Month: August 2011


This is a depressing article:

Mention Amazon to the incoming class of college freshmen and they are more likely to think of shopping than the South American river. PC doesn’t stand for political correctness and breaking up on Facebook is more common than any more personal encounter.

These are among the 75 references on this year’s Beloit College Mindset List, a compilation intended to remind teachers that college freshmen born mostly in 1993 see the world in a much different way: They fancied pogs and Tickle Me Elmo toys as children, watched televisions that never had dials and their lives have always been like a box of chocolates.

The Associated Press brings us some insight into our changing American culture.

Norm!In their lifetimes, Major League Baseball has always had three divisions plus wild-card playoff teams, and every state has always observed Martin Luther King Day. The “yadda, yadda, yadda” generation that’s been quoting Seinfeld since they were old enough to talk also has always seen women serve as U.S. Supreme Court justices and command U.S. Navy ships.

Then there’s OJ Simpson. These students were still in diapers when the former NFL star began searching for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

“Hmm, I know there was some scandal about him,” said Alex Keesey, 18, an incoming freshman from Beloit. “I think it was robbery or murder, maybe both” ….

…. Consider this: Andre the Giant, River Phoenix and Frank Zappa all died before these students were born. They don’t know what a Commodore 64 was, and they don’t understand why Boston barflies would ever shout, “Norm!”

(There was a joke here, but it turns out I blew the punch line.)

A Disgrace

Consider, if you will, Maria Popova’s review of Brain Culture: Neuroscience and Popular Media:

A book maligned by a positive reviewWhat makes Thornton’s take most compelling is the lucidity with which she approaches exactly what we know and don’t know about the brain. Every day, we’re bombarded with exponentially replicating headlines about new “sciences” like neuromarketing, which, despite the enormous budgets poured into them by the world’s shortcut-hungry Fortune 500, remain the phrenology of our time, a tragic manifestation of the disconnect between how much we want to manipulate the brain and how little we actually know about its intricately connected, non-compartmentalizable functions.

Actually, you’re probably better off if you don’t.

You know, everybody has a bad day, sometimes. But if e’er there was a book review that made me not want to read something I otherwise might find compelling, this would be it.


A Note to @AllisonHiromi

Let us start with a tweet from one Allison Hiromi:

Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow

So … a customer got kicked out of a bar in Houston and cried. So what?

Well, it isn’t every day that bawling gets one into the local newspaper:

The Down House, Houston, TXIt may be the first-ever case of its kind: A diner was kicked out of a restaurant not for something she did, but apparently for something she said online ….

…. One of the restaurant’s managers, who wasn’t working that night, read the “twerp” comment on Twitter. He called the bar and asked to speak to the customer. Over the phone, he asked her to leave.

“Any business is allowed to set the tone of their establishment,” Cusack said. “If you go to someone’s house and start calling them names, I wouldn’t really expect to stay too much longer after that.”

The kicked-out customer is Allison Hiromi. On her Twitter page, she described herself as opinionated, extroverted and feisty.

After being ask to leave the restaurant, she tweeted: “Left Down House in tears after the GM called up and asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse at me and ask me to leave.”

A lot of people on Twitter are talking about what happened.

One person said they’ll never go to Down House again, and another customer called it a disappointment.

A third person wrote, “I think Down House owes Allison Hiromi a big apology. Welcome to a PR nightmare.”

An editorial note, then, to Ms. Hiromi: Shut the hell up you pathetic moron.


A Quote: Mark Steel on Penguins

Mark Steel, on the London riots:

Mark SteelThe riots were caused, apparently, by black culture, and we can get round the fact some rioters were white by saying they’d turned black, and get round the fact most black people don’t riot by saying they’ve turned white. You could use that logic to prove that being Welsh causes boats to capsize, or that everything alive is a penguin.

Some people, apparently, need reminding.


One of the jokes I have forsaken in recent years, mostly for the benefit of people who seem unable to take such lines in any reasonably figurative sense, is that some things ought to be illegal. It is, in fact, a long-known joke among men. It ought to be illegal to be so obese while wearing such tight clothes; to be so “hot” a woman and yet be related; and so on. One would think that a certain liberty of humor is inherent in any statement that says it ought to be illegal to be a milf if you happen to be my mother.

But then there are some absurdities that simply fit the pretense: Some things ought to be illegal. Like Sarah Palin.

Of course, some people might take such a joke seriously, that one really does think Sarah Palin ought to be arrested or, perhaps more efficiently, shot: It ought to be illegal to be so f@cking stupid ….

But, then again, sometimes we come to that point where the line really is blurred. Dennis Rodman’s hair? Paris Hilton, in general? Anyone named Spelling ever again producing a television series? One could always joke, and others could reasonably, given circumstantial atmosphere or context, take seriously the proposition that any of those things ought to be illegal.

Thus prefaced, and disclaimed according to the proposition that, as I had to live through it, so do you:

Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been associated with glamour in Hollywood — queen of film and television over the course of a five-decade career, married nine times, and even able to parlay a famous slap of a police officer into a career revival. In fact, the Huffington Post recently called her “the first and probably biggest Hollywood celeb to become famous for being famous.” Aptly put.

But when does pursuing fame cross the line for a 94-year old? That point may have come this week, when her husband of 25 years told CNN that he had started the process of donor matching and blood work so he could turn Zsa Zsa into Ma Ma.

That’s right, the esteemed Prince Frederic von Anhalt is planning to arrange for an egg donor, surrogate mother, and artificial insemination to allow Zsa Zsa to once again enjoy the wonder of motherhood.

Really, it must be nice to be so rich as to afford any manner of insanity in the name of believing you are in love, but some things ought to be illegal.

Worth a Chuckle (No, It’s Not)

Thank you, Chris Hayes:

Oh, @HuffPostHill "POTUS' bus tour is underway, prompting us to ask whether the no-number-two rule applies to the leader of the free world."

Indeed, the MSNBC host brings to mind an old Simpsons episode:

    Wally: I’m sorry, the guys made kind of a mess in your bathroom.

    Driver: What bathroom?

At any rate, it’s a bit more cheerful than Mark Mardell’s assessment for the BBC.

Your Tea Party

Detail of Adam Zyglis cartoonLadies and gentlemen, your Tea Party, via The Arizona Republic:

Tea-party activists called McCain “out of touch” when the senator said he didn’t know about United Nations “Agenda 21.”One man described the initiative as a “takeover of the United States of America by taking over our farms.”

“First, our firearms, then our farms,” another man added.

McCain said no Congress would allow that to happen, but that didn’t satisfy several in the room who subscribed to the theory.

It’s almost enough to make one feel sorry for the guy. (Almost.)

Amusing: Screwing With Fascists

You know, we always teach that two wrongs don’t make a right, but what if one of those wrongs is abstract?

If your T-shirt can do it, so can you.Neo-Nazis in Germany were given free T-shirts at a recent right-wing extremist rock concert. The black shirt, complete with skulls and bones, said “Hardcore Rebels: National and Free”. Too bad for them, there was a secret message hidden inside the shirt.

See, after the free shirt gets washed, it rids itself of that “hardcore” logo and displays a new message, one that tries to convince the Neo-Nazis to change. It says: “If your T-shirt can do it, so can you. We’ll help free you from right-wing extremism.” It’s a ‘Trojan T-shirt’ of sorts, giving clueless skinheads free ‘hardcore’ T-shirts only to blindside them with contact information on how to leave Neo-Nazism. I like it.

I mean, yes, to the one that’s a really priggish thing to do to someone. To the other, though, these are neo-Nazis. So at what point is it acceptable to be a dick to an even bigger dick, and why does it always come back to cockfights?

A Headline

Ah, headlines:

Minister of Music tazes pastor, another woman stabbed during fight at church

Or, for those who need the morbid details:

The Rev. Daryl Riley, pastor of the church, told the Simone Moore, the church’s minister of music, that he was no longer needed in the position, authorities said. Riley then handed Moore his final paycheck. Moore disagreed with the amount of the check and an argument erupted, officials said. Moore then tased Riley with a Taser gun, deputies said.

Several church members were involved in the fight, including Agolia Moore, the music minister’s mother, officials said. Officials said that she was stabbed by one of the deacons, identified as Harvey Hunt.

All members that participated in the fight were treated and released from a local hospital, officials said.

A warrent for second-degree assault was signed on Moore. Another warrant for third-degree assault was signed for Hunt, officials said.

Write your own … ah … punch line.

Yeah, right. Har-har. I know.