Fatty, Fatty, Two-By-Four, Got a Job and Gained Some More

Bad news, everyone–it turns out that employment will make you fat. In what must surely be the most causally determinative and well-respected study of all time, researchers found that your job is responsible for that button-strain you now feel. According to the Boston Business Journal, “Around 44 percent of workers say they’ve put on pounds at their current job, with 26 percent saying they’ve gained more than 10 pounds, per the report.”

Naturally, some jobs are worse for you than others:

The jobs where people are most likely to gain weight include: travel agent; attorney; social worker; teacher; doctor and public relations professional. The job descriptions weren’t ranked, but were grouped by their potential for causing weight gain.

Seemingly, it’s the combination of sedentary work conditions and a high-stress environment that provide the conditions for eating Italian subs every day for lunch. Notably, the study does not comment on the deliciousness of Italian subs or your weak will; hopefully, further research is forthcoming.

In other news, I now want an Italian sub.

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“The Banning of Foie McGras”

I will begin by saying that I am heavily biased on the matter of foie gras; I love the stuff, and I find attempts to ban it to be offensive and idiotic. If you don’t want to eat it, don’t fucking eat it; if you try to stop me from eating it, I will slap your grandmother.

Sadly, California just doesn’t seem to value their grandmothers enough to avoid my wrath, and soon enough a full ban will take effect:

July 1 is the start date of the hotly debated and divisive ban, which prohibits the sale of any product derived from the force-feeding of birds to enlarge their livers — the most common way to mass-produce foie gras. (The law was passed in 2004, but included a seven-and-a-half-year grace period.)

Naturally, both chefs and lovers of delicious food are outraged; culinary hero Thomas Keller and other luminaries are currently attempting to repeal the ban while their customers enjoy Romanesque orgies of fattened goose and duck liver (duck liver being the more common form) for what could possibly be the last time in California.

Perhaps the saddest thing about the ban is the rather nutless logic that underlies it, artfully crafted by a man who I strongly suspect of fiercely masturbating to movies like Hostel:

John Burton, the former California legislator who drafted the law, has shot back at the chefs, likening the tradition of foie gras (which dates back centuries) to waterboarding and female genital mutilation.

“Why don’t you tell those chefs to have a duck cram a lot of food down their gullets and see how they like it?” he asked.

Yes, fattening a goose’s liver is exactly like having several adults hold down a screaming pre-teen girl while her aunt takes glass from a broken bottle and carves off a piece of her anatomy. And it’s definitely like simulated drowning to extract information:

“Tell me what you know, you goose bastard!”

“Quuuuaaaaaccccckkkkkkkgargleegarglescream!”

Thankfully, there are those that see the inherent flaw in this argument: geese are not people, Goddamnit!

David Kinch, the acclaimed chef at Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif., who opposes the ban, said part of the problem with the ban’s logic was that its supporters had mistakenly anthropomorphized the ducks’ experience of being force fed. “They imagine a tube being shoved down their human throat,” he said. Rather, he said, ducks have no gag reflex, nor are geese as cuddly as they appear.

Indeed, it’s rather unlikely that a goose or duck will break into song and dance its way around the barnyard while a candlestick plays the fiddle.

However, allowing for a moment the ethical objection to the production of foie gras, it’s worth pointing out what many other critics point out–that factory farming, which is far more ubiquitous in America than foie gras production, is much more harmful to the environment and moreover to food. But, as Michael Pollan rather sensibly noted, “I think it’s really a way for people to feel like they’ve done something without doing anything…there’s so many more serious problems we’re not dealing with.” Thus it becomes a matter of missing the ethical forest for the twee moral tree; that is to say, your stupid ideology is showing.

But really, why bother fixing your fucked university system when you can shit on people for eating delicious food?

The Curious Case of Alaskan Buttons

Recently, Anchorage earned the title of “Worst Dressed City in America.” Personally, I can see it; I’ve lived in Anchorage, and it’s a city that prides itself on a certain classless pastiche of trends that faded months ago (something tells me that bootcut jeans and popped polo collars are still quite popular in Anchorage). It’s the kind of place where ties will make you look like a jackass because your boss is wearing sweatpants and Ugg boots.

Moreover, Alaska is possibly one of the most defensive places on Earth; criticize at your peril those who’ve spent but one year prowling the badlands of the SoNo district (for those of you from the “Outside,” that’s “South of Nordstrom’s”; a kitschy and semi-retarded marketing ploy meant to fool the yuppie wives of displaced oil executives into thinking they’re not in the worst dressed city in America). Thus, I cannot say that surprise is my first emotion upon reading this rather limp-dicked editorial response in the Daily News (the other Gray Lady).

The writer argues that the pathetic stylings of the Anchorage bourgeoisie merely reflect the “spirit” of the Last Frontier:

Many Anchorage residents and other Alaskans decide how to dress based on what they want to wear and what’s comfortable, not the venue or expectations. We know how to dress for the occasion. But often we decide on the nature of the occasion for ourselves.

Going out to dinner? How do you feel tonight? Dress to the hilt or just make sure you go with a clean sweatshirt? Up to you.

That’s right: going to someone’s funeral? Black tie optional for sure; hell, as long as you’re wearing pants it’s a dressy occasion. Promotion dinner at the Petroleum Club? As long as your dick’s not hanging out you’re golden!

Essentially, Alaskans take pride in their bottom-of-the-barrel fashion ranking because it cements their view that they are somehow above the concerns of everyday appearance, and thus better and perhaps more unique than your average “Outsider.”

However, a certain sensitivity to Outside opinion is present in every Alaskan, and this recent dubious honor exposes a common deep-seated insecurity: that Alaskans are but poseurs, no different in their attentive inattention to detail than any bearded Brooklynite hipster man-child.

Thus, the sweatpants and Ugg boots become a signifier of a deeper commitment; they are a costume, a uniform, an identity. Sweatpants fuel the fire of the Hegelian dialectic; in them a consciousness is born, and it fears the Outside. When you criticize you sear the raw nerve that is the Alaskan identity, and you kick the puppy that is their subconscious.

But perhaps worst of all you force from them a flaccid rebuttal that contains the seeds of the truth that they fear the most: “Alaska Girls Kick Ass” is twee as fuck, and they Goddamn well know it.

So kill the bullshit pretense, and for Christ’s sake stop wearing sweatpants to Simon’s.

Education News A-Go-Go!

Boy, I knew that subscription to the New York Times would pay off! Just today there were forty seven billion articles about education, ranging from disturbing to so nihilistically stupid that the abyss will, instead of looking into you, cover its eyes because it’s so embarrassed. First up:

Public Higher Education in California is Fucked:

Despite rising student attendance and years of budget attrition the university system will likely be forced to cut services even further if a proposed tax increase fails to gain approval. Even soaking out-of-state students with further tuition hikes and lowering academic standards (not enough TA’s to grad papers!) won’t solve the problems created by too many philosophy and women’s studies departments; according to John Coupal, the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Californians “had the luxury in prior years of heavily subsidizing colleges…but like anything in California, the delivery of higher education is not performance based. They’ve created new campuses and programs based on politics and not need.”

When will those damn women’s studies majors learn to stop reading Judith Butler and start creating tech ventures?!!

College Administrators Have Agreed to Stop Being so Goddamn Shady About Financial Aid:

Yes, it’s true–college and university presidents have agreed to meet at the White House to discuss reforms in the ways student loan information is parsed to students; now, students will be provided a “shopping sheet” that provides the necessary information to make an informed decision, rather than the usual documents which obfuscate and cause terrible debt. I know what you’re thinking: how is capitalism supposed to work if the consumer has access to accurate information? This is America, dammit! Go back to China with your “shopping sheets”! And while you’re there, make sure to hand out some applications to American universities (and loan paperwork).

Ignore Anyone Who Tells You that Rankings Don’t Matter:

If you attended the New York Times “College Life Fair” in Chicago, it’s possible that you received some idiotic advice about choosing a college based on rankings; if you did, I can say (with furious conviction) that the morons who told you to ignore rankings ought to be flogged:

The No. 1 rule in the college admissions process: “Ignore the rankings.” This is according to Dave Marcus, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right College — and Find Themselves.”

Jed Hoyer would likely agree. He began his professional life as an admissions officer at Wesleyan University. He said he decided to attend Wesleyan on instinct, and advises students to trust their gut. He said he tries to do the same in his current position: as the executive vice president and general manager of the Chicago Cubs.

This advice is patently absurd; and moreover, anyone who went to a highly ranked school like Wesleyan (as well as an elite prep school) and is now singing the praises of “ignoring the rankings” is attempting to screw you. Rankings matter; do you honestly believe that your Pine Manor B.A. is going to get you in the door over a Harvard grad? What’s that? You’ve never heard of Pine Manor? Neither has anyone else. So go to the ranked school, fuckwit.

Also, if you had to attend a college fair to learn that you should have good grades to go to a good college, and that your personal essay should be free of typos, then you are a complete dipshit who should not be attending college anyway.

Much Like the Real “Boston Legal,” This Boston Legal is not Funny

Everyone knows the legal market sucks. Students pony up $150K with no guarantee–wait, fuck guarantee, prospect–that they’ll ever be able to pay it back, the ABA continues to accredit the educational equivalents of aborted fetuses, and even the lucky douchebags that get into HYS (that’s Harvard-Yale-Stanford, the perennial top 3 in the rankings) have difficulties landing those plum jobs that grant some measure of financial freedom.

Yet before now the market was more like a speedy subway frottage and less like an outright teabagging. Alas, some balls are coming your way:

The BBJ received an emailed tip this week from someone who says they’re an employed, Boston College Law School (BC Law) graduate. The tipster sent screen grabs of a job listing on BC Law’s career site. The post advertises a full-time associate position at a small Boston law firm, Gilbert & O’Bryan LLP, paying just $10,000 per year. (That’s $10K, it’s not a typo.)

Larry O’Bryan, one of the firm’s partners, said he’s received about 32 applications for the $10K per year job, since posting it one week ago. He said that while the pay is low, the lawyer who is eventually hired will gain valuable experience.

That’s right, a full-time associate’s position will yield you a whopping $10K per year. But cheer up! They offer a “clothing allowance,” which probably means that they’ll buy you some ties at Target (Penney’s if you were cum laude!). Also experience, which in this context constitutes the experience of a demoralization so great that your soul will literally fall dead from your ass while you’re arguing a third-rate tort claim before a judge who just wants to get back to his ham and mayonnaise dinner.

The tipster, a recent grad of BC Law employed outside the Massachusetts legal market, calculated the hourly rate at $4.81, which is well below the minimum wage in Massachusetts. As he also pointed out, the janitors that work at BC Law will make much more than this, and it’s pretty likely BC Law didn’t make them fork over a couple hundred grand for their training in toilet-scrubbing and floor-mopping.

To anyone reading this and still considering law school, I have these words of advice: you’re a dumbass, and will never practice the kind of law that will remunerate you for your investment. Because you’re a dumbass.

According to David Brooks, Romneybot is More Like Edward and Less Like Dracula

Once again, that bloated sack of Burkean bon mots has come out swinging against those who would seek to defile the good name of private equity:

Forty years ago, corporate America was bloated, sluggish and losing ground to competitors in Japan and beyond. But then something astonishing happened. Financiers, private equity firms and bare-knuckled corporate executives initiated a series of reforms and transformations.

The process was brutal and involved streamlining and layoffs. But, at the end of it, American businesses emerged leaner, quicker and more efficient.

Apparently the last forty years of American capitalism was like a season of The Biggest Loser; muscular capitalists yelled at weak and flabby businesses and eventually turned the American economy into something you wouldn’t be ashamed to bang.

But those damned Democrats just released an ad besmirching the reputation of Bain Capital (they weren’t founded by the Batman villain, in case you’re curious) by calling into question their handling of GST, a failing metalworks:

The company was in terminal decline before Bain entered the picture, seeing its work force fall from 4,500 to less than 1,000. It faced closure when Romney and Bain, for some reason, saw hope for it in 1993. Bain acquired it, induced banks to loan it money and poured $100 million into modernization, according to Strassel. Bain held onto the company for eight years, hardly the pattern of a looter. Finally, after all the effort, the company, like many other old-line steel companies, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, two years after Romney had left Bain.

This is the story of a failed rescue, not vampire capitalism.

You see, Democrats? Bain is more charity than anything else; besides, Romneybot left the Bain heezy before GST crashed and burned! And he probably had no effect on policy, so as soon as he left, Bain was like, “who the fuck was that guy”? This is some solid-ass logic, Brooks.

Of course, Brooks can’t write a column without shifting from the concrete to the abstract, or without mentioning a fancy study conducted by someone in the Ivy League; therefore, we have this half-assed justification for private equity:

This process involves a great deal of churn and creative destruction. It does not, on net, lead to fewer jobs. A giant study by economists from the University of Chicago, Harvard, the University of Maryland and the Census Bureau found that when private equity firms acquire a company, jobs are lost in old operations. Jobs are created in new, promising operations. The overall effect on employment is modest.

Hey, if a guy from the University of Chicago said that the throbbing knob of venture capitalism and private equity is a good thing for America’s middle-class, unlubricated anus, then it must be! Because that school has no history of capitalist stoogery.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this essay is the way that it elides several key points. For instance, what does the study classify as a “modest” effect on employment? Is 25% modest? Or perhaps 30%? I do not consider the absence of 30% of a company’s labor force to be modest, especially when you consider that 30% as a contributor to the local economy. Here’s another gem:

Most of the time they succeed. Research from around the world clearly confirms that companies that have been acquired by private equity firms are more productive than comparable firms.

What is the precise number for “most of the time”? Did Brooks say “most” because 51% isn’t the hotness? You know, now that I think about it, that quote is an excellent summation of Brooks’s writing for the Times:

Most of the time he succeeds. Readers from around the world clearly confirm that conservative essayists for the New York Times that are named David Brooks are more productive than comparable essayists.

Also, Team Bain for the win!

So You’re Going to Be Arrested at a Protest

First of all, shame on you: protesting is un-American. Unless it’s the kind of protesting that involves yelling about runaway government spending while you’re seated comfortably in a Rascal scooter purchased with some of that sweet Medicare cash. But since you’re determined to be a hippie about it, here’s some advice for staying out of trouble once the heroes in blue decide to arrest your stinky, anarchist ass:

1. Be polite.

This would be obvious to any protestor who was at a legitimate protest (you know, one where you compare the president to a monkey or a terrorist or something), but since you’re some kind of Goddamn socialist, I’m forced to remind you that saying “Please” before “don’t taze me, bro,” is the best way to approach your situation. As is saying “Thank You” after you’re boot-stomped for trying to push your girlfriend out of the way of a swinging truncheon.

2. Shut your damn mouth.

Our heroes in blue don’t want to hear about the metal plate in your skull that you got while you were serving your fourth tour in Afghanistan. The only talk from you should be the aforementioned niceties, or perhaps an offer to narc on your hippie buddies.

3. Remember that you’re not the only one in trouble.

That’s right, asshole: your dipshit politics have gotten your nice little friends police records. Was making some sort of point about a banker’s well-deserved salary really worth the price of seeing your little brother get curb-stomped by a hero in blue? Maybe you should give up some info before anyone else gets hurt–didn’t you get a falafel from an Arab guy earlier? What’s his story?

4. Don’t throw shit at the police.

And don’t stand next to the people throwing shit. In fact, why don’t you just stand across the street at the Dunkin’ Donuts? Just get a cherry blossom donut and forget all about the oligarchy that America has become.

5. Make friends quickly.

If you end up in jail, make friends quickly. Then offer to rat them out. You’re doing the right thing, son.

David Brooks Would Like Obama to Top Paul Ryan With Something Big

David Brooks, keeper of Burke’s reanimated corpse and devotee of madcap monarchism, is disappointed in Obama:

President Obama is an intelligent, judicious man who can see all sides of an issue. But every once in a while he tries to get politically cute, and he puts on his Keith Olbermann mask.

I suppose it’s to his credit that he’s most inept when he tries to take the low road. He resorts to hoary, brain-dead clichés. He wanders so far from his true nature that he makes Mitt Romney look like Mr. Authenticity.

That’s pretty much what happened this week in Obama’s speech before a group of newspaper editors. Obama’s target in this speech was Representative Paul Ryan’s budget.

Yes, the one time that Obama indulges in the rhetorical flourishes that commonly seep from the hemorrhoidic buttocks of the Republitards he is decidedly worse than Gaius Julius Mittensus Caesar, Emperor of Romneyland and Bearer of the Gold Standard of American Meritocratic Failure. Worse still, his target was Paul Ryan, the handsome little man with the big fat plan!

But before Brooks delves too deep into the pit of right-wing ideological adulation, he wants to remind us of his philosophical centrism:

It should be said at the outset that the Ryan budget has some disturbing weaknesses, which Democrats are right to identify. The Ryan budget would cut too deeply into discretionary spending. This could lead to self-destructive cuts in scientific research, health care for poor kids and programs that boost social mobility. Moreover, the Ryan tax ideas are too regressive. They make tax cuts for the rich explicit while they hide any painful loophole closings that might hurt Republican donors.

You see, don’t you?! Brooks acknowledges the difficulties with Ryan’s plan! He’s a true philosopher! Sadly, though the difficulties that he outlines are actually quite convincing, he betrays his argument and goes on to prop up Obama’s reasonable whinging as a dancing straw man (if he only had a brain!):

But these legitimate criticisms and Obama’s modest but real deficit-reducing accomplishments got buried under an avalanche of distortion. The Republicans have been embarrassing themselves all primary season. It’s as if Obama wanted to sink to their level in a single hour.

Again, Brooks equates Obama’s rightly spoken criticisms with the entire Republitard campaign’s rhetorical fracas. So not only does Brooks cast a straw man in his Théâtre de l’Absurde, but he proceeds to light it on fire! Zut alors! Brooks also found Obama’s “tone” to be unacceptable, as well as his use of 80s liberal clichés (paging Ronald Reagan, would Ronald Reagan please report to EVERY FUCKING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE’S STUMP). He then reminds us, in true Brooksian fashion, of his familiarity with the Great Books curriculum:

Social Darwinism, by the way, was a 19th-century philosophy that held, in part, that Aryans and Northern Europeans are racially superior to brown and Mediterranean peoples.

And for those of you following along on your “How to Write an Essay By David Brooks” rubric, now comes the moment when Brooks cites studies to demonstrate his wonkishness and objectivity:

There are, indeed, real differences, but in the short term they are not a chasm. In 2013, according to Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University, the Ryan budget would be about 5 percent smaller than the Obama budget, and it would grow a percent or two more slowly each year. After 10 years, government would be smaller under Ryan, but, as Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute complains, it would still take up a larger share of national output than when Bill Clinton left office.

If only Obama had cited the Cato Institute he wouldn’t have lost all his credibility.

But Brooks isn’t done with Obama yet, because Obama had the temerity to assault Ryan’s asinine Medicare revamp (you know, the one that’s a giant giveaway to the insurance industry, and will likely lead to poor old bastards dying on the street or in their shabby trailers—but fuck them, right? Hahahaha!).

Obama claimed that Ryan’s plan “will ultimately end Medicare as we know it.” Which seems accurate, as that is the ostensible goal of the reform: ending the bloated entitlements and denying the fat coverage that’s bankrupting the nation. But alas, Brooks doesn’t care for that phrasing, most likely because it accurately reflects the plan’s intentions, and so he reminds us that such claims were voted on by the Internetz and were deemed false.

For Brooks, Obama’s rhetoric is a symptom of the pervasive disease: Democrats refuse to do the things that Republicans want them to do without complaining about it. However, it seems as though Brooks’ outrage is the outrage of an assclown; that is to say, he takes Obama to task for something that every Republican has been doing since the beginning of the primaries. According to Brooks, “Obama shouldn’t be sniping at Ryan. He should be topping him with something bigger and better.”

“He should be topping him with something bigger and better…” I see now that I’ve completely misunderstood this piece! Clearly we’ve merely wandered into one of Brooks’ sexual fantasies. Sorry, Dave! But maybe next time leave a fucking tie on the door or something!

Not Surprisingly, Textbook Publishers Don’t Want You to Have Free Textbooks

Sadly, it looks like the days of free textbooks might be over. In a move that shocks no one, at least two publishing giants are suing the small start-up Boundless Learning over the alleged “theft” of content. According to the suit, Boundless Learning “generates these ‘replacement textbooks’ by hiring individuals to copy and paraphrase from Plaintiffs’ textbooks.”

The suit also departs from the characteristic bland language of most lawsuits in a number of places — stating at points that “Defendant teaches only the age-old business model of theft” and that “Boundless gets an ‘F’ in originality.”

Well, if anyone is qualified to comment on theft as a business model, it’s the textbook publishing industry. Naturally, the CEO of Boundless Learning disagrees with the publishing giants:

The content comes from openly licensed educational content, created and posted online by faculty members over the past two decades, and curated by Boundless Learning’s domain experts, he said. Offerings so far are in biology, economics and psychology.

The publishers also contend that Boundless Learning’s products have “a corrosive effect on learning.” Personally, I believe that the runaway inflation of textbook prices is slightly more deleterious to education than what amounts to a more accurately sourced version of Wikipedia, but hey, what the fuck would I know? I couldn’t afford to buy textbooks when I was in school, so I didn’t learn shit.

Anchorage Morons Fight Bravely for Their Right to Discriminate Against the LGBT Community

In a stunning show of stupidity and small-mindedness, Anchorage voters decided to reject a measure that would have prohibited discrimination against members of the LGBT community:

Anchorage voters rejected a proposed ordinance to add legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people in a chaotic municipal election fraught with ballot shortages and high voter turnout in many precincts.

With more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting late Tuesday, 58 percent of voters had voted against Proposition 5, the equal rights ordinance that was far and away the most controversial and emotional component of this spring’s election.

It’s about damn time that a brave, Amurrican city stood united against the scourge of the LGBT community, with their musicals and flannels and gender conflict, and said: “Yes, Goddamnit–we would like to discriminate against you!” Sadly, this is the third time that an anti-discrimination proposal has met with rejection in Anchorage (the other two times were not ballot issues, however).

Apparently, the measure was such a hot button issue that polling places ran out of ballots; one hotspot had to resort to photocopying ballots on the school’s Xerox to meet voter demand. Those ballots will be counted as “questioned ballots,” so it remains unclear what the exact percentages will be; despite this, however, the idiots clearly won the day. And the driving force behind the idiots? You guessed it: Jesus.

A group of clergy supporting the ordinance, Christians for Equality, was a key part of organizing efforts, campaign spokesman Trevor Storrs said.

Opponents, campaigning as Vote No On Prop. 5, complained that the law was vague and poorly written and would impinge on the religious freedom of residents opposed to homosexuality. The proposition included an exemption from the law for churches and religious organizations.

I’ll give you a moment to savor the name “Christians for Equality.” Also, take a few minutes and peruse the “Protect Anchorage” website. Just make sure that you have something to release your rage upon after you visit.

But really, one must feel some sympathy for those poor, put-upon American Christians–truly they are the last disadvantaged group in the world! To not be able to discriminate against someone on the basis of some shit scribbled down thousands of years ago is well beyond the pale, sir!

Perhaps it’s unfair for me to paint a portrait of Anchorage based solely on the retards that rejected this proposition; after all, roughly 40% of the people said “Hey, assholes, discrimination isn’t cool–let’s smoke a jay and pet a moose or something.” And I can attest that there are a great many good people in the City of Anchorage who lament the influence of inbred Godtards on Alaskan politics.

Therefore I applaud the minority of citizens who decided that open discrimination is unacceptable and voted against stupidity.

And I issue a hearty “fuck you” to the tyranny of the majority.

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