Monthly Archives: January 2014

Don’t Call It a Pogrom

From a thread on Tom Perkin’s remark comparing criticism of the super-rich with Kristallnacht:

“Just as a matter of terminology, when the powerless and disenfranchised stand up to the rich and powerful the word for that isn’t “pogrom” or “purge”, it’s “revolution”.”


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Ladies’ Night Explained

From a Mefi thread about gay privilege:

“When you see a club or bar admitting women for free, or providing free drinks, it may be worth bearing in mind the truism noted on MeFi many years ago: if you’re getting something for free you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

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Complex Things Explained in 10 Words or Less

Another open-ended discussion challenging others to explain something complex in under ten words:

Cancer is what happens when cells forget how to die.

Less vs. fewer: If you can count it, use fewer.

Computers – they do exactly what they’re told to.

You’re made of chemicals. They work like magnetic Legos. Neat.

Geocaching is playing hide and seek using billion dollar satellites

Put penis in vagina. Move back and forth. Wait. Baby!

Evolution: Try a bunch of random shit, toss what doesn’t work.

Anyone can be happy if they lower their standards enough.

Google – an algorithm to show you what other people wanted.

Orbits: Falling sideways so fast, you continually miss the ground.

Q: How do vaccines cause autism? A: They don’t.

Journalism: Call people and write down the dumbest things they say.

Existence: Get conceived, be born, live a while, die, be forgotten.

The entire universe is simply four forces acting on energy.

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Just One Gene Determines the Queen Bee

From science blogs:

“A research team led by Wayne State University, in collaboration with Michigan State University, has identified a single gene in honeybees that separates the queens from the workers. The scientists unraveled the gene’s inner workings and published the results in the current issue of Biology Letters. The gene, which is responsible for leg and wing development, plays a crucial role in the evolution of bees’ ability to carry pollen. “The gene – Ultrabithorax, or Ubx – is responsible for making hind legs different from fore legs so they can carry pollen” said Aleksandar Popadic, associate professor of biological sciences in Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Science and principal investigator of the study. “In some groups, like crickets, Ubx is responsible for creating a ‘jumping’ hind leg. In others, such as bees, it makes a pollen basket – a ‘naked,’ bristle-free leg region that creates a space for packing pollen.””

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People Actually Did Forget About Dre

A youngster on Reddit asks about some hip hop history – here’s the response:

“Yes. Dr Dre’s reputation took a nose dive shortly before leaving Death Row records in the mid 90s. He became a highly dissed and “uncool” in the world of hip hop, and then people even started to question his skill as a producer (to be fair, people still do). For years people talked about how he’s passed it, irrelevant, etc. Hasn’t worked in years, takes credit for other peoples productions, slaps his name on it, and then it sells. Remember, before 2001 was released in 1999, Dr Dre had not had an album in nearly 8 years.

In between the Chronic and 2001, he had two major hits. California Love with 2pac, and No Diggity with the Blackstreet, but even by the time No Diggity came out,he was being openly mocked. In 1995 Tupac joined Dr Dres record label after having some legal troubles and interscope no longer wanted anything to do with him, coming under pressure from Time Warner to get rid of Tupac. Dr Dre was one of Tupacs heroes, but as they saying goes, never meet your heroes. Dr Dre produced three records for Tupacs album All Eyez on Me, a song called Can’t C Me, and California love and the remix. Deathrow Records wanted Dr Dres name to be on the album as head producer, but Tupac kicked up a fuss stating the obvious, Dre only produced three tracks out of 27, why should he get the credit for 27 tracks and the other producers such as Johnny J[1] and Daz Dillinger[2] do not. That’s just business, Dr Dre as a producer was more marketable, but Tupac was having none of it

Before the album even came out he started airing his grievences in interviews making it publicly known Dre only worked on three tracks, and in the end Deathrow changed the head producer credit to Daz Dillinger, who actually was the head producer of the album.

People close to Dr Dre state that he never wanted the credit in the first place, other people at deathrow (suge knight) actually tried to put his name down as the producer as a business decision, but then blamed Dre when it didn’t sit well with Pac. Tupac was very charismatic so people started to treat Dre differently at work, and in the end he decided to leave the company he founded because he found the work environment unbearable. He felt like he lost complete creative control of his own company because people (not everyone) did not respect him. Deathrow started signing artists without his permission as if his opinion didn’t matter etc, he was getting cut out of the businesses side and the creative side too – which was supposed to be his end of the business.

Then he made no diggity with blackstreet and although it did well in terms of charts, he got a lot of heat for it. Tupac recorded a song with a very similar beat and dedicated an entire verse to openly mocking Dre . After that, he became a bit of a recluse. He stayed away from hiphop and started working on various different projects, even doing mixing work for Nine Inch Nails etc. People really did forget about Dre.

Meanwhile he was trying to start his own label, and signed a rapper called Eminem. That seems like a no brainer now, but you have to remember at the time a lot of people didn’t take eminem seriously, even when his first album was out. It wasn’t until his second album, the marshel mathers LP did critics really start to think “This guy is the shit”. So Dre releases the slim shady LP, and if you didn’t actually buy the album at the time, you’d just know him as the comedy rapper that made “My Name is”. So people looked at Dr Dre doing a cameo in that video and thinking “How far has this guy fallen? Doing video appearances with some white jokey rapper”. Around that time Dr Dre himself was working on his comeback album to shut up the critics, “The Chronic 2”, but even people from within the industry had been trying to cock block that also. His old label bought the rights to the trademark “The Chronic” so he couldn’t use that, so he stated he was calling it “The Chronic 2000” and getting around the trademark issue by making the album cover a weed leaf with just the words “2000” on it, so the album would actually be “2000” but it would look like it was called “The Chronic 2000”. Deathrow records then created an album called “The Chronic 2000” which was basically 12 tracks dissing Dre, their plan was to release it around the same time as his album “2000”, and confuse consumers into buying an anti-dre album. After that, he just ditched “The Chronic 2000” idea and just called the album “2001” to give them all the middle finger.

It was a massive success and at the time a production masterpiece. He proved everyone wrong and became one of the most powerful people in music in the last 15 years because of it. Now its been even longer, 15 years since 2001 dropped. People are starting to say the same thing, Dr Dre takes too long to make songs, he’s fallen off, he’s irrelevant, doesn’t have it anymore. I hope he drops one more album and punishes everyone one last more time. The dude deserves it.”

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A Glorious ‘Benjamin Button’ Takedown

A thorough skewering:

“Written by Eric Roth, writer of Forrest Gump, the thing read as though a studio executive had come to Roth with the conceit – a man ages backwards – and the assignment to turn that conceit into Forrest Gump 2. Mission sort of accomplished. Consider:

  • a southern boy born into a body afflicted with a crippling ailment. Forrest Gump is unable to walk without the use of leg braces. Benjamin Button is born arthritic and dying of old age.
  • both boys gain the ability to walk properly through seemingly miraculous circumstances.
  • both boys fall in love at a young age with the girl who will be their Fermina Daza, loves lifelong and unrequited until one brief moment in young adulthood when the timing is just right. Their paths, of course, again diverge soon after, only to reconnect years later in a situation involving a child.
  • both boys are raised by a parent or parental figures who repeat a single piece of sage wisdom that the boy himself grows up to impart. In Forrest Gump, Forrest’s mother teaches him that “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Benjamin Button, in an unsubtle attempt at creating another catchphrase, has both Queenie and Tizzy, Benjamin’s step-parents, tell him that “You never know what’s comin’ for you.” Both Forrest and Benjamin go on to repeat this motto to others in their lives.
  • both boys grow into dim bulbs of men, “pure of heart” but emotionally naive and so sympathetically vulnerable to the cruelties of the world.
  • both become enlisted in the military, and enter the service of an eccentric commanding officer known primarily by his title and first name. Lieutenant Dan, Captain Mike.
  • both serve alongside ostensibly eccentric fellow officers, introduced by way of a scene that was itself, in Forrest Gump, a takeoff on the original, unironic, scene in Apocalypse Now.

For instance, Forrest Gump is a bit more proactive than Benjamin Button, who passively moves through life without making an active decision until near the end, when he consciously does one of the most despicable things a man can do. He abandons his family. The film, of course, intends for us to continue feeling empathy for Benjamin beyond that point, and so has one of the characters wounded by Benjamin’s decision tell him he was right to do what he did, but his decision never feels right, morally or narratively. The script needs (or, rather, wants) this thing to happen, and so it happens, despite its complete incongruity with what we know of Benjamin up to that point.
One would think the near total passivity of the title character would have been a flaw evident at the screenplay stage (for the record, it was) but rarely have script problems slowed the production of a film once an A-list director has his momentum behind it, pushing it inevitably toward the screen whether ready or not.

And while not the worst film I’ve seen, it remains so thoroughly mediocre, so poorly written and so poorly made, that its arrogance only leaves that much more bitter a taste in my mouth. As a rule, one hopes to judge a film on its merits alone, and not by any hype – any buzz – that might surround it. But the buzz about “the best screenplay I’ve ever read,” the hype and reviews that use words like “epic” and “masterpiece” compel me to take the thing down a notch. It is not a masterpiece. There are, in fact, few films in recent memory that I have detested more.”

Full length epic rage

How ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ Changed Filmmaking

A little film history:

“Basically, they were Photoshopping every frame of the movie. That had never been done. Until O Brother. Of course, at that time, editing your movie on the computer wasn’t the absolute-given it is today. Hell, these days, major-ass movies are shot, edited, processed, and projected without ever involving film at all, and for the ones that don’t, DI is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps if it weren’t for the gorgeous color work in O Brother, the movie industry would have held on to the old chemical processes a little bit longer. As it happened, the first major use of DI on a feature was glorious, and nearly everyone was sold on the idea immediately. Virtually the next day, Peter Jackson was extolling the virtues of a DI for his film The Fellowship of the Ring, which was where things started getting really crazy.

“And now, with effectively no exceptions, you see nothing but movies – and TV shows, and everything else – that went through the same process O Brother did fifteen years ago.

Pretty cool, huh?”

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The War on Terror Was Ahistorical

Colonel (Retired) Peter Mansoor, former executive officer to General David Petraeus during the surge in Iraq and founding director of the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center:

“I find the conduct of a war against a tactic (terrorism) to be ahistorical. Rather, the Bush administration should have named the enemy: Al Qaeda and like minded terrorist organizations. Military force is only part of the solution to the scourge of global terrorism. Regrettably, by painting the counterterrorist campaign as a “war,” the administration overemphasized the use of military forces and downplayed other instruments of national power (diplomatic, economic, informational, etc.). We had the world basically united after 9/11 – the administration should have worked closely with friends and allies to maintain that solidarity.”

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How Denying Black Soldiers FHA Loans Denied Black Families Post-War Prosperity

I’ve always thought this is such a big piece of the puzzle. From Reddit:

“In reality, the great depression pretty much evened the playing field as far as wealth. The problem we have today evolved as a result of GI’s returning from WWII. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers came home, bought a house, and started a family. But black soldiers were denied the opportunity. The Federal Hosing Administration would not insure loans to black families, and even if they did, often times developers wouldn’t sell to black families. So, whites got suburbia, blacks were limited to inner city developments. So while white families were building equity in their homes, black families were renters and getting nothing out of it. Eventually, black families that were responsible had saved up enough to by a nice new home in suburbia, but there was a great fear from the white community (a fear pushed by the slimiest realtors) that the influx of black families would depress real estate values. White people flooded out to newer developments, which of course made the real estate values plummet. Black families, having finally bought a house, got to immediately see their life savings go down the drain with their now worthless property.

After World War Two, America had a chance to fully bring the black community into the fold with every other ethnic group (all of whom were able to join the middle class after the war) but instead we dropped the ball big time, leaving a lasting schism in our society.”

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Trans Isn’t All About The Surgery

From an AskTransgender sub-reddit:

“Of course, most cis people have that tunnel vision for ‘the surgery’, ‘the sex change’ (please don’t ever use that term – go for genital reconstruction or just gender confirmation surgery). That’s all it boils down to; that’s what makes us special curiosities to cis people – the ‘transformation’. It’s all they can focus on. It’s the first thing they ask about, often-times with no malicious intent, but often with a tone like they deserve a response. Like it’s only natural that we should have to explain ourselves, being the curiosities:

  • “How does the surgery work?”
  • “How real are they (your junk)?”
  • “Do they work like/look like a real man/woman’s?” “How do you have sex?”
  • “Do you plan to get the surgery?”
  • “Have you had it?”

But it’s really rude. It’s exceptionally rude. It’s none of your business….

It’s when you put us in a cage, in the zoo, and focus on how odd we are, or do something similar and put us on a pedestal to marvel at our amazing butterfly transformation; anything to separate us from cis people and make our bodies, our identities, seem constructed and artificial. ”

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