Mr. Smartypants’s Inadvertent Guide to Postmodernism, Part Two

Folks, I just got up.  I slept like a rock for, what?  Ten hours?  Good lord.  It’s a good thing I didn’t try this yesterday.  Anyway, envy me my four-day weekend.

So, where were we?  We were about to talk about bridges and signs and other roadside accouterments in honor of my engineering readers.  Y’all know what a metaphor is, right?  A metaphor is when you say that something is like something else in order to make its essence more clear.

Let’s say that I wanted to express to you how cute I think Kleinheider is, but also get at how I think his fundamental way of moving through the world is deeply troubling.  I could use a simile–Kleinheider is like prickly pear ice cream, prickles included–or a metaphor–Kleinheider is a cool prickly pear ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day.  But the point is that he’s actually not literally ice cream.  He’s not even literally like ice cream.  But there’s something about him I don’t quite know how to put into words that exactly get at it, so instead, I take some steps back and say, is there something very unlike Kleinheider that will bridge the gap between what I feel about him and who he is?

Just like a real bridge isn’t made out of the river banks it’s trying to connect, but steel or brick or wood instead, a metaphor is something foreign we bring into the gap between what’s there in front of us and how we feel about it so that we can speak about it.

But it’s deeper than that.  Do you know Magritte’s famous painting, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe“?  As you can see, it’s a painting of a pipe, with the sentence “This is not a pipe” written at the bottom.  Just think about this for a second.  It’s not a pipe.  It’s a picture of a pipe.

This seems both obvious and a trivial point, but it’s actually an important point of understanding postmodern thought.  Take this word–cat–for instance.  That is not, obviously, a cat.  We might, to use a metaphor, call it a sign that points you towards the cat.  Or we might go farther and point out that it’s a sign that points you towards an idea of a cat.  It might be a specific cat for one of you or a general idea of a cat for another of you.  But “cat” is not a sign that points to something external that has four legs and a tail and a bad attitude.  “Cat” points to something internal, an idea you have about what a cat is.

And, of course, everyone has a different internal idea about what cat is.

So, follow me here.

Since everyone has her own internal landscape that is different from everyone else’s, there’s a way in which a great deal of our world is not “objective” reality–out there real stuff–but reality filtered through our unique internal landscapes.  In fact, some would argue–like Baudrillard–that we don’t even see objective reality at all, but only our internal landscapes projected onto it, because we understand the world around us through language.

AND so the language we use is created by our need to describe the world in ways that make sense to us while at the same time the language we use describes the world in ways that makes sense to us–even if those ways are not objectively true.

Let’s turn to Mr. Smartypants, now, who says–

Building rapport with people makes them let their guard down more easily. I’ve used the car dealer as the perfect example before. They want to get you a cola and sit and chat so you will drop your guard. The auto dealership is the perfect laboratory for all of this stuff. It has the deception on the part of the salesmen and the breaking down of the defenses of the buyer.

Now, let’s think carefully about the wisdom Mr. Smartypants is hitting us with.  Here’s what he’s saying–We don’t buy cars that often; it’s a process that isn’t very familiar to us.  The car dealer knows this and exploits it.  The car dealer gets that he can control how we make sense of our experiences.  We usually associate receiving gifts–like the cola–and friendly chatter–like the small talk–as being signs that indicate that a person has good intentions towards us.  This association is so deeply ingrained in most of us that it seems ordinary, natural, just the way things are.  And so it’s very hard to keep in mind that the car dealer actually doesn’t have good intentions towards us.  He might not have bad intentions towards us, in all fairness, but he’s trying to make a sale, and in order to do that, he’s willing to exploit how we make sense of our experiences.

So, let’s go back to the exchange later on in the comments between Mr. Smartypants and the Wayward Boy Scout.

Sarcastro says, “One of the problems we are having with the boys in Gitmo and Iraq is we don’t have anything they want.”

Exador says,

Not entirely true, if we weren’t such pussies.
Some good examples of things they might want:

1) A koran.
2) Some time out of the pig fat bath.
3) Some time with the Judas Priest soundtrack off.
4) Food other than bacon and menstrual blood.

You get the idea.

Sarcastro counters with

That’s like the difference between wanting some soft and moist female companionship and wanting the dick out of your ass.

The former is something you genuinely desire and the latter is something you desire to stop. This involves a subtlety that I wouldn’t expect an engineer to understand.

Do you see what’s going on here?  Do you see why Sarcastro’s approach is so much more insidious in some ways than Exador’s?  Exador says, “Here’s how they view the world.  If we want to hit them where they hurt, we have to use the things that offend them.  That’ll show them.”  But what Sarcastro advocates is fucking with their worldview, fucking with how they create and understand reality.

Exador’s approach happens in a framework they can understand and defend themselves against (or, if they can’t, their failure can also be understood by others who share their framework).  Sarcastro’s approach works because it dismantles their framework and replaces it with one that is more aminable to the needs of the interrogator.  Exador advocates fucking with them.  Sarcastro advocates fucking with how they order the world.

Could Sarcastro be any more postmodern?  I just don’t see how.


Mr. Smartypants’s Inadvertent Guide to Postmodernism, The Beginning


I am about to do something so daring, so ridiculous, I about can’t stand it.  I should just sleep on it and come back to it in the morning, decide then if it’s a good idea, and I may.  But for right now, I’m about to, in good faith, make a post in which I basically claim that Mr. Smartypants and Baudrillard ought to be brought into dialogue, if not for my sake, then for Rachel’s, and for the sake of the Wayward Boy Scout, who I about had to punch in the nose today*.


I know.

I just put Mr. Smartypants and Baudrillard in the same sentence.  Twice now.  And with no intention of poking fun at either of them by the association.

Okay, I am going to bed before I attempt this, but tomorrow, we’re going to sit down and discuss what a man who fought in the Gulf War has in common with a man who write a book about how the Gulf War didn’t really take place.  And all of it will end up showing you how, yes, indeed, a man sticking his thumb in a Miller Lite Bottle is sexist and gross.

It’s going to be awesome.

Or fail spectacularly.

Either way, I can’t wait.




*"Was there a reference to a woman?  If not, you’re taking this jump a bit far.  Almost like you have a chip, and you’re looking for things to be offended by."

Let’s Ask Mr. Smartypants

Y’all, sometimes it embarrasses me that my spiritual guru is a forty-year old man whose main hobbies seem to be being a cantankerous jackass who hurts my feelings and watching his lawn grow.  But there you go.  You make do with the spiritual gurus you have, not the spiritual gurus you wish you had.

As it so happens, it has come to my attention that you all need the guidance of Mr. Smartypants.  I have, without consulting him first, decided to take the liberty of asking him some questions, the answers of which will help you all as you move through the world. 

Dear Mr. Smartypants,

Thanks to my tax dollars, you have mad people reading skills.  When faced with someone you are trying to get information from, do you rely solely on what that person is telling you?  Why or why not?  What are some ways you can tell if someone is telling you one thing, but is hiding something else?  Do people let their guards down more easily when they are comfortable or uncomfortable?  Are people easier to manipulate if you can promise them something they want in return for their compliant behavior?  Does this apply only in times of war or also in everyday life?

Yours Truly,

Aunt B.

Important Announcements

Nashville and welcome guests, if you’re driving in West End Avenue between I-440 and Vanderbilt, the right lane is the unofficial Starbucks entrance ramp.  I know it’s not marked, but that’s clearly what it is.

If you don’t want to go to Starbucks, don’t get in that lane.  If you are stuck in that lane, behind all the traffic that is waiting for its turn in the drive-through at Starbucks, when you realize what’s going on, do not whip out into the center lane without looking to see if I–or any other driver–might be right there.

Thank you.

Also, speaking of people who drive down West End, Busy Mom, if your haunted Barbie Jeep catches the fancy of the Ghost Hunters, you must let me come over and ogle Grant.  Please.

Keep this Up and You’ll Have Yourself 29 More Years of “Detached Observation.”

Can three days go by without me mentioning our favorite right-wing pundit, Kleinheider?  No, I guess not.

Anyway, he steps in it yesterday good, and then keeps stepping, then trailing mud through the house, when he starts spouting off about how women are.

It’s good fun and you should not miss it.  Coble takes him to task both there and over at her place.

Anyway, as a favor to the hottest man in right-wing punditry in Nashville who is not advocating shooting undocumented workers, I’ve created this little guide:

How To Keep the Women-Folk Untroubled by Your Right-Wing Punditry

1.  And this ought to go without saying, the falafel has no place in sex.

2.  Women are a part of America.  When you say, “People always talk about whether America is ready to elect a women president. You assume that they are talking about men accepting women as authority figures.” you acknowledge and then reinforce that, sing it along with me kids, “Men are, in general, in the system, more powerful than women and one of the main luxuries they have is of being the default human beings and the arbiters of what is appropriate public discourse and what is not. [emphasis added]”  Please, for the love of god, if you can see that you’re reinforcing this idea that “America” means “American men,” don’t do it!

3.  Don’t presume that women (or men) make decisions based primarily on the gender of the candidate.  Even if you believe this to be true, you will outrage us when you assume it matter-of-factly.

4.  And perhaps most importantly, when you see you’ve dug yourself into a hole you’re having trouble getting out of, stop digging.  Your “I know a lot of women.  Some of them are different than you and these women prove my point” is never going to trump our “We have cooters, jackass, don’t try to tell us how women are.”

That is all.  You can thank me later.


In Which I Teach Martin Brady A Little Something About Baseball

Via Brittney, Martin Brady bemoans the fact that women move about freely in society  and thus threaten to ruin baseball

You just have to go read it for yourself.  It’s worth it, believe me.  The whole thing is hilarious.  But here’s the best part:

Women masseuses in the dugout? Next the head trainer will be a woman. Then the third-base coach. Then the manager. Meanwhile, the minor leagues will be forced legally to put women on the field. Don’t doubt that any of this can’t happen. In the past 40 years, our society has seen the unmitigated ascendance of women in all social and employment realms. Legislation has been enacted to protect—and also to encourage—their insinuation into once-male-dominated domains. Have you watched television lately? Aside from ESPN, with its mostly (but certainly not all) male talking heads, women are everywhere in places of media prominence. On any given night, a typical local network affiliate will have an all-female team handling anchor, weather and sports duties. What are the men who used to have those jobs doing now? Working at day-care centers?


My god!  He’s right.  Women are everywhere and we’re ruining everything and, worse than that, when we take men’s jobs, we force them to get really gross jobs like raising children!

I want to call Brady hysterical, just for the fun of it, but I’m worried he wouldn’t get the joke.

Anyway, Brady, here’s what I want to tell you about baseball: Baseball is not about your penis.  Baseball is not some holy sanctuary for men who feel oppressed by the presence of women.  Baseball is a business.

Baseball’s business is making money.

If baseball teams find that the best personnel they can get for the money are women, they will hire women.  If those women then stand in the dugout or near third base, as a business, baseball could not give a shit–even if individuals raise a stink.  And believe me, if there is a woman out there who can consistently throw a ball at near 100 miles an hour in the strike zone, some team is going to give her a shot, whether you like it or not.

Is baseball ever going to be overrun with women?  I doubt it.  But a day is going to come when there will be a handful of female major league players.  If they’re good enough to compete with the men and cheap enough to make it worth the teams’ while, it’s going to happen.

If you don’t like it, start your own league.  Set your own rules.  Make it a he-man woman-hater’s club if you want.  That’s your business. 

But don’t expect baseball to keep the girls out just because you find them ooky.  Don’t complain about them making business decisions that don’t reinforce your notion of the aesthetic meaning of baseball.  That just doesn’t make sense and it’s hateful.

In order to show you how idiotic you sound, I did a little find and replace.  Here’s some of what you wrote with the gender stuff changed to race:

Hernandez, in a moment of pure and (God love him) thoughtless honesty, was only striking a blow for a bigger cause: Whites’ right to have their games and to play them in the sanctity of blessed whiteness. The dugout is only an extension of the locker room, which is where whites change their clothes, shower, scratch, fart, belch, and otherwise act like white guys. Is the right to act like a white guy in danger of being legislated out too?

Listen, it’s not whites’ fault that the games they play are cool and executed at the highest physical level, and that blacks want to intrude. There’s been such a fuss over Title IX funding for so many years, and blacks got their way with that. Their opportunities to play sports have increased tremendously, and more than ever blacks are making livings throughout the sports world. The encroachment of blacks into American sports is unprecedented. And, no, we shouldn’t be surprised that the San Diego Padres have a black massage therapist working out the kinks of a third-baseman’s strained hammy.

Does anyone really think that Keith Hernandez, a guy who’s been around the block a few times, was making some kind of statement about where blacks belong in society? I think not. My guess is that Keith has a handle on the big picture. Which is, that whites, just like blacks, are entitled to their own competitive worlds, their own oneness of race, their own privacy, their own camaraderie, their own right to express themselves at a unique personal level, and, most of all, to behave freely as whites. The major league baseball dugout has always been a place where these things have been allowed to happen. Kelly Calabrese’s presence raises a potential red flag signaling the end of all that, and yes, whites have a right to be concerned.

There isn’t a damn thing wrong with Hernandez speaking his mind. It’s a free country, isn’t it? He’ll have to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous PC fortune, of course, and hell, I don’t even care that he had to issue a PC-inspired statement to cover his ass.

Would you even write that?  I doubt it.  But if you can see how much that line of thinking sucks, then why can’t you see how much your line of thinking sucks?  If a person can do the job and do it well, she should be allowed to do it.  If you want to critique Calabrese, critique her on her ability to do her job, not on whether or not she’s ruining baseball with her girl cooties.

Why Grown Ass People Sleep with Teenagers

As Grandfille points out, our resident Pedophile Barbie is going back to jail.  Grandfille ask notes that many folks are confused as to why a beautiful woman like her would resort to fucking a teenage boy–they seem to think this would be some great gift to said boy.

Let me explain it to you.   Teenagers need space to fuck around and make mistakes and grow up.  Grown ass people who fuck teenagers, as I’ve said before, have a vested interest in preventing that teenager from growing up and realizing what a loser the teen-fucker is.  That’s why fucking a teenager, even if they appear to be willing, is wrong, because, in order to fuck a teenager, a grown ass person must fuck with that teenager’s head.  If they didn’t fuck with that teenager’s head, the teenager would eventually ask such troubling questions as “Why can’t this person find someone his or her own age to fuck?” and realize that the answer is “Because this person is a loser” and stop fucking them*.

But, why do hot women, who could, seemingly, have any man they want, fuck teenagers?  Here’s my theory.  In all of these cases that reached such high profile, the women were in relationships.  I suspect that these women have spent their whole lives being the pretty, pretty princesses who could always count on their attractiveness as an inducement for men to spoil them.  However, once they get into long-term relationships, their partners grow tired of having to treat the pretty, pretty princess as if she is the most special treat on the planet and not just an ordinary human being who needs to do ordinary things like laundry and dishes and yardwork.

These teenage boys have no experience with ordinary life.  They don’t pay bills or work or feel the full weight of adulthood and so they have no expectation that these women will either.  The woman has found someone who only sees her as the pretty, pretty princess and who expects her always and forever to need special attention that no other man can give her.  So, she chooses the boy who can help her maintain her belief in her special, unique self over the man who wants her to be a grown up.

I suspect the dynamic is similar for men who fuck teenage girls.  He loves that, to her, he is always so smart and powerful and special, because she’s got little history to compare him to.



*Keep yourself safe.  Follow the Shill’s guide for unfoolish coupling.  If you take your age, divide it in half and add seven, that is the youngest aged person you can date without looking like a skivvy loser.


How To Tell if You Live in the Midwest

The Professor is right.  There appears to be some confusion about just what the Midwest constitutes.

Citizens of Earth, let me clear it up for you. 

Midwestern States

Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas*

States Which May Share Our Culture, But Are Not, In Fact, Midwest, Mostly Because the Midwest DOES NOT Have Mountain Ranges

Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania (but really, only the western part)

The State We’ll Take Because It Has to Go Someplace, but Damn It, Now You’re Stretching It

West Virginia




*[Insert eye-roll here]