My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.
The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)
But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way? I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.
Then I thought: What the hell, it’s just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be. And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.
In a Senate Finance Committee hearing, a top economic adviser for George W. Bush argued that “the main cause of inequality is Americans who choose not to work.”
Lindsey’s argument was this: income inequality has risen under every President since Nixon; it rose most dramatically under Clinton. Neither party has been able to solve this problem, so our expectations should be very modest. In spite of large government transfers from the rich to the poor since the nineteen-sixties, and in spite of the rich paying a higher proportion of total income taxes now than they did in 1980, inequality keeps going up. The reason, Lindsey concluded, is the decline in “middle-aged labor-force participation,” especially among men, in the past few years. In other words, lots of people in their thirties, forties, and early fifties have chosen to stop working. In Lindsey’s blunt phrase—which he subsequently denied using—they have chosen not to be self-reliant. They have dropped out of the workforce because tax rates are onerous and government benefits are attractive; they have less incentive to work than to be unemployed. This, the former President’s adviser suggested, is the main cause of inequality: more and more formerly employed people just don’t want to work. It was an updated version of Ronald Reagan’s freeloading welfare queens—only now they’re white and middle class.
This Is a Generic Brand Video is a generic brand video of “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” written by Kendra Eash for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. No surprise, it’s made entirely with stock footage. All video clips used are from dissolve.com. See and license them here: http://www.dissolve.com/generic
First: This video is definitely worth watching. It’s an incredibly effective send-up of generic b.s. advertising etc. etc., made entirely of actual stock footage. (As indicated, the voiceover is from this wonderful McSweeney’s piece by Kendra Eash.)
Second: If I understand correctly, it was made by a company that licenses stock footage. In other words — it’s an ad.
There is pizza, and then there is apizza. New Haven-style pizza is the latter; a hotter, crispier, and dirtier descendant of Neapolitan style pie. What ribs are to Kansas City, cheesesteak to Philadelphia, and crabcakes to Baltimore, pizza is to New Haven. If you grew up in or around the Elm City, your pizza parlor allegiance can be fierce. So how did Connecticut’s second largest city become ground zero for some of the best pizza in the United States? …
"This is an emergency. It’s time for everyone with a computer, everyone with a cell phone, everyone who uses discount phone cards – those place calls over the internet – to insist, to demand of this president and this Congress that they protect the public’s right to communicate with itself, that they protect the free and open internet upon which we all depend."