Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh yes she did.

Whoever did this writeup for Daily Candy was clearly having fun.
Time to refurbish your special no-no place with a jazzy fall color: Put your triangle’s tresses in the capable hands of Betty, the first dye created especially for your down-there hair. The easy-to-use formula is safe enough for your sensitive lady place. And if your orchid is wilting, fear not — Betty easily covers grays.

Decorate your fuzzy √©clair with a variety of icings, like subtle auburn, blonde, brown, and black. Not enough options (or unsettling euphemisms) for ya? Feather your nest with FunBetty, an oh-no-she-didn’t pink. The dripless formula guarantees that no dye will sully your pee-pee’s teepee, and your new plumage is more than certain to attract plenty of male attention.

Via, which thoughtfully adds that this product works for men, too. (No reason to think it wouldn't.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bumper Sticker

This post has taken me months to write. I'm still not satisfied with it, but this post by LizardBreath over at Unfogged prompted me to get off my rhetorical ass and just post the damn thing.

Some time earlier this year as I was driving home from work I noticed a bumper sticker on the SUV in front of me. When I read it, it disturbed me, perplexed me, pissed me off, made me sad, and all sorts of other things at the same time.

On the left it had a depiction of the Confederate flag, and on the right were the words "Never apologize for being white."

Thought 1: Does that really say what I think it says?
Thought 2: Racist.
Thought 3: Apologize? For being white??
Thought 4: I'm sure people have told you that you have plenty of things to apologize for, but if you think the pigmentation of your skin is one of those things, then you are missing the point.

One of the things I think is so insidious about this bumper sticker is that the explicit meaning of its text is easily defended. Of course nobody should ever have to apologize for their skin color or ethnicity. But the implicit meaning of those words is another thing altogether, especially when written next to that flag, that flag that has been waved so many times by people whose hearts were filled with hatred . . .

What does "being white" mean to the person who thinks putting this bumper sticker on their car is a good idea? I cannot help but think that it means something entirely different to that person than what it means to me.

The abovementioned post at Unfogged helped crystallize some of my thinking about this. As a white person in America whose grandparents were all born in the United States, I do not have any real claim to any ethnicity other than "white American." I'm not even "Irish-American" or "German-American" or anything else with a hyphen in it, just plain old undifferentiated "American." Which, right or wrong, I've always sort of thought of as no ethnicity at all. As part of the dominant culture, my culture becomes invisible to me except when I am looking for it, or comparing my culture to those of others.

(I just noticed that in the above paragraph, I shifted to using the word "culture" rather than the word "ethnicity" without thinking about it. Interesting. I won't explore what that means at this time, or I'll never finish this post.)

Anyway, since my culture/ethnicity is something I don't spend much time thinking about, it is not something I feel I would ever have to apologize for.

Wait, that's not quite it. I criticize the dominant culture in the U.S. all the time. I criticize it for being sexist, racist, classist, narrow-minded, xenophobic, and a host of other things. But whenever I do so, I am distancing myself from it. I am saying, "This is what's wrong with the U.S." or "This is what is wrong with our country," rather than "This is what is wrong with my culture." I am criticizing rather than apologizing. Whenever I hear someone else making similar criticisms of the dominant culture in the U.S., I never take it as a personal attack on me. In short, I don’t have any emotional investment in my ethnicity. “Being white” is not something I am either proud of or ashamed of. I just happened to be born with this skin color.

But what does "being white" mean to the person who bought that bumper sticker and put it on their car? I really have no idea. I could make all sorts of guesses based on my understanding of what white supremacists believe. I could describe such beliefs, but only in the same way that I could describe the beliefs of people who think the earth is flat. Those beliefs seem self-evidently absurd. And yet people believe those things, and those beliefs fill people’s hearts with fear and hate.

I just don't understand. And in a sense, I don't want to. But it bothers me.

As I said at the outset, I’m not satisfied with this post. I’ve rambled on and on but I still don’t think I’ve gotten at the heart of what bothered me so much about that bumper sticker. But sometimes when I am driving home from work I will look down the long dirt driveway that I saw the SUV pull into, that driveway that disappears off into the woods, and I feel ashamed that the worldview encapsulated in that bumper sticker is any part of a culture I could call my own.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will they also be giving out free raincoats?

I would love to meet the person who dreamed up this marketing scheme:
During the first weekend of its annual Halloween festival, Six Flags Over Texas will let guests skip to the front of the Titan roller coaster line if they eat a live cockroach.

A live, wingless, 3-inch long Madagascar hissing cockroach that can run at 3 mph.

Chew and swallow one of these crunchy, wiggling critters and Six Flags will also give you a Flash Pass for the evening that will let you bypass the line on many thrill rides.
So, let's review the plan: Find people willing to eat something really gross, and then get them on a roller coaster as quickly as possible! What could possibly go wrong?

Link via Boing Boing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Alter Ego Roundup #1

This is My Alter Ego. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Here are some others that are not mine . . .

"With a dark brilliant colour, the nose offers a fruity aroma mingled with floral and peppery notes."

Alter Ego: The Game

"It is the music that stands in the middle for all that Alter Ego Distort radiates."

"She's part green cat, part... winged... creature... thing. She's got cool purple hair and a funky hat and a scar on her right eye. She basically is Skye's eternal torment, like Luna, and she does it oh so well. And as you can see, she's armed with the Frying Pan of Doom from Random Object Space, probably to smack Skye or me over the back of the head. I'm betting it's Skye."

"You've all seen those marriage cliques, right? The celeb you'd marry, the character you'd marry? Well, this is the same idea, only this is for the character you'd like to be."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My kinda robot.

From Lockwasher's Flickr photos. See more at LockWasher Design. Lots of neat stuff.

Via Mr. Sun.

Infinite degrees of separation.

You know that whole "six degrees of separation" thing? The idea that you can be connected to anyone else on the planet by a chain of people who are acquainted with each other, and that in most cases that chain will involve no more than six people?

It turns out that the research that served as the basis for the original claim has some serious flaws.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Something to do.

I'm not usually one to participate in blog memes. (Incidentally, I really do not care for the word "meme"--it is a dreadful, ill-defined word, and the sound of it causes me to wince.) But for some reason the one addressed recently by A White Bear intrigued me enough to participate.

How long have you been blogging?

The Ego began blogging in 2004. A different alter ego of his began blogging a few months later, and this Alter Ego has been a drain of mental resources since July '05.


The Alter Ego, being a purely mental and electronic phenomenon, looks like a colorless green dream. The Ego is a somewhat tall, skinny (less so, of late) fellow who many say looks (and some would say acts) younger than he really is.

Why do readers read your blog?

This is the question that made me consider participating in this, uh, meme. The answer is: Damned if I know. I don't even know why I write it. Maybe some readers were intrigued enough by one or more of my comments over at Unfogged or on their own blogs to click on my URL. I guess some of them liked what they read enough that they decided to add me to their blogrolls.

What was the last search phrase someone used to get to your site?

As far as I can tell, it was "alter ego shirt". I'm guessing that person went away disappointed. We can't have that happen again, can we? As a public service to the next such searcher, I now link to the "My Alter Ego" t-shirt. [Disclaimer: I am not associated in any way with the makers of that shirt, so buying one will not contribute to my personal wealth. If contributing to my personal wealth is what you are interested in, let me know in the comments. I'm sure we can work something out.]

Which of your entries unjustly gets too little attention?

I don't regard any of my entries as particularly attention-worthy; whatever attention they receive is probably more than they deserve. That said, I'm still fond of the link in this post from the earliest days of this blog.

Your current favorite blog?

I am still addicted to Unfogged, even though there are far too many comments these days for me to even consider attempting to read all of them. I tell myself I can quit any time I want . . .

I can't single out any other blog as my favorite; there are several that I love equally for very different reasons.

What blog did you read most recently?

I obviously read A White Bear's blog to copy and paste the questions for this. A better question might be What is your most recent addition to the blogs you read frequently? But I don't really have an answer to that question.

Which feeds do you subscribe to?

I subscribe to the feeds of most of the blogs in my blogroll. There are some blogs in my blogroll whose feeds I do not subscribe to. There are some blogs whose feeds I subscribe to that are not in my blogroll. More than this I will not say.

What blogs are you tagging with this meme and why?

I tag no one and everyone. Just because.

On second thought, I tag frequent-commenter Ruth. Because she hasn't posted to her blog in a while.