-regarded Boston news anchor, dims the channel's claims to fairness in my eyes. Is Braude's political background ever mentioned on the show? If his ideological adversary, Barbara Anderson, had been hired instead, I can't imagine otherwise than that her role with Citizens for Limited Taxation would be mentioned as frequently as possible. Of course, Anderson's common-sense persona would undoubtedly be perceived as shockingly blunt, even "extreme," by the audience to whose political sensibilities NECN appears to cater.
"Mainstream" journalists -- that is, left-of-center individuals in the media, for their perceive their particular set of prejudices as "normal" and opposing views as "right-wing" and "extremist" -- profess to be utterly bewildered why so many Americans have come to prefer FOX News over CNN, "Big Three" network news, and local news channels like NECN (which I myself only watch for local news and weather). Or why these same Americans have by and large completely abandoned print news and now get their information online, from webloggers who, though they make no secret of their beliefs, do not lie or obscure facts (e.g., Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com
, Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles
, or Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs
); and/or directly from news sources, such as the Jerusalem Post
, that are seldom quoted by mainstream sources.
Perhaps they, NECN among them, should examine their own coverage more closely for the answer.
BLOG NOTE: I was clicking on the links in this post to see if they worked. The NECN one brought me to Boston.com, which is the Boston Globe
's official news site. I don't know whether NECN is now an official subsidiary of one of this country's most notoriously left-wing papers, or if they merely joined forces for their website, but some of the other stories you can see on their home page are rather telling. For example, near the bottom of the page, "Teen Reportedly Shot by Boston Police" asks whether the shooting was justified, but the teaser doesn't mention that the cops were fired upon first, or that the teenager was facing the police with a gun in his hand when he was shot. And this Boston.com
article on the subject conveniently buries those facts five and seven paragraphs down, respectively.
Nashville vs. country music
Couldn't have said
it better myself. Even Robbie Fulks
wasn't half as eloquent.
"Wurdz: They take care of you." — George Carlin
Well, the WaPo
is good for something
, I guess. John Rogers
over at The Therapy Sessions posts an email he got about their "Style Invitational," which invited readers to come up with new words by tweaking a dictionary-defined one by one letter.
Children of the '70s and '80s might recall Rich Little's gig popularizing the very similar meme of "Sniglets." (Guess those Nixon impressions weren't paying the bills anymore.)
Is it just me?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the most religious of persons.
But does anyone else think that by calling Johnny Cash's and Warren Zevon's numbers back to back, but leaving us with Titney Spheres, Wacko Jacko, the assorted and sundry washups of Branson and Vegas, and a wide variety of waste products in the genre of [c]rap...the deity is trying to tell us something?
No? Well, OK, sorry I bothered you. You can go back to your Barry Manilow CD now.
Friday Mornin' Comin' Down.
Lusus Naturae writes in alt.tasteless:
Johnny Cash will be much lamented. Personally, I plan on getting profoundly drunk and singing at the top of my lungs until the neighbors complain.
Of course, that's not too much different from what I do on any given day, but now at least I'll have a good reason.
There are all kinds of tributes today all over the web and on TV, and there will most assuredly be more in tomorrow's papers and next week's magazines. I thought I'd link to the tributes that matter most: the praises
of the other genuine articles of country music — Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Dolly Parton, et. al. — who had the rare honor of working with Cash as an unsurpassed musician, and knowing him as a gracious friend.
Here's also a page of quotes spoken in tribute to Cash on his 70th birthday last year...when we could all still pretend, in the little corner of our minds where hope springs eternal, that the Man in Black would be around forever, just like he had always seemed to be (at least to those of us 40 and under).
But the most important tributes, of course, are those of all the people, all around the world,
from all walks of life, from every generation, even the products of the punk age, who have always been struck spellbound the second they heard that deep, gravelly voice on the radio say, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
The Falling Man
Yoko Ono to "strip for peace."
"If that guy had aimed a little to the left....he'd have been a hero."
— Judy Tenuta
This, I think, is a good place to shill for Martha Bayles' impressive book Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in Popular Music. (I've reviewed it on the page linked under the Amazon nick reginleif2.) A central theme in the book is that of "perverse modernism," which can be summed up (too) briefly as follows: a general term for the hijacking of the arts by people with very little, if any, talent, but "something to say," usually left-wing and often aggressively anti-social.
Bayles devotes several pages to Ono's involvement — the grounding of her career, actually — in perverse modernism. Though she hastens to say afterward that she is not suggesting Ono's relationship with John Lennon was "anything but loving and sincere," she writes:
...Ono was right in step with the herd of independent minds when she had the great good luck to meet Lennon. It was good luck because, like all perverse modernists, Ono's most malleable medium was celebrity — and Lennon had plenty.
She goes on to explode the myth of Ono's "talent" by telling the horrific tale of Yoko's, uh, performance with John at the 1969 Toronto Rock and Roll Festival.
UPDATE: "Bill Harzia" writes in alt.tasteless:
Lusus Naturae wrote:
>The subtle irony here is that "ono" means "delicious"
>in Hawai'ian. Now,I can imagine eating at that particular
>branch of the Y, but every picture of that particular one
>was particularly, um, furry.
I remember remarking a year or two back on the density of the thatch of Ms Ono. I was under the impression that the USAF had napalmed all the jungles of South East Asia, but evidently I was mistaken.
Maybe groups of Hmong and VC are still fighting down there.
The scary thing about this list is...
...not only can I imagine many things on it actually happening, but I'm sure that several of them actually have
(other than the extremely obvious few, that is).
This, by the way, is a "Club Top Five" list, only available if you're a paid subscriber to Top 5. Which I highly suggest you become; it's a measly $12 a year, and you get access to a lot of bonus funnies that the Great Un
I've omitted the joke writers' names for the sake of brevity.
September 4, 2003
The Top 12 Signs Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified
12. The only "General Lee" in his lectures jumps over creek beds to escape Boss Hogg and Rosco.
11. "Crimean, Korean, whatever — we won, okay?"
10. Lessons always reflect yesterday's episode of "Sherman and Peabody."
9. "Yeah, right — there were two President Roosevelts. Suuuuuure."
8. Devotes an entire week to the eerie similarities between JFK and Abraham Lincoln.
7. If Carmen Sandiego wasn't involved, he's never heard of it.
6. Invites his "Sigma buddies," Toad and Moochie, to help him re-enact the Whiskey Rebellion.
5. Refuses to teach about new-fangled things like the Internet...or Alaska and Hawaii.
4. Thinks the Bataan Death March is a Sousa piece played at halftime.
3. You're the only sixth-grade class studying the Battle of Hasty Pudding.
2. Claims George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election.
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Sign Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified...
1. He's teaching in a public school. Do the math.
[The Top 5 List www.topfive.com]
[Copyright 2003 by Chris White]
Signs Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified
RUNNERS UP list — Four Snores
"So they called it World War I because they knew that Germany would need another pimp-slapping."
"Sure, Jimmy, there was a 'Soviet Union' — and I'm the freakin' Easter Bunny."
Every October he starts a school scrap iron drive to assure our victory over the Nazis.
He keeps saying, "It's Burma, dammit, and it'll always be Burma!"
He refers to the children of pre-1917 Russian rulers as "czardines."
His lecture on the American Revolution seems inordinately focused on Samuel Adams and his doctrine that freedom is "always a good decision."
On "Dress as Your Favorite Revolutionary Day," he comes as the Frito Bandito.
Says Schwarzenegger won't win because Californians would never elect an actor to anything.
Sits swigging whiskey with his feet on his desk and answering every question with a weary, "It was a long time ago. That good enough for you, punk?"
When he corrects your term paper, most of his comments are "That's just what the government wants you to think!!!"
Signs Your History Teacher Isn't Very Qualified
HONORABLE MENTION list — Don't Know Much
"When Columbus came across on the el Nino...."
Backs up all his facts by referring to "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."
Believes the fall of the Roman empire could have been prevented by strategically-placed handrails.
Can never quite remember when the War of 1812 started.
Claims the signal Paul Revere waited for was "One if by land, two if by air."
Considers history one of the "three R's."
Four times this week a classmate has commented, "That's not what you told us yesterday, Mr. Fleischer!"
He seems to think that every geopolitical conflict, from the Peloponnesian Wars all the way through Vietnam, can be explained through the medium of dodge-ball.
His brief musical lecture on the Teapot Dome scandal concludes with the phrase, "Tip me over and pour me out."
His final exam questions all have to do with what happened on last week's episode of "Big Brother."
Insists that Al Gore is president.
Insists that the lost city from the cradle of civilization is Petticoat Junction.
She describes Stonewall Jackson as "the wavy-haired guy on the twenty."
When it's time to cover Armstrong's moon landing, your teacher shows up in full costume and makeup and teaches the entire hour in Klingon.
You're pretty sure the first names of Lewis and Clark weren't Jerry and Marcia.
Terrorized by a Toilet.
Steve Marshall vividly remembers the night he was terrorized by a toilet.
"When I approached the toilet, the lid lifted automatically," said Marshall. "Then, as I stood in front of it, the seat also lifted. All I could think was, whoa...haunted bathroom! I just could not urinate for fear of what might happen next."
I'm visualizing Marshall as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors
, and the petrifying potty as the carnivorous Audrey
"Feed me, Steve! Feeeeeed meeeeee!"
The Very Hungry Toilet is the, um, flagship product of the Japanese company Toto, whose head P.R. honcho, Lenora Campos, thinks that us Yanks need more "education and exposure to" thrones that do everything for you except go pee-pee and ca-ca. However...
Exposure, at least of the unexpected sort, is exactly the problem with high-tech toilets, said Nathan Cohen, a British tattooist. ¶ Cohen encountered a Toto toilet during a convention for skin artists recently held in Tokyo. ¶ "So there I am, sitting on this sleek-looking loo, idly punching the buttons on this little panel next to the toilet, and all of a sudden my bum is right smack in the middle of the perfect storm," he said. ¶ "Things are spraying, sloshing, squirting and swooshing. The theme from Jaws suddenly starts playing in my head, and I tell you I retracted my personal parts from that toilet very quickly," Cohen said. ¶ "I see buttons, I press buttons," said Cohen. "And sometimes randomly pushing buttons does have unpleasant consequences — but I never expected it to provoke a full-scale attack by a toilet."
I devoutly hope Toto doesn't start supplying the airline industry with their high-tech terlits. If you think people are scared to fly now, just wait until the inevitable urban legends start circulating.
(From alt.tasteless discussion comparing various candidates for the California governorship:)
Kevin Richter (Information technology manager): "I breathe."
– Bobbi Hatch
That's actually more than most IT managers can claim.
– Ken Strayhorn
[Suggested] bumper sticker: The People FOR Larry Flynt.
Darrelll Issa [dropped out of the race because] he's probably worried that the ghost of Irv Rubin is still after him.
– Bobbi Hatch
Insta-san posted this link some time ago: Gollum for Governor?
Mary Carey's agenda. (Nowhere near safe for work!!)
If a certain comedian running for gov'ner wants to position himself as a guy who reigns in the pork in California, he might not want to brag so much about this story:
USF student No. 14059 once let a pack of pigs run wild across campus to protest the university's food service. It was during the mid-1960s amid sit-ins and love-ins and before students were identified by social security numbers. ¶ The student parked a trailer loaded with a dozen pigs on campus and let them loose near the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and called it a "pig-in."
"If the world is going to be so silly to consider celebrities as viable candidates then why shouldn't I run? Of course they're not going to make me governor, but it allows me to promote my ideas. I'm 100 percent serious about my platform," Gallagher said. ¶ Those ideas include singing the national anthem in Spanish, writing obituaries for dead businesses and not talking loudly on cell phones.
Well, hell, sillier — and, worse, more corrosively divisive and potentially disastrous — policy suggestions come out of Berserkeley and SFSU every day. My only quibble is that Gallagher should add this promise to his spiel: that people talking loudly on cell phones in public places or, worse, talking on them at all while driving at 50 m.p.h. in the passing lane, will be subject to the punishment suggested by this gentleman. (Warning: Offensive language.)
And the race continues to, uh, heat up...
And a few more only-in-California candidates jumped in, including Gail Zappa, the widow of late rock legend Frank Zappa, and actor Todd Richard Lewis, who plays the "Bum Hunter," stalking and tying up unsuspecting homeless people in a series of notoriously raunchy videos.
I'd vote for Gail. Her late hubby got the French about right nearly 20 years ago. (Warning: some naughty words in the lyrics.)
Meanwhile, the world tut-tuts over the example California is setting: that is, democracy in action.
I couldn't find it on the Grauniad's site, but the Sun-Times article says they ran the headline 'A circus fit for the fruit and nut state' over a story on the recall election. I think the idea that power ultimately rests with the voters, not with appointed officials, scares the shite out of the paper that gave us arch-idiotarians like Polly Toynbee, Matthew Engel, and, last but not least, Robert Fisk.
Same with the European press.
For some, especially in Europe, the election symbolizes all that is wrong with America. ¶ The Italian weekly L'Espresso was one of several publications to call the campaign a ''circus'' because of the long list of candidates, including former ''Diff'rent Strokes'' star Gary Coleman, pornographer Larry Flynt and a billboard model named Angelyne.
Because Italy would never tolerate anyone involved in pr0n running for political office. Nor would other serious European countries, like, say, Hungary. (That last link is not safe for work, and the previous one isn't exactly wholesome, either.)
''It is hard to imagine a greater responsibility than the election of the [governor of the] most populous, rich and electorally significant state in the United States, but it is impossible to say that the current vote is serious,'' sniffed Russia's Kommersant newspaper.
Because Russia has so much to teach us when it comes to running an honest representative democracy.
But, let's face it, the carping of foreign elitists is but a dim hum in our ears, much like traffic from a mile or two away. The good news is that at least on the subject of the California election, Hollywood has chosen to practice the fine art of STFU.
"Let's look at the facts. Arnold is a stock Republican married to a lifelong Democrat. There's built in ambivalence in his own household. How could there not be in the community where he lives and works?'' said Leonard Maltin, film critic and host of the syndicated television show "Hot Ticket.''
Personally, I think Hollywood tolerates Ah-nold's politics because they're still hoping he and Maria will breed some bullet-proof Kennedys.
Finally, if you want to join the fun, here's your very own campaign T-shirt. (Warning: nearly all of the rest of this site is offensive.)
UPDATE: Don't ask why the line lengths are FUBAR'ed especially in the Gail Zappa blockquote. I tried to fix it, to no avail.
Dumbass of the Day
"He apparently didn't know what he had because he would be awfully stupid to steal a tracking device," said correctional officer Thomas Roth, who runs the home detention program at the Rock County Jail.
The best thing about this story is that Janesville, WI, where this happened, is home to one of Wisconsin's state prisons. Not only did this considerate fellow save the police a lot of investigation time, but he'll also be saving them a lot of transport time.