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39 posts from October 2009

October 23, 2009

Maurice Sendak tells hand-wringing parents to go to hell

Bravo, Maurice Sendak:

Parents who think the new film of Maurice Sendak's picture book Where the Wild Things Are is too frightening for children can "go to hell", the author has said.

Telling the story of a naughty little boy, Max, who is sent to bed without his supper only to journey by boat to a land where wild monsters live, Sendak's classic tale was first published in 1963 and has captured children's imaginations ever since. With a film version adapted by Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze out later this year, Sendak told this week's edition of Newsweek that he would "not tolerate" parental concerns about the book being too scary.

"I would tell them to go to hell," Sendak said. And if children can't handle the story, they should "go home," he added. "Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it's not a question that can be answered."

Who's making it to Making it in America?


The Institute for America's Future and the Alliance for American Manufacturing are co-sponsoring a one-day conference on alternatives to the bubble economy on Thursday, Oct 29. 

Making it In America is a symposium on how the U.S. might move from a speculation and service economy to a more just and sustainable alternative. Featured speakers include AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), US Steelworkers President Lou Gerard, Prof. Suzanne Berger of MIT, and Kate Gordon of the Apollo Alliance. Registration is free.

As part of their outreach, they're covering the travel expenses of several out-of-town bloggers to attend the conference and write about it. I'll be one of them. 

Shorter Douthat: It's embarassing to be such a bigot

Self-styled social conservative columnist Ross Douthat admits that he's uncomfortable discussing gay marriage in public because he opposes it for no good reason:

The question came from Christopher Glazek, a fact-checker at The New Yorker, who wanted to know whether Mr. Douthat and Mr. Salam believed that former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who has apologized on behalf of his party for the Southern Strategy, should also apologize for the Republican party's gay politics.

At first Mr. Douthat seemed unable to get a sentence out without interrupting himself and starting over. Then he explained: "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public."

Mr. Douthat indicated that he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, but that he does not like debating the issue in those terms. At one point he said that, sometimes, he feels like he should either change his mind, or simply resolve never to address the question in public. [NY Obs]

It's understandable that Douthat doesn't like debating the issue in terms of his religious beliefs. Because he always loses to the opponent who says: "Who cares about your religion, Ross? We're talking about the criteria for civil marriage, here."

Ross said he doesn't even bother with the standard secular argument against gay marriage because nobody ever takes takes it seriously:

He added: "The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, ‘Institutional support for reproduction,' you say, ‘I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate." [NY Obs]

Ross says the notion doesn't "get traction" because it's too "abstract." Actually, nobody takes this argument seriously because any undergraduate can debunk it with concrete counterexamples from everyday life. Even Ross thinks that sterile opposite-sex couples should be allowed to get married and I'm sure he's aware that some same-sex couples raise children.

It's understandable that Ross is uncomfortable talking about gay marriage in public. He wants the state to impose his religion on other people, but he doesn't want to look like a theocrat in front of the liberal cultural elite.

Roman Polanski vs. unknown Kansas City perv

I wonder if Hollywood luminaries will sign manifestos in defense of James Phillip Edwards, a 60-year-old Kansas City man who admits to drugging little girls and molesting them:

Edwards told investigators in a videotaped interview after his Oct. 14 arrest that "he doesn't believe that what he has done is wrong," according to a motion seeking Edwards' pretrial detention filed by assistant U.S. attorney Katharine Fincham.

"His view is that society places arbitrary lines (as in age restrictions) around sexual conduct, with which he doesn't agree," Fincham wrote.

Prosecutors said Edwards admitted giving "multiple minor girls" Ambien, a sedative, before making videos of them with their genitalia exposed and that the children ranged in age from 6 to 12. They said he told investigators he spent time spitting on one girl's face. [AP]

Polanski admitted to drugging his 13-year-old victim. The girl testified under oath before a grand jury that Polanski forcibly raped her. Polanski was allowed to plead down to unlawful intercourse as part of a plea deal that would have involved, at most, a few weeks in prison.

It's interesting the contrast between these two cases. Edwards doesn't think of himself as a child sex abuser, just a victim of arbitrary social conventions against the drug facilitated sexual assault of minors. Many of Polanski's defenders have made strikingly similar arguments.

October 22, 2009

Secret Society at the Bellhouse (full set)

The full set of pictures from Monday's big band extravaganza at the Bellhouse.

October 21, 2009

Blog Action Day on Climate Change

Asics origami image movie, originally uploaded by MABONA ORIGAMI.

Congratulations to Octopus of Swashzone whose post, Energy, Climate Change, and the Indignant Desert Birds of Self-Destruction, was recognized as an outstanding contribution to's Blog Action Day on climate change. Over 31,000 posts were submitted. Contributors included UK PM Gordon Brown, the White House blog, and the official Google blog.

[Octopus folded by Sipho Mabona.]

Becca Stevens with the Bjorkestra


Becca Stevens is a fierce vocalist with stage presence to burn. She also happens to look like Bjork. What's not to like?

Secret Society at the Bellhouse


Darcy James Argue conducting, soloist Erica VonKleist.

Secret Society at the Bellhouse


Secret Society rocked the Bellhouse on Monday night. Read the New York Times review.

Many thanks to Megan Carpentier and Amanda Marcotte for working the merch table.

October 20, 2009

Tany Ling with the Industrial Jazz Group

Tany Ling, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.


Vocalist Tany Ling performs at last night's big band extravaganza at the Bellhouse in Gowanus.