Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Mandated Marriage: America's Moralization and Keeping Tabs on the Poor
Mayor Norman McCourt of Black Jack, Missouri, where the measure to change the definition of family was voted down, gave this quote in an issued statement:
The purpose of these occupancy permit laws generally is to avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the city’s housing stock, prevent new buyers from being obligated to repair residences that were not kept up to code, preserve the character of the neighborhoods and the city, and to protect the general safety and welfare of the city’s residents.
Mayor McCourt is implying that poor folks are deviant. They intentionally move in together just to distress the government and the “good” citizens. Poor people have no understanding of what it means to take pride in one’s property, and tax-paying, law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to pay for their carelessness. Like larger cities and towns that have gentrified, the mayor does not want the poor people staining the “image” of the city. And finally, poor people are so deviant that they live together to come up with crimes and other means of tormenting “good” citizens.
It is clear that the mayor as well as those who voted down the measure, which would have permitted an unmarried couple who parented three children to live together, pathologize the poor. They lack understanding about why two people may not want to marry despite the fact that they share three children. Money is most likely an issue if they’re poor (duh?) and perhaps a legal commitment isn’t the best idea despite onlookers questioning, “Why did they have three children together?” A piece of advice I can offer to these onlookers is: Get over it and worry about your own life.
I don’t know much about Black Jack, but I think it’s safe to assume that children of these “good” citizens have used a similar strategy in college or graduate school or as young professionals. It is today’s reality that unrelated people of all class backgrounds move in together to save money. Cohabitation, no matter who is involved, is a strategy. My husband and I, part of the “faux middle class” (we’re educated but really don’t make enough money to be considered middle class), moved in together the year before we got married. We lived in a large city at the time where rents were high. It made more sense for us to pool our money together and “live in sin.” This wasn’t necessarily favorable to some of our family members; however, we are privileged enough to not have to worry about the government interfering in our personal lives.
If the fear is that poor people living together are conspiring to commit some kind of crime like making or selling drugs, maybe communities should start thinking about how to find better jobs for unskilled workers and how to genuinely include them in their community. At this point so many programs for the poor are being cut and the middle class is being squeezed on all sides due to rising healthcare and housing costs (while the wealthy continue to receive tax breaks, mind you), it’s a wonder that more of us don’t take up some kind of illegal practice just to make ends meet!
Request For Ammendment To Goodwin's Law
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of an over-generalization of the incompleteness theorem approaches one.
The notion that formal systems have limits shouldn't "forestall any talk of absolutes" anymore than the speed of light should "forestall any talk of making cars go faster."
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Even More Bull
Except when he doesn't, and unleashes his inner wingnut. While linking to a post at TAPPED he writes:
And courageous leaders like Blair are viciously slandered by Lilliputians who would rather see America and the West defeated than genuine progressives vindicated.
Now given the nature of the above, you'd think the piece the Moose is linking to was something along the lines of Noam Chomsky calling for the arrest and trial of Tony Blair for international war crimes. Except it isn't. Click the link. First of all, while the TAPPED post is a little snarky (especially about another Moose favorite, Joe Lieberman), there's nothing untrue in the TAPPED post - the Moose even says so. Second, the Moose pulls - out of thin air - an accusation which can't be inferred from the text of the post itself, and that is "the guy who wrote this wants to lose the War On Terror." In progressive cricles one would be expected to provide some evidence for this assertion, especially when they follow it up with:
Some of the the lefties who trumpet their own moral superiority increasingly find themselves objectively serving the interests of the Zarqawis who seek to drive us out of Iraq by weakening our will. They virtually celebrate every American setback while remaining mute in the face of the homicidal terror of the enemy.
Never mind that by saying "you know, lots of people are dying because of the insurgency" could be interpreted as pointing out the homicidal terror of the enemy; this is Wingnuttia Specius Freepus. Only someone who lives in the fever swamp could possibly jump from the TAPPED post to this, especially without evidence. Unfortunately for the Moose, the TAPPED post didn't say anything false. But the Moose has made claims which are demonstrably false at worst and unsupported at best. Who's engaging in vicious slander?
Monday, May 22, 2006
The reason this is so great is that it's totally universal. Replace the local references and you can apply it to anything. Let's all try it and see...
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Nine months after the flood, and the lack of progress is frightening. We’re now into the second month of what is the official, FEMA-sponsored Regular Services Program to provide crisis counseling for Katrina evacuees throughout the country. The feds have hosted a few multi-state conference calls linking the states up with each other and SAMHSA/FEMA to discuss national strategies and needs so far. Yet strangely, the first regularly scheduled call isn’t scheduled until early June. One would think that national coordination among the states on a regular basis would have been implemented months ago, but apparently not.
Well in a sense this isn’t too surprising. For the crisis counseling professionals out there, when it comes to community-wide response to natural disasters or mass-violence incidents the counselors are usually coming in last when it comes to response. And they are usually the last ones out as well. Granted, FEMA has had a ton of stuff to deal with since last September. They fucked up, they’re still fucking up, and after so much notorious waste was created last year the GAO is on their asses to prevent any further unnecessary spending on mental health response. So FEMA – it seems from my vantage point – hasn’t had an opportunity to prioritize the SAMHSA programs until now. Not that that’s an excuse, but more the reality. Mental health unfortunately isn’t a priority in the feds’ perception. Providing mental health services isn’t as sexy an initiative as say, rebuilding some extravagant new tax-free version of
Yet mental health issues will continue to cause harm today and tomorrow to the thousands and thousands of evacuees still dispersed like second class citizens across the landscape of the country. Where we are the drug and alcohol use and incidence of family violence (that is reported and we know about) is spiraling. The recent multi-state communications these past few weeks have laid it out for all of us working on the state level to appreciate how enormous the problem is. The grapevine among the states farthest from the Gulf bears bad news:
And the needs of the northern states pale in comparison to places like
"Get In On It"
Friday, May 19, 2006
Seperated At Birth?
Update: It's been pointed out to me that it's not really fair to call the Christian Coalition anti-Semitic. So I retract the above. But it stays up because I feel that, unlike certain other bloggers, it's only fair my stupidity should be in plain view.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I Wonder Too...
What A Wonderful Idea!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
A Modest Proposal
You Know What I Love?
Quick question for the CDC
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
A World Of Books And Silent Times In Thought
I haven't heard the Go-Betweens records which were released this millenium. For me their story ended in 1988 with 16 Lovers Lane, which was satisfactory enough. Their core album discography - Send Me A Lullybye, Before Hollywood, Spring Hill Fair, Liberty Bell and the Black Diamond Express, Tallulah and 16 Lovers Lane - forms what's almost a musical novel recording the evolution of two friends' - McLennan and his partner Robert Forster - understanding of the great big world and everything important in it. They were nominally a "beat group", starting out in the punk-era as a guitar, bass, drums trio, with McLennan on bass because, well, they needed a bassist and in that era you formed a band around ideas and figured out who played what afterwards. Later on the line-up expanded, McLennan switched to lead guitar, and eventually they added violin and oboe. Early material sounds a little bit like Television without the guitar solos and with better songs. As they aged, the sound mellowed but the tension and sophistication in the lyrics and the melodies expanded. They broke up after a decade because McLennan and Forster figured it was time. After the breakup McLennan made solo records, teamed up with Steve Kilbey of The Church in Jack Frost and hung out with Ed Kuepper of the Saints and Laughing Clowns before reuniting with Forster for the Go-Betweens return.
That core discography is one I go back to again and again. At least once a year, normally on a Sunday and normally sometime between September and December (yeah, go ahead and laugh, I don't mind), I pull out the records and listen to them in order all the way through. Then for the next week I'll keep one in heavy rotation. 10 years ago it was the earlier material that stayed on; now it's the later stuff. Their music has that property of revealing itself to you; something that sounded silly or effusive two years ago suddenly makes sense. It's like you have to have as much life experience as they did when they recorded the song in order to get it. And they're one of the very very few bands who's lyrics I actually give one eff about - even though I may not be able to quote them, when I play the records I suddenly find myself having to pull out the lyric sheets and see what they're trying to say with the music. Needless to say I find McLennan's death tragic, but those records are going to be with me forever, and that's a gift for which I'll be ever-more thankful.
Rest in peace Grant, and thanks for the music.
Update: Enjoy the video for "Cattle and Cane".
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Nuture Sane Administrators
Do Please Read The Piece Linked Below
Down With Crappy Animated Line Drawings!
Back in the 1990's, in the heydaze of the dotbomb, you'll recall how we were all one glorious democratic mass of pulsating entrepreneurial spirit, our desires finally truly represented by that most micro-democratic system of all: the Market. And remember how it was that horrible ol' government, with its stodgy unhep beurocrats, was truly Our Enemy just as corporate America was We The People? I am You as Ken Laye is Me and therefore the corporations should be free - they will be decent in a way the government can't! As anyone who lived in a state served by Enron now knows, that was, charitably, not true.
So it's fitting to hear a former Voice of Clinton making that same conflation now. When he says "let the people, not the government decide..." he's trying to pull the trick of making us believe that AT&T and Verizon are We The People. I'm sure that anyone who's been awake for the last 4 days is asking "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?"
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Never Say Anything
A publicity stunt that doesn't suck!
I was happily surprised earlier this week, however, when I emerged from Union Station in DC (after missing my train)only to find a fierce Terrapin warrior, bedecked with the symbols of my home state a few miles to the east. I felt a slight surge of Terp pride, even as I wondered what it was doing in this strange and bewildering urban wilderness. Clearly someone had thought to post a guardian for traveling Marylanders outside of the station.
It turns out there are fifty of them, and lot of them are pretty cool looking. While I recognize that this is a cheezy marketing ploy by a bunch of development professionals, and remain skeptical of most hackneyed public art projects that are managed by such people, I like this one. At least the Terps look cool, and presumably they are raising money for the University, which is, as far as I'm concerned, a good thing.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Again With The Civility?
I'm actually all for civil discourse - in fact some of the most civil debates I've had were with someone who disagrees with me on pretty much everything (excepting the deliciousness of beer and the supremacy of Miguel Tejada). However, civil discourse is only useful when there's an actual debate going on - you know, the whole "engagment in formal argument" thing (emphasis on formal). In the case of the "Colbert Incident" that's sort of impossible, no? For the record, I didn't think he was funny - but that's because I hate it when people more famous than us steal our material. However, on the matter of "what's funny", you are entitled to your own clueless opinion and you're free to voice it in as many blog posts, op-eds, and bathroom graffiti as you see fit. Just don't expect me to read (let alone pay for the privilege of reading) them, jerkface. For a few reasons, though, these new calls for civility are effin' irritating.
First, it's a little late in the day to call for civility when it's clear the disagreement boils down to one side saying "over half the country should be beaten up or deported or jailed or shot on charges of treason because they don't agree with the President" and the other side saying "uhm, no and go eff yourself for saying so". What we have here is slightly more than a difference of opinion.
Second, most of the paid opinion spewers in this country have no expertise in any given subject, yet are paid to dispense their clueless opinions in op-eds, blog posts and television broadcasts. And the internet has only made it worse. Stoke a man's intellectual vanity with a few ill-defined big ideas, send him to far flung corners of the globe for discussions with cab-drivers, and he gleans a new form of global economic interaction. A drunken British journalist - famous for being a contrarian because he failed to miss when he took aim at a few barn doors (and he likes to smoke) - a psychiatrist (who's expertise in treating neurosis qualifies him for a career in international affairs), and members of an obscure philosophy cult team up to engage the rest of us in an on-going seminar in which policy questions are aligned with the Great Politics they studied decades ago (the rest of us call it "The Iraq War" and will be living with the consequences for years if not decades). Armed with tear-stained copies of Road To Serfdom and Atlas Shrugged a sub-literate bore becomes an expert in economics (meanwhile an actual expert in economics is dismissed as "arrogant" and "shrill"). An ex-congressional staffer finds himself the moral compass of a nation and uses his bully-pulpit to ponder such grave issues as the likablitiy of the President. A book, the central argument of which is "politics bores me", is hailed for its political insight. Another British countrari-yawn helps propel a work of shoddy racist pseudo-science into the mainstream, and even after the work is shown to be a fraud, he still boasts of this "achievement" and lands a gig at a major news magazine. The list of insults to our intelligence and affronts to our sense of decency goes on and on and effin' on some more and reasonable people are supposed to be civil. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
This point is not partisan. Let me put it another way. In my line of work you spend a year to two years pounding on your keyboard, sometimes 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, to make a product which will hopefully make your company some money. The product is released and within hours hundreds if not thousands of people are out there in the internets posting to forums or writing on-line reviews voicing their opinion of your labors. A week later three magazines publish yet more opinions. Sometimes you get lucky and everyone loves your work. Other times people will write very unkind things. Consumers know when they're being had and they aren't shy about saying exactly what they think of the work you've done. Sometimes they'll question your abilities. Sometimes they'll question your intelligence. Sometimes they'll wonder what kinds of drugs you were on when you did the work. Sometimes they'll question your (horror of horros) masculinity and (often in the same breath) they'll say mean things about your mother. This is par for the course in my industry and I have never, not once ever, heard calls for civility. You eff'ed up, you live with it. If you don't eff' up, you get to keep your job.
Like it or not, paid punditry is a job - you are paid for your opinions. I do not see any reason why anyone paid an order of magnitude more than me for the privilege of
Monday, May 08, 2006
Advice on Crime
Effers and anyone else reading this, I could use some help. I am doing some research on the depiction of interracial (romantic or sexual) relationships, interracial marriage, and/or mixed-race characters in modern U.S. crime fiction. If you know of any works that may be of interest, I would appreciate recommendations for novels, short stories, etc (NOT films). Also, I am looking for modern works, say in the past 2-3 decades (i.e. no Faulkner). Finally, I am looking at works that depict modern times (again - past 2-3 decades). Thus, stuff like Walter Mosely’s “Easy Rawlins”/Devil in a Blue Dress novels wouldn’t work. Thanks in advance.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Obey Your Giant Cute Overlords
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The Re-Return To Niceness
Oddly, "warmonger" is one of the words Porter claims is an epithet. But if the term is used to describe someone who advocates a series of wars of choice, I'd say it's not so much an epithet as it is an apt description. "Proponent of robust Wilsonianism" just doesn't have the same ring to it. But what's a little semantic quibble between reasonable people?
Must suck to be a Crip in the Big Red One
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Requests For Comment
Monday, May 01, 2006
CTG In Bmore
Where's my Stetson Kennedy?
I done spent my last three cents
Mailing my letter to the President
Didn't make a show, I didn't make a dent
So I'm swinging over to this independent gent
Writing his name in
Writing his name in
I can't win out to save my soul
Long as Smathers-Dupont's got me in the hole
Them war profit boys are squawking and balking
That's what's got me out here walking and talking
Knocking on doors and windows
Wake up and run down election morning
And scribble in Stetson Kennedy
I ain't the world's best writer, ain't the world's best speller
But when I believe in something I'm the loudest yeller
If we fix it so you can't make no money on war
Well we'll all forget what we was killing folks for
We'll find us a peace job equal and free
We'll dump Smathers-Dupont in a salty sea
Well, this makes Stetson Kennedy the man for me
I’ve been playing this song a lot on my guitar and I’ve been kicking around a way to make it accurate (it’s already relevant) to today.
It’s pretty obvious that Bush-Cheney is Smathers-Dupont, they’re the war profit boys that need to get dumped in a salty sea.
But who is Stetson Kennedy?
Is there an Independent gent that I can believe in like Guthrie believes in Kennedy? Is it possible to have such belief in a politician anymore? Are we too cynical? Is the system too corrupt?
I believed in Kucinich during the primary. I didn’t, however, believe he had a chance of winning. Curious. I wonder where I drew that line between believing in him as a person and believing in his viability as a candidate. And I wonder why I drew that line.
I expect this is the point where people say in the comments: “Why? Because he couldn’t win, stupid! He didn’t have a chance.”
And I suppose that’s why I drew the line. But I guess I need to stop thinking that I believed in him, because obviously I didn’t.
But! I want to find somebody to believe in. I think the left needs a Stetson Kennedy. A candidate we can lift to our shoulders and parade around; an independent gent we can believe in as a person and a candidate.
I don’t think belief is dead. I don’t think we’re too cynical or the system too corrupt. Whatever he is, regardless of how he got there, George W. Bush has been president for 6 years. A lot of (insane) people believed in him during the 2000 primaries when, next to McCain, he looked like a damn developmentally-disabled monkey.
And, it’s not like the left doesn’t believe in people. Most of the blogosphere is practically falling at the feet of Stephen Colbert ‘cuz of his White House Correspondents dinner speech. Read the comments from the Colbert posts at crooks and liars, we’re just DYING for someone to believe in.
What I’m saying is, let’s find that person, let’s believe in that person, and let’s make them President regardless of what ANYONE else says.
‘Get us a peace job, equal and free
And dump the wingnuts in a salty sea’
Unfrozen Cave-Man Bull Moose
Also, is anyone but the Moose actually making this claim?
Everyone knows that when Ahmadinejad threatens to wipe Israel off the map it is just a quaint Persian plea for respect and understanding. And when the Iranians suggest that they will share their nuclear knowledge with their brothers in Sudan - why worry? What is a little arms race in the Middle East anyway?
Uhm, no. Serious "sanguine sophisticates" are indeed concerned. They are also concerned with what happens when you let self-proclaimed (elite university educated) rubes wage war they don't know how to manage. I thought that'd be the lesson of the Carrier Landing; little boys should not be allowed to play with adult toys.
Update: For an instance of a non-sanguine sophisticate who's taking things seriously, as opposed to playing the rhetoric game, see Steve Clemons.