And as we wind on down the road

31 10 2013

There are certain pleasures to becoming an old fart.

When I was younger, for example, it was important to be sniffy about music: to hate country music, for example, or to repudiate all hard rock once I became enamored of punk.

I wasn’t wrong, back in the day. Getting all wrought-up about music and books and poetry and politics was crucial to the development of my tastes, and helped me to figure out what and why I liked what I liked, and what these songs and poems and stories meant to me.

I’m a dialectical kinda gal, learning through contrast and movement, so it makes sense both that I embraced a THIS-NOT-THAT sensibility toward music (love rock, hate rock), and then a yeah-it’s-all-right reconsideration.

No, I ain’t running out to pick up any Foreigner records, but I no longer feel the need to reject all that my teenaged self loved.

And so, this:

My sister had Dreamboat Annie, which I thought was the bee’s knees, and Zeppelin, well hell, Zeppelin. Then I Developed Taste, and even if I couldn’t sneer quite as completely at Zeppelin as I did at Heart, well, I couldn’t really listen to them.

Now, though, those taste buds are tired of rejecting tasty bits just because it’s what I’m supposed to do.

Fuck what I’m supposed to do. This is a damned fine rendition of a classic—if you’re going to use a chorus in a rock song, this is how you use a chorus in a rock song—and I happily popped this up to full screen to watch and listen.

And you, if you’re sneering? You wish you could sing like (D’oh!) Nancy Ann Wilson.

~~~

h/t Bluegal aka Fran at Crooks & Liars

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Bless the beasts and the children

30 10 2013

These folks are unclear on the concept:

“Larry and Carri Williams are two of the truest and purest people on this earth,” said Ruth Dueck.

“I have known Larry and Carri to be loving parents with the ability to raise children appropriately,” said the family pastor, Richard Long. “I also firmly believe they have the ability to be healthy, contributing members of society.”

Really? ‘Cause Larry and Carri were convicted

of denying their children Hana and Immanuel food, beating them and making them sleep in closets or washrooms. They were fed a diet of sandwiches that had been soaked in water and vegetables that were still frozen. Some of the couple’s seven biological children sometimes took part in the abuse.

The judge, however, seems to have a better grasp of just what kind of people the Williamses are, and it ain’t loving, true, or pure:

“What I see is one child dead, one child with PTSD, and seven biological children who apparently believe that degrading and dehumanizing another person is completely acceptable,” said Judge Cook.

She sentenced the mother to 37 years and the father to 28 years in prison.

~~~

h/t Cienna Madrid, Slog





Knights in white satin

30 10 2013

More shit on whether Republicans should try to compete for the vote of African-Americans, with white folks saying, Why bother, black people won’t vote for us anyway.

Two (and a-half) things: One, while African-Americans are a reliably Democratic voting bloc, non-neglible percentages have voted Republican in national races. It’s also quite possible that African-Americans vote for Republicans for state and local offices.

Two, even if any decent strategy to woo African-Americans voters would likely fail, it might nonetheless work as a signal to non-African-American voters who won’t vote for candidates who they think are racist.

A-half: There’s nothing those GOP motherfuckers could do to get this pale pinko to vote for their presidential candidates, obviously, but most white folks who aren’t racist also aren’t socialists, so Republicans do have a shot with them—but only if they can convince those skeptics that the GOP isn’t, in fact, racist. Appealing to rather than disdaining African-Americans might help with that.

But, whatever: it ain’t my party.

(*Update* Okay, so that added link doesn’t really support my specific point—not that it contradicts it, either!—but it’s such a pretty, pretty chart. . . as is this one.)





Pretty on the inside

28 10 2013

Time: just in the nick of!

For my bank account, anyway. I’m back working for the same organization for which I’ve worked on and off for years. I’ve moved around different departments, filling in as needed, and trying not to fuck up.

I like these people, and I like that they hire me to fill in.

Anyway, my current project is to find contact information for a group of people. I don’t want to be any more specific than that, but I will note that this project, like a previous one, requires a fair amount of time spent on college & university websites.

Which brings me to the real topic (rant) of the day: Jesus Christ on a cracker can no one design a decent university website?

Let’s start with all of the crap on the front page: flickering images and/or too much text, cutesy or self-serious self-promo shit, tiny print, ugly fonts, and links which only lead to more links and more links and more links before you can find what you’re looking for.

Some have site maps, some of which are useful, but others which are either so general or so specific as to be useless. Some have directories, some of which are useful, . . .

The worst, however, are those landing pages which are geared toward sucking in potential students. In fact, the worse the school, the more real estate is given over to the sales staff. And even then, it’s not as if the links take you directly to the pages you need, oh no: first you have to wade through a thicket of pitch-links.

I’m mostly looking for faculty and departmental information, so I can bypass most of the crap, but honest-to-pete, there are some institutions which do not include a front-page link to “Academics”.  Campus activities? Yep. Alumni? Uh-huh. Events? Sure. But “Academics”? That’s crazy talk!

Oh, and how about contact information made clearly available? You know, a mailing address and main campus phone number at the bottom of the front page, or if that can’t be managed, a “Contact” link which actually provides that information rather than a fucking request-for-information form.

One last observation: At those universities which don’t require design uniformity for all departments, the absolute worst websites are invariably the Art and Computer Science pages. The artists have to show how goddamned artsy they are, which usually means you have to mouse around a dark page hoping you’ll highlight something that will take you to a page you can actually read, while the geeks have to demonstrate their superiority to you by creating a page which requires some sort of goddamned code to figure out what’s going on.

And they each have an unseemly attraction to black backgrounds with tiny yellow or purple print. Here’s a tip: Don’t use a black background with tiny yellow or purple print.

Unless you don’t care if no one uses your site, ever.





Lou Reed, 1942-2013

27 10 2013

Lou Reed, that magnificent bastard, is dead at 71,

I went through a serious Lou Reed/Velvet Underground phase in grad school, hoovering up every last cd I could find. The ardor, as always, cooled, but the affection remained.

Still, my real introduction to Lou Reed (not Lou, not Reed), was in the 1980s, when I read about him in either The Nation or Mother Jones, and when “Walk on the Wild Side” was used to pitch the Honda Spree. I get why musicians and fans might consider the sale of songs to corporations selling out (because it is), but that particular sale (along with Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” Volkswagon ad) introduced me to a fan-fucking-tastic artist.

Anyway, my first album of his was New Sensations, which is not bad, but not great. This the song that stuck with me:

Fly, baby, fly.

~~~

h/t (if you can believe it) Rod Dreher





Ball of confusion

27 10 2013

Imma going to steal from myself.

TNC put up a post late Friday on Tony Judt’s Postwar, during which he noted that

Judt is not wrong to focus on property. Theft is the essence of atrocity—if only the theft of dignity and life. Indeed, where I forced to to offer one word to sum up black people’s historical relationship to the American state, “theft” is the first that would come to mind. Theft of labor and theft of family in slavery. Theft of life through lynching and pogrom. Theft of franchise in half the country. . . .

To which I wrote the following (alas, too slowly: he closed the thread before I could post):

The importance of property has been a sticky issue for (some!) of us pinkos. On the one hand, an orthodox Marxist would recognize the necessity of the proletariat seizing control of the means of production during the (ever receding) revolution—which suggests that (productive) property is pretty goddamned important. Yet on the other hand, a concern for property ownership can be seen as “too bourgeois”.

The agrarian socialists have been better on this than those who focus on industrial workers, not least because in the countryside the productive property is land itself: arguing for land/squatter rights (against absentee/large landholders) can thus be seen as a kind of socialist demand for worker control.

Anyway, control of one’s property is tremendously important for those who don’t live in those gloriously liberated post-revolution societies (which is to say, all of us), and I know damned few leftists who say “Ooo, I want to live in a commune!” The puzzle for we skeptics of capitalism is to figure out how to make a place for the centrality of property in human life without having property itself decenter the human.

I went back and forth on this, writing and deleting, and then just deleting, before I ended up with this. There’s no great insight involved, but it is a useful reminder of the troubles of the late-capitalist anti-capitalist sometimes-thinker.

Of course, we anti-capitalists who like stuff are not the only ones fighting our demonic contradictions.

I refer, of course, to the Jesus Christ Capitalists, those who seek the glory of the Lord in the financialized marketplace.

To give credit to Rod Dreher (something I do rarely enough), he at least recognizes that there are tensions between those who hold both to tradition and to free trade: however creative is the destructiveness of capitalism, it does effectively pull the pins out from beneath traditional society.

If those of us on the anti-capitalist left have to figure out what to do with property, well, those on the traditional right have to figure out what to do with capitalism.

None of this to say that there aren’t people on both the right and the left who aren’t already thinking and doing something(s) about this.

I try not to mistake my lack of attention to for others’ lack of effort.





When I was young

23 10 2013

I should be grading.

I did some, not enough, and the papers aren’t due back until tomorrow, but I wanted to cut down on the number I’ll have to do tomorrow night.

Whatever. I found a link to this Reddit thread, “What is the most philosophical thing you have ever heard a child under the age of 5 say?”  in a post by Tyler Cowen; herein are some winners:

pinkpickuptruck 2255 points 2 days ago

My little sister handed me a juice box as I was packing to move out and said “No one is really a grown up. They just act old because they have to”

whosthedoginthisscen 312 points 2 days ago

“This darn penis.” – my 4 year old nephew reacting to a tiny boner getting in the way of him practicing swimming during bathtime.

pehvbot 415 points 2 days ago

I was rock climbing and a kid and his dad walked by (it was in a publicly accessible park). The kid asked what we were doing and the dad said “Rock climbing”. The kid, his voice dripping with contempt, “Why? The father replies “For fun, you know like when you play video games”. And without missing a beat the kid says “Sometimes I lose at video games”.

JoshuaZ1 300 points 2 days ago

My little brother asked “how do we know that there aren’t any more numbers to count between 2 and 3.”

[–]EgonIsGod 256 points 2 days ago

“What am I alive for?” Existential distress is not the sort of thing you expect from a 4 year old at bath time.

KellyLoyGilbert 95 points 2 days ago

“You don’t know what I’m feeling inside.” A five-year-old boy to his mother as they were walking around Golden Gate Park.

stormborn_ 202 points 2 days ago

I said, E, what’s wrong? She responded “anything.” Perfectly describes that feeling.

tubabrox 155 points 2 days ago

I’ve been babysitting for a family since their oldest who is now 9 was a baby. When the littlest one was about 4 he dropped this one on me and I haven’t been able to forget it since:

“This is how the world works: people bein’ weird, then they die.”

PockyClips 19 points 2 days ago

I had a friend die in a motorcycle accident… He left behind a wife, a daughter, 4, and a son, 1. The day after a bunch of us his went to see them. We get there and his widow is a wreck, of course… She’s cleaning the house, rearranging cabinets, washing all of his clothes… Anything to keep busy. So the girls get her to relax for a bit and I took it upon myself to keep an eye on the kids. As I’m sitting on the couch, the four year old comes over to me and climbs into my lap. She’s says, “You guys are here because my Daddy died, huh?” I say, “Yes, sweetie, we are.” So we sit there a beat… I’m not a religious guy, but their family was. I didn’t know what they told her, what they wanted her to think about the whole sorry mess, so I decided just to keep my mouth shut. Then this sweet little girl looks up at me and says…

“Well, better him than me.”

And she gets up and goes back to playing. It was the most unsettling thing I had ever heard from a child… Yet she was absolutely right. Brrrrrrr…

Ericthemighty 26 points 2 days ago

I was teaching 2 years ago. I went over to the kindergarten where a friend was a teacher to get ready for lunch. I witnessed a little girl ask a boy about a bandage covering where he got stitches, doesn’t that hurt.. “Yeah, but I just don’t think about it.”

So many more.

And really, are you surprised that I picked out the snarky and the ontological?