I like the new digs

UPDATE: my import problem turned out to be a version incompatibility issue with php and libxml2, and was a general problem with the xmlrpc API as well… Upgrading to latest versions seems to have fixed it.

At long last, I have finished migrating Terminus Est from blogspot to my own WordPress install. My old site now redirects here, please make note ofthe new address. My feed address has not changed.

The migration did not go as smoothly as one should, despite there being an importer that is supposed to handle things for you.

For one thing, the importer doesnt handle images hosted on blogger. It seems there is a plugin which might take care of it, but I didnt know that until it was too late. Fortunately most of the images in my blog are actually hosted on Flickr, so that was actually not so terrible.

The real issue, however, was that every post had its angle brackets stripped out, necessitating a manual correction, very annoying. Also for some reason it converted all of bloggers tags to WordPress categories, which is mystifying, and required manual correction as well.

Take it somewhere else

It’s no secret that I am a serious hater of the MTA’s PSA copywriters. They are complete hacks. It’s like they’re mining for coal, but forgot what coal is. Take this example:

img_0034

Let’s examine the copy…

You can take it with you!

Take care. Take it light. Take the subway. Take responsibility. Please take your trash with you when you leave the train or station.

Using your powers of pattern recognition to a degree easily achievable by most lizards, you quickly realize that they’re going for a theme of “phrases that start with the word take.” If you were a trained rhetorician, you’d know that is called anaphora. If you were a master rhetorician, you’d call it “for fuck’s sake, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

If they had started and stopped with “you can take it with you”, it would have been lame, but not “fails so hard it hurts me” lame, because it’d be a basic play on a well known phrase. Rhetorically, you’d classify it as simple, tried and true reversal negation — lame merely in the way that most PSAs are lame.

But they did not stop there. Laboring under the sad delusion that they know catchy from painful, they decided to drive home the point with some phrases that start with the word ‘take’… and came up with this list:

  • Take care.
  • Take it light
  • Take the subway.
  • Take responsibility.

Um, excuse me… “take it light?” When was that ever actually said by anyone? Anyone not answering the question “How do you take your coffee?” Never mind, that would actually be “I take it light.” Or just “light.” No, “take it light” has simply never been a phrase, anywhere, ever. And they put it on a poster as one of four phrases that start with the word ‘take’.

The most painful thing about this latest MTA PSA copy travesty is that it was completely avoidable. Here, allow me:

Take care. Take it easy. And if you take the subway, then please, take responsibility.

See how it’s done? It’s not so hard when you actually know English. Now paypal me $50, bitches.

Why I don’t get my news from a TV

[Update: corrected NBC to WNBC]

I never watch news on television. Why? This image, I think, sums it up nicely:

NYC-based NBC affiliate WNBC was doing a story on rats in NYC, I think related to a spate of health-code violations that happened over the summer. Up comes the above graphic.

Let’s examine the bullet points in this illuminating slide of “Rat Facts.”

Not as big as cats.
OK, so right out of the gate WNBC is insulting me. Hello, people, the “new” in “news” means what you’re telling me shouldn’t be something that everyone in North America over the age of 3 knows.
Successful mammal.
Depending on your definition of “successful”, this is either debatable, or self-evident from the fact that Rattus Norvegicus is not extinct. Or maybe they meant that some rats wear fancy wristwatches and drink lattes as they listen to music on their iPhones. But I’ve never seen that.
1 for every human?
Ok. Come closer, WNBC news. No, no, closer… yes. Are you listening? Ok. NO PHRASE THAT ENDS WITH A QUESTION MARK CAN BE A ‘FACT’.

So, rounding up this list of “facts”, we have one which is insulting (minus 10), one which is ambiguous at best (minus 5), and one which is not a fact (minus 100). F-bloody-minus, WNBC.

I have struggled to imagine how this travesty of newscasting occurred. It makes me angry to think of the number of people who were shown that graphic with the expectation that they would just swallow it along with the rest of the stream of garbage that passes for information on TV. A fourth-grader could do better.

Despite this anger, I do try to have some understanding for my fellow humans (who are much bigger than cats, I’ll have you know), so I came up with what I think is the only possible explanation that does not incorporate sinister motives or a blatant and egregious lack of respect for the public. Here goes:

The story was already running on air when the news producer realized that they needed a slide to show. Who knows, maybe they had blocked out a graphic but never filled in the actual information, or they thought they had some video footage to roll and it was missing… but somehow, with 60 seconds to go, the producer screams “oh my god, we need three facts about rats in 30 seconds, people, get me some facts!” Some people pound in google searches, some poeople shout out the most rudimentary things they know about rats, and one person says “I think I heard that there’s like one rat for every human!” And thus was produced the dumbest slide ever.

Magnificent Moments: Mad Men, A Night to Remember (s2e8) [Spoiler]

There have been many great moments in Mad Men involving Joan Halloway, but this week’s Mad Men Magnificent Moment goes to the best one so far. The show closes with a montage of evening activities: Joan getting our of her work clothes, Peggy bathing, Father Gill jamming out, Don drinking a Heineken in the office.

The context here is Joan’s disappointment at her loss of the TV script reading gig. It’s already clear that she’s enjoyed the job more than she expected, and moreover that she takes pride in her accomplishments — she impressed clients, and did so in a way that no man in the firm could possibly have. She deserved the credit and recognition that was her due, and instead they took the success that she gift-wrapped for them and used it as proof that they should hire a man (who will still rely on her for the details) to do her job. And since Joan is concealing her disappointment, we cannot know what she is thinking through dialog. She’s no crier, or shouter, or one to break things, and even if she did any of those things, all we’d know was that she was upset, and sure we’d know why, but without being drawn into her. What’s called for is a moment that innately connects her feelings with the exact situation that give rise to the injustice.

This week’s Mad Men Magnificent Moment is Joan sitting on her bed, back to the viewer, turned slightly in profile, slipping her bra strap off of her shoulder, and idly massaging the clearly painful indentation the strap creates there. In a single instant we know that she does this every night, that she is used to this pain and has no expectation of it changing. We may even imagine that she suffers from pain in her back, or will later in life. We see that her breasts, which she uses (and the men in her office view) as one of her assets, exact a toll on her, but that toll is so internalized and accepted that she is barely conscious of it. This is synecdoche for her womanhood in general: the physical pain Joan suffers is a direct result of being a woman. So it goes with her life — she is resigned (for now, at least) to the frustrations and degradations of being a woman working in an office in 1961. With uncomfortable strap marks and the glass ceiling, she sees no alternative to just putting up with it.

Joan pensive

Update: When I went to add this still as an illustration, I watched the scene again and read it slightly differently, she kinda acknowledges the strap mark and frowns at it, looks away, then back at it, and then goes distant. Like she’s used to fretting about it for moments at a time before resigning herself again. Slight elaboration on the above.

We Love the Things That Hate Us

Atmosphere recently released a completely free album called Strictly Leakage. Nerdifer sent me the track she liked, a song called “The Things That Hate Us.” She got it off this hip-hop blog Inverse. It’s an indictment of the proclivity of Americans to engage in modern self-destructive behavior. Self-destructive eating, boozing, smoking, TV watching, medicating… here’s a snippet:

Overfill, overkill, tryin’ to deal
Call the toll free and order me some diet pills.
Got me looking at the sugar in the Kool-Aid that you made
You need to chase it down with some toothpaste
Still stuck to the simple things yep the struggle in between a couple of krispy kremes
I have to ask if you could pass that half and half to get my coffee back on track
Big ups to all the carbonated hiccups the energy drinks and the suicide big gulps.
Gonna find happiness in the fast food
Supersize the triple bypass heart attack too
Distract you with these colorful tattoos to cover up the fact that we feel like bad news

[Chorus:]
We love the things that hate us
Push snooze again girl I don’t want to wake up

The thing that just tickles me is how amazing the title lyric is. It could have just as  easily been entitled “we love the things that hurt us”. Instead, the lyric imbues these things with intention, and thus actual malice.

The overly sugary food you eat? It hates you. It wants you to get diabetes. The unprotected sex you’re having hates you, and if it’s in a good mood, the worst it wishes on you is a case of the clap. And that needle that you’re sharing with someone. It has nothing but hatred for you… cynical, vicious hatred. It wishes you ill.

It’s a positively genius turn of phrase.