html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: It is not a tamarind candy, as falsely reported later in that comment thread. Do not trust the internets, folks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It is not a tamarind candy, as falsely reported later in that comment thread. Do not trust the internets, folks.

This post about the Democratic debates is funny and all, but the important comment is this one:
I'm bitter like that nasty Chinese candy that is made of smoked plums or something like that. makes you want tot tuem your mouth inside out.

Aw holy fuck! Cimhou! Or something. I have no idea how it is spelled. I just know that it is freakin' awful. It is. It is some sort of salted smoked plum, sometimes rolled in sugar. I see it in stores and I back away from it. I hope to never taste it again, and I'll go to some lengths to arrange that. My girlfriend Le doesn't hate it and reports that her uncle loves it. He loves it so much that he makes special trips to a candy vendor in San Francisco two doors down from a vegetarian Chinese restaurant my friends and I like. Anand and I cross the street when we get to that storefront and then cross back to go to the restaurant, so that I don't have to walk too close to the cimhou. Another girlfriend of mine, Heather, loves candy so much that she reads forums dedicated to discussing candy. She says that cimhou makes a regular appearance as the worst candy ever and everyone chimes in with vehement agreement. I am not surprised.

Also, when I read about how bad the moderators were, I wonder, why does everyone accept that they'll see no consequences? I read on all the blogs that there are a dozen particularly shallow journalists and pundits and that their influence harms our discourse. Then bloggers throw up their hands and say it can't be changed. That is simply not true. It could be changed. Everyone is vulnerable to some leverage somewhere.* It would take a concerted effort by a lot of people, but it could surely be done.

A genuine effort to make an example of one bad pundit would focus specifically on that person. That person's behavior is chronicled somewhere and linked to specific damage. With a record in place, you go after the things that matter to his or her employer. You get a group and you apply pressure everywhere that show ever goes. You respectfully contact advertisers to that show and ask them not to advertise there anymore. You keep doing that. You find the lurkers of blogland who know the producer, the director, anyone affiliated with the show and you get them to talk to their friends in the show. The producer's waiter in the diner should mention he hates that host. You use the regular channels to file formal complaints. You have people across the country go to their local channel affiliates and have small markets drop the show as long as that person is the host. You get the candidates themselves to refuse to work with that host. You offer the candidates alternate venues for debates. You get Op-Eds in local papers and in big papers. You make removing that person the low-level buzz of the country.

It is simply not true that these people are invulnerable. It is true that it would take a huge amount of distributed work to remove any one of them. It could be done though, if a lot of people agree that the problem is truly offensive and a compelling person were willing to dedicate two or three years to organizing the effort. That won't be me. I don't watch any media, so I don't care enough.** Someone who does care absolutely could do it, if we skip the step where everyone agrees that it is impossible and go straight to the step where we talk about how.

*I am not talking ridiculous mafia leverage. I'm talking about completely legitimate pressures.

**I also think the fascination with the New York Times Op-Ed page is completely odd. I've never had any concept that the NY Times was some revered influence, or that who wrote for it mattered in the least. It was some paper on the other side of the Sierras, and if I want news, I'll look to the Bee, Chron and LA Times to find out what will matter to me. I never even knew the names of their writers until people on blogs told me they sucked.

As long as I'm going on like this, I'll mention that Harvard holds zero mystique for me. Harvard took three kids from my high school, each of them exactly B-rate minds (and grades, at my very good high school). Whatever their selection process is, it narrowed in on people who had never impressed me. They turned away better thinkers, too. Now Stanford picked out exactly the two people who fucking blew me away and turned me down too. That's the pick I would have made. A Stanford degree impresses me. Berkeley, where I went? They took, like, forty of us, all bright. But Stanford took the creme, Berkeley the crop, and Harvard the chaff. I'm sure Harvard is a fine school, but the name held no glamour for me after that.

UPDATE: This makes me want to continue with my school reviews. I've noticed a Yale theme among some blogs I read and am approaching an opinion that Yale kids are smart but skewed from normal. They have strong perspectives. I am not solidified on an opinion on Yale kids, since I don't have that much exposure. But I have a working theory.

You know who I really respect? Anyone who went to Lowell High School in SF. Lowell and my high school were the one and two high schools in California during my era and I have yet to run into someone from Lowell who isn't very sharp. When I heard that Lemony Snicket went to Lowell I wasn't surprised in the least.

I'm sure you're dying to hear what junior high pedigrees mean to me. Well. Twenty years ago, coming from Reed meant smart but strong RPG tendencies. A Reed kid could make a strong run for highest grades in high school, but you wouldn't expect one to socialize well with anyone not from Reed. Portola kids are dauntingly smart and, I thought, mostly normal despite that. Sepulveda kids were bright and could actually talk to strangers. Eagle Rock kids were stealth. It seemed like they were a little more street, but they were secretly pulling down very solid grades and pretending not to. Shoot. I'm forgetting one --starts with the letter O?? Can't remember. I'll have to leave it off, but then how will you ever know how to stereotype someone based on what junior high she went to in Los Angeles two decades ago?


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