What’s the Matter With Cultural Studies?

September 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm (By Randy)

Writing for the Chronicle Review, Michael Bérubé asks the question, What’s the Matter With Cultural Studies?

Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (1978), the Birmingham collection that predicted the British Labour Party’s epochal demise, is now more than 30 years old. In that time, has cultural studies transformed the disciplines of the human sciences? Has cultural studies changed the means of transmission of knowledge? Has cultural studies made the American university a more egalitarian or progressive institution? Those seem to me to be useful questions to ask, and one useful way of answering them is to say, sadly, no. Cultural studies hasn’t had much of an impact at all.

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Will Angry Populism Save GOP?

September 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm (By Randy)

Thomas B. Edsall recently penned a provocative post about the future of the GOP.

Republicans hope – and Democrats fear – that a politically significant percentage of voters will come to see the federal government under Democratic control as redistributing tax dollars to “elites” and to the very poor, as the broad middle class is left on its own to face high unemployment, sharply reduced home values, and gutted retirement savings.

This would be very good news for a Republican party that is otherwise facing potentially devastating demographic trends.

Any thoughts?

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Lucy and Me

September 22, 2009 at 1:08 am (By Amba) (, )

My niece Rachel, when she was little, dubbed me Ant Ant.

So now Lucy has kicked me upstairs:  I’m Great Ant Ant!

lucymeetlucykisslucylaugh(That solid, reassuring wall of father on the left is Lucy’s dad, Matt.)

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September 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm (By Pat)

Wow. Ksenyia Simonova, of the Ukraine, is an incredible artist. Astounding how much emotion can be conveyed in just a few lines of sand. And so transitory; each image lasts, complete, for but a few short moments, before another is constructed on its foundation.

[Update: Oops, my bad. I knew this looked familiar, but I didn’t look far enough back in the Ambiance prior posts. Randy spotted her work first, 3 weeks ago! Sorry about that, Randy! I was swamped that week and didn’t have time to watch it then, then I saw somebody else post about it today at another blog.]

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Duetto Buffo Di Fue Gatti

September 21, 2009 at 9:09 am (By Randy)

On a much lighter note, sit back and enjoy this Rossini duet .

(Via Eclecticity)

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Parting Words

September 20, 2009 at 10:22 am (By Randy)


[He’s sitting by the bed as she wakes up]

Are you leaving?

Yes. It’s time for me to go.

I want to go, too.

I’ll pack you a bag.

[smiles] You know what I mean.

Yes, I do.


You need to eat more.

I can’t.

Can’t or won’t?

I want to throw up when I do.

You should tell M. [her son]

Why bother?

I’m afraid I already told him.

Oh, well…

If you don’t eat, you’ll get weaker.

I hope so.

I thought so. [places his hand on hers]

Are you sure?

Yes, I’m sure. It’s OK.


Read the rest of this entry »

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Like Father Like Son

September 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm (By Randy)


Charlie & Daddy (a.k.a Danny Miller) enjoying their afternoon nap at home.

Photo by Mommy (a.k.a Kendall Miller)

Click HERE for the further adventures of Charles Oliver Thomas Miller.

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Memorial Concert

September 16, 2009 at 11:39 pm (By Randy)

More selections from this 1964 performance in Sydney, Australia below the fold:

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Marital aids and shower heads

September 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm (By Pat)

Ok, I asked Amba to go ahead and give me an account because I have a serious post I want to make, which I’ll do later this evening. But I decided to start off with something a bit more fun light-hearted. What’s the difference between a sex toy and a shower head?

Few political factions in the U.S. can lay great claim to intellectual consistency these days. Mutual hypocrisy rather abounds. When Democrats were uncivil to President Bush and called him a liar, Republicans were all about civility and decorum. When Republicans were uncivil to President Obama, roles switched, and Republicans spoke of speaking truth to power and the need to fight effectively, while Democrats suddenly rediscovered the need for civility and decorum.

But even among more civil debaters and on more specific issues, one can see some really inconsistent thinking. Let’s look at two issues.

Eugene Volokh brings us news of a court challenge to an Alabama statute which bans the sale of devices “useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.” Prof. Volokh believes the Supreme Court will either decline to hear the case or will uphold the law, though it would seem fairly at odds with current jurisprudential trends, both in light of the Griswold case on contraceptives and certainly the more recent Lawrence case on privately conducted homosexual activity. The left-leaning commenters, as one would expect, decry the law as prudery, and speak in glowing terms of the right to be left alone, to do what one will in one’s own bedroom.

On the flip side, let’s look at shower heads and toilets. I’m informed that shower heads have, in fact, been used as a “marital aid” by some women, and a number of public conservation campaigns make discretely sexual suggestions to “shower with a friend!” to save water, so this seems rather analogous to the sex toy ban. Since 1994, EPA regulations have banned from sale all shower heads which put out more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 also imposed a 1.6 gallons per flush limit on most residential toilets. Again, those on the left are largely in favor of these regulations, while those on the right are against.

So here’s the question. How can you have a constitutionally-protected “privacy interest” in buying  “devices useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs,” but not have a constitutionally-protected privacy interest in the type of showerhead or toilet you buy for the single most private room of any house?

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War of Lies

September 15, 2009 at 3:59 pm (By Amba) (, )

Many conservatives adore Joe Wilson for shouting “You lie!” at President Obama, but some — some of the same ones — have no qualms about using untruth and distortion themselves as a weapon in what they see as an all-out war.

When a conservative (David Frum) points out that another conservative (Glenn Beck) has deployed an untruth, a third conservative (David Horowitz) defends the tactic.  In Frum’s account:

Horowitz agrees that Beck’s attack on Sunstein was false. Yet that falsehood does not worry Horowitz. The country is “under assault.” (As the broadcaster Mark Levin has said, President Obama is “literally at war” with the American people.) In a war, truth must yield to the imperatives of victory. Any conservative qualms about the untruth of Beck’s defamation of Sunstein amounts to “appeasement” – an appeasement that will end with the left decapitating the right.  [Frum then editorializes sardonically:] This is the language and logic of Leninism. There is no truth or falsehood comrades, there is only service to the revolution or betrayal of the revolution.

How can you justify using the same tactics you decry in your opponent?  It’s simple:  “We’re right and they’re wrong!”  “The end justifies the means!”

But that’s what both sides are saying.  That’s what both sides believe.

I don’t want either one governing me!!

Man, if I were one of our enemies, I’d be rubbing my hands together exultantly to see so many Americans indulging in the lethal luxury of a soccer-hooligan-level war with each other.

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