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Robert Altman Week

Sunday
Aug312008

In Which Not Every Single Baby Needs To Get Born

Abortions Are Awesome

by Molly Lambert

Sarah Palin belongs to a group called Feminists For Life. Can you be pro-life and be a feminist? I don't really think so, but I'm sure Palin-lover Danish will jump in to contradict me because he is a Men's Rights activist. Sarah Palin got pregnant for the fifth time at age 45, found out the fetus had Down Syndrome, and still popped it out. Am I supposed to respect her for that? I don't.

Muckraking bloggers have passed around stories alleging that Palin is not the mother of the Down Syndrome baby. The gossip is that the child is actually her daughter Bristol's. Because the internet is a wild frontier for unsubstantiated rumors I am willing to give full credence to this claim.

The Evidence:

1. She didn't look pregnant during her nine months of pregnancy
2. She didn't bring up the pregnancy in interviews.
3. Her daughter Bristol mysteriously disappeared from school with "mono" for a few months.
4. Betch is 45. Her eggs are not so fresh.
5. She flew from Dallas to Seattle to Alaska AFTER her water broke against doctors' orders.

Sarah Palin with family, Bristol Palin in front. WHICH ONE LOOKS MORE PREGZ? I say the Juno from Juneau.

Now it is wholly plausible that being 45 is what made Palin's baybay more likely to contract Down's. I am not saying that being old gets you a retarded baby but it certainly doesn't help. I think getting knocked up when you're 45, a the peak of your career, and already have four children is more than slightly narcissistic. Now let's take the conspiracy theory posited.

Basically what we're looking at here is a Peggy Olson situation. Palin's daughter Bristol gets pregnant, is deemed too young to deal with the responsibilities of having a child. The Mother won't let her abort the baby or give it up for adoption and offers to raise the kid.

hmmm Bristol Palin sure looks natural holding that baybay

The best case scenario is Sarah Palin's, where the mother can afford to farm out the extra care for a fifth child. Being governor of Alaska plus caring for a mentally disabled baby? See ladies, we really can have it all!

Bristol Palin (far right) is soooooo pregnant

"Palin, who has deeply-felt pro-life views, gave birth to her fifth child this week and the baby was diagnosed with the condition. On Tuesday, Palin confirmed her baby, named Trig Paxson, has Down syndrome." TRIG PAXSON???

Cool feminist nose-piercing, person who is anti-abortion. Refuse To Choose??? I accept my right not to conform to traditional standards of female attractiveness in exchange for giving up the freedom to ever abort a child should I somehow become unintentionally pregnant. Suck my left one, liberal dykes!!!"

I am starting a riot grrrl band called Sarah Palin's Retarded Baby. There, I just did it. Done. The lead singer is poet Jean Coleman doing some Patti Smith type rappin' about lady rights and choosing to refuse to choose.

Wait, actually, I'm just gonna start a Bikini Kill cover band called Foetal Retraction. Dear Jean Coleman, I love you. You are the Tobi Vail to my Kathleen Hanna 4eva. Women need to be able to have access to abortions. Why? Because in a perfect world every child would be wanted and cared for and loved, but this world we actually live in is far from perfect.

"God I hate dykes."
"Me too!
"I hate lesbians so much I could just..."
"Scissor them?"
"Yes!"

Women are punished enough as it is without forcing them to care for every zygote they accidentally implant. Condoms break, people do stupid things in the heat of sex, and Miley Cyrus already lost her v-card to Nick Jonas.

How stupid does John McCain think women are? I was sure he was going to go stealth and pick a hispanic dude. Picking a woman is just as dumb. This is like the exact meaning of tokenism.

The worst case scenario for a Peggy Olson situation is what happened to Casey Anthony. Pregnant as a teenager, her mother pressured her into keeping the child. Three years later the little kid, Caylee Anthony, is found dead in Casey's trunk.

Nobody is automatically prepared to be a parent. Women aren't all natural caregivers any more than men are. Some people are capable of empathy, and others just aren't. Casey Anthony did not want to have a child and her mother Cindy made her. Who should go to court over this? Cindy, Casey, both, or neither?

"Police were alerted of the car by Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony. At that time, Cindy Anthony told authorities that it smelled as if there had been a dead body in the trunk."

"There is nothing to find out," Casey Anthony said. "There is absolutely nothing to find out. Not even what I told the detectives. I have no clue where Caylee is. If I knew where Caylee was, do you think that any of this would be happening? No."

"How come everyone is saying that you are not upset and that you are not crying and you show no caring of where Caylee is at all" Kristina asked.

"Because I'm not here fucking crying every two seconds because I have to stay composed to talk to detectives, to make other phone calls and do other things," Casey Anthony said. "I can't sit here and be crying every two seconds like I want to -- I can't."

Casey Anthony out "partying" after Caylee went missing

Now lets compare this back to Sarah Palin:

The oldest Palin kid, Track, is in the Army and texted his mother after learning the news with something to the effect of "This is just so cool -- I finally got my brother."

Many people will express sympathy, but you don't want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this." She wrote it in the voice of and signed it as "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father."

"Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world you live in down there on Earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome," Palin wrote.

The risk of Down Syndrome in children for mothers Palin's age is one in nineteen

Palin said she felt fine but had leaked amniotic fluid and also felt some contractions that seemed different from the false labor she had been having for months.

"I said I am going to stay for the day. I have a speech I was determined to give," Palin said. She gave the luncheon keynote address for the energy conference.

Then she got on a plane in Dallas (flying while giving birth is not advised) and flew home to Alaska to have the kid at a hospital there. "Her decision to fly from TX to AK after her water broke was reckless to say the least and hardly in keeping with the philosophy that all life is sacred."

Palin said she won't take maternity leave but will go with Trig to doctor's visits, physical therapy, whatever he needs. She's breast feeding and plans to bring Trig to work with her, just as she did with Piper.

Palin's five kids are Trig Paxson Van, siblings Track, 18, Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7.

"Sarah Palin is a politician of eye-popping integrity."
- Fox News Network

Translation: Sarah Palin is kind of hot for an old Republican lady. John Edwards would hit it. Also Sarah Palin hates polar bears.

The only plus side to all this really is that it will probably make for really good episodes of South Park and 30 Rock. But seriously, can we not overturn Roe v. Wade in the 21st century? Because I will just be bummed out, and the blog will suffer, and you don't want that. You really don't want that at all.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording.

THE INTERNET CLEARS IT UP, AS ALWAYS

"She is a point guard though, you have to respect that."

"and Obama is like a 2, right? they should have paired up. the U.S. could have had the best executive backcourt in the world. all international negotations now replaced with real life NBA Jam scenarios."

"I think Obama is a swing 2/3. he has game, but is one of those left handed guys who can only go to his left."

"Yeah but that might be moot if the lady can slash."

"I'll bet John McCain is terrible at basketball, with that gimp arm and all."

WHACKIEST ELECTION 4EVR!

"All You Got" - Tegan and Sara (mp3)

"Freedom" - Tegan and Sara (mp3)

"Not With You" - Tegan and Sara (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

Danish Married Sarah Palin

Alex Murdered Sheryl Crow

Molly Managed Mad Men

Sunday
Aug172008

In Which We Still Think We Are Inside of Michelle Obama's Heart and Mind

The following chronicle of the early life of Michelle Obama owes a great debt to the New Yorker's profile of Michelle, and countless other articles. Catch up on the first part of our Michelle Obama Journey here.

An American, Chicago-Born

Part Two

by Alex Carnevale

On their first date, Michelle and Barack saw Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing.

“Michelle’s always been very vocal about anything,” her mother, Marian Robinson said. “If it’s not right, she’s going to say so. When she was at Princeton, her brother”—Craig, now the head basketball coach at Brown, was two years ahead of Michelle—“called me and said, ‘Mom, Michelle’s here telling people they’re not teaching French right.’ She thought the style was not conversational enough. I told him, ‘Just pretend you don’t know her.’ ”

HARVARD LAW: JUST LIKE THE PAPER CHASE

Charming anecdotes about this woman aren't hard to find. She's basically a young hot Bill Cosby.

At Harvard, she felt the same racial divide. Verna Williams and Michelle became friends in their first year of law school. She remembers many of their fellow black students worrying that white classmates viewed them as charity cases.

But she suggests Michelle was not among them. "She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that," Williams recalls.

After rocking Harvard, Michelle went into corporate law. Can you blame her for her current comments about what young people should be doing with their lives?

Luckily enough for her, she got a young person to train as an associate that ended up being Barack Obama.

Michelle did well enough at Harvard to land a job at Sidley & Austin, a blue-chip corporate-law firm in Chicago. She was making good money as an associate on track to becoming a partner. But the work—she was assigned to copyright and trademark cases—was dull. "I didn't see a whole lot of people who were just thrilled to be there," she says. "I met people who thought this was a good life. But were people waking up just bounding out of bed to get to work? No."

Michelle was assigned to advise Barack during a summer job. Michelle’s co-workers warned her that the summer associate was cute. “I figured that they were just impressed with any black man with a suit and a job,” she later told Barack.

Over her protestations—she felt that dating someone she worked with would be “tacky,” her brother recalls—Barack began to court his boss.

barack and michelle during the courtship phase

BANG THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD

To have Barack hitting on them 24/7 is the goal of any thinking Miley?.

"I remember that she was tall – almost my height in heels -- and lovely, with a friendly, professional manner,'' Barack recalls. "Michelle was full of plans that day, on the fast track, with no time, she told me, for distractions - especially men.''

He walked up to her one day and said, "I think we should go out on a date." She resisted, thinking it was inappropriate.

She dropped her guard after he asked her to go to one of his community-organizing sessions in a church basement, where he delivered a stemwinding speech about closing the gap between what he called "the world as it is, and the world as it should be."

If I tried to pull that kind of a stunt on some chick, it would not work as effectively. That's The Game on another level. That's the real game, when Barack Obama speechifies solely for your benefit.

“She took me to one or two parties,” Barack writes, “tactfully overlooking my limited wardrobe, and she even tried to set me up with a couple of her friends.”Before the end of the summer, he’d got her to agree to go out for a movie—Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”—and an ice-cream cone at Baskin-Robbins. Vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard in 2004, Barack met Spike Lee at a reception. As Michelle has recalled, he told Lee, “I owe you a lot,” because, during the movie, Michelle had allowed him to touch her knee.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3adqFdVYhE]

Movie and an ice-cream cone? Sometimes us young people forget the Obamas are baby boomers, and thus haven't suffered the internet indignities of Generation Kill. Innocence and naivete paces the chronicles of the time. The only actually dirty things were happening in John Updike novels.

She was smitten. "I was, like, 'This guy is different'," she says. " 'He is really different, in addition to being nice and funny and cute and all that. He's got a seriousness and a commitment that you don't see every day'." She recalls thinking, " 'Well, you know, I'd like to be married to somebody who felt that deeply about things'." At this, she paused for a second. "Maybe I didn't say 'marry.' Scratch that part. It took him a little while."

By the time Michelle called Williams to say she was dating someone new, Williams could tell this was something different, something special.

"She said, `Guess what? I've got this great guy in my life. His name is Barack,' '' Williams recalls. "It was clear she was pretty crazy about him.

I'm guessing she wasn't this suave reformer's first lay, but she was undoubtedly the best with children.

MEET THE PARENTS

Michelle introduced him to her family. They liked him, but didn't expect him to last long. Michelle was a demanding girlfriend, always breaking up with one suitor or another, and it was something of a family joke that sooner or later she would toss him overboard, too.

Marian Robinson told me that she did not know that Barack’s mother was white until long after she met him. “He never talked about himself,” she said.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSkd0xrhcQ8]

"The first thing I was worried about was, is this poor guy going to make the cut?" says her brother, Craig. "How long is it going to be until he gets fired?" Her mother remembers Obama as quiet and respectful. "He didn't talk about himself," she says. "He didn't tell us that he was running for president of the Harvard Law Review. We never realized that he was as bright as he is."

Barack had a more bohemian attitude toward romance. “We would have this running debate throughout our relationship about whether marriage was necessary,” Michelle says. “It was sort of a bone of contention, because I was, like, ‘Look, buddy, I’m not one of these who’ll just hang out forever.’ You know, that’s just not who I am. He was, like”—she broke into a wishy-washy voice—“ ‘Marriage, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s really how you feel.’ And I was, like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”

It's only a matter of time before Barack-Michelle fan fiction starts hitting the internet, and let's just hope it's as exciting as the J.D. Drew - Stephen Drew coupling.

Eventually, he proposed to her over dinner at Gordon, a restaurant in Chicago. “He took me out to a nice dinner under the guise of celebrating the fact that he had finished the bar,” Obama recalled. “And he got me into one of these discussions again, where, you know, he sort of just led me down there and got fired up and it’s like you’ve got blah blah blah blah, and then dessert comes out, the tray comes out, and there’s a ring!”

getting proposed to by the chosen one is so cray cray

Modest beginnings for the power couple:

The couple married in 1992, and moved into a condominium in a walkup building in Hyde Park. Cindy Moelis recalled a dinner party the Obamas gave when they were newlyweds: shrimp-and-pasta, inexpensive art on the walls from their travels to Hawaii and Kenya.

Barack was not the life of the party. “Because Barack was so smart, he was pretty serious when we were in our thirties. I’d poke him and say, ‘Come on, let’s talk about the last movie you saw,’ ” Moelis said. “At some point in our forties, I said to Michelle, ‘You know, I think he’s so much grown into who he is now. He’s so much more lighthearted.’ Because he became a senator and he had this wonderful outlet to be a policy person and to be intense, and when he got home he could relax and laugh and just have dinner with friends and talk about movies and basketball.”

the new yorker article

THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE FIRST LADIES

Last summer, Obama’s mother retired from her job as a bank secretary in order to look after Malia and Sasha when Barack and Michelle are on the road. (The Obamas employ a full-time housekeeper, and Michelle tries to see a personal trainer four times a week, but they do not have a nanny.)

In our conversation, she came across as almost apolitical. I asked her about the first time she voted. “Oh, God, um, I’ve voted every time that I could vote, but I don’t—it doesn’t stand out,” she said. “You know, that was just something you did. You know, you didn’t not vote. But I, you know, it wasn’t like this moving experience for me”—she breathed in dramatically—“ ‘I cast my first vote!’ ”


"There is no difference between the public Michelle and the private Michelle," says University of Chicago law professor David Strauss, who sits with her on the board of the University of Chicago's Lab School. There's no pretense."

Michelle has the potential to be an icon. She's stylish and no-nonsense. But this popularity among certain Americans who are already prepared to vote for them is quickly becoming a problem for the Obamas. Sexy vacation photos aren't helping. While some within the campaign are content to have the Obamas be a glitzy celeb couple, there's not a whole lot of evidence that the American people want to elect Jennifer Aniston president.

we love chunky barack!

That's where Michelle Obama can help - there is a very American tendency to be skeptical, and it's an inborn characteristic in independent voters McCain and Obama wish to sway. Michelle's first impression of Barack was different from that of his cheeseball celeb friends. She was a skeptic, but she was won over by persistence and committment, along with Barack's ability to sit and listen. Instead of lecturing the EU, and preaching from a pulpit in Denver, listen to America. Convince the skeptics.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

TLL: One last question, from me. What’s on your iPod?

MO: Oh, gosh. I’m loving Robin Thicke right now. Jill Scott. India.Arie. Love, love, love old school Lauryn Hill. I love good women who can sing, you know?

"U Center Me" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Complicated" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Education" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Cocaine" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Teach U A Lesson" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Would That Make U Love Me" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"Lost Without U" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTD7geUCyM]

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Tess’ favorite television characters.

Rendering it all impotent.

Danish gets halfway through the best tracks of ‘07.

Thursday
Aug072008

In Which We Understand Michelle Obama More Fully Than Her Husband Could Ever Hope To

The following chronicle of the early life of Michelle Obama owes a debt to this Boston Globe story, the New Yorker's profile of Michelle, and countless other articles. Look for the second and conclusive part of this highly influential and electoral series in the coming days.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and their children Malia and Sasha

An American, Chicago-Born

Part One

by Alex Carnevale

Michelle Obama's life story hasn't been documented in any books. It's less stirring and glamorous than her husband's.

It has become fashionable in certain circles to say that Michelle should be left out of the campaign fray. It's a bit surprising that Republicans wouldn't concede this as a way of hiding the vulnerability of John McCain's betrothed, the wealthy and privileged heir Cindy McCain.

In spite of all those pronouncements, Michelle has made herself a visible and important figure on the campaign trail. Her would-be Democratic predecessor, Hillary Clinton, took a major role in policy matters in her husband's administration, and no one had voted for her at the time.

By inserting herself into the political process, Michelle has, whether she likes it or not, offered her views and her life up for public scrutiny.

Michelle Obama's parents were Fraser Robinson and Marian Shields, who both grew up on the South Side of Chicago, married in 1960. Craig was born two years later, and on January 17, 1964, Marian gave birth to Michelle LaVaughn, whom Fraser nicknamed Miche. She and Craig looked so much alike (and still do) that people often mistook them for twins. Fraser, who was partially handcapped by multiple sclerosis, worked swing shifts as a city pump operator, while Marian tended to the children. (Fraser died of MS in 1991.)

Her mother, Marian, was a doting presence, a stay-at-home mom who often made lunch for her daughter and friends and listened patiently to all the school gossip. But the family's home life was dominated by her quiet but formidable father, Fraser. Despite his physical limitations, he woke early each morning and went to work at the municipal water department. A lifelong Democrat, he was a precinct captain.

BABY CHELLE

Fraser Robinson would never raise his voice to his children when they misbehaved. Instead, he would fix them with a cold stare and say, "I'm disappointed." Hearing that would make young Michelle and her brother collapse into tears. "You never wanted to disappoint him," she says. "We would be bawling."

Michelle Obama's childhood home in Chicago

michelle's childhood home

Michelle says that "I was raised in a working-class family on the south Side of Chicago. That's how I identify myself, a working-class girl."

Television was all but banned in favour of homework, debates about the issues of the day and improving games of chess.

The family lived in a modest house that they rented from a relative in the South Shore neighborhood. “If I had to describe it to a real estate agent, it would be 1BR, 1BA,” Craig told Peter Slevin, of the Washington Post. “If you said it was eleven hundred square feet, I’d call you a liar.”

Saturday nights were spent at home playing Chinese checkers, Monopoly, or a game called Hands Down (like spoons, with bluffing). It was a simple time. “I probably had two sleepovers my entire life,” Craig said. “We were home folks.” Many years, the family drove to Dukes Happy Holiday Resort, in Michigan, for a week’s vacation. The Robinsons went to church occasionally, but if they subscribed to any credo it was that of freethinking.

That sounds awesome, like a libertarian paradise or something.

She set up an Easy Bake Oven in her bedroom. She sprawled across the carpet with the African American version of Barbie, her mate, their toy house and car.

Michelle's childhood, despite totally different circumstance, bears some resemblance to that of her daughters. As she herself put it:

An example of this is one night I was going out, I had to do a fund-raiser, and I told Malia, "You guys really need to have an early bedtime because you've got to get up tomorrow and have a busy day." So my mom was there, and my mom doesn't adhere to bedtime. She's kinda, "Well, maybe you wanna start taking your bath..." But that night, she said she sat down to watch TV with them and they both got up, turned off the TV and left. And my mom was like, "Where are you going?" And they said, "We have got to go to bed early today, Grandma." And they went downstairs, took their baths and went to bed, and my mom was just stunned.

A MAGNET

Bright and determined, Michelle was awarded a place at one of Chicago's first 'magnet' schools, which offered special programmes for gifted children. By the time she was 13, she was taking a college-level biology course.

Craig Robinson, on his sister's refusal to participate in organized sports: “That’s the best way to get her not to do something. She didn’t want to play just because she was tall and black and athletic.” Bernadette McHale, one of her teachers, recalled, “Our first full graduating class was in ’78, so it was pretty experimental to come here. She made a decision to choose an integrated environment that had more diversity in both curriculum and population.”

"We had this game where we set up two rooms and played 'Office'," he recalled. "She was the secretary, and I was the boss. But she did everything. It was her game, and I kind of had nothing to do. My sister is a poor sport. She didn't like to lose."

WHITEY'S PARADISE: PRINCETON, NJ

When Michelle entered Princeton, she was one of 94 black students in a class of 1,141.

Princeton in 1981 was not particularly hospitable to minorities of any sort. “It was a very sexist, segregated place,” Angela Acree, who was Michelle’s roommate there for three years, recalled. She continued, “We couldn’t afford any furniture, so we just had pillows on the floor, and a stereo.” Their social lives revolved around gatherings at the Third World Center, rather than the university’s eating clubs. Acree recalled, “The white people didn’t dance—I know that sounds like a cliché—and they also played a completely different kind of music, whereas we were playing R. & B., Luther Vandross, Run-D.M.C., at the T.W.C.”

Black and Hispanic students were invited to attend special classes a few weeks before the beginning of freshman semester, which the school said were intended to help kids who might need assistance adjusting to Princeton's campus. Acree couldn't see why. She had come from an East Coast prep school; Michelle had earned good grades in Chicago. "We weren't sure whether they thought we needed an extra start or they just said, 'Let's bring all the black kids together'."

When I attended Brown, there was an ongoing debate over a program that separated the non-white members of the incoming class and put them through a series of workshops:

Besides making new friendships and Facebook.com groups - the "Leanback Optional" group was created around the new '09 sign - students attending the University's annual pre-orientation program focused on one new area this year: imperialism. TWTP's two coordinators, Chloe Dugger '06 and Noel Reyes '06, decided that besides homophobia and the traditional "four -ism's" - racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism - imperialism was "relevant and missing," according to Reyes.

For the most part, the Third World community as it was termed, supported the initiative until the university was forced to admit white students who might want to join. I remember a particularly disturbed Persian student who was outraged at her exclusion from this program because her ethnicity had not qualified her for it.

At Princeton, in this time, it seems that - at least in part - such special treatment was a further cause for resentment.

In any case, the Princeton community of the time was a suffocating and racist atmosphere.

During the years that Obama was at Princeton, there were a number of racially charged issues percolating on campus. There were demonstrations against apartheid, and protests over the university's investments in South Africa. But Obama took part in little of it. When the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited campus in her senior year - Obama was a childhood friend of his daughter - she did not attend.

Michelle's friends talked often about the racial divide on campus—especially how white students they knew from class would pass them on the green and pretend not to see them. "It was, like, here comes a black kid," says Acree. The black students tended to hang out together at the Third World Center, a social club on campus, while the white party scene revolved around Princeton's eating clubs.

When Donnelly's mother, now 71, learned the race of her daughter's roommate, she was beside herself. She called alumni friends to object. And the next morning she marched into the student housing office.

"I said I need to get my daughter's room changed right away," recalled Alice Brown, a retired schoolteacher, who has since come to regret her reaction. "I called my own mother and she said, 'Take Catherine out of school immediately. Bring her home.' I was very upset about the whole thing."

In her magical senior thesis, Michelle makes sense of what must have been a bizarre experience.

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'Blackness' than ever before," she wrote. "I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus, as if I don't really belong." One solution, she continued, was to "utilise all of my present and future resources to benefit (the black) community first and foremost."

Michelle felt the tension acutely enough that she made it the subject of her senior sociology thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." What she found surprised her. As students, she wrote, the alumni were closely identified with the black community. But after graduating, she wrote, "their identification with Whites and the White community increased." The finding seemed to give her some pause.

Further assimilation into the white social structure, she concluded," will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant," she wrote.

This is surely laughable now, as not only is this woman on the brink of becoming one of the most powerful people in the free world, she's also going to become as mainstream as it gets. This is an exciting part of the Obama presidency for many voters, and even employees of John McCain succumb to this fundamental change.

Obama, who majored in sociology with a minor in African-American studies, dedicated her thesis to, "Mom, Dad, Craig and all of my special friends. Thank you for loving me and always making me feel good about myself." She was off to Harvard Law, and the corporate world beyond.

Yet since graduating, Michelle has not returned to the Princeton campus.

It has become fashionable in certain circles to criticize Michelle's love of America, highlighting the contrast with what America gave her and her perhaps ungrateful attitude towards it.

And why shouldn't she be angry, and upset? She grew up in what was still a highly segregated America, and she was among the second generation of pioneers in the highest levels of the white elite. Such attitudes were nauseating to me, and I am white, and privileged, and I am twenty years younger than Michelle, and I didn't go to Princeton.

Yes, Michelle's remarkable success in every stage of her life is a testament to how far our society has come. But she did not feel that at the time, and how could she? Whether she would succeed or not was always in doubt.

The irony is that Michelle's story is, in part, the conservative dream. While Barack came from a broken family and by his own admission suffered for it, Michelle's strong family background propelled her, and gave voice to the critique that Barack is now offering when he speaks to certain audiences. And if Jesse Jackson is pissed off, he must be doing something right.

But back to Michelle, whose young life is part and parcel to who she is. She left Princeton, and never returned. What life did she embrace, and how did her and Barack get that going, you know, sexually? Tune in for part two this weekend.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

ENJOY THE MUSIC OF WOMEN

"Flashlights" - Women (mp3)

"Shaking Hand" - Women (mp3)

"Lawncare" - Women (mp3)

"Cameras" - Women (mp3)

Women website:

The debut album by Women was recorded by label-mate Chad VanGaalen over 4 months on ghettoblasters and old tape machines in his basement, an outdoor culvert and a crawlspace. Sometimes light and spacious, at other times eerie and dense with an ominous weight, this self titled album touches upon Velvet Underground, The Zombies or This Heat while not really having any obvious precursors – a lo-fi  masterpiece cloaked in layers of vibrato and guitar wash.

women



PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Molly enjoys beer milkshakes here.

Molly returns to her adolescence here.

Molly on Scorsese here.



Saturday
Jul192008

In Which If It Weren't For The Chosen People You'd All Be Living In Caves

The following is excerpted from a classic Charles Murray article in Commentary.

Jewish Genius


by Charles Murray


As soon as Jewish children born under legal emancipation had time to grow to adulthood, they started appearing in the first ranks of the arts and sciences. During the four decades from 1830 to 1870, when the first Jews to live under emancipation reached their forties, 16 significant Jewish figures appear. In the next four decades, from 1870 to 1910, the number jumps to 40. During the next four decades, 1910–1950, despite the contemporaneous devastation of European Jewry, the number of significant figures almost triples, to 114.


Disproportionate Jewish accomplishment in the arts and sciences continues to this day. My inventories end with 1950, but many other measures are available, of which the best known is the Nobel Prize. In the first half of the 20th century, despite pervasive and continuing social discrimination against Jews throughout the Western world, despite the retraction of legal rights, and despite the Holocaust, Jews won 14 percent of Nobel Prizes in literature, chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology. In the second half of the 20th century, when Nobel Prizes began to be awarded to people from all over the world, that figure rose to 29 percent. So far, in the 21st century, it has been 32 percent. Jews constitute about two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population. You do the math.



all jewish all the time


The IQ mean for the American population is “normed” to be 100, with a standard deviation of 15. If the Jewish mean is 110, then the mathematics of the normal distribution says that the average Jew is at the 75th percentile. Underlying that mean in overall IQ is a consistent pattern on IQ subtests: Jews are only about average on the subtests measuring visuo-spatial skills, but extremely high on subtests that measure verbal and reasoning skills.


A group’s mean intelligence is important in explaining outcomes such as mean educational attainment or mean income. The key indicator for predicting exceptional accomplishment (like winning a Nobel Prize) is the incidence of exceptional intelligence. Consider an IQ score of 140 or higher, denoting the level of intelligence that can permit people to excel in fields like theoretical physics and pure mathematics. If the mean Jewish IQ is 110 and the standard deviation is 15, then the proportion of Jews with IQ’s of 140 or higher is somewhere around six times the proportion of everyone else.


kathy acker looks a lot like janeane garofalo

A “good enough” environment is important for the nurture of intellectual potential, but the requirements for “good enough” are not high. Even the very best home environments add only a few points, if that, to a merely okay environment. It is also known that children adopted at birth do not achieve the IQ’s predicted by their parents’ IQ.


Two potential explanations for a Jewish gene pool favoring high intelligence are so obvious that many people assume they must be true: winnowing by persecution (only the smartest Jews either survived or remained Jews) and marrying for brains (scholars and children of scholars were socially desirable spouses). I too think that both of these must have played some role, but how much of a role is open to question.



julian schnabel


In the case of winnowing through persecution, the logic cuts both ways. Yes, those who remained faithful during the many persecutions of the Jews were self-selected for commitment to Judaism, and the role of scholarship in that commitment probably means that intelligence was one of the factors in self-selection. The foresight that goes with intelligence might also have had some survival value (as in anticipating pogroms), though it is not obvious that its effect would be large enough to explain much.


But once the Cossacks are sweeping through town, the kind of intelligence that leads to business success or rabbinical acumen is no help at all. On the contrary, the most successful people could easily have become the most likely to be killed, by virtue of being more visible and the targets of greater envy.



israeli soldiers from here


Furthermore, other groups, such as the Gypsies, have been persecuted for centuries without developing elevated intelligence. Considered closely, the winnowing-by-persecution logic is not as compelling as it may first appear.


What of the marrying-for-brains theory? “A man should sell all he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a scholar, as well as to marry his daughter to a scholar,” advises the Talmud (Pesahim 49a), and scholarship did in fact have social cachet within many Jewish communities before (and after) emancipation. The combination could have been potent: by marrying the children of scholars to the children of successful merchants, Jews were in effect joining those selected for abstract reasoning ability with those selected for practical intelligence.



ashkenazi iceberg


A data-driven theory for explaining elevated Jewish IQ appeared in 2006 in the Journal of Biosocial Science. In an article entitled “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence,” Gregory Cochran (a physicist) and Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending (anthropologists) contend that elevated Jewish IQ is confined to the Ashkenazi Jews of northern and central Europe, and developed from the Middle Ages onward, primarily from 800 to 1600 C.E.


In the analysis of these authors, the key factor explaining elevated Jewish intelligence is occupational selection. From the time Jews became established north of the Pyrenees-Balkans line, around 800 C.E., they were in most places and at most times restricted to occupations involving sales, finance, and trade.



sephardim shiri appleby


Sephardi and Oriental Jews—i.e., those from the Iberian peninsula, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Islamic East—were also engaged in urban occupations during the same centuries. But the authors cite evidence that, as a rule, they were less concentrated in occupations that selected for IQ and instead more commonly worked in craft trades. Thus, elevated intelligence did not develop among Sephardi and Oriental Jews—as manifested by contemporary test results in Israel that show the IQ’s of non-European Jews to be roughly similar to the IQ’s of Gentiles.


The three authors conclude this part of their argument with an elegant corollary that matches the known test profiles of today’s Ashkenazim with the historical experience of their ancestors:

The suggested selective process explains the pattern of mental abilities in Ashkenazi Jews: high verbal and mathematical ability but relatively low spatio-visual ability. Verbal and mathematical talent helped medieval businessmen succeed, while spatio-visual abilities were irrelevant.


henry, your mom's on the phone for you

No one has yet presented an alternative to the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory that can match it for documentation. But, as someone who suspects that elevated Jewish intelligence was (a) not confined to Ashkenazim and (b) antedates the Middle Ages, I will outline the strands of an alternative explanation that should be explored.


It begins with evidence that Jews who remained in the Islamic world exhibited unusually high levels of accomplishment as of the beginning of the second millennium. The hardest evidence is Sarton’s enumeration of scientists mentioned earlier, of whom 15 percent were Jews.



mark "jew" rothko


These were not Ashkenazim in northern Europe, where Jews were still largely excluded from the world of scientific scholarship, but Sephardim in the Iberian peninsula, in Baghdad, and in other Islamic centers of learning. I have also mentioned the more diffuse cultural evidence from Spain, where, under both Muslim and Christian rule, Jews attained eminent positions in the professions, commerce, and government as well as in elite literary and intellectual circles.



that's right, we're responsible, sorry barack


After being expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century, Sephardi Jews rose to distinction in many of the countries where they settled. Some economic historians have traced the decline of Spain after 1500, and the subsequent rise of the Netherlands, in part to the Sephardi commercial talent that was transferred from the one to the other. Centuries later, in England, one could point to such Sephardi eminences as Benjamin Disraeli and the economist David Ricardo.


In sum, I propose that a strong case could be assembled that Jews everywhere had unusually high intellectual resources that manifested themselves outside of Ashkenaz and well before the period when non-rabbinic Ashkenazi accomplishment manifested itself.



elizabeth banks, converted!


How is this case to be sustained in the face of contemporary test data indicating that non-Ashkenazi Jews do not have the elevated mean of today’s Ashkenazim? The logical inconsistency disappears if one posits that Jews circa 1000 C.E. had elevated intelligence everywhere, but that it subsequently was augmented still further among Ashkenazim and declined for Jews living in the Islamic world—perhaps because of the dynamics described by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending (that is, Oriental Jews were concentrated in trades for which high intelligence did not yield wealth).


Recent advances in the use of genetic markers to characterize populations enable us to pursue such possibilities systematically. I offer this testable hypothesis as just one of many possibilities: if genetic markers are used to discriminate among non- Ashkenazi Jews, it will be found that those who are closest genetically to the Sephardim of Golden Age Spain have an elevated mean IQ, though perhaps not so high as the contemporary Ashkenazi IQ.

peter sellers

The next strand of an alternative to the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory involves reasons for thinking that some of the elevation of Jewish intelligence occurred even before Jews moved into occupations selected for intelligence, because of the shift in ancient Judaism from a rite-based to a learning-based religion.


All scholars who have examined the topic agree that about 80–90 percent of all Jews were farmers at the beginning of the Common Era, and that only about 10–20 percent of Jews were farmers by the end of the first millennium.



we've had our missteps along the way


Rejecting the explanation that Jews became merchants because they were restricted from farming, Botticini and Eckstein point to cases in which Jews who were free to own land and engage in agriculture made the same shift to urban, skilled occupations that Jews exhibited where restrictions were in force.


Instead, they focus on an event that occurred in 64 C.E., when the Palestinian sage Joshua ben Gamla issued an ordinance mandating universal schooling for all males starting at about age six.



The ordinance was not only issued; it was implemented. Within about a century, the Jews, uniquely among the peoples of the world, had effectively established universal male literacy and numeracy.



i've been meaning to write a thank you note to these guys


The authors’ explanation for the subsequent shift from farming to urban occupations reduces to this: if you were educated, you possessed an asset that had economic value in occupations that required literacy and numeracy, such as those involving sales and transactions. If you remained a farmer, your education had little or no value. Over the centuries, this basic economic reality led Jews to leave farming and engage in urban occupations.



gwyneth paltrow...i look forward to chris martin's pro israel political advocacy ty


Joshua ben Gamla’s ordinance mandating literacy occurred at about the same time as the destruction of the Second Temple—64 C.E. and 70 C.E., respectively. Both mark the moment when Judaism began actively to transform itself from a religion centered on rites and sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem to a religion centered on prayer and the study of the Torah at decentralized synagogues and study houses. Rabbis and scholars took on a much larger role as leaders of local communities. Since worship of God involved not only prayer but study, all Jewish males had to read if they were to practice their faith—and not only read in private but be able to read aloud in the presence of others.


Charles Murray is God's chosen scholar. You can read the full article here.



laura prepon - molly's ginger jew alter ego


MUSICIANS TO SUPPORT WHILE YOU ARE DONATING YOUR MONEY TO ISRAELI-RELATED CAUSES






"One Pure Thought (Supermayer remix)" - Hot Chip (mp3)


the above is one of my favorite remixes of alllll time


"One Pure Thought (Toddla T remix)" - Hot Chip (mp3)



the shiller 7" single


"Mahalo" - Ratatat (mp3)


"Shiller" - Ratatat (mp3)



PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING


There will be a lot of blood.

Some films we were looking forward to.

All fires have to burn alive for Molly to live.




sephardim

Monday
Jun092008

In Which You Guys These Are Like The Best Links or Something

Monday Links Shatter Glass Ceilings

by Alex Carnevale

Since we first proclaimed Hillary dead, she's been spinning in her grave just fast enough to become one of the best runner-ups in the history of the primaries. Her future is certainly brighter than of another glorious runner-up, Denise Richards, whose spray-tan scares even the most ardent of her supporters.

While Hillary fully embraced her rival, she began the campaign in earnest for the VP ticket. He'll never choose her, and she should recuse herself from consideration immediately. Why be seen as a loser twice?

That doesn't mean there isn't life after this campaign for Hillary. Time to give her credit. I thought Obama would win since I saw his cherubic face take the stage at the last DNC convention, but I never thought Hillary would become as appealing as a candidate as she has. I would have rather had an actual succubus as our president before this campaign; now I find the new Hillary a compelling, engaging and charismatic figure.

noonan on hil's exit

In this campaign, she has proven herself to be one hell of a candidate. Despite the missteps of advisors, her speechmaking was never better. She's deft on her feet, she actually cares about what she's doing, and she seems like a nice person you might want to spend some time with.

During her racist slutbag husband's presidency, I don't think we actually ever knew her as well as we thought we did. And now that we do, the general consensus seems to be that she'll fade away from the political scene at the young age of 60. Considering the Republicans have gone to great lengths to nominate someone who looks like a troll you might find under a bridge, I don't think that's the case.

wouldn't that have been a celeb couple to die for? damn you father time!

There is a third act for Hillary in American politics. We're not as sick of her as we thought, and a 68 year old woman can certainly look better under the camera's glare than a woman could have during Margaret Thatcher's time.

Forgive me for reducing it to her looks, but since we can assume her brain isn't decomposing, it's the major obstacle to a run for president in 2016, when she'll be 68.

My 90 year old grandmother can probably run for Senate, and the way Hillary's aging, with the help of her favorite plastic surgeon, she can easily be considered the favorite. Current 68 year olds:

raquel welch - nah, I don't think she had plastic surgery, what do you think?

faye dunaway - would never let a surgeon touch her perfect skin, neither should hillary

julie christie with about 12 pounds of base on her face. Is this Hillary's actual future?

Of course, Indiana Jones star Karen Allen didn't age as well as the ladies above. She's only 58, and look how she's let herself go:

eeee karen!!!!

When Spielberg asked Karen if she'd be in the movie, he didn't say she'd be the Crystal Skull.

I GOT 68 LINKS AND A BETCH AIN'T ONE

Does drinking bleach cure HIV?

The worst place to be a terrorist

more snakes around than usual

this dude is a racist a-hole

snake in a car engine

Peggy Lee all over again.

Obama gaffe machine

Kate Hudson and Lance Armstrong debut in public.

"First Sight (Tom Inhaler remix)" - These United States (mp3)

Golden Hymn

Philip Whalen in 1973:

I brought back a piece of its rock
Heavy dark-honey color
With a seam of crystal, some of the quartz
Stained by its matrix
Practically indestructible
A shift from opacity to brilliance
(The Zenbos say, "Lightning-flash & flint-spark")
Like the mountains where it was made
What we see of the world is the mind's
Invention and the mind
Though stained by it, becoming
Rivers, sun, mule-dung, flies-
Can shift instantly
A dirty bird in a square time

from here

lyrics of rock songs in alphabetical order, trust your instincts

going to rollerjam usa

rethinking stonehenge

he didn't like obama's commencement address

steven pinker keeps it real real

in praise of liberal guilt is so dumb

death of a start up?

There's someone I forgot to be

some hot summer soul for you to enjoie

23 best downloadables

"We're not in this race to make a point, though a very important point will be made." - Bob Barr

Dykes to Watch Out For

fuck marry kill democratic candidates for prez

how all that sigur ros nudity came about

this controversy is entertaining

These men are not to have their energies “dissipated by wine and women.” The name of the Propaganda Department has been changed to “Publicity Department” — for the benefit of English speakers (only). Chinese scientists have been tinkering with the weather, as they are wont to do. They practice “rain mitigation,” and they are doing their best to ensure that no rain, or less rain, falls on the Olympics. And, in order to make way for improvements, and to make Beijing sightlier, the government has razed whole neighborhoods, once filled with traditional huts. There is not much thought to the people displaced. Westerners marvel at what the Chinese authorities can accomplish, and the speed with which they can accomplish it. They are even envious. An American acting as a senior adviser to the Beijing Olympic Committee said, “The ability to get things done here is really staggering. In Los Angeles, it would take endless discussions to build any structure. Here they decide to do it, and kaboom! It happens.” Yes, dictatorships are known to be good at that sort of thing. -Jay Nordlinger

A million cars have been banned from Beijing, and 200 million trees planted. This is an effort to combat the city’s pollution, which is severe. They have prohibited tobacco for the Olympic period: You can’t smoke on public transport or in indoor workplaces — a real sacrifice for a heavily smoking nation. There will be anti-spitting patrols. Citizens have been admonished to be polite to foreigners. And government workers have been warned to watch their morals: These men are not to have their energies “dissipated by wine and women.”

from here

The name of the Propaganda Department has been changed to “Publicity Department” — for the benefit of English speakers (only). Chinese scientists have been tinkering with the weather, as they are wont to do. They practice “rain mitigation,” and they are doing their best to ensure that no rain, or less rain, falls on the Olympics. And, in order to make way for improvements, and to make Beijing sightlier, the government has razed whole neighborhoods, once filled with traditional huts. There is not much thought to the people displaced.

Westerners marvel at what the Chinese authorities can accomplish, and the speed with which they can accomplish it. They are even envious. An American acting as a senior adviser to the Beijing Olympic Committee said, “The ability to get things done here is really staggering. In Los Angeles, it would take endless discussions to build any structure. Here they decide to do it, and kaboom! It happens.” Yes, dictatorships are known to be good at that sort of thing.

- Jay Nordlinger

you probably want to be a buddhist couple

the joy of Torchwood

what to do with that spare $75 billion you have lying around

these pics of zooey freak me out:

Karl Rove's wisdom

O.J. Mayo getting ready to be drafted

How to avoid jetlag

the stupidity of dignity

our man ramesh on the election


this chick's photostream is pretty hot

karen mcdougal fan art

the kirsten dunst suicide watch is on

islam in south brunswick nj

i want to buy all these products

muxtape stumblr

we love sounds is a hot act

fuck these fucking people

the sex effect

i almost cried during this recap of the bachelor: london calling

clarissa explains it all with kids is so wrong

the quest for every beard type

An improved situation in Iraq:

Iraqis have experienced lulls in the past -- notably after the January 2005 elections -- only to see violence flare again.


"The security situation is much better than in the past three or four months, and I am making more money now," said Falih Radhi, who runs a food store in eastern Baghdad. "Despite this, I have a feeling that this positive situation won't last long and that violence may come back again."


Oops.


"Tear You Apart" - She Wants Revenge (mp3)

"She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" - She Wants Revenge (mp3)

"Red Flags and Long Nights" - She Wants Revenge (mp3)

a little trip down delta way

odds on what you'll die from

terry eagleton's a d-bag

not understanding george michael

gotta love this santogold track & photo

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

from here

BLOGS FOR THE QUIET TIMES

Candywrapper is my favorite tumblr of all time except when she posts pics of her pet rats

Take a Report

god I love Goldenfiddle

Robot Heart is tumblr of the decade

Petite Sophisticate

The Interpreted World

Chaos Theory

Our Hell Is A Good Hell

follow the This Recording tumblr

The Angry Black Woman

i Obsess

The Root

Bradley's Almanac

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Give yourself something to do.

Tess predicts the future.

The sad story of Chris Benoit.