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Author: Claire

Comfort with complexity, II: Labels

This is the second in a series on freedom and the ability to deal comfortably with complexity. Part one is here. In a couple of recent comment threads (here and here) Kevin Wilmeth lamented dependence on labels and the human craving to identify with groups. At the risk of misinterpreting him, I’ll paraphrase: Labels are limiting because they can never express all the variations that fall within their scope; and our need to identify as part of a group often means we give ourselves permission to stop thinking as soon as we’ve concluded, “I’m an X” or “So and so…

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Shah Rukh Khan’s autographed body scans

Ohhhh, I’m waiting for these to show up in a Google image search. Shah Rukh Khan is pretty darned sexy, even in images that don’t show all his … er, endowments. But (unless this claim turns out to be a publicity stunt by the Bollywood star), thanks to airport body scanners — you know, those machines that never, ever, ever preserve images of our nekkid bodies — autographed views of him in his (so he claims) full glory are already floating around in the world, or at least Heathrow Airport. Oh, lucky us, huh? Just think what future stars our…

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Comfort with complexity

Being comfortable with complexity. It’s something that’s been on my mind for years. But I was reminded of it again after reading an otherwise-sneering Mother Jones profile of the New York Times’s “conservative” columnist, Ross Douthat. Now, Douthat isn’t “conservative” by any standard most folks would recognize around here (federal wage subsidies, anyone?). But what got Mother to ooohing and aaahing is that Douthat is apparently a thinker who is comfortable with nuance and complexity. The writer, Mark Oppenheimer, just could not wrap his head around the idea of a “conservative” who didn’t toe some O’Reillyesque party line. Of course,…

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For those who still believe in “working within the system”

Ah, couldn’t you just see it coming? How to undermine a movement: turn its values on their heads. Palin and the tea-party “movement”: nothing new. First, the R-party is taken over by neo-conservatives (who are, of course, neither new nor conservative). Then the L-party falls into the hands of neo-cons. Now, only a year after its beginnings as a vigorous, Paulista, grass-roots movement for smaller government and fiscal common sense, the tea-party movement, too, has been co-opted by the same gang of warfare-welfare, centralized-power, to-hell-with-the-rule-of-law con artists. The specific power factions may come and go (or change their name and…

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My all-time favorite SuperBowl “spot” [vbg]

Okay, here’s one for the lighter side. The only thing I miss about not having TV is great commercials. But with YouTube, no problem. This is my absolute, all-time favorite SuperBowl spot (other than the incomparable “1984”, of course). From 2007, I believe. On the other hand, I never saw this one until this afternoon. But it could really be my second favorite. From SuperBowl 1999 …

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Monday Miscellany

The Constitution as an 18th-century Patriot Act. Hm. I’ve always thought of that applying more to the Alien and Sedition Acts. But it’s an interesting point. Anyhow, I’m definitely of the school that says, “The Constitution isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what we have now.” (Any idea who originated that quote?) Last week while looking for a link to the Whiskey Rebellion, I stumbled across this cool site dealing with booze, with some emphasis on the bootleg variety. I’m not a drinker myself. I fall asleep after one glass of wine. I think beer tastes like dish detergent and…

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Does anybody know …?

I’m going to be traveling soon (more about that in the coming weeks) and will be spending time in places where you Don’t Drink the Water. Or else. I already know about some common pitfalls and mistakes. I know, for instance, that you also Don’t Use the Ice Cubes. And Don’t Eat Fruit unless you’ve peeled it yourself. Ditto on not eating raw veggies, which may have been washed in the Dreaded Water. (Which pretty much blows my whole nutritional plan. Ah well.) I’ll brush my teeth only with bottled stuff. But I can’t figure this: Can you wash dishes…

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James Otis, Jr., the unknown founding father

Today is the birthday of James Otis, Jr., according to my copy of The Liberty Calendar. Few people have heard of him. He’s the man who said, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” (Never mind that he should have just shortened that to, “Taxation is tyranny”; he made a good start.) He argued brilliantly against the writs of assistance that were so contentious in the years before the American Revolution. (We could use him again these days.) Otis unfortunately went crazy. And he died young — struck by lightning, exactly as he had hoped he would be — while others went…

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Three great sites

1. The Ultimate Answer to Kings. A few years back, on a forum that was in those days known as The Claire Files, I kept running into this guy. I’d be reading along in some thread. I’d think of a scintillatingly witty reposte … and before I could click to post it … this guy, Joel, would say exactly what I was thinking, only say it better and shorter. The nerve of that man, huh? He’s blogging these days, and his blog is The Ultimate Answer to Kings. When you go there, you can never be quite sure what you’ll…

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Census: arrogant or desperate?

Shazam. $2.5 million bucks for a 30-second SuperBowl spot to advertise the census. $138 million (or more) for the entire Cooperate with Your Masters campaign. In 28 languages, yet. Are these folks Soviet-style arrogant, spending money on their Big-Bro agenda as if the poor taxpayers actually had any? Or are they flat-out desperate because more and more people are realizing that census resistance is a safe, no-nonsense, and ever-increasing way for people to send a go-to-hell message to Washington? Or both? A couple of months ago, on a visit to the Big City, my friend and I had to scoot…

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