Archive for May, 2012
23 May 2012

“Mutually Beneficial Arrangements”

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A liberal academic classmate has been giving me crap again on the class email list for letting Blogads run that “Mutually Beneficial Arrangements” ad in NYM’s right-hand column.

When the notice to review that proposed new ad came in a few months ago, I had conflicting attitudes. On libertarian grounds, I thought I ought to let it run. It did seem to constitute an amusing commentary on society’s morals today after all as well. But I really am also pretty stuffy and I was not entirely comfortable with resembling the Village Voice and lending aid and comfort to the Oldest Profession.

I actually shilly-shallied about making up my mind on that policy issue and then, lo and behold! I found that Blogads actually had it up and running without my explicitly granting permission. I looked into the whole thing, and I was amused to find that NYM readers were clicking through that ad in much, much larger numbers than usual. So I concluded that my readers were also finding amusement and food for thought in that ad.

Readership interest seemed to me to argue decisively for the libertarian side, and I refrained from eliminating the ad.

HuffPo actually did a long feature on what has become a booming business in the Age of Obama last year.

Many 20-somethings are beginning their adult lives shouldering substantial amounts of student loan debt. According to Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid websites Fastweb.com and Finaid.org, while the average 2011 graduate finished school with about $27,200 in debt, many are straining to pay off significantly greater loans.

Enter the sugar daddy, sugar baby phenomenon. This particular dynamic preceded the economic meltdown, of course. Rich guys well past their prime have been plunking down money for thousands of years in search of a tryst or something more with women half their age — and women, willingly or not, have made themselves available. With the whole process going digital, women passing through a system of higher education that fosters indebtedness are using the anonymity of the web to sell their wares and pay down their college loans.

“Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded,” says Brandon Wade, the 41-year-old founder of Seeking Arrangement. Of the site’s approximately 800,000 members, Wade estimates that 35 percent are students. “College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time.” …
Wade, who started Seeking Arrangement back in 2006, can easily identify with the Jacks of the world. He created the site for fellow high-net-worth individuals who “possess high standards but don’t have a lot of time to date the traditional way.”

Wade, whose legal name is Brandon Wey, says he changed his name to better appeal to his clientele. “They’re more familiar with Hugh Hefner than with some Asian guy from Singapore,” he explains. Wade got the idea for Seeking Arrangement more than 20 years ago, while in college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Watching from the sidelines as his beautiful dorm mates pursued significantly older, moneyed men, Wade fantasized about someday becoming one such man. After business school at MIT and stints at General Electric and Microsoft, Wade dabbled in various start-ups before finally creating his own.

Awkward and shy, he started Seeking Arrangement in part because of his own inability to attract younger women. “To get the attention of the girl I really wanted to meet, I was kind of at the mercy of the statistics of traditional dating sites. I’d write hundreds of emails and only get one or two replies,” says Wade, who is now divorced. He says married men account for at least 40 percent of the site’s sugar daddies. Sugar babies outnumber sugar daddies by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1. Wade declined to disclose how much money he makes from the site. With more than 115,000 sugar daddies averaging $50 a month in membership fees, and some paying more to belong to the exclusive Diamond Club, it’s safe to assume Wade’s investment has more than paid off — and that’s not even including advertising revenue.

Debt-strapped college graduates weren’t included in his original business plan. But once the recession hit and more and more students were among the growing list of new site users, Wade began to target them. The company, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, now places strategic pop-up ads that appear whenever someone types “tuition help” or “financial aid” into a search engine. And over the past five years, Wade says he’s seen a 350 percent increase in college sugar baby membership — from 38,303 college sugar babies in 2007 to 179,906 college sugar babies by July of this year. The site identifies clients who might be students by the presence of a .edu email address, which the site verifies before it will allow a profile to become active. Although, it should be noted that individuals without .edu email addresses can identify as students as well.

At The Huffington Post’s request, Seeking Arrangement listed the top 20 universities attended by sugar babies on the site. They compiled the list according to the number of sugar babies who registered using their .edu email addresses or listed schools’ names on their profiles. New York University tops the list with 498 sugar babies, while UCLA comes in at No. 8 with 253, and Harvard University ranks at No. 9 with 231. The University of California at Berkeley ranks at No. 13 with 193, the University of Southern California ranks at No. 15 with 183, and Tulane University ranks at No. 20 with 163 college sugar babies. …

“I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more college students doing this,” says Jennifer, not blinking. She’s a 23-year-old recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

Fed up with young, unemployed men her own age, Jennifer recently began trawling for a sugar daddy to pay down about $20,000 in student loan debt. She also wouldn’t mind a clothing allowance or rent money for her studio apartment in New York’s East Village.

A week ago, she boarded a plane to Florida to spend the weekend with a 30-something banker she met on SugarDaddie.com. He told her his house was undergoing a renovation and instead drove her to a nearby hotel, where they spent the night together. …

“I realize I’m not going to have it forever,” Jennifer says, brushing her blond, wavy hair off to one side. “While I’ve still got it, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. I mean, maybe I’ll get swept off my feet. Really, anything could happen.”

It’s clear that the kind of materialist utilitarianism preached by today’s universities combines very effectively with whopping piles of tuition debt and hard economic times to popularize the philosophy expressed by blues singer Ruth Brown in this old number:

22 May 2012

Democrat Zombie Attack

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22 May 2012

Who Are the Culture Warriors?


Early American Culture War: Rep. Matthew Lyon (Republican-VT) versus Rep. Roger Griswold (Federalist-CT)

Fair-minded liberal David Sessions admits that his side customarily denies its role as aggressor in the culture wars.

[I]n both the media and among hip, moderate-to-liberal evangelicals, only the right fights the culture war. Conservatives are culture warriors, but gay marriage activists are not. Thus when the topic turns to “getting beyond the culture wars,” what is really meant is conservatives giving up or at least shutting up. We will get beyond the culture wars when the conservatives at least admit they’ve lost and decide to stop talking about this stuff so much.

And then, he turns right around and argues that cultural aggression is really just a perfectly natural and entirely legitimate expression of deeply held views in the political realm.

21 May 2012

“I Went to Princeton, Bitch”

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A rap take off on “Where I Went to School” Oneupmanship.

Very funny.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

21 May 2012

Misissippi Fife and Drum Blues

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The New York Times attends a very special event in rural Mississippi.

Tamke and I are at the annual Otha Turner Family Picnic, a legendary jam session that takes place every summer behind a tumbledown sharecropper’s shack deep in Mississippi’s hill country. The interracial crowd is a few hundred strong and drawn from nearly every stratum of local life — bikers, college kids, workingmen, toughs, gentlemen farmers. And then there are a couple dozen like me: urban cosmopolites eager to hear the deepest roots of the blues. Tamke calls himself “a redneck,” and he’s attacked me because I’m from The New York Times. Shouting into my ear over the music, Tamke makes me his megaphone for what he wants the outside world to know: “Our races have melded together, we share everything,” he says, voice trembling. “We love each other.” He’s squeezing my skull so hard it feels like it might pop, and it’s clear that he’s under the influence of something very powerful. The moonshine or the music, I don’t know. Finally, when it seems something is about to crack — my neck, or Tamke’s tenuous hold on sanity, or both — he lets me go. “It’s sacred,” he says, choking up. “It’s ancient, man.”

“It” is fife and drum, an African take on colonial English marching songs, and one of the oldest forms of distinctly American music, played by the slaves of Jefferson’s Monticello and still played today — by one family, once a year, at this, one of the last of the traditional farm picnics celebrating the end of the growing season.

Hat tip to Tom Weil.

21 May 2012

Barack Obama’s Changing Life Story

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Doug Ross tracks the changes to the biography Barack Obama provided, in third person form, to his literary agent.

On June 27, 1998, the website read: [Emphasis added] “BARACK OBAMA was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book is DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE.”

The Obama entry remained unmodified (e.g., June 6, 2002) until sometime around December 9, 2004, when it was modified to read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, is a New York Times bestseller.”

On February 10, 2007, Senator Barack Obama formally announced his candidacy for the Presidency.

On April 3, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.”

Sometime between April 3rd and April 21st, a member of the Obama campaign staff (or Obama himself) noticed the discrepancy in birthplace that would presumably disqualify the Senator from office.

On April 21, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Hawaii to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.”

On June 14, 2007, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is currently campaigning to become the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. He was born in Hawaii to a father who was raised in a small village in Kenya and a mother who grew up in small-town Kansas. Barack’s father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University before moving to Chicago, where he became a community organizer. He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long-time New York Times bestseller.”

Old media’s feeble handling of this issue — parroting the laughable assertion that clerical errors caused Obama’s birthplace to be incorrectly listed, when former clients and the agency’s policy itself states that authors provide the biographical briefs — is pathetic.

———————————

Mark Steyn theorizes about the meaning of all the confusion about Obama’s birthplace.

When it comes to conspiracies, I’m an Occam’s Razor man. The more obvious explanation of the variable first line in the eternally shifting sands of Obama’s biography is that, rather than pretending to have been born in Hawaii, he’s spent much of his life pretending to have been born in Kenya. After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title “Journeys in Black and White,” being born in Hawaii doesn’t really help. It’s entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance — American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury-vacation destination and nothing else. Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man’s rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.

And where’s the harm in it? Everybody does it — at least in the circles in which Obama hangs. At Harvard Law School, where young Barack was “the first African-American president of The Harvard Law Review,” there’s no end of famous firsts: As The Fordham Law Review reported, “Harvard Law School hired its first woman of color, Elizabeth Warren, in 1995.” …

In 1984, when “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee” was cooking up a storm, the young Obama was still trying to figure out his name: He’d been “Barry” up till then. According to his recently discovered New York girlfriend, back when she dated him he was “BAR-ack,” emphasis on the first syllable, as in barracks, which is how his dad was known back in Kenya. Later in the Eighties, he decided “BAR-ack” was too British, and modified it to “Ba-RACK.” Some years ago, on Fox News, Bob Beckel criticized me for mispronouncing Barack Obama’s name. My mistake. All I did was say it the way they’ve always said it back in Kenya. But Obama himself didn’t finally decide what his name was or how to say it until he was pushing 30. In the shifting sands of identity, he picked his crabs carefully.

“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then,” says Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. . . . So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”

In a postmodern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake — an elite schooling — Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure — the impoverished roots — merely add to Obama’s luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks’ worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him (“Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him”). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby…

21 May 2012

$225,000 Lamborghini With Unskilled Driver

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How embarrassing!

20 May 2012

Obama Mysteries

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click on image for larger version

Hat tip to Roger Kimball

20 May 2012

New Steak Cut

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Gizmodo has the news on a new cut of steak that before long will be coming to the meat counter near you.

A self-proclaimed Meat Geek has teamed up with Oklahoma State University to devise the first new style of steak in years.

“The Vegas Strip Steak is the latest and perhaps last steak to be found from the beef carcass,” said Jacob Nelson, a value-added meat processing specialist (and owner of the best job title of all time) at the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center of Oklahoma State University. The Vegas Strip is the brainchild of Tony Mata, of industry group Mata & Associates, who approached Nelson and the FAPC for help developing the cut. “Initially, the cut was labeled as undervalued,” Mata told the Drovers Cattle Network. “Whenever we can take a muscle and turn it into a steak rather than grinding it or selling it as a roast, we are adding value to the carcass.”

The steak itself weighs in at about 14 ounces and can be portioned out as small as 4 ounces. The taste, tenderness, and flavor are reportedly akin to a New York Strip or Flat Iron cut. “The tenderness of the Vegas Strip Steak is comparable to the New York Strip Steak,” said Mata. “It does not require aging or marinating to achieve tenderness and its visual appeal enhances the steak eater’s overall enjoyment.” …

Most interesting is the fact that this new cut of meat apparently counts as intellectual property, replete with its own licensing and a patent on the cut’s fabrication. Mata and Gresh have yet to reveal where, exactly, the cut comes from but they’ve already lined up national suppliers so we should be getting a taste of Vegas at the local butcher shop soon.

20 May 2012

Animated History of Europe

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From a Bulgarian source, an animated history of Europe from the Early Middle Ages showing how countries and empires came and went and boundaries changed. Look at what happened to Lithuania!

19 May 2012

Ten Foreign Words

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I hate the slideshow format, whose only purpose is to extract as many clicks as possible out of you to up that website’s stats, but this one does have some amusing offerings worth a look. Example: (German) Backpfeifengesicht “a face in need of a good slap.”

19 May 2012

Amusing Photo

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click on picture for larger image

This came my way on Facebook without attribution or explanation. I tried researching it with small success. The photo clearly comes from Russia, and that front goose looking sideways is a Photoshop addition.

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