culture


48HRMagazine just created is first issue (Issue 0) and its theme was Hustle.  Below is my submission (too lazy to fix formatting translation errors), and here is another piece that was not accepted which helps define ‘hustle’ (focusing mainly on an activist oriented approach, as opposed to a labor based approach) even though we all know what it is.  Below my submission is a link to a YouTube clip that must be seen (thanks again to Blinkered Bunny for this tip).

The best hustle in New Orleans is Test Tubes.  We were just in from New York City, DC, Miami, Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles for a bachelor party.  The name of the bar was lost in the haze, but it had an upstairs patio overlooking Bourbon Street where we immediately went.

I was first.  She was cute and the shot was a reasonable three dollars.  She put the test tubes in her mouth, the bottoms clinched in her teeth.  Gripping my ears, she pulled my mouth onto hers and she grabbed my belt and she pulled me down and our heads tilted and the tubes dumped into my mouth.

“Nice.”

“Six dollars.”

“Three dollars?”

“Two tubes, honey.”

“Nice.  Keep the change.”  She winked at me.  Knowingly.

The next girl came a few minutes later.  She had a crooked mouth and thick arms and she began on the other side of the group.  She also had a chest and would alternate the tubes between there and her mouth.

“Nice rack.”  Some spectators were amused.

“Get to ya’ll next.”  She was not amused.

She made her way through the six of us with no delay.  I was last and JP was before me. He shot off her chest and handed her a twenty, which she dropped into her bra.  JP squished his eyebrows and she turned to me.

“Sorry, I just gave all my cash to your friend.  She got here first.”  Come on, honey.  Her eyes twinkled.  “No, seriously.”  I showed her my wallet, seeking her approval.  She turned to the group and asked if anyone would cover me.

“Take it out of my change.  Fourteen dollars.”  I took the shots from her mouth.

“Six dollars.”

“Told ya, don’t have it.  Take it out of his change.”

“Six dollars.”  She addressed the group.

“Take it out of my change.”  Each time JP mentioned his $14 change ($8 after my shots) she slapped him on the back of the head, “that’s in the past.”

It was amusing.  A cat playing with a mouse.  We thought she was the mouse.  We formed a circle and JP mentioned his $14.  She grabbed his crotch and twisted.  JP shifted.  Instead of moving with the twist he turned against it and crumpled.

We all cringed in unison.  Hand to the groin.  Step back.   She juked out of the middle and we paid the six dollars.

“No tip?”

“You already got it.”  JP squeeked.

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At the risk of becoming too comfortable in my seat on the Sam Harris bandwagon, I must admit agreement over this piece in the NYT.  The argument is that pediatricians ought to be allowed to do a ‘nick’ (an attempt to make the cut seem innocuous) on girls newly born into families that would practice Female Genital Mutilation.  The concern is that if not allowed to perform the procedure in the US then the family will merely send the daughter somewhere it can be done.  Regardless the daughter will be cut and here it would only be a nick instead of full removal.

However, the uniqueness portion (the daughter will be sent off anyways) of this argument is not a solid argument.  Most of the immigrants where this would matter hail from eastern Africa.  This also tends to be one of the most economically depressed demographics of American immigrants.  The financial means to do so are not always present.  Even if they are present, there are ought to be a significant cost to that practice.  While the nick may be less harmful than full removal, it is still a practice that deserves condemnation.  The avoidance of a worse act does not make it a worthy act.

And here is where we come to the Sam Harris portion.  Even though I am probably in line with most cultural relativists and am probably, accurately, in many cases considered a nihilist, this is not one of those cases.  This is a horrific act.  It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.  And that is before I even turn to the testimonies of its victims.  There is also a significant body of evidence about measurable and quantifiable harms for engaging in the act.  Even if the nick avoids these measures, it is still a horrific act.

The benefit?  “Cultural gains”.  Screw that: cultures change.  I’m comfortable with a wholesale dismissal of this cultural benefit.  I had thought the nihilistic relativist was a caricature, the boogey man of Tea Party luncheons and Limbaugh shows.  Apparently not.  Here’s Harris with his take on it, from this essay:

I don’t think one has fully enjoyed the life of the mind until one has seen a celebrated scholar defend the “contextual” legitimacy of the burqa, or a practice like female genital excision, a mere thirty seconds after announcing that his moral relativism does nothing to diminish his commitment to making the world a better place. Given my experience as a critic of religion, I must say that it has been disconcerting to see the caricature of the over-educated, atheistic moral nihilist regularly appearing in my inbox and on the blogs. I sincerely hope that people like Rick Warren have not been paying attention.

Maybe there are these people really out there.  The great enemy of the Left are those that sit idly by in their homes thinking they and all others are islands.  Islands with their own jagged reefs of beliefs, but islands nonetheless so they do not need lighthouses.  Apathy.  If you want to defend the nick, then by all means do so, but don’t cave just because you’ve interpreted apathy as acceptance of the act.

I’ve been gone a while, which is fairly normal for this time of year.  It’s the end of the debate seasons as well as lots of travelling for personal reasons.  Returning to a groove is difficult to do.

In any case, I was in Charlotte last weekend for the wedding of a former debater.  I was a little nervous since I had not seen many of these people in years since I moved away from TX and then again from the move away from DC.  But, it all went well.  Friends are wonderful, no matter the wrong (within limits, obvi) or the time apart we seem to come together and leave it all behind.

The wedding also marked a nice refresher course in the power of boldness.  Most of my life has been spent as a timid adult.  Lately, I have been working on being less timid, constantly reminding myself that Fortune Favors the Bold.  So, I’ve been jumping into the First Class Line at airports, telling Karl Rove “no thanks, go ahead, I’ll take the next elevator down” and just overall making an ass of myself.  And to show for this new outlook I have new friends from all over the country as well as some stories to (not) tell.

To better summarize, I present Henry Miller:

Example moves the world more than doctrine. Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.

Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself.

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself. In the attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life, for the two are inextricably related. Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other.

Moralities, ethics, laws, customs, beliefs, doctrines – these are of trifling import. One of the reasons why so few of us ever act, instead of react, is because we are continually stifling our deepest impulses. All that matters is that the miraculous become the norm.
Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything. The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.