KT’s Hatesong: Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora, “Black Widow”

Welcome to KT’s Hatesong, where I basically just explain why I hate a song. It’s that simple. It’s right in the title. This week, I’ll be dissecting the steaming pile of shit that is “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea ft Rita Ora.

Let’s start off with how terrible the entire idea of Iggy Azalea is. She’s worse than a gallon of baby spiders. I am certainly not the first to bring up the idea that she’s a blonde, white Australian girl who is totally using cultural appropriation to make her millions. I think every single hatesong I’ve had so far has involved some level of white people making vanilla versions of traditionally non-Caucasian music.

In case you’re not super familiar with cultural appropriation, Slate writer Brittney Cooper has an amazing definition in her article on Iggy Azalea’s culture co-option:

Appropriation is taking something that doesn’t belong to you and wasn’t made for you, that is not endemic to your experience, that is not necessary for your survival and using it to sound cool and make money.

And this is what Iggy Azalea is all about. Worse, even, is her blatant offensiveness in doing it. She’s a terrible person. She spouts racist lines like “I’m a runaway slave…master.” She has a habit of tweeting awful things like this:

charming.

charming.

and this:

wow.

wow.

But she’s still famous, even though she’s kind of the worst person in the entire world. She can play at minority fantasies in her videos, but say racist-ass shit on her twitter and in her songs. Ugh. I can’t.

Anyway, here’s why I hate, in particular, Black Widow. First of all, the video is awful. Like unnecessarily awful. There’s like a two minute long segment of her being a waitress with a shitty boss, and then it goes to a bad re-enactment of a Kill Bill scene.

Also, titties.

Also, titties.

Oh, and now there’s poker, and kicking! And a terribly done shot of Iggy and Rita on motorcycles.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

The lyrics are the worst. Basically, she’s playing up the mysogynist-as-shit “bitches be crazy” trope. Everyone loves a peppy, upbeat song about being massively unhinged!

I’m gonna love ya
Until you hate me
And I’m gonna show ya
What’s really crazy

Oh hooray! This is not frightening at all. Thanks for portraying women as emotionally unstable, Iggy. Awesome job doing whatever the fuck it is you’re doing.

I can’t even continue about how it’s a bad song and Iggy is bad. You get the picture. The only redeeming quality is that now I know who Rita Ora is (Rihanna, right? She’s the same person as Rihanna?). And that’s it. Iggy keeps coming out with these songs, and people keep listening. I think my head is going to explode.

I swear, there is pop music I like. Just not Iggy Azalea.

Fuck this shit, I’m out.

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Clam the Vote, Question 4: Paid Sick Leave

Are we even discussing this? Seriously? Take it away blockquotes from The Boston Globe:

The ballot measure, promoted by labor unions and endorsed by some business groups, hospitals, and economists, would allow workers to earn up to 40 hours per year of sick leave — an hour of leave for every 30 hours they work. This leave could also be used to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent. Workers for companies with 10 or fewer employees would earn unpaid leave; workers for companies with 11 or more employees would be paid for their time off. The measure would apply to part-time workers as well, and would affect nearly one-third of Massachusetts workers — about 900,000 people, many of them in low-wage jobs. It would allow home health care workers to receive the benefit, as well, by classifying them as state employees for the purposes of the law.

Jeez. After working six weeks I can earn a whole day off to either be sick or care for a sick loved one, up to one week per year. Wow. Socialist fucking paradise. But I know there are some groups opposed to this:

Victorian Money Lenders for a Brighter Tomorrow for Non-Oprhans and Anti-Wastrels

"Cratchit, sir? 'ed be off again tendin' to 'is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir."

“Cratchit, sir? ‘ed be off again tendin’ to ‘is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir.”

Slave Barge Owners and Operators United

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, and of course. The Koch Brothers.

Stock Image

Stock Image

vote YES because you are not a heartless monster.

 

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Clam the Vote: The Casino Bill

In our third installment of “how the fuck should I vote, Jim and KT?” I will be dissecting question 3, the Casino Bill. This one’s tough. It’s not as straightforward as the other questions, and it’s kind of a “vote on your gut” thing.

The first confusing thing about question 3 is it’s one of those “yes means no” questions, which always works well with a populace barely able to understand this shit in the first place, since we’ve got jobs and kids and in laws and leaky pipes and oil deliveries. We ain’t got time to put a lot of thought into this, damnit!

My background approaching this question differs from my blog partners’ background: I kind of like to occasionally gamble (Jim does not, so I volunteered to take this question). I’ve taken a few business trips to Las Vegas, went to Atlantic City, and have also visited a sad casino in King of Prussia, PA when I needed a last-minute hotel. I think I went to Mohegan Sun once in my early 20s as well. I go knowing it’s entertainment, that I will lose my money, and that gambling is not a solution to any money problems. I have fun when I do it, and when it stops being fun (like I lose a whole $20 in 3 minutes), I stop and do other things.

Back in 2011, legislators voted to approve a casino bill that okayed 3 casinos and a slot parlor here in MA. Residents of Everett, Plainville, and Springfield voted to host casinos in their cities, and work at the Plainville casino has already begun. So, voting yes on banning casinos would overturn the 2011 law and also stop construction on the Plainville casino. It lets the voters decide, which is great, but elected officials and residents of the cities impacted have already voted in favor of casinos. This seems like a last-ditch effort to stop gambling here in Massachusetts.

Letting casinos come to Massachusetts has some upsides. They bring union construction jobs as well as hundreds permanent jobs. The state’s 25% share of the revenues is nothing to sneeze at, and the tourism dollars that are leaving the state for places like Mohegan Sun will (ostensibly) be recaptured, as well as dollars from people in other states like New Hampshire, parts of Connecticut, and Vermont. Casinos also provide entertainment that isn’t entirely gambling based – shows, restaurants, and well-equipped accommodations. 

Grandma?

Grandma?

However, there’s downsides as well. The casino jobs average something like $50k, according to Wynn’s website. That’s an average, mind you. There will be some high-paid executives that pad the average, while there will also most likely be many more low-paying part time jobs. Is that the direction we want to go in? Bringing down the average wage in the state, at best? (I found one link that puts MA’s 2013 mean wage at around $56k). There’s also the fact that casinos are self-contained, and local businesses likely won’t see a positive net impact when a casino comes to town.

We’re also facing a market saturation for casinos. There’s a casino in Maine, two in Connecticut, and they’re sprouting up in places like New York City and Pennsylvania. This has spurred the closing of three Atlantic City casinos, including Revel, which just opened in 2012 and is now bankrupt (and is fighting with the city over $30m in owed property taxes, naturally.) 

The Trump Plaza also closed. It was hoppin' when I visited. Clearly.

The Trump Plaza also closed. It was hoppin’ when I visited. Clearly.

3 new casinos is a LOT of casinos. And while Wynn and MGM tell us that it’ll be a lot of rich folk droppin’ tons of cash, we know what the average gambler looks like.

Grandma?

Grandma?

By a slim margin, I’d say to vote no and keep the casinos, but honestly this is something where I completely understand why folks would vote the other way. It’s not necessarily a great deal for Massachusetts, but if the individual cities have voted in favor, I respect their wishes even if I’m not a huge fan of casinos coming here. Again, I would probably gamble a bit – maybe once or twice a year.

But it’s better than Walmart, right?

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Clam the Vote: The Bottle Bill

Good morning, voters (and to a lesser extent, those shirking their civil duties out of laziness). I’m here this morning to continue our Clam the Vote series with question 2 this morning, otherwise known as the Bottle Bill. If you missed question 1 on the gas tax, read it here!

“Bottle bill” sounds like your drunk uncle’s nickname, but it’s a pretty interesting question.

The Bottle bill is basically this: We already have a 5 cent deposit on beer and soda cans and bottles. We’ve had it for 30 years. Back then, water bottles, sports drink bottles, iced teas, etc weren’t as popular as they are now.  But now, they are – and they aren’t recycled as much as bottles with deposits.  80% of bottles with deposits are redeemed or recycled, versus 23% of bottles without deposits (according to the Massachusetts DEP). That’s a HUGE difference.

The pro-bottle bill argument is easy to understand: the environmental impact of all these plastic bottles being tossed away in the garbage, or littered about on highways, is getting larger. With a redemption fee, there’s far more incentive to return the bottles – by the purchaser or by someone else who collects cans that have been tossed aside. Other parts of the bottle bill include re-assigning the non-collected deposits to an environmentally-based fund instead of the state’s general slush fund, where they currently go, and upping the redemption handling fee for distributors.

Folks on the pro-bottle bill side bolster their position by citing a study by the Massachusetts DEP that states the expanded bottle bill would save about $1 per resident of the state in litter cleanup expenses.

Those who oppose the expansion of the bottle bill are mostly bottle companies (who have put 8.3 million into fighting question 2), and supermarkets.  These bottle-collecting machines take up a grocery’s valuable retail space and they feel the extra deposit will eat into their beverage sales. As asn aside, I find it to be kind of gross and inappropriate that supermarkets like Market Basket are handing out political flyers against question 2, but what can you do?

The thing is, a supposed slight decrease in retail space (like, what, 10 square feet in a 10k+ foot store?) and a possible loss of a tiny percentage of bottle sales is not a good enough reason to oppose the expansion. There’s the angry “herf derf this is just a money grab for the state! People should recycle on their own!” Yeah, but they don’t. The statistics show that they don’t. It’s a money grab you can completely opt out of. And it’s necessary to keep all the freakin’ trash from us zoo-people off the side of highways and in parks and shit.

If it were up to me, it’d cover nip bottles as well, as this is truly a scourge plaguing our city.

can we just get a $1.00 deposit on these fuckers?

can we just get a $1.00 deposit on these fuckers?

This one seems pretty much like a no-brainer. Vote yes on 2, for fuck’s sake.

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People With Ebola Are Better Than You

Every single person I can name who has had Ebola is a better person than me. And you. Every. Single. One.

Eric Duncan who died in Dallas, for instance.

At the heart of the Epidemic in Liberia he volunteered to carry his landlord’s pregnant daughter to a taxi so she might seek treatment. She was in the full-blown part of the disease, the stage where victims are most contagious and everyone knew it. When they arrived at the clinic there was not enough space and she was turned away. Eric Duncan then helped her get home where she would soon die.

He too later succumbed to the disease he contracted for his kindness, but not in a war-ravaged West African bare-bones infirmary where there were two dozen doctors for over four million people. No, after showing up with a fever at in a hospital in the “most advanced country in the world,” and telling medical staff he’d been in Liberia, they (we) gave him Tylenol and turned him away.

When he was finally admitted to a hospital days later with symptoms of the disease, as he began to succumb he implored the medical staff not to attempt to resuscitate him as not to risk any more lives. Our society then went on to fail at even the basic task of decontaminating his apartment, hiring a group called “The Clean Guys” to manage the task for which they were neither trained nor equipped.

According to his Fiance, Eric Duncan did not shun his Landlord’s sick daughter because Eric Duncan was a Christian. According to me he was a better person certainly than many of the most vocal citizens of the country where he died if we compare his behavior to the subsequent panic and demonizing directed toward a man who did nothing but display the highest of human values.

Would I have picked up the frail, coughing girl who was not my own child, when I knew all too well what her symptoms meant? Would I have carried her outside? Held her hair back while she vomited in the street? Would you have? I don’t know in my own case but we can for sure say that the Eric Duncan who doubted was overcome by the Eric Duncan who cared, and for such empathy he paid with his life.

And let us also not forget another case we can name: Nina Pham, 23 years old performing her sacred duty as a nurse. When I’m at work I’ll do everything I can to get out of an unpleasant task as banal as faxing because I’m that lame. Nina Pham, however, knowingly treated a man with an unspeakably terrible disease and she too was failed by our system that likes to boast of its prowess but routinely fails to support those we put in harm’s way.

Nina Pham could have called in sick. Nina Pham could have asked to have been reassigned. Nina Pham did neither of these things and while people in TV studios referred to those stricken with ebola in similar terms to plague rats, she treated a real human being and brought aid to the kind man who helped his landlord’s daughter in the taxi.

Nina Pham is better than me. And thankfully today she is better generally, declared free of the disease just last week.

The most recent case is Dr. Craig Spencer who went to Guinea with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). He’s been to hot spots all over the world helping people in need. I, in contrast, write a snarky blog and just yesterday exhausted a full half hour of my and other people’s lives complaining bitterly about those who don’t use Google Calendar when scheduling events.

Dr. Spencer is a better person than I am. He was, by the way, following protocols and when his body temperature, which he was monitoring twice as day as recommended, moved up just a single degree above normal he called MSF. They altered public health officials in New York who sent a specially equipped ambulance to get him to treatment. Our response to the disease, in regard to medical preparedness at least, has improved.

Dr. Spencer need not have not gone to Africa. He easily could have remained surrounded on every corner by pumpkin-spice lattes and gourmet cupcake shops, spending Sundays not in the dust of the developing world pushing back against hopelessness, but instead sipping twee little drinks out of mason jars at brunch on Amsterdam.  But, according to friends, that’s not who he is. His Fiance, a charity worker and now also in isolation said that she was grateful he is being treated here when so many around the world are left to die.

These are noble people. Every one. Their actions prove this.

Ebola preys on caregivers. It kills those who seek its victims with aid. Its trick is to make someone terribly ill in a place unprepared to manage its communicability and then infect those who get close enough to help. It’s like a sniper who with his first shot deliberately wounds rather than kills in order to create targets of the arriving medics . Ebola victims are those who, knowing this, choose to help anyway.

They are the best people among us.

… there was a sort of self-selecting process going on the whole time among all of the prisoners.  On the average, only those prisoners could keep alive who, after years of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all scruples in their fight for existence; they were prepared to use every means, honest and otherwise, even brutal force, theft, and betrayal of friends, in order to save themselves.  We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles – whatever one may choose to call them – we know:  the best of us did not return.

–Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor, Man’s Search for Meaning

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Make-a-thon 2014 is a Soviet Plot!

We told staff photographer Stevens Brosnihan to take some great pictures of 3d printers. This is what he came up with.

A couple of weeks ago, I was told to cover what was billed as a community effort to assemble “3D printers” for a one-to-one maker-inspired curriculum at O’Maley Innovation Middle School. Naïvely, I enlisted my trusty 1951 David White Stereo Realist camera (in the spirit of 3D) with it’s handy bulb flash and some contemporary Arista EDU film (in the spirit of education) to shoot what I assumed would be a typical after-school parent-teacher collaboration. What I discovered instead was a sinister and obviously Soviet-backed plot to enslave unsuspecting sleeper agents, forcing them to manufacture, test and deploy an army of self replicating, semi-autonomous, nuclear powered robots! After much paranoid deliberation along with liberal applications of poultices of crushed Xanax™ tablets and raw honey to my face, neck and genitals, I’ve decided to come forth with the terrifying truth, even if it means risking my own safety.

3d1

Mikhail Golubkin posing as ‘’Jim Dowd” – soldering the contacts on the guidance system of the latest Russian nuclear powered combat exoskeleton

Sweden thinks it has it bad with its russian U-boat infested waters! Friends and comrades are working in our midst, assembling the tools of the neo-Soviet uprising. Their overseer, a KGB agent code named “Colin” was blaring on multiple screens, straight out of a scene from 1984. He gave step-by-step instructions to the room full of sleeper agents and kept referring to his ‘dog’ while still remaining mysteriously anonymous. His hands often worked off-camera on complex tasks he would describe in his perfectly practiced American accent only to return on camera with a completed assembly, brandished as if to taunt the enslaved workers. Gasps of frustration would ripple through the room every time this happened and yet the workers would plod on.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Food and drink were supplied in uncharacteristic abundance, including cappuccinos, undoubtedly laced with truth serum and the antidote to a slow acting poison used to ensnare and retain the laborers.

I snuck away from the primary laboratory–craftily disguised as a Middle School library–into an underground bunker that housed a massive inventory of completed and partially assembled high tech mechanisms, each with it’s own computer brain, sensors, and actuators. I could smell the radiation.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

This series of anaglyphs is rock-solid evidence of a complex and terrifying plot being orchestrated in our midst by Vladimir himself who intends to undermine and eventually enslave our entire population. Use standard issue red/cyan goggles to get the full 3D effect. остерегайтесь козёл!

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

 A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.


A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

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Five Awesome Things about Ottawa

I am an unabashed fan of the city of Ottawa. It was the first city I ever fell in love with. I first heard about it in 5th grade, when one of my best friends went there on a family vacation and sent me a postcard, since we didn’t have email back then. On the back, she wrote “I am having a fun time. (My 8 year old brother) Jeff got his fingers caught in the elevator door at the Parliament buildings and he cried.” It was then that I knew I needed to go – and go I did, every time vowing to return as soon as humanly possible.

In fact, Gloucesketeers, you once almost lost me to Ottawa forever. Were it not for a too-short work history to meet immigration standards (and then changing, more selective standards), we may have uprooted and been Ottawa Citizens (ha, get it) forever.

I hate that people of such a wonderful city have to deal with what happened yesterday. It’s unfair. And I’m sorry, Ottawa. Believe me, we’re Bostoners, we’ve been there, and it’s horrible and earth-shaking. Even though you are a tough, strong city, this cuts you to the core.

But I want to share with as many people I can the beauty of Ottawa, this small city with so much to offer. So here’s a list of the best things about Ottawa.

 

1. Skating the Rideau Canal.

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway?

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway? Not a skinnier, younger version of me from 2008.

In the winter, at least before Climate Change fucks everything up forever, the Rideau Canal freezes over and you can skate on it. It’s technically the world’s largest skating rink. You can get on at one spot and get off another – there are folks who commute via skate. Our hotel has had daily weather reports and guides that tell you which mile markers you can skate on and which are closed if the surface isn’t safe ahead of time so you can plan your route.

The Rideau Canal itself is pretty cool, as well. In fact, it was once home to the Stanley Cup overnight in 1905 when a drunken Ottawa team, having just won the cup, took bets to see if someone among them could drop-kick Lord Stanley’s cup into the canal. Unsurprisingly, they were successful, and had to go fish it out once they sobered up in the morning.

2. The Diefenbunker

Don't panic, eh?

Don’t panic, eh?

The city of Ottawa, being the capital, obviously has an awesome formerly top-secret Cold War nuclear bunker capable of keeping the Prime Minister and other top officials safe underground for 30 days, right? You goddamn bet. Commissioned in 1959 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker, it operated not-very-secretly underneath farmland in rural Ottawa from 1961 until 1994. In 1997, it was turned into a museum, and the public can visit. It has a tiny CBC recording studio inside, some cheery posters of not-apocalyptic scenes, and some awesome mid-century modern radioactive decontamination showers for the hipster in us all. It’s awesome.

3. Sleeping in Jail

Hope you like brick and steel and ghosts!

Hope you like brick and steel and jail-ghosts!

We’ve all been there. You wake up behind bars after a questionable evening. Fortunately for me, we had booked a room at the HI Hostel at the old Ottawa Jail. The top floor held death row, executions took place there until 1946, and inhumane conditions and unmarked graves marred its storied history. Now, the whole thing is a hostel – from semiprivate jail cell rooms to the upper (death row) floors that hold the family suites. It’s a blast, a bit creepy, and beautifully macabre.

4. The Parliament Buildings at Night

It's funkadelic.

It’s funkadelic.

The Parliament buildings on Capital Hill are stunningly beautiful by daylight. They are the backdrop for peaceful protesters for all causes, thousands of tourist photos, and at night, they become even more photogenic. Every evening from June to September, weather permitting, a free sound and light show called Mosaika unfolds against the buildings, telling Canada’s story in both English and French.

The character of the Hill is wonderful, as well. Until last year, Parliament Hill had its own marauding gang of cats cared for by volunteers who were allowed to mill the grounds. They had been brought to the buildings to deal with a rat and mouse problem in 1924. The cats began to be spayed and neutered 15 years ago, and finally the four remaining cats were considered too frail to survive the Ottawa winters in the outdoor cat sanctuaries, and were adopted to homes.

5. Byward Market

Byward-Market-Ottawa

The Byward Market area is full of bars, restaurants, tiny shops, and Beaver Tails.  Beaver Tails, my friends, are oblong pieces of fried dough coated with gooey maple sugar and chocolate. They are amazing and they are proof that life is good.

I WANT ONE SO BAD

I WANT ONE SO BAD

Aside from Beaver Tails, Byward Market has small farmer’s market stands, tons of crafts by local artisans, cheese shops that sell squeaky, unpasteurized cheese curds (the building block of poutine), a bar called Zaphod Beeblebrox’s, a strip club called Barefax with a low cover and relatively classy atmosphere, and something called the GreenRoom Carbon Neutral Nightclub which really is the most Canada thing to ever occur. Byward Market spans four blocks and is nothing but awesome.

While Ottawa reels from yesterday, its beauty, its spirit, and its vibrant core will continue to shine. And I’ll be going back.

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