Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yeah Hi, I was told, maybe, I could have my ball back...?

"But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."

                                                        — El Presidente

Ehh, Hi Barry. Tuesday? Yeahhhh, I'm not sure I can make it. But uh... I heard something about getting my ball back? Is that offer, you know?...

Wait...uh, just keep it, I'm good — No, NO, Barry!! Just keep the ball! Keep it! Please, Barry — I'll vote! I promise I'll vote!

I admit, I was not, in fact, serious in the first place.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's not what you say, it's what you're wearing when you say it

Mah-Ah (we're tight like that) had the International Truth Police (ITP) walk out on him... again. Now, Mah-Ah is often misunderstood, I believe, because his style is rhetorical: he performs his argument rather than taking the easy, unimaginative route — direct proclamation. See, Mah-Ah isn't serious about the "truth" of his claims. Rather, he is simply trying to prove an oldie-but-a-goodie from the mind of Nietzsche: Rather than a will to "truth" — as we often suggest — humans find themselves far more influenced by our will to "myth".

No, I didn't borrow it. What?, that's where the lapels
are supposed to be...what are you suggesting?
Unfortunately, in order to convince a Western audience, you gotta look the part, and Mah-Ah ain't pulling it off.

There are many theories for these horribly ill-fitted jackets he wears:

a) Mah-Ah is trying to further his appeal as a man of the people (the people, by large part, can't afford a tailored look, so the Prez won't adopt any fancy threads either). Kinda smart.

b) He's motivating himself to bulk up — focusing on the pecs and delts, no doubt. I actually did this once, but the other way around. You know about this?: buy a slightly tight pair of pants because you're pissed that they are, in fact, tight. My college body is becoming blubbery: "The pants will motivate me!" This strikes me as the most plausible explanation.

c) He wants to accentuate his already ample boyish charm. That "I just borrowed this from my Dad" look does have a certain appeal, a likable innocence, no?

Keep on keepin' on, Mah-Ah... they'll catch on to your schtick soon enough.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This is a one-time offer (2 year contract required)

After sitting around my house — waiting.... waiting.... waiting.... — preparing myself for the big release party, it's finally here: the Republicans have released their legislative blueprint.

Apparently (and this really sucks) it's not a blueprint at all. Rather, it's a pledge. And my wait isn't quite over, the hardware store/lumber yard unveiling is still a few hours away — just like a child's Christmas morning, isn't it? (I hope our parents are rich!)

Now, it seems that the Republicans are doing the country, all 300 gillion of us, a solid. Ostensibly — assuming I'm following the Repubs correctly — they are convinced that our civilization will collapse relatively soon (sometime between the weekend and... Groundhog Day?) and it would behoove us all to get off the government teat and start sharpening our survival skills. I dig this. This is smart, it's like the whole of the Republican party is thinking like Dmitry Orlov.

Do you, my beautiful readers, remember when some Republican candidate woman (this was maybe a year ago?) suggested that we all start bartering/trading goods and services in exchange for medical care? And all the Dems laughed, and laughed, and laughed ("What a loon! Money is the only thing of value — forever!" those silly shitbags seemed to say). That was good — although perhaps not "practical" — advice, was it not? And now that they're releasing policy plans at lumber yards I can only assume that they're encouraging us all to pick up a few 2x4s and a couple of hand tools to help nurture another important skill we'll all soon need: shelter construction (again, and I'm quite serious — as always — this is smart and wise and good).

Anyway, here's to survival skills! Thanks Republicans, the Dems never have the guts to prepare us for our new society.

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the classroom, again

Kids. Love. School.
(If you have school kids, this might be worth reading. Otherwise, probably not)

Back to school. Most kids don't say anything: they ask no questions, offer no suggestions — nary a comment. What I mean to say: students (and I'm speaking of your 15-17 year old crowd) are far less inquisitive in the classroom than my tastes would prefer.  

I'm quite sure there are many explanations. Maybe someone, somewhere, has even looked into it, launching an official inquiry. I have very little to add:

I see teachers... entire lots of em'. Many (hell, maybe even most) are not adequately armed to battle wits with your average 16 year-old. This is very obvious to me. Now, you might think: teachers who have the "intellect" to satisfy the questions of adolescents are the same teachers who produce the talking kids. Or, a teacher who can/will answer questions thereby encourages kids to ask more questions. I'm not so sure. Here's why teachers, both wise and not, tend to fail:

Vapid teacher, can't handle the students' fiery lumber rooms

Two common postures in relation to student questions

a) Swing and miss: By golly they mean well, they just don't have it in them.... forgiven. Not being able to offer a stylistically compelling and/or logically "effective" argument in response to the quizzical nature of a child leaves the not-too-smart teacher as little more than a cheerleader, which is nice, I don't mean to dismiss.

b) Be a dick about it: Perhaps you've seen the type? They'll either tell the kid something along the lines of
you're being a distraction
I don't have time to answer every question, we have a lot of work to do (which is, obviously, a lie)
Astute teacher, or at least smart enough to outpoint most teenagers — what do they do wrong?

a) Hit it out of the park: It is tempting — because showing off can be fun — to give a 10 minute rejoinder to something like, "what's McCatheryism?" The answer far exceeds the scope of the question, the student has a can you shorten that to one sentence, please expression scrawled on her face — understandably so.

b) Be a dick about it: Kids (like adults) can be — and often are — annoying and petty and it can be fun for a teacher to thrash the rascals when vulnerable. Perhaps this is unsettling? So it goes... I've certainly done it (which I'm not terribly pleased to tell you, but it is so).

When that kid (your villain) gives you an opportunity to ridicule — or if you're in the mood for a euphemysm, replace ridicule with humble — them for being such a little shitbag... well, the decision happens so quickly, it's almost as if you can't hold yourself accountable for taking the low road (wink with me).

These brilliant examples illustrate how teachers convince kids, through rigorous repetition, that it isn't worth the trouble to engage the teacher in conversation: why bother saying anything — it'll just leave you unsatisfied.

One possible solution, if you think silent students is a problem: Find teachers with classroom personas that lean toward theatrics and at times frivolous play — this can help. The appeal of feeling like you're "part of the show" seems to induce people towards action, the kids start thinking and yapping. Also, exuberance demands a strange respect, it's almost like fear — that's useful.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm sure there are some pitfalls

Looking good, Senator. You'll fit right in.
In a moment I'll put forward a brief proposal, I do not doubt this proposal has flaws. Of course it does. No alternative.

We would be well served to select our distinguished Congresswomen/men at random. Completely. Fucking. Random. People could say no, I suppose. If you don't want to go to Washington, we'll offer your position to the next name.

We'll need some guidelines.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How great is the Tea Party?

How great is this image? They kept the Indian costumes!
That shows a commitment to the facts, I likey.
As a no-horse-in-the-race non-voter: I love these guys and gals. Admittedly, I don't exactly follow what "they" are up to, and when I do bump into some half-assed hatchet job — desperate to illustrate just how crazy and unelectable they all are — I do find some amusement in what seems to be an advanced case of angry-dum-dumb-itis — which has obviously inflamed America's glands, across the board.

But all ideological differences aside (ha, that just sounds stupid), Zee Tee Pa-Tay is a beautiful things: A robust judo-chop to the gut of American party politics.

Now, I've confessed my love of the Tea Party more than once, here's what typifies the response:

"Sure, they're a 3rd party, and I too (they nod, sporting a knowing posture) will be happy when our two party system hits the shitter. But, the Tea Party will ultimately stifle 3rd party progress because, you know... they're crazy!"

To this I have two words, wait, one word: Poppycock.

Applaud the Tea Party, I implore you: I'm not sure what those ambitious political rabbits are doing, but they're really doing it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smart guy hexed me (and just before lunch)

this comes from a tee shirt
I'm reading (and perhaps you have or will) Nietzsche's essay Schopenhauer As Educator. I've "read it" several times, I enjoy it each time (needless to say, this pattern may not be eternal).

There's this beautiful section in which Nietzsche examines the three types of modern Man: Rousseau's, Goethe's, and Schopenhauer's. The Nietzsche writes, hilariously:
Of these, the first image possesses the greatest fire and is sure of producing the greatest popular effect; the second is intended only for the few, for the contemplative natures in the grand style, and is misunderstood by the crowd. The third demands contemplation and frightens away the crowd.
After examining Rousseau's and Goethe's Man, he comes to Schopenhauer and breaks the (bad?) news about being truthful: 'He will, to be sure, destroy his earthly happiness through his courage; he will have to be an enemy to those he loves and to the institutions which have produced him; he may not spare men or things, even though he suffers when the suffer; he will be misunderstood and for long thought an ally of powers he abhors; however much he may strive after justice he is bound, according to the human limitations of is insight, to be unjust; but he many console himself with the words once employed by his great teacher, Schopenhauer:'
A happy life is impossible: the highest that man can attain to is a heroic one. He leads it who, in whatever shape or form, struggles against great difficulties for something that is to the benefit of all and in the end is victorious, but who is ill-rewarded for it or not rewarded at all. Then, when he has done, he is turned to stone, like the prince in Gozzi's Re corvo, but stands in a noble posture and with generous gestures. He is remembered and celebrated as a hero; his will, mortified a whole life long by effort and labour, ill success and the world's ingratitude, is extinguished in Nirvana.
What comes next is one of the more challenging passages I have had the good fortune to encounter: I think I understand, but I don't know what to make of it. But, I might not understand, in which case I still might be able to make something of it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fighting on Nationals' television

Major League Baseball dominates access to video images of their baseball games — you simply aren't going to find them on your youtubes and what have you — so feel free to go to the league site and watch the fracas from last night.  I just heard Tim Kurkjian (ESPN baseball analyst) say this about Nyjer Morgan (baseball player, apparently a bit of a dipshit, who launched the brawl):

Somebody needs to have another long chat with this kid to let him know, don't lose your aggressiveness and your intensity, but you've got to control it better than you have lately.

MLB likes this guy with the nice smile
Uh, huh. This kid? Nyjer Morgan is thirty years old. Thur-tee! Napoleon had invaded Egypt before hitting that milestone. Even I don't get referred to as a "kid" anymore, and I can't even see 30 on the horizon (that last part isn't true, I acutely feel time's footslog every. single. god. damned. day.).

Morgan is not a very good baseball player. It is entirely possible that his current streak of careening craziness is being steered by the looming demise of his playing career — that's mostly speculative. At 30, he has only played 322 MLB games — that is ever so slightly less than two full seasons, not even close to enough to get the good pension. In that time, he's been a very bad hitter but a good defensive asset in the outfield. However, regarding his defense, baseball's advanced fielding metrics require statistically significant sample sizes — he's not there yet, so it's hard to say how good he is. Defining how well a guy plays defense is quite difficult: somewhere between a boatload and an ass ton of variables must be sorted through. Last year his UZR/150 (if you don't know, you better ax someone) was stellar, but again, it was in a statistically less than strong sample size. This year, those fielding numbers are merely average and since he can't hit a lick, he's well on his way to being dispensable.

MLB not as fond of this guy (same guy) slamming his glove
to the ground in the middle of the game
I'm curious to see what Baseball does here.  On one hand, some black American ballplayers have voiced a sense of disenfranchisment this past year, and it may be that Baseball doesn't want to rebrand themselves as an organization that treats black men unfairly. On the other, Morgan is projecting the stereotypcial characteristics of the sort (angry, violent black man) that cause sports commissioners to crap their pants as they contemplate the image and marketability of their product. When it comes to handing down suspensions for "bad" behavior, the four major American team sports are a mess (see Adam Pacman Jones v Ben Roethlisberger as case A in the hilarity of the process).

Stay tuned and remember: stay aggressive and intense (the fans like it), but be in control too (the advertisers sorta like that).