In defense of trolls?

Not me. I think they’re a notch below gnomes, and most of you know how I feel about gnomes.

But WaPo has an interesting take on why anonymous posting on blogs might make sense:

I believe that it is useful to be reminded bluntly that the dark forces are out there and that it is too easy to forget that truth by imposing rules that obscure it…Too many of us like to think that we have made great progress in human relations and that little remains to be done. Unmoderated comments provide an antidote to such ridiculous conclusions.

Surely that was quite evident with the vitriol posted by anonymous commenters posting unverifyable rants against Culinary Communion and its owners.

I’m not sure I agree with the defense of giving the trolls a public forum, though. I’d actually prefer they just quietly sit in their dirty little hovels keeping their lousiness to themselves. But then again, if Glenn Beck gets a TV show, maybe a nasty twerp like “tm” desserves a voice.

But not here.

Can we get a new category on why i like canadians?

In this case, it’s Toronto’s Heather Mallick who said what every sane person in America has been thinking, but not so comfortable about saying too publicly.

A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention,” about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, contending that Palin has the “toned-down version of the porn actress look,”…Palin “added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn’t already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America’s name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right.”…Mallick defined “white trash” as “rural, loud, proudly unlettered (like Bush himself), suspicious of the urban, frankly disbelieving of the foreign, and a fan of the American cliché of authenticity. The semiotics are pure Palin: a sturdy body, clothes that are clinging yet boxy and a voice that could peel the plastic seal off your new microwave.” And as to why people in rural areas vote for Republicans, Mallick explained her view that “red states vote Republican on social issues to give themselves the only self-esteem available to their broken, economically abused existence.”

Heather Mallick, thank you.

How to Win in Iraq : Stick figures are the key

It might seem incredible to describe an 18-page powerpoint decorated with stick figures this way, but after reading Fiasco I honestly believe this is the most sophisticated foreign policy approach to solving the Iraq problem to come out of the Pentagon so far. Sadly the author of “How to Win in Iraq”, a young Army captain called Travis Patriquin, was killed by an IED last week. A great loss.

You’re either with the midgets, or against us

This secret letter from a Marine in Iraq, now doing the rounds, is interesting and at times even amusing, but mostly it’s just depressing. The author is a talented and somewhat snarky writer, and it’s well worth a read. This bit, though, just boggles the mind:

Most Surreal Moment — Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

This is how we win hearts and minds? By rounding up everyone who even looks like a bad guy? My great fear is that similar things will start happening here, soon. And with the dumping of habeus corpus, this is something we all have to fear for, now. You could be the next midget with plastic handcuffs and no recourse to call a lawyer.

An aside on that note, something that really pissed me off this weekend. On Meet the Press, the Missouri senate candidates, Talent (R) and McCaskill (D) were debating, and Talent was snidely accusing McCaskill of “supporting habeus corpus rights for terrorists, so they can sue us”. Astoundingly, this put McCaskill on the defensive. Why oh why didn’t she come back with: “I support habeus corpus rights for innocent people”?! That’s why we’ve had habeus corpus in civilized society for nearly a millenium!

End of aside, back to that letter. This bit was also very revealing:

Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and “battlefield” tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what’s going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they’ve been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

So I guess George Bush was right — the media is getting it wrong about Iraq. Unfortunately, it’s getting it wrong in a different direction than he thinks.

The Carnival of Modern Man, My Dad, Walt Whitman and me


All of you who have been chiding me about my recent lack of blogging will be happy to know I’ve been summoned from my slumber by the brand wizards and trend gurus at PSFK. They were looking for some guys to blog as part of their “Carnival of Modern Man” and, as a big fan of their blog, masculinity and, well, carnivals I guess, I said yes. Thus the logo. (Does this make me a carny of some sort?)

Anyway, I’ll be blogging on this topic frequently for the next couple of weeks and I really hope all of you–the nonfamous nonstrangers and our quiet lurkers alike!–will chime in. Feel free to give me tips on any man-related tidbits that you think would be good grist for the mill.

It’s an expansive topic, and one that I navigate with occasional perplexity. What’s a post-gay guy to do in a world where metrosexuals, ubersexuals, transsexuals, thugs, bears, bois, meatheads and Fake Cowboy Presidents fight over the scraps of meaning in our fallen republic? As Rufus Wainwright sings “Made me a man/ oh but who cares what that is?”

Actually, compared to a lot of gay guys I know, I don’t worry about it too much. I guess the main reason I can be completely comfortable in my skin as a man is my dad. Those of you who know him know that he’s a giant redwood of a man who has spent most of his life tearing down (and occasionally blowing up) buildings. For the past year, he has been in New Orleans helping dig the city out of its mucky neglect. In short, his butch bona fides are there for all to see and have never been questioned.

But he’s also an amazingly delicate man with a laugh that is prone to escalating into a high giggle, a propensity to cry at the movies and a steadfast commitment to doing his share (OK, more than his share) of the housework. He has never told a fart joke and no matter how filthy hours of work on a demolition site might make him, his nails are always fastidiously clean. I’m not sure which of my sisters started it, but we’ve called him a “sensitive new age redneck” for years–which I suppose means for him it’s no contradiction to listen to Rush Limbaugh and tell me how angry he gets when the GOP has another of its bad jags of gay-baiting. The “Big L” is an amazing guy and as different as our lives are, he’s an amazing father and role model for me. Here is my favorite recent picture of him, with me at David’s and my wedding in Vancouver:


(That may well have been his pink cocktail by the way… he hardly ever drinks but when he does he kind of likes the girly drinks.)

And just for good measure, a shot of him and his Christmas present the previous year:


The Quake being, of course, the gay rugby team David and I played on. Why not?

All that is to say that I always knew, on a deeply personal level, that real men aren’t troubled by our contradictions–we revel in them. Walt Whitman is, of course, the patron saint of this faith:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I conradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

But there’s very little Whitman left these days, which I guess is one reason Modern Man needs a carnival. Just don’t waste your money on the ring toss.

Technorati tag:

“What wingnuts see when they read the Times”

HuffPo is doing something called the “Contagious Festival” that features a hilarious imagining of the mental remix conservatives seem to do when when viewing the NYT front page. Just mouse over each headline to reveal their paranoid re-imaginings of the day’s news.

It explains their generally inexplicable outrage at the “librul media” institution that we now know helped ensure Bush’s (re)election in 2004 by burying the NSA wiretapping story until after the election.