Monthly Archives: August 2012

did you have to treat me oh so bad

8/14/12

Now that I’ve come partially clean with my own history of grappling with truth, I’d like to move on to public figures, and treat it with the same sort of academic detachment. In other words, I don’t want to put any value judgment on politicians and lying, I just want to categorize things so we know what we’re talking about.

Let us, then, try to define the Four Major Types of Political Liars before we ask the bigger questions. I’d love to hear suggestions, but these are the ones I’ve come up with:

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1. The Bald-Faced Brazen – I’ve discussed The Brazen™ here before, but put simply, it’s the pundit or self-proclaimed “attack dog” who gets on television in order to say something sensationally false. Facts are tertiary; the real agenda is to move the goalposts of dialogue further into their comfort zone.

I would also argue that the conservative variety of the Bald-Faced Brazen does not want to be liked; in fact, his/her agenda is the opposite. By taking the argument into coarse and mean-spirited territory, they further America’s disgust with the political process, and therefore government – and weakening government is their overarching purpose.

Examples: Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchanan, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Allen West

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2. The Winking, Nudging Dissembler – This is the liar who doles out their disinformation in precise doses with clocklike consistency; although falsehoods are common, their stock in trade is probably “quotes taken out of context.” While no specific comment, or law, or campaign speech point is enough to warrant scrutiny, the sheer magnitude of little lies is overwhelming.

The Nudging Dissembler is also nimble, meaning he/she can leap to the next talking point without getting bogged down in the one that came before. If cornered, they are known to backpedal, saying that they were taken out of context. As pundits, they can always retreat under the umbrella of “entertainer” – and as poltical leaders, they will resort to gamesmanship commentary like “politics is rough, so you better come ready to play.”

Examples: Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, Bob Novak, Tucker Carlson

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3. The Machiavelli – The name implies a dark lord manipulating the masses, but there are plenty of other politicians who believe their ends justify all means. Foes of a woman’s right to choose will use whatever means necessary to impose their beliefs, and if it takes a lie or two to get there, they believe it’s worth it.

Machiavellis have an unstated goal, and use a secondary tactic to get it. They’ll proliferate bad science (to relax climate change legislation), religion (to energize their voting base against homosexuals), or fear (to give themselves sweeping powers).

They think big, and are in for the long haul.

Examples: Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, William Krystol, Grover Norquist, William F. Buckley

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4. The Cognitive Dissonant – Perhaps the easiest to understand, these are the people who have embraced the lie they tell themselves, because the alternative is unbearable. If we define a “lie” as a falsehood knowingly spread, the Dissonant is awfully close to not being a liar, just being wrong. But deep down, they know they’ve chosen a path beneficial to themselves without being beneficial to the world at large.

Unwilling (or unable) to let this bifurcation churn in their stomachs, they choose a philosophy that justifies their behavior, and soon, everything is viewed through that prism. Facts butt up against feelings, and feelings win every time.

Being presented with information that conflicts with their worldview actually strengthens their worldview. They are intractable, because admitting they might be wrong would actually destroy the elaborate sense of self they’ve spent years building.

Examples: Mitt Romney, the Tea Party

[next: but is any of this actually bad, or even unethical, my friends?]

you say you’ll try harder but i think it’s just too late

8/12/12

With the permission of my learned audience, I’d like to make this week on the blog about LYING. There are very few subjects that make us feel more vulnerable, and with the election mere months ahead, I’d like to get to the bottom of why everyone lies so goddamn much.

But let’s make this fair. If I’m going to rail on Republicans for being so unacquainted with the truth, I should personally come clean and expose myself for who I am and who I have been. I can spot liars the same way magicians can read other magicians; I was a world-champion prevaricator.

I was a liar from very early on in life, and for three main reasons:

1. I was a very young child during a morally ambiguous decade (the 1970s) and grew up in a morally relative household with lots of siblings, where the truth was not especially valued, and could cause more trouble than you imagine.

2. In all walks of life (by my parents, by school, by friends) I felt continuously “in trouble” or “about to be in trouble” and therefore created elaborate smokescreens to allow myself to breathe easier.

3. Related to #2, I truly hated myself, and invented ways not to be me, just so I could get through the day.

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telling Sean that butter comes from peoples’ butts

As I’ve often said on these digital pages, I fabricated entire worlds about myself until my actual world became interesting enough not to lie about. It’s a good thing I’ve got the crazypants career, travel and bizarre experiences to draw from, or else I would have been forced to make up the whole damn thing.

In college, a certain fraternity brother (those who were there know which one) and I had a clashing of personalities, and after a nasty incident, he called me a “pathological liar”, or “P.L.”, an epithet that stuck around longer than I would have liked.

The irony is that he was partially right, but only in general (not the thing we were fighting about), and I wasn’t actually pathological. True pathological liars barely know they’re lying, the way frogs seem to slurp dragonflies off nearby leaves, their eyes open and unflinching.

I always knew when I was doing it, always way too much of a control freak to let something like that go by unnoticed. I remember every fib, every distortion, every fantasy. The interesting thing about the 3 reasons listed above is they can work in reverse order: create a fantasy about yourself? Sure, but if you’re discovered, just lay down some smokescreens. And if those don’t work? Just shrug and say the truth is overrated anyway.

My lying largely ended late in college with the success of my writing at Carolina, when I no longer had to struggle for every damn thing I wanted. Soon thereafter, being a born-again “truthist” made writing even easier, made friendships stronger (and funnier), and felt like a huge weight airlifted off my back.

There were still the romances, the weeks of dating, the inevitable dissolutions of relationships, where I was accused of misrepresenting myself… but I worked like a motherfucker to keep my side of the street clean, and most of the time, if I came on a certain way, I was doing it because I truly thought I was searching for love. I might have been full of shit, but I came by it honestly.

The scales finally fell from my eyes when I married someone with a strong belief system that included a fearless moral inventory of her inner demons. When talking about the psychology of addiction, she once told me that the only alcoholic incapable of getting sober is the one who is “constitutionally unable to tell himself the truth.”

If you look at everyone you know – not just addicts – through that prism, so many things fall into place. You begin to see why some people morphed into your closest confidantes, while others drifted into the ether. You see where your tribe begins, and the other ends.

And that’s where politics start.

[Tomorrow: conservatives, psychology and lies you believe!]

[Tues. update: I LIED! I meant Wednesday. – ed.]

where’s my usb scythe-sharpener

8/8/12

Well, I would write another actual blog for today, but I’m too busy being jealous of y’all’s download speeds. Seriously, the upper tier of our rural DSL at [far-too-expensive to print] dollars is…

.919 Mbps down, .35 Mbps up

It was recently bumped up to the occasional 3 Mbps down, when it is actually working. As for the iPhone on EDGE, I couldn’t even get the page to finish loading, until finally some meter read…

.171 Mbps download

HALF THE SPEED OF MY DIAL-UP AT THE PURPLE HOUSE CIRCA 1994.

which was ON A MAC QUADRA 660AV POWERED BY HAMSTERS.

I know we’re on farmland, but the population density, even up here in agrarian New York, is nothing to sniff at. There truly is a digital divide between cities and everywhere else in the world. If you ever wanted to Give It All Up™ and Get Away From It All™ thinking you’d always have the internet, your options range from “slow-ass DSL that goes down every time a squirrel makes a nest” to “slow-ass satellite broadband that goes down every time a cloud passes.”

People feel straightjacketed into their jobs because they fear losing health care. As the internet increases into a ubiquitous need, I wonder if people will start feeling the same way about ever leaving the city.

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Lucy picked this cauliflower in our garden… without wifi

hare beats tortoise, film at 11

8/7/12

Today’s question is purely for my hunch-confirming and everyone’s general edification…

How fast is your internet right this second?

If you’re at home, or at work, go here:

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(then click on the nearest city and note your download speed)

If you’re on a mobile device, use something like TestMyiPhone or DSL Reports or whatever you Android people use.

If you don’t mind, put your speed in the comments section, and say whether you were at home or at a workplace (and if you were using a smartphone).

Please god tell me someone out there has slower internet than me.

paging saeid mohammadpourkarkaragh

8/6/12

And now…

The Eric Montross Award for the Most Poetically-Named Athletes, Olympics 2012 Edition

1. Hope Solo

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   Han Solo, “you’re my only hope”

Straight out of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces and sounding like Luke Skywalker’s older sister, goalie Hope Solo is literally your solo hope when the soccer ball gets past the backfield.

2. Usain Bolt

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   Insane bolt

The fastest man in the world is named “Bolt”? How did we get so lucky? Do any of you know anyone named “Bolt”, let alone someone who can run? It boggles, it does.

3. Carmelita Jeter

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   Carmelized jetter

No, it’s not pronounced like Derek Jeter, because that wouldn’t be poetic. It’s like “jetter”, which is second only to “bolt” in great names for runners. She is so cut and insanely talented that the unwashed (and slightly racist) masses have called her out for steroid use, but she is clean, baby. And she’s gonna jet right past you, leaving you burnt and carmelized.

4. Ivet Lalova

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   I’ve Always Loved Ya

Tessa, our team of regulars, and I have this concept called “on-set boyfriend”, where we get to have an academic crush on some other person involved in a show we’re making. It can be a stage play, a film, anything, and it’s totally cool to talk about your “on-set” crush, because it has nothing to do with anything in the real world. Nor does it even have to make sense. Anyway, Ivet Lalova is my on-set Olympic crush (Tessa isn’t sure who hers is yet).

5. Destinee Hooker

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   destiny’s hookshot

Destinee Hooker is six foot four. When she jumps, her shoulders are over the net. Destinee Hooker is destined to hook that volleyball straight into your nutz.

6. Misty May

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   mysteries, mistiness, maybes

How can I have an Olympic entry without Misty? Clearly the more mercurial of her duo with Kerri Walsh, she’s the soul of the outfit. Not only is her name alliterative, but it conjures up the very fog, foam, and sea-spray that descends on the early-morning beaches of her sport. Misty may drop a set, but she’s not going to lose the match.

7. Dong Dong

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Vague anagrams and subconscious sound-alike:   Dong Dong

Yes, Chinese names are funny to us non-Occidentals, and this one seems right out of “Sixteen Candles”. But forget the obvious jokes and put an “i” where it belongs – “doing! doing!” – and you’ve got the very sound he makes on the trampoline, my pasty friends.

 

 

it ain’t the heat, it’s the rigidity

8/5/12

I’m going to make this real short and sweet: I CANNOT FUCKING STAND THE HUMIDITY ANYMORE. Yes, I know talking about the weather could put a caffeine-addled beaver to sleep, but I am just not cut out for this anymore. And I’m 600 miles north of the swamplands where I used to live.

Was there a time I didn’t really care? Was there a period, perhaps “childhood”, when we didn’t take the bone-sapping heat into consideration? Am I, as my wife tells me, more sensitive to it than I was even five years ago?

If so, why am I seeing grown men collapse in heaps of sweat-befuddled despair? Why is it the main subject of every conversation at the local store, at the gas station? Twas ever thus, or has 100% humidity actually gotten higher than 100%?

I cannot breathe outside; it’s like wrapping lips around the exhaust pipe of a 1974 Land Rover. I have all these things I want to do, and after a half-hour, I need to sit in a chair, fighting nausea.

If this is climate change, and everyone seems to agree it is, I either have to recondition my whole thermostat for the Brave New World, or else invest in these Japanese Air-Conditioned Pants. These are the options, people.

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although it does make for some very dramatic skies

play misty, for me

8/2/12

Longtime readers will know how much of an Olympic freak I am – very early in this blog’s history, indeed many folks came here looking for Misty May’s ass (and got it, but also got one of my trademark America-hating commie rants). I also harbor resentments against the Chinese gymnasts, but we’ll save that for now.

I’ll bore you with my long-winded Olympic metaphors later in the competition, but my question for the weekend is… what are some of your snap judgments or odd thoughts while watching the Games? I’ll go first…

• Okay, about Misty’s ass. I adore her relationship with Kerri, and they look like Jordan in 1998, and their athleticism is a work of art, but WHAT’S WITH THE LONG PANTS? I’m not normally a fan of the gluteal splendors, but can we PLEASE get her back into something that makes me sound creepy and sexist?

• Sending only two female gymnasts per country to the individual competition is a crock of shit. Aly losing the bronze to the Crazy Ivan because she didn’t have the forethought to fall off the balance beam? Complete crap. Gabby Douglas? Are you kidding? So wonderful! And she and I spent our youth in the same two places: Iowa and Tidewater.

• Opening ceremonies: great when I described them to Tessa in the abstract; slow and bizarre in person.

• Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte either gotta beat the shit out of each other, or french kiss.

• Rebecca Soni’s gold medal in the 200m breastroke is one of my favorite wins ever. She is half a foot smaller than her competition and not as strong, but she happened upon a way to do the stroke that sails her past everybody. I love it when anybody finds that accidental answer that changes everything.

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What are your snap thoughts?

my bootstraps were pulled by italian au-pairs

8/1/12

With the ball-paste mystery solved, we may now finally return to GFWD’s question for the day: in his words, what do you “think about Obama’s recent mantra of telling successful business people or rich people that they did not do it on their own and, assuming you were a fan and a small business owner, how that made you feel.”

I’ll go ahead and add a specific clarification, because Romney and his mates in the conservatisphere have been running with a video that shows Obama saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” It’s utter bullshit taken out of context, they all know it, and they’re hoping enough booger-eaters won’t bother to watch the original video:

The actual quote is “Somebody invested [in] roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” The word “that” clearly refers to roads and bridges. The end.

As for the bigger idea – that rich people or successful businesspeople don’t ever do it on their own – I mean, it’s embarrassing that we’re even discussing it. OF COURSE THEY DON’T DO IT ON THEIR OWN. 99% of successful people have had so much privilege in their lives that they don’t even fathom it.

Just think about the myriad ways you get a leg up just by being fucking born. Forget inheritances, forget taking over the family business. Did you grow up in a nice house? Did your parents have good jobs? Did you live in a nice neighborhood? Are you white? Do you speak English? Were you born in America?

One of the most crucial flaws of conservatism and Republicanism is their blindness to ambient largesse. They just don’t see it, and when you point it out to them, they’re full of excuses about how it doesn’t count. There should be a reality show called Republicans Gettin’ What They Asked For, so we can all watch how long they last when government vacates their lives.

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We can giggle as they catch hanta virus, guffaw as their tunnels collapse, and titter uncontrollably as they’re forced to work the fields once populated by undocumented Hispanics. OH HO HO HO HO it will be so FUNNY!!!!

The sick thing is, Romney and his cable-news apologists don’t even believe in the shit they’re peddling. It’s all about moving the goalposts, an inch a day, into a field where their greed and casual cruelty can go unchecked. They win this debate just by having it.