Odds & Sods: Shirtstorm Edition

the-who odds--sods

I’ve been dialing back my Twitter use of late. I go through stages of frenetic activity and times of relative quiet on the Tweeter Tube. The instant outrage machine gets to me at times:  two of the items in this week’s omnibus post address viral malakatude as well as malaktude that went viral.

Shirtstorm or Shitstorm? One thing I missed this week was the ludicrous outrage over this shirt worn on teevee by Rosetta project scientist Dr. Matt Taylor:


Here’s the deal. I’m a loud shirt guy. I even have a few Hawaiian shirts with hula girls on them, one of which was bought for me by Dr. A. I don’t like Taylor’s shirt, it’s a bit too headbangy for my taste. In short, it’s an ugly loud shirt but what it’s not is a political statement. The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman saw through the outrage machine:

What should a scientist wear during a comet landing?

Eve Rybody, Everywhere, World

Well, Ms Rybody, it’s funny that you should ask this for, truly, this has become the biggest fashion question – possibly even the only fashion question – in not just the world, but the entire cosmos. For anyone who might have missed it, last week there was some dinky story about a probe landing on a comet for the first time ever. I know what you’re thinking: “Probe, schmobe, get to the real issue here – what was one of the scientists wearing?!?!?!?” Glad to be of service! The project scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, appeared on TV wearing a shirt patterned with images of semi-clothed women that I assume (not being an expert in either of these fields) reference video games and heavy metal albums. Cue internet rage! Everything that followed was utterly predictable, but not especially edifying. The story went through the five cycles of internet rage: initial amusement; astonishment; outrage; backlash to the outrage; humiliated apology. First, our attention was drawn to the shirt via some sniggering tweets; this was swiftly followed by shock and its usual accompaniment, outrage, with some women suggesting the shirt reflected a sexism at the heart of the science community. As generally happens when a subject takes a feminist turn on the internet, the idiots then turned up, with various lowlifes telling the women who expressed displeasure at the shirt to go kill themselves. (This is not an exaggeration, and there is no need to give these toerags further attention in today’s discussion.)

And you thought I wrote longass paragraphs. The whole process described by Hadley is increasingly tiresome. It’s a shirt, not a statement, people. I know all about science being an old boys club but sometimes a shirt is just a shirt just as a sigh is just a sigh, the fundamental things apply:

One last thing about the shirtstorm: when did we start expecting scientists to dress stylishly? This ugly bowling shirt is the 21st Century equivalent of the short sleeve white shirt, clip-on bow tie, and pocket  protector look worn by nerdy science types since time immemorial.

I’m no rocket scientist but one thing I know for sure is that geeks gotta geek.

The NOLA Football Thief: Another example of a tempest in a Tweeter Tube is the story of Tony Williams, Saints fan, former Zulu King, and football thief. You’ve probably heard about it and even watched the video but what a bit of overkill among friends?

Speaking of overkill, the reaction on Twitter was OTT. I *never* approve of trolls issuing death threats and the like but I also strongly disapprove of the sort of selfishness and rudeness displayed by Williams. Instead of admitting that he threw an elbow, he justified the scrum by telling the Vestigial-Picayune that “his Mardi Gras instincts kicked in.”

Shoving people out the way for a throw on the parade route is just as rude as what Williams did at the Dome. It’s piss poor Carnival etiquette. It would be better if he could just admit a mistake and move on instead of babbling about how he wanted the ball for his grandson. Nice lesson you taught the kid there, dude.

More life lessons after the break.

The Word Game: The Oxford Dictionary declared “vape” to be the word of the year. I don’t agree. I prefer one of the other candidates:

Slacktivism, n., informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.

I stumbled on to the list at Salon. Unfortunately, the writer was someone who thought it would be “funny” to tell her readers how to explain the new additions to “grandma.” I guess she think that all grandmas are sheltered small townies or something. I know grandmothers who’ve seen the Grateful Dead more than I have and would be insulted by this entry:

Budtender n. a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop. How to explain it to your grandma:  ”Reefer Madness” has been mostly debunked by now, I swear.

I’m puzled by people who only hang out with folks their own age. I’ve always had friends of all ages. One of my good friends as a teenager was a retired New York Giants catcher who was older than my father; more liberal too. I have to write about Harry but that’s for another day.

Reading List: I haven’t given y’all any reading “assignments” in quite some time, here are a few longer pieces I enjoyed and think y’all might like too:

First,  a profile by Taylor Parkes of rock star, crooner, bon vivant and, last but certainly least, Tory voter, Bryan Ferry. 

Next on the docket is a fine article by the Guardian’s Rory Carroll about actor/director Tommy Lee Jones. We actually have a mutual friend. My barber, Jack, worked as a hair dude on the film JFK. He styled TLJ’s Clay Shaw do:


Jack swears it’s not a wig but he *is* a skilled fisherman and they’re known to tell a few, uh, fish stories. TLJ stops by to visit Jack and get a trim whenever he’s in town, which contrasts with his image as the ultimate curmudgeon. Of course, Jack gets along with everyone, even a lesser curmudgeon like me.

Speaking of eccentric white maned men as well as Greeks bearing gifts:


Salon has an excerpt from Joel Williamson’s book, Elvis Presely: A Southern Life, that focuses on the coverup that occurred after the King’s death. The coverup was spearheaded by a Greek that even my late father wan’t proud of, Dr. George Nichopoulous.

Finally, an outstanding Joe Posnanski article, Vanguard after the Revolution, about the great baseball writer and bullshit detector Bill James. I was one of Bill’s most devoted readers in the early days and always enjoy hearing him call bullshit:

Bill James is 65 years old, and he still has an acute sensitivity to bullshit. This has been the defining instinct in his professional life. For forty years now, he has been writing purportedly about baseball, but more about that grating buzzing sound of bullshit that has served as background music to our National Pastime.

When James began writing his annual Baseball Abstracts, people all across the game crowed that pitching was 75 percent of baseball. They usually said this after a dominant pitching performance, like the one Madison Bumgarner had against Kansas City in Game 5 of the World Series. In those days, saying “pitching is 75 percent of baseball” served as philosophy, and as good old-fashioned common sense.

To Bill James, it sounded like garbage trucks colliding. Seventy-five percent? What? Who did that math? He wrote a 2,000-word essay tearing apart the nonsense, not because he wanted to but because he HAD to, because that was such unadulterated bullshit that it had to be stamped out for the good of mankind.

“It’s just a number,” he wrote, “picked out of mid-air and plunked down in the middle of a bunch of words in a way that seemed to make sense, provided you don’t think too hard about it – quite a bit like saying that ‘Philosophy is 75% God,” or ‘Movies are 75% acting’ or ‘Sex is 75% mental, 25% physical.’”

I *almost* forgot my pledge to post a tune from Odd & Sods at the end of each of these posts. That’s a promise worth keeping even if Love Ain’t For Keeping:

4 thoughts on “Odds & Sods: Shirtstorm Edition

  1. I have to disagree on the #shirtstorm The personal is political. Microaggressions like this one are just part of the drip-drip-drip that drives women out of spaces. It’s a fine shirt for hanging with your buddies throwing darts and throwing back adult beverages but it has no place in a workplace or on a national newscast.

    1. @NoPublic: You make a good point about the workplace being an odd place for that particular ugly loud shirt.

      @AllisonB: I stand by most of what I wrote but you may be right about the geeks gotta geek thing. I was focused on the line rather than the whole segment. I still think the reaction was overblown but not entirely wrong. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

  2. Whew yeah you miss the shirt problem totally. The backlash against the criticsm of it is a huge case in point. And honestly – geeks gotta geek???? Like boyz gotta be boyz? Normally love you guys but you need to rethink this.

  3. If men can’t create a hostile work environment for women how will they ever get a date?
    You aren’t just a little bit wrong about this. You are asshat style wrong about this.

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