Friday links! Modern times edition

Early 20th-century heterosexual Charles Chaplin

Early 20th-century heterosexual Charles Chaplin

When does modernity begin? Is it with the emergence of nation-states in Europe, as my high school social studies teacher insisted? Perhaps modernity arrived with the industrial revolution, when broad changes in the nature of work altered the day-to-day texture of millions of lives. Or maybe modernity started with the internet and the retrospective knowledge that to give everyone a global voice means dramatically reducing, in your perception at least, the importance of your own. Personally, I think modernity started when a law firm realized it could make more money suing people who downloaded free pornography it uploaded to the internet than by making actual pornography. Today is Friday, and modernity begins when society concludes that its work is done. Won’t you knock off early with me?

First, the good news: Antoinette Tuff, an office administrator at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy outside Atlanta, successfully talked Michael Brandon Lee into giving himself up to police after he entered the school with an assault rifle. It turns out the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a big old fuck you to the NRA. Lee never talked directly to the police. Instead, Tuff negotiated his surrender over the phone, presumably using the patience she learned by having to answer with “Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy” every time it rang. I do not understand why this isn’t the biggest news story in America right now.

Meanwhile, in people whom we select for their good judgment and speaking ability to make laws for us to live by, Colorado state senator Vicki Marble said this to her state’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force:

When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.

That’s racist. Here’s a tip: when speaking broadly about the genetic makeup of a race that is not your own, be sure to throw in some complimentary stuff like how much you love chicken or karate or Woody Allen so nobody thinks you’re an asshole.

God, I love karate. It’s just one of the many wonderful elements of Japan which, if you ignore that whole alliance with history’s greatest monster thing, is pretty much a perfect society. Case in point: they can’t fire you for your job, so when they want you to quit they put you in a special boredom room. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link. I do not think that the boredom room would work on Americans. I think it would become the texting and masturbation room with alarming speed. But how incomprehensible would it be for the United States to adopt a law prohibiting companies from laying off workers? Everyone would cry communism immediately. Our economic system favors corporations more and protects workers less than Japan’s.

On the plus side, Titus Andronicus is playing the Missoula VFW a week from Tuesday. The VFW! There’s not even a damn stage. Next Tuesday, I will stand eye level with this:


At least one of us will have a very good time.

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