Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two For Tuesday

Three black teens in Oklahoma gunned down a white jogger to relieve their boredom. The jogger, a baseball player & exchange student, is Australian, so instead of being a two day story in The Oklahoman it's worldwide news. Meanwhile, in Georgia, there was a would-be school shooter, probably yet another white nutjob in tac gear, who fortunately did not hurt anyone before the police nabbed him. So, we have Two-For-Tuesday: a crime in Oklahoma that snugly fits one prevalent pattern and stereotype, and a crime in Georgia that fits another. The internet might disappear up its own rectum by the end of the week!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Don't Text And Drive!

Werner Herzog's short film is the best PSA of the year.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Detroit--what happened?

Detroit's recent bankruptcy and Charlie LeDuff's book Detroit: An American Autopsy got me thinking. There is no one culprit for Detroit's immolation. The automobile encouraged people to spread out of the cities--including out of Detroit. Competition from Japan and Europe cut into Big Three market share, who fled to southern states to evade unionized labor costs. Detroit was never going to operate forever at a fever pitch as it was in 1950. As a one-industry town, it was as vulnerable as those silver mining ghost towns out West. The solution would have been to bring the local economy in for a soft landing, trying to diversify and deflect the coming blow. This pessimistic approach would have been a political impossibility in the boom years of the Sixties, even if city politicians had been visionary enough to perceive it. Segregation festered for decades and the '65 riots decided the issue: whites fled, and blacks turned the city government into a banana republic, with politicians money-favoring cronies, pastors getting rich on grants for their phony-baloney "block projects", and funding for infrastructure and services going into the playahs' pockets. One possible thing to do now, beyond gaping at the ruins, is to sell off the blighted neighborhoods to the urban farmers. Let the locavore hipsters buy their produce, and if they're successful let it expand into regional agri-business. Or just bulldoze the entirety and let the prairie come back.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Against the misuse of "porn"

The word, that is. Although I know it is useless to protest against trends in language, I still want to raise my feeble voice against the mainstreaming of the word porn in everyday usage, as a synonym for anything that is enjoyable to view. This perfectly harmless and rather enjoyable photo spread of creative bookshelves is entitled Bookshelf Porn. Why? To attract internet traffic, of course. But such usage represents a degradation of language, a smashing of detail, nuance and accuracy, in the name of maximum (and thereafter decreasing) impact. Language shapes and is shaped by culture, certainly--Normal is just a setting on the washing machine, and Sinful is just a word on the dessert menu nowadays. But what is being lost seems to be worthy of preservation. The Presbyterian writer Frederick Buechner said that "Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst." This dessication of spirit is reflected in the language, when porn--joyless, loveless, stage-lit, rubber-sheathed, mercenary porn--is used as a synonym for honestly rewarding delight.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Friday Night ADHD Linklets

Bruce Sterling: "If Snowden had gotten things his own way, he’d be writing earnest op-ed editorials in Hong Kong now, in English, while dining on Kung Pao Chicken. It’s some darkly modern act of crooked fate that has directed Edward Snowden to Moscow, arriving there as the NSA’s Solzhenitsyn, the up-tempo, digital version of a conscience-driven dissident defector."

Victor Davis Hanson assumed that an invitation to racial dialog was sincere--aftermath summarized here, along with related reactions. If the ground rules of a conversation constrain one side to pretend that they do not see, hear and know what they in fact do see, hear and know, the ensuing conversation may be quite balletic, but it won't be honest. As Voltaire famously said, the great consolation in life is to say precisely what one thinks.

Will Detroit's splendid art collection become a bankruptcy casualty?

You can learn about loss just as effectively from a laser gun as you can from an unsuccessful affair in Paris.

“Your help is hurting.” More to the point: Helping people is good. Making pets of them is bad.