aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, April 30, 2006
A paltry and transparent effort
Thankfully we see through the tomfoolery:
The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks to voters to ease the burden of high gasoline prices is eliciting more scorn than gratitude from the very people it was intended to help.
Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.
Gladwell on Viswanathan
Malcolm Gladwell on Kaavya Viswanathan’s pummeling “by a hundred angry columnists, pundits and bloggers:”
Can someone tell me why? This is teen-literature. It’s genre fiction. These are novels based on novels based on novels, in which every convention of character and plot has been trotted out a thousand times before. If i wrote a detective story, set in 1930’s Los Angeles, about a cynical, hard-bitten private eye, with a drop dead gorgeous secretary and a series of lonely housewife clients, would anyone bat an eye? Of course not. It may be a stolen premise. But we accept that within the category of genre fiction a certain amount of borrowing of themes and plots and ideas is acceptable--even laudable. I buy lots of spy novels, not because they diverge from the spy novel model, but because they conform to it. I want my spy to have a troubled home life, and an inpenetrable gaze and to be handy with a revolver. But once we have conceded that in genre fiction its okay to borrow themes, why do we get so upset when genre novelists borrow something a good deal less substantial--namely phrases and sentences? Surely an idea is more consequential than a sentence.
I’ve quoted Gladwell’s New Yorker piece, Something Borrowed: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?, time and time again; I agree completely with his argument. His reading of “actual passages” in this case leads him to conclude, “Calling this plagiarism is the equivalent of crying ‘copy’ in a crowded Kinkos.” The ones I read were somewhat more ambiguous.
I am inclined to think she was nothing more than a cog in the machine that produced this book, and that a half-million dollar contract to produce teen-lit genre fiction from a 19 year old college student has a distorting and deleterious effect on self-esteem. It just might lead a person to feel they have to be more than they reasonably can be.
85 MPG II
One answer is gas prices. The LATimes reports on another:
Most Republicans, constrained by an ideological resistance to federal regulation, have always opposed tougher mandates. But achieving better fuel economy was once a passion of Democrats. In 1990, 42 of the Senate’s 55 Democrats - about three-fourths - voted to require automakers to reach 40 mpg by 2001. That bill drew 57 votes overall, but failed amid opposition from President George H.W. Bush and a Republican-led filibuster. [...]
Under pressure from the auto companies and auto workers, Democrats have retreated ever since. President Clinton didn’t seriously try to raise fuel economy standards. Last year, a proposal from Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to require a 40-mpg average for cars by 2016 drew just 28 votes; only about half of the Senate’s 44 Democrats voted yes. Those voting no included every Senate Democrat considering a 2008 presidential bid.
Via Kevin Drum:
Idiots. Mileage standards work. If we had passed that bill in 1990, oil consumption in the United States would probably be 10% lower than it is today at virtually no cost to the economy and no inconvenience to consumers. That’s a savings of about two billion barrels of oil a year - and there are other things we could do to double that number with only modest pain.
(And ANWR? If Republicans were willing to act like grownups on the efficiency side, I’d say we should just open the damn thing up. It won’t make a lot of difference, but at the same time, it also won’t cause very much damage.)
Of course, the best time to have done those things was ten years ago. But the second best time is right now. It’s not too late to grow up.
Australian choreographer, Czech star, in Texas court
This hardly interests me but I’m going to the Czech Republic in 10 days so expect to see increasing references here in the coming days to anything Czech:
WITNESSES will testify that renowned Australian choreographer Stanton Welch made a series of unwanted homosexual overtures to one of his principal dancers at the Houston Ballet, the dancer’s lawyer has revealed.
The openly gay Welch and the Houston Ballet are embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal after being sued by 27-year-old rising Czech star Zdenek Konvalina, who bears a resemblance to, and has been compared with, the legendary Rudolph Nureyev.
“A number of specific incidents took place over a period of time, some of which were witnessed by other members (of the troupe) whose testimony we have,” Konvalina’s lawyer Ed Hennessy told The Weekend Australian.
“These were verbal overtures which Zdenek made very clear were unwelcome but they continued.”
Houston Ballet president Jay Jones, who stands by the company’s artistic director and vowed to vigorously fight Konvalina’s sexual harassment lawsuit, has intimated that Konvalina’s agent, Eddy Toussaint—himself a former prominent dancer and choreographer—only introduced the sexual harassment allegations during contract negotiations for his Czech client.
Gay dancers??? Oh my!
Straight and gay instances of harassment are exactly the same and should be treated similarly. I know there’s a problem (and that the “casting couch” is both real and alive and well) but, generally speaking, the courts aren’t well equipped to deal with it.