Tag Archives: New York Times

You’ll Never Be as Radical as This 18th-Century Quaker Dwarf – NYTimes.com

Slowly, over a quarter-century, his relentless agitation changed hearts and minds. … He died a year later, an outsider to the Quaker community he loved, but a moral giant of a man.

Source: You’ll Never Be as Radical as This 18th-Century Quaker Dwarf – NYTimes.com

Seriously? Seriously??? You write about a radical Little Person who presciently opposed slavery, point out that part of why history has ignored him is his disability, and conclude with words equating moral superiority with physical size or typicality.

And we wonder why no one ever gets disability rights.

“The Case Against Gay Marriage: Top Law Firms Won’t Touch It”

The Case Against Gay Marriage: Top Law Firms Won’t Touch It – NYTimes.com.

Here is what I wrote to the author:

I find it funny that the unwillingness of big law firms to handle cases that might affect their bottom line is getting a lot of attention around the marriage equality issue. We run a small civil rights non-profit that files lawsuits to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, and honestly, big firms that will represent tobacco companies and death row inmates won’t touch our cases. Why? Because we are asking their [potential] clients to be accessible to people who use wheelchairs, to deaf and hard of hearing people, to others with other disabilities. It’s not front page news; it’s business as usual for us.

Here is what I wrote on Facebook:

Oh cry me a fucking river. Your position is unpopular. Deal with it. Grow some balls and speak up for what you believe in. It’s not “crushing dissent” when you self-censor for economic gain.

In defense of Guy Fieri, or at least Triple-D

I’d like to take a break from the frivolity of blogging about abortion, constitutional theory, and peace in the middle east, to address a truly important topic:  Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Guy Fieri (né Ferry it turns out) has come in for some recent and apparently not so recent crap for being an over-exposed douche with a couple of crappy restaurants.  The Westword dis and the NYT wrecking ball are both worth reading, if for no other reason than to stock up on entertaining invective such as “hair like space-alien pornstar pubes” or “whirling hypno wheel … where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex.”  Gotta remember that last one for my next opposition brief!

And it’s true that Fieri may be a bit overexposed, what with the TV show, the other TV show, the TV game show, the original restaurants, the new restaurant, the website, the books, the accessories, and the constant need to come up with new ways to say “off the hook!” “out of bounds!” and “on the _____ to flavortown!”*

But I’d like to stand up for Triple-D – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Diners Drive-ins and Dives

In this show, Guy drives around in his signature red convertible (OK, probably flies to where some truck has recently delivered his signature red convertible – I get the kitsch but really don’t mind it!) to the sorts of restaurants that serve yummy food but may not make the Michelin Guide or even Zagat’s.  I disagree with Westword that he sets himself up as

the proverbial white knight of normal, average, hard-working, unpretentious Midwestern diners who are oppressed and marginalized by hoity-toity East and West Coast chefs and their expensive, unapproachable, foreign-sounding dishes.

In fact what he does is celebrate a certain kind of non-chain, non-fancy restaurant with good food and – this is what I love the most – a good story.  The restaurants are true celebrations of American creativity and entrepreneurialism.  Some have been in a family for generations.  Others were started by a couple with a small nest egg and a love for cooking, or by a classically-trained chef who wanted to call his own shots, or – my favorite, because these are the ones I am most likely to track down – by an immigrant family recalling and cooking their grandmother’s recipes, sometimes sending back to the old country for missing ingredients.

The shows always involve interviews with diners, who extoll the food and, often, the owners.  Hell, some of the customers have been coming since they were kids, or their parents or grandparents ate at the same place.

It’s a celebration of good food and friendly restaurants as creators and sustainers of community.

So, yeah, Guy has a bit too much signature-this and –that (bleached tips, backward sunglasses, weird goatee, flip flops,** cargo shorts, red convertible, repetitious slang), but who on the telly doesn’t have a shtick?  We tune in for the restaurants, the people, their stories, and the food.  And have tracked down many a Triple-D joint on our travels, almost always to good result.

Extra bonus Conan O’Brien/Guy Fieri spoof:  Brozen Brogurt:  The Frozen Yogurt Just for Bros!


* Tim and I always try to gauge Guy’s real view of the food he’s tasting on camera by the vehicle on which he is traveling to Flavortown.  Someday some poor joint is going to whip up their specialty for Guy and hear that it’s “on the mo-ped to Flavortown!”

** I do wonder about the flip flops and the health code.  Don’t want to get in the way of the signature, though!

We need a Language Police.

Of which, of course, I’d be Chief.

Our jurisdiction would be broad:  grammar; punctuation; semantics.  But our most important task would be punishing language abuse.   Today’s perp:  The NYT.  The charges are based on a sentence fragment in today’s Times that is superficially just crappy writing, but is in fact stunningly offensive.  In an article discussing Michelle Obama’s white ancestors, the writer makes clear that the family of the First Lady’s white great-great-great-grandfather owned her great-great-great grandmother.  At the time their child — Mrs. Obama’s great-great-grandfather, Dolphus T. Shields — was conceived, the white slave-owner was 20; his slave only 15.  The article continues:

Such forbidden liaisons across the racial divide inevitably bring to mind the story of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. Mrs. Obama’s ancestors, however, lived in a world far removed from the elegance of Jefferson’s Monticello, his 5,000-acre mountain estate with 200 slaves. They were much more typical of the ordinary people who became entangled in America’s entrenched system of servitude.

Just a bunch of random, ordinary people of, you know, a couple of different skin colors, who — passive voice! — became entangled, you know, like you do when you are charging too many electrical devices and the cords end up on the floor, or your dog puts one too many rope toys in front of the back door and, you just, you know, become entangled.  No one’s fault.  That lethal system of violently-asserted racial superiority, oppression, and death was just lying around entangling ordinary people.

Rachel L. Swarns, you are under arrest for First Degree Language Abuse.

Ms. Swarns — who has apparently written a book about Ms. Obama’s multiracial ancestors — goes on to perpetrate this egregious sentence, which may form the basis of a referral to my colleagues with the Journalism Police or possibly the History Police.

[Ms. Obama’s great-great-great grandmother] had more biracial children after the Civil War, giving some of the white Shieldses hope that her relationship with [the white slave-owner] was consensual.

W.T.F.  There is no universe in which the sexual relationship between a master and a slave can be consensual.  Nor did the end of the Civil War magically turn former slaves and their former owners into free agents.

I get the motive for this:  we don’t want to offend the tender feelings of Mrs. Joan Tribble — “a retired bookkeeper who delights in her two grandchildren and her Sunday church mornings” — by suggesting that perhaps some of her distant ancestors were, um …. how can I say this delicately yet factually? … slaveowners.  Because of course “[s]ome of Mrs. Tribble’s relatives have declined to discuss the matter beyond the closed doors of their homes, fearful that they might be vilified as racists or forced to publicly atone for their forebears.”

How the hell can we teach history if we’re unwilling to just tell it like it is?