This week a number of activities have taken place across London and the UK in protest of the continued commodification of education, the real-terms reduction of wages for staff and, more specifically, the closing of the University of London’s central Students Union by the institution. Beginning with a wave of occupations at over ten campuses on Monday night, the University and Colleges Union strike on Tuesday and the violent eviction of the Occupants of Senate House Library by the police on Wednesday night necessitated a response today. Shortly before writing this, however, I dropped by the library gates. All that remained of the activities of the night before was a letter of threat from the institution’s leaders.
I was at the beginning of the Cops Off Campus protest that started at 3 pm Thursday at Senate House, the central building of the University of London. It was a raucous but peaceful affair; a self-organized march to the entrance of the previously occupied library. Just before we reached it the police descended, filling the road with wagons and running through the crowd to block the entrance. They then proceeded to strategically position themselves to isolate the demonstration, preparing a kettle. Protesters with shields designed to look like books lined up to defend the crowd from (mostly) men with sticks.
A profound terror grips the uninitiated when they show up at a serious demonstration. These uniformed, overworked, underpaid enforcers of state power are also nervous, but they have guns, nightsticks, and the knowledge that those around them will help them get away with anything they do. Even if they kill you they will probably get away with it. Their version of events is more trusted by courts. At the moment they arrive at a demonstration, especially one understood by them to be unofficial, your position in society, in their estimation, hits bottom.
“You have nothing to lose but your chains” was once an accurate descriptor of most oppressed. Now, however, structures of liberty, prosperity, and property are so forced upon us from the dominant culture in the UK that when the state enforcers arrive, the potential loss of everything hits you hard. The point of extending credit to those who can’t afford it is to rob any radical movement of the power that it once had in Marx and Engels’ famous manifesto. To my shame I left too early. Appointments to be kept allowed me to justify why I had to avoid, at all costs, being trapped in the kettle. But this is the point of the police action: to generate a flight response at the core of the individual protester’s being. Beneath my excuses was claustrophobia so visceral and unfamiliar that it took a moment to accept it as an actual sensation.
This is the first level of power that the police wield. It enters into the mental calculus of anyone who considers taking part in a demonstration and is set aside as a given by those who never would. However even if the terror is overcome, there are worse norms in formation. A veteran campaigner posted on Twitter, “the fact that we are getting used to this is scary.” The presences of the police at university demonstrations such as this makes clear the limits of free expression. Dissent is inevitable but only allowed when it is manageable, planned, and accounted for. This is a state of affairs that must not be accepted. Cops Off Campus.
A group of hikers discovered the following essay carved into the walls of a cabin in the mountains outside Charleston, WV. The naked, frozen corpse of the author was found in the woods nearby.
To escape from the constant tapping, swiping, clicking, and scrolling of the information age, I responded to an ad in my local Craigslist for a three-day digital detox camp. During the retreat, I would be stripped of all my gadgets — my iPod shuffle, my iPod touch, my iPhone 5S, my iPad Air, my iPad mini with Retina display, my 15” MacBook Pro — as well as my other possessions, including my keys, wallet, and clothing. I would then be left in the woods, hands and feet bound, while I fought to free myself from my digital dependence. But after three frigid nights on the floor of a run-down cabin, slipping in and out of consciousness in a freezing puddle of my own waste, I would find much more than an escape. I would find myself.
When people ask what I do, I often respond simply, and disappointingly, with “web stuff.” A techno-factotum, I may begin the day in WordPress or Photoshop and end it in Excel or Pro Tools. Like many others, however, in between I will receive countless emails, texts, notifications, alerts, and mentions. Far from annoyed, we come to depend on these constant updates to our digital selves. Without them we feel old, out of touch, incomplete. Five minutes away from a device and we may even begin to experience phantom vibration syndrome, an illusory ringing in our empty pockets, the screen addict’s equivalent of the shakes. Ten minutes away from a device and, well, who knows?
My own addiction to technology began about twenty years ago on an Apple IIGS in my elementary school’s computer lab. While my peers laughed together as dysentery plucked them, one by one, from the Oregon Trail, I chose to lose myself in the solitary depths of games like Number Munchers and Word Munchers. These games had no pause and, if you were good enough, no end. There were always more numbers, more words, to be munched. Soon, I was sneaking in from recess to munch without the distractions of other children, until the list of high scores was composed of only one name.
This fixation only grew over the years as I acquired my own computers, and eventually, I dropped out of school to work at Circuit City full-time, getting others hooked to support my own habit. I tried to kick it occasionally, going a few hours here and there, just to prove that I could. But there was always a reason to go back. I just had to check my email. I just had to design a website. I just had to manage a client’s social media accounts. In A.A., they often say that when you relapse, you don’t go back to where you left off, you go right to where you would be if you’d never stopped. Likewise, my relapses invariably led to all-night anime and reddit binges, 8-bit music blaring as I scrolled and clicked deeper and deeper into the archives.
I told myself I was functional, that I could still glance up from my iPhone during conversations, that I could still connect meaningfully with the people around me. But I couldn’t. In fact, when I found the Craigslist ad for the detox, I was not looking for help at all — I was checking Missed Connections. A few weeks earlier, I had sat next to a woman on the bus and seen that she was watching Game of Thrones on her 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD. I’d wished desperately to be able to talk to her, to ask whether it was the 16, the 32, or the 64 GB model, but instead, I buried myself in my iPhone for almost an hour as we sat there, our knees occasionally knocking together, occasionally lingering, without ever acknowledging each other. Even when her stop came, I just sat there staring into my screen as she clambered over my legs to the aisle. Looking back, Missed Connections was the perfect place for the ad, but at the time, it just seemed like a happy accident.
Though Charleston is the capital of West Virginia, you don’t have to go far to find nature. No matter which direction you face, the mountains are always looming in the distance, reminding city-dwellers what they could have if they simply walked away. Both scared and excited, I arrived at the base of one of these mountains, at the gates of Kanawha State Forest, on a brisk December evening. I had been to the park many times as a child, fishing, grilling, and searching for turtles. However, I had never been there as an adult, and I was shocked at how small it all seemed now. Yet as I followed the winding directions that had arrived in my inbox, paved roads giving way to dirt, I realized the park expanded in ways that neither I nor Google Maps knew.
When I finally reached the pull-off described in the email, the sun was gone, the park gates no doubt closed. I flashed my headlights, turned off the ignition, and picked up my phone. Three bars. As requested, I had brought along all of my gadgets and a list of my passwords, as well as the $1,500 fee. I had been wary at first about paying in cash, especially since the detox camp didn’t have a single review on Yelp. I quickly realized, however, that this was merely a sign of the program’s effectiveness, and more excited than ever, I emailed all of my friends and family members to tell them that I would be off the grid for a while. I’d hoped to send them all personalized postcards, but that morning a camper had canceled his reservation — probably because of the snowstorm that had been predicted — and I had to take it.
It was nearly an hour before the two counselors began knocking on opposite windows of my car. They had flashlights, but I had not seen them approaching because I was busy tapping out notes for this essay. The men were upset to have seen my car glowing, as I had been instructed to remove the battery from my phone before arriving. They ordered me out of the car and began frisking me to make sure I had no concealed technology. They were a bit rough — I hadn’t expected the retreat to be boot-camp style — but discipline was what I would need if I was going to make it through the following days and, indeed, the rest of my life. But as the men led me into the woods, I suddenly realized how stupid I had been. The others had clearly been smart enough to have people drop them off and avoid leaving their vehicles unattended.
“Lesbians Who Eat Their Young: How Sarah Schulman and I got the boot from Best Lesbian Erotica 2014,” was originally published at Pretty Queer and is excerpted below:
In June of this year I sent out a story to be considered for Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, a popular anthology put out by Cleis Press. The largest independent queer publisher in the US, Cleis has established itself as the de facto clearinghouse for lesbian erotica. BLE’s call for work had no content constraints, no limits on subject matter, and so I assumed the bottom line was simply whether or not the words on the page had the power to make the clit jump. I could not have imagined the tangled internal politics that would ensue, nor could I have imagined that those politics would culminate in the censorship of my work. The fight with Cleis is emblematic of a broader schism in the queer community, one that calls up all the old questions of assimilation versus liberation.
The story I submitted, called Cottonmouth, was inspired by a scene from Truman Capote’s Other Voices Other Rooms that had never left my head, in which two teenagers have a freaky encounter with a snake. I took this scene and ran with it. Cottonmouth is about two teenage cousins who go for a walk in the Mississippi woods to escape the afternoon heat, and end up face to face with the mystery of sexuality, of nature, and the myths created about the two. The story was accepted by the guest editor, Sarah Schulman. While Sarah loved it, she had a tussle with the publishers about whether or not the story’s focus was “bestiality.” Sarah’s position was: “So what?” Cleis had no real argument against her, so I received a contract and went through line edits. I was excited and looking forward to coming out to my mother as a pervert all over again. (I finally settled on an email with the subject line: Congratulations! Your daughter is a published pornographer!)
Two summer months slipped by without incident. Then August came, and I received another e-mail from Sarah saying that Cleis Press, the publisher of Best Lesbian Erotica, wanted to remove Cottonmouth from the collection because the characters were underage, claiming that Cleis faced “legal vulnerability”. Sarah, whose novel The Child, about a sexual relationship between a 15 year old boy and a 40 year old man, faced no legal consequences immediately recognized this as censorship and wrote: “I cannot permit this and will go to the wall.” After some wrangling, it was decided that the story would be sent to the newly appointed Publisher of Cleis, Brenda Knight, who would review it to determine whether she thought the Press would in fact face legal vulnerability. Having never had to deal with issues of legality in my work before, I panicked. But after spending some quality time brushing up on US obscenity law, it became clear to me that there was indeed no legal issue with my story. Cottonmouth simply made Cleis Press nervous. But why?
The whole story is well worth the read.
Aggregated from slogans found on T-shirts sold by Spencer’s Gifts
You say bitch like it’s a bad thing.
If you think I’m a bitch, you’re probably right. I
don’t mean to sound like a bitch but I am
so that’s how it came out. Yes I’m a bitch, just not yours.
Don’t like me? Have a seat with the rest of the bitches
waiting for me to give a fuck.
Young sexy hot bitch, sexiest bitch, beer pong bitch.
Bitches envy me ‘cause they ain’t me. Major bitch, bad
ass bitch. Be the bitch you always wanted to be. Jealousy is a
sickness. Get well soon bitches! Behind every successful bitch
lies a pack of haters.
Need a hug, bitch? I might just slap this bitch.
I came here to drink and slap bitches and I’m almost
done drinking. Don’t act like a bitch & I won’t slap you
like one. Pretty girls turn heads, me and my bitches
Reasons why I’m a bitch: I just am. Because you’re ugly.
Maybe you should eat make-up so you can try and be
pretty on the inside, bitch. Please give me the strength
to tolerate this fake bitch. Don’t keep calm and slap a bitch.
Say it to my face biiitch!!! Beautiful disaster.
Bitches be trippin’. This bitch cray. Drink up bitches!
One sexy bitch, one drunk bitch, party with my bitches.
Happy St. Pat’s Day, bitches. I’ll drink you bitches under
the table. Dance it out, bitch. Kiss the rings bitch.
Well behaved bitches never make history.
The unsolicited image above was sent to our submissions account (email@example.com) this weekend from an anonymous address. We have no idea what it means, but it looks incriminating.
- Could Buzzfeed be providing information about us (e.g., 24 Signs You Went to Catholic School) to the NSA?
- Are Buzzfeed lists encryption keys to top-secret files?
- Is this viral marketing for the new Bourne film, The Bourne #EpicWin?
- Who is LexHound, and what does he know?
If you have any information or a theory, please leave it in the comments below. Seriously, go nuts.
“One thing we’re adept at is telling a story, and authenticity is one of the core values of the [Jeep] brand.”
— Kim Adams-House
, advertising director, Jeep
When you came into this world
You tumbled in headfirst
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother’s dead
All arms and legs
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead
You went where your eyes and ears took you
And little by little
You became you
Motherless children run a hard road
You found tools to satisfy your curiosity
Because you wanted to see more
And do more
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead
And there was something to be found
And little by little it changed
People told you things
“But wait, there’s more!”
Where to go
What to do
What not to do
Little by little the world started to feel smaller
Some people say your sister will do
Soon as she married turn her back on you
You’re still here
And you’re still you
Motherless children run a hard road when your mother is dead
The horizons haven’t gone anywhere
And the tools you need are right here
(Professional driver on closed course.
Do no attempt water fording unless depth is known to be less than 20 inches.
Traversing water can cause damage not covered by the new vehicle warranty.
Always off-road responsibly in approved areas.)
So you can throw yourself at the world headfirst
(Do not attempt.)
Introducing the all-new Jeep Cherokee
(Jeep is a registered trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.)
Kevin Costner in “The Postman”
Then Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was invited not to attend the State of the Union. The custom of “designated survivor” has been in place since the early days of the Cold War. Duck and cover, a northeastern hurricane — a strange tendency of the unthinkable is that it becomes familiar. And so we blink through the explanation of a credit default swap, another economic bubble of tulip-like retrospective silliness. The glee of brinksmanship returned with the government shutdown (see: the preferable “nuclear option”). Doom is cyclical, prone to booms and 2012 busts.
And yet, this time around, the end certainly seems nigh. Overpopulation is expressed in a graph shooting up into space after millennia of mild sloping. The Malthusian banner has been taken up by Alan Weisman, author of the The World Without Us, and recently — seriously — Countdown. Earlier predictions of famine have been flouted by artificial nitrogen, the green revolution, and social welfare states hanging on tenaciously to solvency, earning Malthus his synonymity with unnecessary dourness. In the course of Weisman’s advocacy, he’s become conspicuously responsible. Fertility rates are chilly (given the health of females through childbearing years, correcting for infant mortality, zero-growth is 2.33). His may be a one-child policy, but it comes rhetorically disguised as single issue women’s education, which can deliver the same sub-replacement-level results.
James Howard Kunstler disapproves of the term “doomer.” Whatever we call the bearers of bad news, they are fond of ominous reminders of what is already taking place. Sprawl — Kunstler’s bête noire — is unabated. A trip across the United States leaves the lasting impression of pipes billowing foul smoke, city edges become ragged, like worn hems. From a train window, no modest, lovely Midwesterners shoot at a tilted basketball hoop in driving rain. Highway junctions pass for street corners, the parking lots of Super Targets and Walmarts undelineated (Kunstler says to stay by the river). Farmland is entrusted to processed food. (Michael Ruppert, in the documentary Collapse, has typical talking points on monetary policy; more interesting is his warning about Monsanto’s mutant seeds, later proving himself a locavore of rooftop vegetable garden variety.) In a landmark moment for respectable dooming, Kunstler delivered a good-humored TED talk, where he delighted the tech conference with his musings on bad architecture, and didn’t linger much on the end of an “era of cheap oil” (which, other than cars, powers the industrial production of plastics, chemicals, and the long-distance shipping of an interconnected world, without viable alternative.) This was doom as its most tasteful. But apocalypse fever tempts the brain stem. Unrestrained by higher orders of humanity, doom becomes dumbly provocative, of helpless curiosity, the excitement of a reckoning.
For example, one had to think, could our government be any worse than if it were hastily reconvened solely by Steven Chu, physicist of middling charisma? A New York Times article speculated that Ted Cruz, after supposedly humiliating defeat, grinned “like a man whose monthlong parade in the public spotlight left him without any burns to his ego.” The stakes of the shutdown, supposedly never higher at the prospect of default, were in an important way unchanged. The only thing on the line was Ted Cruz’s masculinity — and that was impregnable. But few can match his unflagging confidence. For the rest of us, there’s a strong sense that western civilization — with its biblically-meek brokering million dollar deals — does not test mettle. After all, we don’t build anything with our hands anymore. I used to manage an independent bookstore. I always wondered whether the floor staff would acknowledge my authority if cars came pinballing down the avenues, the way NYC is typically destroyed in the movies. A world in smithereens is a world relieved of its burdens and its embarrassments. Of cheap plastic anxiety. The idea that chaos will be cathartic is wholly imaginary, and imaginary is too good a word for it. The would-be death and destruction wrought by environmental collapse is already beyond comprehension, which relieves the masculine death wish of even having to try. Who or what could pick up the slack? The cathartic apocalypse requires a vapid bloody-mindedness of bloated Hollywood proportions.
“Oh no, you did not shoot that green shit at me.”
– Captain Steven Hiller, F-18 fighter pilot, Independence Day (1996)
Damon Lindelof typically shares a writing credit with two or three others, not including a tip of the cap to original material. In his scripts, the action is packed, and vehicles are never intact for long. Between very exciting chase-fight sequences, quieter, character-developing scenes have a desperate futility about them. These quivering attempts to make human love the equal of death come crashing down to Earth, fireballs through the atmosphere, flattening area codes, thousands of screaming innocents buried alive in the sound mix. “Once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world,” he explains to New York Magazine. But you have to destroy almost all of it first. Lindelof tells us how that sausage is made. The process is called “story gravity.” Rewrites tend towards raising the stakes until the known world hangs one-handed from a helicopter landing skid. There’s money in this, and sure enough, the apocalypse has become a cliché, with subgenres: Mayan, alien invasion, viral, nuclear, zombie. Less commercially viable are dystopias sharp with social commentary — they aren’t as fun. But there is a post-apocalypse subgenre that critiques our day and age quite ruthlessly, if unintentionally.
In 1997, many walked out on The Postman, starring and directed by Kevin Costner. Arguably, it is bad. But there’s a less plausible argument that the film was well ahead of its time. The protagonist survivor is an unreconstructed charlatan. Costner’s smirk — at having survived an inferred nuclear holocaust — would make Ted Cruz proud. He is not an advocate for sustainability. He has a modest talent for self-preservation, the lust for life required to relish his chances with a woman who, under ordinarily civilized circumstances, he wouldn’t have a chance with. In Oregon, people live under the boot of an Aryan mafia, deprived, but Costner himself is not resolved so much as irritable. In the face of death, he is rascally. Of all human qualities that catastrophe might emphasize, could it be narcissism that proves itself roach-like, invulnerable? How many died for Costner to wryly reclaim his sense of destiny? How many times was the script polished to end this way?
Michael Ruppert is the voluble subject of Collapse. He is encyclopedic with Titanic analogies, the price of gold, the law of thermodynamics. He recommends good soil, landlines. But nothing will stop the shortages, runs, busts, and crashes of those steep waves of population, fake money. Ruppert operates adjacent to the mainstream; he is UCLA poli-sci, but a cranky self-publisher; an ex-LAPD public defender of the CIA theory of crack cocaine. After an hour-long lecture, he is overcome with emotion. The moment is a precise cut between his extolling community (“You will survive as a member of a family”) and his lament, “we have waited so long for somebody to listen to us.” The temptation is to view him through the lens of millennial zealotry. He is tired of being ignored, the latter remark ringing unfortunately with persecution complex, complete with weird, culty choice of pronoun. But what if he is simply demonstrating empathy for the human condition, feeling the suffering of actual billions he sees sacrificed to a system we refuse to limit? Isn’t that decency? The phrase “what makes us human” is invoked strictly in admiration. It’s just like us to afford ourselves that kind of certainty. And it is that convenience which makes us human, for better or for worse.
Gotta love the zebra print.
There’s recently been a lot of talk about how expensive San Francisco is. Take this, for example. Or this. Or this. And it’s true. As the wealthy, 26-year-old startup golden boys buy up apartments in Hayes Valley and the Mission and the old money settles deeper into Pacific Heights and Noe Valley, people with less move across to the East Bay, down the peninsula, or just say screw it and head out of the Bay Area altogether, bound for less expensive, greener pastures.
Not me, though. I’m moving in the opposite direction, packing up my meager boxes in Berkeley and heading into San Francisco. And that brought me to Craigslist.
Can’t you see a better, wealthier version of yourself living here?
Downtime at my magazine job is spent scrolling through the San Francisco “rooms/shared” housing tab, bookmarking everything around the Panhandle and reading up on all the wood-floored apartments along Duboce that I can’t afford on a full-time intern’s salary. Phrases like “cozy” and “quaint” leave me suspicious, and a $1,400 price tag for a room has me thinking I’ve found an amazing deal. I get deeper and deeper into the depths of Craigslist, starting each day with the new postings in the Lower Haight and the Castro and going back days, weeks in time, looking for a place I might like, might be able to afford, might be able to feel at home. It’s a hard thing, moving across the country by yourself. And each time I resurface without having found what I’m looking for, I get the sinking sensation that it might not be out there.
I get a second job at a bakery on Guerrero Street in the Mission. The extra pay helps to make it more likely for me to afford a place in this, admittedly, very expensive city. On my breaks, I sometimes sit on a stoop on 18th street and watch the family in the second-floor apartment moving around their kitchen. They have inlaid cabinets. The Mission has changed.
And in this way, these hours spent on Craigslist soon leak into my everyday life. As I walk the streets of San Francisco I look up at the houses and wonder if they have bike storage or walk-in closets. I look at people who, like me, are walking to work and I wonder if they wash their dishes within 24 hours of using them. Going to see actual apartments means you get to peek into peoples’ lives — what they eat for dinner, what they wear when they’re relaxing at home, what their guilty pleasure Tuesday night TV shows are.
I actually start to meet people this way. New friends are soon scattered throughout the city, friends with whom I get drinks in dive bars in Bernal Heights and dress up in matching Halloween costumes for rooftop parties and spend sunny afternoons in Dolores Park.
Just a great place to be murdered.
And while I’m trying to carve out this little place for myself in San Francisco in the form of a roof and four walls, I find a much more substantial space to inhabit. I start to recognize people on the street. I have my favorite spots I can casually rattle off — a spot for brunch, a spot for $4 draft beers, a place for a good taco on Tuesdays. And I find friends to go with. I find real connections on Craigslist, most famous for its missed ones.
And finally a home.
And I find a neighborhood — NOPA, North of the Panhandle, in a big old Victorian place. I moved last weekend into a room filled with light from two enormous windows. The house is just blocks from friends in every direction. And I’ve resurfaced for a good long while, I think. For now.
[Photos courtesy of SF Craigslist]
Full Stop is excited to reprint the following real estate listing from Lexington, KY’s Craigslist. If you have questions, please visit the original listing here.
Heavily forested land with berry bushes and nut trees and hardwoods in rural mountainous setting with forks and creek. Free gas available and royalties. Somewhere between 80 and 125 acres. Surveyed. Lease unavailable. You’ll need to flag down the well servicing agent to get a phone number for operator who does not answer. Radioactive soils, history of discharges to land and water including land farming, present discharges to protected waterways. Flooding due to Yatesville Dam hydrologic gate failures. Anyone with chemical sensitivies should not consider this property and its resulting oozing rashes consistent with chemical burns and breathing problems probably from air discharges from Abarta Gas Plant emmissions. This property is not suitable for farm animals, pets, children, adults, fishing, swimming, hiking or farm animals. Really, it’s not suitable for building or habitation. It’s not suitable for 4-wheeling or hunting as above ground corroded gathering lines that feed to the transmission line on the ridgetops are all combustible and highly flamable. Majestic old standing lumber is not safe to fell or remove due to the magnitude of the condemnation by the gathering field. The unmarked pipes are not maintained and pose a serious risk of leakage and spills. The abandoned crusty ones are very toxic. Spills are known to have occurred on this property and on neighboring properties. The drilled water well should be considered contaminated. It’s missing the pump as someone stole it. At the bottom of the well is some kind of pinkish slime. Bears are known to be about. Beautiful water seeps. A pool of oil on neighbor’s property poses no immediate health risk. Hydraulically fractured wells on property have previously been blown with nitroglycerin. The area has lots of production wells where produced water is injected and a history of fire flooding and water flooding and hydraulic fracturing. Property inside the Martha Oil Field, which covers a 50 square mile area. High level contamination consistent with leaching, migration and karst geology has rendered all three main aquifers and surface waters verifiably contaminated. Fish advisories were in effect last I checked and local surface waters are not supportive of normal things. No county water to the property at present. Three wells of public record on property. Could be more! One seems to have desimated an old cemetery. Now, there are a bunch of pipes lying about and more buried, some even in the creek, some of which are broken and some smashed up and bent. And they do pose a bit of a trip hazard. ‘No Trespass’ signs are widely posted, but no signage is posted as to how to contact the operator, but the well servicing fellow knows how to reach him. Mountain top removal coming to this area rich in natural resources. It may have arrived. Tons of trucks already. Lots of traffic so that the dust may be a nuisance. A burial ground with at least 3 deceased persons has been excavated to prep for one of the on-site facilities. Cemetery fencing was removed and the graves have been disturbed for oil and gas production. Produced water tanks on site are known to collapse and leak and possibly overfill the unlined retention pits, but there’s a pipe to direct all byproducts to the forks. There may be an underground tank or two not of record. Definitely lots of leaks. Raw sewage discharged to forks and branches from adjacent properties has been a long-term practice. A pond that likely contained fracturing solution was ordered to be breached by the Corp of Engineers spilling it down the draw into the main creek at one point. This creek is one of two main tributaries of the popular Yatesville Lake. Another mountainside earthen ram retention pond, possibly an evaporation pond of toxins (wells are immediately adjacent) could flood the entire area at any time. Aside from that, the property is gorgeous and wonderful, very pleasing to the eye. This is not a full disclosure of known issues and violations. I realize that I must make a full disclosure, so please contact me if you are interested to own this lovely acreage or discuss other issues and violations. Cash only. Sorry, no land contracts. No seller carry. Selling ‘as is’ and ‘where is.’ Terms of purchase include and are not limited to the following: The purchase price shall increase $1000 (one thousand US) dollars for each day from the date of ad listing on 11 November 2013 until and including the date of sale consummation and closing. An additional $10,000 (ten thousands US dollars) per months shall increase the listed sales price starting from the date of the listing of this ad until the date of sale closing and consumation using a title company of seller’s choice. Attorney fees are billed at $1000 (one thousand US) dollars per hour will be paid by the buyer to the seller’s legal representative prior to the time of closing. No buyer fees or fees of any kind will be paid by the seller. All fees and costs associated with closing will be funded and paid for by the buyer. Some of these fees serve to compensate for the estimated 200 million US dollars of theft of natural resources. Any ‘blemishes’ or ‘clouds’ at present or of the future or assessments of any type on the property title shall be paid by the well operators and all associated oil, gas and mineral exploration agents of record. The operator is not in good standing with the State of Kentucky.
Consider the following exchange:
“That movie was terrible.”
“I know, right?”
What is so wrong with simply saying “I know?” Or even just “right” as an affirmation on its own?
Despite plenty of other options, this question and simultaneous expression of agreement has become so common that it’s hard to imagine it sounding off to the ear. But it’s actually a strange turn of phrase, and one I suspect has come into wide use only recently (the last 10 years or so). The oldest relevant entry in the urban dictionary — “A way to express the concept of ‘yes if you are not quite articulate enough to say that mighty imposing word” — was created in 2003 (urban dictionary lauched in 1999).
So how is it that a word which has always conveyed direct agreement has been rethought and re-presented in the form of a tentative question? What does this tell us about how people view making concrete claims? Or about their ability to have their voice heard?
First however, another recent phenomenon: Any composition instructor will tell you that student writing has long been full of the phrase “I feel” — a qualifier placed before a more definitive claim (often something factual) that weakens the writer’s voice and makes even otherwise clear-headed writing unbearably tentative, weak, and frustrating. (E.g. “I feel like a lot of people live in New York City”). Mikael Awake has a great take on this over at McSweeney’s.
In our age of cultural relativism, where no one opinion is better than any other, the “I think” or “I feel” that so often precedes straightforward claims or judgements (however controversial or not) is designed to make the listener/reader absolutely sure that the idea being expressed is just an opinion, one that doesn’t hold any special weight or shouldn’t be viewed any differently from any other claims or ideas. Since the claim is no better or worse than any other, it need not be defended, examined, or understood to have any consequence at all. It’s the easy way out.
“Right” now has cultural traction as a question, and this is part of the same overall trajectory toward presenting one’s ideas as things to be considered, more things populating a level playing field. People might want to voice their agreement, but they don’t want to seem too sure about it, too committed or set in their ways, unwilling to compromise. “Right?” allows the speaker to do both at the same time.
There’s reason to be cynical about this. What will happen to careful, well-reasoned and well defended arguments? To the careful exploration and staking out of important claims? Isn’t it true that some ideas really are better or worse than others?
But there’s good news, too. The compromise implicit in “right?” means that people are trying to be nice, to be tolerant, to hold up their ideas as things that are always open to questioning, revision, and interpretation. This type of tolerance and openness may be the kind of thing we could all use more of.