Friday, April 25, 2008

Anti-Intellectualism Jumps the Shark?

I want everyone to pay very specific attention to this story. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN, natch) said, regarding the mountains and mountains of evidence that Abstinence-Only sex ed is useless, that such facts are "elitist." He thinks that people gathering facts and evaluating them in an academic, impartial fashion, is elitist and would rather empower individual families with all education decisions (from Yahoo! via Pharyngula)

So most of you have probably noticed how anti-intellectual Americans can be. The message here is little different than the message of the "bitter" news cycle Obama was caught in recently, the idea that he was elitist because of the blunt and correct observation he made about the American populace. Of course, the problem here is that by his own definition of elitism, Duncan must himself be elitist; he is an elected lawmaker, named by his constituency to be an authority, an elite, who is empowered to make decisions for the greater community, rather than individual family units making those decisions themselves. If Rep. Duncan feels so strongly, perhaps he should step down as a Representative of his people?

The greater point here: this is the logical end of anti-intellectualism as it stands now (well, barring a great holocaust wherein all academics are lynched for thinking too much anyway). The anti-intellectual sentiment grows so strong that any intellectual statement on anything ever is taken as elitist, some sort of dangerous oligarchy (as opposed to the safe one that exists in the hands of plutocrats, but that's really a story for another day). Maybe in seeing this logical end, a few people will take a step back and say, "Wait a minute, that's moronic. Ought I to reconsider my stance vis-a-vis these poor maligned intellectuals? Oh dear, I'm even talking like one. This is rather problematic." I hope so anyway.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Right now across the ocean, it is Eurovision season. This is always awesome and yields some fantabulous things. For the most part, of course, it's straight up pop of the synthy European variety. However, every year one or two things is in the mix that is completely fantastic, completely unexpected, or just completely bizarre.

Back in 2006 - notably the first year I was actually aware of Eurovision - Finland gave us Lordi, the KISS-esque, Klingon-looking hard rockers, and everyone delighted in their grand victory. There was also the much celebrated, though to me slightly too gimmicky Lithuanian entry, "We Are the Winners" by LT United.

Last year, there were the most fantastically flamboyant Swedes since ABBA, The Ark, with their excellent etude in extravagance, "The Worrying Kind."

Aside from it bumming me out that they did not win, what really disappoints me is that they did not share a stage with Finland's 2008 entry, Teräsbetoni, whose song "Missä Miehet Ratsastaa" ("Where Men Ride") (previously mentioned here) beats even Manowar for its macho gayness.

Most fantastically this year, though, we have Belgium's entry, Ishtar. Ishtar play folk music with imaginary words. Now, usually folk music in a pop competition summons images of The Byrds, or Ani DiFranco, or in any case the classics-modernized approach of The Pogues and their kind*. Ishtar plays real folk music, though it has some elements reminiscent of 19th Century chamber music. It puts one rather in mind of some small European market town generations ago. And it was determined to be the best pop music in Belgium this year. Just listen to the crowds!

I want them to win so badly. I might cry with joy if they do.

*Notably, last year Ireland's entry was Dervish, who are indeed a straight-up Irish folk act, though the song did have a certain poppy grandiosity, not to mention Irish folk's considerable popularity all around in recent years.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hey, here's a thought:

How about the Palestinians live in Lebanon and Egypt, and the Israelis live in Russia and Europe, and NO ONE lives in Jerusalem? There, everybody wins!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Demonic Demography

A fun thing I did

I'd had this sitting around way too long and now I've finally put it up. Enjoy!

I know there's usually some sort of policy implication or something behind demographic studies. The only thing I can think of is that Estonia's marketing department should consider advertising "Estonia: More metal than Iceland!" It'd win me over.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out of Touch

Barack Obama has been called out of touch with the electorate for having noticed that bitter people often grasp onto familiar things to them, like the impulse for self-defense or the values of their religious life.

George Bush said the following to a single mother of three:

"You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." (source)

That's all.


Political Cartoons, Pt. 2

Keith Olbermann grabs Joe Biden's moob.

(picture from Crooks and Liars


Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Portrait

Nepali Maoist leader Prachandra, speaking from his home in a pile of insulation foam.

(Thanks for the picture BBC)


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Walking around shirtless in the woods really makes me miss my hair. Not that I didn't already.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Just In!?

Hang on a second here.

The Chinese government is weird and shady? Silvio Berlusconi is sexist? A republican did something hypocritical?

Has the whole world gone mad?

Oh, no. No it hasn't.