Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sometimes liberals annoy me.

Burns: Now get out!
Lisa: I can't! My mom's not picking me up for an hour!
(awkward pause)
Burns: So, what do you think of today’s popular music scene?
Lisa: I think it distracts people from more important social issues.
Burns: My god, are you always on?

We're apparently not permitted to make extremely juvenile jokes at the expense of raging right-wing assholes. My godz, people. As someone who HAS been pretty seriously overweight, and may well be again, 'cause who knows how the winds of time may...blow us around. and stuff., can I just say that Daffyd ab Whatsit photoshopped with a six-foot sub is FUNNY in an absolute sense. Would I EVER have personally taken offense at something like this? Don't be idiotic. It ain't funny 'cause ha ha fat people suck; it's funny because it's incredibly juvenile. It seems like you'd have to be PRETTY MONUMENTALLY SELF-ABSORBED to think this was all about you.


Jarvis Cocker's "Cunts Are Running the World." Nobody with ANY familiarity with Pulp's oeuvre would imagine that Jarvis was a misogynist, yet apparently we cannot talk about the song without bemoaning the use of the word "cunt."


And of course of course OF COURSE: We can't just enjoy a rather standard sex act; no, we have to spend massive amounts of time pondering its sociopolitical ramifications. Crikey.


You know I'm all about fighting the good fight no blood for oil save the whales smash the patriarchy stop the war against the poor almost anything else along those lines you can THINK of, but come ON. I can't claim not to be a narcissist to some extent; otherwise, why would I imagine anyone would be interested in reading this crud? But this really takes it to another level. We're allegedly all about raising up the oppressed fighting for egalitarianism and what not, but would anyone in the world with actual problems possibly GIVE a flying fuck about this stuff? It's a good thing there aren't any funny conservatives, 'cause if there were, they could do a deadly parody of this mindset. The Manics' "Freedom of Speech Won't Feed My Children" is really starting to resonate with me here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-13

Kit learns that, rather predictably, his fundage from Vibecorp has been cut off.

TWIT wants Yashmeen to return to their fold, apparently. They talk about math.

OH NOES! Kit sees Scarsdale Vibe's henchman Foley Walker! Walker threatens him in a vague sort of way.

The drug of choice for mathematicians in Göttingen is chloral hydrate. At one of their little gatherings, it turns out that Kit's pal Humfried has overdosed on this stuff, so they pump coffee in him, but he still needs medical attention, so Kit offers to take him to the hospital, until he is accosted by Foley, which...doesn't seem to lead to anything. In the hospital, Humfried vanishes, so they decide to hospitalize Kit instead, onaccounta being crazy.

So Kit's stuck in this sanitarium. Bummer. But then he's contacted by a TWIT agent, who is there in disguise--this part riffs a bit on the JFK "Ich bin ein Berliner" thing:

"He will not harm you," Dr. Dingkopf assured him as attendants adroitly steered the patient away. "He has come to believe that he is a certain well-known pastry of Berlin--similar to your own American, as you would say, Jelly-doughnut." (626)

This individual gets Kit sprung and meets Yashmeen--they meet up with Twit travel coördinator Lionel Swome, who tells them that they're to go to Switzerland, pretending to be eloping. This has something to do with Shambhala. From there, Yashmeen's supposed to go somewhere, while Kit travels east to Asia. He's meant to check up on Yashmeen's pa, Auberon.

Before leaving, Kit, Yashmeen, and Günther decide to pay a visit to the "Museum der Monstrositäten." There are math-related exhibits. Of course. Günther's traveling to Mexico, to look after one of his family's coffee plantations. And...that's about all.


Friday, February 23, 2007

That's one dedicated eight-year-old

So in spite of explicitly telling my students, when I introduced the assignment, that they should NOT write their opinion papers on a topic where their main argument is "this is true because the Bible says so," I nonetheless got a paper on why gay marriage is a bad idea because...well, you know the rest.

Even by the standards of the genre, this was not a particularly well-argued piece, but there was one part I liked. I suppose there may be ethical problems with posting excerpts of a student's paper on the internet without permission (especially when it's for the purpose of bitter mockery), so I'll just paraphrase: gay marriage is bad because it will confuse children of gay parents. They won't know whether they should believe what their parents tell them, or what the Bible tells them.

...and can't you just picture a small child picking up a Bible and somehow staggering all the way through Genesis (yeah, Sodom & Gomorrah, which this student did indeed cite, is in Genesis, but nobody who wasn't looking to make an argument from the start would interpret that as saying anything about teh ghey), Exodus, and two-thirds of the way through Leviticus (working his way through lots of riveting stuff about what kinds of bugs you're allowed to eat and how to cure leprosy), and then getting to the bit about not lying with mankind as with womankind (as if an eight-year-old would have any idea what that meant), and going--"whoa! Are my parents good people, or are they an abomination, like this crazy book says? I just don't know!" Of course, if this young lad had lesbian parents, this passage would just reinforce in his mind the rightness of their relationship.

The very idea that any reader coming to the Bible with none of its cultural detritus cluttering his mind would come out of it with the strong impression that God Hate Fags is frankly mind-boggling. There is just SUCH a massive volume of crazyass shit in there that she would most likely just discount the lot of it--certainly the Old Testament. She wouldn't give the not lying with mankind bit any more weight as a moral imperative than she would the bit about Elisha summoning bears to murder the shit out of children for making fun of his baldness. And if somebody told this alien reader that this was the best-selling book in the world and that millions of people live their lives based thereon, she would think you were joking.

Disclaimer: the Old Testament contains some very nice poetry, and a lot of Jesus' teachings are right-on. But the fact remains--there is still a whole hell of a lot of crazyass shit.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who will think of the children?

NOTE: I never finished writing this, probably due to existential ennui. But here it is. Gah.

So, somewhat regrettably, I got a paper from a student about why TEH GHEY MARRIAGE is an abomination before God and whatnot. In spite of the fact that I specified that they should NOT write about something where there main argument boiled down to unfalsifiable "faith." It's pretty much boilerplate, but this bit stood out to me:

Not only is gay marriage going to confuse children about the average family life, but also confusion in their religious beliefs. The Bible states marriage to be a union between a man and a woman. Children with gay parents may not know what to believe, their parents or what The Bible says.

The whole "children with mixed-race gay parents will be left out of their peer group" is hardly a new argument--but I find that last sentence interesting. The Bible, lest we forget, is an extremely long--and frequently very, very boring--book. There are--what?--three or four very short passages therein that could be interpreted to mean that teh ghey is teh badd.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Like many young lads, I was a big fan of Weird Al Yankovic back in the day. And then, like many young men, I ceased to be a big fan of Weird Al Yankovic, because come ON. The odds are very good that if you have to actually refer to yourself as "Weird," you're really fairly conventional. Still, it was a big part of my childhood. My favorites were always the polka medleys that you would find on each album--snippets of popular songs spliced together in jaunty polka form, complete with wacky sound effects. When I started listening to his stuff, I was pretty musically illiterate--I had heard very few of the original version of the songs he parodied, and, for a good while, I didn't even understand that the polkas were medleys, since I didn't know any of the songs within--I kept trying to impose narratives on them, with, as you can imagine, limited success. It was all basically nonsense to me.

Anyway, on a whim, I decided to download some of those old polkas. And I'm glad I did. It's quite amazing how forcefully hearing "Hooked on Polkas" from Dare to Be Stupid--featuring the likes of Kenny Loggins, Duran Duran, ZZ Top, and Hall & Oates--brought back the feel of that particular time in my life. Almost Proustian. I downloaded a WHOLE BUNCH of them, and though the recent ones are kind of lost on me--I'm afraid I'm just not down with what the kidz are listening to these days--I got a real kick out of all the older ones.

There's only one that breaks away from the standard formula--"Bohemian Polka" is, as you would expect, a polka version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's pretty durned amusing--I sort of vaguely knew the original song from Wayne's World and from occasionally hearing it on the radio, and I wanted a copy of it SO BADLY. At that time, for some reason, I thought actually buying CDs was gauche or something, so my general strategy was to record stuff off the radio, usually missing the first few seconds at least, as you would expect--but I just COULD NOT find the damn thing. So, naturally, I listened to the polka version obsessively, and LIKED it, not in a particularly humorous way--when you think about it, it's not much more ludicrous than the original. Which I'm not sure if I ever found or not. Of course, now I have it on itunes. Last play: 09/20/05, 12:54 am. Once you have it, you stop wanting it. How true THAT is. I had a number of quite unreasonable song-lusts like that.

My favorite Yankovic polka, though, has to be "The Alternative Polka," from the album Bad Hair Day, which was the last one I really got into. I was in tenth grade when it came out, and it's actually sort of uncanny how well it captures my high school's prevailing musical interests--Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Soundgarden, Green Day, and so on. And while I doubt this was intentional, I have to say, hearing peppy, relentlessly up-beat quotes from Big, Serious, Angst-Ridden songs like "Closer," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "You Oughta Know"--to say nothing of Stone Temple Pilots' creepy rape anthem "Sex Type Thing"--is, in addition to being extremely funny--actually sorta kinda subversive. The last thing you'd expect, given the source.

They get inside your brain.

I have to say, the best things in The Onion these days are the UTTERLY HORRIFIC political cartoons. They're the most ham-handed, hyperbolic right-wing jingoism you can possibly imagine. Typically, they feature the Statue of Liberty weeping, either in joy at the awesomeness of Bush/Republicans/America, or in sorrow at the awfulness of Democrats/terrorists/anything vaguely progressive. I really can't nail it down, but there's something about the art that just brings it all home. You KNOW it's a satire, but you can't help muttering "but...but...NO...that's can't...I...ARGH."

These days, it ain't easy to parody right-wing rhetoric. These cartoons deserve some serious credit.

A brief, extremely tasteless, bit of duckfuckery

Mostly Bush's jizz, I think.


Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm in a pretty good mood, so please enjoy this adorable picture of a sloth mother and child:


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-12

Lew Basnight in London. He meets with Police Inspector Vance Aychrome. Aychrome tells him about an antiques dealer named Lamont Replevin, who is currently representing the Hanged Man in the tarot thing we have going on that I don't totally understand. Replevin is apparently a devotee of a new kind of communication via coal-gas. They transfer some sort of wave via the gas. Apparently. He's involved in the Shambhala business, and the Inspector wants TWIT to look into it. The Grand Cohen (Nicholas Nookshaft--I shall never cease to be amused by that name) later tells him that this Replevin actually has a map of Shambhala. Which, of course, you need a paramorphoscope to view.

So Lew goes to check it out.

He picks the guys lock, and finds him, appropriately for the Hanged Man, hanging upside down. With his head in the stove. But, as it turns out, he's not dead; he was just enjoying the latest installment of a gas-borne soap opera, The Slow and the Stupefied. Lew says he broke in because he smelled gas, and that he's an insurance underwriter. Lew suggests that he might want burglary insurance for all his antiquities, and with this as a pretext is taken to see them. And there's the map! He takes photographs, surreptitiously taking some of the map itself.

Then, he takes his leave. A rather short section.


Ain't that ducky that you're lucky if you see...

That title is a reference that NOBODY who is not related to me is going to get.

I've heard of this study. In the lack of any contrary information, I'm going to believe the study in question, in spite of some reservations I've seen. HOWEVER:

1. Given the "fuck the poor" (amongst many others) attitude prevalent among right-wing types, it's hard to see how they WOULDN'T be seen as selfish. See that one Walter Williams column that I liked to on the Draft Walter Williams blog but that I can't be bothered to look up. HOWEVER

2. The fact is, this isn't any "conventional wisdom" I'VE ever seen.

3. Given that the study he cites appears to be legit, why in god's name does he also cite a column by fucking Jonah Goldberg? Is he TRYING to sabotage his own argument?

4. I am seriously willing to bet that if you take away money donated to churches, as well as hate groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, the numbers are a lot closer.

5. You may give money to a charity, and it may even be a GOOD charity, but if you are concurrently supporting and voting for politicians who are in favor of eliminating all sorts of regulatory oversight, against making companies pay living wages, and cutting social programs all so they can fund meaningless, destructive this really a net gain?

6. From the Beliefnet story:

One [Brooks editorial] noted that people who drink alcohol moderately are more successful and charitable than those who don't (like him).

Insert Drunken Tinsley joke here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"If I fell"

Lots of early Beatles songs have somewhat dubious lyrics. This one, for instance.

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
'cause I've been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

This first verse is okay.

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

This one's sort of dubious--I mean, jeez, John, for one thing, this new girl presumably doesn't even know "her;" how's she gonna know what "more" would consist of? But more importantly, who starts a relationship by DEMANDING an ABSOLUTE GUARANTEE that it be the greatest thing ever? I don't anticipate this going particularly well.

If I trust in you, oh please
Don't run away and hide
If I love you too, oh please
Don't hurt my pride like her
'cause I couldn't stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

I don't think that's why she's running away and hiding. "Hurt my pride?" Did she hurt your precious feelings? Talk about whiny. I don't get a sense that ol' John is particularly emotionally mature here. Which would fit in with what I know of the historical record.

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
'cause I couldn't stand the pain
and I would be sad if our new love was in vain

This verse is the REAL killer. Dude. Why, exactly, are you trying to pull a guilt trip on this poor woman by telling her how much she'll be hurting your ex, whom she doesn't even know and who never did anything to her? I think your ulterior motives are a bit too obvious here. And they ain't pretty. God knows what the "'cause" is doing here. How are the two lines causally connected? IT IS A MYSTERY!

In conclusion, this song is silly.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I think we need more Walter Williams strips

Seriously, even by Tinsley standards, this is some weakass shit. What point, if any, is he trying to make? Presidential candidates want other Presidential candidates gone? WHOA. STOP THE PRESSES. And might I note that to be Obama's mother, Clinton would have had to have given birth at the age of fourteen? There ain't THAT massive of an age difference, Tinz.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-11

Yes, I am aware that this blog has pretty much devolved into Tinsley with occasional bursts of Pynchon. Ricocheting from one side of the talent scale to the other, for sure. Maybe someday soon I'll do a random ten to spice things up.

Kit in Göttingen, where he meets Yashmeen. They flirt for a while. About math, of course. Kit scribbles down a supposed solution to the Riemann theorem that has Yashmeen so obsessed. To quote a previous Pynchon novel, the only real fucking is done on paper. But then, Kit's comical flatmates, Humfried and Gottlob, return, breaking up the romantic interlude. Yashmeen excuses herself by walking through a wall, to Kit's bemusement. Gottlob talks about a religious war that's going on between rival mathematical theorists.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 happens. At least now we can place events temporally. Albeit just for this section. Kit starts noticing Russians in town. We learn a bit about Yashmeen's background:

My parents were Russian. When we lived on the frontier, my family and I one day were taken in a raid and sold as slaves. Some time later, Major Halfcourt found in a bazaar in Waziristan and became my second father. (595)

She has become involved with "a wealthy coffee scion named Günther von Quassel" (596). He too uses math as a flirtation devise. This seems to be becoming one of the novel's major preoccupations.

Here's a paragraph that I find funny:

"As a crime," Humfried pointed out, "often of the gravest sort, committed in a detective story, may often be only a pretext for the posing and solution of some narrative puzzle, so romance in this town is often pursued as little beyond a pretext for running in and out of doors, not to mention up and down stairs, while talking nonstop and, on auspicious days, screaming." (597)

Finding Yashmeen at Kit's flat (not that they're actually having an affair), Günther has no choice but to challenge Kit to a duel. Every epic novel needs one!

There's a big ol' crowd to watch them, but they start arguing about some proof of Günther's (I'm having a hard time figuring out what this is, exactly), and the crowd gets bored and disperses. They end up not fighting.

Math! Math! Math! And I am SO done with this section.


As his hero sez, words mean things.

Dude: NO. You did NOT threaten him. You demanded he run for President, and then you published his email address. There was no intermediate phase here that could be said to have constituted a threat. A threat would have looked something like this:

THAT is a threat. Possibly not the most effective threat ever, but seriously, dude, you're a crank cartoonist whom everyone hates and whose work newspapers only run in a misguided attempt to "balance" Doonesbury. It's the best you can possibly hope for.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Quick driveby

Tinsley thinks that black voters don't care about actual issues; they'll just mindlessly vote for any candidate who happens to also be black. All while he's accusing Democrats of racism. Mind-boggling.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Draft Walter Williams

Cheeses Christ, man. Do you EVER shut up? What does that abortion joke have to do wtih ANYTHING? Do you really think this is going to work?

UPDATE: Looks like the Draft Walter Williams movement may be getting some traction after all--they even have an Official Weblog. Color me embarrassed!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Feeling like a DEAD DUCK

Wow. Uh...that's certainly chutzpah for you. Any chance of you actually providing a source for this alarming quote, or are you just slandering "the media" because it's become reflexive for you? No vague, semi-legible URL, even? I guess he must have blacked out before he got that far. I keep thinking there must be some sort of incredibly subtle anti-Obama thing here that I'm just not bright enough to get, because how the HELL can you make a statement like that given the current Obama lovefest going on, but...yeah, Tinsley doesn't really do subtlety.

And Tinz, you may not have met anyone who claimed that they wouldn't vote for a black candidate (although I somehow doubt you've done a comprehensive survey), but, many black Republicans are there in congress? Oh, that's I'm sure it's entirely coincidental. And I'm sure conservatives in Ohio resoundingly forgot to vote for Kenneth Blackwell because of his stances on the issues. Yes indeed.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-10

Yeah, the slowdown of these updates is rather inevitable--I'm consumed with schoolwork, and I'm also (allegedly) teaching reluctant freshmen how to write this semester, so there's a certain amount of stress in my life. But rest assured, I will continue Against the Blog, at whatever pace. Hell, I'm more than halfway through; it would be ridiculous to give up at this point.

The Zombini family in Venice. We learn that one of the family's ancestors, Niccolò, was apprenticed to a family of mirror-makers on an island called Isola degli Specchi, who, being fanatical about their secrets, would not let anyone leave on pain of death. But Niccolò escaped, and the rest is history. Whether or not the island actually exists is doubtful. It varies, you might say. But Luca and Bria (his eldest daughter) visit anyway. Records of Niccolò are sketchy, but it seems he designed a paramorphoscope. The doubling thing. Luca explains to the guy they're talking to, Professore Svegli, about how he doubled a number of people. How to get them back together? he wonders. Not easy--you'd have to get the two of them back into the contraption. But because now they're no doubt all leading separate lives, this is unlikely to work.

Dally's fallen in love with Venice, and the family is going to go on without her Erlys is upset and blames herself for abandoning her daughter &c.

She works performing acts of legerdemain and the like. One day she meets "an English painter type," Hunter Penhallow--yup, the guy who appeared a long, long way back, was briefly on the Étienne, and ended up traveling into the future, maybe. He didn't seem to really have much purpose back then, but now he's back, and he pays Dally to model for him. Hunter is a refugee from a war that has yet to take place.

The two are not romantically involved. This must be made clear. She thinks maybe he's hitting on her at one point, but then, not really--she never sees him hitting on anyone. She, being, oh, I don't know, it must be eighteenish, has frequent moments of lust, and has to get herself off discreetly at night.

At some point, Hunter decides to start painting at night, which is okay with Dally, because it's easier for her to sleep in the daytime, and not have to fend off predatory men preying on naïve young American girls.

Bria comes to town to visit her. Not sure how long it's been. As some review I read somewhere noted, Pynchon here depicts more and better interactions between women than he has in the past.

One day, he introduces her to his friend Andrea Tancredi, an anarchist-type who fierily preaches the destruction of Venice. He does apocalyptic kind of paintings. She is highly attracted to him. And that is the end of this section.


I'm all out of good duck-related titles

Surely he can't seriously be delusional enough to imagine that he's spearheading an actual movement...? But you know, I'm thinking he just might be. Excessive alcohol DOES sometimes lead to an inflated sense of self-worth (will I EVER get tired of making drunken Tinsley jokes?, I don't think I will). You've almost gotta feel sorry for this Walter fellow--if he's really a regular Limbaugh guest host, you know he's gotta be a first-class shithead, but jeez, having to endure whatever portion of Tinsley's audience is deranged enough to actually write to him...that's rough. Pretty goddamn inconsiderate of Tinsley to harass this guy in his quixotic--and very, very stupid--crusade. Then again, maybe he'll end up only getting emailed by sarcastic liberals. I sent him the following:

Dear Dr. Williams,

A cartoon duck told me to tell you that you should run for President. I think he may have been drunk, though.


We'll see if this has an effect. Incidentally, it looks like Tinsley doesn't understand the meaning of the word "threaten." Unsurprisingly.


Thursday, February 01, 2007


What awful, shitty news. You'll be missed, Molly.