Oppositional culture for an occupied age

Daines demands debate before nation’s smallest TV audience

Convicted goblin Steve Daines hears the end of Hansel and Gretel.

Senate candidate and convicted goblin Steve Daines hears the end of Hansel and Gretel.

Last week, game replacement Amanda Curtis challenged Republican Steve Daines—who presently leads their US Senate race by 19 points—to more than a dozen debates before Election Day. The Daines campaign did not reply—or rather they did reply, but only to say that they could not possibly answer her challenge until Curtis responds to Daines’s invitation to debate in either Sidney or Glendive. Both of those towns have populations around 5,000. The good people at Nielson declared Glendive the smallest local television market in America back in 2010. During these last two months of the race for Senate, it kind of looks like Daines is trying to involve as few Montanans as possible. That’s the subject of my column in this week’s Missoula Independent, which is what you get today instead of a blog. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.


Why shouldn’t there be a Denny’s in Manhattan?

The interior of Manhattan Denny's at 150 Nassau Street

The interior of Manhattan Denny’s at 150 Nassau Street

This interior shot of Denny’s new Manhattan location captures what it is about New York City: that special feeling of standing where something awesome used to be. Probably, it doesn’t mean anything that the national diner chain/punchline has opened its first Manhattan location. Likely there is no particular significance to the news that, to preserve its tradition of low prices, Manhattan Denny’s charges no more than $11 for a specialty cocktail. And certainly there is no reason that Manhattan shouldn’t have a Denny’s. So why did this news make me sad?

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Ravalli charges pregnant woman with endangerment after drug test

Ultrasound image of a fetus during the 12th week of pregnancy

Ultrasound image of a fetus during the 12th week of pregnancy

Ravalli County has charged a pregnant woman with criminal endangerment of her unborn child after she failed a drug test. Casey Gloria Allen, 21, tested positive for THC, opiates and benzodiazapines—an active ingredient in prescription anti-anxiety medications—in a urine test administered August 26, when she was 12 weeks pregnant. Allen has been charged with a felony “for criminal endangerment over concerns about her unborn child.” Props to the Missoulian’s Perry Backus for that phrase, which A) refers to a fetus as a child a full 10 weeks before it can be legally aborted in the state of Montana, and B) disembodies the word “concern.” Who is concerned about Allen’s child, exactly? Whoever it is, they care so much about a person who hasn’t been born yet that they want to put his mother in jail.

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On the inevitable success of glasses camera


The original idea for glasses camera was a tiny camera in your eyeglasses—either embedded in a pair we send you or mounted on the head of a nail that you can drive into your existing glasses at home. Obviously, Glasses Camera Corporation is not responsible if you fuck that up. We had to explain that to a lot of people. Anyway, the camera sends information to your phone via blue tube, and the phone makes that information into a picture just like it does with its own camera. Glasses camera lets you take photos or video of whatever you’re looking at, just by touching your glasses.

You can also take the picture by pressing a button on your phone, but do not look at your phone while you are wearing Glasses Camera. I cannot emphasize that enough. Legally, though, I must mention it whenever I discuss Glasses Camera in public.

When I first invented Glasses Camera, everyone said the same thing: “When did you get glasses?” After my invention caught on, though, they changed their tune.

“Why are you always touching your glasses?” they said.

It’s amazing how observant people can be—even people without Glasses Camera. Especially those people. My coworkers quickly noticed that I would touch my glasses whenever someone used a rolling chair to change a light bulb, or when they were about to open a soda I brought them, or when they stood in front of the monkey cage at the zoo. It got so if I touched my glasses without thinking about it, to push them up or whatever, people would get scared and duck.

Fortunately, by that time blue tube technology had advanced a lot. Glasses camera stopped being glasses at all. It was just a camera with an adhesive back that you stuck to your head, ideally right between your eyes. You took the picture by pressing a button on your phone. It was a big improvement. People don’t dive for cover when they notice you have your hand in your pocket.

Glasses Camera Pro was an immediate success in India, which is how we all learned how crazy it is to ride a bike there. It also caught on in the electronic dance music community, which was open to people adhering things to their heads. But outside those niches, success eluded Glasses Camera Pro. As our sales guy put it, early adopters experienced interpersonal outcomes that worked against viral marketing.

One of our developers, Carol, ran into this problem right away. We hired her to figure out the blue tube stuff, and she got one of the first red-dot Glasses Camera Pros we shipped to India. She wore it to a dinner party.

“You got contacts!” her hostess said. She was Carol’s brother’s girlfriend, and she did this thing with her hands that drove Carol crazy. Carol couldn’t describe it, so she wanted a video to show us at the office.

“And you got married in India,” the hostess’s friend said. Carol couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or what. She often had a hard time telling that.

“The dot isn’t just for married people,” she said. “It’s for women generally.”

“I’m pretty sure they get dots when they get married,” the friend said. She smiled, which was weird because Carol didn’t think she should be happy.

“I thought it was virgins,” Carol’s brother said.

“That’s not the issue,” their hostess said, doing the thing with her hands. “The issue is why are you wearing it?”

“I’m not a virgin,” Carol said.

Her brother got upset for some reason. When Carol explained that she was not wearing a bindi, which is what that dot is called, but rather a camera to record the dinner party, everyone else got upset, too. The long and the short of it was they made her take it off, even after she had turned it off. Later, though, the hostess and her friend asked if they could order their own, so net plus for Glasses Camera Corporation.

That’s how I came up with my second greatest invention, which is almost as great as Glasses Camera Pro: Glasses Camera Pro Opt-Out. It’s an adhesive red dot that you wear on your forehead, and it jams the blue tube from any Glasses Camera Pro within 20 yards.

It looks exactly like Glasses Camera Pro, so your friends won’t even know you’re jamming them until they check their phones later. Avoid those awkward conversations, as Carol should have done!

Best of all, you can upgrade your Glasses Camera Pro Opt-Out to a fully functional Glasses Camera Pro at any time, just by purchasing a license and downloading our firmware. Sooner or later, we’ll all love Glasses Camera Pro. Until then, feel free to opt out—or just sit back and be part of the memories.

Friday links! Systems of belief edition

Juggalos appropriate iconography of clown culture

Juggalos appropriate iconography from clown, gang, drunk culture

One of the best aspects of modern culture is that we are exposed to so many other people’s weird beliefs. Plenty of people in our daily lives hold different opinions and even core values from ours, but rarely are these ideas arranged into whole systems. To encounter an entirely alien worldview, you used to have to travel. But now you only need the internet, which will happily ship stories and images of Earth’s totalizing theories directly to your house. Today is Friday, and the world is a patchwork of non-overlapping magisteria. Won’t you deride the unfamiliar with me?

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