Other People's Genius

While we try to mix up our Other People's Genius Friday, we can't resist this revealing post by Bottle of Blog, which compares Bush's "fund the troops" rhetoric with reality:

...So the Democratically controlled House passed a bill funding the troops. But, because of a political dispute, Bush threatened to veto it. And then Republicans in the Senate, because of a political dispute, blocked the funding of American troops in the field.

And now Bush is sternly pressing Democrats to stop holding up the funding of our troops because of political disputes.

Eisenhower boils it down for us: "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

A Thaumaturgical Compendium discusses the banning of Wikipedia in schools and how it reflects an inappropriate hierarchy of authoritativeness:
The Wikipedia article doesn’t tell you how to cite it. In fact, if you go to its “about” page, it pretty clearly spells out the strengths and weaknesses of the resource. Encarta provides no such help in evaluating the work, and provides a citation to use, incorrectly suggesting that it is worthy of citation.
I wonder, given Joe Klein's recent troubles, when schools are going to start banning Time Magazine. Or maybe we should just start thinking critically? Bring on "Intelligent" Design!

Speaking of Joe Klein, here's Firedog Lake's latest after Pete Hoekstra defends his buddy Klein and reveals himself as the source of the misinformation on the FISA issue (including a discussion with an ACLU rep in the comments):
[after quoting Hoekstra] The level of mendacity in this self-serving, factually and legally inaccurate tripe would be shocking if I didn’t see the reason for it: Klein is in a bind for not double checking on his facts, Time is embarassed because they didn’t bother to do so either, and Hoekstra is livid that his GOP tap dance is in danger of being exposed as shill service for the WH – so he’s trying to spin his way out of the inaccuracies of his own planting.
Also, you can't beat a direct reference to the Fourth Amendment in a blog post. Ahhh....direct source citation (links and all!). Good stuff.

And last but not least...
Ever heard of the Long Johns? Me either...until Metafilter linked to this hilarious clip in which they discuss our economic capriciousness.

"We're back to happy days again" and "High is good."

Happy other people's genius Friday!

If you think you have some genius worth citing (or know someone who does), let us know.

Nothing New byslag at 12:40 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The US News Media Want(s) You!

Glenn Greenwald has been on fire documenting Time Magazine's willingness to be used as an administration mouthpiece and lack of accountability. In the process, he has been articulately explaining how Time's problems are emblematic of those of the US news media as a whole. It all started with Joe Klein's foot-in-mouth disease when he (according to Greenwald) inaccurately said this:

Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi quashed the House Intelligence Committee's bipartisan effort and supported a Democratic bill that -- Limbaugh is salivating -- would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court, an institution founded to protect the rights of U.S. citizens only. In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid.
[emphasis is Greenwald's]
Since Glenn Greenwald and others have thoroughly and inarguably debunked much of this statement by directly quoting the bill itself, requests have been made to Time for a correction. Here is Time's original online correction:
In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.
Obviously, as Greenwald shows us here, here, and here, this "correction" is...um...a bit lacking.

The fact is that, without Greenwald's dogged debunkery, this inaccuracy would have gone completely unchallenged (as has probably happened so many times before). And as a result, the larger story that builds upon inaccuracies such as this one--the one that says democrats are playing politics instead of doing their job of upholding the constitution--would get another brick added to its foundation. And we, as citizens, as taxpayers, as news consumers are apparently supposed to be satisfied with: "Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't"?!? It's unfortunate that Time and others in the media treat this significant civil liberties issue with such blatant unconcern. In reality, some of us have a sneaking suspicion that this stuff kind of impacts our lives (I hear we even pay people to do it!).

It's clearly difficult for those who are so above the fray to understand this bizarre concept, but politics isn't a clash of the titans; it's not a game of baseball; and it's not a Miss America pageant. To quote Bill Clinton: politics is people. And until the people who are most severely impacted by these issues become the focus of every single political story written by the mainstream news media, the rest of us are going to have to spend the time--that we don't actually have--to become dogged debunkers ourselves. And when we read stories that don't pass the most basic sniff test, we need to spend the time--that we don't actually have--to check them out and dispense the karmic justice that is so well deserved. Because at the end of the day, the people are the ones who do the work, buy the newspapers, and fight the wars. It seems like we should have some sort of consideration in these things...kind of like one would in a democracy or something.

PS Are the grammar police going to taze me for treating the media as singular in this image and post? It seems wrong, when you talk about media as a monolithic entity--which it so often seems to be--to pluralize it.

Nothing New byslag at 9:48 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Thank God for the War on Christmas!

Coming back from my vegetarian, secular humanist Thanksgiving holiday, I have to admit I was feeling quite optimistic (jaunty, even). For the first time in several years, I went ice skating, hung out at used book stores, and watched old movies instead of work, work, working. And in this spirit, I even started to put together a holiday book wish-list and telling myself that, if people insist on giving gifts, I might as well get something good out of it. As someone who has traditionally buried my head under the covers for as long as possible this time of year, I was contemplating this new frame of mind with some satisfaction. As I'm not much of a traditionalist, why should I continue to stick with my traditional role as the tanenbaum-squashing grinch if I'm not feeling it? It's time to let that go, and enjoy all of the winter season's accoutrements, including festive lights, appalling quantities of food, and exciting reindeer games.

Happily, however, conservatives are doing their best to preserve the tradition of cynicism by continuing to play their role as professional victims in their war on xmas:

Much like the Christmas shopping season, the ACLU's War on Christmas begins earlier and earlier every year. This year in Fort Collins, Colorado, the city council decided to revise their policies to honor appropriately the holiday that almost ninety percent of America celebrates as Christmas. A task force was drawn up, given their task, and put to work.
Hmmm...maybe instead of a book wish-list, I'll just ask for donations to the ACLU this year.

Nothing New byslag at 7:13 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Suddenly the Blog Looks Shiny and New

In the midst of an SoN (we)blog redesign. Gotta run now, but thoughts?

UPDATE: Or not. Still working on it. Patience please.

UPDATE 2: Screenshot madness.


After the first change up, we decided that 3 columns is 1 column too many for a blog, so we went with this last design. More discussion about the blog re-design later. For now, other stuff to do!

Nothing New byslag at 12:59 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Summarize Me: Pakistan

We, at Some of Nothing, like learning about stuff. But sometimes, we're just too busy doing Nothing to get out in the world and learn everything about the stuff we want to know about. In these situations, we declare our appreciation for the short-ish, educational, and preferably witty summary that catches us up on world events. We've mentioned this before when discussing Sam Seder's video summary of the telecom immunity issue, so we've decided to create a new feature called "Summarize Me". This issue of Summarize Me is devoted to Pakistan and features John Green, from Brotherhood 2.0, briefly summarizing Pakistan's political situation while eating a box of Peeps.

(as an added bonus, it reminds us of another funny song lyric: "He thinks it's not kosher!" from Clash's Rock the Casbah)
A bit about Brotherhood 2.0: It's a highly involving vlog created by two self-declared nurds/geek brothers who communicate every weekday for an entire year (2007) through web video (wideo?). They've got some serious nerdfighting (for nerds--not against) cache along with their own brand of karmic justice.

Nothing New byslag at 5:26 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius

xkcd is on part 5 of their great 1337 series:

This was me yesterday. Except that my hands were covered in cake batter and I was IMing my friend, Steve, to ask for some baking advice. One of these days I'll have the skills it takes to be a geeky cartoon superhero...I just know it!

Similarly, Orcinus on a woman's place:

In my all-too-brief half-decade as a stay-at-home dad, it was one of my more troubling observations that a lot of the undercurrent among at least some of the mothers of resentment, and a general view of childrearing as drudgery, was actually a product of prevailing social attitudes like Thayn's: that it's naturally the woman's responsibility in a family to be the chief child-care provider and overseer -- that this expectation has a dehumanizing and devaluing effect on what it is they do. Certainly it seemed to me to rob some of them of the joy of parenthood.

No need to feel they "joy" here, but we do feel your pain.

And for more on the sexism front (seems to be a popular theme these days), we go to The Oyster's Garter:

Wow, and I thought I was being a little hyperbolic on the sexism in Bee Movie. Not so, my precious, not so. Warner Brothers president of production Jeff Robinov explicitly decreed that “[w]e are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”.

Joss? Joss? WHERE ARE YOU?

And on a different note...
The Seminal offers advice on how to get started following foreign affairs:
For citizens: pick a country to follow. Don’t try to take on the whole panorama of news at once. Instead, slowly get to know one nation, its leaders, its politics. Inevitably, you will find yourself learning about the countries that border on that country. You’ll also find yourself making comparisons with other parts of the world. Nigeria, Turkey, Morocco, India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Venezuela, and Mexico would all be interesting studies, if you’re looking for a place to get started.
We like practical advice. Juan Cole has some good stuff too.

Happy (short) Other People's Genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 9:28 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

You have a very sexy brain

OK. It's time to come clean on two counts. First, the reason the blog has been a bit neglected lately is that a variety of events have been converging this week. The most significant of said events is that today we celebrate the year's holiday most worthy of attention (according to me). And the second is that when we awarded this year's sexy brain to Joss Whedon, we did not disclose the fact that Some of Nothing friends and family were removed from consideration. The reasons for this decision are fairly obvious: this de facto disqualification is a fairly common practice when giving out awards, and also, we didn't want to diminish what certainly must be a spectacularly valuable (not redeemable for cash) award by including a disclaimer in the presentation. So, now that my own conscience is clean, we are to the point.

I have spent much of today in the kitchen attempting to bake. I say "attempting" because in this spirit of full disclosure, Lucille Ball ain't got nothin' on me when it comes to destroying all things culinary. It is not an exaggeration to say that a good day in the kitchen for me is when nothing catches on fire. The reason for this is two-fold: under-confidence and over-confidence. Under-confidence reveals itself when trying to measure 2/3 cups of water and literally goes something like this: "hmmm...2/3 of a cup. I can't remember--is that measured from the top of the meniscus or from the bottom? I'm pretty sure it's the bottom. But maybe not. OK. I can figure this out. What causes the meniscus? I wanna say friction...but no, that can't be right. I'll ask Wikipedia. No, the laptop's way over there--no time. Why is it that I can remember the name of the meniscus, but I can't remember why it happens? This is the problem with our education system--all names and dates and no connections or context. No wonder we're so far behind in math and science. Well, it's probably just me and not--Doh! The butter is burning..." (undramatized re-enactment of very recent events). And over-confidence: "it probably won't hurt anything if I just substitute regular milk with soy" (undramatized re-enactment of slightly less recent events). So, now you know that you really don't want to come over for dinner. But back to the point.

There is one person in this world for whom I would spend the entire day sacrificing my time, my empire building-related activities, and what's left of my dignity. There is one person who I can hang out with ad infinitum and never find myself wishing to be elsewhere--dispensing karmic justice or reading a good book. There is one person who, even after many moons, still surprises me with his intelligence, strength, insight, and unparalleled generosity of mind. There is one person I know who can, without fail, make the world a much better place (and me, a much better person) just by being who he is. And according to me, that one person has the sexiest brain of all.

Gosh. I hope this cake doesn't kill him.

(If any of our readers have been patient/interested enough to get to this point, feel free to pass this sexy brain image on to those on your list.)

PS I'm going to try to harangue a few fellow Some of Nothing-ers into doing some blogging so you can be spared sap such as this. Stay tuned...

Nothing New byslag at 3:10 PM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Modify Me

Via Sam Seder: Lawrence Lessig gives a great speech at TED about copyright, creative commons, and the internet. Seder, Lessig, TED...good times!

If you get a chance, check out some other speeches made at TED. Much awesomeness to behold.

PS Still working on the graphic, but must sleep now. What else is new?

Nothing New byslag at 12:46 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Kids and Karmic Justice

Some of us at Some of Nothing prefer behaving like children over having them. However, we recognize that, to make people agents of karmic justice, it's easiest to start brainwashing them when they're young. But to our surprise, we've found that brainwashing people into using their brains isn't as easy as it sounds. So, some of us have infiltrated (started volunteering for) an awesome, though unsuspecting, organization called 826, which offers free tutoring to kids and encourages them to express themselves through writing (never fear--we manipulate 826's database; it's the job of others to manipulate the children). Recently, 826 had their People Talking and Singing (PTAS) benefit, which brings people together for a fun night of...well, talking and singing. Here's an entertaining clip of the beginning of this year's PTAS:

Oh yeah, and if you're thinking we posted this entertaining clip to avoid having to write a real post, you are correct. But not to worry. We're not lacking material--just time.

Nothing New byslag at 8:11 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Show us your Whiz-ness

Time to get crazy with the cheese whiz and document funny song lyrics. My top 3 so far:

  1. Fill up and you don't have to pay (from Car Wash by Rose Royce)--one of the greatest song lyrics evah; I think it's the combination of the words and the high pitch of the voice that really makes it.
  2. There's no coast of Nebraska (from Starlings of the Slipstream by Pavement)--There is a cornucopia of funny Pavement lyrics out there, but this one cracks me up every time. Random truth-telling at its finest.
  3. There ain't no party like my nana's tea party (from Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros by Flight of the Conchords)--This lyric actually inspired this post. Funny New Zealand duo video below:

And the "Did ya get me my Cheese Whiz, boy" line? Not Beck. The Blues Brothers movie (not a song lyric, but random is as random does). Funniest lyric (if we can call it that) from the Blues Brothers, IMHO: "You, me, THEM, everybody".

Don't hold back now...give up your list!

Nothing New byslag at 9:47 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

When Media Collide

This sounds bizarre coming from someone without any television reception, but I must admit that I'm enthralled by the WGA strike. I'm so enthralled that I began writing this crazy long post about how this situation encapsulates so many of our major MEDIA problems and how the problem with the media is not that it's liberal or corporate but instead largely incompetent yadda yadda yadda. But by the time I got to the point of including the Venn diagram, I decided to pull the plug and instead relate what those who not only have tv, but who actually work in it, say about this issue. Many of the following quotes were brought to our attention by none other than Mr. Sexy Brain himself, Joss Whedon, via Whedonesque--where all the cool kids go to chat (sadly, we're not cool enough to chat, but luckily, we are cool enough to steal).

First, in the LA Times, Marshall Herskovitz is totally talkin' our language when he notes the FCC's complicity in the corruption of our youth (via bad tv):

Today there are zero independent production companies making scripted television. They were all forced out of business by the networks' insistence -- following the FCC's fin-syn ruling -- on owning part or all of every program they broadcast.

The fin-syn rules that he discusses in this article are briefly summarized here and the fight over them is discussed at greater length here. And while Bill Clinton still gets a lot of flak for signing the 1996 US Telecommunications Act, it's not as much as he deserves. As in a lot of situations, when all this deregulation was going down, there was quite a bit of media attention paid to the "battle" aspect of the discussion as opposed to the "consequences" aspect. That is, we were wondering which special interest group had the political pull to win it, but we--with few exceptions--failed to look down the road to see what "winning it" would really mean to us common folk who would be significantly affected by its outcome. (Here's where I wish we actually had an international symbol for incompetence.)

At the end of the article, Herskovitz really brings it home:
Within five years there won't be a significant distinction between TV and broadband. As of now, the Internet is just too big for any company to get its hands around, and that's good for all of us. If the large companies -- and the FCC -- cannot come to comprehend the paradox that too much control is destructive to their own ends, they may bring about their own downfall, losing their audience and their workers at the same time. Like carriage makers at the dawn of the auto age.

This is one HUGE reason why we need to fight so hard for fairness on the internet. We don't want to keep seeing these retrospectives on what we did wrong. We want to look ahead to what we can do right.

Now, for the fun part of this conversation. Mr. Whedon himself explains his own perspective on the strike and some of the coverage of the strike. In response to an Entertainment Weekly article, which includes this statement:

“…so far nobody in Hollywood has figured out how to get really rich on the internet. If the writers and producers agree on one thing, however, it’s that someday somebody WILL – and they both want to be there with their wallets open.”

He says:

Putting writers on a par with multibillion dollar companies is certainly an odd perspective. Their wallets are, shall we say, bigger. Than your house. (“Producers” is a misnomer in this case; most producers in television are writers. All television production is run through the studios now.) The sum total of the residuals being asked for in a year wouldn’t equal one of these moguls’ salaries – it wouldn’t even scratch the actual yearly profit of their company. The paragraph continues with the famous argument Nick Counter presents against giving us a decent fixed percentage: There’s no “business model” for the internet, so we don’t know how much money there is. Okay, class, all together: two and a half percent is two and half percent NO MATTER WHAT. It is never more. However much money there is, or isn’t, it still almost all goes to them.

As usual, Whedon clarifies the matter with wit and, well, more wit. This example also illustrates the incongruity of this argument by Michael Eisner that the strike is "stupid":

He said writers were "misguided" in their efforts to gain a larger piece of revenue from digital distribution, since "there is no money being made...yet."

And of course, this brings immediately to mind the HI-larious Jayne quote from the Serenity episode of Firefly, which teaches us all we really need to know about percentages:

"Ten percent of nuthin' is...let me do the math here...nuthin' into nuthin'...carry the nuthin'..."

Which makes me say to Mr. Eisner: Either the writer who put those words in Jayne's mouth is much, much smarter than you, or you and your disingenuous minions are deliberately trying to convolute this issue to serve your own knavish ends. You can pick one or the other, but you can't have both. No matter what, you should really just go back to playing with your Mickey Mouse because your "delusions of standing" here aren't helping your case at all.

And finally, we come back to the value of the internet in dispensing karmic justice:
I guess being at the heart of something and then seeing an outsider’s gross misapprehensions about it was too much of a rollercoaster for this sick boy (not to be confused with Sick Boy from “Trainspotting”, who is less phlegmy and more confusingly hot). So I rant, and you have to suffer for it. And I totally lied about that great joke. I got nothin’. But I can’t let this shoddy journalism go unanswered. They have turned me into a blogger. And that I do not forgive.

Well, Mr. Whedon, welcome to our world. While it's not quite as shiny as the ones you create, we do what we can with it.

Oh yeah...we're thrilled that you accept your sexy brain award:
"All the bestiness, your own Mr Sexy Brain of 2007."
If only we could get more journalists to watch your shows. They just might learn sumthin'.

PS To All: We're desperately trying to come up with some decent net neutrality images but are still unhappy with them. More to come on that, but in the meantime, suggestions on this one? Does the retro-'80s style annoy? What say you?

Nothing New byslag at 9:23 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius

Friday again already? Welcome to the 2nd edition of Other People's Genius. Without further ado...

Naomi Klein's Baghdad Year Zero represents one of those moments in a conversation when someone brings up a point so poignant, so incontrovertible, yet so beyond the collectively predetermined mindset that everyone just stares blankly at each other for a minute before carrying on as if nothing was ever said. It's old but required reading now that her latest book, The Shock Doctrine, is out in hardback.

In one place on Earth, the theory would finally be put into practice in its most perfect and uncompromised form. A country of 25 million would not be rebuilt as it was before the war; it would be erased, disappeared. In its place would spring forth a gleaming showroom for laissez-faire economics, a utopia such as the world had never seen. Every policy that liberates multinational corporations to pursue their quest for profit would be put into place: a shrunken state, a flexible workforce, open borders, minimal taxes, no tariffs, no ownership restrictions.
Also, courtesy of Georgetown Tales, the guy who plays Lloyd in Say Anything interviews Ms. Klein.

On a different note: there's something so inspiring about people getting together to support a cause they feel passionate about. Such is the case with Fans4Writers who represent a group of Joss Whedon and other writer fans who are out in force to support the guild's strike.
The fans4writers.com site represents an effort born from fans of Joss Whedon at the WHEDONesque website. As supporters of the people behind the scenes who develop and write the stories that have meant so much to so many, we wanted to do something tangible to show them that we support the Writers Guild of America strike.
I know many of us are deeply ambivalent about the tube, but let's be honest: when you're trapped in a pile of manure and happen to find a lily, you're going to breathe every ounce of fragrance out of that sucker before you let it go. Luckily, with the DVD and the internets, we can skip the manure and just grab the lilies. Inhale deeply, my friends.

Finally, courtesy of the YouTube and MiaCulpa, here's Stephen Colbert being funny at some Glamour awards ceremony honoring Nancy Pelosi. One seriously wonders whether these people are smart enough to know that he's outright mocking them.

The question of the night: what does Nancy Pelosi look for in a man? (I'm just guessing here)

Nothing New byslag at 3:03 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Joss Whedon: Sexy Brain

As faithful readers are aware, Some of Nothing's mission in the world is to dispense karmic justice. This means that we use what little talent and energy we have to try to correct the things we think are wrong with the world (e.g., inequality, environmental degradation, bad grammar) and show off the things we think are right (e.g., democratic ideals, creativity, good hygiene). One of our most basic rights that is often overlooked and intentionally undermined is our intelligence. Apparently, there is a myth being perpetuated by knaves and NASCAR fans (not all of them) that suggests that those of us who think more, actually feel less. That being "clever" is actually somehow a bad thing and that the way to get in good with the people is to check your brain at the door, throw your hands in the air, and then go out for a brewsky to celebrate with your comrades in unconsciousness. However, we at Some of Nothing think that's utter nonsense and are here to say what no good physician will ever admit: the way to our hearts is through our minds. Based on this notion, we have created a brand new (not redeemable for cash) award--the sexy brain.

Needless to say, on this momentous occasion, we had some difficulty determining who would be the first sexy brain recipient. With so many sexy brains in the world, we knew it had to be someone special. Someone whose brain was so sexy that it would keep us up at night--thrilled by its perspicacity while we slowly, gently peeled back its layers of subtlety. Someone whose brain could take many different positions on a topic while continuing to surge forth with one overarching recondite idea. Someone who had a brain of both sensitivity and vigor and who was adept at using every inch of it to achieve a vital objective. And that someone was none other than Joss Whedon.

There are some of us who say, with zero hyperbole, that Joss Whedon is the William Shakespeare of our time. It is important to note that Shakespeare was a writer for the common man, that he used his eloquence and wit to wring the truth out of every subject, that he significantly contributed to the English language by inventing and popularizing new words, and that he wore funny clothes. Creator and writer of the heroically human characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly (among other shows), Joss Whedon does all of those things and apparently plays several musical instruments as well. He is geeky of his own accord, can write a TV musical that doesn't suck, and prefers skim milk (yeah, that was a weak joke). Beyond all this, he gives incredibly honest, humorous, and high-minded speeches:

This speech really shows off Joss' sexy brain--must watch.

In spite of the fact that Some of Nothing has for many moons been a relatively sans-TV organization, we recognize those who inspire us with their spectacular stories, clever dialog, and complexly beautiful perspectives. And since the few television shows we do enjoy come to us by way of DVD or the internets, we want those sexy minds to be rewarded accordingly. So, to Joss Whedon--one of the humans involved in the Writers Guild strike, we at Some of Nothing are pleased to present the very first sexy brain award.

Nothing New byslag at 1:46 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Why Are Republicans So Afraid of Girls?

You know, I like to think that certain idiocies that happen to reveal themselves from time to time are aberrations and not remotely worth my concern. However, as we've repeatedly learned, simply ignoring dumbassery doesn't make it go away. For instance, when I read this article in the New York Times that talks about how women are continually stuck in the bitch/doormat conundrum, I totally felt the truth of it (having been there myself) but then determined that men (though not to the same extreme or with the same consequences associated) have similar issues when expected to be both strong and sensitive. We'll ignore for now that the NYT revealed its own position on this issue by putting the article in its STYLE section, and move on to other, more repugnant, forms of misogyny.

When Ann Coulter declared that she'd like to take the vote away from women, I just assumed that everyone saw it for what it was: one of her many pathetically desperate attempts at becoming Fox News' favorite concubine. However, tragically, I have come across a blogger (along with hangers on) who not only agrees with Coulter but seems relieved that someone finally had the guts to stand up against women:

What Ann understands and so many nominal conservatives do not is that women's suffrage is completely incompatible with human liberty or a republic as described in the U.S. Constitution. The two cannot co-exist. One cannot defend freedom on the basis of emotion, as fear always runs to promises of security, however nebulous.

It's interesting to note that since women received the right to vote, no bald politician has been elected in either the United States or the UK with the exception of Eisenhower and Churchill. (Atlee was bald too, but he was running against Churchill so there was no hair option in 1945.) And being bona fide war heroes, both Churchill and Eisenhower represented security even more than the archtypical tall politician with executive hair; neither one of them were capable of winning in less extraordinary times.

This statement is jaw-droppingly fascinating to me. Couched in the language of rationality, the basest, most absurd arguments appear even more idiotic than when a silly caricature such as Ann Coulter says them...how is this possible? Apparently, this blogger either doesn't count women as humans or has the most arcane definition of liberty I've ever come across. Nonetheless, with a statement so internally illogical, I won't spend too much time on it other than to illuminate for others what, apparently, has been hidden from me for so long: Dude, these people still exist!

Also, as far as the whole taking the vote away from women thing goes: I'm open to it. Let's start with Ann Coulter and leave it there for...oh...a hundred years or so just to see how it works out. Nothing like a little empirical evidence to prove a point. And if Ann Coulter were truly as patriotic as she claims, she would have no problem refusing to vote--for the sake of the Republic.

How's that for internally illogical?

UPDATE: Feministing.com comments on Tucker Carlson's recent anti-suffrage statement. Apparently, it's going around.

Nothing New byslag at 12:00 PM 17 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Freedom on the March

There's something to be said for just taking the pill. This Sunday, taking the pill meant getting up early to attend the church of pugilism and watching Control Room for the first time. In the case of pugilism, I spent every punch trying to focus on feeling my feet on the floor. In the case of Control Room, I spent most of the time trying to avoid getting frustrated, upset, and angry. Both tactics were designed to achieve the same result: obtaining intellectual/emotional distance from a situation long enough to get a glimpse into its fundamental mechanics.

Obviously, in boxing, we hit things with our hands. Consequently, when we want to hit harder, our initial instinct is to focus more energy into our arms and fists. This is where the glove meets the bag. However, because we can get significantly more energy from our legs, focusing only on our upper body is not only inefficient, but it's a good way to get a whoopin' if we ever get into a fight with someone who has more upper body strength (and for most girls, that's most guys). So, we need to take a step back (literally) and work from the ground up. And in the process of working to punch from our feet, we also try to observe the spots in our bodies where we're using extra strength to compensate for extra weakness--preferably, before we get injured.

While this sounds like a straightforward process, it can be incredibly difficult to achieve for someone who is stridently focused on solving problems because it adds more complexity--more opportunities to observe imperfections that can't all be dealt with at once. This brings me to Control Room. The reason I've avoided this movie for so long is because I knew that what it was about--the run up to the Iraq invasion and all the emotional and intellectual carnage involved therein. And it was being told from a "media" perspective, which necessarily meant that there would be spin. With all of these areas of complexity to focus on, I knew that frustration and the requisite feeling of impotence would ensue. And one doesn't just sign up for that sort of thing without attempting to adequately prepare beforehand.

In this case, boxing in the morning actually provided some of the preparation. There's a reason we call it "church of pugilism", and that's because every time we attend, it reminds us how weak and pathetic we actually are (and we assume that's really what church is all about). And at the same time, it gives us an avenue to deal with our imperfections. If we focus on intellectually observing our bodies as we punch, we find specific areas to improve on. So, the next time we show up, maybe we'll be a little less weak and pathetic. And the painful realization that we can't solve all of our problems in one day is actually quite liberating because (for the day, at least) it reminds us that that's what life is all about--slowly but surely becoming better at the things into which we decide to put our effort.

It would be a lie to say that this preparation preserved me from all of the uncomfortable feelings that attended a sense of frustration and impotence. Control Room highlighted the most significant weaknesses of our society--our apathy, our malleability, and our instinctual need to assert strength in order to compensate for our feeling of weakness. And just as with boxing, it demonstrated how, by acting solely from initial instinct (fear), we have been inefficient and have, invariably, received a bit of a whoopin'. It was amazing to see how much insight into American politics, media, and psychology can be had by people who live all the way on the other side of the world. Along with this insight came an obvious admiration of our democratic foundation and the awareness that, in spite of our imperfections, we are always striving to become better.

As Al Gore says, when we--as a society--are deprived of our reason (when we punch out of instinct and fail to step back and observe where we're feeling weakness), democracy itself can receive injury. We have observed this repeatedly since September 11th with the suspension of habeas corpus, our flouting of the Geneva Conventions, and our tolerance for lawlessness on the part of our government--all in the name of protection for our freedom. It seems obvious that we desperately need to deal with our weaknesses to not only prevent further injury but also to eventually make us much stronger. And we do this--not by being afraid to acknowledge them or by compensating for them by exerting other strengths--but instead, by connecting our feet to the ground to remember where we stand and understanding how we, as Americans, operate. Because, despite all assertions to the contrary, not collectively thinking about the problem doesn't make it go away; it just makes us even more afraid of--and vulnerable to--further injury.

PS For the latest on this issue, take a look at Glenn Greewald's recent post--timing is eerie.

Nothing New byslag at 7:49 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius

Getting tired of reading about Some of Nothing's genius? Well, this new Friday regular post is for you. It's all about the genius of others (from a Some of Nothing perspective, of course).

Bottle of Blog has a great post about how transparency in our government is so essential and yet is being threatened by authoritarianism (this theme keeps coming up lately--is there a memo I didn't get or is it that we're finally catching on?).

What kind of a man--what kind of an American--thinks he's defending and protecting the security of a free nation when he opposes the right of The People to know what their representative government is doing???

Deltoid is still tirelessly (and futilely?) trying to debunk the "debunkery" of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Much luck!
Michael Dobbs continues to disappoint as the Washington Post's Fact Checker. In his new column he refuses to correct the mistake he made when he wrongly said that the judge had found "nine significant errors" in An Inconvenient Truth.

The Situationist discusses the bias behind our thoughts, as compared to our actions, in an effort to relieve us of our objectiv(ist?) mythology.
Because bias tends to occur non-consciously, searching for it in one’s explicit thoughts is a little like looking for one’s car in the refrigerator. In assessing other peoples’ bias, however, we tend to look at their behavior. Although people’s actions are certainly an imperfect indicator of non-conscious bias, it’s about as close as one is generally going to get to peering into the garage.

Finally, Crooks and Liars posts the ultimate Colbert clip (it's like looking into a mirror looking into a mirror looking into a mirror). So funny! So sad! So true!
Exactly what job are they all applying for? Because lets face it, just saying ‘I want to be president’ these days is a pretty cagey answer. By that do they mean commander-in-chief as described in Article II of the Constitution? Or George Bush’s job?

Happy Other People's Genius Friday.

Nothing New byslag at 1:57 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Giuliani's Pre-9/11 Mindset Meets the Sloganator

Back in 1999, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell scaled back the city's "millenium" New Year's Eve party due to concerns about terrorism. At the time, I remember my Republican family members complaining that we were "letting the terrorists win" by not partying down like it was...well, 1999. Personally, I didn't really care too much about partying, and while I didn't like the idea of "letting the terrorists win," I just let them wallow in their self-righteousness and went to bed early that New Year's Eve (does anyone else think this is a stupid made-up holiday?). Long story short, back then I didn't fully understand the whole right wing noise machine concept so didn't really look into where said Republicans were getting their thoughts from. Lately, with this constant nonsense about the "pre-9/11 mindset", I figured I'd do a little checking into it and was a bit surprised at the results.

Not many city officials criticized Schell for the maneuver, given the WTO issues we had and the fact that Ahmed Ressam was caught just a couple of weeks before at the Canadian border. However, there was one stand-out who had the courage to stand up for life, liberty, and our right to party. That brave freedom fighter was none other than NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani:

"I would urge people not to let the psychology of fear infect the way they act, otherwise we have let the terrorist win without anybody striking a blow. No mayor, no governor, can offer anyone perfect security. Life involves a level of risk."

Hmmm...apparently, instead of preventing mass terrorist-related devastation, we're supposed to wait for someone to strike "a blow" and then clean it up? Don't get me wrong, I'm actually partially agreeing with this statement. I DO think that we need to assume a certain "level of risk" in life and not run cowering under our beds when mean people try to hurt us. However, as in all things, there are trade-offs to be made. Personally, I'm willing to trade a night of drunken boredom for a little security. However, I'm not willing to trade my ideals, my freedoms, and my country for it. I despise tyranny in all forms, including unlawful spying, torture, and secret detainment (and that burqa will find its way up someone's a-- before it ever finds its way on to me). In fact, at this point, I would agree with GW's "Bring it on" statement if it meant really standing up for something meaningful--like democracy and law. I agree with those who suggest that we stop "fighting them over there" (since none of us over here are doing any of the fighting) and start fighting them over here, using our intelligence, our courage, and our legal system (and all the rubberband guns we can get our hands on--but mostly our intelligence, courage, and legal system). I'm all for taking on people who threaten my freedom, which is why I (most courageously :) fired up the sloganator for the occasion...

Hell yes, I'm stuck in the pre-9/11 mindset. That mindset is also called "values". And if you want to be appalled at Giuliani's post-9/11 mindset, have at it.

Nothing New byslag at 8:38 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

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