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April 10, 2003

Web Surfing

Friedrich --

A quick tribute to the courageous and entertaining Steve Sailer (here), who I don't link to often enough simply because, well ... how to pick out just one good piece from among the riches? Sad to say, but there are days when I take his work -- completely but unfairly -- for granted. Luckily his website is well-organized and easy to browse. Recently Sailer has written about the IQs of Jews, on the murder of Pim Fortuyn, and on why high immigration rates can actually promote, not reduce, anti-Americanism. What's not to be fascinated by? Agree or disagree with him, Sailer's always provocative, smart, and humane.

Tim Hulsey at My Stupid Dog (here) has put up a blizzard of postings in the last few days, all of them well worth lingering over. Be sure not to miss the one about the comic Southern writer Charles Portis (scroll down a bit), or the one about Murnau's "Sunrise."

Girls are frighteningly competent, poised, assertive and achievement-oriented these days, don't you find? Maybe they really are superior beings, as I usually suspect; or maybe (as I confess I do occasionally wonder), a couple of decades of having vast amounts of resources and "self-esteem" pumped into them has been a help too. These days, attention seems to be turning to boys, who are routinely outperformed in high school, and who are now outnumbered by girls in colleges. Julie Henry writes in the Telegraph that studies have shown that boys can benefit from single-sex schooling as much as girls can, here. (Link thanks to View From the Right, here.) You go, boys. On the other hand, I spent a couple of years at an all-male school, and I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone.

Legendary exploitation filmmaker -- OK, in the exploitation world "legendary" doesn't really mean much, but still -- Larry Cohen writes for the LA Times about what a strange adventure it was getting his screenplay for "Phone Booth" made, here. A good snapshot of how the Hollywood process can drive you insane.

Yahmdallah (here) tries to figure out the best way to let the evangelist who has knocked on your front door know that you're already a Christian.

Git funky! On April 29th, the doors of Memphis' new Stax Soul Music Museum will swing open. (You can read about the Museum here.) Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, The Staples Singers -- the list of Stax artists brings tears to my eyes, makes me feel lucky to share a country with such talented people, and -- best of all -- makes me want to get out on the dance floor and do some spastic white-boy flailing. Which may be a treat to absolutely no one else on the face of the planet, but it makes me feel good. And isn't feeling good -- in a deep, denying-none-of-the-pain kind of way -- what soul music is all about?

I love this 3D reinvention of Pong, here, even though I can't seem to win more than a point or two per game.

I confess that there are times -- such as when I run across a web page like this one here -- when I wish I were Brazilian.



posted by Michael at April 10, 2003


I read Yahmdallah's article--Oh, my God (or, Oh, my Buddha---is that right?). How unbelievably hilarious. I have another friend who was door-to-door evangelized by Mormons. He deliberately invited them in because he had been doing some reading and discovered the little-known fact that the roots of the Mormon Church believe that God is an alien from another planet (OK...I think I have that right). He could quote all the source material thoroughly. They probably ran straight home to have a beer and a cigarette---they were evangelized by someone they were supposed to be saving. They didn't know half as much as he did. So maybe bringing up the whole God-as-Alien thing is another solution.

Posted by: annette on April 10, 2003 2:25 AM

"Girls are frighteningly competent, poised, assertive and achievement-oriented these days, don't you find?"

Michael, how all-male was that school? Did you ever get out and, you know, talk to girls? When I was one, most other girls were frighteningly assertive and achievement-oriented. Not unlike the girls of 18th and 19th century novels. There might a subtle change - women who would have been nasty-nice 15 years ago are straight-up bitchy today.

Posted by: j.c. on April 10, 2003 10:32 AM

Hey Annette, Yahmdallah's posting is good, isn't it? Let me know how you like that page of carnaval pix too. Oops, I forgot: men like to look, women like to read, isn't that right?

Hey J.C., I suspect you're a lot younger than I am. Back in the late '60s and thru the mid-'70s, when I was in school, only a tiny-ish percentage of high school and college girls were really determined to go have themselves nice careers. And the ones who were determined to do so tended to politicize (and melodramatize, so far as I was concerned) what they were up to.

Come to think of it, there weren't all that many boys who were determined to "have a career" at the time -- the super-widespread "I'm gonna go have a career!" thing really dates from the '80s, as far I can tell. As far as many, many kids were concerned in those days, things would just kind of work out somehow. Ah, the atmosphere of post-WW2 prosperity... I mean, I knew I'd have to support myself and I had the usual idiot-kid fantasies of being rich and famous. But developing a craft? Going to grad school in order to get a marketable degree? Hah. Going to biz school wasn't even all that common at the time, for instance -- it was just then coming into vogue as a thing a nice bright kid might do.

So, from my high-on-Mt-Olympus greybeard tiresome-oldster perch, it still seems like girls-being-assertive-and-uncomplicated-about-having-careers is a pretty recent development. The most recent arrivals in the NYC media world (ie., present-day 23ish year olds) seem especially un-complexed about it. They're bright and shiny and movin' forward, like the girls in a Banana Republic ad. Rambunctious, groomed, and no creases. Even the women only five or 10 years older than they are seem like high-strung neurotic messes (where the issue of having a job or career is concerned) by comparison. In any case, thank god the getting-political-about-having-a-job post-'60s thing seems finito. You have no idea how tedious that was.

What's the whole working-for-a-living thing like with you and your friends?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 10, 2003 11:16 AM

I was a girl back in the 60's and 70's. None of my friends wanted to grow up, get a low paying job and have babies on the side. We were all going to have careers, change the world and be amazingly happy.

From my position on Mt Olympus with gray hair and gravity pulling on everything, I see those bright shiny young women as naive. Have a couple kids, a mortgage and a husband and then tell me about your career.


Posted by: Deb on April 10, 2003 12:10 PM

Michael---I did actually check out the Brazilian page, much to your apparent surprise, high strung neurotic mess that I apparently am (ho,ho). It's OK. I think women DO like to read about it more than look---but a worldly, suave man like yourself would surely already know that! The only slight correction I would make to Deb's original comment is that I think men like to look at it, and read about it, and write about it, and photograph it, and think about it. Let's hope they all like to DO it as much!!! And are as good at executing the task!

Posted by: annette on April 10, 2003 12:29 PM

Hey Deb -- You must have moved in more high-powered circles than I did!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 10, 2003 12:30 PM

Michael, I lived in a mid size town in the upper Midwest--nothing high powered that I recall. It did and still does have a university in it. And there was one little incident in my senior year when the guidance counselor refused to let me take physics because I hadnt taken typing yet. He said I needed it to get a job after college and my position was that if I couldnt type, I couldnt end up as a secretary, now could I. I havent used the physics since and 10 years later Bill Gates revolutionized the world and now everyone has a keyboard in front of them at some point.

How that is relevant I dont know but there you have it.

I looked at the carnaval pix too but they were too small for my Mt Olympus eyes to really make out any detail on.....Guess I will have to read about it.


Posted by: Deb on April 10, 2003 1:33 PM

Career? Oh. I mean they were confident and determined and ruthless about getting what they wanted - an a, a spot on the basketball team, a guy - by any means other than the, to me, obvious method of doing the work required. As a rule, only Vietnamese and Mexican girls were typically hell-bent on careers.

"What's the whole working-for-a-living thing like with you and your friends?"

It's mostly about drinking on the porch, which I have to do now, cuz people just pulled up in the driveway.
Mixed bag.

Posted by: j.c. on April 10, 2003 10:17 PM

Working for a living –
Not sure to what extent this is a generational thing in the U.S. since, oh, WWII. In my personal, real-life experience, the less people had, the more serious they were about both being successful ($$$) and in doing something well or at least seriously. All this talk of spoiled suburban kids having a sense of entitlement is spot on. What you see as confidence seems to me to be arrogance, a genuinely shitty attitude made worse because it’s packaged along with Machiavellian skills that prevent the truth about one’s abilities (or lack their off) from damaging this false confidence.

Deb is right to see these “bright shiny young women as naive.” There are far too many fillies in the mid-twenties to early-thirties range who have no idea how to do anything except suck up to authorities figures and squash down their own peers – skills which they, in politicized/melodramatic language, describe and seem to actually see as being confident, aggressive, and achievement-oriented. These misguided frauds tend to be promoted very quickly… until they hit the point where they actually have to accomplish something, then they crater and become even more of a burden to the rest of us. I guess these are the victims of what you call career-centric thinking of the eighties. There are some men with a similar affliction, although it seems like the well established gender mandate to be a big strong he-man who gets things done ensures that most men who are total frauds are well aware of how little they contribute and even enjoy the con. (The Enron fellows are afflicted, though it’s not clear how many of them understood the con was a con.)

Writing this, it strikes me that there is a lot of real experience in the he-man role. Few women had high-school or college jobs as carpenters or plumbers or stock boys, jobs in which you either did the job or didn’t, and even the most casual observer can tell which. When good looks, charm, and whining will save you the trouble of actually working, why bother to learn how?

And here’s some worthless and random data – exactly half of the non-science academics in my hand-held are serious-minded, hard-working people. The other half should be tied in a bag and thrown in to a river.

FWIW: Gidian Planish is a good read on careerism and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit considers alternatives.

Posted by: j.c. on April 11, 2003 10:56 AM

Sheesh! I hope jc isn't responsible for the mentoring or development of any younger women in the workplace; this seems to be a manifesto on the stereotype that women don't support or guide other women very well. maybe these younger women behave the way they do because of an absence of role models showing them another way. My experience has actually been that younger women are looking for some guidance, and if you are a competent woman with some substance, who does not resemble in word or deed a truckdriver, they are quite interested in figuring out how you did it.

Posted by: annette on April 11, 2003 11:57 AM

Fillies? Did you actually say fillies? As in frisky young horses??

My point, which I want to separate from j.c.'s, was that the bright young women seem that way because they haven't run up against the brick wall most women eventually hit when trying to have a career AND a family. It's hard to be creative and innovative in the workplace when you've been up all night with a puking kid and the cost of child care is half your paycheck. This seems so obvious I didnt put it in the original post.

(Fillies??? I am still trying to get it into my head that someone actually has the moxie to use that word in a discussion about women in the workplace.)

I see them as naive, but I also agree with Annette that they need and sometimes have mentors in older women who can at least provide some role modeling. And now days, that may mean working up the corporate ladder, working a job and finding the real meaning of your life elsewhere, or staying home to care for the kids.


Posted by: Deb on April 11, 2003 1:42 PM

I may be dumb, but I ain't dumb enough to step into these waters.

Hey, didn't anyone give that "Pong" game a try? (Yet another example of the incomparable "smoothness" and "sophistication" of the Blowhards...)

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 11, 2003 1:57 PM

Yes, Michael, you smoothie, this cranky old mare did try the new version of Pong. Maybe if I was a young filly I'd do better at it. ;o}

This is totally off topic--have a looksee at Look at the calander...


Posted by: Deb on April 11, 2003 4:11 PM

Seems to me that "wearing wool" thing belonged more on the Webporn posting. How Michael didn't specifically mention this one himself? Exactly what kind of an autobiographical entry would this make in the History of Man?

Posted by: annette on April 11, 2003 4:45 PM

Don't want to get involved in the debate but that pong is great!

Me and my boy are going to be playing for hours.


Posted by: Mike Peach on April 12, 2003 7:47 AM

Filly is a problem? Spare me, or I'll call all the posters here, regardless of sex, biddy hens!

And, Deb, I'm talking about attitudes unique to chicks in management-type jobs, positions where politicking alone will get you pretty far. In my experience, women who had heavy lifting jobs such as being a nurses aid or working in the billing office - shall I describe these women as the wheel horses? - these gals did seem to understand that having a baby would change everything.

Posted by: j.c. on April 12, 2003 7:37 PM

Love the pong, that thing is wicked fast!

The photos of Brasil were great, but clicking on one for the larger version crashed by browser :-(

And I might as well step into the women in the workplace discussion, I've never been one to fear rushing in where angels fear to tread and all that.

I can't find the reference off hand (must excavate bookmarks), but I encountered a study a while ago from one of the more prestigious business schools in the country that analysed wages for men vs. women doing comparable work, but added the novel twist of gathering data on probablility of a woman leaving work to have children, whether temporarily via leave of absence, or permanently.

Their data came to the most non-PC conclusion that when the probability of lost productivity and cost of replacement for leaving to have children were factored in, that 72% of a man's wages was equivalent.

They also found that historically, it is only very recently that this weighting has come to match the actual probability of such lost productivity.

I will now don my asbestos suit, and go digging for the hyperlink.

Posted by: David Mercer on April 13, 2003 5:02 PM


Sigh. Women leaving work and impact on productivity is a complicated issue. The problem is---as a woman who did NOT leave the workforce--women who do stay shouldn't be penalized for that issue. Just like, I'm sure men with children are less productive (although perhaps more like to stay, which points out the difference between "staying in one's job" and "productivity in one's job") than men without children. Did that same fancy business school run that study?

jc---I believe you should begin in the first person with the "biddy hen" description.

Posted by: annette on April 13, 2003 5:31 PM


forgive me for being confused, but how did this study analyze data, which is fact, based on a probablilty, which is not?

Also, are you saying that if you factor in lost wages due to child leave, time lost to care for children etc, that the women's compensation for comparable work is 72% of the man's compensation? Which means if you factor it out of the analysis equation, the actual compensation is higher? This seems problematic, at best, since it contradicts just about everything I have ever read on the subject.


Posted by: Deb on April 13, 2003 6:40 PM

Maybe, a thousand years ago, when people had one job for 40 years and then retired and got a gold watch, the issue of women leaving, or just taking leave, mattered. These days, people job hop so much, or get fired, or laid off, or go through re-orgs so often that I can't imagine that it matters. We're all migrant workers, now.

Fortunately, and I'm not kidding, I'm such a good mentor to other women (and the occasional man) that I can always find a new spot thanks to former employees in the workplace.

Posted by: j.c. on April 15, 2003 12:04 AM

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