Monthly Archives: June 2010

Republicans don’t hate Thurgood Marshall because he’s black, they hate him because he’s a hipster

The front page of the Huffington Post recently featured an article about how Republicans are taking the opportunity of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination hearings to attack former justice Thurgood Marshall.

According to the article, after but the first day of Kagan’s confirmation hearings, Marshall’s name was mentioned 35 times. Why mention Marshall? Well, Kagan clerked for him back when she was a budding lesbian maybe-lesbian she’ll come out a few years after being seated on the court law student.

This should be no big thing. Nominees clerk for justices all the time. Liberals. Conservatives. Whatever Kozinski is. So why is the GOP piling on Marshall? He’s not any more liberal than other supposed liberal judges. He was approved by a 69-11 vote, including several Republicans. And in fact, one could argue that he was distinctly more reserved than his respected colleague Justice William Brennan Jr.

So why go after Marshall.?

One could argue that Republicans are engaging in their tradition dog-whistle politics, specifically bringing up images of black men to invoke subtle and inherent racism that still exists in our society. It happened with Willy Horton and Revolving Door ads. States rights and welfare queen rhetoric.

No way! Republicans aren’t that low, that predictable, that pathetic. The truth is much more acceptable.

Republicans hate Thurgood Marshall because he is a hipster.

Look at this fucking hipster.

Look at him! Those stupid black, plastic glasses. That gross mustache. That wanna-be Mad Men grey suit. Where did Thurgood study law, some fucking coffeehouse in Williamsburg?

And what kind of name is Thurgood? Some fucking hipster name!

And his dissent in Personnel Administrator MA v. Feeney was obviously written ironically.

Don’t believe me? Don’t think Thurgood Marshall was a hipster? Look at this:

Hipster

A contemporary hipster

Is that a photo of a young Thurgood Marshall if he were Asian? No! It may look strikingly similar, but it’s just an average hipster. A loathable, mincing hipster you just want to punch in the face as he spends daddy’s money on women’s clothing and listens to bands that no one likes ever. No wonder Republicans are skipping no opportunity to wail on Thurgood and tie Elena Kagan to him at all costs. Kagan admires Thurgood so much, she’d probably just spend her whole tenure on the court drinking PBR and listening to oh, you haven’t heard of them yet, but a friend gave me a rec, something with dolphins in the name Animal Collective , skipping out on hearings to go to Bonaroo, just like her hipster hero.

And if all this sounds preposterous to you, if my argument is just silly, then I’m not sure what any other justification is. Because Republicans certainly aren’t bringing up Marshall because he was the first black justice. The only answer is that Thurgood Marshall was a fucking hipster, and this completely justifies any derision of him.

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Brûle Complètement Bun B (and Rice University)

The Facebook posts were a twitter (a contradictory statement if I ever heard one) the other day upon news that Bun B would be teaching a class at Rice. Apparently, Bun B is some sort of hip-hop rapper guy, so this is a big deal.

I perused his discography a bit, and I’m not entirely sure how well it meshes with the Spring 2011 class on Hip Hop and Religion. But considering that this is the same religion department that has a tenured professor who spends his 3-hour seminars scrolling through Wikipedia articles while reading them out loud, and must plan his class schedule around his bi-weekly ingrown eyelash removal, I suppose its par for the course.

(Maybe he’ll be a better teacher if you buy his book)

But the real benefit of this class is not its educational merit within the Reli department, which is yet to be seen, though can be judged from the future professor’s discussion of the class’ “reading list, and that dumb shit.” Rather the benefit is two-fold.

1. PR

Hey, everyone is talking about Rice! Isn’t that awesome! We’re all the news and people are posting stuff about the university on Facebook. I bet the school may even get some feature pieces in national papers or magazines talking about this class. Huffington Post will probably write something about it. Or if the Thresher folks are on the ball and write about it first, the HuffPost will just include an article from the Daily Tresher in a slideshow of “The 10 Best College Courses that Also Look Like Boobies,” or something like that.

And then Rice will finally be good enough, well known across the nation, and lose its Napoleon Complex. And Hanszen will sweep Beer Bike.

2. Racism

Rice has had a problem with race relations in the past, for a variety of reasons. And certainly no one person is to blame. Sept. 15 2006 Rice Thresher Backpage

Ah, memories

But the problems at Rice go beyond spoiled douchebags who think that the name of their stupid party or O-Week group is more important than a history of institutionalized racism. (timeline of racism at Rice) It comes down to sheer demographics.

At least when I was at Rice, there were about 100 black men there. About half of them were varsity athletes, so they were largely focused on that rather than college social events. This leaves about 50 black men. Divide that by four, for the four years in college, and you have a little more than 12 non-athlete black men per class. Divide that by nine, for the nine colleges at the time, and you have one, maybe two, black men per year at each college. The same college system that supposedly unites students distinctly divides them in this case. This cannot be a comforting scene for black students during O-Week, let alone the rest of the year.

This is not to say that people only hang out with the same race, or that they should, or that race is a complete predetermination of life experience and preference. However, there is something distinctly off-putting about looking into the crowd of peers with whom you’re supposed to spend the next four years and seeing no one who looks like you.

I do not have a link, but in a 1990 issue of the Thresher, former Rice student and current professor Alex Byrd (Sid ’90) talked about how he spent a semester (I think) at the traditionally black Howard University (if I recall correctly), and just the sense of comfort of looking and feeling like you fit in. And from personal experience, I know that I felt somewhat lost at Rice until I moved into a room of three other cynical liberal Jews.

With this demographic basis, no matter how many diversity forums Rice has, no matter how many times ADVANCE meets to discuss racism, no matter how many people attend Soul Night (I’d link to the rtv5 video but the website is down), black men will be outsiders at Rice University.

However, by bringing in the prominent face of Bun B to the head of a class, Rice sends a message that black men belong and are welcomed.

So why do I not agree with this move?

I don’t necessarily disagree with it. However, I am somewhat distraught that we are spending money (I assume Rice is paying him some to some degree. And if not, at least expending effort) for a singer to teach a class on Religion when Rice JUST ELIMINATED ITS ENTIRE FRENCH STUDIES GRADUATE PROGRAM.

Hip-hop culture has an important role in contemporary society, with vast influences and meaning, and should be studied deeply. However, French Studies is the groundwork for study of the Enlightenment, the very basis for this contemporary society in which hip-hop exists. We must study the French Revolution. We must study Humanism. Our nation was founded by Humanists and Francophiles. We cannot and should not ignore the eruption, testing, and successes and failures of Enlightenment Ideology. Especially at a time when Enlightenment ideals, and the Enlightenment itself, are being stripped from and perverted in Texas children’s textbooks. This means something. This is important.

It’s great that Rice is getting Bun B. It will be good for PR and Race Relations. But it would be even better if Rice’s aims were what is best for the nation and humanity, and not simply its Princeton Review rankings.

To quote someone I am loath to quote: This nation was created by humanists, and it will be saved by humanists.

Burn Down the Houston Tire Fire

I love pictures of historical Houston. The city changes so much because no one cares. So many awesome buildings are demolished, entire neighborhoods destroyed. The face of the city can change completely in but a few years. Old pictures of Houston provide a crazy perspective of the city, where entire areas are entirely unrecognizable. That is why it is so exciting to see something that hasn’t changed over the years. Rice campus and downtown are excellent examples of this.

Bayou City History does an OK job covering this historical chameleon that is Houston. What you didn’t know was that at one point Houston was more or less Springfield.

One of the eternal mainstays of the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, dating from the first season, is the Springfield Tire Fire.

When the Simpsons was subtle and funny

Well, ‘ol timey Houston had its very own tire fire!

Someone still hasn't Burned Down Rice!

In fact, Houston has had many odd Springfield-esque establishments. For example, a failed monorail!

I call the big one Bitey!

That was the only folly the people of Houston ever embarked upon.

An Alternate History: Former President Bill Bradley, current President Al Gore

In some alternate universe, former President Bill Bradley is currently holding a basketball themed charity event.

The former president, who served from 2000-2004, helped raise $18.7 million for charity projects, including Bradley’s own “Slam Dunk Against Terrorism.” In his speech before the crowded room of donors, Bradley seemed to play up his 2,503 points and 1,008 rebounds during college basketball career, and avoid questions about his one-term presidency.

Bradley won the 2000 Democratic Party primary after vice-president Al Gore dropped out due to his wife Tipper’s terminal cancer. The Republican candidate George W. Bush ran as an outsider, attempting to frame Bradley as an unaccomplished, Washington DC insider. However, Bradley took no qualm with using then President Bill Clinton to his fullest extent on the campaign trail, leading pundits to joke (or even speculate, though mostly as a Constitutional hypothetical) that Clinton would serve as VP. Bradley rode Clinton’s popularity, and the increased turnout it provided, to a seat in the Oval Office. However, Bradley’s bungled response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 ensured him only 4 years in that seat.

While Bradley did launch attacks in Afghanistan in response to 9/11, Republicans attacked him for not lending more credence to a presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US,” which was mostly ignored by Bradley’s administration out of fear of receiving the same Republican attacks that Clinton faced when proposing anti-Osama military or intelligence campaigns.

Although Bradley’s popularity rankings steadily declined after a post-9/11 peak, Republican attacks did not result in increased popularity for the GOP, due to their failure to offer an alternative to Bradley’s Afghan War and SECURITY ACT, which overhauled federal intelligence agencies and federalized airline security. However, the strongest critiques came not from Republicans, but from fellow Democrats, notably his former primary rival: Al Gore.

After the death of his wife Tipper in October 2001, Gore fell into a deep depression. Political tabloids circled pictures of the former vice president sporting a thick beard and heavy gut, wearing casual clothing to otherwise formal events. However, in February 2002, Gore reemerged on the political scene with a full force and energy not seen in any public figure in contemporary memory.

Gore spent the year of 2002 crossing the nation, and the globe, to discuss the environmental and political ramifications of U.S. reliance on fossil fuels. While his message was a continuation of his decades-long personal focus on global warming, his post-9/11 frame on how oil reliance weakened national security struck a specific nerve with centrist Republicans and Democrats disaffected with the Bradley presidency. Oddly enough, Gore attributed his newfound personal drive to a cartoon show.

“In January my daughter wanted me to voice a cameo on her show “Futurama,” Gore wrote in the introduction to his best selling and pulitzer award winning book An Inconvenient Truth: The Global Emergency of Fossil Fuel Reliance and What We Can Do About It. “I only even considered it because she was my daughter, but then I read the script and laughed. I had not laughed in so long, and I remembered how much Tipper used to love my laugh. Then, it hit me like a tsunami from a deep emotional earthquake finally set free, I remembered all the personal qualities that Tipper loved about me: my passion for the environment, my drive for a better world, my love of learning and labor. Where other people saw just another politicians, where I worried that I was just another politician, she saw someone who cared. She saw someone who was special, and that made me special. So rather than mourn her memory, I decided that the only thing I could do was be the man she loved. That was the only way to preserve her memory for the world.”

2002 has colloquially become known as the Year of the Gore, as Al Gore seemed to saturate popular media, from Saturday Night Live hosting duties to regular shifts on Sunday morning talk shows, to informal town hall meetings across the country. These town hall meetings became the basis for his 2004 presidential campaign. A traditional meeting consisted of Gore first making a speech about how reliance on fossil fuels gave leverage to nations whose underpinning philosophy and overt goals were contrary not just to US security, but to global ideals of democracy and enlightenment. The speech was usually followed by questions from people, either asking Gore to flesh out his policy ideas or complaining about their own representatives and the seeming unwillingness of elected officials to enact policy similar to Gore’s proposals.

In addition to his personal appearances, Gore was an Internet magician. With the help of Larry Biddle and Joe Trippi, Gore used online donations, meetup.com, and e-mails to build up a base of supporters like no other candidate. However, Gore’s popularity was not obvious to the White House until his victory in the Iowa Caucuses. Until then, he had been dismissed as a media darling who could only get support in solidly liberal areas. However, his anti-Middle East and oil rhetoric won him support from more traditional and conservative voters.

Recognizing the inevitability of the primary and the general referendum on his administration, Bradley followed in the steps of LBJ and dropped out of the election, paving the way for candidate Gore.

Part 2, the general election and President Gore, to be published later.

Burn Down the Astrodome!

Apparently today/tomorrow, the county will make 3 proposals of what to do with the Astrodome. Whatever. Those ideas are dumb and should be hated. Lets listen to my funny idea.

Evan’s Idea: Burn Down the Astrodome!

Wouldn’t it be cool to burn down the Astrodome? Spoiler Alert: Yes. But there are reasons to burn down the Astrodome. Notably, history. You see, the Astrodome is the 8th Wonder of the World. And what happens to Wonders of the World? Well if there are no earthquakes, we fuckin’ burn ’em.

Statute of Zeus? Burned to the ground.

Temple of Artemis? Herostratus burned that shit.

The Great Library? While not technically one of the 7 World Wonders, it was a Wonder in Civilization, and Caesar knew what to do. Burn it.

Let’s give the Astrodome the farewell an 8th Wonder of the World truly deserves, and Burn Down the Astrodome.

Because when children look back on history and wonder what became of the great structures of the 20th century, what will we say? Will we say that like the glories of Ancient Rome, The Temple in Jerusalem, or so many other amazing buildings of old, we looted it for space and resources? Will we say it went out like a chump? That we were so short sighted as to destroy a marvel of the ages for but a miniscule benefit. Nay! Send the Astrodome out like a champ. Like a real Wonder of the World. And since Houston doesn’t get earthquakes: BURN DOWN THE ASTRODOME!

PS: None of this Reliant Astrodome shit.

Burn Down Houston Free Press Summerfest!

This past weekend I attended the Free Press Summerfest (Summer Fest? I like Summerfest, as if it is a unique event separate from an event during the summer. It is not a Summer Fest. But a Summerfest. And now the word fest has lost all meaning and it just looks like someone is about to type fester but they didn’t do it. And how would you say that something was more of a fest than something else? It was fester? I guess festier.)

Among the scantily clad people, corn dogs, and laserhands, one event stood among the rest as the utmost best and top thing that could have happened and did happen at Summerfest. My Tweet about Summerfest was listed by 29-95.com as a funny tweet about Summerfest!

Rain means women in see-through clothes. And you can pee yourself and no one can tell! However, I did not pee myself.

Fame, fortune, beautiful women who will constantly belittle me! Its all on the way!

But besides all that it was a great time to just lay in the sun, hang out with friends, and listen to some good music. Kid Sister was thoroughly impressive. The Flaming Lips had laser hands, a human hamster ball, and claims that “anyone can smoke weed without the fear of getting arrested in the festival,” which seemed like a pretty accurate claim to anyone with eyes and a nose. Except that Simon and Garfunkel already did that and better, after singing Homeward Bound in the Concert in Central Park:

“I just want to thank the police department, the fire department, and the parks commissioner, and Ed Koch. And particularly, people that never get recognized for doing good deeds for the city, a group of people people that have donated half of their proceeds of what they’re making tonight. The guys selling loose joints are giving the city half of their income tonight.”

Besides, Girl Talk already did a better job with the Simon and Garfunkel throwback when he sampled Cecelia, which was awesome!

Also, sometimes Houston isn’t too shabby.

Ah Houston. She'll always be our little secret.

PS: We all ate big floppy corndogs and it was a phallic hilarity

Dan is giving a blowjob to a corn dog

Have a Bonertastic Weekend

Words can mean different things sometimes and its funny.