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Archive for June 2006

what goes round

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Hate to tell the folks at Slate, but as I was looking around for articles that I need for another post (coming), I found my way to a 2002 piece from their site. My first thought upon reaching the piece: how funny – it’s a circa 2002 site design! Wow – pre-broadband!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t not their 2002 design. It was their brand new 10th anniversary redesign.

(Also, while I was over there, I was reminded of the whole stay-at-home mom / working women issue that just keeps plastering itself across our cultural windshield. Tempted to post on this. But I won’t. I know better, actually. But I will say this. There’s something a wee bit dysfunctional about a society wherein when we get really riled up, pissing and fuming and not gonna take it any more, we get up on our soapbox and demand MORE WORK!

I should shut up. But here, from the Slate piece:

It is in forcing us to consider the implications of all this that Hirshman’s book is most interesting: If you are a woman who is committed to gender equality, who doesn’t believe that a woman’s place is necessarily in the home, she argues, then you have to think about how your choices shape the collective good. Her stubborn insistence is refreshing. Unlike others, she is willing to come out and say, in no uncertain terms, that the luxury of making our own decisions as if they had no larger implications isn’t ethical at this point in time. If that makes feminism unpopular, so be it; but shying away from persistent inequality by invoking the language of “choice,” she observes, is hardly feminism. If you buy her argument, then even if you find it hard to leave your baby at home, and even if you find the workplace sometimes less-than-fulfilling, it’s important—to society as a whole—that you work. This sounds extreme, but of course it’s the lesson every man is taught when he’s a boy: Your responsibility to society—the way to become an adult—is to work.

Hmm… The lessons that I was taught as a boy – and they’ve served me very, very well in the workplace – wasn’t so much “Work and better society through it, buddy boy!” but rather “You fucking lazy shit! How are you going to get into Harvard with a fucking B+ in Calculus.” Maybe not quite that, but something more along the lines of “Were you to piss away the hard won class advance that I’ve won for us by the bloody sweat on my brow, son, by becoming say a poet or a novelist or even just like an ordinary person who works in a bookshop, let alone raising children full-time or something, then, well, my life, which I’ve given up for you, will have come to absolutely nothing.”

And thus the Ph.d. rather than the MFA. And, look, the Ph.D. rather than being badgered into a law degree or an MBA or something was getting off easy. (Dad’s class antennae are jiggered such that doing a Ph.D. at Prestigious University X was, well, intimidatingly OK… And I don’t think he ever really got how bad the job situation was/is…)

In short, I have absolutely no interest in undercutting American women’s right of self-determination. No way, no how. But I am not so sure that demanding further entanglement in the self-strangling mode of life that we call ours is the way to go about pulling down any sort of betterment. There are other problems with the argument, of course. Is Hirschman’s piece supposed to advance the cause of men taking more initiative in the parenting department? By devaluing childrearing? O’Rourke again:

Until those who care about equality recognize that it will take collective action to create further change, the kinds of policy amendments most women want to see won’t take place, and women will continue doing 70 percent of the housework—while men continue to do less housework after marriage than they did as bachelors.

Do Hirschman and O’Rourke really believe that this class of CEOs and corporate lawyers are really going to turn around and get behind social legislation that “most women want to see”? Really?

In other words, and I’m sure it’s quite idealist of me, especially as an American, but it seems to me possible, if not probable, that women and men both might step back a bit from this problem to ask some really very easy questions about why we’ve been forced into an untenable situation, about the paradoxical relationship between technological progress and the intensification of labor, why we need two incomes when one (or 2 halves) used to suffice, what’s been lost (pensions, health benefits, low cost housing, cheap mass transportation) that forces us to embrace the drives that parasitically inhabit us, keeping us close to the workbench from sun-up to sun-down, and shocking us minute-by-minute with visions of a life terribly ordinary, the unbearable lightness of limited expectations, time for children and their useless living.

(Full disclosure: my wife and I – and we’re very lucky that we can do this, as I’m an academic and she is a writer – split time caring for the baby. Not necessarily 50 / 50. Maybe more like 30 / 70. I will admit that it is not something that comes easily to me, not working. We both are frustrated at times: she doesn’t get to work as much as I do, but it wasn’t easy being a first-year assistant professor and rarely starting work before 1 PM. Neither of us have gotten more than 5 hours of sleep for more than a year. We’re lucky though, that we can work this out. And we’re very lucky that we both get to spend so much time with an absolutely wonderful little person. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned since having this child, it’s that judging the choices of others, whatever they are, on this front, is a recipe for egocentric, projective disaster…)

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June 27, 2006 at 12:47 am


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June 26, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Posted in architecture, socialism

il faut être absolument moderne

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A pictorial illustration of Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, 3-4:

“Just as Rimbaud’s stunning dictum one hundred years ago devined definitively the history of new art, his later silence, his stepping into line as an employee, anticipated art’s decline.”

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June 25, 2006 at 11:47 pm

buying / renting

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So I am contemplating a move over to my own site / WordPress. But holy shit is it ever time sucking, playing around with this stuff. Can’t decide… I’ve bought my domain name… But I’m very worried that, really, at base, typepad is good for me because it does everything that I need it to do with a minimum of difficulty. Anyone want to chime in, pro or con?

UPDATE: I think the grand WordPress experiment may have come to a close on my end. It’s a lovely little bit of software, and I actually succeeded in launching a site, importing my posts from here (minus images, as they’re tough to untangle), and I learned a ton about how this crazy internet thingy works. But I think I’m going to stick with Typepad. For a few reasons:

1. While I was relatively successful playing around the ftp uploading and even a bit of code editing, I can’t see wanting to do that on anywhere near a regular basis. And I think you’d have to.

2. I really like the backside post composition in typepad. Between the on-line imputs, and Marsedit, I’m all set, and I’d hate to leave those behind. WordPress would theoretically work with Marsedit, but it seems very complicated to get it to work correctly…

3. My ultimate goal was to start using my own domain name, which should still work under typepad. I’ll set it up soonish

In sum, while it’s nice to head into Open Source territory, right now it would simply add a layer of obsessive complexity to my life which I really don’t need… So typepad it is.

Luckily, I only bought a month of hosting from a small orange for $5. What a deal. And I do recommend it as a host if you’re looking for one. But I’m not going to be out all that much cash for my little vacation into the world of web formalism…

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June 24, 2006 at 2:14 am

Posted in blogs, meta

the old neighborhood

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7) The drawings themselves. Any chance you want to take a harder look at your plans? When unveiling the latest, you explained the appearance of the spearhead tower, which you’ve named “Miss Brooklyn” (spurring the inevitable quip, We’ll miss it, all right). You explained: “When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that ‘Miss Brooklyn’ was a bride. She’s a bride with her flowing bridal veil—I really overdid it. If you had seen the bride, you would—I fell in love with her.” Pardon me, but bleeechh. I don’t know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronizing. But somehow I doubt that any have.

Bleeechh indeed. Every time I’ve seen Gehry open his mouth about Brooklyn, this sort of shit comes out. Tony and Tina. Moonstruck. Cheezecake. Fuhgeddaboudit. What is it about Bklyn that makes him so soft in the head?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can even categorize this one as “multinational capitalist chic.”

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June 21, 2006 at 9:23 am

Posted in architecture


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Design Observer on Kafka and Typography:

We get the word “koan” from Zen Buddhism, where in Japanese it translates literally as “a matter for public thought,” sort of an open-source philosophy for ancient times. Koans often demonstrated the inability of logical reasoning to produce enlightened thought, and, as a trained lawyer and insurance clerk throughout his life, no one knew the deadening effects of logic better than Franz Kafka.

Yes, and that slip from “we” to “they”… Go look…

(Image above: “Walbaum, typeface design by Justin Erich Walbaum, 1804. Kafka’s favorite typeface and the original used for Meditation.”)

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June 20, 2006 at 11:07 am


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From opendemocracy on football and politics in Buenos Aires:

Football provided Hector with enough fulfilment to enable him to overcome the disenchantment he felt toward his club because of corruption. At first glance, Hector’s response seems based on a dual, perhaps incoherent, set of standards: one applicable only to football and based on individual norms of personal fulfilment, the other applicable only to politics and based on public standards of accountability. But his response makes considerable sense in the context of Buenos Aires’s football traditions and recent crisis of representation.

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June 20, 2006 at 9:46 am