Friday, October 08, 2010
It's more or less a barbeque sauce. You start with a couple of tablespoons of black bean paste. You add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. You add a single hand-crushed tomato. You add a splash of red wine vinegar and a splash of red chile oil. You add a teaspoon of honey and a squirt of Vietnames or Thai fish sauce. You add a teaspoon or two of sambal, the Thai chili paste, depending on how spicy you want it. You add a quarter cup of soy sauce. You whisk it all together, adding a bit of water if it's too pasty or a little more bean paste if it's too watery, and you brush a think coating on some short ribs. You put the short ribs into a covered ceramic dish and cook them for ten hours at 200 degrees. Then you eat them.
. . . that an anglophone nation in which a prominent politician is named "Dick Armey" is, for all its faults, just fuckin awesome?
[Trigger Warning: Sexiness, Big Hard Dicks, Good-looking People Having More Sex Than You, Fun, Heterosexuality, Division 1 Athletics, Hot Chicks, Bangin', Fuckin', Doin' It, Cartoon Violence]
So this hilarious thing happened and now of course the Times gives it the Zeitgeist treatment. Sex! The Internet! College! Am I the only human being on earth who remembers Animal House? Fortunately, at least one human person remained sensible about the whole thing.
Anyway, an adage of contemporary journalism is that while you, the journalist, cannot say what you think, you can always find a mouthpiece to say it for you. Take it away, Nicole Queatham, who is "ashamed" of the sexy people at her sexy school:
“Everyone knows how the Internet works,” Ms. Queathem said as she closed her laptop in the student union. “I’ve always been worried about what I put on Facebook. I’m very conscious of future employers looking at it. It’s easy to forget, but important to remember.”Future employers! Verily I say unto yinz, we are a nation of slaves.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
The most damaging actual effect of such an outcome, one few people have focused on yet, is that once Republicans gain the chairmanships of House committees, they will begin launching investigation after investigation into the Obama administration, for example on charges that the Justice Department has shown racial favoritism in refusing to prosecute the New Black Panther Party of Philadelphia for alleged electoral irregularities. These will have little or no meaningful basis in fact but will attempt to distract the administration from its policy objectives, make it look dirty, and with any luck catch a big fish on the hook of perjury or obstruction of justice. (Look for the theme of “Chicago-style thuggery,” which was bandied about here and there earlier but never quite caught on outside the right-wing echo chamber, to reemerge.) The Republicans play to win.Didn't the New York Review of Books, you know, review books at some point? Now it privileges perorations on the DANGERS of RETHUGLICANS. The whole thing reads like a Kos diary. "Distract the administration from its policy objectives"! The humanity!
By my scientific count, Michael Tomasky is the one million three hundred thousand six hundred and seventy-eighth person to make each and every one of the observations contained in the excerpted article, which is to do what the Donk generally does and elevate banality to a cardinal virtue; to make stating the obvious a fundamental principle. As liberal commenters scratch their heads over why the Democrats fail to articulate the case for their own perpetual stewardship of all good things here on this green earth forever and ever, praise be, the real mechanism of the factional duopoly is perfectly plain. Party-in-power tradeoffs lend the illusion of democratic legitimacy, and meanwhile, once more for the cheap seats: Republicans drive the empire; Democrats consolidate and rationalize what their partners have wrought. George Bush expands the global gulag; Barack Obama writes the employee handbook. The Republicans promise billions to the banks; the Democrats do the accounting. It's not a competition; it's a partnership.
But it's a silent partnership, and guys like Tomasky serve an important function. By emphasizing falsely differing interests on either side, they obscure the fundamental collaboration at work. It's a strategy as old as business. Two secret partners negotiate from opposite sides against the poor suckers in the middle, who think they're going to get a good deal playing one side against the other, but who only get played instead.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who writes popular lyrics for your favorite student literary magazine and mine, The Nation, has discovered a St.-Exupéry quotation much loved by corporate motivationalists, PowerPoint apostles, strategic planners, and the consultants who run "visioning" retreats:
I was recently reminded of a famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the classic text The Little Prince. Saint-Exupéry offered a particularly relevant lesson for our current politics: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." I believe Americans are in need of a refresher course on how to long for the sea.But this is a very strange translation indeed. And by the way the quotation my be apocryphal. "Drum up people together"? Huh? It's like something babelfish would've produced ten years ago. The (possibly) original French:
Quand tu veux construire un bateau, ne commence pas par rassembler du bois, couper des planches et distribuer du travail, mais reveille au sein des hommes le desir de la mer grande et large.Which is more accurately and idiomatically translated as:
When you want to build a boat, don't start by gathering wood, cutting planks, and assigning jobs, but rather revive in men's heart desire for the great big sea.In other words, before you start chopping wood, you've got to remind people that they love the ocean. But you've still got to build the fucking boat.
Melissa is not in any case quite up to the task of drumming up people together. Her prose reads like it was written by an algorithm cooked up by one of The Nation's IT interns: disaffected . . . steeped in rhetoric . . . social safety net . . . emerging populist backlash . . . election cycle . . . sixty-plus majority . . . reasonable cause for concern . . . robust disagreement . . . ideological difference . . . tenuous bridges across partisn divides . . . short-term policy agenda . . . When will it end, Oh Lord, when will it end?
Plow through, and you arrive at a bizarrely infantile appreciation of the Declaration of Independence. "I am always excited to lecture my students about the Declaration of Independence." Doesn't she teach at Princeton? She sounds like Miss Breon, who I had in the third grade. She intently contrasts the Declaration ("an extraordinary document that surpasses Jefferson"), which she inexplicably calls "a social contract" with the Constitution ("a feeble and flawed document"), which actually is a social contract, and this fact, by the by, explains why the mere act of reading the damned thing is less "ennobling" than getting off on the Declaration's robust anaphora. It's a legal document. Of course it's boring.
Thus reassured, we are back to killer jargon. "An opportunity to introduce meaningful structural reform . . . unintended negative consequences." Sing, muse! Finally, a stemwinder:
Many Americans joined the Obama coalition because the 2008 campaign consistently reminded us of the distance we had traveled as a nation and encouraged us to long for the endless immensity of a fully realized democratic promise. In January 2009 the work of shipbuilding began, and with it came the predictable disagreements about the specifics. We cannot fear these battles; without them we would build nothing. But even as we build, we must keep lifting our eyes to the horizon to renew our yearning for something greater than our own narrow victories.That has got to be the most confused figurative language this side of Tom Friedman's merkin. How can a fully realized promise be an endless immensity? How do "predictable disagreements" become "battles," and by the way what is this metaphoric ship we're building? Is it the "democratic promise," or is it "meaningful structural reform," or is it the "long-term national interest," which of course we must remain "cognizant" of. And what's this shit about lifting our eyes and looking beyond our narrow victories? Weren't the victories won in the battles over building the ship, and wasn't the shipbuilding the result of our longing for the endless immensities? Waitress, where's mah eggs? Where am I? What are you doing in my apartment? Are you my mother?
Monday, October 04, 2010
For reasons herein outlined, I don't intend to see Waiting for Superman. I would probably strangle the first "likely voter" I saw upon leaving the theater, and somehow I don't think that my cellmate would believe me when I told him that I'm a top. The anguish that our technocrats direct at the perceived failures of our system of education delights me to no end. Oh, no, we are failing to turn our children into readily employable automotons whose mecahnistic mental processes mitigate against any improvement in their own station, amelioration of their own working conditions, or consideration of the nature of control and ownership--indeed, cause them to work actively against their own best interests by inculcating a Stockholm-syndrome-like identification with the values and imperatives of a corporate ownership class that they themselves will never join! I can hardly imagine a world in which the very value of your innermost being is not weighed by having a degree in a related field and three years of progressively responsible work experience and/or an equivalent combination of education and experience, but I know it's not the kind of world that I want to live in. The highest human achievement is preparing the skilled workers of tomorrow . . . today. The highest human values are innovation and productivity. Any American child's failure to score within the top decile of all other children in all other countries on standardized quantitative aptitude tests is a grievous moral failure of society as a whole. Literally, literally, like, uh, literally, if your kid is bored in math class, then you are a murderer.