Greetings seekers of wisdom. You may have come to this web site because you saw Duncan Black mention "krgthulu" on his web site Eschaton and you Googled the word. When Black uses that word, he's talking about Paul Krugman.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Got me a sonnet

Oh yeah baby, I am reading Shakespeare's Sonnet #21 in public, in Central Park next Friday, April 26. I signed up for the 4th Annual Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Slam some days ago, but was on the waiting list because all the sonnets were spoken for - but then somebody dropped out. So I got this bad boy:
So is it not with me as with that Muse, 
Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse, 
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use 
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse, 
Making a couplement of proud compare 
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems, 
With April's first-born flowers, and all things rare, 
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems. 
O let me, true in love but truly write, 
And then believe me: my love is as fair 
As any mother's child, though not so bright 
As those gold candles fixed in heaven's air: 
Let them say more that like of hearsay well; 
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.
I like it! I'm not saying I would refuse to trade it for Sonnet 147 (the subject of my monologue) or Sonnet 151 (the inspiration for my first sonnet) but still, it's one of the better Sonnets - at least it isn't one of those where he's telling the Fair Youth to go make babies, cause that got pretty old after awhile.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fantasy Films

I read a review in the New Yorker of "Fading Gigilo" which is described by the AV Club as:
...the kind of movie in which an uptown lesbian couple, played by Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara, pay a guy who looks like John Turturro to have a three-way. 
I believe we call that kind of movie "fantasy" - although it's certainly not my fantasy. And appropriately, Woody Allen plays Turturro's "pimp."

I prefer my fantasy movies to have hot elves in them. Or even hot dwarves as in the second installment of The Hobbit which I finally saw. And an elf-dwarve romance, wow. I don't think that ever happened in the original Tolkien.

Also not highlighted in the original books - Legolas is a orc-killing machine. He was in the Rings trilogy and he's even more so in The Hobbit II. Which would make sense because he's even younger at the time of the Hobbit. It's a bit ridiculous though, how much killing he does, at hyper speed. It looks like a video game. But it sure is nice to see Orlando Bloom in that long blond hair again. He's a major reason to watch the Hobbit II.

I also finally saw "American Hustle" too, and I thought it was extremely overrated. The actors are all great, but the plot itself falls apart. And I hated what happened to the Bradley Cooper character. Also, much of the movie was allegedly set in Camden NJ but I saw nothing that looked like Camden in it. At all. And the Philly/South Jersey accents were crap as this NYTimes article explains.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Up from Garageband

For ages I wondered if Apple would create music software that was a step up from Garageband. And they finally did, when I wasn't paying attention - it's called Logic Pro.

Don't get me wrong - I love Garageband and you can't beat the price - it comes free with all MacBooks. And considering it's free it's miraculously sophisticated yet intuitive. It's thanks to Garageband that I started to compose music.

And yet, I couldn't help wishing for something a little more advanced, and I was willing to pay for it, but not as much as for the standard app of music creators, Pro Tools which is now $700. Logic Pro is $200.

I own an earlier version of Pro Tools, both the Mac and PC versions but it just as fun as an Apple brand music application.

My main complaint about Logic Pro is the name - it's so generic. I mean, really, "logic"? How is that not basically appropriate for every single software product ever? It's so bland I can never remember the damn name. I never forget "Garageband."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The perfect match: right-wing Christians and evolutionary psychologists

Well we've seen Social Justice Warriors make common cause with right-wingers like Michelle Pro-Internment Malkin, so this should come as no surprise -  Phyllis Schlafly, long-time opponent of feminism, sounds very much like Richard Dawkins' BFF and uber-evolutionary psychologist Helena Cronin.

Here is Schlafly:
Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don't have the same preference for a higher-earning mate. 
While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap. 
Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.
The basic concept is the same as that of evolutionary psychologists - all women are whores who have such a weak sex drive that they only value men for their money.
Although obviously neither right-wing Christians nor evolutionary psychologists come right out and admit that's what they believe.

Here is Helena Cronin, in what was first a policy proposal to the British government, and then this op-ed in the Guardian:
Darwinian analysis suggests that a potent cause of family breakdown is likely to be a marked inequality among men. For increasing inequality (particularly in a winner-take-all economy) creates increasing numbers of relatively high-status and low-status men. Men who lack access to resources - because of low pay or unemployment - find it difficult to be adequate providers and adequate husbands. Families break down in such circumstances because fathers have become liabilities. Study after study of what the sexes find attractive in a partner - including the largest study ever conducted, spanning 37 cultures - has shown that women in all cultures put a high value on economic prospects in a mate.
Cronin concludes that the way to ensure that women find a mate with "economic prospects" it is vital that the British government devise a two-tier employment system:
Rather than taking male standards as the universal measure, or expecting the sexes to adopt androgynous working roles, the government should design family-friendly employment practices that reflect the different preferences of women and men. A recent government survey revealed that women are happier with a different balance of work and family. Following the birth of the first child, women work less, men work more - an arrangement that both mothers and fathers endorse. Another recent study found that of all parents in the 1990s, the most contented groups appeared to be mothers and fathers in "traditional" single-earner families in which only the father worked. The unhappiest mothers and fathers were those in families without an earner, followed by families where mothers were the sole earners. 
The government should be tackling the causes of family breakdown. There is no evidence that interfering with the symptoms - re-educating the poor parenting, purveying marriage guidance, instituting prenuptial agreements or redesigning marriage ceremonies - will have any effect on marriage and divorce rates.
So it's clear - "Darwinian analysis" and Christian fundamentalism may get there in different ways, but once they arrive they are in total agreement - women are "naturally" inclined to care about economics when choosing a mate - therefore men should make more money than women.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Political Legacy of American Slavery

By way of this New York Magazine article I heard of a fascinating study that seems to provide evidence of the impact of slavery on racism that exists right at the present time - The Political Legacy of American Slavery available online in PDF format. According to the paper's abstract:
We show that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South trace their origins to slavery’s prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slave population in 1860 are less likely to identify as Democrat, more likely to oppose affirmative action policies, and more likely to express racial resentment toward blacks. The results are robust to accounting for a variety of attributes, including contemporary shares of black population, urban-rural differences, and Civil War destruction. To explain our results, we offer a theory in which attitudes were shaped historically by the incentives of Southern whites to propagate racist institutions and norms in areas that had high shares of emancipated slaves in the decades after 1865. We argue that these attitudes have been passed down locally from one generation to the next.
Fascinating - and horrifying. It appears that the descendants of slave owners have created a culture aimed at hating the descendants of slaves, in an effort to exonerate themselves of the evil of slavery.

This might explain why a certain subculture of Southerners refuse to let go of identifying with the Confederacy - they must forever justify the evil of their ancestors by claiming that slavery was good for black people.

I quoted Krugman the other day pointing out how much Republicans hate poor people - so much that they'll refuse federal money that would support the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) out of pure spite - but I think that the NYMag article rightly identifies exactly which poor people the Republicans want to spite the most:
The Rochester study should, among other things, settle a very old and deep argument about the roots of America’s unique hostility to the welfare state. Few industrialized economies provide as stingy aid to the poor as the United States; in none of them is the principle of universal health insurance even contested by a major conservative party. Conservatives have long celebrated America’s unique strand of anti-statism as the product of our religiosity, or the tradition of English liberty, or the searing experience of the tea tax. But the factor that stands above all the rest is slavery.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real tea vs. Lipton tea

I am finally getting over the cold I caught last week. While I was sick I ran out of my usual Tazo Darjeeling tea - I was singing the praises of Tazo back in November. And because I hate the closest grocery store, Trade Fair (it makes me sick and tired just to be in its cramped narrow aisles even when I'm in perfect health) and I was too lazy tired to go another few blocks to the Key Foods (and they don't have Tazo anyway and I would have had to get Twinings instead), so  I went to the 7-11 instead and all they had was boxes of Lipton tea. But I figured that would be good enough to tide me over a few days.

Wrong. It was almost completely tasteless. I drank it anyway, I was desperate, but as God is my witness I will never go without high-quality tea again.

Please note, I grew up eating low-quality foods. My parents are pretty much the opposite of connoisseurs, they always bought food based entirely on whatever was lowest price, so until I had my first Starbucks coffee, my conception of coffee was what my father drank - instant. I still don't love coffee, but a well-made cappuccino is almost as good as a really fine cup of tea.

And of course we had the standard Lipton/Tetley teas. I thought that was what tea was supposed to be like. Now you may think that my parents had to lay off fancy foods like high-quality coffee and tea since they were raising six children, but that's not the reason - after all the kids had moved out and my parents could afford better quality food they still kept with the instant coffee and crap-brand tea. In fact, when my mother slept overnight this March (in order to see my daughter run in the half-marathon) she insisted on bringing her own box of decaffeinated Lipton (or Tetley - does it matter?) tea bags with her. It's hard to believe those companies are shameless enough to offer decaffeinated anything - their regular teas are so weak I'd be willing to believe they were already decaffeinated.

I'll never forget the first time I had a cup of Earl Grey tea - it was when I lived in Palmyra NJ, and I was invited over for tea by Al, the first honest-to-god homosexual I was aware I knew (it turns out at least one guy I hung around with in high school was gay, but I didn't know it until years later) and his infirm mother. Al never came out and said he was homosexual, but it was obvious to us hippies living next door that the younger community theater actor guy living upstairs in their big old house was Al's boyfriend.

Anyway, I was pretty much refusing all marijuana and alcohol while I was pregnant, but when I had that cup of Earl Grey I thought I was tripping - it was probably the strongest dose of caffeine I had ever had in my life up to that point (I was only 17 but still...) It was amazing. We only had herbal tea back at the quasi-commune.

So over the years I've come to appreciate a good cup of real tea. And at this point even the fancy brands are unimpressive - your standard English breakfast or even Earl Grey is just too often cut with inferior grade tea. But with Darjeeling on the label it has to actually be 100% Darjeeling thanks to the Darjeeling council or whatever it is that created the logo above.

And while I was sick this week I discovered an even better brand of tea than Tazo. After I bought the box of Lipton tea I was appalled by how tasteless it was, and so in desperation I decided to order tea for delivery. Luckily the web site has a food item search option so I searched for "Darjeeling" and one place called Ovelia Psistaria claimed to have organic Darjeeling tea. I was thrilled. I ordered it black* for fear they'd screw up the milk proportion. I should have asked them to hold the water too, because what they delivered was a tea bag and a cup of hot water. But what a bag of tea - Mighty Leaf - but they don't call it a tea bag, they call it a tea pouch and it's like somebody personally knitted it for you out of silk. That's what I'm getting from now on.

* No, I didn't just order a cup of tea - naturally they had a minimum amount to order for delivery. Unfortunately this place is Greek - like 50% of all eating establishments in my neighborhood - Astoria Queens is the Greekiest place in the world outside of Greece itself.

I always feel like I should eat more Greek food, since I'm living in Little Athens, but I just cannot get into it. I have an aversion to eating lamb and I hate olives and I don't like the filo dough they use with virtually all their pastries, and they soak all their desserts in honey.

But Ovelia had something called Pumpkin Galaktoboureko, and pumpkin sounded less Greeky than anything else on their delivery menu (pumpkin being of course native to the New World and thus less likely to be an example of traditional Greek cooking right?) but when it arrived it was dripping wet with honey - I thought the tea (or rather the cup of hot water) had spilled but that wasn't it - the dessert itself had soaked the brown bag it came in. I ate it anyway because I spent like 8 freaking dollars on it, but my teeth hurt from the sweetness, even though I cut it with unsweetened Greek yogurt (the one Greek food I like.)

And then there's the traditional Greek wine retsina. Have you ever tried it? Well don't. Just... don't.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

J&B - finally

Finally got confirmation that JULIA & BUDDY will be part of the Midtown International Theater Festival - that is, in its full-length configuration - it was already in the 2010 festival as a one-act. Hard to believe it's taken me a full freaking four years to get it up as a full-length.

To celebrate, I created a new logo, which I think is the best yet - and I've been working on this logo for at least three years.

On the downside I had to cancel LADIES MEN - too many factors not coming together quickly enough and besides, I need to save my money for J&B.

I'm excited that the MITF now allows Equity shows - that allows me to cast some great actors - if they are available. I still don't know exactly when my show is scheduled in the MITF lineup. As soon as I do though...

I'm wondering if I should compose some new music for this version - I have two tunes from 2010 that I quite like, so maybe I'll do theme and variations on them. Really they aren't complete songs, they're just meant to be played at the beginning and end of the show. Maybe I'll turn them into whole songs. The Julia & Buddy theme song, which you can listen to here, is only really a tune for a minute and twenty seconds, then it just trails off into a bass and percussion loop. I didn't think I'd need more than a minute and twenty seconds to open the show.

As I recall the bass line for the song is an original by me (as opposed to using one of the Garageband loops) and I was thinking of the bass from "Ballad of John and Yoko" when I wrote it. There's also something about the lead guitar that reminds me of Lennon's post-Beatles output.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Never underestimate how much Republicans hate the poor

And speaking of the Mighty Krug-man, he has an excellent column in today's NYTimes. He's pointed this out before, but it's so appalling and shocking it bears repeating until nobody can say they are unaware of the hatred today's Republican party has for the poor:
Most Republican-controlled states, totaling half the nation, have rejected Medicaid expansion. And it shows. The number of uninsured Americans is dropping much faster in states accepting Medicaid expansion than in states rejecting it. 
What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars. The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy —recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.”  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On my reading list

Well considering how effusively the Mighty Krug-Man praised "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" it looks like I will have to read it.
...let me say right away that Piketty has written a truly superb book. It’s a work that melds grand historical sweep—when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac?—with painstaking data analysis. And even though Piketty mocks the economics profession for its “childish passion for mathematics,” underlying his discussion is a tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.
Although I am embarrassed to admit that I still haven't finished Krugman's own "End This Depression Now." Maybe after this LADIES MEN show.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Production illness, right on schedule

This is ridiculous - almost every time I am involved in a theater production I come down with a horrible cold, and sure enough right on schedule I'm sick. Actually this is before schedule - usually I am into the second or third week of rehearsals before I come down with a cold. This time around I'm not even done casting and I'm sick.

Maybe this time I'm stressed because the show line-up has changed twice so far - first it was my plays and Durang, then my plays and Feydeau, and now it's just my plays - and one of the Play of the Month monologues.

Almost all my plays in this show are road-tested: SODOM & GOMORRAH, NEW RULES, and THE SLASH. Only JASMINE is brand new, and I'm excited to finally see that up on its feet.

The name of the show, LADIES MEN, hasn't changed since Feydeau got le boot, although the tone has changed somewhat. Although two of my plays are sex farces, THE SLASH and especially JASMINE are more serious. But it's still short plays about ladies men, men's men and people persons. Web site coming soon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

On the SJW inability to comprehend analogies

The Suey Park #CancelColbert issue is so last week, but having spent much time arguing with defenders of the #CC campaign, I think I have found the real root of the Social Justice Warrior problem - they don't comprehend analogies.

The various SJWs kept insisting that yes they do get satire, and like good liberals the critics of the #CancelColbert campaign took them at their word, because liberals can't imagine that there exists some people who lack the mental capacity to understand satire.

Which led to a never-ending situation of talking past each other - because if you spend any time talking to a SJW in depth you would discover that the SJWs are completely befuddled by the actual structure and concept behind Colbert's satire.

Michelle Medina, writing, in an embarrassment to feminists, in The Feminist Wire, demonstrates the SJW befuddlement as well as any other:
The blurry line between Colbert’s character and the privilege that it hides behind is convenient. “It wasn’t me, I am not racist,” Colbert claimed, in earnest this week because it was just a joke after all. He’s just playing a part. “It’s not real.”
Medina approvingly quotes (but without including a link) Christine Yang, a "social activist and graduate student who is currently working on a Master in Social Work focusing on trauma":
The prevailing argument in defense of Colbert’s usage of ‘Ching Chong Ding Dong’ states that the intent behind it was to jab at Dan Snyder. But where in the imagery does the intended target appear? Was there really no other way for him [Colbert] to make his point and also be funny...
That question demonstrates exactly how the SJWs get it wrong: "But where in the imagery does the intended target appear?" Yang and Medina completely miss the analogy Colbert is making between Redskin and Ching Chong Ding Dong. Yang believes that it can't really be a jab at Dan Snyder unless there is a direct attack against the person of Dan Snyder.

To sum up the SJW point of view in my own words:
Stephen Colbert got a laugh out of the term "Ching Chong Ding Dong" but because he claims he didn't really mean it he thinks he can get away with it. Also, his motives as a white man are suspect. But we, the Social Justice Warriors are too smart for Stephen Colbert - and that's why we called him out for getting a laugh at the expense of Asians. 
And then they teamed up with Michelle Malkin in the #CancelColbert campaign. Malkin actually wrote a book defending Japanese internment camps. No, these are not bright people - but then, you don't have to pass an IQ test to get a Twitter account, or, apparently, write for The Feminist Wire.

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, uses a metaphor (which is a type of analogy) of literally feeding the Irish to the English upper class to discuss the figurative eating of the Irish by the English:
"I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children."
And quite rightly, Colbert referenced A Modest Proposal in his response to the controversy:
But when I saw the tweet with no context, I understood how people were offended, the same way I, as an Irish American, was offended after reading only one line of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I mean, eat Irish babies? Hashtag #CancelSwift! Trend it.
And the #CancelSwift tag, as of this blog post, is still active.

But in case there are any Social Justice Warriors reading this, I will explain how the analogy worked:

Dan Snyder, in a PR effort to address complaints about the name “Redskins” created a foundation called Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

Colbert’s response was to claim that he was going to create a foundation called “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

Now the reason Colbert chose “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong” is because his “Stephen Colbert” character has been using that offensive stereotype since the beginning of the show, in 2005 – and somehow that has passed without comment by the SJWs until now.

There are two parts to the analogy:

“Redskins” = “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong”

Dan Snyder uses the offensive term “Redskins” in the name of his foundation. Colbert pushes the concept even further by using an even more offensive name “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong.” He pushed it further, but the concept is the same.

Or as the Indian Country staff noted:
The idea was simple, and many viewers thought it effective: The public is so inured to the racial slur "Redskin" that Dan Snyder can actually use it in the name of a foundation he establishes to help Native Americans, so perhaps an analogy with another racial group and an accompanying racial slur would put the name of Snyder's foundation in perspective. Colbert wasn't the first to try it; writing in Slate, Josh Levin called the foundation's name "something akin to calling your organization 'Kikes United Against Anti-Semitism.'" The message of both phony foundation names: Society wouldn't tolerate "Ching-Chong" or "Kikes," so why is "Redskins" okay?
The second part of the analogy:

“Original Americans Foundation” = “Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”

Colbert is pointing out here the outrageousness of Dan Snyder calling his foundation “Original Americans” right after he used the term “Redskins.”

Colbert is explicitly pointing out the absurdity of trying to get credit for sensitivity to “Original Americans” right after using the term “Redskins” in the name of the foundation. The very term that caused the controversy that resulted in the foundation.

So that’s how the humor worked - through analogy.

It just so happened that Colbert picked Asians, rather than Jews to use in the analogy, and Suey Park's raison d'etre is to become outraged about references to Asians in popular culture. A week before the Colbert campaign Park was complaining about the TV detective show Castle:

So Suey Park was locked and loaded for being offended by Colbert, just at the right time. 

Like Michelle Malkin, Michelle Medina tried to blame Colbert for the viciousness of the attacks against Suey Park, conveniently ignoring the many articles pointing out that all women in social media get horrific attacks - this isn't unique to Suey Park. 

Medina also fails to mention that Colbert called for the vicious attacks to stop. Typical SJW - no journalistic ethics.

A real consequence of the Suey Park caper, besides demonstrating that SJWs don't get analogies and have more in common with conservatives like Michelle Malkin than with liberals, is that the original point of Colbert's satire was lost. As the Indian Country staff said:
In (Colbert's) closing words, he said that he would be donating the money raised by his offensive faux charity to the offensive real-life charity that inspired the joke that caused the kerfluffle: The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

"...which Twitter seems to be fine with," he said, "because I haven't seen shit about that."
And that's the bottom line for the Native activists on Twitter who saw a real opportunity to open some eyes when Snyder announced his bizarrely named charity: The momentum building for their campaign --#Not4Sale-- was stymied by#CancelColbert. In an interview with The New Yorker that only briefly mentioned Dan Snyder and his foundation, Suey Park admitted she likes Colbert Report and didn't actually want to see it canceled. Yet a single Tweet connected to a satirist -- whose well-known shtick is to parody arrogant conservatives -- made more waves than a campaign against a racist team name that has been with us for decades.
Yep. That's what Social Justice Warriors do - hijack the issue to make it about them.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier self-portrait
Just found out about Vivian Maier - a very private woman who worked as a nanny in the mid-20th century. Apparently she took hundreds of thousands of brilliant street photos and nobody but her ever saw them, until a young guy name John Maloof bid on them at a nearby auction house.

I found out about her via a New Yorker review about the documentary made about her Finding Vivian Maier. There's a TV segment about the Maier story here.

More at the New Yorker about Maier.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Tea and Heavy Metal

Considering that I've been working within easy walking distance of Sweet Leaf in Long Island City for a year and a half, it's kind of surprising I've never made it there before Thursday of this week. Or maybe not so surprising - I had the idea that they were some kind of indie, tea-centric Starbucks wanna-bes. I was wrong on all counts. For starters, they have a lousy selection of real teas, and by real I mean black tea. They had exactly two, Earl Grey and something else. I got the Earl Grey. But also they're not so much like Starbucks as some college-town hang-out, all funky and unique, much like Java Joes in Athens Georgia (my daughter and I made a pilgrimage there on a road trip to Key West - almost 20 years ago) and the one in Montreal in 2005, although I forget the name of that one.

These people aren't into REM though - they're into Heavy Metal. The bathroom is plastered with magazine clippings of all the biggest hair bands, as you can see in the photo above. One of the features of Sweet Leaf is their "Record Room" which is a small section in the back that has an olde tyme turn-table and vinyl albums. And while their record selection is eclectic (at a quick glance I saw Neil Diamond and show tunes) what they really like is, as I said, heavy metal - more hair band clippings on the wall. You can see members of Van Halen in the photo on the right.

When I was there though, I didn't hear heavy metal - according to my Shazam app they were playing tunes by Crystal Castles, which certainly didn't sound metal, and which according to Wiki is "an experimental electronic band" from Canada. I heard their tunes "Not in Love" and "Pap Smear." "Runnin with the Devil" it ain't. 

The guy at the counter looked like Jerry Garcia's brother, not  a metal head or an electronica fan, but then, maybe the rules of couture are different now.

Seeing all that homage to heavy metal in a tea shop was very odd - I didn't know if they were trying to be ironic or what. And then it occurred to me - although I remember the days of metal, when Led Zeppelin bestrode the earth and Alice Cooper was terrorizing parents and charming adolescents with his Halloween haunted house theatrics and his name (he goes, inexplicably, by a girl's name - is there no taboo he won't break?!) the people who run Sweet Leaf probably look at it through the more recent eras of Emo and Goth and think that it's all so utterly harmless and even quaint.

Jesus Christ I'm old.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Social Justice Warrior Rania Khalek attacks Gloria Steinem for being a white woman

Well it should be no surprise that Social Justice Warriors have decided to attack Gloria Steinem - they've already proven to support rightwing feminism-haters (and Japanese internment defenders) like Michelle Malkin over actual progressives.

Naturally this was re-tweeted by Mikki Kendall - there's nothing that Mikki Kendall hates so much as a white woman, and never misses a chance to equate the actions of a single white woman with all white women. It's always helpful to check Kendall's Twitter feed when looking for that latest SJW attacks against feminists - Kendall's pretty much a vector for hatred of feminism, or as Kendall calls it, "white feminism."

So what is it that Rania Khalek thinks is so Islamophobic about this movie? She doesn't bother to explain - but then, Social Justice Warriors don't have to explain anything - they just make assertions and their followers accept them uncritically, as fact.

These women, who have witnessed firsthand the hardships women endure, are profiled in their efforts to affect change, both in their communities and beyond. 
The film gives a platform to exclusively female voices and seeks to expose the paralyzing political correctness that prevents many from identifying, understanding and addressing this international human rights disaster. Freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation are some of the systematic abuses explored in depth.
Spurred by the Arab Spring, women who were once silent are starting to speak out about gender inequality and are bringing visibility to a long history of oppression. This project draws together leading women’s rights activists and provides a platform where their voices can be heard and serves as inspiration to motivate others to speak out.
More than a movie, Honor Diaries is a movement meant to inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies, and to act for change.
Now I'm the first to argue against the notion that Islam is any more innately misogynist than Christianity. Nor do I think that religion has a monopoly on misogyny. But the fact remains that there are plenty of really hideously misogynistic customs present in countries with Muslim majorities.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the movie's executive producer. Apparently Social Justice Warriors love to hate white women so much that they focus on Gloria Steinem, who has nothing directly to do with the movie, and ignore the women of color who were actually involved in making the movie.

So who is Rania Khalek? Well, like so many Social Justice Warriors she seems to have no problem getting published. According to her site:
My work has appeared at The Nation, Al Jazeera America, Truthout, Salon, AlterNet, Extra, Citizen Radio and more.
Funny how many supposedly liberal media outlets so frequently publish the work of anti-feminists like Khalek.

And naturally Khalek is a member of the too-stupid-to-get-satire brigade.

Khalek must be a member of the SJWs study group opposed to the privileging of intelligence in social discourse.

Based on her blog, Khalek doesn't actually have much interest in feminism. A search of her blog on "feminist" and "feminism" brings up six posts. Two of the posts contain the word feminism in a homicidal maniac's manifesto that Khalek posted. Another post uses the word feminist in the context of an attack on Amanda Marcotte, whom the Mikki Kendall brigade hates (in spite of Marcotte's defense of Kendall's scurrilous abortion article), second only to Lena Dunham. Another article compares the US occupation of Iraq unfavorably to Saddam Hussain's reign:
"The US-backed regime makes Saddam Hussein look like a feminist!"
In another piece she complains that the NYTimes had an editorial about rape in India, and she then proceeds to suggest that things are just as bad for women in the United States as they are in places like India - although she's too coy to come right out and say it plainly:
To the skeptics preparing to ask me whether I’d prefer to live in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan since I think the US is so awful, I wonder if you realize the level to which US foreign policy towards certain parts of the world has intensified violence against women. Backing sexist dictatorial rulers, knowingly arming religious fundamentalists who throw acid in women’s faces and forcing neoliberal economic policies that leave small farmers (most of whom are women) and their families starving; these are the policies that define the United States to many women abroad.
It's quite astounding: she manages to put the blame for the custom of throwing acid in women's faces on US foreign policy. But then, she doesn't seem to have such a big problem with the acid-in-the-face custom - she called a movie which criticizes such "honor" crimes Islamaphobic.

And then there is her piece in which she  calls the movie Zero Dark Thirty an example of "imperial feminism."

Being a Social Justice Warrior, Khalek's real issue is made clear in the Zillah Eisenstein piece she quotes:
My point: do not justify or explain US war revenge with a pretty red-head white woman with an "obsession" to catch the mastermind of 9/11.
Ah yes, it's the greatest Satan of the Social Justice Warrior enemies list - the white woman. Eisenstein mentions white women two other times in the article:
You do not drop bombs on the women you are supposedly trying to save. Do not now cleanse the wars of/on terror with the face of a white blonde female.
I was thinking through the film - if they hate us, they do so because we are hateful. I am sad to know that this film will be seen across the globe. It will be read as another story of imperial empire with a (white) female twist. How unfair to all the people in the US who do not choose revenge and murder. How unfair to my Pakistani friends who are also US citizens. How unfair to most of us across the globe.
This is published by Al Jazeera, BTW. They've also published Sarah Kendzior's attack on Katha Pollitt, and were a big promoter of Mikki Kendall's #solidarityisforwhitewomen.

Reading the quote above, you'd assume that Eisenstein was referring to actual human beings who "justified or explained US war revenge..." 

But nobody is - or if they are Eisenstein doesn't bother to name them. Because individual actions don't matter to SJWs - we are all undifferentiated members of a class of people identified by gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Especially white women.

Unless, of course, you have become a SJW which gives you immunity - and then you can join the attacks against white women, even if you yourself are a white woman. Good times.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Here we go gathering nuts

Speaking of magazine archives, I now have access to The New Republic's archive which goes back even further than the New Yorker's - all the way back to 1914 (the New Yorker was founded in 1925.)

I've never paid much attention to The New Republic - I've always preferred the Nation for politics and the New Yorker for the arts - although there is plenty of cross-over between TNR and TNY, especially via Hendrik Hertzberg.

But my general impression of the New Republic, especially during the Bush years was that it was centrist or even at times right-leaning. As anybody who reads this blog can tell, I am allergic to rightwingers.

So considering how lukewarm I am about the magazine, why did I subscribe? Because I just had to get access to a review of Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" which is entitled, irresistably "Here We Go Gathering Nuts."

I've been out of the Ayn Rand loop since my break with Daylight Atheism and its Social Justice Warrior censorship tendencies, but was brought back in thanks to the Mighty Krug-man, who referenced the Rand book in his blog post Obamacare, the Unknown Ideal. In addition to a jab at Ayn Rand the piece contains a smack-down of the always-deserving rightwing NYTimes op-ed columnist Ross Douthat:
No, I haven’t lost my mind — or suddenly become an Ayn Rand disciple. It’s not my ideal; in a better world I’d call for single-payer, and a significant role for the government in directly providing care. 
But Ross Douthat, in the course of realistically warning his fellow conservatives that Obamacare doesn’t seem to be collapsing, goes on to tell them that they’re going to have to come up with a serious alternative. 
But Obamacare IS the conservative alternative, and not just because it was originally devised at the Heritage Foundation. It’s what a health-care system that does what even conservatives say they want, like making sure that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, has to look like if it isn’t single-payer.
It's yet another excellent mini-essay by Krugman, by all means go read it.

So Krugman provided a link to the Wiki of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", and the Wiki mentioned the New Republic review and with such a great title (I LOL'd when I read it) I knew I must read it without delay.

The New Republic archives has six articles that mention Ayn Rand. Curiously, it contains no reviews of Rand's fiction but does contain reviews of her essay collections, including The Romantic Manifesto and For the New Intellectual. I'm looking forward to reading them all. Especially since I want to get my money's worth, the review of Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, while good, is pretty short for a $20 subscription.

I've discussed the book on this blog before - "nutty" is a good way to describe it, but then, it's a good way to describe Rand's "philosophy" generally. The review, written by Honor Tracy (pseudonym of Lilbush Wingfield, a British travel writer and novelist) notes Rand's bizarre habit of quoting from her own novels to support her socio-political points.

...Does she, can she, really mean all she says? And does most of what she says mean anything at all? Take this vivid little sketch of our time:
"With most of the world in ruins, with the voice of philosophy silent and the last remnants of civilization vanishing undefended, in an unholy alliance of savagery and decadence, bloody thugs are fighting over the spoils, while the cynical pragmatists left in charge and way out of their depth are trying to drown their panic at Europe's cocktail parties where emasculated men and hysterical, white-lipped women determine the fate of the world by declaring that socialism is chic."
(Rand's description of European cocktail parties sound just like the parties in "Atlas Shrugged.")
Quite a lot of the book is as funny as this and one is repeatedly tempted to quote her. She evidently feels the same, as an extraordinary amount of space is filled by excerpts from, or references to, her earlier writings, with which she takes it for granted that all are familiar. "Do you remember that scene in Atlas Shrugged etc?" she will gravely inquirer, or "Consider the growth of socialized medicine throughout the world... then read the statement of Dr. Hendricks in Atlas Shrugged..." This instruction, by the way, can be ignored: it appears on page 157, by which time the reader will easily divine what Dr. Hendricks has to say on that or any subject without troubling himself to verify.
I'll definitely be checking out more of Honor Tracy's work. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Michelle Malkin: leading spokesperson for the Social Justice Warrior movement

Move over Mikki Kendall and Suey Park, the new leading Social Justice Warrior in town is Michelle Malkin. Here she responds to Steven Colbert with the classic SJW whine.

As we know, Suey Park considers herself a friend of Michelle Malkin - and Malkin expresses her admiration of Suey Park in her screed. Can there be any doubt that Michelle Malkin, who wrote a book in defense of Japanese internment and Suey Park are BFFs? Although Malkin does mislabel Park and her followers "liberals" - they are in fact Social Justice Warriors and have almost nothing in common with liberals. Enjoy a portion of Malkin's screed:
Question: Who are the most prominent, public purveyors of Asian stereotypes and ethnic language-mocking in America? 
The right answer is liberal Hollywood and Democrats. 
The wrong and slanderous answer is conservatives, which is what liberal performance artist/illegal alien amnesty lobbyist Stephen Colbert wants Americans to believe. Last week on his Comedy Central cable show, Colbert resurrected his “satirical” 2005 “Ching Chong Ding Dong” skit, in which he speaks in pidgin English with a grossly exaggerated accent. He used it in a bone-headed attempt to ridicule Republican football team owner Dan Snyder and others who defend the Washington Redskins’ name. 
“Oh, I ruv tea. It’s so good for you. You so pretty, American girl,” Colbert in his conservative talk show host persona jibber-jabbers in the 2005 segment. “You come here. You kiss my tea make her sweet. I need no sugar when you around. Come on my rickshaw, I give you a ride to Bangkok.” Forward to 2014: To mock Snyder’s recent creation of a foundation to benefit Native Americans, Colbert replayed the skit and jeered in character that he was “willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” 
A group of diehard liberals, led by a young Korean-American writer, Suey Park, gave Colbert a hard time about his cringe-worthy act, which was accompanied by an awkward laugh track and left the distinct impression that the real Colbert enjoys crude ethnic-language mockery just a little too much. 
Park and her liberal Twitter followers tenaciously questioned Colbert’s use of “satire” that ends up stoking the racism it purports to mock and abhor. They obviously picked the incendiary #CancelColbert hashtag to force attention on their complaints. My view is and always has been that the answer to speech you disagree with is more and better speech. For me, #CancelColbert wasn’t about censoring his show. It was about exposing his hypocrisy and don’t-you-understand-satire double standards. 
Park complained that Colbert and his defenders were race-baiting liberals who hid behind their self-professed progressivism. Absolutely. Progressives of pallor – hipster racists – have said and done some of the most bigoted things I’ve ever witnessed in my life and gotten away with it. And as one Asian viewer noted, Colbert “obviously didn’t use satire very effectively because most people aren’t talking about the Redskin issue or Dan Snyder.” Indeed, many of his fans were too busy tweeting non-satirical anti-Asian bigotry, misogyny, and ugly death threats.

And no, they don't understand satire, as Colbert noted in his new hashtag #CancelSwift.

Colbert for his part eviscerated the SJWs and their leading spokesperson Malkin, discussing her pro-internment book and capping it off with this:
The good news for James, however, is that Colbert will let him return to the show for no pay as part of the “Michelle Malkin Memorial Unpaid Internment Program.”

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Renata Adler vs. Sesame Street

One of the best things about having a New Yorker subscription is that you get access to all back issues of the New Yorker online - it's a veritable time capsule.

Since I was on a Sesame Street kick, I decided to see what the New Yorker had to say about Sesame Street when it was first introduced. The first New Yorker piece about the show is from June 3, 1972, three years into its eternal run, and is written by the yet-living Renata Adler. The name was familiar to me although I couldn't say anything about her so had to look her up in Wikipedia - her claim to fame is her essays.

But her essay about Sesame Street is written as if by an alien. The intense seriousness of her approach leads to some truly bizarre passages:
There is the Muppet, Ernie, neurotic, easily moved to tears, particularly by the letter "E" with which his name begins. A Muppet salesman, with a green face and blue nose, dressed in a shirt, tie, trousers, jacket, black hat, and trenchcoat, has repeatedly tried to sell Ernie the number 8. "Hang it on the wall," he suggests at the beginning of his sales pitch. "Next time you wanna know how many legs an octopus has... next time you wanna know how many reindeer Santa Claus has... next time you wanna know what time you eat your breakfast..." and, with each sinister and ingratiating phrase, he flashes the 8 inside his trenchcoat furtively toward Ernie. It costs a nickel. Ernie does not buy it. "Sesame Street's" attitudes toward consumerism are skeptical, except in the realm of learning.
This is what she was describing.

I don't know where she got the idea that Ernie was "neurotic" and cried easily. I don't remember ever seeing Ernie cry. And I'm not sure at what point she glimpsed the Muppet saleman's trousers.

Adler's writing style is even more odd-sounding when it comes to describing The Electric Company, which is also covered by the essay.
"The Electric Company" has a black hippie reading freak, called Easy Reader, who dotes on legible matchbook covers. It has a daily soap-opera parody, called "Love of Chair," in which almost nothing happens. "The boy," the sentence reads, the announcer says, the scene demonstrates, "is sitting on the chair." Or "The chair is sitting on the boy." Accompanied by conventional soap organ music, the announcer concludes, "For the answer to these and other questions (What number are you calling? And what ever happened to Naomi?), tune in tomorrow for 'Love of Chair.'" For some reason, this feature is extremely popular throughout the country. "The  Electric Company" is used in eighteen thousand schools. 
There is also an enlightening cooking lesson, given by "Julia Grownup," who once taught the "ill" syllable by producing a grilled dill pickle with chilled vanilla filling. Miss Grownup (played by an excellent moronic comedienne, Judy Graubart) produce her masterpiece when she demonstrated plurals...
Here is a "Love of Chair" segment.  


To get a real sense of how different this essay about Sesame Street is from one that might be written today, get a load of this:

A few weeks ago, in Jackson Mississippi, Big Bird conducted the seventy-five piece Jackson symphony orchestra. He lead an integrated audience of more than ten thousand children and their parents in a passionate recitation of the alphabet. He counted to ten. The audience, including a few retarded adults and spastics, clapped and counted with him. Big Bird kept addressing the regular orchestra conductor, whose name is Lewis Dalvit, as "Mr. Dingbat," recalling that other complicated political presence Archie Bunker. A Jackson policeman drove white, black, and Chicano members of the cast to the Jackson airport. The mayor had welcomed them when they came to town. Nation time. 
The Children's Television Workshop has seventeen full-time community organizers, working with local groups parents, teen-agers, teachers, anybody, throughout the country. The organizer for Appalachia, Paul Elkins, is based in Clinch Valley, beside the River Clinch, in St. Paul, Virginia, where the biggest local employer is the Clinchfield Coal Company. Mr. Elkins was once a school principal, but now he works for "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company." When the local people suspect the programs of Communism - because there are so many black people on them - Mr. Elkins, who was born and raised in Appalachia, reassures them, and changes the subject...
In case you missed that, a policeman in Jackson MS had to drive members of the Sesame Street and Electric Company cast to the airport. And there was suspicion that the shows were Communist.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Comedians on Sesame Street

Oy, too much Social Justice Warrior kerfufflage pertaining to #CancelColbert. Let's completely change the subject - Sesame Street celebrity guest stars - there's a list on Wikipedia.

Uh oh - turns out Stephen Colbert was on Sesame Street as the letter Z.

And Jon Stewart also did a bit on Sesame Street.

Robin Williams was apparently on six times. Here's one:

Bill Cosby was also on several times:

Oh joy - I found one of my favorite all-time bits from Sesame Street. Featuring my favorite muppet Grover:

The dialog kills me - Grover keeps coming up with freakishly specific descriptions of the sound (the game show is "name that sound") only to have Guy Smiley ask him to be simple:

Here comes sound number two. 
(sound of dog barking)
Yes, yes. Ah, well let's see, I can tell you that uh, his name is Rover, and that he loves bedroom slippers, and uh, it is an Afghan mixed with Andalusian Lhasa Apso. 
I beg your pardon? 
It is a doggy.
I literally haven't seen this for over thirty years, since I watched it with my daughter when she was a baby. But I always remembered the gag. Glad I got to see it again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

More shameless lies from Mikki Kendall - me and my "target list"

So I got into it with the clueless @studentactivism over #CancelColbert and then Mikki Kendall got involved somehow, and lied about me some more.

If you Google my name, you will see Kendall's smear about me show up at the top of the search results, on her Esoterica Tumblr account where she blogs under the name Karnythia.

Initially I thought that someone named Rebecca Scott, the Mad Gastronomer was the original source of the smear, but in fact Kendall's Tumblr account was the actual source of the Google-results smear. Not that Rebecca Scott was sorry for helping to spread the lie any more than Kendall is - when I contacted Scott privately she simply doubled-down and repeated the smear some more.

Here's Kendall lying about the situation.

Now Kendall has been aware of my beef with her since at least July 2013 when she referred to me as "this broad" and linked directly to my web site from Twitter.

Unlike Mikki Kendall, I am easy to contact. My email address is right on this web site. So if my claim that Mikki Kendall is responsible for smears against my name was a mistake, why didn't she contact me directly and say so?

But of course no matter who started it, Mikki Kendall is responsible because it's her Tumblr account that appears at the top of the search results. All she has to do is take  down that post. But she won't do that, and she won't apologize. She'll just keep lying. Shamelessly.

The important thing to be aware of though, is that although this started as a personal attack by Mikki Kendall against me, it's more than that now, because thanks to Kendall I've become aware of the pernicious evil that is the SJW movement - although I didn't have a name for it until I found Will Shetterly's site.

I should note that Shetterly and I don't agree about everything - we recently had an argument on his site about rape culture "hysteria." But I think it should be possible to disagree about something - like in my case, the disagreement with Mikki Kendall and friends on whether Lennon/Ono were/are racists - without having your name smeared via the Google-bombing power of Tumblr blog aggregation.

Clearly Kendall disagrees - she feels she is blameless in her deliberate smearing of my name. But as I've found out, Kendall is by no means alone, and it isn't really personal against me - I'm a white feminist and that's why I was a target. Just as Sarah Kendzior had no qualms about smearing Katha Pollitt - and that is exactly the term Pollitt used in her rebuttal, "smear."
It is absurd to compare me to a dictator or the Saudi regime. Two people can have different problems with the same thing. But that idea is too subtle for Sarah Kendzior, who prefers wild potshots and smears.
So it isn't only Mikki Kendall. There is an entire loosely-connected, semi-anonymous, poorly-vetted group who used to mainly congregate on Tumblr but have mostly migrated onto Twitter, who are purveyors of wild potshots and smears. Kendall, thanks to her self-publicity talents and ethics-free attacks on people based on skin color and gender, is one of the most prominent.

It's one thing to attack a nobody like me, but once your gang starts smearing Katha Pollitt shit is going to get real. Pollitt is a feminist icon and a personal hero of mine (even though we, too, have had a few very minor disgreements) for many years. She's a brilliant writer with a stellar career. And these Social Justice Warrior punks are going to attack her? Not without push-back. Not on my watch.

And once you have seen evidence that members of a SJW group praise rightwingers like Michelle Malkin while attacking progressive feminists like Katha Pollitt you have to start wondering - which side are they really on?

And that's why it's important to keep tabs on these ethics-free mobbers, who seem to attack liberals and progressives with much more ferocity than rightwing pundits or Fox News. And since Mikki Kendall personally dragged me into the SJW war she's the last person who should be whining about it.

Here she is warning @studentactivism about a "target list" I allegedly have:

Although she can't decide whether to refer to me in the singular or plural.

I have news for Kendall - it isn't me who is keeping "a list" - that's here and I have nothing to do with it.

But I will continue to criticize and mock SJWs when they attack me, or other feminists, or create bigotry-inspired hash tags, or create satire-censoring movements out of sheer stupidity. And I have that right - their words are all in the public sphere, self-published.

What's so amusing about Kendall and her gang is their sheer hypocrisy. They can attack people, for any reason, or for no reason, at will, but they whine like poor abused victims if they ever get the tiniest bit of push-back. Just Google Michelle Goldberg, Nation, Kendall if you want to see the shamelessness.

I do like the idea that Kendall is warning her fellow SJWs about being on my imaginary "target list" though - maybe it will make them think twice before smearing random strangers, not to mention important and brilliant feminist writers.

Although knowing them, probably not.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pseudo-journalist/SJW Sarah Kendzior jumps on the satire-censorship bandwagon

Well I already knew that Sarah Kendzior was an idiot for siding with vicious bigot, liar and yellow journalist Mikki Kendall against bona fide feminist/intellectual Katha Pollitt, so I wasn't surprised that she would come out in favor of Social Justice Warrior brand stupidity like #CancelColbert - the big surprise was that it took her so long.

Kendzior will absolutely not hesitate to smear without evidence, as Katha Pollitt discovered, and as can be seen in her claim that Jezebel is out to get non-white people, above. 

Jezebel was completely on board Mikki Kendall's bigotry-fest #solidarityisforwhitewomen - which goes to show that if you are perceived as white - or a white organization - you will never be able to please Social Justice Warriors. No matter how much you suck up to them, they will eventually turn against you based on some trumped-up charge - and they won't provide evidence for your guilt either - just their own nutty paranoid unsupported statements. 

Much like Mikki Kendall's sleazy article suggesting that a doctor was out to kill her for needing a life-saving abortion. Amanda Marcotte defended Kendall against criticism by anti-abortion activists (who, I hate to admit, were right this once), and for her trouble was accused several months later by the ever-paranoid Kendall of stealing from non-white people. Naturally Kendall didn't provide any evidence of the theft.

Social Justice Warriors don't need no stinking evidence.

What Social Justice Warriors really need to do is to start a group - call it Mentally Challenged Americans, who will lobby for the right to be outraged by things you are too stupid to understand.

I mean, look at the utter, flabbergasting false equivalency of the Angus Johnston statement retweeted by Kendzior in the image above: "I'm curious if folks who think Colbert was 100% in the right think the same about Deadspin's use of the word "gook" to describe Suey Park."

It still has not sunk into Angus Johnston's thick thick skull that the folks who think Colbert was in the right do so because what Colbert was doing was satirizing the racism of the Washington Redskins owner. So yes, Colbert was in the right. 100%. Only a fucking idiot - like Angus Johnston, Suey Park, Sarah Kendzior or Michelle Pro-Internment Malkin - would fail to understand that Colbert was 100% right.

But what Angus Johnston believes is that thinking Colbert is right is a sign of racism, and so he has to ask if a racial slur was thought to be just as 100% right as Colbert's satire of racism. 

Truly mind-boggling.

The fact that Social Justice Warriors side with pro-internment Michelle Malkin against liberal satirist Stephen Colbert tells you everything you need to know about just how stupid and utterly useless SJWs are.

It's time for Mentally Challenged Americans! It's time to end the privileging of intelligence in social discourse!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Newsflash: Social Justice Warriors too stupid to get satire, want to cancel Colbert

UPDATE: apparently Suey Park Considers Michelle Malkin to be a friend of hers.

This morning I saw this story in my Facebook newsfeed: People Who Don't Realize 'The Colbert Report' Is Satire Want It Cancelled Over Asian Joke

I immediately knew it was a Social Justice Warrior - and not only that, my prime suspect was the SJW with the Asian-outrage concession, Suey Park.

I haven't written about Suey Park directly before, but her tweets are shown in a recent post where I discuss an Aura Bogado pile-on.

How far right is Michelle Malkin? Ten years ago she published a book in defense of Japanese internment camps

I keep saying that I think Mikki Kendall will one day find a rightwing buddy ala Camille Paglia/Rush Limbaugh, but really, it's hard to believe that the Social Justice Warriors are not already on the Heritage Foundation payroll, in an effort by conservatives to make liberals look like idiots. And it isn't all that far-fetched a conspiracy theory - here we see Suey Park referring to Michelle Malkin as a "reasonable person" - back in January of this year.

Speaking of Kendall, does she support Suey Park? Do you have to even ask? Of course she's also too stupid to get satire:

But then, that's what it means to be a Social Justice Warrior. 

So what do the other Social Justice Warriors have to say? Well Flavia Dzodan and Mazzie seem to be quiet on the Colbert front although maybe Mazzie didn't know about the movement to cancel Colbert, but once she reads this post (she reads this site every day - and three times this morning alone obsessed much? although thankfully for the taxpayers, no longer from her work computer) she might have something to say. 

And a member of her mean girl gang, Amanda Levitt, certainly does have something to say - she wants to demonstrate exactly how Social Justice Warriors are too stupid to get satire:

When is The Nation going to fire this moron? Maybe they could get Michelle Malkin to replace her. 

Auragasmic, the Mikki Kendall wanna-be merely retweeted Suey Park. And Lynx Saint Marie, hater of the suffragettes, merely retweeted something from Amanda Levitt.

I couldn't resist joining in on the mockery of SJW stupidity:

UPDATE! I tweeted at Bogado that she should be fired from The Nation and cc'd Katha Pollitt - well apparently I was wrong about Bogado and The Nation:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

People Persons

Looks as though the Durang play is out, replaced by two Feydeaux. I had to design a new logo, of course, although the general layout of the new site is similar. And I replaced my play THE VERY DARK ROOM with one that is much closer in spirit to the wacky sex farces of Feydeau, called NEW RULES. So much so in fact that one of the Feydeau plays is called THE LADIES MAN and there is a line in NEW RULES in which someone asks: "are you a ladies man or a man's man?" The guy, who is a bisexual, answers "I'm a people person." One of my favorite lines in one of my plays ever. I actually got it from my daughter, whose high school friend Dana had been dating a girl, but then switched to dating a guy. I asked her "is your friend Dana gay or straight or what?" To which my daughter replied: "Dana's a people person." I know a good line when I steal it. 

NEW RULES is one of my oldest plays - it was performed in the first Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 1997, at the Old Original Bookbinders restaurant. It was longer then, I condensed it down to ten minutes over the years, as for this 2010 production.

You can listen to the "people person" line in this 2009 reading of NEW RULES. Actor Carl Maguire gave a nice pause before delivering the line, and got a good laugh in response. I also like the lines "3.5 on the Richter Scale. It's the Kinsey Scale you dumbass."

In the news lately - apparently the very existence of bisexuals has been doubted.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

12 Angry Jurors from Queens

Jury duty is finally over! It took almost a month (I first reported for duty on March 2), and I am exhausted.

I'm thinking of writing a play called 12 Angry Jurors from Queens so at least I'll have something out of the experience, because it was not pretty - 12 Angry Men looks like a picnic in comparison to my jury experience.

In "12 Angry Men" there is definitely conflict and jurors insulting each other, and even a moment when Lee J. Cobb attempts to assault Henry Fonda. But for the most part in the movie each juror argues quietly and states their objections clearly to Fonda's not-guilty verdict, and then Fonda argues against them clearly and calmly until he convinces them, one-by-one to change their vote.

In our case, at least 8 out of the 12 jurors, including the jury foreman (and me) yelled at somebody at least once. And nobody changed their vote.

There were actually 10 good people on the jury, and two people who basically sabotaged the entire process. The case was a second-degree murder trial of an African American man. The actual crime happened in October 2008 and it's taken all this time to get to us - and it appears that it was already tried once before.

Early on in the deliberation process nine of us arrived at the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to convict the defendant. There were only two eye-witnesses and their testimony conflicted - one claimed she saw the defendant pull the trigger on the left side of the double-parked car she was in, but the other witness placed the defendant on the right side of the car that the first witness was in, and on the sidewalk, past the line of single-parked cars.

Now it's still possible that the defendant somehow was the killer, but it was very unlikely, and on top of that the first witness contradicted herself. And she was only 17 (back in 2008) when she saw the murder, and she didn't actually identify the defendant until a week after the crime, at a line-up after being shown a mug shot of the defendant.

So although we couldn't say with 100% certainty that the defendant was innocent, there was certainly a reasonable doubt about his guilt. One of the reasons why the movie "12 Angry Men" is so valuable is because Henry Fonda's character helps walk the other jurors through the concept of reasonable doubt.

It's safe to say that the two saboteur jurors have never seen 12 Angry Men. One of the bad jurors, Juror K (I forget everybody's numbers so I'll use their first initial) was an African American woman who basically refused to consider the fact that the two witnesses' testimonies were in conflict - or anything else. She believed the 17-year-old witness (prior to her contradiction) and that was that. She literally said, after several of us asked her to explain why she wouldn't consider other evidence "I'm shutting down now." Which is contrary to the judge's instructions, which were that we were to listen to each others' arguments. So that juror alone was enough to screw the process.

The other juror, whom I'll call Juror D was a real piece of work - a classic Angry White Man who insisted that the majority who voted not guilty had "closed minds." He told me, personally that I was never impartial because I was one of those people who wanted to "help the underprivileged." Which is an echo of some of the jurors in "12 Angry Men" who used the term "bleeding hearts" when jurors voted not guilty.

Juror H, a bright and street-wise young woman, called Juror D a racist to his face. I'm not 100% sure he was a racist - having been falsely tagged as a racist by Mikki Kendall for a stupid reason (I disagreed with friends of her that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were/are racists) I am not so quick to label someone a racist without hard evidence. It's true that Juror D is a science teacher in the Bronx and said many nasty things about his students - for whom, I got the impression, he has nothing but contempt - but I heard nothing specifically racist.

When we all first met I heard Juror D say he was a science teacher. I asked him if he liked Neil DeGrass Tyson and was amazed when he said he'd never heard of Tyson. How could a science teacher not know who Neil DeGrass Tyson is? I said "you know, he's been on the Daily Show" and Juror D said he didn't watch the Daily Show. That's probably when Juror D decided I was a liberal, since I said nothing about politics the entire run of the case.

I strongly suspect Juror D is a fan of Fox News - he didn't come out and say it, but some of the things he said in casual conversation sounded like right-wing talking points.

He also appeared to be homophobic. He told this joke to us:
A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "I just experienced my first blowjob today." "Congratulations," said the bartender, "your next beer is on me." "Thanks" says the guy, "but it's going to take more than one beer to get the taste out of my mouth."
Get it? It's a joke because the idea of a man giving a blowjob is just so wacky it's funny!

It wasn't enough that he was aggressively attacking the other jurors as closed-minded, for no good reason, but as we were discussing the case he would mumble little insults about what we were saying, and kept lecturing us on using evidence instead of emotion to decide the verdict.

Meanwhile it was clear to all of us, by the way he kept referring to the murder victim ("Think of poor Jimmy!") that he wanted somebody to pay for the murder and the guy in custody was just as good as anybody. And he seemed to think that it was his job to solve a mystery. When we pointed out to him that the evidence was not conclusive, he would invent little scenarios to try to make it conclusive - in other words, to do the DA's job all over again.

Thanks to Jurors D and K, we knew early on that this would be a hung jury and by yesterday (Monday) morning sent a letter to the judge saying so. But the judge said we hadn't deliberated long enough and sent us back. It looked like we were in for a looong week of frustration and insults from Juror D.

I should say here that the deliberation process was dragged out more than it should have because Juror D didn't remember important details of the testimony that the rest of us all remembered and so he kept dragging us back into the courtroom to re-listen to the testimony. Which only succeeded in convincing the not-guilty jurors that we were correct in the first place.

This morning there seemed to be a glimmer of hope - Juror L, a pleasant young woman who was leaning towards guilty, initially, was actually listening to our arguments on issues of reasonable doubt and she began to try to talk to Juror D. (Nobody even tried to talk to Juror K after she "shut down.") It appeared that Juror D took this as a betrayal by Juror L and he began to get angry and started talking about how the not-guilty jurors were corrupt because the mother of Juror V lived in a neighborhood near the crime scene. Juror D suggested that Juror V deliberately withheld that information in order to get into the jury and contaminate the jury pool. He indicated he would never change his verdict from guilty ever because of the corruption of the not-guilty jurors.

I told you Juror D was a piece of work.

Well that was enough for me. I was sick of Juror D impugning the not-guilty jurors ethics in general, and mine in particular, and I said we were wasting our time - Juror D was saying he would never budge due to his allegation of "corruption." I said if he felt that way he should complain to the judge about our corruption - that's a serious issue. We all yelled at each other about that for awhile, and the foreman, who was usually a quiet and even-tempered guy, screamed at Juror D about the stupidity of claiming that Juror V was prejudiced because of his mother's neighborhood. Juror M yelled at Juror D that he was "sick of your bullshit."

But Juror D would not budge and so finally Juror D passed a note to the judge asking if he could speak to him.

Well we all went back into the courtroom again and the judge told us that jurors are not allowed to speak directly to the judge. And then, finally, he said we should go back to the deliberation room, write out a statement saying we could not come to a unanimous decision in a timely manner - if that was the case - and send it to him.

So after we went back to the deliberation room, Juror H, Juror S and Juror M and I made one last-ditch effort to argue with Jurors D and K, but it was futile. So we sent the note, were declared a hung jury, and sent home.

On Facebook today somebody posted this essay New York Doesn't Love You which refers to Queens as "the Borough of Misfit Toys." It's certainly a heterogenous place and our jury reflected that. Here is the gender/ethnicity breakdown, including the 4 alternates:

Foreman - black male
Juror L - white female
Juror K - black female
Juror Y - Asian female
Juror B - Latina
Juror D - white male
Juror H - white female
Juror M - black male
Juror J - white male
Juror N (not me) - Latino
Juror A - black female
Juror S - white female
Juror C - white male
Juror Z - black female (with distinct Jamaican dialect)
Juror V - black male
And me.

I am so glad it's over although I will miss Gary, the officer of the court assigned to our juror group. I'm not generally interested in cops, but with his salt-and-pepper hair, dimples, dry wit, and somehow Bruce Springsteen-esque demeanor, I had a major crush on Gary. Who is married, of course.