Start Your Day Off With a Nice Mental Image

17 02 2011

In one of his songs, Big Punisher tells a nice young lady that he’d like to “rip [his] snake through your hooters and hula.” This single lyric has plagued my nightmares for years. It’s like looking at the Ark, but so much sweatier.


Review: James Fritz’ “Deflated”

15 02 2011

Cross-posted from Gapers Block A/C.


I can’t tell my jokes if I’m in a good mood.

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The Brutal Story of Women in Afghanistan

13 02 2011

Mother Jones has an absolutely shattering story about a female prosecutor in Afghanistan fighting assassination attempts to prosecute men for beating their spouses.

The viscerally grossest part of gender discrimination is that it begins in the family, by parents. Fathers, mothers, and grandparents all contribute to various forms of conditioning, conforming their kids to certain roles and behaviors. Of course this isn’t limited to girls, but the difference is that in extremely patriarchal societies, this extends past childhood–daughters remain “fictional children” until another man claims them. The fact that this authority extends into adulthood means that the structure of the family reaches into civil society–thus, just the one female prosecutor in all of Afghanistan.

No society is free of this problem, but there can’t be any reasonable objection to the claim that the phenomenon is significantly weaker in “the West” and other advanced industrial societies.

This is what I mean: in Afghanistan, the only means of protest available to many women is self-immolation.

At the bottom of the power structure, they don’t have control over anything but their physical body, and even that only in the literal sense. It defies the imagination, a predicament so desperate, so frustrating, so absolutely brutal and devoid of any love or support, that you would not even merely take your own life–but do so as a form semi-public protest in the most painful way imaginable.

This is an absolutely intolerable state of affairs.

Rahm Versus The Man: An Origin Story

9 02 2011

What follows is a wildly fictionalized retelling of events based on campaign finance disclosure documents. The donations below all came in between October 11th and 14th, 2010. Emanuel officially announced his candidacy on November 13th.

On October 3rd, 2010, Rahm Emanuel broke his silence. It was time to step out on the stage and make his announcement: he wanted to be mayor. Well, not quite. He said he wanted to hear from Chicagoans as he prepared to run for mayor. Barely a month after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he’d be fading into retirement, and Mr. Emanuel could not just sit passively by and watch the city be torn apart by geographic, class, and racial division. He loved this city.

Daunted by the idea that, no matter what his natural inclination to retire to a quiet life of the mind, only he could speak for the people, he could wait no longer. Average Chicagoans were hurting. While some neighborhoods were gentrified into unaffordability, others continued to decay into violence, joblessness, and misery. Meanwhile, income inequality sharpened. Rent by declining revenues, services to the neighborhoods had been declining. The public school system frustrated students and teachers with high-stakes testing that had not proven their value; organized street crime had worked its way into the schools via a form of interpersonal capillary attraction, making reforms difficult if not impossible. Public transportation suffered from a lack of imagination, even while the city began relying on regressive policies–increased ticketing, market-priced parking meters–to stay afloat and confined people to the neighborhood.

Public workers who worked for decades on the assumption they would be able to retire saw their pensions squandered by politicians, only to have those politicians, and the enormous corporate concerns that underwrite local civic groups, turn around and blame them.

Daley and Emanuel Trib Photo-thumb-400x225-220528.jpg
Brother Outsider.
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This Was Jesse Jackson

1 02 2011

His age, induction into the Democratic Party establishment, his son’s career, and of course the election of the nation’s first Black president (I love typing that) have diminished his stature, but Jesse Jackson used to be a serious firebrand, a vocal social democrat.

Forgetting his ideology, though, I propose to you that Jesse Jackson is the most talented and electrifying speaker of my lifetime (1980s to present). President Obama can give a great speech, but as a performer, in terms of pure rhetorical skill, Jackson as it.

This is who Jesse Jackson was:

Watch his response, and emotional and physical reaction, to his own rhetorical question, “What do blacks know about foreign policy?” It’s immensely powerful as rhetoric. Who is another politician of Jackson’s profile (one of the most prominent politicians at the time) who can give a speech like this?

His 1988 speech to the DNC is still my favorite political speech of my lifetime, its principles largely harmonious with mine and stated with such unapologetic, assured vigor. But more than that, note how he weaves personal stories and direct appeals across a deceptively detailed policy program, all the while mixing high-brow references with folksy explanations. I’m not saying anything about how convincing a case he makes or the depth of his policy knowledge. Obviously he’s not particularly sympathetic to opposing arguments. Good.

He does use a lot of his little gimmicky catchphrases, which I could do without, and he also takes a weirdly gratuitous jab at Nancy Reagan for some reason. Still, it’s 50 minutes. Watch the whole thing.