IT'S OK, THEY DON'T MATTER

Posted in Quick Hits on August 25th, 2015 by Ed

I am a small and petty man, and that is why I am just about ready to drop to my knees, rediscover religion, and pray to an assortment of deities for the nomination of Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham – Lindsey fucking Graham! – is right: if Trump wins, "That's the end of the Republican Party." That is not hyperbole. If he is the nominee, the presidential race will turn into the kind of one-sided ass kicking that we haven't properly seen since 1984, 1972, and and the FDR years. In modern elections there are groups of states that Republicans and Democrats simply can't lose. Anyone running with the "D" after their name is going to win California, and any Republican who isn't literally frothing at the mouth will win the Deep South. Trump is so bad he could lose states Republicans never lose. States Republicans would practically have to try to lose. Hell, Texas will be in play.

Gallup released some startling numbers recently about Hispanics' views on the GOP clown car of candidates. Turns out Hispanics don't like Donald Trump. Hispanics really, really, really hate Donald Trump.

trump hisp

Translation: "We're pretty meh on most of these people, except for this guy. Fuck this guy." Not like it matters though. There aren't a lot of Hispanic voters in the U.S. anyway, right?

Bonus amusement comes from the fact that Ted Cruz appears to be the least popular of the non-Donald candidates, along with fellow Texan Rick Perry. Perry's stillborn campaign may be the first one to commit seppuku, if the whispers are to be believed. We'll, uh, miss him. He was really…present. For some of this.

Everyone pray with me on this one. I haven't wanted something to happen this much since I wanted someone to tackle James Harrison.

THE SHARING ECONOMY

Posted in Quick Hits on August 12th, 2015 by Ed

Academics are used to watching this profession change for the worse, which is to say we are watching it keep up with the rest of the job market in the New Economy. Full-time work becomes part-time work, benefits are replaced with pep talks, and what was once a good career becomes piecemeal work at a subsistence wage. Most of us have done or will do the illustrious sounding "visiting assistant professor" gig, which in reality means a nine-month contract with more teaching and 1/4 the salary of a "real" professor at the same institution.

Hold onto your hats Doctors and Doctresses…things are about to get even better. Introducing a new kind of VAP – the "volunteer assistant professor." Yes, that's right. You now have the opportunity to do the full-time job of a professor for free at Southern Virginia University. You won't get paid any, you know, money, but don't say no until you've taken a look at what this position has to offer!

"In exchange for their service, the university provides volunteers with complimentary apartment-style housing and five meals a week." So, a dorm room and about 1/5 of your weekly nutritional needs. That's pretty cool.

"In addition, volunteers are welcome to participate in the full life of the university attending concerts, recitals, plays, athletic competitions, and student life events. They are also welcome to use the library and recreational facilities." Oh you're welcome to use the library? In exchange for working full time for no money? That's nice of them. Is the right to walk around the campus also included? Or does that come with Volunteer Tenure?

"At least once a month volunteers gather for a Family Home Evening or pot-luck dinner." Volunteers are also welcome at nightly potlucks at the downtown Chesapeake men's shelter.

Note how they had to get the Provost to write the ad, no doubt because they couldn't find anyone in an academic department sufficiently devoid of dignity and shame to put their name on a request of this kind.

The future is here, and it blows.

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INFLATIONARY SPENDING

Posted in Quick Hits on August 3rd, 2015 by Ed

Came up with a fun idea over on the Facebook page today. If you're not inclined to use that omniscient data mining platform feel free to sound off in the comment section here.

If you went to college, post the years you attended what one year of tuition (independent of scholarships, grants, room & board, etc) cost during your tenure. Then look up what one year of tuition costs today and report the difference. I'll go first.

1997-1999 University of Wisconsin: $12,000 (one year out of state rate)
2015 University of Wisconsin: $26,660

That's a solid 125% increase in 16 years. It's ok though. I think wages and inflation went up about that much in the same timeframe.

PERTINENT INFORMATION

Posted in Quick Hits on August 3rd, 2015 by Ed

The first time I heard of Samuel DuBose, recently shot in the head by a University of Cincinnati police officer, was in a CNN story. None of the details in the case – the release of the video or the indictment of the officer – were yet known. And the second paragraph, which in CNN Style is also the second sentence, pretty well summarizes how these stories are reported until the evidence of wrongdoing by law enforcement is so overwhelming that a standard victim-blame paradigm falls apart:

cnn

It's cute how they try to portray themselves as real journalists bringing much needed news to the outraged community when at the earliest opportunity to report the story they fulfilled their role as establishment bag men with a flourish. Reporting on the dead unarmed black guy's arrest record is par for the course; pointing out how many children he fathered shows real commitment to the Good Riddance narrative.

COURSE OF ACTION

Posted in Quick Hits on July 23rd, 2015 by Ed

I hadn't a clue that performing in blackface was still a thing, but some part of me knew that if anyone in the United States still performed in this shall we say "controversial" medium it would probably be a cop. Now the whole country knows that, yes, blackface is still a thing some people do and yes, the master of the art form is an ex-cop who was fired from the Baltimore PD for being too racist. Pause for a moment to consider how racist you have to be in order to be ruled Too Racist to be a Baltimore police officer.

Assuming you are not performing in a film or play in which re-creating the late 19th or early 20th Centuries involves the realistic depiction of a minstrel show, it is not complicated to determine whether or not donning blackface is a good idea. For anyone who might be confused I have assembled a handy flowchart. Consult it as often as necessary.

blackface

The academic part of me thinks I understand, or am capable of understanding, why people behave the way they do. I'm no sociologist or psychologist, but it doesn't take much to come up with a persuasive explanation of why people think this sort of thing is OK. At the most basic level, though, I have a difficult time fathoming how an adult human being would need to have it explained to him – in 2015 – that performing in blackface maybe isn't a great idea in the midst of a racially charged series of events involving the deaths of black men at the hands of cops.

Can anyone's lack of self-awareness be that complete? Or does he know but simply loves to troll? Given that the stated purpose of the event was to raise money for the indicted cops, trolling seems unlikely. That only leaves one option.

ROYAL RUMBLE

Posted in Quick Hits on July 15th, 2015 by Ed

One of the ego-killing aspects of academia is realizing that one's skills are not necessarily highly valued in other "industries." In my case the nearest I have to a marketable skill in the Real World is a good command of polling methodology and the psychology of survey response. I know my stuff in that area. Even so, it never fails to amaze me how much I don't know. For instance, I have no real clue (and I'm not alone here) how to poll usefully a 17-way race. Rarely is that necessary in American politics. Rarely, as 2016 is demonstrating, is different from Never.

I have to be very honest here regarding the Republican nomination: I haven't the slightest idea right now who's going to win. Look at these recent numbers via PollingReport.com:

Capture

As always it is advisable to be very leery of any poll in which "Don't Know" or "Unsure" is kicking the asses of the actual candidates. That's a reminder that a lot of people haven't started paying attention to this election yet (and who can blame them, being 15 months out). More amusingly, note that 13 (!!!) of the candidates are polling less than the margin of error of +/-5.3% in this poll. That means that despite the length of this list of options, only the top four have a level of support statistically distinguishable from zero with any confidence. The handful of candidates at 1% or zero are getting a very strong "Don't waste your time and money" signal here, although I'm sure they're busy telling themselves right now that all 30% of respondents who are Unsure will go for Bobby Jindal once the race heats up. Good luck with that.

There is an old saying in football that if you have three quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. That is, if your group of QBs does not have one person good enough to stand out above the others, what you really have is three pretty lousy players. Competition can be good for the parties, but looking over this list of knaves and has-beens gives me the sense that the saying applies here as well. If you have 17 candidates, you don't have a candidate. The fact that every one of these knuckleheads can look at the field and legitimately conclude "Hey, I could win this thing!" should be terrifying the GOP right now. With Joe Biden unlikely to run (and unlikely to do well were he to ill-advisedly choose to do so) the Democratic field is shaping up to be a classic two-way race not entirely unlike the 2008 nomination contest. It doesn't guarantee a general election victory but it certainly speaks to the strength of the frontrunning candidate in the Democratic field that not every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the party is saying "Why the hell not?" and throwing his hat in the ring.

NEEDS

Posted in Quick Hits on July 9th, 2015 by Ed

I'd like to thank Brother Kenneth Mehn, Order of Saint Augustine, who taught me about Maslow when I was a 14 year old high school freshman. What I'm saying is, this is partially his fault.

Maslow

PROSTRATING

Posted in Quick Hits on June 30th, 2015 by Ed

I have to throw myself at the feet of anyone who knows more about economics and international finance than I – what happens next now that Greece is defaulting on its loans?

I know that the current government is strongly anti-austerity, as is most of the population. I know that the Greek public wants to stay on the Euro somehow, although defaulting on the IMF loan and exiting the Eurozone should (on paper) make that impossible. The only situation I can recall from sort of recent history is the collapse of Argentina's currency and economy in the early 00s. However, in that case the debtor nation was not entwined in any international arrangement as complex, financially and politically, as the European Union.

It is well documented that when individuals end up in financial straits so dire that nothing they do will make it any better, defaulting becomes a more appealing option. "Fuck it, why not?" becomes a very appealing line of argument. If nothing helps, then in a sense nothing hurts either. To me it looks like Greece is heading toward a car accident and has decided its best strategy is to go limp and let the laws of physics take over.

So what happens next? With no political resolution possible and presumably no further deals with the IMF forthcoming, where does this put Greece six months from now?

THAT WORD, IT DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

Posted in Quick Hits on June 29th, 2015 by Ed

Here at Gin and Tacos we adhere to the highest standards of journalism and morality. This requires an immediate apology and forceful correction when we make mistakes, as any journalistic enterprise is bound to make from time to time in the relentless pursuit of the truth.

Last week we mocked Bristol Palin for a second pregnancy while taking large sums of money to advocate abstinence. It turns out, though, that this pregnancy was planned. According to Bristol. So, to clarify: While getting paid to advocate abstinence, she got pregnant by some random guy for a second time. But she planned it that way. Thanks for clearing that up. Gin and Tacos regrets the error.

Actually, wait. Does she know what "planned" means?

She announced that the pregnancy was planned. Two sentences later she states "things did not go as planned." Then she refers to having "made a mistake." It's all very Palin – she literally can't keep her story straight for one three-paragraph press release / blog post. I predict a bright future for her as a grifter / presidential candidate.

That family is just insistent on checking every single White Trash box, aren't they. They won't be satisfied until Todd dies of a rabid dog bite and Tagg is seen driving the streets of Wasilla in a 1972 GMC Caballero.

SUPERPOWERED

Posted in Quick Hits on June 25th, 2015 by Ed

I'm tired of repeating this every few months, so rather than go through the whole spiel again I'll content myself to point out that it's positively staggering what a hack Scalia is. This dissent reads like they outsourced it to the comment section on Glenn Beck's website. I'd say this is no surprise but it is, a little. Apparently the residual idealism lurking deep inside of me wants to believe that our nation is led by people with at least a shred of shame and dignity. As it stands I'm not even sure Scalia is a person anymore. He may be a clutch of fusty marmots in a cheap black robe. They can make anything look human with CGI now.