Monday, November 20, 2006

Thank God for Richard Dreyfuss

He obviously thinks Hollywood actors who've appeared in a film set in the sixties are allowed to hold and express political opinions. Anyhoo, he seems to think we risk the future of our democracy by not understanding its unique properties, by shortchanging the teaching of civics, by instinctively falling back into the authoritarian mode at the first hint of danger.

In short, he gets it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If I were a Woman...

which I'm not, I'd write a blog post titled,

"Stop. You had me at 'sugartits.'"

But I'm not, so I won't.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Native Son's Take on "Sweet Home, Alabama"

In several venues I've seen confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the meaning and intent of this song, and I hereby propose to shed one tiny sliver of light on the situation. (This site will point you to lots of discussion on the song.) Now, I don't really follow LynSkyn, and I understand that they have at times really milked the Southern redneck thing, performing in front of a giant confederate battle flag and the like, but I'm not here to defend what they may have become, but the sentiments stated in the song.

Neil Young and "Southern Man"

Clearly the song is a direct response in part to "Southern Man," with its lyrics, in part:

Southern man
better keep your head
Don't forget
what your good book said
Southern change
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
Southern man

Clearly this implies a condemnation of all Southern whites as being complicit in racism. It is the rejection of this blanket condemnation that is the centerpiece of the song. What I've not seen pointed out elsewhere is the inherent racism in saying "Southern man" to refer only to whites. Are male African-Americans in the South not also Southern men? Small wonder that Southern Man don't need him (Neil Young) around, anyhow.

In Birmingham They Love the Governor

This line really stands as the rosetta stone, the key to understanding the song's somewhat nuanced message. It's a pity that so few understand it. I think it's very easy for listeners, inevitably familiar with the ubiquitous images of police dogs and fire hoses, to believe this is a true reflection of the city's inherent racism. Having grown up around Birmingham, I can tell you that local lore has it that Wallace was not loved here, and that this lack of love was thoroughly requited. It's hard to say what forms the basis for this local lore. It pains me to do it, but maybe we could examine some actual data! This is cut-n-pasted from a spreadsheet available at the Alabama Secretary of State's site, with my editorial commentary in parentheses. (click to biggify.)

These are the election results from Jefferson County (composed mainly of Birmingham and its suburbs) for the votes that determined the Alabama governorship in those days: the Democratic primary or its runoff. Note that in every year except 1974, Jefferson County voted against George C. (I suppose the sympathy factor may have been at a peak then following his shooting in 1972.) Even in 1982, when Wallace won with the support of the black community statewide, he still lost JeffCo to McMillan. How could this be? Well, certainly the black community, concentrated in Birmingham, had no love for him, but IIRC even the suburban whites saw him as a redneck race-baiter who would not help to bring the state forward. Suffice it to say that Jefferson County's lack of support for the man from Clio was real and legendary. Also universally acknowledged (but much more difficult to substantiate) was Wallace's animus towards Birmingham. It was no accident, we were always told, that all the interstates, then under development statewide, stopped dead at the Jefferson County line. So when Birminghamians of a certain age hear, " In Birmingham they love the governor," it's an inside joke, with the point that not everybody in Alabama stood for segregation. I really don't have anything to say about the "Boo! Boo! Boo!" except that I always thought they said "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!" Maybe sort of a verbal sarcasm smiley.

Now we all did what we could do

Presumably by opposing Wallace. But who is "we?" I think this means the nonracist white population, but I could be wrong.

Watergate does not bother me

Of course not. The singer is not guilty of any wrongdoing, even if it's done by his elected official. Similarly there's no collective guilt for Alabamians stemming from the misdeeds of either Wallace or the racists among them.

Does your Conscience Bother You?

Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone, clean your own doorstep, yadda yadda ya.

And the Governor's True

This strikes me as a throw-away line. Note that it falls in the space where ther's a rest in the other choruses. Once we've established that the song's approach to GCW is tongue-in-cheek, it's easy to read this with some irony, i.e., the governor's true to his segregationist ways. The tragedy is that before Wallace lost in '58 to a blatant race-baiter, he was one of the more progressive Democratic judges in the state. Only after the attempted assassination in '72 and finally being out of office did he return to his original roots and ultimately regain the governorship in '82, as mentioned with the support of a remarkably different coalition.

Montgomery's got the Answer

Well, sure! Put it this way: there's a reason the Alabama legislature meets atop Goat Hill. To show how little I underestand this line, I originally thought it was "My, my, my beGONia!" (years before "My Bologna") I would doubt that state government has the answer to anything, but apparently there's another way to interpret this line. Wikipedia reports that a band member said this was a reference to the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march of ?1963; i.e., Montgomery received an answer.

To summarize, then, the message of this song is that it's not inherently racist to love Alabama, and that facile criticism from outsiders (or even, heaven forbid, Canadians) is likely to be less than completely constructive. In no way is this a paean to bigotry, or some similar crap.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Call Me...Reprehensible

So somebody's got a book out and, in the interest of generating publicity, said some pretty raw stuff about the 9/11 widows, presumably Kristen Breitweiser et al. Well, in my ever-so-umble opinion, the sacrifice of living trees to disseminate this kind of drivel qualifies as a genuine crime against nature. And she claims to be a Christian. Well, by their fruits shall you know them, etc...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Introducing Bloggor®

This is just a raw concept at this point, but I think it has potential.

See, just anyone can be a blogger, but only a blogger who adheres to the highest ethical standards can call himself a Bloggor®, else our attorneys'll haul his butt into court so fast, it'll make you say "tortfeaser," and not in a good way, if you know what I mean. Here's how it works: You agree to our Bloggor Code of Ethics (TM) and pay us cash. We only send your password out to a valid street address, so we know where you are. We let you use our mark, link to our site, and in some cases, host your pathetic little blog. If it becomes clear that you have transgressed, we will out your sorry little butt AND file suit for breach of contract. Simple, isn't it? It's not just a concept, it's a whole new paradigm!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I can live with this

You are a

Social Liberal
(75% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

but who's the lady right where I am?

Friday, June 02, 2006

...And your little dog, too!

This story just makes you plumb proud to be an Amurkan, don't it? From CNN:

Cops: Couple ordered hit on grandkids
Wanted to stop testimony at son's rape trial, police say

Friday, June 2, 2006; Posted: 12:35 p.m. EDT (16:35 GMT)

TAVARES, Florida (AP) -- A couple tried to hire a hit man to kill their three grandchildren and daughter-in-law to stop them from testifying against their son in his rape trial, authorities said.
The couple, ages 60 and 59, were charged with four counts each of criminal conspiracy to commit murder. They were being held without bond.
Police said the pair initially offered $100 to an undercover sheriff's deputy to kill their son's wife, their 10-year-old granddaughter, two step-grandchildren, ages 14 and 16, and the family dog.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gee, thanks! TMI, maybe?

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Courtesy Orac

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I get it: Environmentalism is da Bomb!

I doubt this similarity was intended, but somehow it resonates. Obviously, the little girls with their flowers represent fragile innocence and gosh-darn wholesomeness. The threat is, on the one hand, (alleged) hypermilitarism and nuclear conflagration. On the other hand, clearly it's regulation of greenhouse gases that'll snuff out that little sweetheart quicker'n you can say Kyoto!

Or was this really a subliminal homage to "Daisy Girl"? After all, the subconscious doesn't know that equating environmental regulations and mushroom clouds is laughably nonsensical.

I think the whole thing is creepy. You?

Friday, May 19, 2006

You say 'Dangerality;' I say 'Dangerosity'

...on his return to his room, [he] found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast...

Contemplating DHoism the other day, I caught myself musing, Sure, there's a bunch of dangerous professors out to destroy all that we hold dear. Obviously, most of these guys (and gals) are happy to stay undercover like the silverfish that they are, but one particularly flagrant example has decided to embrace his inner Dangerous self, even touting his status as Professor of Dangeral Studies! Well, why not bring these low-lifes out into the daylight -- we'll see how dangerous they really are. This is, I guess, the essential thesis and raisin dater of DHoism.

So, one thing led to another, and it wound up with me deciding that I oughta do my little bit to help give the whole field a kick-inthekiester-start. Yeah, I know. I'm the exact opposite of the tweedy academic type. Anything I could propose would be looked upon suspiciously, not to say with a certain detached bemusement. After all, a wink's as good as a nod, to a blind bat! Since Dr. Horowitz has kinda kindly offered a philosophical foundation for the enterprise, what's most lacking is a theoretical framework for discussion. All the other cool disciplines have one, and some have several.

So, further musing ensued. Without benefit of mescaline, cannabis, or Klonopin, it was slow going. I realized I needed a noun. All the cool theoreticians hit upon a neologism that served to crystallize that thing regarding which they theorize (or, in German, Gesundheit). Some, less creative theory guys hijack a perfectly innocent noun and, zombie-like, force it to do their bidding. "So," I'm thinking to myself, "should it be dangerosity or dangerality." Sorta like Ginger vs. Mary Ann. Which led to a blinding flash of the obvious:

WAIT JUST A COTTON-PICKIN MINUTE! I'll take BOTH, thankyouverymuch. Then, just like benzene rings organizing themselves in front of my eyes, the whole thing fell into place. Consider, if you will, the following figure:

As any fool can tell, ... uh, well, let's try it again:

where Dangerality is defined as "the propensity [of a professor] to spout such obvious liberal shibboleths as 'The evidence for human causation of global warming is overwhelming.'"

Dangerosity, on the other hand, represents straightforward Islamofascistic Bush-hating.
Note that this deceptively simple schema gives us a straightforward classification system for the Dangerous Ones (Dangies?), and, Wallah! a metric by which they may be compared, to be called Dangerousestness, wiz, the distance from the origin, given by the formula SQRT(AL^2+OS^2). Thus, in the example above, we see that Prof. B*, although not the most extreme on either Danger Dimension, is definately the most Dangerousest of all.

You can thank me later, David.

*Whom Prof. B might is left to the reader as an exercise.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Remarkable insight from GWB

I agree with the man; the best moment of his presidency was when he reeled in a perch bass. As he told Bild am Sonntag:

You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best. I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake.
I'm glad he realizes everything else was a load of BS.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reports of subjunctive's death sadly NOT overstated

I took this wonderful phonecam shot at a SCHOOL, thankyouverymuch, obviously pertaining to a WRITING assignment. Sheez, I know it's amabalA, but can't the ENGLISH teachers at least get it right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Got the POW-UH!

I'm sorry, Professor Meg. I just couldn't resist. I do think the guidelines you published are reasonable, and I agree that you probably meant authority and are not totally obsessed with total world domination.

But I could be wrong.

BTW, anyone else notice that kids these days can't even spell (or punctutate) "blah, blah, blah" anymore?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

I know, I know, long time no post. So sue me. But wait, there's a whole boatload of blame to divvy up over the Algebra kerfluffle:

First, to PZ, for an excessively, overthetoppishly, righteous smackdown of Richard Cohen.

RC: I have lived a pretty full life and never, ever used—or wanted to use—algebra.
PZ: If sheep could talk, they'd say the same thing.

Next, to Gabriela, for not even showing up for class 62 of 93 times. To get the sympathy thing going, you have to at least look like you're making an effort.

Then, to the relevant school system(s), who apparently haven't heard that insanity means doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Surely they knew when algebra became a graduation requirement that they had a high failure rate. They could have added remedial classes, done some early intervention at the "pre-algebra" level, in other words, tried to make a difference. But it sounds as though all they could do was Mulligan classes after the fact. Too little, way too late.

And finally, to Richard Cohen, for demonstrating with a clever blend of verbal jiujitsu and Calvinball, that a lack of algebra can be seen in association with really putrid reasoning:

Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not.
The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were
whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a
readable English sentence.

Now, if I understand his drift (?!?!), he's saying that if algebra were really the highest form of reasoning, then mastery of algebra would endow students with a knowledge of history and dynamite syntactic skills. Obviously these counterexamples show that is not the case, therefore any stupid BS he writes must be true. Or maybe I don't get his drift.

Richard, this is moi: Writing is the use of symbols to convey certain abstract ideas. So is algebra. But the discipline of learning the rules of symbol manipulation in algebra can help to train your mind to evaluate if one sequence of symbols follows from another. This is a skill that could benefit you in the job for which, amazingly enough, you get paid actual money. It's never too late to take that first step.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New irony meter needed

Prison official regarding lifer with cardiac disease, asked what would happen in event of cardiac arrest:

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.