I designate today 'Government Failure Day'.
July 1, 2002 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I designate today 'Government Failure Day'. The Feds can't catch Osama, they can't stop 1 in 4 weapons getting through airport security (but they'll get those nail clippers, mind you!), and government employees again display their penchant for setting thousands of acres ablaze. This problem isn't unique to American government. While we like to burn large tracts of lands and play mind games with airline passengers, a British museum has decided that tins full of human feces are worth more than gold.
posted by insomnyuk (33 comments total)
 
The purchase is not the only excreta the Tate has in its collection; it has also bought three paintings by Chris Ofili featuring elephant dung.
Man, I'm sitting here crying over the fortune I flushed away.

Happy Crappy Gubmint day, everyone!
posted by ColdChef at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2002


In case you're interested in the art angle, this is a real kick in the pants for the Art Renewal Center, they claim that just about all modern art is crap, and their mission is to promote good art, including an online museum dedicated to the subject. Bouguereau is awesome.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2002


How do the cans of shit explode???
posted by banished at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2002


Banished, maybe like a fart, methane gas...........
posted by thomcatspike at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2002


A footnote about Piero Manzoni's artistic output:
what's exactly inside most of the 90 tin cans he made and signed is not completely clear. Legend has it that the first experimental cans -- human feces were certainly in those --actually exploded because of chemical reactions, gases and so forth (I'm not an expert on crap biology maybe some biologist here on MeFi can help)
What we know for sure is that some of the lucky owners have x-rayed the cans and what's visible is that they contain a smaller can. So maybe there is not actually shit inside, but mainly the idea of shit, so to speak.
It's consistent with another famous Manzoni stunt: for a while he used to sign the visitors at art galleries, making them a "opera d'arte", a certified work of art.
He even signed author Umberto Eco, then a young man (I'm talking about the early sixties in Milan), making a work of art. It certainly brought Eco success and good luck.
posted by matteo at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2002


I thought that too, but 30 grams of shit, being sealed so as to inhibit fast decomposition (I would assume), not having any way of igniting the methane, and being sealed for only 41 years, would it really explode????
posted by banished at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2002


Thanks for the links, insomnyuk but I dont agree with anything you say. The Art Renewal Center seems like a sentimentalist, reactionary throwback. I love Matisse, Picasso and Rothko.

You can state your preference for say Bouguereau, as an extension of classical painting without dismissing modern art or modernism. You're focusing on technique rather than aesthetics, craftsmanship over artistry. Its not the right way to frame the debate.
posted by vacapinta at 12:44 PM on July 1, 2002


, being sealed so as to inhibit fast decomposition

Actually from what I've heard the initial problem was exactly that, the can weren't sealed right and the air inside did the trick.
Something was apparently changed -- the real problem is corrosion of the tin structure. The surviving specimen are all rusty under the label. I've seen one, once. No smell though, I'm happy to report.
posted by matteo at 12:46 PM on July 1, 2002


By the way I'm so happy that between Osama, airport security and forest fires in this thread we all chose to discuss shit-as-art and its chemical reactions
Manzoni'd be happy too, I'm sure
posted by matteo at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2002


Incompetence, encopre-pants...what's the difference?
posted by rushmc at 12:56 PM on July 1, 2002


And at lunch hour for most of the US.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2002


"Thanks for the links, insomnyuk but I dont agree with anything you say."

Which part of what I said do you not agree with? Oh yeah, all of it. But in your post you don't address anything I actually said. Maybe you don't agree with anything they say. I happen to like some of Picasso's work, for example.

"You're focusing on technique rather than aesthetics, craftsmanship over artistry. Its not the right way to frame the debate."

I think the argument by people like Fred Ross is that the aesthetic value of art is directly connected to the technique and craftsmanship employed.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2002


I apologize for being unclear. I assumed your statement ". Bouguereau is awesome." meant that you bought into all this.

I do disagree entirely with Fred Ross. I see Art as expression, in whatever form. This should never be confused with craftsmanship which is simply a means to an end. Years of musical training will never make you a great composer. Likewise, some people are born with great compositions in their head but may never acquire the tools to properly express themselves. Arguably, the greatest artists can both be startlingly original and also have mastery over the tools necessary to bring their ideas to light.

Picking on Manzoni is a weak attack on Modernism - its so Jesse Helms, picking on the extremists and the easy targets. Check out the recent John Cage thread in which something which seems initially absurd can quickly take us into the heart of what it means for us to express ourselves and create Art.

John Ross thinks that if he smears shit on a wall and calls it Art, he has proven his point. That is simplistic. Besides expression, Art is also about context, about being culturally relevant and, yes, about the tradition that he describes.

A Rothko doesnt mean that much in isolation. But, look at it in the context of what he did before, Rothko's incorporation and inspiration from Navajo traditions, for example, as an evolving compact expression.

That you must understand Art to appreciate it is not an elitist concept - understanding most popular music today means understanding the context. Try to take early Bob Dylan music and play it for someone who hasnt heard any music since, say, 1940 and you'll see what I mean. Art does not exist in isolation and if Ross would take a closer look at the Modernist art he dismisses, he'll see that it is as deeply steeped in tradition, while presenting a new from of expression, as any of the works he loves.
posted by vacapinta at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2002


The holiday worth noting would be Government Success Day. Government Failure Day is just about everyday.
posted by quirked at 1:42 PM on July 1, 2002


I think the reason shit is the topic of discussion is because my post was so broad, that people unconsciously had the need to summarize and distill it, thus shit became the adjective to describe all the gov'mint shenanigans. Or maybe its because shit was the last link, I don't know. Maybe people have a natural affinity to things scatological.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:50 PM on July 1, 2002


a natural affinity to things scatological

I like it so much more than the current tag "more addictive than crack"
posted by matteo at 1:56 PM on July 1, 2002


Well, "crack" can be scatological, if you think about it.
posted by ColdChef at 1:59 PM on July 1, 2002


Maybe people have a natural affinity to things scatological
*ding, ding, ding*
:)
posted by vacapinta at 2:06 PM on July 1, 2002


In other news, that letter costs $0.37 to mail now.
posted by modofo at 2:18 PM on July 1, 2002


ahem, modofo. Don't upset mr_crash_davis.
posted by yhbc at 2:27 PM on July 1, 2002


By the way I'm so happy that between Osama, airport security and forest fires in this thread we all chose to discuss shit-as-art and its chemical reactions

Them all share a relation of sorts as well.
posted by betobeto at 2:50 PM on July 1, 2002


*heavy sarcasm*.... Speaking of airport security.....I think it's great that not only did they discover that airports are insecure, but they published which airports failed the the highest percentage, etc. Great that we're feeding the terrorists information now. We need this war to boost our economy, after all.
posted by banished at 3:42 PM on July 1, 2002


Read the other thread...we're shaming them into cleaning up their acts.
posted by rushmc at 3:48 PM on July 1, 2002


I think the reason shit is the topic of discussion is because my post was so broad, that people unconsciously had the need to summarize and distill it

Well, no. My guess would be that most people don't agree with your anti-government stance, and considering you give no alternatives (only a proverbial shitting on the system, Rock on Man!), they focused on the more artistic, and interesting, link. Trying to convince MeFi to get rid of the current government is foolish. Change occurs in increments, not giant leaps of faith. And as much as MeFi would love to see GWB impeached, shot, or whatever, they wouldn't want to see a dissolution of the govt., only a change in management.

The Feds can't catch Osama, they can't stop 1 in 4 weapons getting through airport security (but they'll get those nail clippers, mind you!), and government employees again display their penchant for setting thousands of acres ablaze.

The govt. provides a great deal of services to its people. A few mistakes are hardly a great reason to call this, or any, day "Government Failure Day". You break eggs making omelets. Sure, the govt. breaks a great deal of eggs, however, the overriding majority of this country believes that the govt. is doing its job effectively.
posted by BlueTrain at 4:01 PM on July 1, 2002


the overriding majority of this country believes that the govt. is doing its job effectively.

It should be noted that they also believe in Bigfoot, UFOs, astrology, and angels.
posted by rushmc at 4:09 PM on July 1, 2002


Trying to convince MeFi to get rid of the current government is foolish.

That wasn't in the post. I think a day of general protest and bitching at all things government would be very healthy. We can plan parties around it. "Okay now down a shot if you got a speeding ticket this year for just going a bit over the limit."

TV specials on the current and past atrocities of governments and a message about how far we've come or how much more work we need to do. Exposes on corruption. Hell, the politicos would love it to, they can bash their opponents and others can defend themselves in carefully orchestrated interviews.

Oh, and everyone gets high.
posted by skallas at 4:13 PM on July 1, 2002


they also believe in Bigfoot, UFOs, astrology, and angels

and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone
posted by matteo at 4:27 PM on July 1, 2002


everyone gets high.

I'm so there...

[/stoner]
posted by nath at 4:57 PM on July 1, 2002


"You break eggs making omelets."

Keep telling yourself that when the Feds come knocking on your door, Vladimir. Jesus Christ man, if that's not a sickening thing for an American citizen to say, I don't know what is. Remember BlueTrain, these 'eggs' you speak of are people.

"Trying to convince MeFi to get rid of the current government is foolish."

I made no such claim in my post. You made the logical assumption that one might well call for elimination or reform of a system which has a tendency to spectacularly fail. Good for you! So what if I didn't provide any alternatives, that's secondary to the fact that people need to know what various hilarious ventures they are funding with their tax dollars.

I'm sure someone as creative as you could come up with a more effective solution than merely granting the government more money and power. Just because I don't offer a solution is not grounds enough to throw out the issues I raised.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:21 PM on July 1, 2002


You break eggs making omelets

*barfs*
posted by matteo at 5:18 AM on July 2, 2002


Okay, I gotta ask: what's the deal with that phrase "To make an omelete, you've got to break some eggs." Well...duh!

To me, that's like saying, "Look, man. If you want to make pancakes, you gotta flip the batter."

Are eggs hard for some people to break? Do they become less wonderful once you've opened them? Are eggs better if you don't break them? I'm confused.

Or is it some kind of reference to waste? Like, "when you make omeletes, you're going to drop a few eggs on the floor." Because if this is the orgin of the phrase, I can think of a lot of problems with this cliche. Such as: who's making these omeletes and why are they juggling the ingredients?
posted by ColdChef at 6:30 AM on July 2, 2002


Eggshells have a near-perfect shape, using principles of geometry and physics to protect fragility in a package of surprising strength and resiliancy. They are also aesthetically pleasing in their symmetry and simplicity, a superb marriage of form and function. This is destroyed when you break them open.

However, doing so is the only way you can make an omelette. You exchange one good thing for another.

Clearer now? {g}
posted by rushmc at 1:51 PM on July 3, 2002


Right now, I would fucking kill someone for a Grand Slam from Denny's. With toast, please!
posted by ColdChef at 5:04 AM on July 4, 2002


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