Thursday, December 30, 2004

What is un biased?

I came across this quote from Andrew O'hehir's new book about the New York Times recent reporting scandals, which defines cleverly what is often (falsely) considered inpartiality as "a point of perpetual, semi-neutral waffledom, halfway across the infinitesimal distance between Joe Lieberman and John McCain." Lately it seems a news organization acts rampantly biased in the style of a Fox News and still disingenuously claim to be unbiased, or it hides behind a tradition of respectability like "the paper of record" does while reporting based on their own skewed sense of what is impartial. (For instance, Howell Raines' Times relentless pursuit of the Whitewater non-scandal). A paper like the Times can hide its clear partiality behinds its relatively small newspaper font and stately masthead, but neutrality is not achieved merely by trying to appear neutral.

Friday, December 17, 2004

France can be funny!

My family used to have this hilarious CD by the comedian--or more accurately, comic singer, but is that a job title?--named Alan Sherman. He wrote funny lyrics to the tune of well-known songs and melodies. As I was reminiscing about my stay in Paris with my parents--which is all that I ever do nowadays!--I recalled a cleverly hilarious song Sherman wrote called "You Went the Wrong Way Old King Louis," about Louis XVI. Alright here are the lyrics to said song. Read them all; they're a riot:

Louis the Sixteenth was the King of France in 1789.
He was worse than Louis the Fifteenth.
He was worse than Louis the Fourteenth.He was worse than Louis the Thirteenth.
He was the worst since Louis the First.

King Louis was living like a king, but the people were living rotten.
So the people, they started an uprising which they called the French Revolution, and of course you remember their battle cry, which will never be forgotten:

You went the wrong way, Old King Louie.
You made the population cry.
'Cause all you did was sit and pet
With Marie AntoinetteIn your place at Versailles.

And now the country's gone kablooie.
So we are giving you the air.
That oughta teach you not to
Spend all your time fooling 'round
At the Folies Bergere.

If you had been a nicer king,
We wouldn't do a thing,
But you were bad, you must admit.
We're gonna take you and the Queen
Down to the guillotine,
And shorten you a little bit.

You came the wrong way, Old King Louie.
And now you ain't got far to go.
Too bad you won't be here to seeThat great big Eiffel Tower,
Or Brigitte Bardot.

To you King Louie we say fooey.
You disappointed all of France.
But then what else could we expect
From a king in silk stockings
And pink satin pants.

You filled your stomach with chop suey.
And also crepe suzettes and steak.
And when they told your wife Marie
That nobody had bread, she said "Let 'em eat cake."

We're gonna take you and the Queen
Down to the guillotine,
It's somewhere in the heart of town.
And when that fella's through,
With what he's gonna do,
You'll have no place to hang your crown.

You came the wrong way Old King Louie.
Now we must put you on the shelf.
That's why the people are revolting, 'cause Louie,
You're pretty revolting yourself!

For some reason, I really find this line funny: "We're gonna take you and the Queen, Down to the guillotine, It's somewhere in the heart of town." I just like that they don't know where the guillotine is. The rest of the song is just incredibly clever.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Just an addendum to my last post. I guess there has been a repsonse to He's Just not that Into You. An excerpt from an article about the book on Salon:

Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and the author of "She Comes First," will publish a response to HJNTIY in February. "Be Honest: You're Not That Into Him Either!" will be released by HarperCollins' ReganBooks. Kerner, 38 and married, acknowledged the fundamental truth of the original book's message, but said it's presented in deeply flawed ways. Kerner objects to Behrendt and Tuccillo's advice about not making phone calls or being aggressive. "It's like they're telling us to sit back pulling petals off daisies: He's into me, he's not into me..."


"[The book] felt so prescriptive and so goddamn cocky and like such a simplistic view of life and love," Kerner said. "Any relationship comes down to two people and backgrounds and context and how they meet, and to reduce it to a set of rules ... There's something insidious about it ... It is disempowering and a lot like "The Rules," and it sort of leaves all the power with the guys." As a sex therapist, Kerner said, he finds that both genders fall "prey to complexities and vulnerabilities, and men wonder how to be masculine and what to do. So I would hate for a woman to read that book and think that any guy that doesn't call simply isn't into her. In some cases it might be true but definitely not always."

Why I'm not so into 'He's Just Not Into You'

On it's face, the new "flying-off-the-shelves" book by two "Sex in the City" writers, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo He's Just Not That Into You seems a wake-up call to all self-deluding women (most of us) about the relationships that we overanalyze to death. I have not read the book but have read several articles about it, and the message is anything but subtle: the relationship or fling or crush that you are over-analyzing, often in your favor ("well he might just be to intimidated to call me") is just not interested. It makes sense. Guys, we are told, aren't complex, as one of them replied to me at a party once when I claimed not to understand them, "we're simple people." Women, the conventional wisdom goes, are the ones who make everything complex, read into things, overthink. Lately, there has even been what I call an over-analyzing backlash. I have wrung my hands over this tendency as much as the next girl, until I figured out that the reason that females engage in this practice is not because we're crazy or neurotic but because men are hard to predict (human beings are hard to predict!). Thus, if for some reason, we are interested in someone who, as is now revealed to us, has been "just not that into" us we anxiously use every sign to gauge his committment-level: see over-analyzing is not some weird thing that girls do, it's an evolutionary response, as legitimate as any other (if we subscribe to the idea that girls are most concerned about finding someone who will committ).

This is my problem with He's Just Not That Into You, however: while it claims to be freeing women from that agonizing spiral of over-analysis, it puts a new and perhaps even more self-conscious phrase into our head, the phrase, "he's just not that into you." As a woman quoted in one of the articles that I've read about the book said, why can't the title to book 'You're Just Not that Into Him?' See, the problem with Behrendt and Tuccillo's approach is that while it claims to take the pressure off the girl--to encourage her to drop the guy who's just not that into her as soon as she detects it--it still suggests that she try to interpret the relationship by trying to read the guy's every moves. Now, however, it's in the name of figuring out as quick as possible how not into you he is.

Here is how I propose Behrendt and Tuccillo could make this book well-meaning instead of just gimmicky: advise a woman to estabish her priorities--are they to go out with a guy who a lot of women find attractive but who maybe isn't that committed (some women find that attractive)?; is it to go out with a guy who will committ? What is it that we want? Or does it even matter, really, especially if we're only in our 20s? (Lord knows guys aren't advised to establish what it is they want). Anyway, my main point is, there must be more talk of what a woman thinks and not how she can detect what a man thinks. Then maybe we will see books written with a title as equally applicable to the modern world of relationships as Behrendt's and Tuccillo's: She's Just not that Into You.