Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gertrude Stein was an unbelievable racist.

Rose Johnson made it very hard to bring her baby to birth.

Melanctha Herbert who was Rose Johnson's friend, did everything that any woman could. She tended Rose, and she was patient, submissive, soothing, and untiring, while the sullen, childish, cowardly, black Rosie grumbled and fussed and howled and made herself to be an abomination and like a simple beast.

The child though it was healthy after it was born, did not live long. Rose Johnson was careless and negligent and selfish, and when Melanctha had to leave for a few days, the baby died. Rose Johnson had liked the baby well enough and perhaps she just forgot it for awhile, anyway the child was dead and Rose and Sam her husband were very sorry but then these things came so often in the negro world in Bridgeport, that they neither of them thought about it very long.


Rose Johnson was a real black, tall, well built, sullen, stupid, childlike, good looking negress. She laughed when she was happy and grumbled and was sullen with everything that troubled.

Rose Johnson was a real black negress but she had been brought up quite like their own child by white folks.

Rose laughed when she was happy but she had not the wide, abandoned laughter that makes the warm broad glow of negro sunshine. Rose was never joyous with the earthborn, boundless joy of negroes. Hers was just ordinary, any sort of woman laughter.

Rose Johnson was careless and was lazy, but she had been brought up by white folks and she needed decent comfort. Her white training had only made for habit, not for nature. Rose had the simple, promiscuous immorality of the black people.

If you search the internet, you can find plenty of people trying to rationalize this away, or even, somewhat unbelievably, claiming not to see what critics are talking about. But Jesus Christ, people, JUST GIVE UP. This is NOT a winning battle for you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am not sure about this recommendation algorithm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Incredibly petty things that annoy me

Today's incredibly petty thing: you go to amazon looking for something, and as soon as you start typing, you get a list of other things people have searched for that start with the same letters, and unless you're looking for something really obscure, it'll almost certainly be the case that somebody else has searched for exactly the same thing. Goddamnit, amazon, how am I supposed to maintain the illusion that I'm a unique individual with unique characteristics when you keep rubbing the unassailable disproof of this theory in my face?

UPDATE: Google also does this, but I usually use the Firefox start page version of google, which doesn't play you like that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

And the award for fastest self-contradiction goes to...

...Danny Wahler, of Mainsburg, PA! Take it away, Danny:

[blahdy blah, Obama is teh suxxorz]

I wonder how much longer it will take the biased big media and the naive sheep who elected this inexperienced amateur, to realize he is no different than any other slick politician?

[blahdy blah]

Within the space of ten words and one misplaced comma! An amazing performance! Competitors in future years are going to have to have their work cut out for them if they want to be able to compete at this level.

Friday, July 24, 2009

From the "world's shortest books" department...

Some dude mentioned this book on Sadly, No!. I assumed it was meant as a joke. More fool me. As a title, this is akin to Things that Can Escape the Gravitational Field of a Black Hole.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You care about blargh, yet you don't care about flargh! Hypocrites!

I don't want this to become the All-Sun-Duhzette-Letters Kavalkade, but this is just too good. Just imagine a bunch of "sic's" throughout. Otherwise we're going to be here all damn day.

Mr. Bross letter wants us to rethink fertility and recycle to save the earth. I believe all he needs to do is rethink his liberalism. I am sick to death of listening to people spout untruth's based on a political agenda. The only problems I see in this country are caused by touchy feely people saving the planet and telling others how they should be living their lives. How anyone can associate a family having a baby with ruining this earth is so far out of touch.

The planet would be saved if everyone would put aside their differences and come up with an energy plan using what "god" yes that is right. What "God"gave us to use. We have plenty of energy in this country and clean uses for it. But people like you have to whine about how we are all destroying the planet so we can create more legislation and new tax and spend ideas. If people like Mr. Bross and the legislatures would get out of the way and let entrepreneur's create new clean power without taxing them to death this country could be a leader in energy and save his beloved planet.

I can imagine you hate water bottles too even though most of the beverages drank in this country are from other types of drinks. I don't hear anyone in the media bashing plastic bottles containing Pepsi, Coke or energy drinks because they donate to the your leftist agenda. We could save landfills if we could just bash and tax to death soda and energy drinks like you have beer and cigarettes. If the truth is known you taxed the health care right out of cigarettes and beer, and now they no longer have enough money to sustain those free insurance programs our government created. I believe that is what Obama's nationalized healthcare plan is going to replace.

Jean M. Budman

I don't pay enough attention to know who this Mr. Bross fellow is, but that's beside the point, which is: this poor woman has gone irretrievably out of her head. I don't know if "you libruls HATE water bottles, yet you LOVE soda bottles! Hypocrites!" is a mutated version of some meme going around on right-wing radio, but either way, it is sublimely nonsensical. Being outraged at teh librulz apparently doesn't even require anymore that your anger have some kind of relationship, no matter how baroque, with actual, real-world things. I mean, when Vince Knauff complains about how teh librul media was always blaming whatsisface for 911, sure it was absurd, but at least there is in fact a media, there was in fact a President whatsisname, and in an alternate reality, said media could have blamed him for 911. But water bottles versus soda bottles? What? You libruls claim you HATE pangolins, and yet you favor yellow-bellied sapsucker conservation efforts! BLAERGRWERH!!!!!111¡¡¡ That's exactly as sensical. Looks like my claim that right-wing pundits are responsible for propagating mental illness is vindicated.

Incidentally, this blog is the second google hit for "Vince Knauff" (third if you leave off the quotes). It he ever googled his name, we'd probably see some totally sweet comments. In fact, I sort of wonder if maybe my occasional anonymous troll is not in fact the man himself. That would mean that I'm also responsible for the Duck and Cover troll, since it's clearly the same guy. Sorry!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Democracy shows its limits

Here is a letter to the editor. The whole thing is wingnutty, but I will emboldify the part under consideration here and now:

When does President Obama start to be assigned blame and responsibility for the troubles of our economy and related national matters? That hasn't happened yet, has it? His policies have far more to do with the state of our economy that anything he "inherited", but he still is held blameless by the media. My guess is the blame starts in September. Why? I'll explain.

We all remember the terrorist attacks on our country in September, 2001. You also probably remember that 100 percent of the blame for "allowing" that to happen was heaped on George W. Bush by the mainstream media and eventually by most elected Democrats, even though he was in office only eight months when those attacks happened. No blame was allowed to be put on the Clinton administration. Today, every time Obama speaks he makes sure to remind us that everything happening in this country is still Bush's fault. He can't get away with that for much longer, if history is a precedent.

So, if the media is consistent here, our problems will be Obama's fault in two months. Let's see if that happens.

Vince Knauff

No time or purpose in getting into all the fallacies and confused thinking that suffuse this little missive. But really, now: you can claim that teh media is teh librul if you want; you're wrong, of course, but it's such a vague claim that you will probably not be heaped with all the scorn and ridicule you probably deserve. But this just takes your breath away. Do I "remember" this? Do you? Would anyone who wasn't in a coma during the whatsisname administration? Of course not, because--and I'm sorry to have to state the obvious here, BUT--it never goddamn happened. The media was never anything other than wholly servile, even after it became clear that whatsisname had consistently ignored warnings of possible terrorist attacks from people who knew these things. The chutzpah of making such a flatly counterfactual claim and expecting to be taken seriously is just stunning.

It's easy to see where this insane delusion comes from: start with the premise that the mainstream media is teh librulz. This premise is attractive because it's fun to feel persecuted without any of the inconvenience of actually experiencing persecution, and because it's way easier to believe that That Darn Media is distorting the picture than it is to admit to having been wrong about anything ever. Given this, it ought to go without saying that Our Brave Preznit would be under constant assault by this nefarious media. The conclusion follows from the premise. Actually observing the real world would compel one to admit that there's something wrong somewhere in this equation, but it's like the old joke says: sure, it works in practice--but does it work in theory?

When I'm writing about crazy people like ol' Vinnie, I sometimes wonder: is he crazy, or am I crazy? Because it would be a pretty big coincidence if I were always right about these things, the way I think I am. I'm just some guy. What makes me think I'm so goddamn special? I mean, obviously I don't want to imagine that I'm delusional, so I have a pretty big stake in thinking the other guy is. And if I were crazy, there's no reason to assume that I would know it.

I don't know, though. I certainly try to be as self-aware as I possibly can be. I know that, at a sub-rational level, I hold ideas--"ideas" isn't even the right word, really--that are wrong: as in, occasional instinctive racism and regressive views of female sexuality. But the thing is, I know these things are wrong, and that expressing them or building a worldview around them would not be good for me. So I don't, and I put my conscious mind to work swatting them down. Being allegedly higher animals, we humans are supposed to be able to not wallow in our ids all the time. Seems to me that the problem with people like Knauff is that they are, for whatever reason, unable to do this. So yeah--I kind of think I'm the rational one here, even if it does involve excessive self-flattery on some level.

But the point is, these are not isolated sentiments that Knauff is expressing, and one has to face the cold, hard truth that at least a third of the electorate in this country has broken free from any tenuous connection with this real world thingie. How, I ask you, is democracy meant to function in such a situation? It's supposed to involve rational debate, but how is that possible when one side is completely barking mad? It just doesn't work. You can't compromise between sanity and in. I'm not saying that anything else is likely to work better, but, like markets, democracy relies on a level of rationality that is only intermittently present (if we're being optimistic).

If we were all still functioning as small, nomadic bands of hunters/gatherers, this would be, if not good, at least a workable mindset. Chief Vince Knauff's mythological tale of the Librul Media would be a good explanation for why the Oonga people hate the Boonga people, and its truth value would be simply irrelevant. But now we're living in a culture that is way beyond anything we've evolved for. Maybe our brains just aren't up to the task.

Or maybe, as Neil Postman believed, it's all the fault of teevee. Regardless, however: great googly moogly, are we ever dysfunctional.

Duck Comics: "Oddball Odyssey"

"Oddball Odyssey." Duck Comics Review now has TWO people listed as "followers," so I felt kind of guilty about dragging my heels on the updates.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Update to below.

The strips in question. The suicide part doesn't start until the tenth one. They're pretty great, though. Strip number ten is the best--there's not even a punchline: Mickey just concludes that life isn't worth living and proceeds to take a shotgun from the wall, and that's it. How come Mary Worth is never this awesome?

This is so incredibly weird I can't even come up with a witty title.

From an interview with Floyd Gottfredson in the book Mickey Mouse in Color:

S: Did Walt take much of an interest in the comic strip as it was going along? Did you get criticism or story suggestions from him?

G: At the start I did. He would make suggestions every once in a while, for some short continuities and so on, and I would do them. One that I'll never forget, and which I still don't understand--around early 1931 I believe it was, he said, "Why don't you do a continuity of Mickey trying to commit suicide?" So I said "Walt! You're kidding!" He replied, "No, I'm not kidding. I think you could get a lot of funny stuff out of that." I said, "Gee whiz, Walt, I don't know. What do you think the Syndicate will think of it? What do you think the editors will think? And the readers?" He said, "I think it will be funny. Go ahead and do it." So I did, oh, maybe ten days of Mickey trying to commit suicide--jumping off bridges and landing in garbage scows, trying to hang himself and the limb breaks, rigging up a gun and something happens to it. I don't remember all the details. But, strangely enough, the Syndicate didn't object. We didn't hear anything from the editors, and Walt said, "See, it was funny; I told you it would be." So, there were a few things like that.

Amazon can and will fuck with your shit without your permission.

Jeez. If one were on the fence about buying a Kindle, I should think this would be a major dissuading factor.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The problem with capitalism in a nutshell

Have you seen this rather incredible video? Beck sounds decidedly Not Well throughout, but at about the 3:15 mark he genuinely appears to suffer some sort of psychotic break.

People like Beck, Malkin, and Savage are clearly suffering from undiagnosed mental disorders of some sort. A sane, healthy society would recognize this and get them the help they need. But what do we do in America? We give them Teevee and radio shows. Why? Because there's big money in it, and by our economic logic, nothing matters more than that. So--because there can be nothing wrong with anything profitable--we collectively pretend that there's nothing wrong with these people. In turn, they poison the public discourse (and themselves in the process), thus creating an even greater market for metal illness. A lovely little vicious circle.

I'm not saying that our public discourse would be magically fixed if such people were not given a public forum--there are plenty of right-wing screamers who are less obviously unwell who do a decent enough job of ruining everything they touch--but we have a system that encourages this kind of behavior. Logic and reasoned discourse would be all very well if they raked in the bux, but otherwise? Screw 'em. This is Murka, and the market is its insane, capricious monarch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm not sure what this proves, but it's definitely something sinister.

As we all know, Obama is an illegitimate President due to not showing us all his sekrit, vault copy, titanium, sooper-triple-secret polly wolly olly wolly ump bump fuzz birth certificate blargh. However, I have recently obtained disturbing information on the birth certificate front,
to wit:


Any expired ID
International driver’s license
Draft classification card
International student ID
Credit/debit card of any kind
Notary-prepared letter or document
Social Security card
Employee ID card
Learner’s permit or any temporary ID (for example, a temporary driver’s license)
Birth certificate
Any photocopied document


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reality preëmpts The Onion

This article ought to look awfully familiar to anyone who's heard this Radiolab episode. The world often contains surprising elements.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

He kind of has a point.

I'm reading Hemingway's short stories now. I like them more than not, and I liked "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," tedious glorification of machismo notwithstanding. Still, this summation of the story by Frank O'Connor--found on its wikipedia page--cracks me up:

Francis runs away from a lion, which is what most sensible men would do if faced by a lion, and his wife promptly cuckolds him with the English manager of their big-game hunting expedition. As we all know, good wives admire nothing in a husband except his capacity to deal with lions, so we can sympathize with the poor woman in her trouble. But next day Macomber, faced with a buffalo, suddenly becomes a man of superb courage, and his wife, recognizing that[...] for the future she must be a virtuous wife, blows his head off. [...] To say that the psychology of this story is childish would be to waste good words. As farce it ranks with "Ten Nights in a Bar Room" or any other Victorian morality you can think of. Clearly, it is the working out of a personal problem that for the vast majority of men and women has no validity whatever.

I don't know that I totally agree with this, but it's nonetheless a palpable hit. Well played, old man.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fun with student evaluations

Worst teacher I've ever had in my life. Doesn't explain stories well & assignments are extremely confusing and wierd [sic]. He doesn't give any points for grammar. Swore/used foul language in class. Offended me. Made me dislike a subject I used to have passion for. I take it that's a 'no,' then?

He is the absolute worst teacher I have had. He's confusing, makes no sense and I don't think he should be teaching. He doesn't know how to grade. Overall he sucks.

What can you do? ON THE OTHER HAND:

I thought he made the class less awful than others.


And if one may toot one's own horn for a moment:

I felt very challenged when it came time to write my papers. Mr. Moses made me think in ways I've never thought in, and introduced me to a completely different style of authors and writing in this course. This is what you go to college for.


Opened my mind way beyond my expectations for the class.

Suck it, haters!

All the things I don't like are responsible for the Holocaust.

This here Signet Classics edition of Winesburg, Ohio has an introductory piece by Irving Howe. And why not? The copyright page tells us that this introduction is from 1993, which must make it one of the last things Howe ever wrote. Fair enough! The man was certainly a Noted Scholar!

But apparently that wasn't putting asses in seats with sufficient zest, because there is also an AFTERWARD, dating from 2005, this by noted hack Dean Koontz. Shit, I thought, when seeing that this was the case. Am I going to have to revise my opinion of the guy upwards? I hate having my preconceived notions disturbed! Egads!

Not so much, it turns out. In substance, it isn't much; in fact, bits of factual information appear to have been cribbed from the introduction to make Koontz look more knowledgeable. This could be an unfounded supposition, but that's how it appears to me. Also, he quotes from one of his own novels. I wasn't perhaps as impressed as some are with Anderson, but that's still some pretty impressive chutzpah.

The main theme is "Oh noes! Teh modernist ideals iz destroying our morals!" Darwin, Nietzsche, and Marx are all cited, and it culminates in this sentence, which is positively Goldbergian in its historically-deficient, willfully clueless, pseudo-intellectualism:

Anderson died in 1941, as the more bitter fruits of Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism were realized in the Third Reich, a regime founded on eugenics, evolutionary ethics, racism, a belief that the human mind is driven by animal self-interest, and faith in the absolute righteousness of the state.

Historical comprehension FAIL (I have to admit, though, even from the perspective of the wingnut negaverse, I find it impossible to fathom what "Freudianism" has to do with anything). Hardly surprising, though--I mean, the man donated money to Mitt Romney. How bright could he possibly be?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why Boom's marketing strategy seems HIGHLY dubious.

"Kids! Ever wondered what would happen when all the superheroes of the Disney comics universe star in an epic clash against all the super villains with the fate of the world at stake?"

Now okay okay, looking at this from a purely pragmatic standpoint, Disney DID have some popular cartoons in the eighties and nineties--Ducktales, Tailspin, Darkwing Duck, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers--that might still have some name recognition, while also sort of vaguely hearkening back to the golden days when Walt Disney's Comics and Stories strode o'er the land like a mighty colossus. But:

Double-you tee eff? Now, there HAVE been superhero versions of Donald and Goofy (deep sigh), although these guys don't look like they, and in any case, I don't think they get much play outside of Italy (those wacky Italians--no wonder they keep electing Berlusconi). But the philosophy here seems to have been "mechanically stick regular characters in generic superhero outfits, creating characters that nobody's heard of and nobody cares about. Super Gladstone? that supposed to be Gus Goose in the back? Super Mysterious Nose'n'Eyebrows Dude? And SUPER GODDAMN FETHRY? I think it's safe to say that no child in the US today has ever heard of even regular Fethry. Let's face it: YOU haven't (and trust me--you're better off). Why should they? And even if they DO know the character from being one of the three or four kids to have read Gemstone's WDC, is it even remotely possible to imagine that they would want to see a superhero version of him? Why, truly, would they be interested in any of this nonsense?

These are comic book characters--in some cases fairly obscure comic book characters--remade, in a fanfiction-y kind of way, as superheroes. It seems as though this can only be meant to appeal to established fans hungry for novelty. It certainly doesn't seem as though it would draw new fans in. And yet, that's what Boom is trying to achieve. I don't see how this is possibly going to work.


Boom has this scheduled for next year. I must say, twenty-five dollars seems AWFULLY DAMNED EXPENSIVE for a hundred twelve pages, hardcover or no. Two of Gemstone's prestige comics would cost slightly less while including more material. Still, the title DOES give me a certain amount of hope: if concentrates on Donald adventures stories, it might include some that I only have in cheap, rapidly-yellowing format. It would definitely be worth it to me for "Old California" and "Big Top Bedlam."

Amazon also lists a Boom edition of the Life and Times, which would be great, except that it's in two volumes for twenty-five dollars each. That would actually be pretty okay if it integrated the gaiden stories into the main narrative, but at just 224 pages total, there's no room for that--nor is there room for Rosa's cool commentary, storyboards, and extra artwork that graced the gemstone versions. I'm still glad it's being made available again, I GUESS, but this doesn't seem like a good deal to me. You can live without most of the gaiden stories (although why would you, given the choice?), but in my opinion, the narrative feels incomplete without "Prisoner of White Agony Creek" and "Hearts of the Yukon." Otherwise, Goldie barely appears, which seems strange given what an important character she is alleged to be.

I guess this is a bone tossed to those diehards among us who are disheartened by the "Hey, kids!" focus of the regular comics. They're banking of the fact that we have historically been known to make poor spending decisions. Fair enough, but I'm still HIGHLY dubious about the whole business model. Still, what makes me hopeful is this: if they

UNFINISHED POST! I'm publishing it rather than deleting it, however, because eh.

Exciting special offer!

Everyone knows about the twelve labors of Hercules--but what many people DON'T know is that there were originally many more than twelve labors. Many of them were cut for reasons of space or because of negative focus tests--but this new edition, painstakingly reconstructed from the original proofs, restores the text as completely as possible! See what you missed out, on including such fantastic segments as:

--Hercules conquers the pine martens!
--Hercules does a totally sweet 720!
--Hercules saves Helsinki from the scourge of littering!
--Hercules teaches little Billy Harrington that you don't need to use bad language to have fun!
--Hercules plays Final Fantasy V until the clock maxes out at 99:59!
--Hercules Tricks or Treats for UNICEF!
--Hercules explores Iowa's rich cultural heritage!
--And MANY more!

This new edition is valued at over a thousand dollars, but it's YOURS for only twelve monthly installments of $39.99! For that price YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO OWN IT! Impress your friends! Terrify your enemies! Kill your classics professors!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy One-Month-'Til-Inherent-Vice Day!

Yeah, I guess there's also some sort of other national holiday going on, but One-Month-'Til-Inherent-Vice Day kind of overshadows it, you have to admit.

There actually aren't many countries in the world I'd want to live in on a permanent basis. Overall, humans have not been particularly good at not making the lives of other humans into living hells. Sure, we're getting BETTER, but we're taking our sweet goddamn time. Maybe we'll ultimately get somewhere if we don't wipe ourselves out in a big ol' environmental catastrophuck, or use up all our resources and more firmly commit ourselves to the nasty, poor, brutish and short lifestyle, but I don't know how likely that is.

So sure, the US has a whole helluva goddamn lot of problems, but compared to most places, it still has a lot to recommend it, by our degraded standards. So I'll make the most patriotic statement I can make: if I can't be a Western/Northern European, or a Canadian, or a New Zealander--I'm glad to be an American. Fuck yeah...?

UPDATE: I do realize that part of the reason why I would want to live one place and not another is my cultural outlook and upbringing--ie, if I had grown up in Egypt, say, I would probably be a lot more okay with the things that, in this reality, make me not want to live in Egypt. But I think my main point stands. If it doesn't, feel free to knock it over.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Chick Tract, yo.

I kinda like it.

Yes, this happens ALL THE TIME. Actually, there might be an interesting novel or short story in this, slightly modified.


Help us, Osama bin Laden--you're our only hope!

You may or may not have seen this fucking appalling video that's been circulating.

"Man, I sure hope they kill a lot of people so we have the excuse we need to kill even MORE people!"

I think the most telling part is where Scheuer says that this much longed-for attack will cause us (who's "us," paleface?) to demand that the government protect us "effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as necessary." Not as much force as necessary, or as much military action--as much violence. Most pundits would use a less brutal-sounding word, in order to at least create the illusion of not being bloodthirsty psychopaths. Not Scheuer. He jumps straight to results (carnage--clearly the money shot in his twisted little mind) without stopping at means (military strikes) first. That little slip reveals a lot about his id--and it's really ugly stuff.

It's worth emphasizing again and again: we are living in a country where maniacs like this are considered a legitimate part of our political discourse.

You've also gotta love Beck's response: "Which is why I was thinking [I'm not sure "thinking" is the right word here, Glenn], if I were [bin Laden], that would be the LAST thing I would do right now." So if I'm following the logic here, we need terrorists to attack us to make us attack them to protect ourselves. But those fiendish terrorists are clever devils--instead of attacking us, they won't attack us, and thus prevent us from taking the proper measures to protect ourselves from the attacks that won't be coming because they won't attack us so as to ensure that we don't take the proper measures against the attacks that aren't coming.

And if you think that sentence was convoluted, imagine what it must be like to live in Glenn Beck's head.