Wednesday, 5/13/15

  1. Tip well, and …
  2. Are we having fun yet?
  3. America’s Antiwar Correspondent
  4. Downtown design
  5. Pew poll
  6. New they’re dictating our culture


The juxtapositions in nail salon workers’ lives can be jarring. Many spend their days holding hands with women of unimaginable affluence, at salons on Madison Avenue and in Greenwich, Conn. Away from the manicure tables they crash in flophouses packed with bunk beds, or in fetid apartments shared by as many as a dozen strangers.

(Sarah Maslin Nirmay, The Price of a Manicure, New York Times, May 9. I don’t have a New York Times subscription, but got this through a curator of notable stories, The Browser. Thus, no link to the story itself.)

It’s not my intent to argue for execution or the public display in stocks for salon owners, who are massively violating labor laws while honoring the law of supply versus demand. This just strikes me as a microcosm of why neither Republican plutocrats nor Democrat plutocrats have any genuine interest in stopping the flow of low-skill workers into the country: We’re not reproducing ourselves; our society is increasingly stratified economically; the wealthy and super-wealthy love their cheap nannies, lawn services and nail salons; sociopaths like their exotic, young and cheap prostitutes.

Ain’t it great?! What could possibly go wronger? “Tip well” just doesn’t seem like an adequate self-absolution.


I guess I just got “lucky” with a run of depressing stories in The Browser.


I’m not offended by androgynous clothing, and I can see the appeal of Prada’s “severe” clothes for an anorexic girl. But just look at the lack of joy, or even of pleasure, on the faces of the models in this story. The pictures rebut all the chatty “sex and gender aren’t perfectly binary” window-dressing in the written rationalization.


I encountered his pieces only occasionally, but considered him very insightful when I did. Now we no longer have William Pfaff, America’s Antiwar Correspondent. He could never be “a contenda” because “powerful American institutions have little use for those likely to illustrate their foolishness.”

Rest in Peace.




Pew’s new survey reports, among other things, that people without religious affiliation now outnumber Roman Catholics in the U.S. Only Evangelicals outnumber the unaffiliated.

I probably am missing the mark here, but these surveys don’t especially bother me. I’ve just seen too much religion that really wasn’t worth holding onto. And this kind of result was telegraphed by the sudden collapse of American support for religious freedom internally.

I’d rather see the lapsed Protestants and Catholics “lapse” upward into Orthodoxy than into unaffiliated and, apparently, unbelieving – not even “spiritual but not religious,” so I’m sorry, and a bit surprised, that Orthodox Christians dropped from 0.6% to 0.5%. Anecdotal local experience only goes so far, I guess.


“The business of America is business” is not a new slogan. But I’ve never seen business so brazenly blackmailing states as they have taken to doing lately under the rubric “perception is reality, and we don’t want to be perceived as doing business with anti-gay bigots.” Texas has now been bullied into dropping a RFRA with stuff like this:

Fifteen Fortune 500 companies, iconic Texas brands and the conservative Texas Association for Business pledged their commitment to promoting a powerhouse economy in Texas—one that is welcoming to all gay and transgender Texans. The unprecedented list of 50+ businesses for equality is a Who’s Who of Texas brands, including, notably, the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, which issued this statement from its President and CEO Sallie Sargent: “We recognize that a welcoming and inclusive community is essential to sustain a strong economic environment and a thriving region.”

See this, too.

Indiana caved on RFRA – a religious freedom bill, for cryin’ out loud – under similar threats.

This just takes to a different (I’d say lower) level a phenomenon of longer duration: business saying, in effect, “we’ll expand in the communities and states that offer us the biggest give-aways create the most welcoming business climate.

I always resented that, but that was only money. Now they’re dictating our culture.

These are the kinds of morally pure folks who’d boycott a state where religious freedom might get its day in court against an discrimination charge, but will cheerfully do business with China and other countries that are, shall we say, less than bastions of human dignity.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.