"Had it not been for the meltdown of the financial markets and the resulting recession, GM would have been well positioned to sell some cars." —Detroit News editorial
Jamie Malanowski eviscerates a bogus trend story about recession strippers in yesterday's New York Post. Of the supposed "scores" of New York women who once held six-figure jobs and who have now turned to pole dancing, the paper identifies three. The cover model, it turns out, was not recently fired from Morgan Stanley, as the piece claims. She left on her own some years ago to do PR then acting and finally stripping. And she's writing a book about it. The second one was supposedly a real estate broker but has no Google trail. The third was a pastry chef. "One of those nubile, twenty-something, six figure-earning pastry chefs that were all over town before the crash, no doubt. I'd very much like to see the Post produce the other 38."
Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.
"Relax, I'm not a thief. I'm just an out-of-work mime, bringing a sack of sine waves to an 'Eyes Wide Shut'-style orgy." —Tim C.
"Well, that settles it - Wells Fargo wins the award for faggiest wallpaper."—Damon
"Help! I am a poorly dressed charity worker bringing relief funds to an orphanage, and I am being attacked by a handsome thief who can fly!"—Francis
It's been five years since I first recoiled in sarcasm at a case of a teenage girl arrested on child abuse and kiddie porn charges for taking a nude photo of herself. It was so preposterous on its face that I didn't even feel the need to say very much about it, but since then similar cases have proliferated in tandem with the technology for sharing digital pictures. Here's today's story out of New Jersey and a good article from yesterday's New York Times about a brave Pennsylvania girl who's fighting back.
It's obvious to Violet Blue what's going on here:
These kids aren't being sexually exploited; their sexuality is being criminalized. The people enforcing and deciding how to apply adult sexual laws to kids (across the nation, it seems) are like totally not paying attention that what kids have always done, is what they're doing now. It's like they've become so entrenched in ideology that intellectual honesty has been thrown out the window; baby, bathwater and all. They've forgotten about the kids they're trying to "protect." And that's losing far more than an argument about teens taking nudie pics of themselves, posting them online, or sending them to each other.
Generously searching for the most reasonable explanation for these prosecutions, Feministing can only come up with Ben Tre logic. It's necessary to destroy girls in order to save them.
Some folks are so determined to impose social control on young women's expression of sexuality that they are willing to turn a few girls into convicted sex offenders in order to terrify teenage girls everywhere into toeing their prescribed line. Responses to women's, and especially young women's, expressions of sexuality have always been hysterical (pardon the ironic use), and colored by both panicked reaction and drooling exploitation.
Down with panicked reaction and drooling exploitation!
Now let's see, what can I find on Google Images to go with a post about naked teens under arrest?
I missed Let the Right One In when it was in theaters, so when the critically-adored tween vamp pic came to Blu-Ray I added it near the top of the Netflix queue.
Now I see that the home release (DVD and BR) has badly translated subtitles that strip much of the dialogue of its nuance and dark humor.
The distributor did the right thing and hurriedly restored the theatrical version. But there's no guarantee that Netflix will make the switch. It seems likely that it won't. But in any case, there's no way to know in advance which version you're getting... nor even after the disc arrives, since it ships without the case, where the subtitle information is indicated. And since I haven't seen the movie, I presumably can't be sure I have the better version even after I start watching.
The obvious thing to do would be to e-mail Netflix and ask if they intend to swap out all copies of the film. But have you ever tried to contact Netflix about anything? They have a really good automated feedback system for customer service issues, and even an actual phone number for solving problems, but I can't find any way to contact them with questions about content. Somehow I can't see calling the help line and asking this question. As we say in the vampire trade, this sucks.
Further evidence of the character's badness: there's also an empty pill bottle on the table. So he's not just into street drugs, but prescription ones, too. And he plays cards, which is apparently an evil pastime as well. Also there's a gun. Bad dudes have guns. And if you'll look closely, there is a pair of nunchucks hanging from the doorknob. It's a little-known fact that both Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein had nunchucks hanging from their doorknobs. Furthermore, the paint is peeling off his wall. Bad dudes don't keep their walls painted.
Me, I'm just soliciting captions.
Like many Americans, I've been following the recent news stories about the dangers facing gringos in Mexico with alarm and distress. Of course, my reaction isn't to the supposed dangers but rather to the stories themselves: preposterous sensationalism built on a foundation of dubious anecdotes and misleading statistics.
A new site called The Truth About Mexico is dedicated to correcting the record. This map showing the distances between the high-risk areas of the country and the tourist destinations is a good place to start. Anyone traveling from Kansas to Cancun for spring break will, for one week, be farther away from Ciudad Juarez than they are the rest of the year. "Consumers of American media could easily get the impression that Mexico is a blood-soaked killing field, when in fact the bulk of the drug violence is happening near the border. (In fact, one way of putting this would be that Mexico is safe as long as you stay far, far away from the US.)"
That wry observations is from an absolutely essential article by mi amigo Francisco de Koughan (proprietor of the Burro Hall blog). Frank's advice to anyone freaking out about a visit to Mexico: Do the math. A few back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the most accurate way to process the screaming headlines about hundreds of Americans killed in Mexico in recent years is that "your chances of not being murdered here are 99.9997%. Anyone who considers those to be dangerous odds would be advised not to spend spring break in Las Vegas, either."
There is indeed a great deal of senseless, drug-fueled violence happening in Mexico right now: over 5,000 people were killed last year, and this year the body count hit 1,000 in just 51 days. But the vast, vast majority of the dead were either involved in the drug trade themselves, or were part of the forces (Army/ police/ judges/ officials) who are fighting them. If you’re planning to spend spring break either working for a drug cartel or joining the Mexican Army, then by all means you should think twice about coming here.
That sounds like a joke — OK, that is a joke — but not everyone gets it. As Frank points out, the Houston Chronicle recently ran a breathless article headlined Caught in the Chaos: More than 200 U.S. Citizens Killed in Mexico Since ‘04. Only close reading reveals that "the dead include at least two dozen victims labeled hitmen, drug dealers, human smugglers or gang members, based on published investigators’ accusations. Others were drug users or wanted for crimes in the United States…in at least 70 other cases, U.S. citizens appear to have been killed while in Mexico for innocent reasons: visiting family, taking a vacation, or simply living or working there.”
"In other words," Frank writes,
of the “200 U.S Citizens Slain,” 130 of them simply didn’t draw their own weapons fast enough. So we’re really talking about seventy murders in four years, during which time Americans made 60 million visits to Mexico, which has a population of about 120 million. For the record, that’s ten percent fewer murders than took place in Houston, population 2 million, in the first three months of 2008. [emphasis mine]
In the wake of a biker brawl at Sydney Airport, The Australian asks the tough questions.
No, but banned bikie gangs should definitely be outlawed.
Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.
"Hey, which one of you sons of bitches left this in front of my house? I specifically smeared my doorposts in blood so I would NOT receive menus!" —gary
"My people: God will deliver...but there's a $20 minimum and he won't go above East 83rd Street." —al in la
"NO! One commandment, each person! No share!" —Damon
Jesse Sheidlower traces the antecedents of Britney Spears' catchy but horribly-depressing ode to low self esteem If U Seek Amy. I'm not sure if the use of 'U' in the title is (like the ham-handed opener of the video) an attempt to remove any remote bit of sly-ness from the joke so that idiot fans don't miss it or if it's just a reflexive post-Prince convention that undermines the joke unintentionally.
Back in the old Music Club days one of our themes (which I somehow neglected to blog) was songs with curse words and Jill brought in the Memphis Slim classic If You See Kay. (My contribution was the trifecta of Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.)
I remember reading about the Joyce poem when the Amy faux-controversy first hit a while back, but Jesse also points out a related Shakesepeare gag that I'd never noticed, despite having read or seen Twelfth Night countless times. Handwriting analysis at it's most gratuitously raunchy:
"By my life this is my lady's hand. These be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's."
I spent last week in London where, in addition to not blogging, I happened to stop into a bookstore. Here's a new release that caught my eye because it's a book that would never ever be published in the United States, post-Bush or not.
Guantanamo Boy is, from what I can tell, a typical young adult problem novel, wherein teen readers are encouraged to project their turbulent but essentially mundane inner lives onto a social issues narrative, thereby nurturing an overinflated sense of self-importance. Usually these books are about drug addiction, poverty, crime, sexual abuse, divorce. What Ann Hulbert describes as "earnest," "schematic" fare built on "trite symbols" and "studiously packaged pedagogical lessons."
The problem in Guantanamo Boy, of course, is that Khalid — "a 15-year-old British schoolboy, whose predominant interests, when he travels with his family to Pakistan to visit his father's relatives, are football, computer games and a girl he fancies called Niamh" — is kidnapped by the CIA and tortured until he falsely confesses to being a terrorist.
Now, I've written more posts than I can count denouncing my country's torture regime, but somehow I can't bring myself to cheer for a teen fictionalization of it. I have not read Guantanamo Boy, so there's a chance that I'm wrong and it's a truly wise and appropriate treatment of the subject. But come on, the title is a pun that should be banned under the Geneva Conventions.
This interview with author Anna Perara is not promising.
Perera was determined that, despite its punishing subject matter, the teens who read the book would experience that same feeling of peace by the end of it.
To Perera's credit she chose not to appropriate any stories of actual Guantanamo detainees "because those people's stories belong 100% to them and didn't want to take that from them or imagine myself being them." But the book nonetheless retains the problem novel ethos.
"To me, all books are devices that help people understand the world that they live in, appreciate it, and ponder their own existence. What I hope is that teenagers will see the similarities between themselves and issues that are on the news every day."
Except that mom's rule about no texting after 10 pm, no matter how horrendously unfair, is not actually similar to institutionalized torture. If there's one lesson books should teach teenagers it's that not everything is about you.
Besides, there's an argument to be made that putting yourself into the mind of an innocent victim may be cathartic but not actually useful in terms of torture as an issue. Torture is only a personal, psychological trauma for the relatively small handful of people who are subject to it. For society as a whole it is a moral, political trauma. Our problem is not (or not exclusively) our failure to empathize with the victims but rather our failure to confess our sins as the perpetrators.
Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon.
"The ape should've come before me. Next time I'll try thinking about baseball." —Damon
"Zippadee doo-dah, zippadee day! Got naked on an island and am kicking a fish! Zippadee doo-dah, zippadee day! Heroin is a hell of a drug." — Chloe E.
"Why am I prancing about in the nude? Just for the halibut! No, I'm kidding, I was just brutally raped by a drifter." —t.a.m.s.y.
Sorry, I got caught without Internet access for a week. Your regularly scheduled waste of time will resume shortly. But let's just write off this week's anti-caption contest, shall we?
My scoop on the beer pong disease vector hoax didn't result in a correction by Fox News. But a pick up from Colbert is cooler anyway.