Blog Archives

I had a dream last night – bear with me, this is not just a post about my “weird dream” – that I was out somewhere and there were these cute baby goats. I kept trying to take a picture of the baby goats with my phone but the camera on my phone just wouldn’t work. I never got a picture of the goats and, in fact, even said to myself “There are no goats. This is a dream.” right before I woke up.

But the goats aren’t the important part. The camera is. As it happens, I’ve been having some difficulty with my camera phone lately. So the problems in the dream were not usual or off-the-wall. But I’ve had this dream before. This is the first time it has involved goats, but my inability to take a picture has become a recurring thing.

I wonder if anyone else has had that happen in a dream. Or more than one. And if so, what that might be tapping into.

Collective dreams are not that uncommon. A lot of people have dreams of losing their teeth, showing up naked, or that class that you’ve never studied for and there is a test. That last one is of particular interest because it is the most situation or society specific. Losing teeth is one of the oldest problems in the history of problems. Being naked goes back to whenever we first started wearing clothes. But school? As a universal thing? In the greater scheme of things, that’s pretty recent. Yet our collective subconscious has adapted it into an exemplar of unpreparadness.

These social dreams are interesting because they don’t appear to be something we get from one another. It’s not that we hear about someone having a dream about X and our subconscious says “Ohhhh, that’s a good way to rag myself over lack of preparedness.” A lot of us have these dreams for really long times before realizing that other people are dreaming them.

Do any of you have dreams involving cameras or other modern inventions malfunctioning?


Category: Bedroom

So far good. In fact, a pretty good looking guy for his age.

So far, still good. In fact, that’s a nice head of hair.

Something went horribly wrong here.


Category: Theater

Once again, I have a somewhat sqishy view of the whole thing. But one that will put me mostly outside of my class’s mainstream. This doesn’t include all of my thoughts on the whole thing, but includes a lot of them.

Pro: First, I don’t really blame Google for firing him. When he sent that out on company channels, they became responsible for it. They’re also dealing with some liability and failing to take action on this hurts them.

Anti: The above and Walter Olson make a fair case that this was partially the result of public policy rather than a strictly silent decision. Not unlike how the Obama administration basically pushed private universities across the country to some rather questionable due process policies for sexual misconduct charges. The federal government’s hands are clean, but they’re not, both at the same time.

Pro: All of this would be an issue if the memo weren’t as troublesome as it is. If it had been presented with more delicacy. If it had been some unearthed private blog instead of through company channels.

Anti: It was through company channels but was apparently not, as initially reported, a memo sent out of the blue or something emailed to everybody. Rather, it was in an internal forum dedicated to discussion of precisely these sorts of issues. Google said they wanted a free discussion. This wasn’t some memo sent out of the blue, it was part of a discussion.

Pro: Okay, but what are we, five? On what basis should he have had any faith that this was ever a free and open discussion? On what basis should he have felt free to speak his mind knowing that there were some really controversial views in there? Knowing that it would be disruptive to the workplace? Knowing that women would likely respond in a way that would make his continued empoloyment there difficult? If he didn’t know these things, he should have. Even if we ignore the fact that the left almost never wants the free and open discussion that it says it does, how did he think this would end? Did he think they would look at his statistics and say “Woah, he’s totally right. Women aren’t getting these great jobs because they don’t want them and they’re not capable.”

Anti: That’s not an accurate summary.

Pro: No, but it’s an obvious one. It’s an oversimplified response to a more nuanced argument… and if something can be summaried that way, it probably will be by someone. And if nobody wants to put nuance back in there, that’s going to be the official interpretation. Then you run into a situation where people can sit back and say “It doesn’t matter how accurate your words are. It doesn’t matter if your argument was too nuanced. People won’t work with you. You’ve got to go. QED.” And they’ll say this and they won’t be wrong.

Anti: That’s really not fair, though. It sets up a “discussion” wherein the first person says it’s all about discrimination and anybopdy responding to that is walking through a minefield. It is almost impossible to imagine a 10-page memo claiming that it’s 100% discrimination and harassment getting this kind of response.

Pro: Yes. This is a common tactic in these discussions – to win arguments by default by declaring illegitimate counterarguments (sexist, racist, etc) and counterarguers (whatever your marker of privilege is removes you from the discussion). And in this case, it works. And it works in large part because the other side blew it by actually being sexist and saying sexist things. Enough connections can be drawn between this memo and things written by people that have said some truly awful things that you’re stuck.

Anti: That’s not fair.

Pro: Maybe, but life seldom is. But it’s also not fair to tell female employees that they have to work with and under the guy and that they’re comfortable with his attitude. If they’re not, that’s a problem for them and that’s a problem for the company. A lot of people are mad at the women that no-showed, but getting employees to band together is difficult and that probably indicates existing problems.

Anti: How responsible is Memo Guy for these problems Why should be pay for Google’s sins?

Pro: He made himself a target when he introduced himself into the discussion.

Anti: The free discussion Google said it wanted.

Pro: He shouldn’t have believed that the discussion needed to include deeply unpopular points of view. His bad. He put himself in front of the Mack Truck.

Anti: But look, what he had to say hasn’t been discredited and the science is on his side.

Pro: At least some of it is. There seem to be some feedback loops going on that we have some control over above and beyond the things pointed out in the memo. Computer science has become more male over time rather than less. Their genes didn’t change, and it’s unlikely their priorities have. So culture has an effect.

Anti: Okay, even if it does, it’s not clear they’re accepting anything other than sexism as an explanation. We are, as Jesse Singal says, making Blank Slate-ism a litmus test.

Pro: Which is unfortunate. But we’d have a better way to gauge where everybody is coming from if the original piece hadn’t been as sweeping in the other direction.

Anti: What if the solution are those things you condemn, like stripping computer science of its cultural markers (Star Trek posters in the workplace, etc) and taking the freak flag down?

Pro: Well, screw that. But just because some people are too cavalier about what we can do doesn’t mean we can’t do anything.

Anti: That seems kind of weak.

Pro: Yeah, it kind of is, but no less weak than “This is just the way there is and there’s nothing we can do.”

Anti: So we’re okay with him being fired?

Pro: Yeah, I think so. He doesn’t belong on any blacklists and the list of people who should also be fired should have zero or few names on it, but it’s hard to see any other conclusion, even if it reveals some unflatting things about the conversation we’re supposed to be having.


Category: Office

Utah is lying.

Louisiana is being very honest.

Washington state is being pretentious.

New Hampshire hates God?!

If you’re Casey Affleck, you have to have mixed feelings about ChesapeakeDelaware.


Category: Elsewhere

You may be aware of the Disney movie Frozen. Lain hasn’t seen it yet, though she has an Ilsa doll that she got as a gift. But there was another movie by the name that came out a few years before.

It’s a very, very different movie.

The acting was okay. I only recognized one of the actors as the kid partner from The Following.

Not Disney’s Frozen is about three friends who get stuck on a sky lift. Nobody is going to be back for five days and if they don’t do something about it, they’re going to freeze to death. It’s an independent filmmaker’s dream of a plot, because for filming all you need to do is rent out a ski area when it’s not being used and that’s all you have to do for location expenses! All of the drama takes place right there.

The downside to that plot is that it’s hard to fill 90 minutes with it. They aren’t stuck until they’re about 30 minutes in. Some of the stretches of the movie are pretty slow. It’s one of those movies to watch while you’re doing something else.

Don’t watch it right before bed, though, because it is really really dark. I will share with you only one spoiler to give you an idea of how dark. One of the characters, after breaking his legs jumping off the ski lift, is eaten alive by wolves while the others look away. And the kicker? His fate isn’t the worst of the three.

The jumping character made the mistake of holding his legs out straight. Anyone who has ever watched movies knows that’s not what you do. It turns out that I was wrong about what you do do, though. I thought you’d be best just jumping in a ball, but you’re supposed to have bent legs that take some of the pressure as you fall. Lesson learned!

Anyway, I neither recommend the movie nor tell you to stay away from it. You can watch it for free (with ads) on TubiTV. It’s a good background movie, but only if you’re in the mood for something dark.


Category: Theater

A new CDC report could reignite the debate over Hollywood’s influence on teen tobacco use

The drop in the percentage of youth-oriented films featuring tobacco use, as well as the dramatic decline in tobacco occurrences in G and PG films, is positive. Still, tobacco impressions within films geared toward teens and young adults hasn’t improved since 2010. If it had, the CDC reports that all youth-rated films would have been completely smoke-free by 2015. Instead, “the average number of tobacco incidents increased 55 percent in youth-rated movies with any tobacco depiction,” a result of five of Hollywood’s six major movie companies — all of which have corporate tobacco depiction policies — featuring more tobacco use.

The answer to the issue lies with where, how much, and what type of tobacco is being used in cinema. In short, fewer movies are featuring not just more smoking but more kinds of tobacco use. That concentrated increase is once again raising concerns about the relationship between tobacco’s presence in media and an increased likelihood of picking up the habit.

To clarify: Smoking in youth-oriented movies is down, it’s especially down in movies aimed at younger audiences where people are most impressionable, and of course smoking rates among the young are down. They really, really need something to be alarmed about.

Smoking rates are down and have been doing down a while. Smokers are going broke paying ever-increasing taxes on cigarettes. Most people hate smoking, and smokers. More smokers than not hate smoking and themselves for their havit. Can public health at some point just declare victory and go home?


Category: Newsroom

When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

yearbookquoteThis October piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty seems kind of prescient. There’s a degree to which people who a few weeks ago were bragging about how the Deep State was going to obstruct Trump’s agenda are now freaking out that Trump is going after the Deep State.

And from November, Ed Krayewski argued that if you don’t understand how anyone could have voted for Trump, you’re why Trump won.

Never mind whether it’s fair to conservatives, Musa al-Gharbi argues that the lack of ideological diversity is hurting social research. I don’t know what you do about a feedback loop this far in, though. {More}

As Uncle Steve alludes to, it’s easier to be a sanctuary city where nobody unrich can afford to live.

Jason Richwine notes that the children of immigrants are learning English, but fears they are not sufficiently forgetting Spanish. Yeah, not too worried about that.

DishGirl writes of abortion regret and the sorry it can leave behind.


Category: Newsroom

I consider “cultural appropriation,” as such, to be an untenable charge. That’s not to say that the bad kinds of “cultural appropriation” that people point to are a-okay and that there is nothing to object to. Their often is! I can understand why Chief Wahoo makes many Native Americans mad, to pick one example. But it’s not going to be the “appropriation” that is the problem, but some accompanying aspect. Mockery is perhaps the most obvious example. But cultural appropriation as such simply can’t be bad in a pluralist or multicultural society.

You could make an argument that we ought to consider cultural appropriation in a way similar to trademark violation. We don’t allow people to use Mickey Mouse. Why should we allow them to call themselves the Fighting Sioux? Then you start getting questions about who owns what, which gets pretty messy. Worse still, you have to then assign cultural guardians for who represents the tribes, ethnic groups, and so on. This really ought to be raising some alarm bells with you. So any legal mechanism is going to be off the table, pretty much.

So we’re left with social censure. That’s what we have to do for breaches of multicultural etiquette. And when it comes to social censure, you’re never going to have 100% agreement. How we use other cultures or don’t will always be a bit tricky. But whether we can or not? It’s not clear how that can possibly be a real question in any society that claims any value to pluralism or multiculturalism. “Look but don’t touch” simply isn’t palatable. An argument in favor of multiculturalism is to be exposed to many things, and allowing intermingling of cultures provides even more. If this isn’t a good thing, what do we need those other cultures for anyway?

All of this brings me to recent events in Portland, burrito cart owners were pilloried for the high crime of cultural appropriation. They buckled under the pressure and closed shop. It’s part of a larger movement in Portland to identify and blacklist cultural appropriating restaurants in favor of authentic foreign food establishments. Cultural appropriators are often criticized for being reckless or shallow with the incorporation of other cultures. In this case, the two ladies behind Kook’s Burritos were accused of the opposite: Getting too close to the source material, stealing work product, and bringing it home.

The discussions I’ve seen so far remind me a bit of the Hot Coffee lawsuit verdict, where the critics sound like the defenders of the verdict by assuming that the other side doesn’t understand the real story and that if they did they would see how eminently reasonable the verdict/animosity is. Except that, for many (and by “many” I mean “me”), the additional information doesn’t actually help all that much. Here is the article that touched off the debate:

“I picked the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever, and they showed me a little of what they did,” Connelly says. “They told us the basic ingredients, and we saw them moving and stretching the dough similar to how pizza makers do before rolling it out with rolling pins. They wouldn’t tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into the windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look. We learned quickly it isn’t quite that easy.”

Connelly and Wilgus have turned their passion into new weekend spot Kooks Burritos, which has a concept that fits twee Portland: a breakfast burrito pop-up inside the hip Tight Tacos food cart in a Southeast Portland parking lot.

“On the drive back up to Oregon, we were still completely drooling over how good [the tortillas] were, and we decided we had to have something similar in Portland,” Connelly says. “The day after we returned, I hit the Mexican market and bought ingredients and started testing it out. Every day I started making tortillas before and after work, trying to figure out the process, timing, refrigeration and how all of that works.”

Well, she figured it out.

And here is how it was characterized:

“…We were peeking into window of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look,” she said. So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.

While describing themselves on their Yelp biography (which has since been edited), Connelly claims to have “a mean tortilla flip” while Wilgus anointed herself as the “director of vibes” and “our little abuelita with recipes from the heart”—even though the recipes were stolen.

Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created. Several of the most successful businesses in this town have been birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit. Now don’t get me wrong: cultural customs are meant to be shared. However, that’s not what happens in this city.

Much of the characterization presented suggests that this is more of an intellectual property dispute than a cultural appropriation dispute… except if you read the rest of it, it clearly isn’t. The “theft” is somewhat incidental. If they had done this in Greece, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation as the story would be received as the humorous story the ladies thought they were telling. The criticisms are very geared towards a specific sin by a very specific kind of culprit. This also has tenability problems, though that’s perhaps a post for another time. We might not be having this exact conversation if white girls hadn’t peeked at non-white cooks, but we’d be having one closer to it. It’s not clear what the original proprietors have lost here, nor is it even clear why they were less than helpful. My guess is that it had less to do with objection to white imperalism and more to do with the fact that ladies who didn’t speak Spanish well were bugging them.

More to the point, if they’d simply stolen the recipes, it wouldn’t have been nearly as hard as it evidently was to get it right. And the end product of all of this is people in Portland got to enjoy good food and no longer get to enjoy that food.

People are, of course, free to boycott any establishment they wish for whatever reason. The Kook ladies are not victims of some First Amendment violation or political persecution. To the extent that they are victims, it is in service to an ideal nobody should really want. My objection is not in their methods (though I’m definitely more hip to “Check out these actual minority-owned restaurants restaurants” than yelling “Unclean” and “Cultural Imperalism”, but the rationale for deployment in this particular case. Portland is very white. It would be a shame if their food options were unnecessarily demographically limited.


Category: Kitchen

Analysis: ESPN Lost Republican Viewers Across the Country in 2016 – Outkick the Coverage

All told, the ESPN audience across the network’s channels was already liberal in 2015 – but it became more liberal in 2016 as Republicans stopped watching:

  • The ESPN audience became 5% less Republican in 2016 than 2015 across all 43 markets analyzed.
  • ESPN2’s audience became 10% less Republican during the same time period.
  • The biggest partisan shift happened on ESPN News, whose audience became 36% less Republican and more Democratic.
  • ESPNU’s audience became 12% more Democratic in 2016 compared to 2015.
  • ESPN Deportes – whose audience already skewed very liberal – became 27% more Democratic.
  • In all, 34 of the markets included in our analysis showed the audience of the flagship ESPN network become less Republican in 2016 compared to 2015; the ESPN audience became more Republican in only 9 of the analyzed markets.


This is interesting for a couple of reasons. I have poo-pooed the notion that politics is surrounding ESPN’s troubles, but this indicates that it may at least be a factor. It makes sense for the shows suffering the most to be on ESPNews because that’s where commentary is most likely to come into play. It’s also where you would expect to see the losses anyway because the entire network has become superfluous in the Internet Age. At this point it probably ought to be rebranded. However, that they are bleeding more among Republicans seems significant?

It’s also interesting because Clay Travis and other rightward ESPN critics have claimed that ESPN is shooting itself in the foot because sports fans tend to be conservative. ESPN’s viewers, though, already tended liberal. So arguably they were actually playing to their base. Of course, that can backfire (ask the comic book industry) and perhaps it has.

Which touches on something tangential I have been meaning to mention Over There and elsewhere. The show with the highest ratings is not necessarily the show that a cable network or publication wants to run with. One of the complaints about Bret Stephens being hired by the New York Times was that their liberal columnists are more popular and therefore the Times is doing something wrong in a business sense by bringing in someone readers hate. Maybe, but… that’s not the only metric. If Stephens brings in and/or retains readers, it doesn’t matter if he’s less popular than people like Blow who are well-regarded by the people who will buy the paper anyway because of the six other columnists situated in a similar place along the ideological spectrum. On the other hand, of course, if Stephens costs the Times more readers through a boycott than it gains through new subscriptions and retention, then their point stands. For what it’s worth, I do think the hiring was a mistake, but for different reasons than liberals do and that the liberals do actually come out of it looking pretty bad.

Back to ESPN, if the network’s leftward lurch is hurting it with its more marginal viewers that is a bad thing indeed for ESPN. If they hired Rush Limbaugh to do commentary again and that kept conservative viewers around, that would be business-good.

It remains less clear to me what ESPN is doing wrong, though. There has been a lot written about how “sports media” has gone left, but that seems more due to the proliferation of leftward sports media sites rather than flagships. It seems possible that the primary complaint is simply that ESPN is not being conservative – by not coming down hard on Colin Kaepernick for example – than what they’re actually doing. If conservatives are watching less sports due to Kaepernick, I think that says more about them than ESPN. I am somewhat attuned to media slights of the right, and I just don’t see very much of it on ESPN (where I would be less inclined to shrug it off than from Gawker media).

That means either I’m missing it because it’s things like Michael Sam where I am simply on the same page as the media, or it’s happening as I am seeing it and conservatives are being snowflakes, or my initial instincts were right and it has little or nothing to do with politics.


Category: Newsroom

Espresso


Recent Comments


Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


Hit Categories


History Coffee