Best Video Ever

by Belle Waring on April 8, 2014

This is really for Straightwood, because I know the deeply meaningful and fully explained nature of this video of 50 Cent dubbed over a Jehovah’s Witness exhorting deaf students to abstain from masturbation will appeal to your keenly honed and not in any way homosexual aesthetic.



musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 3:44 am

Wow. That video is like nougat; intensely, overpoweringly sweet. Can’t take much of it.

Straightwood, I keenly hone for you. I don’t care if your aesthetic is a lesbian with a large pair of scissors. You ought to be proud.


Belle Waring 04.08.14 at 4:13 am

I was going to say meaner things and then I realized that’s kinda bullying when you’re the poster. So I left out the extended section comparing Straightwood to the second coming of Leavis, so we could focus on what was going on up in da club which, let’s face it, looked pretty awesome. I used to take the metro past Gallaudet all the time in DC and it’s interesting to see how expressive ESL ASL sorry, (as noted below) is. Not the movements but the facial expressions, I mean. When a big group of deaf students got on they could always talk even if they were split up and the car was really loud, it was notable.


js. 04.08.14 at 5:43 am

Wow. Just fucking wow. That’s some really weird kind of awesome.


Belle Waring 04.08.14 at 6:19 am

That kid’s got righteous flow. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure I now know how to say an ESL ASL sorry, (as noted below) sentence I hope I’ll never have to use, to the effect of, “ma’am, I’m sorry to have to state this so frankly, but I need to ask to use your sink to wash my hands for serious, because, EWWWWW!”


Belle Waring 04.08.14 at 2:41 pm

Have been briefed by an ESL ASL sorry, as noted below speaker; that just means “gross” in “God thinks masturbation is gross.”


NickS 04.08.14 at 3:24 pm

It is off-topic, but this seems like a good thread to post this recording which I came across after the Bruno Mars thread ended.

It’s a demo of “Beat It” in which Michael Jackson recorded multiple vocal tracks to demonstrate the different parts of the song. Very impressive. I’ve always thought that Jackson was a better dancer than singer, which is probably true, but that demonstrates that he could sing, and that he had a great ear for a pop hook.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 3:42 pm

I still can’t get over the fact that Straightwood got called out by name by Belle Waring, right here at Crooked Timber. That’s big time, buddy, congratulations!


godoggo 04.08.14 at 3:57 pm

Not clicking on the video because I know better at this point but by “ESL” does she mean sign language?


godoggo 04.08.14 at 3:57 pm

Hey, my comment went through!


The Temporary Name 04.08.14 at 4:15 pm

but that demonstrates that he could sing

WTF? He could sing when he was THIS HIGH.


godoggo 04.08.14 at 4:22 pm

He was great til his voice changed. Maybe he should have considered the castrato route.


NickS 04.08.14 at 4:24 pm

WTF? He could sing when he was THIS HIGH.

Fair enough, that was a poor choice of words, though it came from the discussion, in the previous thread, about whether Bruno Mars or Katy Perry could “sing.” Also, that clip could be used as support for the idea that he was better as a dancer than a singer — but his dancing is so good that is hardly a criticism of him as a singer.

It’s also true that I, personally, have never been all that interested in his music so I may not be the best person to recommend Michael Jackson recordings, but I think that demo is great.


The Temporary Name 04.08.14 at 6:31 pm

have never been all that interested in his music

I’m not so interested in the later stuff, but a decent Jackson 5 compilation is a very satisfying thing.


js. 04.08.14 at 6:34 pm

Have been briefed by an ESL speaker; that just means “gross”

That’s still impressive. Pretty sure all I learned was that the ESL sign for masturbation is exactly what one would expect it to be.


godoggo 04.08.14 at 8:20 pm

ASL, right?


godoggo 04.08.14 at 8:26 pm

Or altenratively ISL. But not ESL


js. 04.08.14 at 8:26 pm

Oh, yeah! I guess? That’s what I meant anyway.


godoggo 04.08.14 at 8:32 pm

Apparently the I can also stand for Irish. There’s also a BSL.


Straightwood 04.08.14 at 8:37 pm

Every time I think that Bell has hit the ceiling of deranged, hyperbolic, post-everything vituperation, she punches through to a new level of attainment. The cosmic irony of her location in Singapore is stunning. There, in the midst of the real-life version of Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong, this human volcano of obsessive adulation of all things pop belches unending torrents of praise for subgenres so weird they defy comprehension. And woe to him who questions her taste, for he calls down the wrath of a she-demon of full-spectrum excoriation.

Let my example serve as a warning to all those who would dare to mar a Bell Waring CT thread with a discouraging word.


Colin Danby 04.08.14 at 8:42 pm

We just like saying your moniker, Mr. Wood. In any case that was a nice compact bit of self parody.


godoggo 04.08.14 at 8:43 pm

Of course this tempts to reply that she really does have bad taste, but it’s really more like non-taste; she just seems to get enthusiastic about things completely randomly.


godoggo 04.08.14 at 8:50 pm

Sorry, I forgot to say, “With all due respect.”


js. 04.08.14 at 8:57 pm

The cosmic irony … is stunning.

There is indeed some stunning irony on display.


Straightwood 04.08.14 at 9:00 pm


You are a marked man, godoggo. You don’t know what pain is until you have angered Belle.


The Temporary Name 04.08.14 at 9:02 pm

subgenres so weird they defy comprehension

Before yesterday I had not heard of 50 Cent or manga and my mind is blown.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 9:41 pm

“You don’t know what pain is until you have angered Belle.”

Dude, you come in here and self-out, that’s like walking into the People’s Temple compound in a polyester suit flashing a shiny fake badge. Everyone’s either going to assume you’re an hallucination, or they’ll scream like little girls as they hack you to death with a machete. There’s no middle ground.

I first tuned in to your comments when you wrote something about dating site males being nasty, brutish and short. I don’t know if that’s original with you, but it’s clever. I saw a pearl get flicked into the sewer that day.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 10:15 pm

“You don’t know what pain is until you have angered Belle.”

Dude, get your balls on. The truth is, you don’t know what boredom is, until you have carefully stoked Belle into a condition of fluorescent rage.


Straightwood 04.08.14 at 10:17 pm


Belle has a posse and they are not reluctant to pile on. It’s rather like an amped-up version of Wendy and the Lost Boys. Pack behavior seems to be universal, irrespective of erudition and credentials.


Ronan(rf) 04.08.14 at 10:29 pm

Can we not derail the thread. Oh wait, this is actually on topic. LOL.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 10:33 pm

“Pack behavior seems to be universal, irrespective of erudition and credentials.”

So, your planet is still the in Clinton administration? No biggie. I am a stomper, and if you take the e out of that you get a username on some obscure email service run by that corporation named after a large number.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 10:53 pm

Dudes, I have been playing Hexagon. Now THAT is fun.

My best time so far is 24:59. I bet none of you will beat that in a day.


musical mountaineer 04.08.14 at 10:56 pm

Sorry, busted link.



The Temporary Name 04.08.14 at 11:02 pm

Pack behavior seems to be universal

How universal is laughing at funny stuff?


Belle Waring 04.09.14 at 1:51 am

OK Straightwood, I’ll lay off. Forget I said anything. You may dub varying songs under the machine-read version of this comment without my complaining in any way, even if it’s 12-tone.


Belle Waring 04.09.14 at 1:57 am

I was just funnin’ you, but like I say, it ain’t really fair when your the poster. But really, people needed to see that important video. Hi musical mountaineer! Your nym doesn’t invite mockery in the same way and 5 comments out of 33 isn’t that impressive. You’re not getting to Straightwood’s level for a while. You are fucking boss at hexagon though.


Straightwood 04.09.14 at 2:07 am


Seriously, Belle, I enjoy your writing, even if I consider your pop culture manias outlandish, so I am willing to bear the lash of your scorn. I ask not for whom the Belle trolls; she trolls for me.


musical mountaineer 04.09.14 at 2:58 am

“I ask not for whom the Belle trolls; she trolls for me.”

For God’s sake, Straightwood, state your preference. You want the starchy bosom or the leather corset?

Ain’t nothin’ else on the menu, here.


musical mountaineer 04.09.14 at 3:27 am

Heh heh that’s pretty funny but I don’t want it to leave it last comment on this thread.



Ronan(rf) 04.09.14 at 12:09 pm

25.29 !


Belle Waring 04.09.14 at 12:57 pm

Are those really the only two things on the menu? I’m not sure I have either at the moment, really. I have a Victorian dress which should in principle perhaps be starched, but perhaps not, as it’s white lawn and very cooling. The cut-out hand-sewn lace would probably benefit from starching. Truly, it provides an example of how crucial a role the various Victorian undergarments played, as it would really be shocking worn without a slip, and even so is as racy as a floor length white dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves can be (entirely sheer! Thus pretty damn racy.) I bought it because I can wear it without a corset. And I have a leather dress that is pretty corset-like in its fit. That’s it though: sorry. I did see a woman wearing the auto-erotic fashion classic two wetsuits at the pool today despite the water’s being about 75, for no apparent reason other than to avoid cold; she was a very petite Asian woman who, being thin, may have felt the blood-warmth more keenly but uh wait…

Or do you mean that my husband and Henry have starched bosoms?


Belle Waring 04.09.14 at 12:59 pm

Oh, and thanks for being a good sport Straighttimber.


nnyhav 04.09.14 at 2:47 pm


musical mountaineer 04.09.14 at 4:11 pm

25:29? Well played, sir!

I dunno, the whole in-group out-group thing is wretched, and you really do need a bit of a masochistic streak to be a comment-thread dissident around here. I’ve partaken in that masochism in my own way, but I don’t really approve of it.

Tolkien, I read somewhere, had no use for the postmodern scribblings of that crap-artist, Shakespeare. So, if you meet someone who evinces intelligence but who appears to be partly under a rock, maybe you’re just a little insecure about it? What are they doing with that culturally-uninfluenced cognitive capacity?

I haven’t profited much by commenting here, but I’ve learned some good stuff by lurking. It was through CT that I became aware of Terry Pratchett, and also The Diary Of A Nobody.


musical mountaineer 04.09.14 at 8:44 pm

Straightwood, I was pretty fucking harsh with you, when you already had your feelings hurt. I’m sorry. I started on this thread because I wanted to say I thought you were pretty brave and principled and smart.

Just…you know…DFTT.


Belle Waring 04.10.14 at 4:38 am

musical mountaineer, if CT really gave you Terry Pratchett then I think you own us collectively 1 billion karma dollars. Also, you shouldn’t worry too much about Straightwood (except insofar as you shouldn’t go outen your way to be a dick to him); he’s a big boy, perfectly intelligent as you note, and can take care of himself. And it’s always just barely possible that someone who went to Crooked Timber to comment as Straightwood is doing some sort of performative act–miming a hopeful fisherman or a devourer of hapless goat families or something. The next time Hannibal Lecter forces you to read one of my threads on Bruno Mars and Noh theatre on pain of having little sections of your brain removed, sautéed in butter and capers, and served to you while you are alive (much like escalopes de veau or perhaps an over-generous and stifling mother spoiling you with the oysters in a chicken’s back) you may learn all about it.


Ronan(rf) 04.10.14 at 2:44 pm

mm – I’ve bowed out of Hexagon for the forseeable future, after getting 38.44 !
Also a bit of a headache.


Zora 04.11.14 at 12:07 am


Straightwood 04.11.14 at 1:25 am


No problem, MM. After my encounters with Belle, I am way past having my feelings hurt. CT is such a marvelous place, the Mos Eisley Cantina of (active, wannabe, and not really) engaged academic intellectuals, that I can’t help coming back here, and the occasional thrashing is just the price of admission.


musical mountaineer 04.11.14 at 5:41 am

“I can’t help coming back here”

I dig it. You can’t really develop personal integrity and toughness and stuff unless you work out in a challenging or even hostile environment. And I guess I have to amend that bit about not having profited much by commenting here. It’s done me some good, just not in the last three years or so.

Probably some of that is because I’m over it, and also I’ve gotten pissed a few times and been branded a troll, so it’s tougher to engage than it used to be. But if I had some graduate students to boss around, I’d scrape this website and analyze trends. I suspect the picture that would emerge would be of a community in intellectual and moral decline.

Obviously, I can’t really back that up. But here’s something: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is in the news today. I checked to see what CT ever said about her in the past, and there were three posts dating back 7-8 years to when Ali was in the headlines. I never commented on Ali here, and I’m not going to say anything about her now, other than she is a polarizing figure, and you don’t need specialized knowledge to have an opinion about her. The same can be said about the Koch brothers. Either topic could get you a free-for-all in the comment section.

So read these two threads:

John Holbo on the Koch brothers, 2014.
Ingrid Robeyns on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2007.

Where have all the flowers gone?


Straightwood 04.11.14 at 3:52 pm


Coming here is like coming to what Pirsig called the Church of Reason. And, like going to church, it’s really not fair to expect frail individuals, who wear the academic vestments of intellectual integrity, to live up to their professional ideals consistently. Still, I like to believe that CT is a place where truth and reason are respected.

I have learned a great deal from the deep knowledge of the participants here, and the pettiness, selective perception, and pack behavior are no worse than in most other groups of smart people. The blogging experience is far from ideal, but CT has the best collection of colliding minds that I have encountered so far on the Interwebs. Now if only they would make the posts editable!


Ronan(rf) 04.11.14 at 3:54 pm

Oh, Zora, that looks intriguing.
I’ll tell you, that soundtrack to Hexagon is alright at times but also extremely headwrecking. (I could say the same about myself LOL)


musical mountaineer 04.12.14 at 4:03 am

“I may disagree with what you say but I’ll defend to your death the right to say it.”

Straightwood, did you bother reading the two threads I assigned? That is a seriously good line, and it is only one of many in that robust, turbulent comment thread of long ago. Alas, turbulence has given way to laminarity.


musical mountaineer 04.12.14 at 6:08 am

Here’s what I saw in fifteen seconds:

That 2007 comment thread was as a roasted ox offered up to a hungry crowd. Gathered from all around, the visitors crowded and slashed at their shared provender from every angle. The feasting was riotous: a fellow might rip loose a huge chunk of dripping meat on his fork, only to have his neighbor stab his own fork into the prize, almost in the act of deglutition, and steal it away for his own delectation. Nobody went hungry in the end, nor was anyone discontented with his share. Even for the pariah abb1, seats were moved around to make space at the luscious banquet.

Now, the best that can be managed is a clawfoot tub full of fresh-scented margarine, with plenty of ice cream scoops, linen napkins, and silver emergency buckets. A dwindling coterie of wan, anemic nobodies attends the dismal function.

It’s true. You can check the numbers yourself.

I blame two persons for this deplorable state of affairs, neither of whom is Belle Waring or John Holbo, and one of whom has never posted here.


musical mountaineer 04.12.14 at 6:18 am

Okay, the main person I blame is Barack Obama, and if you don’t see the connection, whatever, I’ll get to it later maybe.



musical mountaineer 04.13.14 at 3:17 am

The Toxic Legacy of George W. Bush

The central policy initiative of the George W. Bush administration was the Iraq War. Judging the Iraq War to be a political winner (with some reason), Bush told lies, twisted arms, paid bribes and called in all his favors to mobilize the war effort.

As it happened, Bush was not an effective war leader. His stated war objective was worthy: make it so we don’t have to find out what happens when a regional nutso tyrant bent on world domination acquires nuclear weapons. However, Bush failed in his objective. The end result of Bush’s best effort was to make it so we are all certain to find out what happens when a regional nutso tyrant bent on world domination acquires nuclear weapons.

After the Iraq debacle, I can never say we ought to intervene with force in Iran to prevent their acquiring nuclear weapons. Bush poisoned that well forever, the Iranians know it and they have taken advantage as quickly as their crude and primitive technology will allow. This failure could reasonably result in a second Holocaust, global nuclear winter, or a devastating EMP attack against whatever continent.

And it’s pretty much all on Bush. Some people would say that the reason Bush failed, was because of political interference from domestic partisans more interested in their own political welfare than in the welfare of the people. But that’s no excuse. It was Bush’s war, and it was his job to accomplish the objective. If anyone undermined him, it was his job not to be undermined. He was the President of the United States of America. He failed, with deadly results at the time. We’ll find out the true cost later.

The Toxic Legacy of Barack H. Obama

The central policy initiative of the Barack H. Obama administration is ObamaCare. Judging ObamaCare to be a political winner (with some reason), Obama told lies, twisted arms, paid bribes and called in all his favors to pass the needed reforms.

As it happens, Obama is not an effective civic administrator. His stated reform objective was worthy: make it so we don’t have to find out what happens when the American healthcare system collapses. However, Obama failed in his objective. The end result of Obama’s best effort has been to make it so we are all certain to find out what happens when the American healthcare system collapses.

We’ll be finding out some other potentially unpleasant things as well. After the ObamaCare debacle, you can never say we ought to intervene to prevent global warming. When you have all the diplomatic clout of half a wet match, and when anyone can see what you did with health care, you’re not in a position to say you’re going to do anything about the climate. For the foreseeable future, humans will increasingly carbonize the atmosphere and acidify the oceans. This failure could reasonably result in catastrophic floods and droughts, global disruptions of the food supply, even a population bottleneck or outright extinction for homo sapiens.

And it’s pretty much all on Obama. Some people would say that the reason Obama failed, was because of political interference from domestic partisans more interested in their own political welfare than in the welfare of the people. But that’s no excuse. It was Obama’s signature initiative, and it was his job to accomplish the objective. If anyone undermined him, it was his job not to be undermined. He is still the President of the United States of America. He is failing, with deadly results. We’ll find out the true cost later.


musical mountaineer 04.13.14 at 3:49 am

Okay, so a quick summary, just a brainstorm before bed time:

CT sucks now, because Obama sucks. For those who supported him, Obama’s manifest (and manifold) failures make reality difficult to bear. The community withdraws, becomes brittle and hypersensitive. Open discussions of current events give way to exclusive discussions of abstract theory. The underlying discomfort only increases as every damn day brings news of more horrible failure and betrayal; every day more news which must be ignored.

Obama colludes with greedy bankers on a massive scale to fleece everyone else; Obama drones emergency responders; Obama is the target of the largest street protest in human history; Obama provides weapons to Mexican terrorists; Obama surpasses Bush’s Pointlessness Index in Afghapakistan; Obama tortures detainees aboard Navy ships to avoid legal issues relating to sovereign territory; Obama has enfolded America in a comfy straitjacket of militarized police; Putin is so ignorant he doesn’t know what a lightworker is, etc. etc. etc.

Can any of this stuff be discussed here? Why not?

In the opposition, CT was a lively community. There is a certain fierce joy in being in the opposition. If you want your mojo and credibility back, oppose Obama. He was never one of you. I tried to tell you:

…you will come to regret defending him. You will have harmed your cause and your consciences.


godoggo 04.13.14 at 3:57 am

Who’s the other one?


musical mountaineer 04.13.14 at 4:47 pm

John Quiggin. He’s been the whip hand, enforcing iron topic discipline and banning anyone who persists in disturbing the gentle slumbers of the collective.

“Blame” is maybe too strong a word. I can’t work up much heat over it. For one thing, back when Quiggin could afford to be lenient, he was. He was a major force here for years before he saw any need to pasteurize and homogenize the place. And if he has morphed into a jackbooted enforcer, that probably reflects the desires of the community as much as his own inclinations. If he didn’t do it, somebody else would have to.

I personally like to be irritated by opposing points of view, even (or especially) when the irritation goes deep into the tender throbbing nucleus of the limitations of my core principles. I know: weirdo. But the payoff is integrity. If you keep knocking down the stuff that doesn’t really stand, eventually what you’re left with is pretty solid.

The Progressive movement has been moving steadily in the other direction. It’s gotten to the point where a fellow can hardly speak a word without threatening an avalanche among the tottering stacks of unexamined assumptions you’ve piled about yourselves.

Obama is nothing, literally nothing but a looter and a wrecker. He’s really good at the shit he does, but none of the shit he does is good. I detest him. I’d love to see him get a narcissistic wound live on national TV.

Obama has a punitive anti-colonial streak which puts him nominally on the side of Progressives. And he governs by handout, which looks a lot like Rawlsian redistribution or whatever. But his real creed is Obama, always has been. There’s no reason why TFG wouldn’t loot and wreck the Progressive movement, and I say he has. The more you try to deny it, the less relevant you get.

If Straightwood is the strongest irritant you can stomach anymore, perhaps you deserve to be deprived of all irritants.


musical mountaineer 04.13.14 at 4:53 pm

Hey, Thanks, Belle. Nice to have that off my chest.


godoggo 04.13.14 at 5:52 pm

Anyway I always thought that the never-ending self-congratulation about the quality of comments was always one of the more bizarre and annoying things about this silly blog.


Straightwood 04.14.14 at 1:40 am


A bit overstated, but on target. Successful academics are career politicians, and the political instinct is powerful. Team Obama is notionally aligned with the lofty goals of Progressivism (never mind what happens on the ground), thus it has the steadfast support of the liberal elite. Paul Krugman is a typical example. Despite showing a hair- trigger response to any criticism of Obama policies from the Right, he has said Not. One. Word. about the NSA revelations or the war on whistleblowers. Nevertheless, the collateral damage to the quality of threads on CT is the least of our nation’s worries.

Nostalgia is generally suspect, so I am dubious about the assertion of a lost golden age of CT discourse. CT is what we make it, so it’s really up to us (until we get thrown out). The Internet is protean, and I have yet to be convinced that all is lost.

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