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Self-seeking greed and avarice
I think, oddly enough, that "psychopath" is becoming a sort of trendy diagnosis. Bankers are psychopaths, "setting the tone" at investment banks. There's nothing wrong with capitalism, it's just all those crazy people running the system, etc etc. Banker culture isn't systemic; society at large isn't implicated; bankers are just soulless evil monsters.

I would like to say that bankers are... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:18 AM on January 3, 2012

How Can We Fix College Sports?
So let me get this straight - in addition to free school, free health care and a bunch of adulation plus participating in a really fucked-up university athletic culture, college athletes should get to be rich, too, merely because university administrators have built up this stupid, abuse-generating PR machine around college sports? Nope, sorry. (We won't even talk about the various creepy illicit paper-writing and pandering services that seem so prevalent in big college... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:05 PM on January 2, 2012

Time keeps on slippin'
I'd say that, though youthful beauty is nice, he really visibly grows into his face and he looks a lot more likeable at the end than the beginning. By the end, he looks like a nice, doofy person you might actually like; at the beginning, he has kind of a jackass face. Also, longer hair is better than shorter in this instance. And the late eighties really didn't do anyone any favors.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:18 PM on December 31, 2011

star light star bright meow
Okay, what I have heard is that when one breeds the glow-in-the-dark kittens, one then euthanizes them and centrifuges their cells (which itself isn't unusually bad, but what an image). That is, the lab isn't full of adorable tiny glowing kittens playing with the postdocs; it's full of kittens in cages with short life spans. Is this dreadful thing true? It seems like the whole point of breeding the glowing kittens would be to chop them up and study them, much as I'd rather this weren't true.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:13 AM on December 30, 2011

Fat: The Gift that Keeps On Giving
I have a lot of discomfort with the "health at any size" movement, because it seems pretty obvious to me that some sizes are inherently less healthy. But I have come to the realization (in part through reading these threads on MeFi) that there is a core of insight there, because the path to health is not shaming and is not a focus on weight loss, but rather simply a focus on health.

A quick note that I can't really support: my... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:18 AM on December 29, 2011

The special duty of a Jewish Christmas baby
Maybe this is against the rules for the blue? I have a question...

It's already hard enough getting people to accept that not only don't I celebrate or care that it's Christmas, but that Hanukkah really isn't that big of a deal, holiday-wise. So when you say "Happy Holidays," you're still really just wishing me a merry Christmas.

Now, I very seldom wish people "Happy Holidays" or "Merry... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:37 AM on December 25, 2011
Christmas is boring, and there's a sense in which it's compulsory. I was expected to make food for two potluck "holiday" parties at work, for instance. It's not a big deal, but I'm not going to apologize for finding the whole thing annoying sometimes.

This gives me a lot of pause, since I (have been forced to) run the (large, splendid, fairly popular I think) winter potluck at work. If you happen to work in dental research in a large... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:00 PM on December 25, 2011

male/female/more than that
Okay, I am feeling fiercely crabby this morning.

But I will never, ever, not in a million years, be able to accept the singular "they."

So this means that when you meet someone who refers to themself using they/them pronouns, you're going to do what, exactly? Tell them that you are sorry to ignore their gender identification, but you'll be calling them "he" or "she" depending on how you want to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:21 AM on December 23, 2011
> So this means that when you meet someone who refers to themself using they/them pronouns,

To themself? Not "we"?

See, this type of thing is precisely what I mean about not getting it. Look, I promise you that someone who calls themself "them" has put plenty of thought into gender identity and has faced a lot of homophobic/transphobic/misogynist abuse for their... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:28 AM on December 23, 2011

Zaire Paige Not Only Played a Movie Killer, He Became One in Real Life.
A thousand pities. It's funny - when I read that story, I think about what it must do to a kid to see his friends die in front of him, to see the bodies after violent death, as happened to this boy. I think about the men I've known who've grown up in rough circumstances, and how the need to seem "tough" can cause them to hide their real feelings and to speak cruelly out of fear - how there's a realistic fear of being seen as weak, as a victim. How there's so much false performance... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:13 PM on December 21, 2011

“Sometimes my uncle wears black nail polish.” The students took a moment to think about this.
I think this is a great thing. But I also wonder how much "out of gender box" behavior is based on attention seeking. By encouraging acceptance, a good thing, people who get attention because they don't follow traditional stereotypes might seek new means for attention.

This has not been my lived experience, nor does it well describe the gender-nonconforming children I know. I would find it pretty awful if - for example - one little kid's... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:24 AM on December 21, 2011

a hipster by any other name
I don't think "hipster is about appropriation" is sufficient - while there are certainly people wearing "Indian" costumes to house parties while drinking Pabst, there are plenty of culturally-appropriating groups (New Age folks with dreamcatchers, frat bros appropriating what they think is "black" culture, etc etc).

And there's plenty of snobbism and misogyny in non-hipster subcultures too - bike assholes, for instance, are a cultural... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:46 AM on December 19, 2011
Oh, and the rhetoric of the hipster also contains some bad ideas about class, and some bad ideas about the ethical life:

1. Bad ideas about class: working class identity is stable over time; back before hipsters, a bar would start out as a working class bar and stay that way forever and ever; working class people are never bohemians and do not create culture except what is obviously proletarian. There are no working class hipsters/artists/radicals, and there can never be.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:59 AM on December 19, 2011
I find it pretty difficult to talk about this aspect of hipsterdom--which is pretty trivial and doesn't matter much to, well, anyone when it comes down to it--without talking about the sister crime which comes along with it, namely gentrification of older working class neighborhoods, often historically neighborhoods where immigrants or people of color have lived, which escalates eventually to the point where the established populations can often no longer afford to live there.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2011
Right--but many of the gentrifying populations very solidly don't care a whit for protecting displaced populations. This is a case where appropriation--in this case, of a place, and the cheap rents typically enjoyed by those living there--has a much stronger impact on the people whose culture is being appropriated than normal, and I find it troubling. That's not to say that you're right--real estate forces and natural neighborhood cycles have something to do with it. But the behavior of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:39 AM on December 19, 2011
(I mean, there's certainly a lot of self-justification by white folks in artistic subcultures about racism, appropriation and exploitation - I think what happens sometimes is this becomes an intra-artists-and-writers conversation, where writers, artists and intellectuals of color are justifiably pissed off about their white opposite numbers, and that gets taken as if it were the whole conversation on the topic. Just like when activists criticize activist behavior and non-activists use this to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2011
If we're almost entirely a population of well-educated young people, often thanks to the efforts of, say, our parents who lived a more conventional lifestyle to get us there--but we refuse to buy into the same system and instead propose to live to them what looks like a long bohemian adolescence, is it any wonder that people are resentful? That we receive the force of their ire and a lot of eye-rolling?

Bohemia is different in each generation, and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:31 PM on December 19, 2011
And I add, Serious Living Under Capitalism changes you - you get emotionally involved with your work in middle management at Dreary Industries, Life Insurance Division, and you find yourself yelling at subordinates because their body piercings go against the dress code or their kid got sick at the last minute, and you really believe that they are being 'unprofessional' and need to shape up. You really believe it, because the places you live and the people you spend time with... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2011

If you want to hold the cops accountable, find a way to make more money and send it to Glenn Greenwald. He's a professional holding-cop-accountable person and he's better at it than you are. And so on and so forth. Every valuable cause, including causes as abstract as creating great art, would rather have your dollar than your time, unless you're really good at something the cause needs, in which case, knock yourself out.

No. This is a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:16 PM on December 19, 2011

"Furtive Movements"
I don't see them often, but whenever I notice a stop-and-frisk, especially in my neighborhood, I like to observe. Just as an impartial third party, to make sure no one's rights are violated.

Me too! Of course, I'm a white woman of fairly obvious middle-class extraction, so the cops get all flinchy when I stop to watch. I sometimes hesitate because I don't want to humiliate someone by staring at them during a difficult moment, but then there were two... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:28 AM on December 19, 2011
What do you do if they are?

It's truly surprising how even being seen or being photographed or recorded changes cop behavior - that's why they are so desperate to outlaw photography and video.

I mean, in theory I could complain to the City Council, write a letter to the papers, kick up a fuss. That's not really too much if the cops are determined to stand pat - and there won't be any traction if it's just... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:43 AM on December 19, 2011
I dunno, phrases like "[THING] increases the black crime rate" seem weird and instrumental somehow.

I argue that people should not be abused and degraded and threatened for no reason but the whim of unaccountable armed thugs because it seems to me that a society where that kind of thing happens is a shitty society - and it's a shitty society even if thereby we achieve freedom from "crime". Also because I don't get treated that way,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:35 PM on December 19, 2011

The Phantom Time Hypothesis
This would make a fantastic premise for a science fiction story - I dibs!!!! There would be some key social or ideological premise rooted in mis-periodization (and mis-periodization would be much more plausible on a colonized planet) and you could work out all the subjectivity/ideological things that result from the realization that history is fragile and uncertain, the past is a mystery, etc. With aliens!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:06 AM on December 19, 2011

Discovering Autism
You have to wonder how much of this is about our increasingly cut-throat economy and about conformism - parents (like Dias in the first article, who talks about not wanting her son to be an outsider) getting so scared that their kids won't be "normal" or able to make it in our safety-net-less society that they will do anything it takes to game the system and get behavioral coaching. I wonder whether, if I were ten today, I would have an IEP on grounds of being bright, awkward and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2011

Layaway In A Manger
This is a wonderful kindness - and something I'll look into doing myself - but I wish that we as a nation didn't lean so heavily on private charity/generous people to compensate for inequality, layoffs, poverty, injustice - there simply aren't enough generous people. And although I understand why folks prioritize kids - and I'd totally prioritize someone with kids over someone like me who is healthy, youngish, college-educated and childless - I wish that people didn't feel that they can only... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2011

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo! I WILL EAT YOUR SOULS! Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow! I WILL EAT YOUR SOULS! Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo! I WILL EAT YOUR SOULS!
I really like playful/thought-provoking counter-readings like this one. A more scholarly but also interesting one is Franco Moretti's Dialectic of Fear:

At the end of Dracula the vampire’s defeat is complete. Dracula and his lovers are destroyed, Mina Harker is saved at the last moment. Only one cloud darkens the happy ending. In killing Dracula, Quincy P. Morris, the American who has been helping his British friends to save their nation, dies too, almost by... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:52 AM on December 16, 2011

A Call to Action
I think texting while driving is incredibly stupid because it's so fiddly, and talking on the phone while driving is probably foolish because IME when one is on the phone in a car one is paying a LOT of attention to the call - whereas when chatting with a passenger one can check out of the conversation and just m-hm a bit if the driving is tricky; also, a passenger usually has the wit to shut up when they can see that the traffic has just gotten dangerous.

I'm worried... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2011

How to talk to boys at parties
Now, as a genderqueer person I follow menswear blogs (the fussy, traddy, let-me-tell-you-about-benchmade-shoes ones) obsessively. But...

1. There's a LOT of racism on some of those blogs, whether in the comments or in the actual posts - mostly under the guise of "those POC are so sloppy and lazy for not dressing like the 1950s, [insert remarks about criminality and laziness]" and creepy fetishization of Asian women. Some people, like the Affordable Wardrobe guy,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:45 AM on December 14, 2011
Maybe this is a reaction to the mainstream American association of masculinity with slobby-ness and treating any sign of caring about neatness in appearance as effeminacy?

Maybe this is blogging that claims to be about "men" but explicitly constructs itself to exclude queer men and non-gender-conforming men. I mean, call your blogs "The Manly-Man Queer-Haters Suit-Wearing Association" if you must, but let's at least get that out front. "Reacting" to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2011
(By which I mean that you can wear a really nice men's sweater, a button-down, men's benchmade shoes and the traddiest scarf within a mile radius and be neither "masculine" nor a dude nor straight, as I know personally from today's wardrobe choices.....and I'd love a website that could talk about benchmade shoes, ties, fabric, etc without having to telegraph "we like fabric but no homo"....because over here? Homo.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2011
You know, as I've been thinking about this, it occurs to me that men's style blogs are the way they are because masculinity is the way it is - ie, the idea of masculinity (not "how guys act" or "all guys think this is ideal") is basically about never showing weakness and never being openly in an equal relationship with another. Thus the fetish for dependent women (sex workers, women figured as stupid or naive, retro-dependent wives, women as trophies). Thus the other fetish... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2011
This is what I neglected to mention in discussing the reliance on lists and rules. I think an important aspect of these guys is that they're self-consciously style bloggers, not fashion bloggers. Aside from a few favorites like Michael Bastian, designers don't appear very often on these sites. They're not who you go to for news on Thom Browne or Hedi Slimane; they're much more likely to be writing nerdy posts on some recently discovered trove of deadstock sweaters from the forties. The... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:07 PM on December 14, 2011
This is also why I find the comments about the 1%-ness of these blogs a little odd; once you're dealing with blogs about clothing you're more often than not seeing clothes that are an order of magnitude more expensive than the stuff shown here. These guys do features on the new Lands End catalog, for christ's sake.

Also, simply to be perpetually consuming for fashion's sake (unless you're consuming at the H&M level) takes quite a lot of money, even... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2011
Wear something your grandpa would have recognized as being in good taste and hope that civilization holds together enough that your grandchildren would likewise think so.

My grandfather would have disowned me if he'd lived long enough to see me out of the closet. My grandfather would be appalled that I am wearing men's dress boots today.

See what I did there? When objects (boots, jackets, ties, shirts) are used as rigid... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:51 PM on December 14, 2011
your ideal image is closer to a Victorian gentleman with a study of books made of oak, filled with comfortable chairs and a fireplace whom can discuss nearly any subject with some familiarity.

See, that Victorian gentleman was at best implicated in some really dodgy stuff to get to that study - I always think of the Carlyles, who were pretty socially progressive, but whose primary servant slept on the floor in the basement kitchen of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2011

Live Well With Less
That under-floor storage - surely that features in many Japanese horror movies, right? Augh, under the floor. Not that it wouldn't be handy for non-corpse-ghost-trapped-victim stuff.

I lived in a really tiny apartment one year - tiny kitchen, bedroom about the size of three twin beds, average bathroom, one average closet. It was beautifully maintained and very cleverly arranged, but WAY too small. (Maybe 150 square feet?) I couldn't have anyone... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:01 AM on December 14, 2011

Led by the child who simply knew

This is a great story, but I hate that it starts with one of the most blatant cliches of gender stereotypes. I hate, hate, hate hearing that someone is "all boy." Being "all boy" is always defined as liking culturally approved boy things. Makes me feel bad for tall the half-boys, and quarter-boys out there. And God save the 1/10 boys. I'm glad the article is very supportive of Nicole, but what about all the kids who were born with boy parts, identify as
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:55 PM on December 11, 2011
(The thing is, it's stupid to try to hold up our time-bound, socially and environmentally- conditioned lives as "proof" of something eternal and essential. In a hundred years (assuming that industrial society is around in a hundred years) we will all experience gender totally differently - I bet that people's reasons for transitioning will be different, the results will be different, the people who transition will be different. Maybe people who want to transition... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2011

But he's not nerdy! He's a hipster! I mean, nice job and it's funny and all and yes, I concur that he is white, and "kid" is a flexible term (since communist "youth" organizers just need to be under 40)...but he's a hipster!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2011

Great gifts for (other people's) Kids!
So I notice that the Very Worst Present In All The Land is a fairly average, not especially "skanky" girl doll with light brown skin who wears fashions not unlike those teen girls have worn since I was a teen back in the dark ages. I feel that there's some race and gender panic in here somewhere. I mean seriously, Bratz and Barbie dolls wear much, much creepier stuff and have much more exaggerated bodies and faces. If anything, the monster girl dolls are creepier and more sexualized.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:58 AM on December 8, 2011

Louis CK on Female Culture
When I get up in the morning, for instance, they're already dressed, with their teeth brushed and looking nice. I'm not capable of any of that.

Ladies! We look nice, we smell nice, we thoughtfully remove all that nasty body hair, we take care with our appearance! Ladies are so wonderful! We're constantly "noticing" things about other people, making them feel better, managing their emotions! We're not "little balls... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2011
You know, when some dude claims to be all feminist and sensitive and stuff and basically says "men are naturally so lazy and selfish and incompetent and dirty and women are naturally so clean and pretty and unselfish and helpful"....well, I understand that dude to be saying "I am going to keep doing whatever the hell I want - lazily, selfishly, messily - and I really love it that the ladies pick up after me and make me feel nice, so I will keep them happy by empty praise, ladies... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:52 AM on December 8, 2011

Beers, Jocks, and Queers
"The end of gay culture" - that depends so much on how you think of gay culture.

There's a viewpoint that being gay/lesbian/queer actively creates queer subjectivities - that we aren't just regular folks who happen to sleep with other queers. Sometimes this is "we have critical distance on mainstream culture, plus we have to actually think critically about our gender expression and place in the world, giving rise naturally to a more... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:38 PM on December 7, 2011
they're just folks who are quite similar to me but who have sex with people of the same sex.

Ok, the sarc answer is "well, that's because you're straight, duh, and the queerer folks are ( the less likely they are to be comfortable/accepted in straight culture, while GLBTQ folks who want to fit in with straight people (or have a lot of internalized homophobia) tend to hang out more in straight spaces". I mean, there are... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:28 AM on December 8, 2011

WM3 four months later
I'm reminded of something that happened when I was in high school - something that seems related to the other discussion about Mumia Abu-Jamal.

There was this bully, see. Eddie H----. In retrospect, he was obviously from a messed-up working class home, but he was absolutely tenacious, nasty and terrifying to me. He had a real gift of torment and he never, ever stopped. I hated him so much that I can still feel a physical surge of rage and helplessness when I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2011

Now what am I going to do with all these signs
I think it's worth asking what the "Free Mumia" case says about various activist cultures - it certainly has been a knee-jerk kind of thing and a lot of people's commitment to it is pretty shallow. Here's what springs to mind:

1. Mumia is pretty charismatic, also handsome and a good writer. He's perceptive and smart. It's easy to root for him.

2. Folks have forgotten MOVE, a genuinely weird Africanist... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:26 PM on December 7, 2011
After familiarizing myself with the case, trail, state appeals, habeas proceedings, etc., is there any real doubt that he killed the guy? I understand the deficiencies in the procedure, counsel, racial elements and death penalty activism, but...people really think he is innocent?

IME a lot of people say "Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent" and mean "he was set up or something else intervened such that he was not morally culpable" - in... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:00 PM on December 7, 2011
(Also I add that there is no "left" take on the case - an anarchist would talk very differently about the case than a democratic socialist than a left-liberal, etc etc, partly because each would have a different theory of the courts and the police....actually, come to that, a labor anarchist would probably have different ideas than a green anarchist, etc etc.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2011
And also, would you say the same of someone who was convicted of raping a child?

If you're going to have courts, the courts themselves have to be above reproach. Otherwise, you might as well say "the police should arrest everyone and keep us all in low-security gulags, because among all citizens are bound to be a number of rapists and pedophiles, so the probity of the police and courts don't matter."
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2011
Really not seeing the distinction there. Murder is illegal, regardless of what you've seen, experienced or if you are "messed up."

But even the courts take circumstances into account to a degree, right? I don't really understand this narrowly proceduralist mentality except as a desire to identify with the punishing authority rather than with everyday people. We must punish everyone equally (except we don't punish the rich and powerful very... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2011

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