I have ALWAYS loved Safire

Yes, he worked for Nixon. Yes, he’s a big conservative. But he has written some of my favorite books about English usage and truly, deeply cares about words and their use in politics (rather a latter-day Orwell, or at least a latter-day Orwell Lite). William Safire is also a good libertarian, as today’s column points out. “Libertarian conservatives like me who place a high value on personal freedom,” he writes, “consider Lawrence v. Texas a victory in the war to defend everyone’s privacy.” I can’t believe how little I’ve heard on that point in the past few days!

The ending really had me cheering, for this is what I’ve been saying for ages:

Rather than wring our hands and cry “abomination!”, believers in family values should take up the challenge and repair our own house.

Why do too many Americans derogate as losers those parents who put family ahead of career, or smack their lips reading about celebrities who switch spouses for fun? Why do we turn to the government for succor, to movie porn and violence for sex and thrills, to the Internet for companionship, to the restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner–when those functions are the ties that bind families?

I used to fret about same-sex marriage. Maybe competition from responsible gays would revive opposite-sex marriage.

Hey, will somebody help me register?

It’s not that I want to become a slave to marketing. I mean, being a dog, I will always have limited purchasing power anyway, and I am basically ok with that. Mainly because the Dads more than make up for it. I don’t have to go out and work all day like they do, and then they come home and spoil me, lavishing me with cool fashions like that most excellent camo collar. But I’m not sure about their taste. I mean, you look around the house and there is a certain, shall we say, lack of thematic consistency in the decor.

So I’m fairly sure it’s just a matter of time until they start buying me my own furniture. The taller Dad is always talking about how I’m going to be so spoiled, so I figure that means that sooner or later, they’re going to come home with a nice canine fainting couch and a petbrella for those hot Seattle summer afternoons. I just want to make sure that they pick out good stuff, furniture that really expresses the inner Dozer Jesus Portersmith. So it any of you friends of the Dads would be so kind as to help me get on Ethan Allen’s pet registry so I can pick out exactly which chintz I prefer (it certainly must compliment my gorgeous red hair) and the wood for my sleigh pet bed, I’d really appreciate it.

SS+K’s new website goes live

So a lot of you have expressed interest (or confusion) about exactly what it is I am doing at my new company, and what kind of company it is. Our new website should help clear that up.

I’m eager for some feedback on the design. It’s definitely cool–the navigation metaphor is “microfiche, i.e., a thumbnail of all content is visible on screen at all times–but I’m not 100% sure how intuitive it is. Oh, you need Flash, but you probably already have it. Otherwise, how could you enjoy the hijinx of Homestar Runner and friends?

You MUST click through on “The Work” section at bottom and watch some of the Time Warner Cable advertising. It is just brilliant and hilarious. Or, rather, “brilliant + hilarious” as our SS+K copy style would have it.

I really enjoyed beeting my New York compatriots last week, and the 10th anniversary party was amazing. SS+K’s new downtown New York headquarters is unbelievable, vertiginously perched 30 floors up overlooking South Street Seaport and all the East River bridges and Brooklyn. Our brand theme is “municipal chic,” which you kind of have to see to get. Amazingly, the Bellevue office was able to pick up this theme, as both offices were being built out at the same time. If you click on the “Contact Us” part of the site, you can see a little webcam shot of each office. You might even see me once in a while!

First the good news

What I do know is that the friends and families who love us have to speak up when they hear us hated, and not be afraid to shout down the people who believe we are less than citizens, less than humans.

This is clearly the big story of the day, not to mention one of the largest milestones in the long journey of gays and lesbians on the road to full rights and protection as American citizens. Combined with the recent Canadian legalization of same-sex marriage, 2003 is turning out to be a banner year for progress among Western democracies to get over themselves and get out of the bedrooms of their citizens. Which is good, given the fact that our entire civilization is under attack from fundamentalists here and abroad; basically, the democracies seem to realize they have bigger fish to fry.

But it is not democracies that must get over themselves if we are to enjoy rights and protections in practice that comport with judicial theories of the way the world should work. The past fifty years have shown that social justice and equal rights granted through legislative or judicial process can be held hostage by relatively small minorities who focus obsessively on the issues at hand, minorities who in their fervor blunt the actual practice of freedom and chain true liberty with fear and shame. The state of the debate over Roe v. Wade is the best example of this, but surely the affirmative action debate offers another. So my question is: is today’s victory one we can trust and build on, or will it become the battle whose symbolic ramifications do more to enliven the opponents of equality than the decision does to guarantee our freedom?

I do not mean to downplay or question the courage and rightness of the majority decision (or Justice O’Connor’s concurring opinion that recognizes the real flaw in Lawrence v. Texas is the Texas law’s violates the fundamental equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment). How could I not rejoice at Justice Kennedy’s statement that gay people “are entitled to respect for their private lives”? How could it not be a major victory to have the majority of the Court agree that “the state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime”?
Continue reading “First the good news”

And while we’re on that note

And you thought it was cute coming up with your porn star name using that formula about the street you grew up on and your first pet’s name? How about randomly generating your new band’s name?

I think I’m going to make it big playing in The Crystal Sheep Symphony, but, you know, if we break up over artistic differences, I’m sure I can find some more like-minded folks to join me in taking Shaved Horse or Pool of Heads right up the pop charts.

Irony for the smartypants set

The little disclaimer at the bottom of the Postmodern Generator tells you that the text you’ve just read (and presumably laughed audibly at) is completely meaningless and randomly generated. So it’s sort of a PoMo incarnation of that saying about how an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters would eventually write A Tale of Two Cities. Some of these are a real hoot.

Actually, I can almost imagine coming across something like this:

“Art is elitist,” says Derrida; however, according to la Tournier[1] , it is not so much art that is elitist, but rather the rubicon, and eventually the genre, of art. Marx uses the term ‘modernist neocapitalist theory’ to denote not narrative, as libertarianism suggests, but postnarrative. In a sense, Bailey[2] implies that we have to choose between modernist neocapitalist theory and the structuralist paradigm of consensus.

in a lit major’s paper somewhere. Like the woman in my lit theory class who, before section one day, was carrying on the following tirade about her boyfriend. “I mean, he comes over, he takes off his clothes, gets into bed, and starts reading Proust. I mean, sure I always read Proust naked, but it’s just so affected to do it in another person’s bed.”

Weird Science

If I had to create the perfect guy, he would undoubtedly be of the metrosexual orientation. Criticize him as the abominable construct of a marketing culture gone horribly, horribly out of control, but if he can order a good wine, appreciate the Reidel stemware into which it is poured, and compliment me on my lovely new Miu Mius, then I say we relax those stem cell laws so the marketers can clone us a good little army of Spice Boys. And then maybe, just maybe, we’ll achieve a critical mass of males in downtown wearing leather jackets instead of fleece pullovers.

Oh hell, a girl can dream, can’t she?

I couldn’t have said it better myself

Although perhaps it’s a little dismaying to learn that Joseph Conrad, author of one of my favorite novels, had some crackpot ideas, including that Native Americans engaged in various acts of raiding and headhunting because their wives were in desperate need of some home ec classes, this beautiful essay by Julian Barnes is exactly the sort of thing I was trying to get at with my food as medicine post the other day.

An example:

Philip Larkin believed “Poetry is an affair of sanity”, as opposed to what he called (after a phrase from Evelyn Waugh) the “very mad, very holy” school. Cooking too is an affair of sanity – even literally so. Stella Bowen once knew a poet in Montparnasse who had suffered a nervous breakdown and been incarcerated in a clinic. After his release, he lived in a room overlooking the street, opposite a boulangerie. The poet dated his recovery from the moment when, gazing out of his window, he saw a woman going in to buy bread. He felt, he told Bowen, “unutterably envious of the interest she was taking in the choosing of a loaf”.

That’s what it’s about. You choose a loaf. You are reckless with the butter. You reduce the kitchen to chaos. You try not to waste scraps. You feed your friends and family. You sit around a table engaged in the irreducible social act of sharing food with others. For all the cavils and caveats, Conrad was right. It is a moral act. It is an affair of sanity. Let him have the last word. “The intimate influence of conscientious cookery,” he wrote, “promotes the serenity of mind, the graciousness of thought, and that indulgent view of our neighbour’s failings which is the only genuine form of optimism. Those are its titles to our reverence.”

Sigh. To write with such eloquence would make me very happy indeed.

Warm this, Mr. President!

Of course this first caused an increase in my blood pressure yesterday morning when I heard it on NPR but the Times’ editorial on Bush’s Censorship on Global Warming really got me riled up.

Even W’s father seemed to realize something was up a decade ago. The Bush dynasty’s slide into ignorance is an amazing thing to watch. I can imagine it now– 20 years hence, our 46th President, Jenna Bush, will declare (margarita in hand, on board the presidential gondola moored on the Pennsylvania Ave. Canal) that we still need more research on global warming. Of course by then, “Lower Manhattan” will have a whole new meaning, Los Angeles will be a desert again, and Seattle will have replicated its long palm-lined boulevards. But some idiot congressman from East Jesus with a cheap suit and a bad toupee will still be prattling on about a “lack of scientific consensus.”