Category Archives: our day and age

Somebody create this Facebook browser plugin and make us all better people

Checking Facebook mindlessly and compulsively is something I do on occasion, typically when suffering from screens burnout. Here’s how to solve this issue:

Install a browser extension that will automatically post this status for you whenever you visit Facebook.com:

“WHAT AM I DOING HERE; IT’S BEEN [X TIME] SINCE I WAS HERE LAST”

That would be the premium version. The free version would Like the 50 most recent photos of your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend if you log on within 4 hours of your last visit.

I am confident that this app would make money.

Smartphones are the New Rock and Roll

An earlier generation fretted about rock and roll, this explosion of confrontational music through which a young generation expressed themselves and related to one another. It scared many of their progenitors, who read in those tea leaves the demise of decent behavior and clear thinking.

Today I feel myself bemoaning the people I see crossing the street, their eyes glue to their phones. I fear that the constant mental stimuli provided by smartphones physically changes people’s brains in detrimental ways. And I hear a similar anxiety shared by many people my age (and older).

I wonder if smartphones are the new rock ‘n roll, threatening to one generation but adopted so wholesale by another, and deployed so thoroughly, that subsequent generations will wonder what all the fuss was about. “Really, Grandpop freaked out over people checking screens?” says the teenager in 2041. “Imagine what he’d think about Google Brain!”

From the Women Used As Images For Marketing Department: Endomondo Edition

Just came across this juxtaposition, which I find interesting in what it suggests about the ways we use women in advertising. Same website, different ads and audiences: one presumably interested in Mom, the other interested in Generic Hot Chick.

How fascinating would this be if those two “models” were switched? [If I knew Photoshop, I’d do just that.]

women in ads

Click for bigger version of the object(s)

This is all separate from how cluttered the Endomondo interface is. Bleh.

My Digital Resolutions For 2013 (Not Numbered)

  • Never read the comments section.
  • Treat Facebook and Twitter like a phone call, not a television.
  • Do not flip out when a free website changes its terms of service. They’re allowed to do it; you’re allowed to stop using the website.
  • Support web artists whose work you value with purchases, not just pageviews.
  • Stop freeloading and donate to news outlets and service organizations whose missions you value.
  • Remember that sharing a link is neither a vote nor a donation.
  • Use Facebook only for conversation and link sharing, never as the platform for created content.
  • Stop reading articles with titles that begin “Top 15…” or “8 Best…” etc.
  • Continue to not use emoticons anywhere, in any fashion.
  • Apply a high standard of relevance and interest before attempting to tell someone about a video or comic you saw online.
  • Tweet like your girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, future employer, and favorite aunt are all reading it.
  • Make sure your blog post is important before going back to edit it after it’s ben publishedd.

improving our world by outproducing the bile chemists (or, why can’t we all just be excited about Django Unchained)

A Facebook post (isn’t that how all these things start) led me to a Slate article about possible conservative backlash against Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming movie Django Unchained. That in turn led me to a piece by someone named Jeffrey Kuhne, who wrote a jeremiad column for something called the Washington Times about Jamie Foxx and black racism.

It’s not worth spending too much time on Kuhne’s piece, because it’s reductive, racist, and tired. But some choice quotes:

In multicultural America, only blacks can say offensive things about other blacks. The same applies to other groups with official “victim” status — Hispanics, homosexuals, lesbians and Asians. The result is a gradual Balkanization whereby our culture is being fractured along ethnic lines.

I’ll come back to this one in a minute. It’s fun to point out (is it? maybe it isn’t actually) how succinctly Kuhne labels and denounces the label-makers. So, I guess, if white people (like Kuhne) were free to say offensive things about “victims” (like what he says later), then we’d be less Balkanized? Hooray! We’re less Balkanized!

A virulent strain of anti-white hatred seeping through parts of black culture…is seen in the disturbing rates of black-on-white violence, especially homicides and flash-mob attacks.

Living in Philly, I’m certainly aware of how terrified some white people can get by roving packs of violent black teenagers. Then again, living in Philly also teaches me how the percentage of black-on-white incidents of violence is, and I’m just ballparking here, maybe ten percent of the number of black-on-black violence. But I guess all violence is disturbing. Maybe that’s his point?

Racial-identity politics is an ugly thing. It tears at the very bonds of our national unity. The problem with black nationalists such as Mr. Foxx is not only that they are peddling racial division and hatred. In society, as in science, a powerful action often causes an equally strong reaction. Black racialism could fuel the rise of an angry white nationalism. That would be very bad for Americans — white and black.

Kuhne wraps up his apple-and-shit strudel with some well-earned reflection upon his own column. “Racial-identity politics is indeed ugly,” Kuhne says between puffs on his pipe. “See the column you just read as proof of that pudding, dollface.” Hey Washington Times payroll guy, be careful when you give Kuhne his checks, he’s armed with a lot of sharp ideas.

Obviously there’s a lot that could be said about Kuhne’s whoever-smelt-the-race-war-dealt-the-race-war brand of journalist fart. I don’t mean to really get into it. My initial reaction was more like, “Really? Can’t we just agree that a Tarantino movie starring Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz is going to be really fucking entertaining? Does it have to be evidence of culture war and conspiracy?” But that in turn gave me an idea I hadn’t considered before, an idea which prompted this blog post.

To wit: people like Kuhne are vigorous surveyors of our nation, and put in long days at work benches carefully dropping found segments of culture and events into steaming vats of narrative which seek to reinforce their privileges and prejudices. “How can we make frame this innocuous bit of news as evidence of our pet crusade?” they cackle. Somewhere in the sewers below our feet, Kuhne and his black-robed brothers are prying open the water supply and dumping their bilious mixtures into the pipes, their giggles echoing all the way up to the sewer grates. (I’m mixing my metaphors but I’m trying to keep this fun for us.) The rest of us then have to spend time carefully filtering out the floating bits of black crud before we can drink.

To wit (trying it again): what if compassionate, liberal, educated people spent such amounts of time concocting fictitious narratives about how the world and its myriad peoples are secretly nicer and more loving than they appear? What if this drive to see in every shadow a raised knife was met by the paranoid spotting of a raised, um, foam #1 finger? What if there existed the equally persistent production of optimistic speculation on the desires of people other than ourselves? Our country might be a happier, more productive place. That’s not really a leap, that.

Maybe instead of constantly pulling weeds out of the garden (third metaphor’s the charm), we should plant something attractive, productive, and equally aggressive. I’ll leave it to my urban-farming socialist white-apologist liberal brainwashed marriage-destroying friends to tell me the name of such a plant. Kale? Does kale grow quickly? Asparagus. Mmmm, I hope we as a culture plant a fuckload of asparagus.

I’ll close with something worth mentioning (no use pretending this is fun; it isn’t, this is just an exercise in articulation). Does Jeffrey Kuhne believe he speaks for me, a fellow white man? Giving him maximum benefit of the doubt, I’ll guess he thinks he’s telling me things I should know, but he wouldn’t claim to be speaking my mind for me. That’s good, because Kuhne is no more a spokesperson for white people than Jamie Foxx is a spokesperson for black people. But to acknowledge that would nullify the premise and lede of his column.

Now, who’s stoked to see Django Unchained?

Another Example of Why We Should Teach Rhetoric in Schools

I came across an op-ed written last month in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune titled, “Why Same-Sex Marriage Affects My Marriage.” The author supports a ballot initiative (or whatever they have in Minnesota) which would define marriage as between a man and a woman. It’s an interesting read because the writer uses some complicated-sounding arguments to justify his headline. I present it here as evidence in support of my belief that we should teach rhetoric in schools.

Here’s a quote from the opinion piece:

Many studies show that single parents struggle to provide the safe environment provided by a two-biological-parent home. Bless the single parents who try, but there is a direct correlation between single homes and crimes of all types. If anything, the effects of broken homes indicate the importance of reestablishing the ideal of traditional marriage.

Same-sex marriage falls short of producing safe environments for children because it, at the very least, reinforces changes to the marital definition. Historically, before the sexual revolution, society’s definition of marriage was focused on the raising and bearing of children. A man married a woman; they had children, and did practically everything around the raising of those children. The interests of a parent became tertiary to the interests of their children and their spouse.

Currently, as a society, we have wavered from this traditional motivation, and many, not all, view marriage as a venue for self-fulfillment. This modern view is directly culpable for the rise in broken homes and its resulting negative effects. Because same-sex marriage is made possible by this modern view of marriage, if we make same-sex marriage equivalent to traditional marriage, we only more firmly impart to future generations that marriage is about personal fulfillment.

I can follow his reasoning, and know it to be fallacious. But I don’t have a deep knowledge of rhetoric and argument, and the various methods and approaches one can deploy to fairly, logically, deceitfully, or incorrectly argue a point. Thus, I have a hard time explaining succinctly, to myself or others, what I find incorrect about his reasoning. I am not persuaded by his piece, but I worry others might be.

If you don’t have a word for something, it’s harder to recognize it when you see it. Our modern America life is one of constant interaction with arguments; we see and hear them plastered across the Internet and the television. If we inoculated our populace against the more deceitful types of fallacious arguments by teaching them in schools, we’d have a more savvy public. That in turn would make arguments like the one in the Star-Tribune less persuasive. Better to deal with the devil you know.

If you read this, and then read the op-ed I linked to and can lay out for me the types of reasoning the author uses, please explain it to me.