Because sometimes, the need to mess with their heads outweighs the millstone of arrogance. From the NYT today: ) Yeah, that's Sorkin.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2006 03:16 pm)
For [ profile] astolat: Vincent Terranova sued for trademark infringement.

Random fandom/political thoughts: I wasn’t personally hurt by or otherwise involved in the latest SV imbroglio, so it’s really easy for me to feel objective. I think everyone lies, and everyone constructs a persona, but those aren’t the same things – sometimes constructing a persona for others to see is the most real thing, the most human thing, we do. My best guess for what happened is that a small lie got out of hand, and the fibber’s options started to look narrower and narrower. I can imagine that someone who initially didn’t intend to hurt anyone became more focused on self-protection and less concerned with staying harmless. Lots of bad things, crimes and non-crimes, happen that way.

As for me, I’ve definitely blurred details on this LJ, and certainly tried to present myself as nicer and saner than I am (please don’t tell me how badly I’ve failed). Here’s a true story: as I was walking to the subway on Friday, in the darkness of an early December night, wearing short sleeves in Washington DC because it was too warm for my sweater, I thought about how badly the US has squandered the last six years without doing anything about global environmental change, and how the next two years weren’t likely to be much better. Then I thought of Bloc Party’s Two More Years and nominated it the new Democratic anthem in my own mind. And then I realized that my beloved country is about to do the equivalent of the Fandom Flounce out of Iraq, except that “They didn’t appreciate my GENIUS” here has a body count in six figures and rising fast. That doesn’t make personal betrayals unimportant, but it does make me think again of Auden’s warning that we must love one another or die. (As he pointed out later, we must both love one another and die; but we can choose the former.)

So there’s a stream of consciousness, mediated by my tweaking for publication. Is it more real than other reactions? More helpful? I doubt it, but it’s all I’ve got.
A really excellent series at CJR, up to part four. The incidents of miscomprehension -- the bread, the shoes -- are just so terribly sad. Whether we sent good Americans or bad ones (the bits on how Green Zone PR played within Iraq are chilling), we got horrible outcomes.
His review in the Oct. 19 NYRB has, I assure you, no relevance to recent events:

    [Lincoln's] speech in Congress on the [Mexican] war ... revealed a passion against injustice that defied the commoner loyalties of nationalism; it showed a different side from the tactical mastery that would characterize his politics through most of the 1850s. Here, he spoke unmistakably about the sort of republic he thought the United States ought not to become. He believed that President Polk, through false reports and rumors, had dragged the country into a war of choice; that it had been provoked and begun by Americans, with the popular panic and bloodthirstiness of a powerful nation hunting a smaller nation it knew it could conquer; that the President and the war party had employed every stratagem of sophistical and lawless argument to justify a corrupt policy.

    The heart of this speech of January 12, 1848, is a series of questions about the causes of the war. Lincoln asks the President to answer
fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts, and not with arguments. Let him remember he sits where Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer, as Washington would answer. ... And if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours, where the first blood of the war was shed--that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that the same is true df the site of Fort Brown, then I am with him for his justification. ...
    But if he can not, or will not do this--if on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit it, then I shall be fully convinced, of what I more than suspect already, that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong ... [t]hat originally having some strong motive--what, I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning--to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory ... he plunged into it, and has swept, on and on, till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself, he knows not where.
Bromwich goes on to suggest that Lincoln's political thought "warned his country against a change of character from republic to empire."  For more on using Lincoln to make claims about current politics, Mark Graber has an interesting post.

Incidentally, one of the books Bromwich is reviewing (given that it's the NYRB, I feel an urge to put in scare quotes) is Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, which I will perhaps read.  Anyone read it?
You may not be able to, if new legislation passes. AOL and MySpace too. You may wish to contact your congressperson.
If you don’t want to read about these two things, scroll on.

The thing that I kept thinking about the post I mentioned last night is how listing examples of what it’s like to be poor in America served to enrage some of the (conservative) people who responded – they objected, it appeared, to even talking about why it sucks to be poor. That is, poor people have only themselves to blame, and describing what it is that they might blame themselves for might lead to support for liberal causes.

I want to bracket for the moment the idea that poverty is an individual fault. What’s curious to me is the idea that describing the consequences of fault obscures responsibility for that fault.

Presumably, conservatives of this type want poverty to suck; otherwise there wouldn’t be an incentive to not be poor. So what’s wrong (or inherently liberal) about describing that suckiness? There are a number of circumstances in which listing examples of “why X sucks” is not supposed to elicit sympathy or a desire for broad-based social change. Scared Straight and other programs that expose students to horrific descriptions of what prison is like are not assumed to create prison reformers. Rather, the operating theory is that people who know what prison is really like will take steps to keep themselves out of it. Likewise, conservative Hell Houses showing the horrible fates of abortionists and gays are designed to use suckiness as aversion therapy.

The reason that describing the suckiness of poverty comes across as inherently liberal and thus threatening to conservative views, I think, is that so many of the incidents described revolve around children. No matter how plucky and self-reliant a 2-year-old is, she isn’t going to get anywhere without help. Sure, in 15 or 7 or however many years it takes until she’s old enough to work for a living according to your philosophy, she can give it a try, but right now she is stuck and no choice she makes will change whether she is poor. In the comments to the poverty post, the conservative objectors talked a lot about the poor judgment of poor people in having children, but not at all about the poor judgment of poor people in being children. (And I’m not even talking about the guy near the end of the second page who has some bizarre fixation with “crack whores pumping out children,” as if that population could explain the millions of uninsured and hungry kids in this country; if you seriously advocate mandatory sterilization for people you describe as worthless, does Godwin’s law apply?)
Actually, no it doesn't.

Lamest explanation of the Downing Street memo so far (though I make no promises about persistence of this designation over time): "Robin Niblett of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says it would be easy for Americans to misunderstand the reference to intelligence being 'fixed around' Iraq policy. '"'Fixed around" in British English means "bolted on" rather than altered to fit the policy,' he says."

Now, as Z. points out, this fails to explain why millions of Britons are quite vexed about the memo and believe that it indicates official deception. But even if we presume those crazy Brits don't know their own wacky usages -- so, intelligence and facts were "bolted on" to a policy that assumed war was inevitable, much in the way our soldiers currently bolt on random bits and pieces to their Humvees as armor. Well, that makes me feel much better.
Googling for something else, I found this. It's like something out of a Monty Python skit, yet sadder and scarier. (I was particularly interested in why handwriting analysis was grouped with witchcraft.)
[ profile] accommodatingly linked to this description of the "crisis" debate, which I think has deep resonance for fannish types. And then the robots come.
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Just married)
( Nov. 2nd, 2004 03:16 pm)
This is more funny than unfunny, at least right now. From the fantabulous [ profile] tzikeh: Read more... )
The September 11 Digital Archive, now partnered with the Library of Congress, is collecting people's stories about their September 11, 2001 experiences here. I encourage everyone -- especially those who have already posted about their memories of that day and can just cut and paste their entries -- to go there and share. The archive is no longer updating the website to add new stories, but your contribution will go into the archive and may help future researchers trying to understand what it meant to all of us.

Go on, make some history.
You have to vote at the right place for your vote to count. People for the American Way has a site where you can find that place here. Link via Balkinization.
rivkat: Lex Luthor: simmering rage is the new black (simmering rage)
( Oct. 26th, 2004 08:48 am)
[ profile] iocaste on the missing explosives and the laying of blame: Read more... )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (bert and ernie)
( Oct. 22nd, 2004 12:11 pm)
Barack Obama: Read more... )

Yahtzee: Read more... )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (sam the eagle honestly)
( Aug. 11th, 2004 01:53 pm)
Via [ profile] stakebait, this post on a security search that turned into a search for "inappropriate" content makes me very, very sad. Mer said it very well:

For anyone who doesn't understand why we're afraid that this kind of search will be destructive of civil liberties: there you go. A textbook case (pardon the pun) of slipping from the mission to interfering in irrelevant -- and constitutionally protected -- behaviors just because they can. In less than a week.
rivkat: Scully with her "bitch please" face on (bitch please)
( Aug. 10th, 2004 01:44 pm)
Thanks for the insightful responses to my previous post on fandom, academia and "coming out." I will respond to them individually as soon as I've got these damn edits done. In the interim, I thought this old Henry Jenkins piece from Harper's, on the Whitewater juror who wore her Starfleet uniform to court, was relevant. Henry Jenkins is so smart. )



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