Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 19, 2018
James Loewen… huh.
Category: Linkage … Serious

Random "...huh" moment: this Vox article showed up on my FB feed, so I decided to click through and give it a look since it contains an interview with James Loewen. I'd never heard of Loewen before a few years ago, when an Italian friend (in the midst of an argument about Columbus Day) excoriated him for his authorship of Lies My Teacher Told Me and his revisionist approach to the study and teaching of history. In the midst of our exchange, she wrote, "Loewen, a black historian, clearly had his own agenda in both his writing and teachings."

And I just sort of assumed she knew what she was talking about, at least with respect to Loewen -- the sentiment was hella racist (rather than seeking to remove bias from and approximate truth in our understanding of history, a black man "clearly" must be writing to serve an anti-white and anti-Italian agenda), and it was preceded by other comments I found equally offensive (I discontinued the exchange once she got around to projecting that agenda onto me). But the awful nature of her views on the subject seemed most apparent in her emphasis on the fact that Loewen is black.

Except I'm reading this article, and at one point Loewen responds: "If you looked around the world at that time, white people dominated most of it. ... We simply assumed that we dominated because we were better, or smarter, or worked harder." And it strikes me as odd that Loewen would use "we" there given that Loewen is presumably a black man.

So I hit the Google Image search and do a little more digging (photos aren't exactly conclusive here), and I ultimately land on Loewen's bio on the Tougaloo College website. And here I read: "In 2012 the American Sociological Association gave Loewen its Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, for 'scholarship in service to social justice.' He is the first white person ever to win this award."

...Huh.

-posted by Wes | 3:27 pm | Comments (0)
November 2, 2018
Chlöe Howl: Magnetic
Category: Audio … Linkage

So I'd completely forgotten that I had one of those $1 Amazon media credits for forgoing the Prime shipping, and apparently that was expiring today! Ended up spending it on the acoustic version of Chlöe Howl's "Magnetic." I find the video of the original song delightfully old school, but I've rewatched that and therefore heard that song many, many times -- and the acoustic version (which I don't think I'd heard before today) has a sweeter vibe that gels quite well with the lyrics. In any case, I really enjoy the song in either incarnation. <3

-posted by Wes | 7:52 pm | Comments (0)
September 27, 2018
Brief thoughts on the Kavanaugh sitch
Category: Current Events … Linkage … Serious

So I'm following the Kavanaugh drama, and I'm seeing Dr. Ford's testimony heralded as a turning point in the national conversation about sexual misconduct/harassment/assault against women... and I wish I were as optimistic about that. I mean, certainly Ford's experience has inspired a lot of women to share their own stories, and I'm glad these women feel empowered to do so and hope they get the support they deserve. But I'm also hearing the familiar dismissals of those accounts (and from high-profile elected officials like the President of the United States) and I don't expect Ford's testimony to prevent Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court. I hope I'm wrong on that. We'll see.

In other related news, re: this Daily Show segment about Kavanaugh's supposed virginity -- can someone explain to me what makes it (particularly the latter bit with Dulcé Sloan) funny? It's clearly going over my head. I mean, I get the "lol virgins are lame" joke, to the extent that that's the entirety of the joke -- but sometimes it's possible for an audience to interpret a joke in a different way, or at least to find it funny for reasons not necessarily reducible to mean-spiritedness and/or prejudice. (Frex, I think some of the cartoons about a Trump/Putin romantic relationship work on an absurdist level, even though I acknowledge that homophobia -- or misogyny, to the extent that those cartoons feminize Trump -- might explain the amusement of some audiences, and therefore I understand why gay people might find those cartoons offensive.) I'm just curious about the possibility of an alternative explanation for the humor here.

-posted by Wes | 3:13 pm | Comments (0)
July 7, 2018
“Finest Hour” makes my mood sour
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

So right now I have a free Sirius XM trial going on. I generally enjoy these trials -- if nothing else, they give me new artists and songs to search for on Freegal -- but occasionally they'll devote significant airtime to a song that I can't flipping stand. (I realize this is a problem with radio in general; I just don't tend to listen to the radio outside of free Sirius trials. 😛 )

Anyway, currently I'm hating on "Finest Hour" by Cash Cash and featuring Abir. It actually has a decent sound -- it's the lyrics that bug the flip out of me, or maybe it's that the lyrics don't fit the sound. Like, I get how the song could be identifiable to a lot of listeners; we all probably have moments when we know we're not at our best and would probably prefer to just keep drinking and forget about everything even as with slurred voices we beg our loved ones not to give up on us. As a more melancholy-sounding track (and perhaps ideally one I wasn't hearing while driving), this would work for me.

But "Finest Hour" is apparently a dance track since they keep playing it on BPM and it never fails to tick me off. To me, dance tracks in general should be stuff I can rock out to and identify with in the moment, and in the moment I rarely feel like I am fucking up -- that's generally quieter, past-tense reflection. (For an "I fucked up" song I enjoy: try "Jack's Lament" from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, and even that ends on a comparatively triumphant note.) And if I do feel like I am fucking up in the moment, it's not a feeling that makes me want to dance (or bounce around in my seat as I zoom down the highway with the windows open). It is a feeling that makes me want to pour myself another drink or write sad posts on social media or maybe go to sleep regardless of the hour, and this bouncy shit decidedly lacks lullaby appeal.

Tl;dr: I dislike this song immensely and intensely.

-posted by Wes | 6:00 pm | Comments (0)
May 14, 2018
Spikes are definitely hostile design elements…
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

I just learned about "hostile design" today (via BBC Trending), and I'm finding it really fascinating. On the one hand, you have design features that could be useful to some groups but harmful to others: for example, railing on benches can provide support for the elderly (or just make for relaxing armrests for anyone reclining upright) but prevent homeless people from sleeping on the benches. And then you have other features that seem designed only to prevent people from using the item in an "undesirable" fashion, like benches with awkwardly placed bars that clearly aren't intended to provide support or comfort to anyone and therefore definitely discourage horizontal repose. Hostiledesign.org has a number of photos of especially egregious examples of the latter; apparently NYC designers love putting spikes on surfaces to keep people from lying or even sitting on them. It's terrible, and yet I can't help being impressed by the diabolical ingenuity and audacity of some of these approaches. SPIKES. Victor von Doom approves.

-posted by Wes | 4:56 pm | Comments (0)
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