or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I have a couple of rants. I might sneak in something on topic, but mostly it's just the ranting. Proceed accordingly.


We just got back from Ontario, where we went to see Margaret Cho perform in Hamilton, spent a day in Niagara Falls, and then visited with friends in Toronto. (Niagara Falls, despite the horrible commercialism and Oscar Wilde's famous description of it as "the second biggest disappointment of a honeymoon," was stunning, and Toronto's always worth a visit, but after having been to Hamilton, I'm not sure why anyone would go there. They could advertise themselves with the line "Hamilton: Half Way Between Niagara Falls and Toronto!")

This new piece from The Atlantic Monthly (I hate their cover redesign, but the magazine is still worth reading) is called "The Things He Carried", and it's about what a complete joke airport security is. I've already snarled about this, so I don't have much more to say on the subject; just read the piece.

The flight was gross, even ignoring the security theatre. (I didn't have to explain or display anything, even though I had a bunch of liquids--fragrance samples and miniatures--that weren't in the approved one-litre zippered plastic bag but scattered throughout my carry-on, plus some extremely sharp knitting needles that I had bought, one-and-a-quarter-millimetre lace needles that could almost certainly be fashioned into a weapon if one had the inclination, which I do not, and the ingenuity, which I do.) Diagonally behind us were two women who spent the entire flight nattering away at one another at very nearly the top of their voices: even the racket of the airplane, my iPod turned up as loud as I dared without damaging my hearing, and my noise-cancellation headphones weren't enough to drown them out. I don't believe either of them stopped to draw breath except when the other was talking.

The seats seemed even narrower than usual, like some sort of psychological experiment designed to see just how tightly people can be crammed in before they go insane. I tried to knit, which at least you're allowed to do once more--smart move on the airlines' part, judging from the understandable sentiment on this tote bag--but it was impossible to do with my arms pinned by my sides, so I gave up and read a dreadful gossip magazine, with the result that the glove I was working on isn't anywhere near finished, but I know all about some missing kid named Caylee Anthony.

The overhead panel above the seats ahead of us had a damaged clip or whatever it is that keeps it in place, so it had been taped in place with silver electrical tape: this failed a few times during the two-hour flight, allowing the panel to crash down and expose its electrical innards, which did not inspire a whole lot of confidence in the overall state of the plane (were the wheels likewise taped on?), but we did arrive in one piece.


The Toronto Sun has always been a rag, but nowadays most newspapers are rags so there's not much to distinguish them one from another. Here's a few sentences from a columnist, Joe Warmington, writing hysterically about Fidel Castro in yesterday's Sun:

There are some who believe [Fidel] is dead and frozen while brother, Raul, tried to find the right time to announce it. But not many.

It's Fidel's writings, or perhaps rantings, in the Communist Party's Granma newspaper and on Cuban web sites that has helped quell those rumours.

One column this week shocking said it is a "pure miracle" U.S. presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama has not yet been assassinated. It said "millions of whites cannot reconcile in their minds with the idea that a black man with his wife and children would move into the White House, which is called just like that--white".

I don't know of another columnist who could, or would, write that. Cubans recognize the style.

I'll just ignore the fact that Warmington doesn't know how to punctuate an appositive (it's "his brother, Raul", but "brother Raul", never "brother, Raul"), and also the fact that he has problems with subject-verb agreement ("writings, or perhaps rantings...has helped"). But he thinks that no other columnist could have written that? Can it really be the case that he's never considered the fact that there are millions of Americans who cannot countenance the idea of a black president, and that some of those people are going to try to kill Obama if he should be elected? I guess he missed this news story, in which some twisted old fucker named Wade Williams in Louisiana was arrested for threatening to empty his shotgun into the offices of the voting registrar unless he got his voters' registration card pronto. His hurry? He needed to make sure he could vote so that he could, and I quote, "keep the nigger out of office".

I'm not much of a prognosticator, but I think it's pretty likely that in two weeks, Obama is going to be elected president, particularly if enough people read things like this Rolling Stone piece about what a toxic, mendacious person John McCain is. (As Margaret Cho said on Friday night, "They keep telling us that McCain was a good soldier. He got himself captured. So, not a very good soldier.") I don't know anybody who doesn't think that President Obama had better have a damned good security detail, because the fact is that someone, somewhere in the U.S. is going to try to kill him. Possibly Mr. Williams.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Background- I LOVE Margaret Cho...and Ann Coulter. Funny broads, both of them.

That said, there was plenty of hoopla when Ann made some comments about Max Cleland, a Senator who served in Vietnam until he fumbled with his own grenade, resulting in injuries that led doctors to amputate three limbs.

Ann's comment was more or less "No wonder we lost Vietnam- people like you were dropping grenades on yourselves."

So ignoring the politics of the people involved, are the quips of Cho and Coulter funny, insensitive, accurate, or something bordering on all three?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:03:00 AM  
Blogger pyramus said...

I'm not very good at ignoring the politics of the people involved, so I'm not the best person to ask.

Coulter's endless gibes about Max Cleland are not only mean-spirited but wrong. Cleland didn't pick up his own grenade: he picked up what he thought was his own, and therefore pin-intact, grenade, which turned out to belong to another soldier who hadn't taken a certain usual precaution to ensure that the pin was in place. You could probably argue that it's stupid to pick up a grenade that's lying on the ground; I don't know. But apparently Cleland had no reason to think the grenade was anything other than safe.

Cho's joke about McCain is also mean, but if you read that Rolling Stone article, you can see that it's closer to being on point that Coulter's jokes.

I've never found Ann Coulter to be funny, to be honest, but then she's not a comedian. Maybe I'm just biased--in fact, I'm sure I am--but her brand of hateful, knee-jerk politics pretty much precludes actual humour. (For what it's worth, I think Cho is pretty funny but not invariably so; my favourite comedians are Rita Rudner, Wendy Liebman, and Janeane Garofalo, only the third of whom has any real political angle in her work.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 6:40:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home