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CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
Defeated by Dahlgren.

I've read most of Dhalgren by skipping around. But this summer, a friend and I were totally both planning to read it straight though and we charged along well enough until one day, when we each confessed that we'd stopped at the [really depressing and horrible part in the apartment building with the family and the violence] and just couldn't bring ourselves to go on.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:19 PM on November 5, 2013
The other thing I worry about is that what if, when I'm sitting around in a group with people and basically either having a good time or having my loneliness assuaged at least, they are all quivering in existential agony that they are bravely concealing, and the normal state of humanity is 100% more miserable than I am and I just don't communicate with others well enough to realize it.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2013
What does it mean that a book is "difficult" anyway?

Honestly, Dhalgren isn't "difficult" the way my accounting book is difficult - I can sit down and read any section of it easily, get a lot of pleasure from many sequences...if anything, it is so rich a textual experience that I don't gallop through it the way I might something else. It's your classic "single square of Vosges dark chocolate versus Cadbury... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:09 PM on November 5, 2013

Spring Break Forever
The main thing that strikes me about both this review and the work of Harmony Korrine: in many situations, the world you inhabit is the world you choose. Oh, not in the sense that if you're broke and trapped in a shit job that's because you chose it, but in the sense that you always have the option of deciding that the real of the world is, like, neon and Facebook and buying expensive things and coercing people into sex and having a basic 'the nature of the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:38 AM on November 2, 2013

One Strap vs. Two Straps
So here is how I really internalize that I've gotten old: the kids have totally moved away from messenger bags - like, the thing to have was either a vaguely military bag or a bike messenger bag, a real one - and by kids I mean undergrads and mid-twenties - until a couple of years ago, and now it's all backpacks, and backpacks that I find just hideously naff, really ugly sporting jockish stuff with about a million plastic clasps and bits of netting. (The richest kids from out east have... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:00 AM on November 2, 2013

Creating the Innocent Killer
Blergh. The Ender is Hitler thing has always bothered me a bit much. Card fabricates an innocent perpetrator of genocide. That perpetrator then discover that he committed unwitting genocides and spends the rest of his life trying to atone for it.

I have encountered very few critiques of Ender's Game which point out that, like, one of the biggest emotional moments in the book is when Ender takes the alien egg so that he can - against the wishes of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2013

We think about the positioning of our legs, the position of our hair...
Honestly, I think dealing with all this is a huge, heartbreaking challenge to women who are attracted to men. Back when I slept with men (I'm attracted to men as well as a range of other genders) it really messed with me. I gave up pursuing men, in fact, because I realized that in order to do so successfully, I had to heavily manage every aspect of my self-presentation in ways that felt incredibly painful and inauthentic. Everything I actually liked about myself, from my comic timing* to my... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:33 AM on October 31, 2013

But that's not confined to women is it? Picture a man in a stained t-shirt with a beer gut, BO and food between his teeth. Now picture him toned and in a nice outfit and smelling of aftershave.


I find it really hilarious (or actually, hilariously distressing) that "I don't want to have to do enormous amounts of body maintenance which have to be attended to throughout the day, and I'd prefer not to have to worry that you'll find me... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2013

The Logic of Stupid Poor People
Smartphones, too, are in this category to a certain extent, though the right likes to complain about poor people with smartphones, too. I pay about $80/month for my cell phone and internet access. The easiest way to cut that* is abandon my home internet access and spend $50/month on a smartphone, which would at least enable me to check my email at home (handy for a job search, for example). If I had to cut further, I'd dump the smartphone and lose internet altogether.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:21 AM on October 30, 2013

I lived in Newport, RI, and there is some unimaginable old-money wealth still hanging around town. I mean, set up for generations and generations of multi-millionaires or billionaires wealthy.

Do you know what kind of car they drive?

Subarus. Usually ones 5-7 years old.

Do you know what kind of clothes they wear?

Mail-order L.L. Bean.


But... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:31 AM on October 30, 2013
I RTFA, and the thing that jumped out at me was the passage where the writer spoke of a woman who was interviewing for a secretarial position at the salon chain she worked for, so she could move up from being a hairdresser. When she left, the recruiter turned to the writer and said, "did you see she was wearing a tank top under her jacket? You're supposed to wear a silk shell underneath that!"

I will never forget a discussion on a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:40 AM on October 30, 2013
What? No. It means shaving or Nair or maybe waxing but tbh I do not know a single woman who gets her legs waxed.

I don't know anyone socially who gets their legs waxed, but I do know that for me - a person with very dark, fast-growing and sturdy hair (great for the head! inconvenient elsewhere!) - only waxing ever gave me actual smooth skin. Shaving - I was stubbly in an hour or two. Nair - ha, my hair laughs at Nair. Luckily, I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:58 AM on October 30, 2013
My roommates who had very different views on disposable income would "tip" her in groceries because they viewed her probable low wages to mean poor and therefore hungry.

Did you have the kind of relationship with your roommates where you could tell them that cash would be more appreciated? I ask because I could envision, like, 22-year-old me doing something like this, partly because I literally didn't know better and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:23 PM on October 31, 2013

oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh
I had a terrible feeling that this was going to be sad. And it was. We have a jack o'lantern at home still but luckily we carved a picture on it instead of a face, so there is no temptation to personify.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:04 AM on October 31, 2013

So much for my Yelp revenge
Seriously, if someone treated me disrespectfully when I was trying to buy something from them, then I'd certainly consider writing a review explaining what happened.

Me, I'd let it go unless I thought it was motivated by misogyny or homophobia or something more than "this was a weird random bad interaction". There are lots of people who are happy to take my money. I really dislike the idea that we're all reporting on each other now - it... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:05 AM on October 28, 2013
That's obviously an absurd parallel, though, and that fact kind of makes me doubt the one you've made here. If online reviewing has introduced perverse incentives, then the incentives in question are probably more oriented towards gaming reviews rather than forcing employees to be even more chipper than before, a trend that I think is probably mostly independent of the technologies we use to communicate our evaluations of businesses to other people.

I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2013

This was the scariest two-sentence combination I heard as a doorman.
I feel like that was an awful lot of complaining for a cushy job that he was only doing until he finished NYU and went on to something posher.

It was modestly interesting, but I kept expecting that there'd be, like, a downside greater than "I had to work a well-paid blue collar gig as the junior guy during most of my college vacations and while I made a lot of money I had to put up with some unspecified hassle from the senior guys". I felt... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:22 PM on October 25, 2013


I don't begrudge anyone the urge to complain, even at length, about a job that involves finding less-than-fresh corpses. YMMV.


I'm sure it was horrible, and I don't mind people complaining - but he writes as if somehow there were some other option for the world and that it was uniquely unfair that he had to do this well-paid job ($660 after taxes? Seriously, I don't make that much and I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2013
Or else some more personal stuff - maybe this was uniquely horrible for him in a way that it wouldn't be for others. Maybe he has some childhood trauma, physical limitation, anxiety or something. But sharing that so that we understand that he's not just complaining about a well compensated college job would give this piece a lot more strength.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:36 PM on October 25, 2013
Actually, I think a problem is that this essay can't decide whether it wants to focus on evoking the texture of his experience or making a big complaint about how awful it was. It sounds like a very strongly felt, eerie and evocative short-term job, especially for a young kid, and I kept getting glimpses of the late night and early morning feeling of the work - and that was good. Maybe it's just that the essay isn't quite controlled enough? Like he's trying to evoke these feelings he had but... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2013

Putrid smells reduce me to a pitiful pile
Most of those surprises and so on are not that pleasant - I was perfectly willing to suspend a little disbelief, for instance, when listening to that song that references the Kray brothers - but they were not nice to know. There's a certain kind of queer history person who tries to set Ronnie Kray up as a second Genet - and it's all very well to play at that, but taking it a as a serious position is repugnant.

I wonder if the book deals with all the racism in later... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:50 AM on October 17, 2013
Bengali in Platforms is just another example of pointing out an ugly emotional reality: the difficult failures of an immigrant's urge to belong. It's just like Henry Miller writing talking about the emotional world of whores while calling them cunts is proof of his empathy for them.

Actually, the reasons why "Bengali in Platforms" is a fucked up song have nothing to do with Morrissey's concerns about an immigrant's urge to belong.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:03 AM on October 18, 2013
You are now, in 2013, talking about a song written in England in the late '80s. Things were different then.

I heard that song within about two years of its release - I remember borrowing the album from someone who'd just gotten it. It struck me, a naive kid who grew up in a racist town, as pretty screwed up and nasty and way out of line with the Smiths' general ethos.

Now, it's true that I was living in... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:35 AM on October 25, 2013

They say they thought there were fewer homeless people than before.
Why is is that we spend so much running these shelters instead of smaller amounts of cash to people directly as a housing allowance? I assume there's some administrative cost, so that whereas I might pay Cost for a rental, having the state pay for it would total Cost+X-Administrative-Expense, but surely that isn't three times a normal rent.

I know that when you get housing subsidy on TANF, it is sent directly to the landlord. It's also ludicrously... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:49 PM on October 22, 2013

"You can't 3-D-print a highway"
It would be Utopia Armed and Utopia-With-Indentured-Servants, that's what it would be. Picture all these guys (and a few women) - they'd import trophy wives and sex workers and butlers and scullery maids, they'd have to have guns at the border to keep out the desperate, they don't want a tax structure so everything would be dependent on the good will/whims of the richest people....I'm just assuming that they could actually run a society on a cash basis, but it would be a hideous nightmare for... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2013

Now that's a big family
The thing is, there's almost no way to know - even the kind of limited and imperfect knowledge that a historian might have - about something personal like this. So we're left with the person who is still alive, who is famous, who can be published and linked. That's why it feels unfair. It's not that there are "sides", like one side is right and one side is wrong - it's that if you read this piece, you are immersed in only one person's emotions and viewpoint when... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2013

Mary begat Lisa which begat Jennifer which begat Ashley....
You know what really kills me? I, a total snob who (let's face it) prides themselves on their unusual taste and general above-the-herd-ness, am totally taken with all the names that kick in once people of my generation really start having babies. Olivia? A great name! Ava? Also a great name, one I've liked for years! Emma? The name of one of my favorite novels! Sophia? What's not to like about wisdom! I love those names. There may be, like, ten Avas in my friends' kids'... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:39 AM on October 20, 2013

Will It Blend?
There are quite a few trans people who are also gay or lesbian or queer or bisexual. These aren't exclusive identities. I think framing it as a choice between battling movements or placid reconciliation isn't very helpful, but I think remembering that "trans" does not equal "changes genders and then gets into a heterosexual relationship" is a good idea.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2013
I mean, a lot of this kind of nonsense movement-baiting (which is what the NYT framing is) suffers hugely from not being specific enough about the people and issues involved.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, for instance, isn't talking about "GLBT versus trans"; she is talking about reformism versus radicalism, making the specific comment that as it is presently constituted the mainstream gay rights movement is reformist, militarist and happy to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2013
Oh, it's Cathy Brennan, the incarnation of evil. That makes total sense.

Seriously, she's like someone crossed Camille Paglia with Henry Kissinger and stripped away the last few molecules of humor and generosity.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:39 PM on October 17, 2013
Ok, sincere question here. Is homosexual the wrong term to use now? Is queer acceptable? Or does it apply to only one group? Can straight people use the word queer or is that taboo? We are trying to be sensitive at my workplace and need to keep up with the times.

My experience of the terms:

1. "Homosexuality" is used when you need a noun and are talking formally. "Homosexuality is a modern concept which first... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2013
That said, Frowner makes it more cut and dried than it is in practice with BDSM/poly stuff, which has a broader (non-theory) queer usage (at least around here) than they're giving credit for, and since I don't really consider myself queer, I don't want to police that usage either.

See, everyone I know who is "queer as in has non-heterosexual relationships at least some of the time" is pretty uncomfortable when people who have only... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:32 AM on October 18, 2013
The whole choice versus genetics thing seems like such an odd orthogonal question

I don't think it's orthogonal at all - I think that one reason that the language "we" use about gender and sexuality is such a complicated question right now is because there's such a huge range of thinking about the source of gender and sexual identity.

Is being poly hardwired? If it is, should organizing around... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2013
This is a great thing to bring up, because before I had met any trans people or done any reading on transness, this was a big stumbling block for me, and I think it is for a lot of people. If I'm a feminist, aren't I meant to be denying that there is any inherent difference between men and women?

My personal headcanon answer to this question (meaning "not one that I Insist Is The Answer") is that the social is real. In 2400 (assuming that... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2013
I can understand it as interesting as a philosophical question, but since most of the work that I do starts with the assumption that whether choice or genetics (or even nurture/environment), it's a legitimate identity — and that the behaviors have existed prior to our current constructed identities.

See, maybe it's the type of work we do, but I find myself again and again needing to sort out what people are asserting about identity so that I can... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:46 AM on October 18, 2013

What's your excuse
I don't have "excuses" for most of the way I live my life. I have "excuses" for when I hurt other people, break promises or replicate systems of oppression. I don't have "excuses" for things that are not moral questions in the first place.

I suppose my "excuse" would be that my body is mine and not thine, Mariah, and thus none of your goddamn business.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2013
This reminds me of when my dentist asked me what I did to have such great teeth. "Picked my father wisely," I said, and apparently he'd never heard that one before.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2013

"Pedantic moralizing won’t mobilize Americans."
And Cole Carter is what, ten years old?

Okay, which left? I'm pretty sure that I'm not part of what Carter thinks of as "the left" - which seems to be the lefter half of the Democratic Party, such as it is. Now, I don't mind him providing advice to the Dems (even if it's advice borrowed from 1973), but let's call it like it is. I can't think of anyone in my immediate social circle who saw this Zero Dark Thirty film, for instance. Certainly,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2013
Also, almost every time I've heard this line of reasoning, it has turned out that "pedantic moralizing" involves either a complicated understanding of history or pointing out that white dudes even on the left don't always know how it needs to go for women, people of color or the gays. Both those things, it turns out, are often "pedantic". And divisive. And after "we" create a "persuasive" leftism, "we" can sort out all that trivial shit about... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:47 PM on October 14, 2013

Apple Cabin Blue
I think my favorite thing about this is that it's aggressively post-war. It's a grocery circular for an alternate universe where the 60s never happened and everyone just kept liking Apple Pan Dowdy. No arugula. No fair trade coffee. No artisanal anything. Just Cinnamon Johnnies and Peach Travis, forever.

Okay, look, I just have to say that there is nothing wrong with Apple Pan Dowdy.

I think that I may start identifying as an... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:36 PM on October 13, 2013

Fifty Shades of Orange
So, okay, is anyone else kind of creeped out by RPF? (I mean, creeped out in a different way than so many - including me - are totally creeped out by mpreg.) I recognize that this is a somewhat inconsistent argument but it seems like a story about a totally fictional character, even one played by an actual human actor, is somewhat less, I dunno, pushy and intimate than a story about actual humans who are really alive. It just seems weirdly intrusive to spend a lot of time... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:15 AM on October 10, 2013
RPF feels squicky and creepy, I thought this was just taken as a given.

Okay, maybe I'll rephrase my question in stronger form if that's the case. Or even make it not a question. I think RPF is kind of a bad thing and that people should not write it. I am more than a little squicked by it; I actively think it's a bad thing, even though it's also sort of a decadent-future-culture thing that would fit neatly into a John Brunner novel.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2013
The Bible is literally RPF.

You know, I think that's a really specious argument. Very little is known about the historical Jesus. It's not as though the various writers were sitting around in Gethsemane nudging each other about whether Jesus created fishes...or pornography! Nor is the audience for the bible anything like the audience for fic. Certainly, some people read both - I read fanfic and modernity theory myself - but... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2013

Also, slash RPF in that particular fandom is no more and no less than regular heterosexual delusions which culminated in a fan attending a convention in a wedding dress and physically assaulting one of the stars, or fans tweeting death threats to the stars' wives.


Oh, of course, absolutely. The reason I find the "but they are really the gays" stuff annoying is that I believe very strongly (as a gender-nonconforming/trans-type... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:35 AM on October 10, 2013
It's made-up stories about famous people fucking.

Which is why the Bible isn't actually RPF. Not a lot of conventionally "real" people in the Bible; only some fucking and much of that offstage, which is not characteristic of RPF at all; hardly any romance except David and Jonathon or Ruth and Naomi. Also, the people in the Bible are not famous a priori; they're famous because they are in the Bible. It's as if someone... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2013

In 1492 Christopher Columbus Destroyed Our History
Columbus may have been an awful person (sounds like it), but him being less awful wouldn't have saved 90%+ of the Native Americans, who died of disease.

Well, of course. And if it were merely a series of accidental pandemics like the Black Plague, it would be a huge global tragedy and we would look at it as we do the plague. It would be horrible and sad and we would all mourn how much had been lost of lives and cultures. And it... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:19 AM on October 10, 2013

Why I Stopped Writing Recommendation Letters for Teach for America
The thing is TFA happened because the teacher-training system isn't very good. I went through it at a fancy private school that boasted about how special and rigorous its program was, and it was one of the worst mistakes of my life*.

The argument always goes "TFA does a bad job and feeds union-busting and privatization" "Well, yeah, regular teacher training programs are full of stupid people and they don't prepare you to teach either,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:40 AM on October 10, 2013

Elvis Costello and the Roots: 'There's no such thing as too funky'
The River In Reverse is really good. Of course, that's because it's about something other than internal romantic bullshit.

It's funny, Elvis Costello's juvenile vaguely misogynist romantic bullshit is so good - normally I don't bother with that whole ressentiment/rotating-cast-of-girlfriends genre, but I love pretty much every album up through Spike. And then it's all bleah, with... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:14 PM on October 9, 2013
And also because of the excellent contributions of Allen Toussaint

Oh, yes, of course - I didn't mean to slight Toussaint at all! He's such a remarkable guy, and I guess really the album is "about" something at least 50% because Toussaint himself has always been about something.

I have to say, Elvis Costello has always been pretty smart about who to collaborate with.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:52 PM on October 9, 2013

Even a rising tide can't raise a sinking ship...
It's tempting to fear that we really are wading into a Guns of August (perhaps Guns of November) scenario

Honestly, what this reminds me of is France before WWII. If you read Janet Flanner's coverage of the various political and financial crises and scandal (in Paris Was Yesterday, which starts out being all about Josephine Baker and surrealist poets and flowers and ends up being about disaster, corruption and the run-up to war) the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2013

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