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July 16, 2010


So I saw a tweet aimed at me concerning an earlier post (Phair/Gould, two down), and I need to clarify and revise.

First of all, I see that the link didn't make it into the post.  That should be a bad thing.  But actually maybe not.

Basically, with perspective of a day I note that the interview is only a couple hundred words long.  This is the Internet — there is no newshole being honored, and no trees being saved.  Why not run the hour's conversation and not three minute's of little bits?

So I will read interviews conducted by Gould, and interviews of Phair, but the interview I referenced is a little bit meager.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:02 PM

away from desk

Company "outing" today, which means what you think it does.  Though maybe someone will get inadvertently outed?  That's the kind of company we have.

It'll be a good day for swimming and eating hamburgers, but a lousy day for posting.  But at least now I'll get to do the mandatory "I'm back" post, maybe something on sunburn.

And yes, working in an office is exactly like "Dilbert" crossed with "Cathy".  Especially on company outings.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:57 AM

July 15, 2010

me, i am fans of both

If you are a fan of either of Liz Phair or Emily Gould, then you would enjoy this interview of the former by the latter:
In the course of our hourlong conversation, which has been compressed here, we talked about what went into her decision to release these tracks against the advice of ATO Records, whether she reads reviews, whether she's in love, what sport has the hottest guys—you know, everything you've fantasized about talking to Liz Phair about since you first heard "6'1''."

If you are a fan of both Liz Phair and Emily Gould, then all the better.

If you are a fan of neither Liz Phair nor Emily Gould: make love, not war, my friend — vive la différence.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:02 PM

new black panthers

Important thing I learned today: the New Black Panthers are gonna commit ultra mega-mass homicide on alll the whiteys.  And if you can remember how many times over the old Black Panthers destroyed the world, well, these are the new Black Panthers and therefore probably even improved (w/r/t world-destroying.  And to think that just yesterday, I thought that the New Black Panthers were some clowny-clown-ass dudes with a penchant for getting called as a guest on Fox News because of stereotype fulfillment requirements.

But no.  According to the FoxNews/MattDrudge Axis, the NBP not only say provocative things but they are BLACK and therefore an employee of the Obama Administration.  So be afraid, especially if you have daughters.

And remember that the pimping of this story is not racist!  It's 2010 and all you have to do to not be racist is to say, "I'm not racist," at some point before or after your racist behavior. And if you would like to arm yourself with information on the growing menace, I suggest Mike Barthel on the new Southern Strategy:

Red State's Erick Erickson has actually suggested that Republicans should make one of the accused Panthers into a "21st century Willie Horton."  This is the sort of thing the right's gotten good at not saying out loud (since it sure does sound racist!), but it cuts to the heart of how they've been able to exploit the cultural unease some Americans feel under the Obama administration.  When you line it all up, it looks like the right is pursuing a new Southern Strategy.

And Dave Weigel on why you should never blink your headlights at a car driving headlight-less:

One of the more jarring passages in Rick Perlstein's "Nixonland" is his recounting of a popular myth that went around Iowa in 1966, the year of the conservative backlash against the Great Society.  The myth was that black gang members on motorcycles were going to head from Chicago to ransack Des Moines.  Reading this in 2008, it sounded preposterous, the kind of thing that no one could believe in the country that was about to elect Barack Obama.  But [Fox News host Megyn] Kelly, under the guise of journalism, is working to create a rumor like this in 2010.  Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder's DOJ.

Don't forget to remember to be afraid of five or six guys in Philly who say insane things.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:40 AM

July 14, 2010

hamilton nolan swings away

Hamilton Nolan reacts to criticism that he might be filing too many items on American Apparel for Gawker:
Second, how does everybody know anything?  Because someone took the time to write stories about it.  This is actually an argument in favor of writing things.

I approve.  In fact, I approve both of Nolan's post, and of writing things.  I mean, his post is a little bit tee-ball practice, but if you're not any good at tee-ball then how you expect to be able to hit a hanging curveball?

Posted by mrbrent at 2:38 PM

and take rick lazio with you

Maybe you've heard, but here in NYC, there is a small controversy over a proposed community center that may be built near the footprint of the World Trade Center, and opponents are up in arms over it's Muslimness.  There was a Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting last night (nicely reported by Mark Bergen) which was the latest opportunity for the discriminationalists to talk about how they are not discriminatory.

There's all kinds of rhetorical tricks to demonstrate the knuckle-headedness of the rage against the community center — like I'm pretty sure that it's okay to build a church within eyeshot of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, like we've fought entire shootin' wars against Catholics and Lutherans and even Presbyterians and yet we still have their churches on our soil, etc.  And not to mention the plain-sight fact that Osama bin Laden is not exactly the caliphate of anything in the same sense that the Unabomber is not a bishop of Unitarianism.  There is a vast array of logical arguments against this kind of know-nothing intolerance.

But more importantly: this is New York City, and not the place where one hides under a bed because they're scared that terrorists might target the Walmart.  We've weathered the affects of having our skyline obliterated nicely, and without resorting to the baser instincts that have colored American politics since.  So rather than argue against it, I suggest that its proponents, including hapless GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, take that shit out of my city and put it someplace where the actually frightened people are.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:26 AM

i want to believe

I ran across this photograph — the "I WANT TO BELIEVE" poster from "The X-Files" — and you know what?  I would like to have that poster right here on my office wall.  Not because I'm a big fan of the show or a paranormal-events nerd (though I am both of those).  I want that poster on my wall because I've spent the past couple weeks steeping in nostalgia and I've decided that nostalgia is all right in my book.  I don't want it to replace actual going-forward experiences, but of all the bad things you get as a reward for not dying by a certain age, nostalgia is one of the better ones, and to ignore nostalgia would be the same-but-opposite as drowning in it.  For a string of years in the mid-90s, Friday nights were spent on front of the television and the only night spent in front of the television.  So having the poster would be awesome, or at least a postcard.

Also?  Take the phrase out of the X-Files context and it's a nice, portable piece of deep.  Does it imply lack of belief?  Is it an epistemological pursuit, or just a yearning?  I think it sums up the fragile heart of the cynic quite nicely.

So, aside from getting stuck in the rain for the second day straight, that's my morning.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:16 AM

July 13, 2010

no more sully sullenbergers

Yes it is sad that all those geese in Prospect Park got euthanized, especially in light of the fact that locals had been tending the flock, even trying to take care of that one fellow who got an arrow through the neck.  However, it is even sadder that no one realized, in the course of this grisly business, that goose is delicious.

If we're going to break the hearts of children in the name of air safety, can't we also teach them an important sad lesson about where dinner comes from?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:25 AM

July 12, 2010

fifa world cup 2010

Watched yesterday's game.  Only thing it was missing was LeBron James and Art Modell congratulating Spain while Queen Sofia hands the referee an envelope fulla Euros.

Not saying that Spain wouldn't have won a well-officiated game.  I'm just saying that we'll never know.

Also, for future reference: World Cup finals teams with handsome bald men?  They don't do so good.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:51 PM

that is this thing

I was right, your collective knowledge is vasty and deep.

Mystery vegetable is identified — a Korean Melon.  The good news is that I know what it is now.  The bad news is that the best whoever-names-fruit could do is, "Korean Melon".

Though perhaps it has a different name in Korean, Grizzlydad (he who uncovered the info) suggests: "Dear Leader's Delicious Head".

Posted by mrbrent at 1:19 PM

what is this thing?

This is the problem vexing me this morning.  Saturday, I went to Chinatown, the littler one in Sunset Park.  On a whim I got this little fruit — yellow with orangish striations, about as big as a hand grenade, sweet-smelling.  No idea what it's called, and the fruit stand I grabbed it at was mobbed and not exactly the kind of place that David Karp will appear to explain away your questions.

I spent a half hour poking around the Internet, but to no avail (though I did learn that the wrinkly cucumber thing we got last time and never got around to cooking would make a loofah had we let it dry out).  So yesterday I got Beautiful Wife to snap a photo of it, which I posted on Tumblr, asking for help identifying the fruit?/vegetable?  Again, no dice.  Which was surprising, because the people I "follow" and who would see the post are almost exclusively brain surgeons and rocket scientists.

So I'm turning to you, who are also almost exclusively brain surgeons and rocket scientists, though I suspect your Tasty Treat Visual Identification Quotient might be a bit higher.  What is this thing?

Posted by mrbrent at 7:55 AM

July 11, 2010

scared of the deficit?

I was reading an op-ed in a NY tabloid daily.  Not worth linking so much, but it was some Clinton-era pollster claiming that the independent voters who are disaffected by the president would be swayed by action to reduce the deficit!  Because, as you know, Americans as a whole are having trouble sleeping because of the growing deficit, looming over the futures of our children and our children's children and our children's children's robots.

Ezra Klein looks into this from the angle of voter motivation:

All of this suggests political scientists have a pretty good handle on what wins elections, so I began asking them the question that some say is bedeviling the White House: Should the White House focus on polls or paychecks?

The answers were unequivocal: "A policymaker reading polls who finds that people are concerned about the deficit and says I should rein in spending and I'll get credit for that, I don't think there's evidence that'll move voters," the University of Denver's Seth Masket says.  "You want to get as much money in voters' hands in the months before the election as possible."

It seems common sense that the big driver of votes is their own economic circumstance — "It's the economy, stupid," "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" etc.

The confusing part is the appeal of the anti-deficit pitch.  It's easy to discern the motives of the proponents, as they are big business, anti-government dogmatically, and any service provided by the government is one less opportunity for someone to make a buck off it.  So, other than believing what Rushbo, Karl Rove and other talking heads tell you, why is it that Independents (allegedly) and Tea Partiers (loudly) care about this issue?  It's a bunch of ephemeral numbers entered into a big ledger indecipherable to the average folk.  Why sweat it when a future of greeting people at WalMart is the only option other than starving is starting a great number of Americans in the face?

I guess the bigger question is, "Why do voters ignore their own self-interest?" but that's a pretty big damn question indeed.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:39 AM

bp can't quit the evil

For all the pressure from free market types to take it easy on BP (see Fund, Slush), BP is doing a terrible job in not acting like the bad guy, as yet another skirmish between a journalist and BP officials is reported by NBC.

The ominous aspect of this is that when BP stops-and-frisks a reporter, they do so in the company of law enforcement, which law enforcement does as bad a job of not seeming to be suborned into BP's service as BP does as not seeming evil.  The statement from Pro Publica, whose photog was taken into custody while shooting pix of a suspect BP refinery:

"We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation's refineries.  But we're deeply troubled by BP's conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility.  And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company."

Further, one would assume that a press credential (and maybe a call to an editor?) would erase the suspicion that the photographs were going to be used by terrorist scuba divers wielding almanacs, just as one would assume that a free trip down to the station in the back of a black-and-white might be considered as intended to effect a certain chill.  Draw your own conclusions.

Again, Mac McClelland is all over this story for Mother Jones.  But it's good to see the story bleed into the mainstream.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:18 AM