The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, April 11, 2008

Fiddy's Windfall

I hope, I really hope that if the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn't insist that Michigan and Florida's votes be counted. If Hillary's name wasn't on the ballot, I would think it bullshit...and would be ashamed of Obama supporters who tried to pretend that that doesn't matter. At least I HOPE I would. That is clearly a ploy someone uses because they want to win, not because it's fair.
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Chelsea Clinton keeps being asked about Monica Lewinski. Yeah, it's kinda rude, but not totally off base. I wouldn't ask such a question, but I can see why someone might. Several interesting questions are raised:
1) Does the character of a husband reflect on the wife? After all, she chose him, right? The bottom line is her judgement and values.
2) Is it relevant that this was going on "right under her nose"? If she DIDN'T know, that suggests that Hillary's judgement and observational skills and priorities might be questioned.
3) And if she did know? This is in some ways even more interesting. My personal theory is that she knew about Bill's dalliances perfectly well, and that the deal was that he wouldn't embarrass her, and wouldn't get caught. The reason this is interesting is that if she accepted an open marriage, this is a mis-match for the family values of many of the people whose votes she is currently courting. Do they deserve to know this? Personally, I think people should negotiate the relationships they want. However, I would NEVER want my own daughter in such a relationship, and so cannot approve. But it wouldn't motivate me to vote against her.
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My family is getting very fond of the PS2 Game "Rock Band." Just bought a wireless guitar, and while I was in the store, was browsing a gaming magazine. It seems that rapper 50 Cent is doing a video game. This guy is kind of amazing. He cannot sing, he cannot dance, he can't act, and he isn't even much of a rapper. (BTW--if you want to check out a really obvious case of the difference with which black and white actors are treated in movies, see "Get Rich or Die Trying" as compared to Eminem's "8 Mile". The difference in sexual content is glaring, as are other expressions of humanity. Gee. It must be nice to be white...) Any way, "Fiddy" does have one observable skill: investing. He bought into Vitamin Water, which recently got bought out by Coca-Cola. Know how much Gangsta got? FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. The mind boggles.
It is important to remember: there is a ton of money out there. The trick is in learning to position yourself to tap into it.
Good lord.
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There is a huge yoga poster in the local Bikram school. It illustrates hundreds and hundreds of poses, performed perfectly. All are given sanskrit names. Most are beyond the dreams of most adult practitioners. It is easy to get hypnotized by their profusion. But the real key lies in the lower right corner of the poster. You could easily miss it. It is just two sentences, printed in relatively small type. They say: "This is not my body. This is not my mind."

The entire nature of the practice changes if you let these ideas play in your mind as you engage with the flesh. The physical practice becomes an investigation of the nature of reality, utilizing your body as dowsing rod.
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Racism and Sexism

I'm confused. On the radio this morning, I heard someone saying that Chris Matthews was making Sexist comments when he said that Hillary Clinton wouldn't be a Senator if her husband hadn't fooled around. And again, when he commented that actress Kerry Washington was "a knockout." I always considered that racism is when you think one group is better than another. Sexism would then be when you think one gender is better than another. I think that if pointing out what is almost universally considered positive aspect of a group is either sexism or racism, we'd have to widen the net considerably when thinking about the things that have been said about Obama. Any comment referencing his race or ethnicity, even if neutral or positive, would have to be considered "racism," which is way beyond anything I ever considered. One part of us would like no notice of things like physical differences. The reality is that all of us do it, all the time. The male-female thing had BETTER not go away, or we're in real trouble. (Hmm...wouldn't there be an interesting SF story there? A world in which there was so much PC that the male-female charge died down...)

Of course, none of that should interfere with Nicki being able to aspire to any job or life position she has the stuff to handle. But I hear an assumption of mysogyny that troubles me: much of it seems to be a negative reaction to the woman herself, or residual antagonism toward her husband. On the other hand, if I was a woman, I might be much less convinced of that. No way I can completely shed my filters.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Any way, 'Fiddy' does have one observable skill: investing. He bought into Vitamin Water, which recently got bought out by Coca-Cola. Know how much Gangsta got? FOUR HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. The mind boggles."

This reminds me a bit of the BBC Business section's coverage last year of Jay-Z's "Blue Magic" video:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7097736.stm

"...He is seen cruising the streets of New York in Bentleys and Rolls Royces (now owned by Germany's Volkswagen and BMW) with a briefcase of 500 euro notes...

"...Other more conventional market-watchers have also been snubbing the dollar, including the billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

"There have been no suggestions that Jay-Z's fellow rapper 50 Cent could be considering a move into a different currency."

(but that was back in 2007, maybe 50 Cent has millions of Euros now?)

Dan Moran said...

I think it's 100%, inappropriate for anyone to be asking Chelsea Clinton (or anyone else) about her parent's sex life.

I don't know what you heard from Chris Matthews, so I can't evaluate it in context; but I stopped watching him years ago because of his ground-in misogyny.

Using overtly sexist language, he has referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "she devil" and compared her to a "strip-teaser." He has called her "witchy" and likened her voice to "fingernails on a blackboard." He has referred to men who support her as "castratos in the eunuch chorus." He has suggested Clinton is not "a convincing mom" and said "modern women" like Clinton are unacceptable to "Midwest guys." He has called her "Madame Defarge" and "Nurse Ratched."


That's just Hillary -- he's been like that for years, though; I stopped watching him long before this election cycle because I was tired of being annoyed by him. If he talked about black people the way he talks about women, he'd have been chased off the air years ago.

Dan Moran said...

Steve,

"However, I would NEVER want my own daughter in such a relationship, and so cannot approve."

Hmmmm ... well, I've been in such relationships myself, and I think you have? So you've treated other women in ways you wouldn't want your daughter treated? Is it the raising of a daughter or the decline of your sex drive that's brought you to this point?

I'm always skeptical when men find virtue after their sex drive dies down. I'm pretty virtuous these days myself -- mostly because my sex drive is maybe half what it was when I was in my 20s. (And still runs higher than that of almost all the men I know who are my age.) I doubt I'd be any better today than I was then, if I had the sex drive I had back then, and I doubt most of the rest of us would be, either.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Agree about Michigan and Florida, especially Michigan.

Chelsea stuff: I really feel strongly about that one. To me it's not just a little rude, but very deeply so, to ask a daughter about her father's infidelity to her mother. As a daughter of divorced parents, I would be deeply offended if, when I were, say, promoting the career of one or the other parent, someone asked me any question bearing on Dad's level of fidelity to Mom. And the thing that further bugs me about it is that I feel as if it's a setup - that if I pointed out this obvious fact to whoever was asking the question, he'd be all, "Chelsea Clinton is an adult now," as if this was a question you should ever ask a child of any age about a parent, and the insinuation would be that I was expecting chivalry to Chelsea as a woman, and therefore acknowledging that we women aren't as tough as men and can't be expected to compete in the same arena. (I think you, Steve, would probably understand how I could both feel very protective of a daughter's relationship to her father, and at the same time feel that daughter ought to be given the same chance as a man to show herself tough and smart and competent.)

Racism and Sexism: It's complicated, because I do think there are certain kinds of "positive" comments that can also be sexist (or, you know, racist). If I interviewed for a computer job and the interviewer's main comment was that I was a "knockout," that would be sexist, because in that context it could imply dismissal of my job related qualities. In that context, "knockout" could mean "not expected to actually be as smart as a man." (Similar thing about attributing a universally considered positive trait to black people, if it's done in a way that denies black people a universally considered even more positive trait.) If someone were to run into me at a con and say I was a "knockout," not so much. (Not sure why "knockout" would be a bad thing to say about an actor, male or female, but there might be context in the way he said it that made it sound as if he didn't think Kerry Washington's acting talent matter much, or something.)

I haven't watched Chris Matthews, but I keep hearing stuff about him, from the way he mocked Obama's bowling (lack of "macho form," well, it's only to be expected that he's good at basketball but ...), to the way he went on about Hillary Clinton's catch in the voice in New Hampshire, to his ignorance of the fact that yes, there are in fact multiple woman governors who could conceivably make future presidential candidates, makes me think, that, his particular way of framing gender? Not so good.

A world in which there was so much PC that the male-female charge died down...

Never gonna happen :-).

Kami said...

"Chelsea Clinton keeps being asked about Monica Lewinski. Yeah, it's kinda rude, but not totally off base. I wouldn't ask such a question, but I can see why someone might. "

Me too. I was really put off by the 'it's none of your business' response to asking her opinion about the Monica Lewinsky issue. It's a non-response and didn't deserve the applause it got. How about "I support and love my father, and I believe in what he stands for. His private life, and mine, aren't relevant to the Presidency," or maybe another statement or opinion. Everyone has an opinion about it. By saying it's none of anyone's business sounded like she's pretending that everyone refuses to talk about it, it will somehow vanish. I haven't heard what her responses have been lately, maybe she's moved on to something less vacant.
It's gotta be painful. But hey, it had to be painful for Obama to publicly speak out against a man he respected. The feelings of betrayal had to run deep and strong, but it had to be done, and I trust his honesty and sincerity (maybe I should say apparent honesty--this is politics, after all) prevented the relationship he had with the man from falling apart. It makes Chelsea's "It's none of your business" look wan by comparison. I don't think she should be run through the wringer, but since she feels compelled to campaign for mom, she's got to expect that she'll be asked difficult questions. Those obvious ones ought to have some well-thought-out and compelling answers, don't you think?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

mostly because my sex drive is maybe half what it was when I was in my 20s.

Now, my sex drive is totally as high as it ever was in my teens or twenties; I don't get this thing guys keep telling me about the dramatic decline in middle age. Don't know if this is a man/woman difference thing, or just me.

Frank said...

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Don't know if this is a man/woman difference thing, or just me.

I think it's a man/woman difference

"...while desire declines in men as they get into their 30s, it increases in women, who reach their sexual peak between 35 and 40."

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure its hormonal differences between men and women. My wife's sex drive has also risen while mine has declined. Young men have lot's of testosterone which is the sex drive hormone. This declines with age. Women are primarily estrogen with some testosterone when young. I think I'm correct to say the ratio of estrogen/testosterone in women changes as they age. I'm not sure if its just the estrogen declines or if the testosterone increases as well, but this seems to raise their sex drive.

Marty S

Curt said...

"My family is getting very fond of the PS2 Game "Rock Band." Just bought a wireless guitar..."

I have always wondered about Rock Band and similar games.

I think they are very engaging (addictive?) but wonder why it isn't possible to have a similar video game that actual teaches one to play the instrument.

Josh Jasper said...

Chris Mathews has been talking up womens looks, good or bad, as if it was a defining elemet of their character frequently enough for it to be a trend. It's a standard that male politicians don't have to live up to with him. Not the worst form of sexism, but sexist, for sure.

JTHeyman said...

"Personally, I think people should negotiate the relationships they want. However, I would NEVER want my own daughter in such a relationship, and so cannot approve."

I think I understand what you meant by this but, not being sure, could you expand on it a little?

At first glance, this seemed rather similar to people saying "we need more X (nuclear power plants, prisons, homeless shelters, whatever) but not in my back yard". Was your actual intent to note the difference between "freedom" to do something and "wisdom" not to do it, where you think such relationships are unwise? Or was there something else at work there?

Steven Barnes said...

I wouldn't want my daughter to be in a relationship with a man who is a serial philanderer, and whose actions held her up to public humiliation. I have NEVER done that to anyone...even if some of the private stuff was painful at times. My main reason for a shift in attitudes is watching the results over time. I simply didn't see relationships where it worked very well, compared to LOTS of open relationships that ended in divorce or emotional disaster. I was more...liberal about such things when I was younger. I still have the urges, but can no longer justify them to myself. I can't convince myself that "it's all good."
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Chris Matthews does sound like a dick, yes.
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I can believe that women could find even a complement, in the wrong context, to be sexist. And I can see how it could be true in some cases, as well. I feel sorry for the men and women, the whites and blacks, or gays and straights who are barking their shins navigating the maze of 21st-century gender-race-orientation relations. Wow! What a shifting maze of rules!

Steven Barnes said...

I'm positive that the next generation of Rock Band instruments WILL teach actual technique. There isn't much difference between rock band drums and real drums. Next, a keyboard with limited keys, perhaps. Then a full keyboard (!)

As for guitars, I'd guess a Rock Band trainer with real-world applications will be on the market within two years.

Anonymous said...

The wife of a president of your own party is The First Lady, the others are still in the Italian: prima donna.

asha vere said...

As a Floridian, I'll be furious if it's ultimately decided that our votes won't count in any way -- especially since we're being penalized because of a decision made by our Republican legislature. It doesn't matter who the candidate is, our votes should count.

Maybe the state didn't vote the way I would've liked, but that's no reason to say the votes shouldn't count at all. Halve them or something, but don't completely discount them.

In re 50 Cent, I think a story or two came out indicating that he didn't make that much off the Coca-Cola deal. I don't remember where I saw the news, but his take is less than $100M. Still nothing to sneeze at, of course. I certainly wouldn't turn down that kinda scratch.

Pat Logan said...

""Fiddy" does have one observable skill: investing."

You owe me a new keyboard.

Dan Moran said...

"I wouldn't want my daughter to be in a relationship with a man who is a serial philanderer, and whose actions held her up to public humiliation"

Well, fair enough -- what you're saying is that you'd want your daughters to marry someone better than yourself. I'm with you on that one; I want my kids to be in better relationships than the ones I've managed, over the years.

Where I really disagree with you is your assertion that Hillary Clinton should be judged for having tolerated conduct no worse (from what I can see) than you and I and some large % of men in general have been guilty of. Honestly, how would your life look if tens of millions of dollars had been spent investigating every single thing you'd ever done? Take the five worst things you've ever done in your life, and parade them on the Evening News and the internet for twenty years? People would spit at you (and me) as we drove by ...

Bill Clinton strikes me as a fairly normal powerful man. Hillary strikes me as a fairly normal woman married to a powerful man.

Josh Jasper said...

I can believe that women could find even a complement, in the wrong context, to be sexist. And I can see how it could be true in some cases, as well. I feel sorry for the men and women, the whites and blacks, or gays and straights who are barking their shins navigating the maze of 21st-century gender-race-orientation relations. Wow! What a shifting maze of rules!

"I meant is as a compliment" shifts the attention away from the structure set up by men to define women by looks, which are set up to please men, rather than by talent. It's defensiveness, rather than an examination by the people in power of a complaint made by people they've been annoying.

It *is* difficult to keep track of where one is being sexist. It's a relinquishment of power to people who;re angry at you to admit it when you're being sexist. but the alternative is to continue on being sexist. It's easy, it's more fun for a guy, and it's more likely to get you in good with the dominant power structure.

The question is, what's the right thing to do, and are you willing to pay the cost?

Dan Moran said...

"The question is, what's the right thing to do, and are you willing to pay the cost?"

It's been some time now, but back in the late 80s and early 90s I did a fair amount of volunteer work for NOW. I ran into a lot of that -- tone of voice was important; speaking in a higher register helped. Aggressive body language, which comes naturally to me, would set off an entire room (and half of them wouldn't even know why they were angry at me...)

When people have been damaged you can either recognize it and work with it, or ignore it and hope they stop complaining. If sufficiently damaged, they may not even be able to see you except as a symbol -- and you have to work with that, too, unless you're ready to walk away entirely and stop engaging -- which robs you of the opportunity to learn something outside your day to day experience. It's worth putting up with the former to get the latter.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

My feelings.

Asking Bill Clinton about the Lewinsky mess? Fine, he earned that opprobrium. I didn't want him removed from office for it because I didn't think it constituted high crimes and misdemeanors, but I don't particularly feel sorry for him if people shame him for it.

Asking Hillary Clinton the same? Well, she's the wronged party. And, though, sure, I wouldn't want my sister or my niece to have to put up with that kind of crap in her marriage, I'm not convinced that holding her marriage together is so out of the ordinary a deicsion on her part that she needs to answer for it. Especially since she seems to get criticized on this one more than male politicians who actually cheated themselves.

McCain cheated on his first wife, and, OK, I can understand letting that pass - years in the past, hard for marriages to hold together after a long time where one is a POW, rough on the loyal wife, but maybe not as unusual as one might like it to be. But, you know, hardly a less bad thing that forgiving a serial philandering spouse. Giuliani pretty much did cheat in a way that publically humiliated his wife, and, yes, people brought it up as a campaign drawback, but, it seemed to me, with less of an edge that Hillary Clinton gets for the Lewinsky stuff.

And, Chelsea Clinton being asked to answer for this? Easy - way off bounds. Children, whatever their age, shouldn't be asked about their parents' sex lives, period. Not the same thing, whatever kami says, as Obama speaking about Wright's public statements (even if I think those public statements were being yanked out of context to make trouble for Obama). Not even the same thing as Obama speaking of his grandmother's more private fears of black men in the street, because, that? That's speaking about the problems we all have coming to terms with our fear of the other. It's saying, that, as one commenter put it, Obama's white grandmother is just like yours. Not the same as asking a daughter to comment on her father's sexual experiments with a young woman and a cigar.

Steve Perry said...

"And, Chelsea Clinton being asked to answer for this? Easy - way off bounds. Children, whatever their age, shouldn't be asked about their parents' sex lives, period."

Amen. The proper response is, "It not any of my business how my parents conduct their sex lives, and certainly not any of yours."

I could care less who Bill was screwing, since it wasn't me or the country. Which nobody can say about the Current Occupant and his Axeman, who are doing both.

"Bring it on?" and "So?" Thousands of American lives, tens of thousand of Iraqis, more than half a trillion dollars in direct costs, no end in sight. Half the pubic debt incurred in the history of the U.S. has come in the current administration. Our international reputation is for shit, and it's getting to be the Randy Newman song, "They all hate us anyhow, so let's drop the big one now ..."

But hey, George doesn't screw around -- that we know of ...

Mike Ralls said...

>since we're being penalized because of a decision made by our Republican legislature.<

Quick question; How many Democrats voted against that piece of legislature?

Dan Moran said...

But hey, George doesn't screw around -- that we know of ...

I swear Bush is gay. His college roommate was gay, they had a gay "journalist"-who-was-really-a-hooker visit the White House over a hundred times, that man was screwing somebody ... and Bush himself has the sort of effeminate mannerisms and love of the fabulous that would have half the cowboys in the country getting ready to stomp him if he trotted them out in a straight bar without Secret Service protection.

"And we'll prevail, because we're a fabulous nation, and we're a fabulous nation because we're a nation full of fabulous people."
-- George W. Bush., Atlanta, GA, January 31, 2002

http://www.bettybowers.com/isbushgay.html

Dan Moran said...

Quick question; How many Democrats voted against that piece of legislature?

None of them did. None of them had a chance to. The date wasn't set in the legislation, but by Republicans after the fact.

Mike Ralls said...

>but maybe not as unusual as one might like it to be<

According to surveys I've read, the majority of marriages have one or both partners cheat.

[Quick googling shows many different surveys with many different results - this is naturally something it would be very hard to get reliable data on, but even the lowest surveys I quickly looked at show a low figure of "with 28 percent of married men and 18 percent of married women admitting to having a sexual liaison" which is at least 1/3rd of marriages]

Mike Ralls said...

>None of them did. None of them had a chance to. The date wasn't set in the legislation, but by Republicans after the fact.<

That is a direct contradiction to what I have read. Here is an article from New York Times on May 4th, 2007;

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/us/politics/04florida.html

"MIAMI, May 3 — Casting more uncertainty over the presidential nominating process for 2008, the Florida Legislature on Thursday moved the state’s primary up to Jan. 29, ignoring the threat of sanctions from the national Republican and Democratic parties.

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The Florida House voted unanimously to move it up on Thursday, a week after the Senate approved the measure. In the same legislation, it approved Gov. Charlie Crist’s plan to replace the touch-screen voting machines used in many of Florida’s counties with paper ballots counted by scanning machines."

To me that article clearly say it came about by a unanimous act of legislation, which would mean that no Democrats voted against it.

Josh Jasper said...

Dan When people have been damaged you can either recognize it and work with it, or ignore it and hope they stop complaining.

Thanks for putting it that way. That makes a lot of sense to me. I really hope I never end up wanting to ignore it.

Mike Ralls said...

>None of them did. None of them had a chance to. The date wasn't set in the legislation, but by Republicans after the fact.<

Furthermore, here is a quote from the Florida Dems,

http://www.fladems.com/page/content/makeitcount-faqs/#q3

"Who sets the date for Florida’s Primary?
The state-run Presidential Preference Primary date is set by the Florida Legislature. In the 2007 legislative session, the Republican Speaker of the House made it a priority to move up the Primary to January, in violation of both Democratic and Republican National Committee Rules. The Legislature passed the bill, which also included the new requirement that all Florida elections have a paper trail starting in 2008. Governor Charlie Crist signed the bill into law in May."

Again, this says that the legislature passed the bill.

Dan Moran said...

Mike,

I could have sworn I read a lengthy analysis of this a couple months back -- can't find it right now. In any event based on my googling right now you seem to be right about Dems voting for the initial date. They did try to get the date changed after realizing it'd be a problem, and were voted down by Republicans, however.