Thursday open thread

What’s wrong with you people? A week of helicopters, fire, Passover, music, plays, paranoid/apocalyptic movies, and whatever the hell else Ruben was talking about, and we get like two comments the whole time?

Is this the end of the Great Whatsit? Discuss.

(Or, if you’d rather have me set the topic, go here, here, and here, then join in the armchair diagnosis and a discussion of why Deadeye Dick would be the best commencement speaker ever.)

(Or watch this video from the George Washington guy. Via A White Bear, who says it strikingly resembles her own teaching style.)

45 responses to “Thursday open thread”

  1. marleyFAN says:

    The random thoughts of Marleyfan-
    1. The gas prices suck. We can’t often afford to use our boat or travel trailer. This weekend we went to Spokane, and the price went up 30 cents in two days.
    2. Why are people unhappy? Why do they persist on being rude and nasty instead of being friendly and nice? Maybe it’s because I have an innate happy personality, which keeps me from understanding. At times I think I choose to be happy, but then again, maybe it’s innate…
    3. I just listened to Pearljam’s self-titled album for the first time. I noticed great transitions, but it bordered on a little strong, with too much traditional rock guitar and beat. I did like the rawness in the vocals.
    4. I have athlete’s foot right now, but it doesn’t smell. I’ve been playing a lot of racketball lately. Loads of fun.
    5. My oldest bought Guitar Hero for the X-box 360 yesterday. The first song was Surrender, and I think there was a post from BW about that song, but since I’ve gotta leave for work, I’m not going to go back and look. Besides, if I tried to put a link to it, I’d probably screw it up for the Nth time. It was funny to see my mother in law playing the game.
    6. I took a few days off, and have to go back to work today, but I’m really dreading it. I like work, but I like being off better. If I could, I’d semi-retire.
    7. I don’t like cats, but I love kittens.
    8. Why doesn’t anyone from TGW ever use the word flibbertigibbet? Ya’ll seem like smart people to me (most the time).

  2. Dave says:

    An excellent start. I for one favor a gas tax of at least $1/gal. more than it is now, to help correct the massive externalities of gasoline consumption (air pollution, climate change, overweight car-bound population, neo-imperialism in oil-producing regions).

  3. you’re just jealous that you don’t own a boat, dave. me too. though i do still love not having a car. most of the time.

    the comments — pro and con — in that tribune article about the commencement speech scared me. the worst one was about “we believe in being subject to kings …” yikes! i grew up with that language all my life, but it really sort of freaks me out. it’s so *not* 19c liberal protestantism, which believed in a higher law than the law of the land, and had to, since the law of the land sanctioned slavery. it’s really a throw-back to pre-American Revolution (pre-modern, even) autocracy, and seems less motivated by political expediency (well, we better try to convince them that we’re law-abiding, since we’re getting a reputation otherwise) than it does by a secret desire to be a king, ruler, and magistrate. when those kids were parroting that sentiment, even in the midst of their protest, it kind of gave me the willies.

    nice job on the here, here, and here lead-in, though, dave. this was a nice open thread — maybe since half of our doctors are still on leave we’ll have to make this a regular installment.

  4. so where’s the rest of the west coast this week? they didn’t even show up for one of their own. if i were ruben, i’d start making densely allusive snide remarks about his so-called friends out there.

    or does parrish have them under her control, now that she’s flipped coasts on us?

  5. as usual, lisa t is excepted from blanket criticism of the west coasters.

  6. Dave says:

    Yeah, Lisa T is awesome.

  7. Dave says:

    And I second being freaked out by how deferential to authority those BYU students were, even the ones who were out protesting. The weirdest part of any protest there is how tame it is, how much ground the protesters grant to the ultra-conservatives.

  8. Tim Wager says:

    Firstly! Dude! TOtally unCOOL to harsh BLANKetly on the BEst coast! (Also, plus, too, dintja see my comment yesterday? How’s come Tremain gets speshul dispensation, an I don’t?) Speaking of projection, I didn’t see the LEast coast jumping in to keep the convo going yesterday. It wasn’t til this morning that your comments showed up, so maybe we should just keep the finger pointing limited to directly in the mirror. (Moresomeover, our Scotty’s been out of town; he usually kicks off the comments splendidly so’s we can all jump in.)

    Sorry, Marleyfan, I’m with Dave on heavy gasoline taxes. I’d be very much in favor of using that money to fund the start-up of a serious national biodiesel program. That way, the effects on commodity prices might be limited, because interstate trucking would be partially federally funded.

    As for Sodom and Gomorrah, I’m pro-Sodom but anti-Gomorrah. Sodom sounds like it was a good time, but that other place was just awful. They went too far!

  9. Dave says:

    Biodiesel is for suckers. No net improvement in greenhouse emissions — it might even make things worse.

    Has anyone here ever tried the move that Gomorrah is named after?

  10. sorry tim — i missed that comment. you’re exceptional.

  11. Jeremy says:

    hey! for a while now, we’ve been practically carrying you east-coasters on the comment front… so what’s the big idea?

    (ok, ok. you’re right: sorry, ruben!)

    and lisa T is awesome…

    and so is tim-O!

  12. Tim Wager says:

    Well, at least biodiesel reuses waste oils that are naturally occurring by-products of other processes, thus requiring no dependency on the corruption and destruction of the oil companies. It seems to me that we have yet to figure out a way to transport people and goods at speeds of 65 mph and greater without producing greenhouse emissions. I may be wrong; I’m not up on all the stats. Electric cars themselves don’t produce emissions, but electrical energy is heavily dependent on coal, right? Coal is probably among the worst pollutants going (not to mention the waste and destruction of coal mining).

    I think that G-d has blotted out any and all descriptions of that Gomorrah move. Rumor had it that there was a copy in the Library of Congress archives, but B-sh had it expunged, too.

  13. Mark says:

    Why say west coast when it really means California? Up here in the PNW the term west coast doesn’t really mean anything. I guess California Wednesdays don’t sound so special, but I just had to clarify that. Or maybe you could lump it all under ‘the West’, but definitely not west coast.

    And Marlyefan has been semi-retired for the past 10 years. If he weren’t the boss he’d have been fired long ago for never being at work. But when he’s not there he’s usually hanging out with his kids, which is a noble thing.

  14. Marleyfan says:

    What move would that be Dave?

    So you want to tax the hell out of gas, to prohibit transportation for the low and middle class, then subsidize the commodity transport system? Sure, go screw the poor…again; what are you republican?

    Instead, we should mandate that our legislators force automakers to research and use the newest forms of engines and technology. Subsidize that instead. Mandate that big business stop their smoke-stacks, and use other forms of electricity instead. Did you know that hydro-powered dams are *not* considered renewable energy?

    Yo, tax on this! Leave my boat alone.

  15. Tim Wager says:

    Flibbertigibbet! It was I who advocated subsidizing commodity transport. One of the primary reasons that everything costs more when gas prices go up is that hardly anything we purchase and consume is produced within 200 miles of our homes. Practically everything has to be trucked a long way. Heavy gas taxes without some sort of cushion would mean much higher prices for everything from socks to medicine, thus creating much more of a burden on the lower and middle classes than taxing the gas they use for commuting and recreation.

    And sorry if it seems classist, but I have to say that recreational use of gasoline — snowmobiles, boats, off-road vehicles — just drives me up the wall. I really think that if you want to use precious resources like oil and gas for recreational purposes, you should have to pay a lot of money for the privilege. It may mean that only rich people have boats, a down-side for certain, but it will also cut down on gasoline usage, which is a broader social benefit, imho.

  16. lisa t. says:

    woo-hoo! tim and i are awesome (except for my serious misdiagnosis. i forgot all about blue velvet, which is an indicator that i’ve forgotten love of isabella rosellini. has anyone seen the saddest music in the world?)

    friends of mine have a biodiesel-converted mercedes. it smells like potatoes. personally, i want city bikes available, like stockholm or berlin. except in l.a you and your bike are likely to get run over and/or your bike will be stolen. i drive everywhere, it’s true, but i’m all for dave’s idea to raise the gas tax, for reasons stated in #2…

    …gas…oil…war…i’ve been thinking about major destruction after reading the road. john and i talked awhile back about this basic plan: if it’s all armegeddon outside (in the world war III sense, not the biblical– that clarification’s for you, dave), but we’re alive (driving and/or cell phones will most likely be out of the question), we will each walk from where ever we are to our house and meet up, then pack our sacks and take the dogs and walk out to my parents’ house, about 60 miles east. is this naive? after reading _the road_, i would be sure to take shoes, tape, and a can opener.

    i grew up with little ski boats and lakes all around. i wish i could go to work each day on a boat.

    and re: #13: i’ve been wondering if our west coast/east coast harping leaves out important players, like PB and mf and Rachel…or potential players…and if it limits the comments we might engage from people in various other beautiful regions of the country…? in my imaginary world, where the greatwhatsit exists forevah, if/when i move away from l.a. (and i doubt it’d be to the east coast, sorry), i’d like to still write for the whatsit from that region (most likely the PNW, okay, mark?).

  17. J-man says:

    Rumor has it that the Gomorrah move involved expunging.

  18. Dave says:

    Some criticism of biodiesel. I really don’t know much about it, but the “no free lunch” crowd tends to be right about these things.

    As for subsidizing commodity transport, it may have to be done, but it partly defeats the purpose of a gasoline (or, better, carbon) tax. It’s actually a huge ecological problem that we consume so much stuff that’s made so far away. Eating more locally grown food would help cut down greenhouse emissions but would also make our massively industrialized agricultural system less viable, which would be a good thing. On the other hand, stuff would cost more, and it does make sense to produce some things only in certain places rather than others. I don’t have an easy answer, but keep in mind that long-distance commodity transport creates the same externalities that commuting and snowmobiling do.

    And I think it sucks that a gas/carbon tax would make it too expensive to go boating or RV-camping and all that stuff. I like road trips myself, and if I had a boat I’m sure I’d love driving it around (although I kind of like sailboats better), and ATVs are cool.

  19. Dave says:

    “West Coast Wednesdays” are mostly a fiction invented for the convenience of the editors — Jeremy has to handle them, that’s the important thing. We could call them “Zitter’s Follies” or something if you like.

  20. Lisa Tremain says:

    wow– the youtube above is f-ing silly. maybe the part missing from my escape from l.a. plan is “not looking back,”

    i vote for working from home and growing your own.

  21. Dave says:

    Yeah, you don’t want to be turned into a pillar of who-kn0ws-what-spice.

    Any advice on growing your own? Hydroponics work for you?

  22. Lisa Tremain says:

    growing your own didn’t work for these guys. but we do happen to live in a place where a little local harvesting has been decriminalized.

    i’ve also got some cherry tomatoes comin’ up in the back yard.

  23. Tim Wager says:

    Fair enough that we should try to consume only what is produced nearby — buying fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets helps with this. But as you say, Dave, there’s no easy answer to the fact that manufacturing of many products cannot, in fact, occur within 200 miles of everywhere. Every town or county with its own computer manufactory, telephone production, paper processing, etc. is just impossible.

    I’m all for reducing externalities, as you call them, but it seems to me that a personal decision not to ride an ATV or snowmobile will have more of an immediate and positive influence. Witness. Certainly, the infrastructure of our economic system is destructive on a far greater scale, but to dismantle and/or reconfigure it in order to reduce its destructiveness is a much more massive undertaking than it is to prohibit people from tearing up natural and historic sites with four-wheelers and snowmobiles.

  24. Tim Wager says:

    “Zitter’s Follies,” hee hee.

  25. Tim Wager says:

    Did anyone see this article in the NYT a couple weeks ago, about a family who are trying to live in NYC making no impact whatsoever? Here’s the dad’s blog, and he has a book contract with Farrar, Straus. Of course, he’s developed OCD about not producing any garbage at all (or even riding the subway), but then in writing a book he’s contributing to deforestation. Everybody’s gotta make a living, I guess.

  26. Dave says:

    I’m all for reducing externalities, as you call them, but it seems to me that a personal decision not to ride an ATV or snowmobile will have more of an immediate and positive influence.

    But we weren’t talking about personal decisions, we were talking about raising the gas tax and other public-policy fixes. And anyway, if you decide not to ride an ATV, thousands of other people will still keep riding theirs. AND I don’t think you, Tim, actually ride an ATV, and the tenor of your proposals sounds kinda classist to me.

  27. Tim Wager says:

    It indeed may be classist, as I pointed out earlier, Dave, and I acknowledge that. I don’t ride an ATV, and have no desire to. This is most likely not a personal decision on my part, in that my family never rode them and no one I was friends with did either. I had no moment at which I was forced to make this decision. I’m not saying I’m holy holy here, and yes I grant that slipping over to talking about personal decisions did cloud the matter.

    All the same, I agree with your suggestion to raise taxes on gasoline primarily because I think that it would force people to use their cars, boats, ATVs, etc., etc. much less. I see ATV and snowmobile use as, for the most part, unnecessary. This position, I acknowledge, has more than a bit of a classist bent, of which I am not proud.

    However, simply calling an argument classist does not dismiss it. What is the argument in favor? Sure, these vehicles have their uses in some types of labor, primarily farming and ranching. However, the recreational uses they are put to benefit a limited number of people but the much wider harm is well documented.

  28. Beth W. says:

    Is it really classist to say that people should reduce recreational consumption? What about airplanes and helicopters? Raising taxes is just a band-aid to bigger pollution issues. Taxes won’t stop people from having fun. They haven’t stopped people from drinking and smoking.

  29. Ruben Mancillas says:

    lisa t., The Saddest Music in the World didn’t do it for me at all despite the generally positive reviews it received.

    I do recommend Maddin’s Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary-it’s a silent movie ballet of Stoker danced to Mahler. It’s really good.

    Bryan, you called it. This is clearly the end of the West Coast as we know it. I will now enter into not so secret negotiations to transfer my allegiance to the East.

  30. Marleyfan says:

    Great point. I never hear people talk about the amount of fuel consumed or pollution incurred by airline travel, whether it be to Disneyland or Chicago for a long weekend. I would be very interested to see what airplane fuel consumption is vs. an automobile.

    When is the last time any of us contacted our legislaters about these issues? I vow to do it, right after I get back from the lake.

  31. lisa t. says:

    I’ve heard more than once that jets pollute the atmosphere at a far more devastating rate than cars. Some info here.

  32. I don’t get how class enters into the ATV/rec equation at all. When I was a kid only the richest families in town went to the lake to ski or had 4-wheelers or whatever. Are these supposedly lowbrow activities? They seem to require a lot of money to me.

    Can someone explain.

  33. lisa t. says:

    Flibbertigibbet, guys. May there be an ATV on everyone’s doorstep tomorrow. Destroy or enjoy as you wish.

    And, Ruben, no _Saddest Music_? And yet you drop the Blue Velvet reference like it’s hot.
    I would think you would generally like most things that were heady and strange .

  34. lisa t. says:

    …and, bryan, in Cali, ATVing and Jetskiing are often slotted as “white trash” or “new money” activities. Count me in! Except I’ll pass on the crystal meth, thank you.

  35. white trash, new money, middle class, middlebrow — wtf. as long as styx is playing at top volume i’m down.

  36. Stephanie Wells says:

    Yeah, as trashily lowbrow as “going to the lake” is considered round these parts (that’s “Havasu” for locals), I have to shamefully confess that despite the “Keep Tahoe Blue” sticker on my bumper, one of the most joyous experiences of my life was the single time I jetskiied across that beautiful crater, dumping countless gallons of schlock into the now-oily surface of my most beloved lake. I will never do it again, but I do dream about it wistfully . . .

  37. PB says:

    as per #16–I love you Lisa T., you are awesome.
    Here’s to the Midwest!!
    PS, we just walked to the ice cream store and bought the treats in plastic containers. Trying to be green is confusing.
    And Cheney is a flaccid tyrant, why would he not speak in an Orwellian dis-utopia? It makes a strange kind of literary sense.

  38. PB says:

    the bold feature–cool!

  39. lisa t. says:

    Cheney is a flaccid tyrant. No, I love you, PB.

  40. marleyFAN says:

    I still have athlete’s foot.

  41. #40 — it comes of polluted lakes.

  42. Ruben Mancillas says:

    #33 I am advocating that everyone push a black and white (with painted effects) silent film ballet version of Dracula to the top of their respective queues and that’s not strange and heady?

    In the commentary Maddin says with an almost straight face that his lead ballerina turns in the best female silent film performance since Lillian Gish…not sure who is qualified to argue with a comment like that!

    And who knew that Mahler’s 1st and 2nd would be so right for dancing vampires?

    But I’ve been called out, heady and strange, heady and strange, let me see…

    OK, how about this? We just watched the DWTS results show from Tuesday night and Survivor played “Eye of the Tiger” live while the professionals danced a paso doble in front of them.

    It warmed my heart and all (you’ve got to see how pleased the band members were with themselves) but this isn’t a further sign of the apocalypse that TGW is in any way selling out, is it?

  43. Tim Wager says:

    Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee is the finest hockey-centered movie featuring an evil hypnotism plot I’ve seen since Strange Brew. The latter only edges out the former because it’s got Max von Sydow.

  44. OK, how about this? We just watched the DWTS results show from Tuesday night and Survivor played “Eye of the Tiger” live while the professionals danced a paso doble in front of them.

    wow. i’ve so obviously settled for the wrong reality television. SURVIVOR!

  45. Missy says:

    I totally commented on the helicopters, or rather I meant to. I composed it in my head as I was taking a bath after reading that fabulous entry and chatted about it with myself all day. Sorry. Next time I’ll post it (Hey! how do you enable the bold feature? pretend POST was bolded, okay?) Going back to helicopters right now. I wish I was eating ice cream in a plastic container.