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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 2

with 15 comments

Yes, I know.  There’s been no Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 1. 

But it exists, actually–or part of it still does. It’s sitting in the drafts folder of this blog.

I spent a great deal of time this morning writing it, a long piece about Rick Santorum and amnioscentesis and Dutch euthanasia and whatnot–and then the computer and the program ate it.

I’m very careful about saving while I’m writing blog posts, but in this case it managed to not-save things it had said it saved.

I just couldn’t face recreating the second half of it, so I didn’t.

And that was too bad.  It was one of my better posts, I think.  It also managed to throw a pall over what had, until that point, been a pretty good day.

Of course, later, while I was out at the grocery store, we had snow squalls, and that made it a really annoying day, but that’s something else again.

So let me leave a couple of notes that have nothing to do with that post.

First, if you’re thinking of getting the new Penn Jillette book, God, No!, don’t bother.  

I don’t know what I expected this book to be, but it isn’t what I thought it would be.  Mostly, it’s just Penn Jillette doing his schtick.  And that’s all right, if you like it–which I usually do, when I see Penn and Teller perform on Letterman or SNL or their Showtime series Bullshit.

Page after page of Penn’s schtick, however, doesn’t go down so well, especially since the book seems to have no real organizing principle beyond “this is stuff that Penn thinks and stuff that has happened to me.”

There is the bit about reciting each of the ten commandments and then putting down Penn’s suggestion instead, but that’s a bit bland at best and totally cliched at worst.

And, hard as it is to admit it, the man managed to exceed my capacity for Anglo Saxon.

I’m from the Northeast.  We swear like troopers up here, and I can do it in more than one language.

But this just got to be overwhelming. 

And then there was the amount of sheer, gratuitous vulgarity–coarseness?  I don’t know what to call it.  The constant bathroom jokes, vomit jokes and various references to various sexual acts, coupled with eclectic uses of gross slang terms for various parts of the female anatomy.

What I found myself thinking, on around chapter 4, was:  this is just unbelievably ugly.

And it is.

And it’s too bad.

Penn’s taken on libertarianism is closer to my own than most other people’s.  Someday, I hope he’ll write a book I can give to my sister in law that she won’t throw in the trash after page 3.  There are some things I have trouble explaining to her.

Beyond that, I am watching a local case where a woman was elected the Town Clerk of one of the neighboring towns to me, and then didn’t bother to show up to her job for three years.

She’s suing to get her pay for all that time, because, she says, whether she showed up or not had nothing to do with her right to the job and the salary. 

That was established by the election.

Sometimes, people astonish even me.

Written by janeh

February 25th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

15 Responses to 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 2'

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  1. Don’t know what to tell you. Where I come from, profanity was frowned upon and vulgrity was a sign of bad breeding. But fro now, the vulgarians hve won. As with narcotics, violence and pornography, the body and mind adapt, so the dosage has to be increased to get the same effect. One presumes eventually the children will get tired of shouting and writing their naughty words.

    I found out in the Army that profanity had simply lost any effect. Setting aside the imprecision, people just registered that you were upset–or, perhaps, upset with them. But plain “precisionist-grade” English, stating exactly what was wrong and what was to be done cut wehre profanity no longer did.

    I would say as a rule, it’s not worth picking up a book by anyone who makes his living in front of a camera. The only exceptions I can think of are Charlton Heston and Larry Niven, both of who had decent educations before they took up acting. For the rest, there are scriptwriters.

    If your sister in law isn’t allergic to SF, you might try THE PROBABILITY BROACH.


    25 Feb 12 at 8:29 pm

  2. I think you mean David Niven, Robert. Larry writes a good book, but he doesn’t do much acting these days. ;)

    As for THE PROBABILITY BROACH and the rest of the series, it’s a ripping good yarn, but also a kind of fantasy-libertarianism not completely in touch with actual human nature, and with a charming not-quite-thought-through faith in market forces.

    And if there isn’t anything in the town ordinances about actually having to show up and do the job, that woman may win in court. It’s a novel new application of welfare, isn’t it? Get elected to the salary and title your peers elect you to, collect, get elected again…Wait, wasn’t there something about what happens to the republic when the plebes can vote themselves bread & circuses? ;)


    25 Feb 12 at 8:49 pm

  3. I’m another brought up in an era (and environment) where profanity was considered, at best, to be a sure sign of at least a poor vocabulary if not of generally low intelligence. That said, like most young men of my generation and background I swore like the proverbial “trooper” when among “troopers” and other peers, but considered it to be beyond the pale to do so in the presence or hearing of women and children. It just wasn’t done, even in the parts of then lower working class society with which I was familiar. Farm workers, for example, might turn the air blue out in the fields, but in the house at mealtimes they were the very souls of decorum.

    I’ve been particularly bemused at what seems to me to be the relatively recent escalation in the frequency of the gratuitous use of the F-bomb in Hollywood productions. Being a rusted on fan of Damian Lewis, I’ve been watching his latest series “Homeland”. It is an otherwise excellent show, but gratuitous use the F-word and all its variations seems only to be interupted, and that briefly, by occasional snippets of other dialogue. It still jars to hear these words coming from the lips of Claire Danes, the female lead, but that probably proves that I’m just another irrelevant auld phart.

    My disgust with the hypocrisy of Hollywood and most who sail in it is almost limitless. But it particularly irks me, albeit as an atheist but one with some considerable respect for people of genuine religious faith, to hear Hollywood productions putting the words “Jesus f**king Christ” into the mouths of a female character knowing full well that the show would be watched by many people, perhaps a majority, for whom such words are not only grossly blashemous but grossly offensive among most ordinary, polite non-religious people.

    I’ll to take notice of these grubs’ rationalisations for such usage when they write equivalently contemptuous lines about Muhammad or other religions’ prophets/gods.


    25 Feb 12 at 9:36 pm

  4. Ouch! David Niven indeed. Anyway, look up THE MOON’S A BALLOON and BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES.

    As for not being in touch with human nature and misunderstanding economic forces, the point was not that the system would work as described, but that it was a relatively painless exposition of libertarianism. (I’d say Smith is nearer reality than any Obama speech on both points–which is not to say Smith is all that close.)

    Classical Athens also worked its welfare system by office-holding, come to think. Those 300-strong juries were paid what it’s now fashionable to call a “living wage,” and it was a lot less strenuous than quarrying stone or cultivating olive trees.


    25 Feb 12 at 11:41 pm

  5. Ouch! The very thought of those two David Niven books sends me into paroxysms of laughter. Who could ever forget the disastrous consequences of misinterpreting the instruction to “cough”. Oh dear! :-)


    26 Feb 12 at 2:09 am

  6. About saving work.

    –> http://www.dropbox.com/

    You get about 2 Gigabytes of storage free, which is a lot when you’re talking text documents of any kind. There are data plans for more.

    Dropbox can be used like any other ‘folder’ on your computer, so you can set autosave functions to use. You can simply use the dropbox folder as your default save location for any of your word processing programs — and anything you do is saved right there on your local hard drive.


    It automatically syncs with your folder on the dropbox servers. Which means so long as you’ve been saving your work regularly your computer can burn up and you still have your data.

    Plus, on any other computer where you have an account (and sufficient privileges) you can install drop box and sync to your folder and have access to everything (as soon as it finishes synchronizing of course).

    This makes it not only safe as it’s “in the cloud”, but very convenient since you can use it like any other file storage on the computer.

    And FWIW, modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera have web sync functionality also, so if your logged in and save a bookmark at home — if you then open up the same browser at work and log in to your account the bookmark is there.

    They even include password ‘safes’ which you can synchronize if you want to use them.


    26 Feb 12 at 12:59 pm

  7. “Women and children”, Mique? Really? Thanks for infantilizing half the adults on the planet.

    As for Penn Jillette’s book: read it, had the same reaction that you did, Jane. He needs to grow up a bit.


    26 Feb 12 at 3:01 pm

  8. “Women and children”, Mique? Really? Thanks for infantilizing half the adults on the planet.”

    Oh, rubbish, Mary. The ability and willingness to curse like a brain-damaged moron isn’t any sort of meaningful measure of adulthood or equality of women. Rather it’s exactly the most reliable proof of the very infantilism you complain about.


    26 Feb 12 at 7:45 pm

  9. No, I wasn’t referring so much to the profanity as to the habit of using the phrase “women and children” which I loathe with every fiber of my being.

    For some reason I just don’t like being lumped in with the toddlers, thanks.


    29 Feb 12 at 1:53 pm

  10. You’ll stand back then when the lifeboats are being launched to allow the “gentlemen” to board first? :-)

    Autres temps, autres moeurs, Mary.


    29 Feb 12 at 7:18 pm

  11. I wouldn’t expect anyone to let me get in line ahead of them, no.

    And yes, I know you were talking about the old days but you were doing it admiringly. While I understand the nostalgia toward civility, the “women and children” categorization grates whenever I see it.

    I’ll shut up now.


    1 Mar 12 at 2:31 pm

  12. Mique, it may shock you to find out that many women realize that equality in the areas we demand it (work, pay, home, respect in society) also requires we relinquish privilege where it is undeserved, or based only on gender.

    That means that women get drafted in war and put into the front lines of combat. It means they don’t get the first places in the lifeboats. (I think we’ll still let the kiddies go first). But if the survival of the children means that strong men accompany them in the lifeboats instead of women, so be it.

    This doesn’t mean the death of courtesy, people will still hold doors for each other…but a woman shouldn’t expect it just because she’s a woman. I think that’s where Mary’s coming from. As long as we accept the infantilization of women, classified with the children as a protected group, then we also accept that it’s okay to pay us less, restrict our career choices, interfere in our contraceptive choices and uses of our bodies, treat us as second class citizens.

    I have no respect for a woman who wants to be granted those benefits that should accrue only to those who take risks, yet be protected from the consequences of those risks. If I want the respect and equality of my peers, I have to be ready to perform those actions that earn them.

    Does that make sense?


    1 Mar 12 at 3:32 pm

  13. I don’t argue with any of that. At least not in principle. In practice, of course, there are many problems.

    I thought the smiley face would indicate that my last remark to Mary was a joke, and that the autre temps thing was to indicate that I was talking about the past which she initially didn’t seem to get.

    To change the subject, and in the hiatus while Jane is dealing with whatever it is at the moment, you might like to look at this from some of Peter Singer’s acolytes:


    With all due respect to Godwin’s Law, you have to wonder how, so soon after the Nazi and Stalinist eras, allegedly intelligent people can revisit what is no better than eugenics. The obvious first question is who gets to decide who lives or who dies? The thousand other obvious questions can wait.


    1 Mar 12 at 6:39 pm

  14. Jane said it better than me in today’s blog.

    It doesn’t bother me to be lumped in with children in sayings of that sort. It doesn’t infantalize me. It doesn’t mean I’m a child. It doesn’t mean I don’t or won’t perform useful or dangerous actions, and it doesn’t mean I want unearned privilege. It doesn’t mean I’m ‘unequal’ in any political sense. It means that in certain situations, women and children are seen in one category and men in the other. Mique mentioned jokingly the very well-known one in which woman and children are spoken to differently, with more courtesy, than other men are. Personally, in that case, I’d like to see the men join the women and children and benefit from the courtesy of having others not use offensive language.

    The other, more common usage generally applies, as Jane points out, in cases in which the survival of the group is best served by th survival of children and women who care for them and who can produce more. It didn’t always work out anyway, especially when you consider class as well, and women were of course free to ignore the saying. There have been well-known cases of women choosing to go down with the ship and letting others taking their places in the lifeboats.

    As for Singer and his ilk, I won’t even bother to discuss him except to say that the decrease in protection for human life by social custom and rules as I grow older and more in need of protection is … a very unpleasant thing to contemplate, on a personal level.


    2 Mar 12 at 8:08 am

  15. I can’t get the comments to work in One More Try.

    This link gives more details about the abortion story.


    And here is a link about euthansia.

    I agree with Jane and Cheryl.


    2 Mar 12 at 7:04 pm

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