Monthly Archives: February 2014

Memewatch: gay wedding cakes

The right side is winning, eh?  Gays can come out of the closet, play major league sports, get married.  I see that gays and lesbians are even penetrating the film industry in California.  All good stuff.  This is not going to be a big deal in the future, and I don’t have much pithy observation on the current culture war showdowns.

I do say, to the fundies worried that someone is going to have to fulfill a cake order they don’t want to for a gay wedding:  Really?  This is the real world manifestation of your principled objection?  C’mon man.   I’m taking this overly literal, I’m sure.  I mean, cakes is just an analogy, for the most part.  It’s just that it sucks as an analogy.  If I was a cake shop proprietor there’s no way I’d turn down a cake job for a couple hundred bucks because the betrothed were gay.  What you do is, take your cake payment, and fulfill your cake order.

In terms of memes, on the other side there is a Facebook viral going around that makes this public accommodations quarrel analogous to a lunch counter discrimination in the south way back when.  That’s probably an overstatement, and its not quite tweaking my moral outrage.

Fag

I had a non-monetary disagreement with an out of state patron of my business yesterday.  We needed to concur about things for the relationship to continue, and that concurrence wasn’t going to happen.  Thus the relationship was ending, and this culminated with him calling me gay, a fag, a pansy, and an impotent little man.

Take from that what you may.  Snap observations about a man who talks this way stand a good chance of being right, probably.  There is an additional thread to pull in discussing weird, hyper-masculine assholes and maybe say hetero-normacy, if that’s the right term.

I have corresponded with this fellow several times a week for 4 years and met personally with him twice.  So he knows me.  For the reader, I’ll say… my compositions here may (or may not) come out all piss and vinegar, or at the very least, slugs and snails and puppy dog tails.  That’s the way I hear my writer’s voice and the way I hear my real voice.  That my voice is masculine.

But the self-perception of voice is not quite right, as we all know.  When I listen to tape I hear that I am a low tenor, not a baritone, and that I lisp just a touch, and that I have an expansive vocabulary and I embellish sentences with an uptalk lilt.  And I was always willowy built, despite not being particularly tall or frail, and remain so, despite being 200 lbs with man muscles in my middle age.

I don’t know about other suburban yuppie guys, but the frequency of my near fisticuffs episodes with other dudes is say every ten years.  Had one in my twenties, at a bar.  Had one in my thirties, as an amateur baseball player.  Had this one now, which is basically within the sporting good milieu.  So this stuff happens where there is testosterone, or where alcohol and testosterone mix.  Boys will argue and sometimes fight, we know this.

One or two is anecdote, but a few or more examples is data, right?  I don’t know that whenever boys fight one gets called a fag.  Over the years when I’ve annoyed someone so much that they want to sock me, they always called me a fag.

I’m a hetero,  and I partake in ‘guy’ things.  I’ve always dated women, am married to one now.  Am not very , er,  flamboyant .  So there’s not any obvious indicators that I’m not a hetero.  But each time these guys ultimately honed in on some subtle, superficial traits to size me up as a “fag”.  And then call me one when the time came.

I’m not aggrieved, and this is inadequate as a ‘walked in their shoes’ anecdote.  I’ll say:

  • It’s somewhat unsettling when one of these psychotic homophobes is revealed to you.  If you pay attention, they are revealed regularly.
  • These guys have too much influence over normal men in characterizing what is masculine-normative.
  • I’m glad I irked some of these guys with my enthusiasm and big words over the years.
  • I didn’t get my subtle lisp from dad, he doesn’t have it.  But he’s a malcontent, has always had a low grade bad attitude.  In my life I’ve never heard him say the word fag (or any other slurs).    I don’t think I’ve said the word fag myself more than 20 times in my life, and that was just for dictionary type discussions of slang or bigotry.  So I was raised right, but it has not ever been illuminated to me what the homo-phobic  impulse is to go around evaluating other men this way.   Guys in my family had hay in their shoes, but they never did this.  It remains shocking to me.

More Clark on ancestral determinism for income

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/your-fate-thank-your-ancestors/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Clark essentially argues that income inequality will withstand most or all economic systems over time.  Specifically, he argues that families with money will maintain it and that families without don’t advance much over many generations.  Thus we’d be better off focusing on the social safety net and minimum benefits rather than “fairness”.  His conclusions are heavily drawn from analysis done on Sweden and the US, among other places.

I agree with his policy conclusion.  But I have to think he comes to a conclusion about absence of social mobility by controlling for im- and emigration, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.  IE, emigration is social mobility.  In Clark’s view, my own lineage would be problematic in the data, and probably be filtered out.

I’m half Scandinavian, that half being equal Norwegian and Swede.  These families left Scandinavia between 1850 – 1900 and came to the US Midwest.  They were commoners, low status families without “high” surnames.  Typically they had farm names, ie “Nygaard” or they used the paternal / maternal Scandinavian naming convention.  IE, Erik is Peter’s son, so he is Erik Peterson.

In Scandinavia then, tenant farming was getting to be a very unproductive business / livelihood model.    The land wasn’t great and population was rising, so rents were high.  There was also some codified suffrage discrimination, ie commoners didn’t have the vote.  So when James J Hill of St Paul beckoned for Scandinavians to work his railroad or build farms along it, most of those commoners left.

My wild ass guess is that the prosperousness of these families that departed, now that time has advanced, is enormously above those who stayed.  The ones who stayed are the ones who Clark ostensibly measures in his survey, and they mark the bottom signal essentially.  If so, not sure I buy this as a methodology.

Now with the land and business income in the US, the immigrants were doing better, but still all those gains were not immediate.  Fair to say the social climb of the immigrant family goes on generations.

Most of those Scandinavian families did not stay farmers, by the way, much as they might have tried.  The common experience of the Midwest, Scandinavian farm family is the same as that of the Okie, whose archetypical narrative is maybe better known.   Most / many Scandinavian families lost their farms in the 20’s to banking problems.  The rest lost them in the Depression.  So they moved to the cities, The Twin Cities, and Des Moine, Milwaukee, Chicago, where they took up trade work, and the boys went to the war, and girls to the factories, and when that was over their kids went to college and got professional jobs.

Maybe now, 2014, we get to a point here where there is a plateau of some sort.  Notwithstanding, I got to think the income of the contemporary Scandinavian-American is quite a bit better than their Great Grandparent, etc, etc.    You control for inflation and I know those gains don’t look like a lot, but the increases in material well being are huge.

My family history as metaphor is not going to work as well for Black Americans, for obvious reasons.  But it’s about as instructive for everyone else who left Europe because it sucked for their family, IE, 19th century Irish, Eastern European Jews, others.  Emigration breaks the immobility chain.

Chait Stains: On the GOP on the CBO

The CBO has analyzed for the effects of a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 / hr, and found say 500k low wage jobs would be eliminated.  The Republicans say, see, Obamanomics kill jobs.  The Democrats say, no, you misunderstand… because you’re Republicans, and you’re dumb.

This is typical.  Republicans make some fairly no brainer critiques of Administration claims… ACA won’t save money, won’t reduce premiums, will in fact increase premiums… minimum wage will kill some jobs.  And the administration or its sycophants calls them liars and dumb, chortle, chortle.

I wouldn’t claim the GOP is always correct.  I think the GOP is often correct, economically.  But I’m more amused that the CBO is only credible if it comes to conclusions you agree with.  Now, both sides abuse this to some degree, and are hypocrites.  But to me it seems the Democrats are more brazen in their hypocrisy, as they really love to play the CBO’s non-partisanship and expertise as a trump card in any statistical argument.  Them Dems love their credentials and their non-partisanship baby.

So the Democrats with the minimum wage are on the wrong side of the CBO. Cuz its intuitive and immutable, you make the price of labor higher, and people will buy less of it.  I’d grant that the impacts of $10.10 might not be that much.  But they’re not nothing.  Obtusely or worse, the White House wants to argue its nothing.

This is a lie, as far as that goes.  And insofar as a reliable chorus of sycophants can be rounded up to parrot the administrations absurdities most of the time – Klein, Yglessias, Cohn – this is a bit too much.  So they’re not on board.

Jonathon Chait is somewhat different from those three.  I’ve been trying to put my finger on it.  Thing is, where many times Klein, Yglessias, and Cohn can be called on to parrot the Administration talking points, Chait is not quite ike that.  Here’s a recent example:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/cbo-and-the-bizarre-partisan-jobs-debate.html

Chait is one of the real brainiacs, and you figure it would pain him to have to argue for any of the Administration’s absurdities.  So what Chait does, commonly, as shown in this example,  is acknowledge that the Administrations lies.  But then moves past that to make the argument that the Administration should or could make were they not captive to political realities.   Tradeofffs, blah, blah.  Then he goes on to call Republicans mendacious and dumb and stupid, based on his reconstruction of the argument, as if the presence of the Administration lie has no bearing at all.

He’s a better writer and analyzer than those other guys, bu its basically the same brand of obsequious douche-baggery.

My Toyota Corolla…

Is in the shop for the first time.  Ever.  2005 model, 165k miles.  Nothing has ever needed to be fixed on it.  Best car in the history of cars, I say.

It needs wheel bearings now.  They are growling.  This is an excusable offense, and I’d do them myself if I had a warm garage and a mechanical press big enough.

I bought this car in 2007, and I traded a nice Ford Ranger 4×4 for it on the deal.  Gas had spiked, was staying above $3.50, which is no big deal now but was then.  That Ranger was going to bankrupt me, literally, I suspect.  I was filling the tank 3 times a week at $50 a time.  $500 a month.  And the payment on it.  And it would have needed tires sooner or later at $200 each.

I liked the idea of being a pick-up truck man, but I doubt I’ll ever do that again.  You buy Corollas, and they get 34 mpg and never need to be fixed.