Jun 12

Nostalgie de la boue.

I enjoyed Scott’s latest post on white people’s1 conception of Farm Life, the primary driving force behind CSAs and pick-your-own-strawberry farms:

Namely, [farming's] fun! And connects you to nature! and all that happy horseshit that goes along with paying thousands of dollars to give young Brantley a true down-home farm experience. (As an aside: i had no idea summer camp was so expensive!).

See, whurr i’m from, a true farm experience consists of getting bussed to a vast field of juvenile corn at 5AM, where you board a harvester modified to carry ten pubescent boys standing abreast on a platform. The next eight hours are spent de-sexing row after row of male corn as the harvester speeds across the fields. Once the harvester runs out of gas, you spend the next three hours doing this on foot, in the middle of July. You return covered in tiny papercuts, stinking of adolescent b.o., diesel fuel, and fertilizer. It pays several dollars less than minimum wage (at the time, $5.15) since we are all underage… a shitty ass job, leavened mostly by the fact that agricultural labor of some sort is the only serious job a 13-year-old can legally hold.

This is what the French call nostalgie de la boue, or “nostalgia for the mud2.” It’s also the best explanation that I can come up with for the recent surge in camouflage in menswear–the only way you can reclaim camo as a fashion statement is to have absolutely zero prepubescent hunters/couples like this/purple camo-clad football fans3 in the area.

Scott also wonders “what the hell relatively affluent teenagers in urban areas do for work prior to the age of 16.” I think the answer is basically “nothing,” as the terrible job market has been crowding out teenagers for a while, and parents would rather have their children try to make it to college.

  1. Upper-middle-class urban/suburban, probably-liberal white people.
  2. I learned this phrase from Tom Wolfe; I think it’s from Radical Chic. I might have used it as a post title before.
  3. Real talk: I would give up having an NFL team if it meant no one ever wore this shit again.
May 12

The Stonecutters are gonna be pissed.

If you have an E46 BMW 3-series with a blown engine and $15k just lying around, you might be interested in this electric vehicle conversion kit:

At the heart of the system are three banks of non-volatile (fire-proof) lithium-ion phosphate batteries which store 30-35KWh of energy. One pack is located under the hood along with the 500hp motor and its controller (which also handles regenerative braking), the second pack is located under the trunk (in the spare tire area), and the third is located under the car along with the charging system (presumably replacing the gas tank). There are two range options — 100 miles and 180 miles (rated at a constant speed of 65mph) — the latter sacrificing some luggage space in the trunk.

Performance is impressive, at least on paper: 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds with a top speed of over 120mph. The kit provides a generous 300hp and 300ft/lb of torque, matching the specs of BMW’s current 335i. It only takes 2.5 hours to fully charge the batteries from a 60A circuit and the 12KW charging system uses a standard J1772 socket compatible with both Level 1 (110V) and Level 2 (240V) charging stations. Donor cars can be either automatic or manual, the latter usually operating in second gear (and fourth gear on the highway).

As is the case with most new tech, it’s not exactly cost-effective1, but it’s still really cool.

  1. Assuming the nationwide average of 15,000 miles driven per year (which is itself likely high, given the range limitations), premium gas at $4 per gallon and an average of 20 gas-powered MPG,  it would take five years to pay for the kit, not including electric bills or the donor car.
May 12

“Pretty sure I could fuck up any dinosaur the size of a chicken or smaller.”

Steve Albini did an AMA last week. As you’d expect, it’s tremendous and enlightening.

On the record industry:

There won’t ever be a mass-market record industry again, and that’s fine with me because that industry didn’t operate for the benefit of the musicians or the audience, the only classes of people I care about.

Free distribution of music has created a huge growth in the audience for live music performance, where most bands spend most of their time and energy anyway. Ticket prices have risen to the point that even club-level touring bands can earn a middle-class income if they keep their shit together, and every band now has access to a world-wide audience at no cost of acquisition. That’s fantastic.

On voicemail:

I detest voice mail. Answer your goddamn phone or don’t have a phone. We have an answering machine at the studio for when everybody’s gone, but otherwise I answer the phone and I expect other people to. I detest the whole system of using the phone to manage/frustrate callers with menus and voice mail and all that. It’s a cop-out and it sucks and if you do that to people you’re an asshole. Answer your phone.

His political views:

As a realist, I tend to vote against the most destructive candidate, which generally means the Republican, in any election. I refuse to vote for a candidate with no chance of winning unless the election is a cinch. For judicial retention elections my wife compiles a cheat sheet of recommendations from various groups with whom we sympathize on womens’ issues, prison reform, GLBT issues and corruption.

My political perspective is progressive. I believe a society with a conscience should actively try to incorporate, liberate and support as many of its people as possible, and the story of our country is a lurching, faltering progress toward that ideal. Gradually, eventually, our side always wins. Slavery ended, women are no longer property and can vote, children no longer work in mines (although we still send them to prison), institutionalized racism is dying, we got out of Vietnam, being Queer is no longer criminal… It can take decades, and there are obviously still fish to fry, but the moral, generous and forgiving nature of mankind expresses itself piecemeal as the stones in the right-wing reactionary wall, sexism, racism, class identity, greed, exclusivity, violence and revenge all erode over time.

The progressive positions are all eventually adopted not because we’ve overpowered our opposition, but because the positions themselves resonate with the American identity; we want everybody to have a fighting chance at happiness and to live a fulfilling life of his own choosing. Whenever the right wing scores a victory on an issue, it is (in the words of the poet John Houlihan) a small, temporary victory won by small, temporary men. The right wing seizes territory during its season of power, which is ceded back to civilization and then some when its season ends.

Basically I think selfishness and revenge are the ugliest human impulses and I root for anyone who helps quiet them.

Anarchism is interesting intellectually and engenders some interesting discussion but that’s about it. Libertarianism, pfft. Me-me-me bullshit for selfish little pricks who have a child’s conception of property and liberty. Communism has a humane underpinning but basically can’t be implemented in groups larger than maybe a hundred.

Whenever I hear somebody bitching about taxes I want to punch him in the mouth. “It’s MY money!” Shut up, no it isn’t. It’s money, and it’s a fluid resource (or should be) just like air. It isn’t YOUR air just because you’re breathing it some of the time. Fucking children.

I find the notion and reality of a for-profit corporate prison system absolutely horrifying.

Other tidbits:

  • “France has a ridiculous 95dB sound limit in performance spaces.”
  • Asked for five words on the Pixies: “Five words? That’s going to”
  • “Shellac will play in Chicago in August.”
  • The inspirations for Songs About Fucking were “Songs and fucking.”
  • “[O]nce you get into baseball other team sports just look like variations on a theme. Dogs fighting over a rag doll.”

The AVC rounded up some more gems, including the title quote, his PT Cruiser and his “Normal John Travolta sized” dick. HT: Ed.

May 12


Back again. Let’s get it:

Mar 12

Wood shop.

If these Bushmills barrel-stave sunglasses weren’t too small for my giant head1, I would buy all 100 pairs.

If you have the cash, get them at Bodega. Via Esquire, with an assist from Caroline.

  1. Also, they’re $225.
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