Friday, August 24, 2012

A war on two fronts

Usually I leave the politics stuff to FreshSnaps, AletheaKairos and Catty, but this smacks of a fundamental misunderstanding of word usage and by gum, I will defend the rights of semantics everywhere.

Rebecca Solnit, has a nice article on Salon, "Must men be patronizing?" about why some men feel compelled to hold court and explain things to women. Now Solnit is incredibly succinct and is a lover of facts by profession, but I'm going to state first that not all men are enamored with the sound of their own voices and that women can succumb to this kind of smugness and entitlement as well. (Phew, that's out of the way), but "the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is", according to Solnit, "gendered".

"Self-doubt is a good tool for correcting, understanding, listening, and progressing," suggests Solnit, "though too much is paralyzing and total self-confidence produces arrogant idiots." She goes on to say, "This syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me."
"On two occasions ... I objected to the behavior of a man, only to be told that the incidents hadn’t happened at all as I said, that I was subjective, delusional, overwrought, dishonest — in a nutshell, female ... Billions of women must be out there on this 6-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it’s part of the same archipelago of arrogance."
Why am I going on about this? Because I agree with Solnit that "at the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible."

Yes, that's right, this is a post about Todd Akin and the use of language when discussing rape (Thanks to the NYTimes for the the link).

Kelly Whitman's has some excellent things to say about talking about and acknowledging rape in her "Using the Right Words About Rape" post at her Mocha Momma blog. As a young mom and a teacher, she tries to speak naturally and organically with her children about their bodies and how to discern abuse. Why can't we do the same thing as a nation with our laws and with the adults we have elected to Congress?

"Most women fight wars on two fronts," Solnit tells us, "one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being. Things have certainly gotten better, but this war won’t end in my lifetime."

And thanks to bors blog for the "The Avenging Uterus Vs. Todd Akin" Strip!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Comedy and Tragedy

I knew something was up with Olympic coverage when I couldn't find a live showing of the opening ceremonies. The Washington Post TV guide had a '(L)' next to the prime time scheduled event, which I had to patiently explain to my father couldn't be live (No Dad, it'll be 2 AM there. Trust me no one is going to the stadium when the tube won't even be running).

Thank goodness for streaming BBC One's (excellent) commercial free coverage. I didn't even have to sign up for a $100 a month subscription to a cable-TV service of their choice (Neither of my parents have cable btw NBC. And they likely never will).  Heidi Moore has a great piece on NBC insistence that we "huddle around the radio" to receive our Olympic news in "NBC fail shows network's commitment to 'the last great buggy-whip Olympics'".

I'll continue to show my displeasure by making use of the trending #nbcfail twitter hashtag (Women's soccer gold match game anyone? Oh, never mind.  You need a cable subscription for that too. I braved Lucky Bar by myself on a Thursday for this?). I also highly recommend following NBCDelayed on Twitter to feel vindicated.

Tip of the Hat to the Guardian for their London 2012 Viral Video Chart: the 10 best videos from the Games, which showcases the viral video highlights of the Olympics thus far. Cry all over again with South Korea's Shin A-lam's mind-boggling defeat with (literally) a brick-by-brick recreation of the women's fencing semi-final. Then watch Funny or Die's video of Sir Patrick Stewart swindling yanks as an Olympic ticket scalper to make the pain go away.  (sigh. wishes were a knight or a dame or whatever.) You get Simon Pegg, Ryan Lochte's patriotic grille and that girl who plays Arya on Game of Thrones.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A petite rant on usage

I worked for a financial newspaper that shall remain nameless (Voldemortgage News? Hrm...) and it had the worst culture of institutionalized bullying I have ever had to endure. Which made me a ruthless editor because editing became survival.

The scars of this experience are my intolerance for misused words. I'd be annoyed by them anyway, I assure you, but not to this PTSD degree. And while I could dismiss my vehement reactions on unresolved anger at a chief sub who was a righteous prick and needed a kick in the balls, it still doesn't change the fact that words are misused all the damn time by people and publications that should know better, and as a result they are dumbing down our entire society and heralding the End of Times.

Here are a few examples:

Over. Dear every newspaper editor or broadcast journalist ever, please stop saying "over" when you mean "about". "Over" implies space and direction. Full disclosure: I used "over" in a headline when I was working on the Daily Telegraph business desk but that was because "about" wouldn't fit and the next word was "oil" so it rolled nicely. But you know what? Print is dying, the internet has unlimited space and the Daily Mail is going to use all of it for a five-deck SEO-generating headline so there's no excuse for saying "over" when you mean "about".

And just in case you don't mean "about", you probably mean "more than". Because if it's an amount of something, it's "more than". And while we're talking about amounts...

Significant. You mean "substantial". Because it's an amount, right? You're talking about an amount. You're talking about how much more you're paying in insurance every month or how many more students are not going to go to university if there are no jobs. Amounts are "substantial". If you say "significant" you're implying something is special. And you know what? It isn't.

Fantastical. You know who the worst sinner of this is? SFX magazine. Every goddamn "reboot" of a "franchise" is "fantastical", according to its "showrunner". NO. If it's a fantasy you're describing, then the adjective is "fantastic". Yes I am aware that it is a superlative. It's funny how some words can function in different word classes, isn't it? Like "fuck" and "smurf". Stop taking a perfectly cromulent adjective and trying to turn it into another adjective. I don't care if Shakespeare used it. You're not Shakespeare. You're not even Stephen Moffat. Unless you are. But if you are, please don't say "fantastical" because you're Stephen Goddamn Moffat and you are BETTER THAN THAT.

Vast majority. It's either a majority or it isn't. Fuck off with this "vast" nonsense.

Whilst/amongst. In grad school my grammar professor argued (in my words, not his) that anyone who said "whilst" or "amongst" was a pretentious dickhead and in practice I've found this to be largely true.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fab dot com

Let me start by apologizing, to you and your bank account.  Because you're going to go to and be powerless to resist their daily collections of art, fashion, jewelry, furniture, and home goods.  It's an electronic orgasm of what Eddie would lovingly call gorgeous, tasteful, little stylish little gorgeous things.


Like this, for example.  

Space Jam by Chase Kunz.  Currently hanging in my bathroom

Items tend to arrive when they arrive, but if you don't mind waiting, it's a minor thing.  It's like Christmas!  One day something you forgot you ordered just magically shows up at your door.  So far I've only had one real hiccup with an order when I received the wrong item.  The customer service reps I dealt with via email were very communicative and downright earnest in their desire to make right the mistake.  When they weren't able to replace the item, I got a full refund plus a $10 shopping credit.  Earnest like a fox.  A stylish gorgeous little fox. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Inspiration Grid

For a daily dose of arresting images, visit The Inspiration Grid.  This curated gallery presents new works in art and design from creators around the world.  It's easy to immerse yourself in these beautiful, amusing, and provocative pieces.

Some of my favorites come from the photography gallery:

Interiors of classical instruments, created by Mona Sibai and Bj√∂rn Ewers for an advertising campaign to promote the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.   Photographer: Mierswa KluskaIf

Lips: Creative Photography by Nikos Vasilakis

The War Against Christmas, high speed photos of exploding Christmas ornaments by Alan Sailer
The Inspiration Grid

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bully for you, Mittens

I guess the news cycle has washed away all traces of the Mitt Romney Is A Bully story that commandeered headlines for about 10 minutes in May. Many people argued that Romney being a bully in high school isn't that big a deal because he should be judged on what he does now.
I disagree. (And not because there isn't anything to judge him on now, because there is. Lots.)

When I was in sixth grade, I was bullied repeatedly to the point that I started skipping school for weeks at a time. Because I was bullied, I bullied others I perceived to be weaker than me when I got the chance to, because that's how I thought things went and how I thought I had to survive. (That's how it works; it's a cycle. You might notice this now in how Romney treats the middle and lower classes in regards to tax and healthcare.) This reaction-bullying resulted in the worst thing I think I have ever said to another human being.

His name was Chris and he was having a more difficult time adjusting to middle school than I was. I'd heard from someone that he wanted to commit suicide. So after school one day when we were the only two students left at the bike rack, I said: "Hey, is it true you wanted to kill yourself?"
He said "yeah". Defensively. Like, you wanna-make-something-of-it.
So I said: "What are you waiting for?"
And he snorted in a "yeah, good one" manner and rode off.
He disappeared before the year was out.

I have regretted this for years and never told anyone this story. Ever.
But I remember it. I carry it with me and I would apologize to Chris if I even knew how to find him, if he was even still alive.

In 1965, Mitt Romney bullied a classmate who had the audacity to style his hair. His "long" hair that draped over one eye. In 1965. Okay, the Beatles happened already, Mitt. Even at Cranbook. But that didn't stop him from corralling his gang of Crabbes and Goyles to physically restrain John Laubner and cut his hair off.

Are there worse things? Yes. Like telling a student to go kill himself, maybe. But I was 11. Mitt was 18. I was a disturbed child and Mitt was a grown man ready to take up his place in the 1%. And while I remember my horrible act, Mitt apparently does not. Oh, his classmates remember it, feel bad about it, and even made an attempt to atone for it before Laubner died. But Mitt, in a startlingly heroic move worthy of any American President, does more than just deny it ever happened, he rubbishes the entire issue by saying he doesn't remember it.

For some reason, electing a President has become a popularity contest instead of the job interview it actually is. Voters, if you elect this bullying dickwad asshole President of the United States of America, you have just made the villain of every John Hughes film ever Prom King. And that is not how we want to be known in the global community. It really isn't.