Oppositional culture for an occupied age

Close Readings: SC state senators prevent lesbian play

Leigh Hendrix as Butchy McDyke in How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less

Leigh Hendrix as Butchy McDyke in “How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less”

It’s good that South Carolina Upstate university has canceled its presentation of Leigh Hendrix’s one-woman show How To Be a Lesbian In 10 Days or Less, because now Hendrix won’t have to contend with people shouting “fewer!” whenever she says the title. Maybe that wouldn’t have been a problem at SC Upstate. Regardless, satirically-named South Carolina senator Mike Fair (R–Greenville) has convinced the university to shut down the satirically-named play, arguing that it was a recruiting tool for homosexuality. Fair, you fool—any theater on a college campus is a recruiting tool for homosexuality. Also, you played quarterback for the Cocks. But biography is orthogonal here. All we care about is the text, because it’s time for another Close Reading.

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Field-sized image of Pakistani child shames drone operators


An enormous image of a child whose family was killed in a drone attack has been placed in a field in northwest Pakistan by a shadowy artist collective that has no name. Either that or Yahoo! has not seamlessly assumed the duties of a news-gathering organization. The point is that somebody put a big picture of an orphan in a field to shame drone operators. That somebody also created #NotABugSplat, which encourages people to think about the civilian casualties of drone attacks as something other than the operator slang from which #NotABugSplat is derived.

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Why won’t Rumsfeld admit he is bullshit?

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes a fish that there is no evidence he did not catch.

Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes a fish that there is no evidence he did not catch.

Donald Rumsfeld is closely associated with two memorable quotations. The first came during his evasion of a question about how (subtext: if) he knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when he said “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or vice versa.” It was an infuriating statement, partly because the vice-versa version is dumb but mostly because Carl Sagan used to say it about the existence of extraterrestrial life somewhere in the vast universe, not about a specific place where we had sent UN weapons inspectors. The second classic Rumsfeld quote is the infamous “known knowns” disquisition, in which Rumsfeld responds to a question partly by attacking the very concept of knowledge. It provided the title for Errol Morris’s new documentary The Unknown Known, which he will be very happy to discuss with your news outlet.

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Combat! blog slaves away, is not useful

A hot stove, one of the many unpleasant places where I do not have to work

A hot stove, one of the many unpleasant places where I do not have to work

As we enter week three of remodeling at my rented house, it seems like a good time to remember that working from home on a computer—even with nail guns going off everywhere—is  awesome compared to historical models of human work. My laptop does not emit searing heat or suck my fingers into belts. Except when I instruct it accordingly via Spotify, it does not make a deafening noise. As I write this, I am working from the sofa and not a poorly-ventilated factory where I also live. I live and work in a poorly-ventilated house! My point is that being a freelance writer is really easy and pleasurable in the grand scheme of work, and I should not complain even though I had to work yesterday, too. Corollary: you should not complain even though there is no blog today, because I’ve had to work my ass off this morning and all you have to do is read. I assume you read Combat! blog from a Starbucks on the beach and not from an office or whatever. Anyway, you might read this article by Ezra Klein on the new Vox website about how our ability to think clearly actually goes down when we’re thinking about stuff related to our political beliefs. Or you can read Matthew Yglesias’s humorously enraged rant about Amtrak boarding policy. Or you can read this paragraph over again and imagine me whispering it in your ear as I gently gather your hair behind your neck. My phone buzzes, but I don’t even look at it for like, several seconds.

Friday links! Triumph of theory edition

The cat fits in the box.

Japanese cat celebrity Maru fits in the box.

To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, some people see things as they are and ask why; others see things as they never were and ask why the media is lying. The world of theory is invariably preferable to the world of, you know, the world. We derive our broad principles from the specific around us, but explicit language feels more concrete and understandable—more true—than the details. So after we extrapolate our theories and take them to heart, we return to the real and identify the places where it doesn’t match theory as flaws. Today is Friday, or at least it should be, and anyone who tells me otherwise has screwed up the progression of days. Won’t you demand that the flesh be made word with me?

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