17 September 2013

Workplace Safety Lacking Here

This platter of link sausages is more than marginally unsafe for work. For one thing, it might make you think, and that's not a winning strategy in today's employment environment.

  • Not gonna happen, for a very simple reason: The legal definition of obscenity in the US. As established by nine old white guys (well, there was one black guy) wearing black dresses (but not cocktail dresses) in the late 1960s through the mid 1970s — and thereafter enshrined forever in FCC regulations — if it isn't flaccid, it is by definition "obscene" and therefore unprotected under the First Amendment. Sorry, bi/heterosexual ladies and bi/homosexual gentlemen: Your actual/potential sexual turnons are victims of the limp prose found in midcentury judicial opinions by old white guys; maybe it would have been better if there had been magical blue pills or the Stonewall Inn available to them, but maybe not. I think the closest you're going to get is monsters with their shirts off on the front covers of romance novels... or perhaps a shirtless Russian premier in Pravda, although that too may be a monster. Not on US TV (or US magazines), though; corpses of children are news and splashable all over the news during dinner, but schlongs are obscene (even if boobies aren't) at any hour on any channel.
  • This is one result of the loss of the classical education among publishing drones (and, for that matter, among everyone else). That E.R. Eddison did better than the vastly-more-craft-accomplished authors of today should tell you something... although exactly what it tells you depends, in great part, upon your own linguistic background. And that's the point.
  • From the department of "They Never Learn, Do They?" comes a rare bit of bipartisan agreement: the "too big to fail" banks are getting bigger. We saw novas in 2008; anyone want to see a supernova?
  • From that same department comes news that Paula Deen fans want their guru/icon back. In this instance, I feel like invoking not the nanny state, but granny kitchen: No, they really don't. She is/was a lousy cook, with lousy food hygeine, and (like all of the other Food Network chef-endorsed equipment) lent her brand name to overpriced crappy kitchen equipment. And that's before considering her admitted social-relations problems (which were indeed overblown... but not by nearly as much as her fans seem to think). Which leads to my challenge to The Food Network/The Cooking Channel: Fire every single one of your celebrity/industry judges and replace them with discerning diners whose tastebuds have not been killed by decades of oversalting and oversweetening their food, and start penalizing contestants for menus insensitive to hypertension and diabetes (neither of which I have, but I can't say that for all too many of my contemporaries... or for Paula Deen herself).
  • The UN has confirmed, pretty definitively, that "the worst chemical warfare incident in 25 years" occurred when someone used Sarin in Syria in August. Most of the Western powers are proclaiming that there's plenty of additional circumstantial proof that the attack was by Assad's forces. I find it darkly amusing (because I'm desperate for amusement here) that the nation protesting most loudly that — without using the phrase — no action against the Assad regime is justified because the evidence of responsibility is also consistent with a false-flag operation... is the descendant of the nation with the most-consistent history of false-flag operations in the last three centuries or so.
  • The battleground of quotations is epitomized by Wrongly Attributed Statement Syndrome, such as the alleged Twain quotation concerning cold winters being less dire than summers in San Francisco.
  • A literary corollary of WAS is Wrongly Defined Category Syndrome, a failing particularly common among "culture vultures" who do not recognize that so-called "literary" or "serious" fiction is no less a mere marketing category than is "paranormal romance". Although Professor Dames's article-masquerading-as-a-book-review at least acknowledges the existence of (a certain cramped, long-out-of-date conception of) "genre fiction" with his mention of Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein (which one isn't like the others?), his failure to note that an alumna of the institution — and department — in which he teaches is one of the finest short-fiction writers of the past half century seems a bit... tunnel-visioned. After all, the key to getting noticed is not the story itself, but where it is published (as Ms LeGuin's story "The New Atlantis" alludes to more than once, both internally and in its own publishing history).