the miscellany chronicle

bit of this, bit of that


we're all philanthropists in theory

I just read an interview with a writer who I actually admire quite a bit-- but then she said something which made me just roll my eyes in exasperation. So now I must address the idea which I find so tiresome.


Okay, wow, is this one of the stupidest catchphrases ever.

Look, I get the idea of it-- hey, if you aren't living life like you know you should, then change! If you work in corporate America and it is killing your soul, be true to yourself and get out! Yeah! Self-actualization!

Except, of course, that none of that makes any sense. If I'm a frustrated poet working in an office instead of pursuing grander literary dreams, then that doesn't mean I need to be 'truer' to my poet self. It means that my true self is someone who is willing to swallow mediocrity rather than take real risks to do something more interesting.

So, you know, Donald Trump, bullshit artist, is true to himself: he is the human embodiment of greed and commercialism. Britney Spears is being true to herself-- not because she's in rehab, but because she hates herself and her life and she ingests massive amounts of drugs and alcohol to deal with that knowledge.

I think I mostly resent the idea that being true to yourself is a VERB. Every person in the world is true to him or herself, because your actions dictate what sort of person you are and what sort of life you are willing to live. I can't DECIDE to be true to myself, because it is involuntary and automatic. I lead the life I lead, no matter what I think I should/could/would have been doing given the right chance.


sonnet 116

Here is a clip of a boy named Daniel reading one of Shakespeare's sonnets. I'm not sure what I like best-- the way he speeds through the poem but seems so pleased at the end, his oddly insistent pronunciation, or the way he argues back with the off-camera grown ups who tell him he should read it "like a poem".


come read these stories! no, not the ones we made up.

Right, so I have a problem with both of these headlines:

1. They have been keeping this porn story in HEAVY rotation on the website, and the article seems to be written at the expense of the guy who thought he was doing the right thing. Look, obviously, running into a neighbor's house with a sword is not a great idea-- but being that determined to prevent sexual assault? I'm having a hard time faulting him for that urge. I don't think this story is as wacky as CNN seems to think it is, given all the emphasis on the crusader living with his mom. It's such an easy-- no, LAZY dichotomy to exploit-- one guys lives with his mother, one guy lives alone and watches porn all day long, so guess which one is a loser!

Plus, pressing charges against someone who tried to save a woman from being raped? That's a much bigger douchebag move than anything else here.

2. Okay, WOW. What a clever little turn of phrase-- the Baptist Church is being TARGETED NEXT by sex abuse victims! Poor church! It would be so easy for this to be phrased in some other way-- "Sex abuse advocates urge Baptist Church to take steps," or "Baptist Church under pressure from victims of sex abuse."

But using the word "targeted" seems to imply some sort of unreasoning vendetta, which is exactly the opposite of what the article itself describes. If anything, the Survivors Network-- originally intended for those abused by priests in the Catholic Church-- has finally realized the extent of parallel abuse perpetrated-- and ignored-- by members of the Baptist Church clergy. Furthermore, representatives from the Baptist Church organization are responding to a call for accountability by saying-- get this-- NO CAN DO! Our hands are just TIED, and we feel awful about all the kids getting raped or whatever, but we certainly can't do anything about it.

That's it. That is their response to the revelation that Baptist ministers who abused children were often not punished, or sent away from one church only to end up preaching (and abusing) at another one.

So spare me, CNN. Portraying a man trying to stop a rape as a loser is bad enough, but to then portray actual victims of sexual assault as heartless rampaging religion destroyers just emphasizes CNN's determination to write headlines that are as insulting as they are misleading.

concept searching

I like searching flickr for random words. I searched for 'majesty'-- got a lot of grand landmarks, but this picture by lorenzodom was what amazed me.

no, she didn't.

I've been reading through the Pandagon archives, and I found one article from June 2005. It starts off as being about-- shocking-- rape at the Air Force Academy-- but ends up having a lot of information about actual studies about rape culture. Most of them directly contradict comforting rape stereotypes (she was a slut, she wanted it, she brought it on herself) by actually studying the behavior and psychology of rapists, not their victims.

The BSU [Behavioral Sciences Unit of the FBI] is famous for helping track down serial killers, but they do a lot more mundane criminal work than that. One important innovation that was driven by the BSU was that BSU member Roy Hazelwood cleaned up and innovated the sex crimes division of the FBI to make it more effective at solving crimes and research.

After years of work in this area, just guess what conclusion Hazelwood came to about the best way to approach sex crime justice and prevention? You guessed it. Hazelwood drew on feminist work in the area of sexual assault and rape and concluded that the previous theories of rape and sexual assault that emphasized sexual desire were completely backwards and that most rapists have power and control issues, with only a select few really having sexual desires that drove them to rape specifically. Completely contrary to what the “boys will be boys” crowd espouses about rape and sexual desire, the ones who attack out of sexual desire are the most dangerous, not the least.

Read the rest here.


I like to read craigslist personals. Here is one I found illuminating.

Heres the Truth! - 23

Reply to:
Date: 2007-02-21, 3:22PM EST

Marriage is an important part of getting ahead. It lets people know you're not a homo. A married guy seems more stable. People see the ring, they think 'at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch.' Ladies see the ring, they know immediately that you must have some cash, and your cock must work.

That is some excellent reasoning! I might encourage my friend to work some of these statements into her upcoming wedding vows.

I admit that I am a bit perplexed-- is this young man looking for marriage candidates (who are also fans of unvarnished 'honesty'), or is he just explaining the state of the world to women looking for love? You know, in case they were wondering?

I like meeting a married man, glancing at his ring, and then giving him a daring wink while saying, "hello-- your cock must work, mister presumably-stable moneybags! Well done."

also, there should be a vicar

Graham Norton wrote a little essay called Why I love celebrity culture which perhaps illuminates my reasons for trolling the pop blogosphere-- I definitely have leftover childhood dreams of living "in a one-street hamlet somewhere in Cornwall"!

Of course, the only thing he's really forgetting is that those vile kids we all remember from school are the only ones willing to spend their time showing off for the papparazzi. There was a girl in my high school who would enter a room full of people and BURST into irritating song, all the while wearing a "modest" expression that said: it's okay to admire me for my MOXIE and my STAR POWER, you guys! Don't be afraid to request another song! (Everyone present was, of course, miserably uncomfortable during the whole spectacle.)

I'm not saying she was the type to eventually flash her ladybits to creepy, doughy men with telephoto lenses and coffee breath-- but, you know, I'm not saying she wouldn't go for that either.