Light on the Sacred, Heavy on the Profane
Thursday, February 26, 2004
 
Leave Me the Impressionists, Kill All the Rest


So I’m at my physical therapist’s office, getting my left calf rehabilitated, and my physical therapist tells me, “You’re going to love this story.” I did.

2 things you need to know:
1) My physical therapist is probably a Republican. I haven’t asked, but when NYC Republicans make small talk, they know.
2) There are a bunch of art galleries in the building that houses this office.

A European artist who either rents gallery space on her floor or has his work showing in one of the galleries on her floor walks into her office and asks her if she’s a Democrat or a Republican.

Taken aback, she asks him why he needs to know. He tells her that he has an exhibit he’d like to put up in her windows and it’s a satire aimed at Republicans. He has no exterior windows in his space, and he’d like more people to see this work.

She politely tells him that they are a business, one that can’t afford to lose customers (patients) because of artwork in the office, and therefore she cannot exhibit any form of political artwork. He leaves, disappointed.

Now this reminds me of the time Rush Limbaugh was up for the job of spokesman for Tropicana Orange Juice. I thought, “Why would you choose a spokesman who will piss off half of your target market?” Don’t get me wrong, Rush is a riot, he’s eloquent, and I’m sure he would make a great spokesman for any product from OJ to KY. It just seems dumb to have a polarizing figure pitching your product. If I had a product, I’d hire an unknown actor and write his lines for him. I’d stick him with a morality clause in his contract, too. Just like the “Dude, You’re getting a Dell.” guy.

But back to the European artist.
I just can’t believe the man’s ignorance, on so many levels. He thinks:

1) That more people are going to see his work if it’s in an upper-story window in Midtown. Maybe some people in the office across the street can see it with binoculars, but the average pedestrian can’t see a damn thing.
2) That, by asking, he will be awarded space to exhibit his work that costs more than what he’s currently renting. If he worked for a living, he’d know that bosses get windows. Drones get a cubicle in the bullpen.
3) That the people (great folks, by the way) who work in this office are going to give up some natural sunlight so he can show his work to the masses- those that can see it.
4) That a medical practice is going to take active steps to alienate half of their customers- ok, in this town 10% at best- because he asked.
5) That the most senior person in the office could say yes to this. In some worlds, people work for corporations. Not the art world, of course.

Conclusions?

1) There is a damn good reason why artists have dealers. Artists don’t know dick about sales, marketing, or not pissing people off.
2) Some people have such a profound sense of entitlement you could lift a lead pipe, explain why you were going to beat their head in with it, proceed to do so, and do you know what they will do when they wake up from the coma?

Yell at their nurse.
 
If You Like Pina Coladas...And Watching Islamist Guerillas Getting Vaporized by Machine Gun Fire


You have to download it, but I've finally found the long version of the Apache Gunship video. In this version, you clearly see the one of the insurgents hiding a long tube glowing hot on the infrared camera. Probably a recently used surface to air missile or rocket propelled grenade launcher. Certainly these dudes were no innocent farmers.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
 
Children, Choices...Whatever the Hell They Are


So Karol sends me an email with this link, asking me what I thought. She does this knowing damn well that I'd spend a lot more time than I can afford today rebutting his argument. As my emailed response grew longer, I realized I might as well blog it. Indeed, perhaps this is her way of getting me to update more frequently. But that's neither here nor there. This is what she asked me to respond to:
I see via Crescat Sententia that a few people have taken my little one-liner squib on the phrase "unborn children" below for an argument and gone out to rebut it. First, it wasn't really. It was a point about semiotics and the way the phrase either assumes that the fetus is already one kind of child (i.e. it's a child just like a toddler, only located in the womb) or at the very least has a sort of teleological flavor to it.


Anyway, what a bunch of people appear to have remarked is that there's a difference between calling a fetus an "unborn child" and calling bricks an "unbuilt house" because bricks won't "in the natural course of things" become a house. Will points out, correctly enough, that the point could be made tweaking the analogy slightly so as to preserve that aspect. But leave his perfectly good point aside for the moment. Two remain.


(1) Arguing that the fetus "will turn into a child"is a way of acknowledging that the fetus is not, in fact, a child. But the phrase "unborn child" is (as I noted) ambiguous between those readings, and so ought to be rejected even by pro-lifers who agree with this much. Once you make that concession, you've got to make some teleological argument about how being-something-that-will-be-a-child is morally relevant. I've never seen one that stood up to scrutiny.


(2) Is it really the case that the fetus becomes a child "in the natural course of things"? Seems more accurate to say that it becomes a child if the mother takes a number of actions to sustain and preserve it, including allowing it to continue feeding off her body, herself getting sufficient nutrition, etc. These "if left alone"arguments always seem to leave the mother's role out of the equation when, of course, if the fetus didn't require her as a host, there wouldn't be an "abortion debate"at all.


Anyway, I should know better than to post this—abortion arguments get very tiresome very quickly—guess I'm a glutton for punishment. Or an as-yet-unpunished glutton. Or something.
And this is what I emailed Karol in response:

I acknowledge his point that the phrase "unborn child" implies that what he would probably refer to as a fetus is not yet a child. I am perfectly comfortable referring to a "fetus" as a child with no qualification. I am more comfortable calling him a son or a daughter.

If a pro-lifer makes the concession that a "fetus" is not yet a child, he requests that said person "make some teleological argument about how being-something-that-will-be-a-child is morally relevant."

If it is not a child, how is willfully ending it's life morally relevant? Well, it seems to me that the concession that a "fetus" is not a child in no way requires the belief that the "fetus" is not alive. Willfully ending the life of a child from conception to birth is morally relevant because:

If you have to kill him to stop him from growing, he's alive. Whether you call him a "fetus" or a child seems to me a matter of semantics.

Indeed, Mr. Sanchez seems to acknowledge this point in his second numbered paragraph. In this paragraph he makes the case that the child will not necessarily grow "in the natural course of things." He says, that the mother must take actions to sustain the child in the womb. Meaning she must eat enough to feed the child.

Now, I'm going to avoid the argument that when the hormones kick in, pregnant women eat plenty, cause I've ducked enough thrown objects today.

My point is the "actions" a mother must take to sustain a child within her are: 1) eating enough and 2) avoiding violent collisions between her womb and any external object. In the first case, a woman must go on a restrictive diet to completely starve her fetus. In my mind, that is more of a positive action than eating enough. In the second case, a woman must slam her belly into external objects hard enough to miscarry. Again, that is more of a positive action than avoiding such collisions.

After all, if causing miscarriages were so simple and easy, if women could cause miscarriages by simply not "tak[ing] a number of actions to sustain and preserve it," there would be no perceived need for a medical procedure to kill the child in the womb. But, sadly, there is a perceived need.

Now I realize that plenty of fertilized eggs- yes, they are children- fail to attach to the wall of the uterus and get flushed out in the next menstrual cycle. I also acknowledge that 99% of miscarriages are unintentional. Indeed, these children die "in the natural course of things." So not every "fetus" or child will be born "in the natural course of things." But it is also true that we do not know which children will survive the 9 months and which will be miscarried. Each child deserves the chance to live.

Until they die in the wombs, or until they die at the hands of an abortionist, by curettage or suction, they are alive. And if it is a human is deciding who lives and who dies, rather than chance (or God, if you believe in one), then a murder is being committed.

I do agree with Mr. Sanchez on one point, "abortion arguments get very tiresome very quickly." And that is in no small part because each side doesn't even share the same terms.

UPDATE: I reread this and want to be clear. I am not arguing that a "fetus" will turn into a child. A "fetus" is a child. Just one that hasn't been born, meaning expelled from or removed from the womb, yet.
 
2 Bits on Dean, 2 Late


This article, from Business Week, the most commie of the business periodicals, has a lot of truth to it. Some BS, but a lot of truth. I've been wanting to put my 2 cents in re: the Dean campaign, but nothing sparked my creative fire until now. The article sez:
NICKELED AND DIMED. In another year, Dean would have been a respectable candidate with a sensible, eat-your-spinach message. And then along came Iraq. He spoke forcefully against the American invasion -- and stuck to his guns. More dangerously, he talked about taking back the Democratic Party.
So true. Threatening to replace Terry McAuliffe as the head of the DNC was obviously something the powers that be in the Democratic Party could not abide.
Meantime, Joe Trippi, architect of the Dean insurgency, went mining on the Internet and tapped into a mother lode of youthful discontent. Dean meetups spread across the country, much as be-ins and sit-ins had in other eras -- only the meetups were a lot nerdier. And Web-driven contributions poured in. Kids and little people frightened by the Bush Administration sent in their nickels and dimes, and Howard flew higher.
Oh please, these college kids and young professionals all were Nader and Gore voters from 2000. They just contributed as well as voting this year.
If party stalwarts like Dick Gephardt and John Kerry couldn't do it, then by God they'd send for reinforcements. And so in rode General Wesley Clark on a makeshift horse that looked suspiciously like Bill and Hillary Clinton with a sheet thrown over them.
True again. With all the Clinton dirt diggers on Clark's staff, that's hard to deny.
AGAINST THE MACHINE. The big-media press, like the big-time pols they pal around with, didn't like Dean all that much (never got the genuflection thing right), but they liked the story and the excitement. A coronation ensued.
Loada crap. The media loved Dean for the same way they loved the "antiwar" (in reality an antigay, antijew, anti women's rights) movement.

The Dean campaign reminded these washed up hippies of Vietnam. It reminded them of the Eugene McCarthy campaign. The media took one look and said:

"Young people getting organized!"
"By God, That reminds me of us before we got haircuts and straight jobs!"
"I love these kids...I love this man!"
The gaffes piled up. And all the while the guru Trippi was spending campaign donations like Joan Rivers at a cosmetics counter -- and taking his big fat cut of media buys.
WRONG!

Trippi says that he wasn't in control of the campaign's spending.
By the time the Iowa caucuses arrived, the attacks and the spendthrift Mr. Trippi had taken their toll. And then came The Scream -- which wasn't really a scream but just a weary man in a noisy room trying to rally his troops.
Half agree. Half disagree. The scream was overplayed, yes. It was still the least masculine thing I 've heard since the last gay porn movie I watched.
In one wild night, Dean had been stopped. He hadn't been allowed to try to take back the country. And, more important, he hadn't taken back the Democratic Party. It remained safe in the soft, manicured hands of the Teddy Kennedys, Bill Clintons, Terry McAuliffes, John Sweeneys, and, yes, John Kerrys of the political world. And Howard Dean became Howard the Duck.
Well, that's true. But it hadn't been one wild night. It was bad money management, plus a bad photo op, badly timed. More importantly, a media bubble of coverage was deflated at the last minute by negative faxes the media received from the DNC and dutifully reported.

Surely, though, Bill and Hillary want Dubya to win in 2004. Keep the Party in their hands, keep the options open for Hillary in 2008.

Hey, this would be my first Fisking, if only I disagreed with of all of it!