Posts about Culture

He’s in charge of Dell customers

In the office where I’m sitting now, the exterminator just paid a visit and I love the euphemism he just used: “I’m the pest manager.”

She’s a ______

Jill Abramson, a New York Times editor, writes an op-ed today reacting to all the hubub around Katie Couric landing in an anchor chair and she ponders: “At a time when women are running Fortune 500 companies and the State Department, and writing Supreme Court opinions, perhaps we have stopped pushing the save-get key for ‘the first woman to become _____.’ ” I do hope we’re getting past that. Today on Reliable Sources — as on much coverage of this story — there has been so much attention paid to Couric as a woman rather than as a professional that I think it risks becoming condescending and even sexist.

At the start of my checkered career, I was an intern on the Detroit Free Press in what was then known as the Women’s Section. (I took juvenile joy in picking up the phone and growling in my deepest basso, “Free Press … Women’s.”) Even back then in — dare I say it? 1973 — I was sick of headlines all starting “She’s a ______.” She’s a busdriver. She’s a rabbi. She’s a mortician, even. So what? To be amazed that a woman is doing any of these jobs is to intimate that we should be surprised she can do it. And that is essentially insulting.

Of course, that’s not to say that there are not plenty of jobs that women — and minorities of various colors, backgrounds, nationalities, and abilities — have not yet filled, starting with the presidency. But I’m quite sick of people asking whether we are “ready” for a woman President — or, for that matter, a black or Jewish (or one day, Muslim) President. We’re ready for a smart President.

Couric should be judged exactly as her male counterparts — and her female counterpart, Elizabeth Vargas — are judged, with neither greater nor lesser scrutiny given because she is a woman. I think the response to all the attention paid to her being the first solo anchor of the evening news should be, “so what?”

Insurance hell

Best moment on The Sopranos tonight (so far) is Tony Soprano yelling at an insurance flunkie who comes into his hospital room in an effort to get him out of there. She says that if emergency medicos hadn’t found an insurance card in their “wallet biopsy” on him in the ambulance, they would have dumped his ass at Martin Luther King Hospital. Tony sneers as her: “Get out of my room, you sick c***.” Spoken on behalf of insurance victims everywhere.

Second-best moment is Tony Soprano going up against a fundamentalist religious nut.

Brokeback desert

Brian Whitaker, Middle East editor of The Guardian, says at CommFree that Brokeback Mountain tells a story that’s most relevant to the Arab world — if only it could be told there: “Western audiences who see the film can view it as a portrayal of gay life in the bad old days of the 50s and 60s. For Arabs, on the other hand, it’s a portrayal of the reality now.”


Here’s a wonderful thread with fast-food workers sharing their recipe hacks (and if you doubt they’re real, check the spelling). When I worked at Ponderosa Steakhouse (wearing red-checked shirts, string ties, and cowboy hats that were all too Brokeback Mountain), all we did was bake too many rolls at the end of the night so we could have some.

Auntie Anne’s peeps – hook up some dough rolled out w/ some marinara topping and parmesan cheese. tada! pizza. try cinnamon sugar pretzels with the glazin’ raisen glaze, darn tasty. any soda + dutch ice is pretty tasty too.

Dairy Queeners – stick a fried fish fillet on the steam table to loosen the breading off. Lemon packets, salt and pepper. Microwave to heat up. now you have something half palatable.

cheese fries are an easy one – fries, cheese and bacon from the salads.

chop up some burger, throw some ketchup, mustard, and onion together and you have a sloppy joe. sorta.

Umair Haque tries to find an Edge Age lesson in this: Open source the grill!

Yes, it is the French

The French give Jerry Lewis their highest honor. Agnes Poirer is unapologetic.

Why video was invented

I want video of David Weinberger demonstrating the choices and physics of tying shoelaces. Then he should start a talkshow about this.

Podcasts are politically incorrect

Reading The Independent this week is a hoot. It is a self-parody of liberal orthodoxy. The best so far: To mark the start of Lent, The Independent made some suggestions about what to give up, like driving, bottled water, shopping at supermarkets and using plastic shopping bags there. Oh, and you now have to toss your iPod:

IPods are everywhere. We listen to them on trains, in the gym, and at home. But while we have been giving the world our very own soundtrack, we have forgotten that the world plays a mean tune itself.

“IPods are another distraction,” says Tom Hodgkinson, editor of the Idler magazine. “They blot out our misery, but the misery is still there. If you are bored on the tube, bus or commuter train, I would recommend carrying around a copy of Blake’s collected poetry.”

“When you’re listening to an iPod,” says the philosopher AC Grayling, “what you’re trying to do is shut out the outside world. … If you take your earphones out you can hear that there is wind in the trees and birds in those trees still.”