Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
"Americans don't need yet another lecture from yet another personal finance reporter. Americans need torches and pitchforks."
Fred Clark breaks it down:
"Here's how the scam works. You've got a $10,000 limit on a credit card
and you're carrying $2,500 due to a recent dental procedure. The lender, in the
name of reducing risk, abruptly reduces the limit on your card to $4,000,
announcing this change on page seven of the nano-type in a booklet mailed with
your next monthly bill. Now instead of a 25-percent utilization rate, you've got
a 63-percent utilization rate (they round up, when convenient), lowering your
That lower credit score means you no longer "qualify" for your previous rate of 9.9 percent and will now be paying 19.1 percent. Oh, and there's a one-time fee of $35 dollars, conveniently added to your existing balance, for exceeding 50 percent of your available limit.
Unfortunately for you, these changes in your balance and rate became effective at 9 a.m. on the 15th of the month. Your electronic payment, dutifully set for the previous minimum payment, is credited to your account at 1 p.m. on the 15th. That minimum
payment was based on the earlier interest rate, so it's no longer adequate to
cover your newer, higher minimum payment. A $35 late fee is therefore added to
your balance and this delinquency is reported to the triumvirate, contributing
to the further reduction of your credit scores. Second verse, same as the
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment," Obama said. "And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it.
"I've seen and heard worse," he said. "I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment."
UPDATE THE SECOND: Damn! The Root is saying everything I want to say on this issue, and doing it much better:
Tasteless? Okay. Offensive? Eh. The cover made me roll my eyes, but I wasn't offended. Then again, I wasn't offended by Imus, either. It seems to me that getting offended by stuff like this is like getting offended by a pigeon that craps on your head. What's the point? The incident is all about the pigeon and its natural inclinations. It has nothing to do with you.
The limitation of The New Yorker, with its smug and insular editorial stance, is that in trying so hard to reach provocative and transgressive, it often lands instead on lead-footed and dumb. Remember the famous cover with the Hasidic man kissing the black woman? Yeah, yeah, we get that this is supposed to be satirizing the fears and xenophobic slurs of certain right-wing zealots who oppose Obama. The only problem is:
1) It's a little late. The terrorist fist-jab incident having long been thoroughly mocked. In humor, timing is everything.
2) It's not very sharp. If you have to explain satire, it's not working.
-- from "Misfire: Why The New Yorker Cover is an Insult to Gun-toting Black Women Everywhere," by Kim McLarin
UPDATE: Before I got derailed and started bumblefucking my way through this post, this is what I was trying to say:
The cover is strangely titled the Politics of Fear. The New Yorker has already released a statement that admits the Obama depiction is tasteless, but their defense is the New Yorker is a satirical magazine. They prefer tastelessness. Which is fine. I love satire and hey, the Obamas are fair game. Right?
But what's more interesting is this license many liberal folks are taking lately. The Obamas appear to be prime pickings for lefty intellectuals to go the extra mile when it comes to addressing the fear of the so-called straw chewing, bible-friendly media. From Yazmany Arboleda's The Assassination of Obama exhibition [depicting a forty inch black penis] to this, lefties are working overtime trying to show us how horrible the media has been to the Obamas. And yes, political figures have been depicted in much scarier ways, but it's usually done to exploit the obvious crazy of those folks [i.e. Falwell, Bush, Reagon, Madonna], however, this newer attempt by liberals to express their glorious liberalism borderlines on cockiness. With all their harmless claims, it feels a bit like they're having more fun seeing how far they can push the button than being responsible in their so-called social commentary.I guess my bigger point is most of the converted [those who read The New Yorker] are well aware of the media's attempt to demonize, racialize, and un-Americanize the Obamas. That's why the depiction feels cocky and self-congratulatory. [emphasis mine] -- from "Michelle Obama With An Angela Davis 'Fro: Now That's Crazy," by Keith Josef Adkins
I'll tell you why The New Yorker covers bothers me [not enough to boycott the magazine, because I find it so banal I rarely bother reading it anyway; and not enough to call up advertisers, because I would rather focus my ire on things more pressing right now]: the implication that I shouldn't be bothered. A patronizing intelligentsia have glibly agreed that the cover is satire (as if satire is an objective category, something that a text simply is, which rather crucially misunderstands how and why satire -- true satire -- functions). Apparently I just don't "get it."
Except I do get it. I understand precisely what the cartoonist was attempting to convey, and I understand the point of the accompanying article, but I cheerfully and honestly acknowledge that I think that as satire it falls quite flat. Apologias like this one over at Slate rather high-handedly take critics of the cartoon to task for our suggestion that, hey, a little awareness of how visual images work wouldn't go amiss here. Let's not elide the fact that some/many/most viewers of the image are not going to bother reading the associated article.
I don't think that's a small point. If the cogency of your satiric thrust depends on a context your audience has to search for -- and largely won't bother searching for -- then you compress your message into the most superficial layer. Of course the image is meant to be humorous. Although we don't go in for this kind of thing much anymore, American audiences are quite capable of recognizing political cartoons.
I'm not insisting that The New Yorker is responsible for how people consume this image; I would insist that their po'faced shock that anyone might consume the image differently than they intended (and let's be real here -- this kind of social frisson is precisely what was intended) is what chaps my natural black ass.
Allow me to blow your minds: satire attempted is not necessarily satire executed. The bargain-basement Jonathan Swifts who rush claim that they are skewering the fatuous and ridiculing the foolish are the spiritual cousins of the "just kidding!" brigade. I'm not trying to suggest that there are subjects that are unfit subjects for satire. In fact, I'm not trying to suggest anything anymore because I have already expended more psychic energy on this lazy cover than it deserves.
Monday, July 14, 2008
AJ Plaid over at Racialicious:
My current live-in partner, who works at the New Yorker, just couldn’t believe that so many people responded so angrily at the cover at the Daily Kos and other sites. He “wanted to see [my] reaction.” When I emphatically told him that I didn’t find it funny, he said, “You’re so angry.”
“Of course I’m angry. What do you expect? This is my reaction is to your employer doing something so racist.”
“I’m trying to have some fun here.”
Humph, you gotta love hipster racism.
I define hipster racism (I’m borrowing the phrase from Carmen Van Kerckhove) as ideas, speech, and action meant to denigrate another’s person race or ethnicity under the guise of being urbane, witty (meaning “ironic” nowadays), educated, liberal, and/or trendy. This racist and sexist balderdash that’s the New Yorker cover fits squarely into that definition. So, honestly, does the behavior of my partner, who prides himself on coming from a California family of educators who taught him to be colorblind and on working at a magazine renown for being, well, urbane, witty, educated, liberal, and trendy yet likes to view me as the Angry Negress.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I finessed my way into the Hellboy II screening at Graumann's on Tuesday. I have no particular love but an odd residual affection for the first one; and after tripping my way through Pan's Labryinth on a heady cocktail of cheap white wine and Xanax*, I knew that I had to ride the del Toro eyeless-freak train all the way to the station. Visually, Hellboy II doesn't disappoint. Well, actually it does disappoint, but only in the sense that every speculative/fantastic/science fictional film in recent memory cribs off of every other one in an endlessly recursive circle jerk. Everyone seems to have agreed that aliens look like this and the future looks like this and pan-humanity looks like this and so on. It pleases and infuriates in roughly equal measure, I think, to play a game of cinematic bingo: you see how many tropes you recognize from other texts and try to outnerd the rest of the homeboys in the comic book store. There are prizes for being the first person to identify a design that references something else ("he totally stole that from Predator") or the only person to identify some esoteric bullshittery ("that's clearly an homage to Bunuel"). Anyway, once you get past the shit you've seen elsewhere, Hellboy II really is quite amazing to look at. The script was just ridiculous, but I have the eight year old boy's hatred of love stories and kissing in my adventure movies. I would have liked more of Prince Nuada's albino ninja ass and less of his simpering Kira-looking twin sister
but that's just me.
*still not sleeping that great
As an aside, I checked imdb last week, and apparently the dude who played Nuada is one half of Bros! Which is only interesting because I had never heard of Bros before that summer in high school that I lived in Japan. My youngest host sister (word up, Iku) was obsessed with them Aryan androids. And so were all of her friends. So I heard one of the Bros cds a whole lot. The only song I remember, curiously enough, is "Black and White," which is a subtle* elegiac on interracial harmony -- this is curious only insomuch as there are some absolutely terrible "jokes" about interspecies love in Hellboy II, and I wondered if Luke Goss ever sat in his trailer plucking at his leather skirt and crying about how our society still haven't gotten it together, even after he and his creepy twin brother drew us that musical roadmap. Also: he's a twin in real life, and he plays a twin in this movie. In other boring news no one cares about, he is also apparently not gay.
I don't believe you, Luke Goss. You need more people
I actually thought that was part of the Bros schtick -- that the Gosses were gay. I'm not the only one who thought that, right? Holler if you hear me, Abercrombie & Fitch supporters! Casual homophobia, am I right?! High five! No, seriously, the Gosses were just two dudes who I always believed were gay. And androids. And for the record, their creepiness was related only to the latter, not the former.
Anyway, Luke and his long-time wife, SomethingOrOther live here in LA! If I ever see this dude, I am going to try to get his autograph and send it to Iku. Even now, 15 years later, I bet she would lose her mind.
Um, so I had a bunch of other stuff to talk about, but I am going to go sit in the corner for awhile and relax. I'm going to leave you with some tomfoolery sent to me by someone who knows that she better start getting right, right damn now.
*not really very subtle at all
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The arrogance here is truly mind-blowing.
Note to Congressional Republicans: this is not how a subpoena works. I particuarly love the suggestion that Karl Rove -- THE PERSON UNDER INVESTIGATION -- should set the terms for the investigation; in other words, if congressional Democrats are serious about wanting to unearth any wrong-doing, they must demonstrate that seriousness by...not allowing that information to be recorded, utilized, or carry any punitive weight.