At the Sunday Night Cafe...

Sunday, December 20, 2020 1 comments

... you can write about whatever you want. 

"Have you ever heard of 'pronoid'?" — I ask.

Meade says: "I've heard of 'noid.'"

I say: "What is that, some R. Crumb thing?"

Meade says, yes, and I look it up. 

I'm surprised. How could we both independently think "Noid" was an R. Crumb character and it not be true? "No, 'The Noid' was a character in old Domino's Pizza ads" — I say.

The slogan was "Avoid the Noid." In 1989, a man named Kenneth Lamar Noid, who believed the character had to do with him, took hostages in a Domino's restaurant in Chamblee, Georgia. The hostages survived, and Noid was committed to a mental institution. 

"Why did we both think of R. Crumb?" — I wondered. I google "noid" and "R. Crumb" and exclaim "Snoid!" 

Wikipedia quotes a description of the Snoid as "a short-statured asshole, and many people believe that Snoid, with his fetishes, sex cravings and disdain for materialism, is little more than an alter ego for Crumb."

Yes, but what's "pronoid"? It's the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day. It's a recent word, created as an antonym for "paranoid." It means: "Characterized by the belief (especially when viewed as irrational) in the goodwill of others or the pervasiveness of serendipity."

The oldest usage found was from 1982: "I am interested in the manifestations of pronoia and in the conditions that encourage or produce pronoid behavior." 

From the 1997 movie "Fierce Creatures":  "You've heard of paranoid, right? It means you think that everybody's out to get you. Well pronoid is precisely the opposite."

"I grew up in the former Soviet Union and in a late, flaccid, totalitarian state, the idea that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' was particularly obvious."

"For seventy years, the rhetoric of the Soviet state was always about happiness for all, a better future for all, equality for all—bullshit rhetoric that was like a paper bag thrown over a bomb. But apart from learning about how the genocidal state operates, you also learn instantly to recognize this idea, in whatever guise it comes at you, that someone else knows what you need to be 'happy,' and that this knowledge is certain and enforceable. You see it miles off. It emits a special stink even before you know it’s there.... When I was growing up in Ukraine, a line from Antoine de Saint-­Exupéry’s The Little Prince seemed to capture the ethics my family was teaching me without teaching it to me didactically: 'You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.' And if you can’t handle forever, then please don’t start. Just don’t.... The idea that doing something is always better than doing nothing is very dangerous, I think.... So much work and deliberation need to happen before you actually do anything that is ethically grounded and not fundamentally self-­serving."

Says Maria Tumarkin in "Unethical Reading and the Limits of Empathy" (Yale Review).

Here's Tumarkin's book — a collection of essays — "Axiomatic."

"Once You Get The COVID-19 Vaccine, Can You Still Infect Others?"

From FiveThirtyEight: 
There’s a hypothetical mechanism that could allow this to happen biologically, said Deepta Bhattacharya, a professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona. And that mechanism is … well … it’s boogers and phlegm. 
“So, the virus enters in through the upper respiratory tracts, either through your nose or your throat. And those are protected by a mucous layer. And so that mucous layer is good at slowing things down from getting into you. But it also acts as a barrier for things like antibodies, and certainly for cells from getting out and meeting the virus as it comes in,” he said. 
[Your immune cells] might not be able to neutralize the ones resting in your nose, on the other side of your mucous barriers. Those COVID-19 viruses wouldn’t hurt you, but they still might be able to replicate and shed — coughed back out of your nose and mouth....

"Where and by whom 'Latinx' is used has helped spur the complaints that it may alienate working-class Latino communities (especially those that speak Spanish)..."

"... or at least fail to reflect their preferences. 'I keep thinking, people who are watching this, do they identify with that term?' asks Richard T. Rodríguez, an associate professor at the University of California at Riverside, of political messaging during the pandemic that has used 'Latinx.' 'The x is jarring, kind of like biting in glass.' (Rodríguez also pointed out that even though 'Latinx' is often used in solidarity with the trans community, a transgender person who has fought for his or her gender identity to be publicly recognized can also be marginalized by the term.) "

From "'Latinx’ hasn’t even caught on among Latinos. It never will. The term is an English-language contrivance, not a real gesture at gender inclusivity" (WaPo). Did the headline writer understand the article? The word "even" doesn't belong. It's the opposite of the point. 

The term is used — as it says in the first paragraph — by "[o]pponents of transphobia and sexism" in  "social media posts, academic papers and workplace Slack chats," "[l]iberal politicians," "[c]ivil rights litigators," "[s]ocial scientists," and [p]ublic health experts." 

The top-rated comment over there — by someone who identifies himself as "a Latino" — is "'Latinx' was created in America by people apparently not happy that Spanish is a gender-specific language. It’s a fake-Spanish word that wasn’t created by and isn’t used by Latinos to describe themselves. It’s a shortcut used to identify a huge and very diverse group of people. That term is offensive and people need to stop using it."

"Latinx" is doomed. The people who are using it seem especially vulnerable to the charge that it's offensive

At the Saturday Night Café...

Saturday, December 19, 2020 0 comments

... you can write about whatever you want.

"I don’t hate art. But I don’t know what the hell that was."

Said building owner Nate Comte, quoted in "Cookie Monster Mural Puzzles Artist and Enrages Property Owner/A man claiming to be a property owner in Peoria, Ill., wanted a Soviet-style mural of Cookie Monster. The artist who did the job now says he was tricked (and paid) by an impostor" (NYT). 
[The artist, Joshua] Hawkins, who apologized to Mr. Comte on his Facebook page, said he was still trying to figure out the real identity of the man who hired him, whom he described as tall, fit and in his 40s....“He knew [Comte's] building, he knew his name and he knew he wasn’t there,” Mr. Hawkins said. Around Peoria, a riverfront city of about 110,000 people in central Illinois, the episode has spawned an untold number of theories about who might have commissioned the mural....
Mr. Hawkins asked [the person who hired him] what the Russian words meant and the man replied, “Peace, land, cookies.” “I thought he was opening a bakery,” Mr. Hawkins said.... Mr. Hawkins said he was not vexed with his mysterious patron... “The guy paid me and he paid me pretty well.... So I’m not mad at all about that.”

Meanwhile, the building owner says he's getting hate mail for painting over the mural.