Use the Right Words

Synonyms for LEWD. Like Naughty, suggestive, improper, in bad taste, indelicate, questionable, rakish, risque, unchaste, wanton. None are words of violence.

CAUTION: LEWD LANGUAGE TO FOLLOW

Yeah. Fucking STRONG language. Angry language. Because LANGUAGE MATTERS.

WORDS MATTER.

Like, what the fuck, Washington Post and others? Somebody says that he uses his celebrity to sexually assault women and you are stuck on the word P-U-S-S-Y?

Let me do this for you. Pussy. Pussy. Pussy. Did that make you squirm? Well that’s not the fucking point.

Using the word “lewd” (and sometimes “vulgar”) seems like something might make grandma uncomfortable. Synonyms for lewd are words like racy, naughty, coarse, lascivious.

Do any of those words conjure up an image of violation? Of violence? Of pain? Of cruelty? Of savagery? Of unwanted physical contact?

And YOU, editors and reporters, YOU who are leading with the word “lewd” are normalizing violence against women. As is the fucking standard script in rape culture. Can you tell I’ve had it with your shit?

I guess you have never had your breast grabbed as you walked down a dark hallway at a dorm party. Or had a strange man rub his dick against your ass on a crowded train. Or had someone put his unwanted hand on your crotch. Or someone kiss you full on the lips when you offered your cheek. You dad reporters out there, think about someone being “lewd,” as you refer to it, to your child.

Stop pussy-footing around. Words matter. Get this the fuck right!

Time Travel

Cartoony drawing of a TV with an antenna and a clicker. So old skool.

Time has shifted. Literally.

The idea of a “prime time,” when families sat around a TV to watch the news on one of the three broadcast channels at 6:00 pm, is long gone. Those kinder, gentler Sunday nights when The Wonderful World of Disney came on–and especially that one time they showed Mary Poppins. Mom made jiffy-pop. On the stove. It always got burned. We ate it anyway. I didn’t say she burned it.

Times when the Olympics were broadcast live, and nobody knew the results of the race until we all did. Or we read it in the papers the next morning. We couldn’t endlessly loop an especially spectacular event. It was live that night, maybe an instant replay or two, and maybe on the TV news on one of the three broadcast channels the next night at 6:00 pm. If there was a finals in gymnastics or skating, mom might let us stay up past our bedtime to watch.  If the games were in China, we could only see them during the day.

Quaint.

This changed with advance of VHS and the proliferation of cable channels. You could program your recorder–well some people could–and go to the gym and still catch this week’s episode of  Buffy or X-files.  There was some ear covering at the coffee machines and admonishments to hurry up and get caught up. And there were the cries of misery that echoed in a neighborhood when someone realized they taped over the recording of their nuptials. No one would ever see her say, “I do,” again. And nobody would ever again see Uncle Bobby doing his breakdance version of the electric slide. The 57 channels, then 157 channels meant that there were many options for news and entertainment.

DVRs took away the messiness of tapes, and their rewinding and their clumsiness. People could store many episodes, concurrent shows, and never watch them. There was a study that said that two of five recorded hours were never watched. I bet that it was more like four of five hours recorded were ever watched.

Netflix started making TV seasons available. Admittedly this was external to Netflix, but most of us got the seasons that way. Not too many of us bought the boxed set of Friends. I hope. Netflix’s automatic shipments of discs brought on the binge watch–hungover after a night of Charmed, a lost weekend to the bloody mess of Dexter, whipping through the entire two terms of President Bartlett on West Wing.  Netflix on demand sped up the cycle because you didn’t have to wait for a disc in the mail.

Of course, today, almost all TV is on demand. You can watch last night’s, late night comedy bits as they trend on Twitter in the morning. You don’t have to stay up late. You can watch funny people eviscerate pols on your phone as you brush your teeth before work. You don’t even have to watch the entire program, or skip ahead. The sketches are conveniently broken down. Hell, there are gifs with the best mugging. You share your favorite parts of a scene on social media. If you didn’t see it, your buddy sends you a link right now so you can watch it and laugh together.

So when you think about prime time, that time of cohesion from an ancient past when you have to contemporaneously participate in a broadcast viewing experience, there are very few modern occurrences. There’s the MTV awards, if you think Kanye is going to go off or if Beyoncé is going to do anything. The Super Bowl and World Cup. The final ball drop on Dancing With The Stars. That live production of Peter Pan or whatever ABC Family productions did that I didn’t watch.

That’s it, too. These time-bound events aren’t universal. You might not be a BET fan. You might be all hockey and no NBA. You might just set your phone to ring in the New Year rather than stop a party to all huddle around a TV.

There was a time, I’m told, when families listened to the President peddling patriotic bravery on the radio, “nothing to fear but fear itself.” There was a time when everyone tuned in to see the President take his leave, ” I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.” There was palpable shared fear when another President addressed a mourning nation on 9/11.

Today there are fewer common addresses, fewer addressed directly to the people. We simply pick and choose what we want as we graze our way, on our own schedules, through the buffet of media.

Inconceivable! [or not]

One of the famous and favorite moments in The Princess Bride is when Inigo Montoya tells Vizzini:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Watching the Yelling Shows this morning, I kept replaying Inigo’s line in my head.

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I guess Inigo was wondering: Is it a misuse of language? A misunderstanding of what’s actually happening? Or, simply, wishful thinking? But ultimately the why doesn’t matter. If you don’t recognize the reality, you’re in trouble.

I was thinking about this as the guest on the show, in an ominously warning voice, said that people need to understand that Donald Trump is not a Republican, and he does not represent what the Party stands for (he said lots of other stuff, too, but that’s not germane here).

I think that this is the wrong argument.

What if people don’t care that he’s not a Republican? What if THEY are not Republicans, too? [There is a parallel argument on the Democratic side that Senator Sanders is NOT a Democrat, and my thinkings here apply to both parties.]

Earlier this week, Clay Shirky who, by the way, is a much better thinker than DocThink, wrote a tweetstorm outlining a theory of the redundancy of political parties in a networked world. He offers that parties used to be required to access media, to access donors and to access voters through organizing. He traces the arc of a scythe cutting down this syndicate starting with Ross Perot through Howard Dean and Obama for America. He posits that both parties are seeing an internal insurgency where “the people,” or at least a passionate sector of “the people,” are hijacking the party regulars.

I’m not sure that’s exactly right.* I think that we are seeing the hijacking of the parties’ infrastructure for people who may or may not be party members. It could be that the outsiders are not growing the party as much as using the party. They are disruptors.

Conventional wisdom sided against any 3rd or 4th party in the U.S. because of the infrastructure requirements to gain public office. It’s the party apparatus in each state that organizes and hosts primaries. The parties own the statewide infrastructure, the hosting of caucuses and elections, the rules, the timelines and the costs. They own donor lists and vendors who do polling and pipe and drape.

Smart outsider candidates are able to use this structure to launch their own campaigns with enough hat-tipping to the “party,” as long as they have followers. They can build their own followers

  • by addressing them DIRECTLY on social media and use this to pressure and gain earned media,
  • by raising money from them DIRECTLY online, and
  • by getting their names and emails and Facebook likes and Twitter follows to call on them DIRECTLY as well as ask them to call on each other when it’s time to GOTV.

We might be seeing a disruption on the scale of Amazon for commerce, Uber for transportation, Airbnb for lodging or Facebook for communications.

It makes me think, too, about another Clay. Clay Christensen wrote the Innovator’s Dilemma. I’m still working my brain through this but I think I’ll throw it out to see if it’s a useful model to apply. Christensen says*

  • Companies innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve and eventually produce products that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers.
  • Companies pursue these “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of their markets because that’s what made them successful– charging the highest prices to their most demanding and sophisticated customers at the top of the market.
  • This leaves a gap at the bottom of the market for competitors to emerge and go after smaller markets with simpler products that might not be attractive to the “establishment” organization.
  • See a full and smarter version here.

So the people who were in the market, but couldn’t afford the goods are happy with a cheaper, less feature-rich version that they can have. Or maybe they don’t see themselves as customers of the Party as it is, and are open to an offering that better meets their beliefs.

But what about the Brand value of the Parties. Parties still offer a shorthand to understand where a candidate stands. I did voter studies in the 80’s. I know about party affiliation. But I also know about brands. So I’ll offer one thought. How does that brand–of establishment political parties–make people who are angry and left out feel?

The first Clay put out a stat that floored me. There are 150 million registered voters in the U.S. That would be considered a MEDIUM-sized group on Facebook. Shirky said, “All voters’ used to be a big number. Now it’s less than 10 percent of Facebook’s audience.”

Whoa.

in·con·ceiv·a·bleˌ inkənˈsēvəb(ə)l/adjective
     1. not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.

* Apologies for my reductionist parsing of both Clays’ arguments. I’m just trying this out, Loyal Reader. I suggest you read them both and help me hone my Thinkings.

Setting Sail on the S.S. Crapper

shipwreck in Australia

Dammit people! Have you not yet figured out how the internet works?

Let me break it down for you. You tell your “woe is me” story publicly–like for example on Medium or on Facebook where you post to 1,327 “friends” and friends of their friends so it’s pretty public–and people crap on you. That’s what happens.

Also some people will reach out to you as if you are a beautiful and fragile flower. Those people then crap on the people crapping on you. And then the initial crappers pay back.

Yes, your personal misery become a crapfest all because you see yourself as a writer speaking truth to power or speaking your own truth. You’re patient zero on a crapfest of your own making.

I have pathos for you. Really, on a personal level, I do. I know you are going through something and you want to get it off your chest.

Getting it off your chest in a most public forum, however, is NOT a solution. It might be a step in getting to a solution. It may–and I say may in the most improbable sense of the word–be a work of art.

What it IS though, and this is true whether or not you explicitly invite it, is an opportunity for people to engage with you. And call you mean names. And ask why you are lazy, stupid, + all the variants of stupid, playing the victim, selfish, self-entitled, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-everything, unambitious, and/or petty. Some will oddly attack your looks and say you’re fat, ugly, lumpy, disgusting…oh, I could go on, but you’ve already read those attacks. Sorry. And even though it’s about them trolling for reaction and not about you, it still feels mean and painful.

Then there’s the relativist responses. You know, that you don’t have it so bad. That others have it way worse. You are having first world problems. I walked eight miles to school uphill both ways in the snow wearing tires for shoes and with a piece of moldy bread for lunch. And of course, think of the CHILDREN??

So, I do feel for you personally because your dreams aren’t coming true in the way you imagined, that your parents won’t pay for your dream wedding, that your job sucks, that it’s really really hard to be bombarded with messages about having it all when you have baby poop on your suit.

But when you publish it for all to see, expect that not everyone will see it from your point of view. They see it through their own crap-covered glasses.

Godspeed!

Thinking Seems to Have Stopped

I think that I have been thinking. But I think that my thoughts have been either non-conclusive or circular.

Like the past week’s political ad that had the McCain campaign trotting out blonde bimbos and somehow linking them–or at least their celebrity–to Obama. And Paris Hilton’s mom didn’t appreciate it.

Then there was the coverage about Ludacris’s song and somehow that Obama has responsibility for the rapper’s lyrics. Hunh? (Nas has a much better joint, anyway.)

Then there was the senior pictures. How did it happen that my first-born posed for his senior pictures. And he looks like a frickin’ man.

He has been spending the summer at the pool, lifeguarding. The pool is about as far away from us as some of my friends in the ‘burbs can imagine. He is guarding at a pool in Anacostia. Right by here.

One friend said that he would never allow his kid to go to that pool. But he has never been there. And he has not driven past the neat single family homes on those quiet streets. The kids playing with their sweet, funny, goofy pit-bulls in the park next to the pool. He probably hasn’t had the chance to see the most beautiful sky in Washington, D.C. as you drive up South Capital Street along the Anacostia River. Crazy clouds lit from behind to your left and the lights from the stadium straight ahead. As you cross over the river, the stadium is on your right, and you look up ahead and there’s the Capitol.

Sometimes you have to look close to see what is really there. You might need to look with your own eyes. And sometimes when you look closely, when you dig past the surface, you can really see.

Zip It, Idiot

microphoneReceived a text from the Sib late Thursday morning.

Jesse Jackson is an idiot.

Yeah, that seemed to be true. A page 4 story in the Post had alerted me over my morning coffee to what would be the “news” of the day–bigger than the floods (which led the cable news to loop through the same images of water in the streets and not too much in commentary, I mean it was too much water, what’s to say?) but a little smaller than Imus (cable-fest big contrast with the old white guy versus young black women with some of the same commentators).

So, we got someone making a disparaging comment about a rival/peer. Makes you kind of hate recordings, because if Jesse had made the comment without the salacious evidence, there would be NO STORY. As it was, it was a non-story that spun and spun and spun until it finally sputtered all over itself.

Colby King from the WaPo got it right this morning when he wrote

The reverend brother was simply fat-mouthing….Jesse Jackson was sitting on the TV set next to a brother talking trash, selling wolf tickets, being verbally aggressive when he knew full well that he wasn’t about to do anything but dis Obama (presumably) behind his back.

Hey, that’s not news. It’s what people do. It’s me talking about my boss doing something dumb. Or someone who calls me boss (or parent) talking trash about me. So what. It portends nothing of importance. And that he got “caught” just causes group pain as we relive and rehash, rewind and recoil the non-story.

This fake drama that doesn’t improve big city education, provide appropriate medical care for soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, or help us remember the discussion we almost had after Katrina.

Yeah, Jesse is an idiot, for feeding the idiot media for our idiot consumption.

Wrong Headline, Wrong Story

In the ongoing effort to make the 2008 Presidential Election all about race and increase readership or ratings or something, today’s Washington Post has the inflammatory front page headline “3 In 10 Admit to Race Bias” and chronicles the trouble Barack Obama is having in getting the (play dramatic music) White Vote.

If you read on to paragraph 9 on the second page, you will discover what I found to be news. That is, Democrats running for president have been having trouble with the (play dramatic music) White Vote for the past few election cycles–and according to the article, this trend has been going on since Jimmy Carter ran in 1976.

This is hardly the first time a Democratic candidate has faced such a challenge — Al Gore lost white voters by 12 points in 2000, and John F. Kerry lost them by 17 points in 2004 — but it is a significantly larger shortfall than Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton encountered in their winning campaigns. — Wash Post

Somehow, though, the Post acts like Obama is having a problem with the (play dramatic music) White Vote because he is black. That’s not what I see in the data.

Hey Post, I think that if you actually read your data–to make it easy I made a graph with a trendline–you would agree that the story is either

  1. Dems have been in trouble with white voters for a while, OR
  2. Obama’s race doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on the voters–so far.

The Post piece is NOT good thinking.