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Friday, September 23, 2005


Hurricane Video Feed
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Thanks to Poynter Online's Steve Yelvington, who points out that MSNBC is running a live video feed of their Rita coverage online, here. Best, Michael UPDATE: Here's an informative q&a about oil prices between Newsweek's Karen Fragala and petroleum expert Sarah Emerson of the Energy Security Analysis Institute. Short excerpt: We’ve been living in a world of $1.50 gasoline prices, and that does not reflect the true cost of gasoline. It doesn’t reflect that we rely on exporters that are thousand of miles away, that we get our oil from politically unstable regions. It doesn’t reflect the fact that it is a polluting fuel. We can’t just turn and try to help the consumer through these difficult times because that just means we’ll have more difficult times in the future.... posted by Michael at September 23, 2005 | perma-link | (16) comments




More on (and from) Feminism
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Shouting Thomas recalls some of what the madness was like. Nice passage: According to this political theory, all the problems of the world would be solved if only all men were sissified homosexuals. (This creates a dilemma for homosexuals who are not sissified -- but they are forgiven because at least they aren't straight.) War, pollution, racism and crime would cease to exist if only all men were sissies. (Whoops! I forgot. Black men alone are entitled to be macho studs. This provides a much deserved kick in the shins to white hetero men.) Were the times as loony as all that? You bet they were. Shouting Thomas's posting brought it all back for me: the anger, the quarrels, the hyperbole, the accusations, the hostility ... Suddenly I was in a mood to do some Googling, dammit! So here's a bouquet of quotations from the Loonier days of Loony Feminism: From Gloria Steinem: "A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual." From Betty Friedan: "The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive." From Kate Millet: "The care of children ... is infinitely better left to the best trained practitioners of both sexes who have chosen it as a vocation...[This] would further undermine family structure while contributing to the freedom of women." From Susan Griffin, who wrote a book entitled "Rape: The All-American Crime": "If the professional rapist is to be separated from the average dominant heterosexual [male], it may be mainly a quantitative difference." From the immortal Shulamith Firestone: "If there were another word more all-embracing than revolution - we would use it." Shulamith Firestone, on a roll: "No matter how many levels of consciousness one reaches, the problem always goes deeper. It is everywhere. The division yin and yang pervades all culture, history, economics, nature itself; modern Western versions of sex discrimination are only the most recent layer. To so heighten one's sensitivity to sexism presents problems far worse than the black militant's new awareness of racism: feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organisation of culture itself, and further, even the very organisation of nature." Play it again, Shulamith!: "Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself." From a 1971 document called "The Declaration of Feminism": "The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men ... All of history must be re-written in terms of the oppression of women." From a 1988 publication put out by the National Organization for Women: "The simple fact... posted by Michael at September 23, 2005 | perma-link | (67) comments




Careers and Family
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- First Monica, then Britney/Xtina, and now this. And from the New York Times -- and from a woman reporter at the NYTimes -- no less. Aren't women at the Times all supposed to be propagandists for the partyline-feminist cause? Yet look at what Louise Story discovers and reports: Many women at the nation's most elite colleges say they have already decided that they will put aside their careers in favor of raising children. Though some of these students are not planning to have children and some hope to have a family and work full time, many others ... say they will happily play a traditional female role, with motherhood their main commitment. Typical of the Times to focus on elite colleges, isn't it? The Times' fixation on schools-with-cachet once prompted me to write the only letter I've ever written to the Times. I wrote in asking if the paper's editors might consider imposing a quota on how many times a month a columnist can mention that he/she attended Harvard or Yale. (No response; never printed.) Still and all: fun to see today's free young women defying '70s-feminist dogma so openly, isn't it? And fun to see that the article has been one of the papers' most-emailed during the last couple of days. It was fun to read the huge number of indignant letters-to-the-editor that the article provoked, too, but I can't find them online. This teapot-tempest makes me recall an incident from ten or so years back. It took place during a wine-and-cheese party at work. A young woman employee, rattling innocently on, volunteered that neither she nor her girlfriends planned to work forever; she meant "work" in the sense of "having a job outside the home." Eyebrows all around were raised. Didn't she know that one didn't talk like this? Yet she talked on anyway, as though the world belonged not to the Boomers but to her. She and her buds planned to hold down jobs and have fun until they were about 30 ... Then marriage and kids ... Eventually maybe back into the workforce for a parttime job ... Meanwhile, the men shifted about uneasily and the feminist-Boomer career women stared in cold fury. But it was an impotent fury. On and on this young, sweet-if-full-of-herself young woman gabbed. Life was hers for the living; she was telling us about the kinds of life that appealed to her -- and none of it represented what Shulamith Firestone or Gloria Steinem had had in mind. What a shock to learn that most people, left to their own devices, would choose to lead conventional lives! (Incidentally: And how lovely that some people would choose not to! But that's not the point of this particular story.) It was the first time in a couple of decades that I'd been present when the partyline, capital-F feminists hadn't been able to dictate the terms of such an exchange. I remember thinking, "Omigosh, a watershed has been... posted by Michael at September 23, 2005 | perma-link | (32) comments





Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Girls Together
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Lots of fun speculations over at GNXP about why guys might enjoy watching girls make it together. (Actually, the question -- naively-put, as far as I'm concerned -- was: "Why should guys enjoy watching lesbians make it? And why don't gals enjoy watching gay men make it?") My profound answer to this eternally-pressing question is a two-parter, consisting of, "Well, why not?" and "Hubba hubba!" Nonetheless, I managed to elaborate these hunches a bit in the posting's commentsfest. Here's my modest contribution: I doubt most het guys would find actual lesbians having actual lesbian sex very interesting. For one thing, there's the cliche of "lesbian bed death" -- lesbians living together often go off sex almost entirely. They're often driven more by cats, food, getting fat together, fondness, etc, than they are by lust. What het guys seem to enjoy is watching sexy chicks make it with each other. And why not? Two hot chicks instead of one. The spectacle of female arousal, doubled. The wonderfully provocative/masochistic fantasy that you're being excluded, or maybe you're missed, and maybe your cock could surmount all these problems, but maybe it'd be more fun just to watch anyway. And, heck, it's easier than participating -- you get the fun of feeling intense arousal (and much else) without having to break a sweat. Haven't sultans and emirs everywhere always enjoyed watching dancing girls? The actress who played Carmen in a semi-recent film of the opera once said something interesting: that the kind of dancing Carmen does (which drives the male characters wild with desire) is intensely auto-erotic -- lots of thighs rubbing against each other, lots of exalted/challenging looks, etc. And that the illusion she creates of being entirely self-sufficient unto herself -- of not needing the man for her own gratification -- is hyper-provocative to the men. They're galvanized, outraged, aroused, and grateful. They fall at her feet and also want to dominate her. So maybe the two-coeds-kissing thing that's so prevalent today is something similar: the visual suggestion of the female world being complete unto itself, with no need for men to come in dickwise and provide fulfillment. And that spectacle outrages, stimulates, and provokes the male, which the male experiences as sexual heat. BTW, there's a small but very real percentage of gals who love, just l-u-v, watching gay male porn. The guys are better looking, the photography's often better, there's a little attention to mood and setting (gals like mood and setting) ... And the display of raw, unapologetic male lust -- male lust making no compromises to the female -- turns these gals on tremendously. Who knows? Maybe they find "feeling excluded while in the presence of raw lust of the opposite sex" a super turn-on too. Any thoughts from anyone about these urgent matters? And any answers to the more general question, "Why are so many girls kissing and fondling each other these days?" (NSFW, of course.) I mean, beyond "Why not?"... posted by Michael at September 21, 2005 | perma-link | (27) comments




Tough Times
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The last few days have brought some sad news in blogger-land: I was sorry to learn that Neil Kramer's dad has suffered a bad health blow, and I'm sorry as well to read that Alan Sullivan's recent health prognoses haven't been the good ones his fans have cheered for. (I'm very happy and moved that Alan has decided to continue blogging.) In their very different ways, Neil and Alan both contribute -- voluntarily -- a lot of sparkle and beauty to the blog-o-verse, this amazing new meta-medium. A sad fact of life: Generosity and pleasure take place, when they do, against a dark-toned backdrop. So why not click over to Neil's place and to Alan's place, and convey some good wishes? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 21, 2005 | perma-link | (0) comments





Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Elsewhere
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Much of the time I watch new cultural/technological developments with bewilderment and pity. But sometimes I do wish I were a kid again. * Randy Sparkman writes a touching tribute to the recently-deceased country fiddlin' giant Vassar Clements. * Will Europe be able to revive its fortunes? Joel Kotkin isn't cheerful. * A while ago, I mentioned a Boston Review piece about why the American middle class is hurtin'. It's now online, here. * Although I'm a Tantric-sex fan myself, Jill's stories about a charismatic, Tantra-obsessed Swami she once worked for made me laugh a lot. * Go here to meet this year's MacArthur Foundation geniuses. (Link thanks to Marginal Revolution.) * There may be such a thing as having too flexible a spine for your own good. (NSFW) * Can anyone really be as good a shot as this guy appears to be? * Thanks to a commenter at ChaiTeaLatte, I discovered this retina-boggling optical illusion. For the life of me, I can't persuade my eyeballs that none of the lines in the figure are twisty. * The ladies have their own NSFW needs, don't they? Here's a pre-Jen, pre-Angelina and very buff Brad, from a visit he made with Gwynnie to St. Barth's. * Any opinions about whether the contours of this elegant-looking device would suit the device's intended purpose? Or do we have here yet another example of form trumping function? (NSFW, probably.) * Hi mom! Hi dad! Summer camp was really fun! (NSFW) * The well-known animator Uli Meyer is a blogger. * There's poetry in the casual and easy elegance of these drawings by Laurent Beauvallet. Blogging as a way of keeping an online sketchbook -- what a wonderful idea. * BCRBoy and Capitalist Worker wonder why the diversity-o-crats aren't celebrating how well Asian-Americans are doing at UC Berkeley. * Sluggo does audioblogging: Mike Hill posts a rarity -- a recording of Rostropovich and the American National Orchestra in Moscow, doing "Stars and Stripes Forever." And doesn't the performance just kick ass! Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 20, 2005 | perma-link | (24) comments