Posted by: Godfångst | March 6, 2009

7,000,000 Believers Can’t Be Wrong

blog_prop_8_resultsIt looks as though the ban on same-sex marriage will stand in California.

Justice Joyce Kennard, who voted last year that it was unconstitutional to deny the right to marry to same-sex couples, asked if the court could “willy-nilly disregard the will of the people.”

Good point, Your Honor. I wouldn’t do anything willy–or nilly. I respect the will of the people.

Speaking of willy nilly, doesn’t it disturb anyone that among the largest bands of pro-8 supporters were those who classified themselves as “weekly churchgoers” and Protestant evangelicals (does that include Mormons, or what? They’re not Protestants). So a huge proportion of the “yes” votes were cast by people who would probably cite religion as their main reason. Of course, their TV ads didn’t mention this; they just talked about teaching about homosexuality in schools.

Maybe that’s why so many parents with children voted for Prop. 8 as well. We simply must protect children from the influences of a tiny number of homosexuals–forget all about the majority population, who are far more likely to molest them, sell them violent video games or assault weapons, or kidnap them and sell them into sex slavery. Or divorce them and leave them pregnant and without money, assuming your daughter grows up to be heterosexual, which she won’t if she’s taught about how awesome lesbianism is. That’s why I did it. Ask my mother. I learned it in school.

Anyway. When reporters and others ask people why they support Prop. 8 or why they voted for it, their reasons usually run along these lines: “I want to preserve the traditional family,” “We must protect the (traditional) definition of marriage,” or “I believe marriage is a man and a woman.”

But how do they know marriage is a man and a woman? All they have to do to support this belief is say, “See? Here are 10,000,000 married couples–and they all consist of a man and a woman!” And all through history, too! It’s all about men and women! It’s traditional!

Look how that logic works! It’s both true and right because it always happens that way!

So you believe this, and I don’t. Your belief is something personal to you and others who believe like you. And you are the majority. 52.3% of those who voted. Isn’t that a majority? Let’s see. California population, 33,871,648. How many of those people can vote? How many did? Well, about 7 million voted to support Prop. 8. Just about 5% of the total population of California. That’s a majority, right?

Many more people wanted to vote for it, but couldn’t, I’m sure–if those schoolkids being taught about gay people could vote, THEN we’d see some real numbers. For sure.

Anyway, I concede. You win on that point. Marriage commonly is a man and a woman; that is traditional, in that it is common among people, and valued by many people, and favored as a practice by many people. But does anyone know why?

die, sinners!Many things were and continue to be common or “traditional,” like dowries, slave trading, operating without anesthesia, eating chicken embryos, beating one’s wife, cutting hair off one’s face with a sharp object (against the Bible, by the way), polygyny, eating shellfish (also in the Bible), performing human sacrifice, using leeches to cure illness, and a lot of other things. Others of these things either haven’t always been or no longer are traditional.

And who decided what was and what wasn’t? The majority.

I’m sure lots of guys in 17th-century Italy or 19th-century England wanted to marry other guys. It’s just that they were a bit more afraid of being burned at the stake or sent to prison to break rocks.

And women–well, who the hell cares what women wanted?

Furthermore, the definition of “traditional marriage” used to include the concept of absolute permanence. It no longer does and never will again. Why? Traditions change as societies change. We make our own traditions, upholding them if they are good and striking them down if they are not. We get rid of traditions that don’t suit us, like the tradition, mentioned once or twice in the Bible, that a man can have many wives. King Solomon had hundreds of wives; the Bible says, “Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites” (1 Kings 11:1).

But this particular tradition is no longer to the majority’s liking, so what the Bible says is willfully ignored, even by the “weekly churchgoers” who voted for Prop. 8. The majority gets to shape traditions and laws and every other thing to suit itself, often simply because it is the majority.

In this state, they have ensured the continuation of the “tradition” that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. It’s still common. But is something right for all just because it is common for many?

The reason this ban will be upheld is because it is true that the people must be allowed to change the state constitution if necessary. For this was what today’s oral arguments were really about: the right to use the wonderful initiative process to change the constitution and make laws according to popular vote. It gave us a ban on Affirmative Action (Prop. 209, 1996). We also voted on parental notification on teenage abortions (those propositions failed twice), a whole lot of stuff about Indian gaming, and many other items concerning eminent domain that people almost certainly voted on without reading them. By the way, another large group of Pro-8 voters included those with “some college” or only high school diplomas.

As Ken Starr, who argued in defense of the ban, said, “The people are sovereign — and can do unwise things.”

He should know. He spent millions of our tax dollars trying to prove that a married man was fellated by someone who was not his wife.

I am certain that 7,000,000 people have done what they felt to be right. But then again, I don’t want Californians to always just feel or believe. I want them to think. So many people on both sides of this issue say, “I believe…” “I feel…” and very few people give reasons that have any real weight behind them. Especially not those who would change the lives of others–those who purport to know what marriage is, or what “traditional marriage” is, more specifically.

“I believe marriage is a man and a woman,” they say. “I want to protect traditional marriage.”

“Everybody knows” that marriage is a man and a woman, one woman said with absolute certainty in an audio file on the New York Times web page. It’s “a natural institution,” she says. Natural as in organic? Natural as in…biologically innate? What does she mean by that? Does she know? Do you?

Most people, like George W. Bush, say “natural” when they want to refer to “natural law.” God gave us marriage and engineered men and women to fit together perfectly, like the hand fits in the glove. Marriage, therefore, is not man’s to toy with. It’s God’s. Yet it was OK for straight people and Republicans to invent and promote divorce. That’s how they “protect traditional marriage.”

the best novel ever writtenThey’re full of bullshit. Marriage is shaped by man. It is a man and a woman because we made it that way, and those who didn’t want it that way were never considered, never heard, burned at the stake, told they were crazy, or never allowed to even dream of thinking those thoughts in the first place. If you silence everyone who disagrees with you about divorce, evolution, abortion, or the earth being round, you sure can make it look like you’re creating consensus and upholding “the will of the people.” Judges might even agree with you about things like women not being capable of voting or white people being superior to black people. They’re descended from Ham, you know. (Ham in the Bible–not the cured pork product.)

Everybody knows it. So it’s true.

I think everything should depend on popular vote, kind of like American Idol. We should have had a big fat popular vote in 1633. Is the earth round or flat? Should Galileo be burned at the stake, or should he be pardoned?

But that might not have worked. People who can’t read or write, have never seen a book, don’t know where they are on the map, are living in the 17th century, and have been whipped into submission by the Roman Inquisition probably shouldn’t be asked what they know about the earth.

The majority may vote as it likes. But it gives me pause. On what grounds, exactly, did they vote? Based on what information, what reasons?

Did they read the text of the proposition? What do they know about California law? Have they read the constitution they revised (or amended, or whatever)? Do they know what amended means? Can they state the arguments of the side they oppose and rebut them with reasonable logical arguments that aren’t grounded in faith or belief alone (especially since we don’t all share that faith or belief or interpret it in the same way)? Were they aware of the constitutional rights of the people they voted against? Were they aware that those were people with children, with hopes and dreams, with many of the same desires and wishes that they have? What if I wanted to have a traditional family? Would they please stop preventing me from having one by insisting on tying rights, privileges, and moral superiority to an institution that they insist on controlling–and locking me out of?

Many believe they know what the Bible says about homosexuality. But do they know what it says about loving thy neighbor as thyself, or what’s in Matthew 7:3? Or can they articulate what gave them the right, the authority, to vote on the correctness of anyone’s marriage, least of all mine? Who gave them the desire to do that to a bunch of people they don’t even know? Was it God?

It wasn’t God. It was the simple fact that there are more of them than there are of us.

“A moral wrong can’t make a civil right,” their signs said. Clever. But they have yet to prove to me that they know anything more about what’s moral than I do. Or that they are more worthy of rights, or better partners to the people they love, or better human beings. Why should their will supersede mine?

We differ, they win, for they are many, we are few. And they say that they have belief and God on their side. All we have are rights and legal documents, which don’t seem to be doing us a bit of good. And if we also believe in God, they ignore us. Our belief in God isn’t as good as their belief in God, I guess.

I would like to believe in God. But the more I see of others who claim they do, the less I want to be part of it all. If anything could make me an atheist, it’s listening to people who say they believe in God talking about God.

Solutions for dissenters:

  • Move to a new, less religious country (we recommend Sweden, where the world’s most beautiful woman currently lives)
  • Move the “faithful” to a place where their “beliefs” will be admired and respected without the intervention of activist judges (we recommend Iran)
  • Get some of them to actually read the Bible instead of being told what’s in it
  • Get those of them who have read the Bible to understand that it’s not reliable as a historical document, that it’s frequently misinterpreted, and that it was written by some really confused men who didn’t consult each other when they told their stories
  • Understand once and for all that no one owns morality. Read the Gospel of Matthew.
  • It’s really best if you read it in Greek (maybe Aramaic, but we don’t really know). You do read ancient Greek, don’t you? Of course you do. That’s how you know the Bible so well!

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    Posted by: Godfångst | March 4, 2009

    Majority Rules: Women Don’t Need to Vote.

    We just added a litttle tiny thing to the constitution!

    We just added a litttle tiny thing to the constitution!


    What would Ken Starr do?

    Women don’t need to vote, the majority once decided. It damages their wombs. They don’t have the brain size for it, really. Everyone knew it. And the majority rules in a democracy, right?

    If a majority of people in your state voted to permit slavery or allow a 40-year-old man to have sex with a 16-year-old girl, would you go for it?

    What if the majority wanted to require all citizens to become vegetarians, have fewer than three children, pray to the great Chicken God in the sky, or go into Full Lotus posture at least once a day?

    All it would take to get any of the above on the California ballot would be $200 and the signatures of registered voters totaling 8% of those who participated in the last gubernatorial election.

    Here are some tips: If you want to ban guns or make everything organic, just go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s anywhere in the Bay Area and stand in the parking lot collecting signatures. To ban same-sex marriage or an increase in gas taxes, go to Costco, Walmart, or Home Depot–but stay out of San Francisco. Talk to some Republicans, weekly churchgoers, or married voters with children (84%, 82%, 68% voted in favor of Prop. 8).

    That’s what the “Yes on Proposition 8” people did; then they collected $25 million from members of the Mormon church (much of it coming from outside of California) to fund a highly effective ad campaign that resulted in a whopping 52.3% majority vote.

    tom of finlandThey’ll teach your kid about homosexuality in school, they threatened. The majority was swayed! My kid will learn to be gay, the way all those gay kids learned from schoolmates and parents to be straight!

    Whether or not it could possibly be legal to take away constitutional rights from one’s neighbors two states to the left is not what’s being argued tomorrow in court. The issue is this: whether this proposition revised or just amended the Constitution. Was something just added or was something fundamental changed?

    When the Constitution is designed to protect all people’s rights, including the basic right to be equally protected by all laws, changing part of our state constitution so that it removes that right constitutes a lot more than an “addition.” If you want to revise the function of the state constitution–like, for example, revising it to obliterate this right–you must get the approval of the state legislature and get at least a 60% majority, neither of which Prop. 8 got or will ever get.

    Can a group of voters–even a “majority”–enact something that’s illegal? Even if it’s popular? Slavery, public hangings, preventing women from voting, bans on interracial marriage, and marital rape were all SUPER popular in the past. The majority preferred them by a huge margin, much larger than 52.3%.

    Yet they were ruled illegal. But why? After all, they were “the will of the people,” just like the ban on Ellen deGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s marriage is the will of 52.3% of voting Californians.

    In California, we’ve decided to honor the will of the people, even though we know that when voting on this issue, many were thinking not about what is right for all, what the law allows, or what the rights of others are, but about their own preferences and beliefs, never considering what the consequences might be or whether others share their beliefs. There are times when the majority, although they have the right to make laws, aren’t really intellectually or emotionally equipped to do so. Isn’t that how we held onto–for far too long–the prohibitions on interracial marriage, women voting, and Jews owning property? The will of the people overruled the more considered views of the California state legislature. Governor Schwarzenegger could have vetoed the Prop. 8 vote, but he declined, saying that “it was the will of the people.” And so it stands, illegal, immoral, unfair, and probably permanent until a Supreme Court decision in Washington rules it unconstitutional once and for all.

    Fine. Let’s honor the will of the people. Let’s all date teenagers, divorce at will, text while driving, watch 6 hours of TV a day, slurp 64-ounce sodas, spank our kids, and buy cheap Chinese junk (made by slaves) at Walmart. From now on, I’m taking all my political cues from the *majority* of Californians. I love learning about my civil and constitutional rights from people who didn’t graduate from college (58% of non-college graduates voted in favor of Prop. 8), just like I love learning about the Bible from people who can’t read a newspaper article.

    Majority rules, dude! It brought us slavery, war, The Inquisition, *American Idol*, the ascent of people like Britney Spears and George Bush, and a lot of other good stuff. Let’s roll with it.

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 28, 2009

    I Want Scratchy Toilet Paper!

    You know, I hate to interrupt you all in the middle of your searches for “boobs,” “breasts,” “strippers,” “Nadya Suleman,” and Wife Swap, but there’s something more important on tap here.

    I’ve just received notice that Americans’ passion for soft toilet paper is killing precious Canadian trees!

    Yes, yes, I always knew that toilet paper was made from trees, just as I knew that hamburger is generally made from cows, except in India, where they don’t always make such a fuss over toilet paper, incidentally.

    But surely toilet paper isn’t made from the GOOD trees–the pretty ones!? I mean, they make it out of the scraggly, disgusting scrap wood, don’t they?

    baby-tree

    They don’t.

    See that baby tree there? It’s gonna DIE unless you start wiping with the stuff Europeans use, the stuff that feels like newspaper.

    We’re BABY TREE MURDERERS. Every time we wipe.

    Which, for some of us, is apparently a lot.

    Americans spend $4.8 BILLION on toilet paper each year, and we only want the cushy stuff, which is mopping up a larger market share every second. Unfortunately, the very thing that makes toilet paper soooooo soft down there is the lovely quality of the wood fiber of live trees that makes such soft pulp. Add a bunch of bleach to make it white (cause you wouldn’t want to wipe with, like, BROWN paper!) and a disgusting, toxic chemical fragrance, and voilà! You have a roll of American-style toilet paper, which the average Joe flushes down at the rate of 24 a year.

    Here’s some math: 300,000,000 Americans x 24 rolls per American per year = 7,200,000,000 rolls. At 1,000 rolls per tree, that’s…7.2 million trees per year. Just for toilet paper!

    bidetThat’s what I want. Starting today, I will no longer buy Big’n’Soft, Precious Butt, Tender Tushy, Delicate Partz, Cotton Ass, and any other brand of toilet tissue that’s marketed as being “extra soft.” Only recycled toilet tissue for me, from now on. Toilet tissue is crap anyway. Bring back the bidet!

    howard“Toilet paper – and no baby wipes – in the bathroom. If they’re using dry paper, they aren’t washing all of themselves. It’s just unclean. So if I go in a woman’s house and see the toilet paper there, I’ll explain this. And if she doesn’t make the adjustment to baby wipes, I’ll know she’s not completely clean.”
    –Terrence Howard, actor and likely bidet fan, speaking in an Elle interview, August 1, 2007.

    So he knows about the baby trees too!

    Notes:

  • I like Terrence Howard.
  • Greenpeace and Greenpeace Canada both have guides to recycled paper products.
  • Install a bidet kit!
  • Posted by: Godfångst | February 27, 2009

    Topless Coffee Shop?

    jugs
    I like jugs.

    So do residents of Maine. One cafe in Maine has received 150 applications from those who want to serve coffee topless.

    The owner of Grand View Topless Coffee Shop ended up hiring 10 women and 5 men. One of the guys was kinda cute, I suppose, and I’m certainly no Puritan, but I don’t like the idea of a bare-chested man bringing me my hot chocolate. See the video FIRST, and then feel free to disagree with me. But I don’t think you will.

    Vassalboro, Maine is a town of 4,500 people. And 15 of them are serving coffee without shirts on? Wow, that’s like, one-third of one percent. That’s the same percentage of people who own 4% of the nation’s wealth. It’s a very special, very cold elite class. The news story said that 200 people showed up on opening day. That’s a larger percentage of the whole town. Think about it–what if it becomes SO popular that it forces all the other coffee shops in town out of business?

    The only way to get coffee would be to buy it from a person whose nipples are visible.

    Locals already have a love/hate relationship with the cafe.

    One waitress said, “Some people think this is a prostitution ring, which it’s not. We have no private rooms whatsoever.”

    The owner (who looks like a real classy guy, by the way), says, “I’m here to make money.”

    One patron drawled, “Doesn’t really matter what they’re doing, as long as people are working.”

    Well said, good fellow. I’m going to start a cafe where your coffee comes with muriatic acid and a sharp slap in the face (verbal abuse costs extra). As long as people are working.

    I also have some questions:

  • Do you think people will get bored with it? “Aww, Hank, the boob cafe again? Naw. Let’s just go to Starbucks.”
  • Will they keep the waitstaff even when they aren’t as presentable topless as they were when they were hired? And what if there are spills? My friend who worked at a cafe used to come home covered with coffee drips. I guess they’ll pass you the coffee EXTRA careful-like.
  • Do you think they will hire Elizabeth Hurley? I have submitted an application on her behalf. She is several years my senior and may need the retirement benefits.
  • hurley

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 25, 2009

    The Highest-Paid Prostitutes in the World

    I know that I’d get ten times the hits if I referenced the Octomom or Wife Swap, but how about mentioning Natalie Dylan, the girl who is selling her virginity for bids that have soared into the millions? Is that what we’re doing now? I feel quite sure that this was the purpose for which Tim Berners-Lee and others created the first computerized network.

    Diana, Princess of Wales, reportedly said once that she felt like “the highest-paid prostitute in the world.” I don’t know if she really said it; I can’t find a source anywhere, but if so, one has to admire her ability to see things as they were. Are. Even if it’s not true, it should be true.

    For what was Diana but a person whose image and person belonged to others and enhanced the wealth of others? The fact that she was able to turn her predicament into something positive was a testament to her humanity. And to me, that is what Diana Spencer represented: how being a human being is infinitely more interesting and valuable than being a princess or a prostitute. Or both.

    Being a “normal” person with dignity, with privacy, and with a sense of personal agency unaffected by money, the media, notoriety, the adulation of millions, or the attention of the 12-25 set is a precious gift that no amount of money can buy.

    If Natalie Dylan thinks she can “loan” her body, her image, or her personhood to anyone, with the media and all of cyberspace watching and Googling, for any amount of time, and then disappear with her $3.7m and lead a normal life, she is sorely mistaken.

    Just ask any actual living celebrity or the very alive Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, who is marrying her longtime partner, Daniel Westling. One can expect a huge royal wedding, hours of TV coverage, and keychains and coffee mugs featuring photographs of the happy couple. If other people feel they own your image or have a right to it, you lose a tiny piece of yourself every time someone wipes the counter with the tea towel that has your face on it. If you are no longer yourself but an amalgamation of every image of yourself that has ever been used to form someone else’s impression of you, you lose ownership of yourself. And that is the only thing that we have.

    How can one remain healthy and whole in the midst of all that? Ask Crown Princess Masako of Japan.

    And from this comes an even greater question: Why do we care about the comings and goings of celebrities, royal families, or any other persons with whom we are not biologically or personally related? We don’t know them. We never will. Their actions really don’t affect us directly. What are they for, then? Why do we attend to them at all? Are Victoria, Masako, Charles, Natalie, Diana, Angelina, Brad, and Britney stand-ins for us, archetypes who live the lives we can’t live? Or the lives we really don’t want to live?

    If we build up archetypes, celebrities, and members of the royal families because we truly think they are better than we are and therefore more worthy of attention, we are little better than slaves. But I don’t think that’s it. They only exist by our consent, and if we refuse to acknowledge them, they are like the clothes on the emperor in the Andersen fairy tale: they will be seen for what they are: air. Nothing.

    So we actively will them into being. But why? I personally know five or six people who are infinitely more interesting in terms of sheer shock factor than the very average, tame, and beige Victoria Bernadotte. And the lives and fortunes of a dozen more matter infinitely more to me. I’m sure it’s the same for you.

    If we conjure them up simply to bat them down or to have a blank canvas onto which we can project our hatred, desires, wishes, hopes–God help us. Surely there must be better things to do with our lives, better things to think about, more worthy subjects of conversation and debate. If we spent half the time we spend thinking about celebrities on our old, lonely relatives, the world would be a better place. And it wouldn’t necessarily even be more boring–my grandmother has more drama in her life than any member of the Swedish royal family, I realize when I think about it rationally.

    We’re perfectly able to ignore political issues, environmental issues, elections, or the concerns of poor, unwashed people whom we have deemed uninteresting. I’ve seen people step over a homeless woman with two kids to get a free London newspaper that contained news about celebrities so they could read it on the train. I might have done the same thing myself. But why?

    As a fellow human being, I wish Victoria Bernadotte and Daniel Westling all the best, of course, but it escapes me why it matters particularly that they are getting married, or how, or why. Many people in Sweden claimed on Sveriges Radio that they were excited to have “something good” happening in Sweden. But this piece of news is not theirs; they have made it theirs, perhaps even thinking of it rather than some piece of news that concerns members of their actual family. But why?

    No one will read this posting but my dear, loving girlfriend, a few of my friends, and me, so I don’t expect any answers on this issue, but I can’t help but ask.

    I am accompanying this posting with not a single celebrity snapshot or other yummy visual distraction. I wish I could publish it in Old German script too. Isn’t it boring?

    Why?

    Points to Ponder:

  • To criticize the attraction of celebrities, you have to write about celebrities and thereby direct even more attention to them. Incidentally, did you know that in 2007, Britney Spears reportedly made more than $737,000 a month?
  • I do, actually, have a sense of humor.
  • The more you deny my thesis, the more true it is. And the less popular this posting is, the more true it becomes.
  • Posted by: Godfångst | February 23, 2009

    Things I Learned at the Oscars

    parker and broderickLots of celebrities never appear to get told “no” about anything, especially not about what they’re wearing, especially when it pertains to whether or not their tops are too small or too big.

    If there weren’t gays in Hollywood, there wouldn’t be much Hollywood. Which is both good and bad because either Hollywood ain’t what it used to be, or I’m not.

    taupeTaupe, ecru, and buff don’t look good on everyone, not even Evan Rachel Wood, who could make smallpox look good.

    The Wolverine can sing!

    Three hours of Hugh Jackman is probably too much, even when he’s singing.

    Too much of a “feelgood” movie can be really dull.

    Most actors are at sea without the teleprompter.

    Every time the gaze of the camera lens falls on Angelina Jolie, she makes exactly the same face: THIS ONE, which makes her look like an anesthetized salamander. My girlfriend and I do not agree about her merits. It’s one of the only things we don’t agree on.

    Many people do look better as they get older (Sean Penn, Kate Winslet). Eye wrinkles are very sexy, and I’m not just saying that because I have them.

    Poor people can make it to the Oscars ceremony, but only if they’re escorted or if they’re children.

    It is possible for a documentary filmmaker to dress better than Miley Cyrus.

    It’s okay to look like shit, but only if you’re male and really famous and/or rich.

    Beyoncé is going to sing everything, on every show, from now on. She’s going to sing the next White House press conference.

    I haven’t seen Cuba Gooding, Jr. in a long time, and I didn’t even notice.

    It’s really important to explain that you came from nowhere when you accept your Academy Award, and “nowhere” can include a trailer park, a small town, or a slum.

    Everybody thanks Harvey Weinstein.

    It’s OK to wear your hair the way I generally do on days when I’m hung over, but only if you’re going strapless.

    Going strapless is not for everyone, no matter how famous or rich you are.

    Comebacks are totally possible, but don’t always expect an Oscar with that, Mickey.

    Not everyone in Hollywood has fake breasts. But everyone is wearing about six inches of makeup, both men and women, especially now that HDTV shows every flaw.

    Makeup isn’t just for your face any more–it’s also for your body!

    Miley Cyrus, 2009Being young is not equivalent to being interesting.

    Americans need to fully embrace the concept of jolie-laide (or, in the case of Mickey Rourke or John Waters, joli-laid). And Tilda Swinton is not it. I mean real jolie-laide, like they have in Europe.

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 21, 2009

    Scapegoats and Wife Swappers

    img_1625If you listen to the media buzz, the January 30 episode of Wife Swap proves that San Francisco is full of fruit loops, phony liberals, Eurosnobs and toffee-nosed Brits who insult “real” Americans, like those who come from the red states. We’re a bunch of latte-drinking, lobster-eating, hemp-wearing, tree-hugging, hybrid-driving, liberal-voting, meat-rejecting, American soldier-hating, unpatriotic flakes.

    What this episode of Wife Swap, a deplorable show with a digusting, sexist premise, really shows is that even a fairly well-educated, reasonably intelligent human being goes ape when put in front of the TV camera and given some money and some stage direction. Lots of people act badly sometimes. But there seems to be little forgiveness for mistakes and stupidity these days, and all three concepts go waaaaaay back–as far as humans go. There was stupidity before the Bible, or, if you’re a fundie, human history began with an act of stupidity. A mistake.

    But people seem to be out for blood–at times, quite literally. Mr. Fowler had his phone number and address broadcast on the internet. Suleman has received many, many death threats. If you Google “blog hate Nadya Suleman,” you get about 89,000 hits, one of which is Dr. Laura. Now there’s a surprise. If you Google “blog hate Stephen Fowler,” you get about 3,400. Bernie Madoff hate even prompted Lauren Young to write a piece in BusinessWeek called “Why I Hate Bernie Madoff.”

    Maybe the nation just needs a scapegoat right now–the black-hole-sized vacuum left by the departure of Mr. Bush needs to be filled somehow, after all. We now have Fowler and The Octomom to hate, since Saddam Hussein is dead and Osama bin Laden may never be seen in public again.

    I wish some of that energy could go into protest against the bank bailouts or the less-desirable aspects of the stimulus package or this STUPID forced digital TV transformation we’re all going through. I AM NOT BUYING A BOX SO I CAN WATCH PUBLIC TELEVISION!

    Sometimes I think the blogosphere is the best and worst thing that ever happened to activism–now, when we’re really angry, we sit on our asses and blog about it. In the Ukraine or in Chile, they take the day off work (if they have a job) and march to City Hall. That’s what we should have done about the stupid California budget. But it would take more than a couple busloads of teachers and shipyard workers. If we had as many protesters as we do bloggers, we’d have nationalized healthcare, government-subsidized childcare, the protections of marriage for all–married or not, and lots of other highly desirable goodies.

    We need fewer blogs and more pitchforks, torches, and protest marches, I think. I vow to forgo writing next time and go out and protest something I feel strongly about. More boycotts. More clever signs like the one I saw at a Prop. 8 protest, “Focus on your OWN family!” I’m gonna make a sign and get out there and protest.

    But it won’t be about the Octomom. Walmart gets a lot more of my tax money than she does.

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 17, 2009

    Spot the American: A Contest

    ugly-americansMany people I know, especially my friends and acquaintances from La Belle France, remark on the incredible…*ahem*….visibility of Americans. One can hear us from some distance away, I’m told, and we are sure to be yelping for a cheeseburger and an extra-large Coke with ice whether we’re in Hanoi, Mumbai, or Quito. We’re constantly comparing our destination with “back home” and talking about how much better things are in America, and we don’t know anything about the culture, history, geography, or language of any civilization more than 10 miles beyond our hometown.You can get those for half that price at Walmart, you know.

    Fair enough. But do you really expect Americans to learn about other countries? Ours is so big, and there’s so much going on. Just keeping up with Britney, Lindsay, Hilary Duff, the Jonas Brothers, and Brangelina takes up all one’s time. And those of us who don’t follow Britney are far too busy splicing genes, inventing enterprise infrastructure software, or running cults. Others are kept quite busy being teachers or restocking the shelves at our liquor store–or both. The rest of us are currently incarcerated.

    The Americans who travel are usually only allowed two weeks of vacation per year, maximum, so they only have enough time to arrive, get over the jet lag, scope out the local castle or other high-altitude point of interest–especially if you get there by sky tram or high-speed elevator–and then buy souvenirs, have an overpriced meal, pack up our 70 kg of baggage, and run, sweating and cursing, for our return flights.

    Furthermore, our brains are scanned when we reenter the US, and if it’s found that we’ve learned too much about a foreign culture, about its superior healthcare system, its liberal-minded childcare policies, or its relaxed attitude toward work or same-sex marriage, these memories are promptly erased by means of a special electronic device. And that’s what microwave ovens are for, too–they erase any traces of language or culture we may have picked up in Switzerland or Belize. Heat up a tray of mini-pizzas, lose that smidge of conversational French you learned in Bordeaux.

    Also, we talk loudly because we are all hard of hearing. America is a very loud place. A running list of Walmart specials, reminders about terrorism alerts, presidential dicta translated into 56 languages, and a steady stream of synthpop are playing out of giant loudspeakers at top volume 24 hours a day in every public square, and most of us have severe hearing loss by the time we’re 15. We ingest so many chemicals that most of us are sterile and suffering from acute ADHD. We can’t get treatment for these disorders because none of us have adequate health insurance, as Michael Moore has so helpfully pointed out to the world. I had to decide–a cochlear implant or a boob job? Guess which one I chose.

    mcdoWe don’t read because books are more expensive than iPods or flat-screen TVs, and most of us don’t even remember how to read any more–and the ADHD makes anything we do read pretty meaningless anyway. They put something in breakfast cereal and all fast food to make us addicted to sugar and fat so that we must either eat at Pizza Hut or deal with aural hallucinations all day long, which makes it pretty hard to concentrate on working or watching our favorite TV programs. And we like Coke because it’s cheaper than water here in the US, and our water has chemicals in it that make you want to watch even more TV, so I try to stay away from the tap if I can help it.

    But enough about us. What about YOU? You think you know us, but you don’t know us. You don’t know us at all. You may shake your head at the obnoxious group clustered in front of the Louvre or the Taj Mahal, but those are tourists from Malta or the People’s Republic of China. It’s not our fault that everyone speaks English nowadays. We sent you all those TV shows and movies for your entertainment and cultural enlightenment, not for to learn English with!

    Anyway, if you’re so smart, you Finns, Fijians, Congolese and Turks, see how well you do on the following quiz.

    Identify any Americans you might see in the multinational mosaic below.

    Answers are printed below in the comments.

    1

    1

    2

    2

    4

    3

    3

    4

    6

    5

    8

    6

    5

    7

    7

    8

    9

    9

    10

    10

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 16, 2009

    History Repeats Itself

    You read it here, almost first. The rumor that shoulder pads are “back” has been given yet more credence at New York’s Fashion Week.

    The reason is clear–everyone is so freakin’ young now that the majority doesn’t remember how ugly they were.

    Here’s a reminder:

    Linda EvansBehold, the lovely Miss Linda Evans, who manages to look crazy/notbeautiful in this dress–and it can’t all be attributed to the hair.

    Like pegged jeans, like overalls, like plastic bracelets, risky articles of clothing should not be worn by all–or even, sometimes, by anyone. Yes, I know we all have the right to wear what we want. No one can stop you from wearing pleated tapered trousers. Go ahead. Trinny and Susannah will be after you, rest assured. But can’t we think critically about what certain fashion trends signify? Who’s truly nostalgic for the 1980s?

    Liz Jones in the Daily Mail was bright enough to notice that not only has this trend occurred before (at least three times, the latest time being the marvellous 1980s, the worst fashion era EVER) but that we are being served up the same old hash at ten times the price.

    Fashion designers, whether they’re on American cable television or not, should remember that a shitty fashion trend shouldn’t be resurrected just because it’s 30 years later. If Linda Evans, a tall, healthy, Norwegian-American TV actress with great cheekbones can’t make them fly, no one can.

    Why these sorts of things were ever invented in the first place is beyond me. I’ve heard it said that there’s an anti-woman conspiracy in the fashion world (“Let’s make the bitches look ugly!”) But no. It’s the economy, stupid, just like everything else in the world. The “fashionistas” can and will never stop recycling metallics, androgyne chic, animal prints, and blunt-cut bangs and pretending like it’s fresh. There’s just too much money in it all, and the collective memory in the fashion world is shorter than it is in the political world, evidently.

    Fashion consumers of the world, unite. Reject this trend. I, for one, refuse to be reminded of the Reagan years every time I leave the house. I’d prefer a return of heroin chic, whalebone corsets, or Brylcreem in men’s hair. Oops–all of those have come back too.

    Doesn’t anyone remember the 1980s? Apparently not. It was an era in which even Johnny Depp managed to look pedestrian:

    johnny1983

    I remember parachute pants, skinny jeans with zippers (or rolled), Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops, rubber bracelets, bad highlights, ratted/teased hair, lots of neon, plastic “jelly” shoes, Flashdance-chic, and a lot of other things that would be best forgotten, like Ronald Reagan himself.

    But no one can sell us a bill of goods we won’t buy. When newspapers and magazines say that something is “back,” the truth is that it’s only back as long as we TAKE it back. Shoulder pads have no more place in the fashion palette of the year than do acid-wash jeans and fringe jackets–worn separately or together.

    acidwashgirl

    Shoulder pads were originally worn by those who wished to make thick midsections look slimmer by widening their silhouette at the top. If you don’t have excessively slender, sloping shoulders or you aren’t playing hockey, lacrosse, or football, just don’t.

    Every time I see shoulder pads, I’m reminded of Iran Contra. Of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Of the first time I heard the word “recession.” These are genuinely traumatic memories of horrible events. And so, as we learned from Iran Contra and our dealings with Islamic extremists, let us learn from fashion mistakes of the past.

    We elders must teach the youth of today that the 1980s “revival,” which they don’t even recognize as a revival, must never happen. No fashion regurgitation can happen unless consumers suck it up like hungry baby birds.

    So say NO to Members Only jackets, acid wash jeans, mullets (unless you actually are a country singer or a hockey player), and heavily teased hair. Say no to turtlenecks under polo shirts. Say “no” to anyone who tells you that anything truly ugly is “back.” Say “no” to bringing back bad 1980s music along with the fashion:

    • NO to Toto
    • NO to Air Supply
    • NO to Wang Chung
    • NO to Milli Vanilli
    • NO to junk bonds, Islamic revolutions, and government officials who lie about where ill-gotten weapons were, are, have been or will be
    • NO to any further 8-year stretches of Republican hypocrisy
    • NO to shoulder pads

    History repeats itself like a bad enchilada.

    Posted by: Godfångst | February 15, 2009

    Dumbkopf de Leche

    Ben & Jerry’s recently created the “Yes, Pecan!” ice cream flavor for Obama.

    But let’s not leave our ex-president out of the mix. Can we make ice cream flavors out of the following words:

    “nepotism,” “political elite,” “decider”

    How about “dumbkopf de leche”?

    Photo Courtesy UPI

    Photo Courtesy UPI

    Here’s the reprinted posting, courtesy of The Huffington Post

    Ben and Jerry’s ice cream created “Yes, Pecan!” for Barack Obama.

    For George W. they created “_________”.

    They asked customers to fill in the blank. Here are some of their favorite responses:

    • Grape Depression
    • Abu Grape
    • Cluster Fudge
    • Nut’n Accomplished
    • Iraqi Road
    • Chock ‘n Awe
    • WireTapioca
    • Impeach Cobbler
    • Guantanmallow
    • imPeachmint
    • Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker… Swirl
    • Heck of a Job, Brownie!
    • Neocon Politan
    • RockyRoad to Fascism
    • The Reese’s-cession
    • Cookie D’oh!
    • The Housing Crunch
    • Nougalar Proliferation
    • Death by Chocolate… and Torture
    • Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
    • Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
    • You’re Shitting In My Mouth And Calling It A Sundae
    • Credit Crunch
    • Mission Pecanplished
    • Country Pumpkin
    • Chunky Monkey in Chief
    • George Bush Doesn’t Care About Dark Chocolate
    • WMDelicious
    • Chocolate Chimp
    • Bloody Sundae
    • Caramel Preemptive Stripe
    • I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands…with nuts

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