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Mister Answer Man:  Insane Clown Posse edition!

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  I am beginning to suspect that the letters you receive are not really letters from readers at all.  In fact, I am beginning to suspect that you make them up yourself, and then give the “letter-writers” names that you think are “clever.” Am I right?  --Mary Rosh

Mister Answer Man replies:  Ms. Rosh (if that is your real name), my letters are genuine real letters from readers.  All of them!

Well, not really.  But this one is—I received it in the electronical mail two days ago.  It’s from “Clueness in Kansas,” and he writes:

Dear Mr. Answer Man:  We’ve all witnessed just how badly the Republicans want Obama to fail. They’re doing everything they can to derail any advancement or improvement he might possibly be able to make, just to point out that he failed. They’ve demonstrated that they’ll latch on to anything that could in any way be construed as bad, and drive it into his heart. My question to you is this: Given the extent to which they want to ruin this man, why don’t they take advantage of the Tea Party Sea/BP Gulf oil fiasco, and start screaming that Obama is not going fast enough to switch us all to renewables? Obama is even not admitting just how bad the leak is! He has no idea how to stop it, no plans to make sure this never happens again, no clue how to clean this mess up, and no clue how much death and economic destruction this is going to cause. Why aren’t Republicans screaming that this great nation of ours cannot afford to wait for the “Democrats” to get off their high horses and “negotiate” in their back room deals, and “agree” to make a “decision” to make a “plan” that will somehow magically “fix” all of the planet’s problems, but not until they’ve achieved social “justice” for little Demitria down the street? Why aren’t Republicans using this disaster to their advantage, taking this opportunity to call for a change in this nation’s energy priorities?  --Clueless in Kansas

Mister Answer Man replies:  Dear Mr. Clueless, I am happy to report that you are aptly named.  Your entire question, from start to finish, presumes that Republicans will use “logic” and “reason” to characterize Obama as a failure.  While you’re right that Republicans could make Obama look silly by calling for a renewed emphasis on renewable energy, you’re “right” only in the sense that your point makes “sense.” You need to understand that from the perspective of today’s GOP, the important thing is not scoring “logic points” from this disaster.  The important thing is that the American people have to understand that this socialist Muslim black blackety black man, who pals around with terrorists and (with the help of ACORN) elevated an actual scary Muslim person to the post of Miss USA, is arrogantly bowing too low to foreign leaders.  Also, socialism.  If we are ever to address the problem in the Gulf, we will need to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.

This answer may not make “sense” to you.  But it is the right answer.  And because I understand that, people call me--

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Answer Man

P.S. Who is “Demitria”?  That sounds like a made-up name.

Dear Mister Answer Man:  Last month, the Globe and Mail published an interview with Camille Paglia in which she said,

This whole thing about global warming—I am absolutely incredulous at the gullibility of people. What is this hysteria over drowning polar bears? And finally I realized, people don’t know polar bears can swim! For me, the answer is always more facts, more basic information, presented without sentimentality and without drama. To inflict this kind of anxiety on young people is an outrage.

Polar bears can swim!  Mr. Answer Man, this is perhaps the most disturbing thing I have read all year.  I mean, I don’t expect much from Paglia.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she’s become a birther.  For many years she’s been a flibbertigibbet, a will-o’-the-wisp, a clown.  But this is perhaps the single most stupid thing I have ever heard from a college professor, and that’s setting the bar awfully high.  Do you think this is dementia, or is Paglia consciously trying to bait us, the way she does sometimes?  --Concerned in Calgary

Mister Answer Man replies:  On the Internets, it has become customary to dismiss Paglia’s rantings by suggesting that Salon likes the attention and the click-throughs.  But that tired, reductive Marxist explanation won’t wash here, because this has nothing to do with Salon.  So we need to look elsewhere.

There is a moment, earlier in the interview, that leads me to believe that Paglia is going for deliberate self-parody:

Do you have any impression of the landscape in Canada right now?

I’m not that familiar with Canada. But when I was at York University a few years ago, I thought, “Oh my god, they are so shallow. Such a backwater.”

It’s kinda priceless to accuse Canadians of shallowness by prefacing your remark with “I’m not that familiar with Canada.” You can’t make that kind of performative-contradiction shit up.  But in this case, I . . . I . . .

People don’t know polar bears can swim?

Sweet merciful greataunt of Moloch.  I got a whole penalty box full of nothin’.  And I’m supposed to be Mister Answer Man!  Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out how much Paglia knows about facts and information and science.

We will have to ask her how magnets work.

Posted by on 05/21 at 04:58 AM
  1. Dear Mr. Answer Man

    Why is it that privileged elsitist latte-drinking amendments like the seventeenth get all the publicity when it comes to discussions of being abolished? How come no-one thinks that the solution to the problem in the gulf is to abolish *me*.

    Not that I’m bitter or anything.


    PS: This is my real name and I am not a spambot.

    Posted by The third amendment  on  05/21  at  07:12 AM
  2. I heard there’d be Faygo in this class.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  07:53 AM
  3. 3A, what are you complaining about?  You and number 2 are the only amendments in the Bill of Rights that haven’t been mucked with and eroded over the years.  Besides, quartering soldiers was a barbaric practice.  You should be glad you’ve forbidden it!

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:21 AM
  4. And dear Mr. Stormcrow Man (if that is, etc.), I figure you’re the perfect person to ask.  Is Faygo “soda” or is it “pop”?

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:25 AM
  5. I just want a bit of attention, that’s all. I don’t see why you’re comparing me to Fancypants 2: abridges or not, everyone’s always talking about *him*. Anyway, barbaric or not, abolishing me might have some kind of tenuous link with the problem under discussion. So who’s to say that an Arabic socialist president wouldn’t be considering it? Doesn’t the question at least deserve to be asked?

    (Actually, and more seriously: why does nobody ever consider abolishing me? The fact that the practice I forbid is barbaric doesn’t explain that...)

    Posted by The third amendment  on  05/21  at  08:29 AM
  6. 3A, I think the simple truth is that everyone’s forgotten about you.  I am sorry to be the one to break the news.  Now, why is this?  I don’t really know—abolishing you makes at least as much sense as striking the 17th, for this situation or any other.  Perhaps we should put the question to renowned constitutional scholar and magnetologist Camille Paglia.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:41 AM
  7. And because I understand that, people call me--

    Yours sincerely

    Hmm, I’m not so sure about this one.  Doesn’t trip off the tongue like Dangeral or El Tigre.

    You and number 2 are the only amendments in the Bill of Rights that haven’t been mucked with and eroded over the years.

    Really?  Because most copies of the 2nd I see these days have the first clause violently blotted out with magic marker.

    Is Faygo “soda” or is it “pop”?

    The answer will prove nothing.  There’s even one county in Iowa that uses the benighted term “soda,"* yet it is still lamentably in the Midwest.  Whereas southwestern Idaho isn’t.  (I am trying to head off the distressingly suggestive fact that the Eastern Popsoda Front is located east of Pittsburgh ... but west of Syracuse.)

    *Based** on a total sample size of five, so this isn’t really fair.  On the other hand, it’s Iowa County.  And that’s one of the lamest names for a county ever, albeit marginally less stupid than Iowa County, Wisconsin.

    **Captcha: based

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:48 AM
  8. Magnets work by magic.

    Captcha: known. Stuff that used to be true.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:53 AM
  9. Obviously, Camille thinks those whining polar bears should just suck it up, start migrating South, and reverse-evolve back into the grizzlies from whence they came.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  09:10 AM
  10. 3A, I think the simple truth is that everyone’s forgotten about you.


    Okay, fine, perhaps satire doesn’t count.  How about an incoherent rant from Lew “John Birch Called Me a Far Right Extremist” Rockwell’s site?  (I don’t have the heart to point this article out to the author at the previous link.  He’d probably throw in the towel.)

    Captcha: answer.  Coincidence ... or conspiracy?

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  09:10 AM
  11. Is Faygo “soda” or is it “pop”?

    Indeed, despite now being available in soda areas, Detroit-based Faygo is basically the ur-pop. It is known as “Faygo, the Party Pop”, one of its biggest flavors is Redpop, and its online store is The PopShop. And an alternate name for the Midwest is Land of the Juggalos.

    I am trying to head off the distressingly suggestive fact that the Eastern Popsoda Front is located east of Pittsburgh ... but west of Syracuse.

    And it pretty much is. In Pennsylvania it runs just east of a line connecting California University of Pennsylvania with Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Further west, St. Louis and Milwaukee and their environs continue as soda holdouts in a pop world.)

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  09:42 AM
  12. And it pretty much is.

    Yes, I know (If one drove from Rochester to Syracuse for some reason, it was a grim transition to observe).  Which is why I tried to throw Idaho in to obfuscate the Midwest connotations.

    (Further west, St. Louis and Milwaukee and their environs continue as soda holdouts in a pop world.)

    If that were all there is to the story, John Kerry would have been elected President in 2004.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  09:59 AM
  13. Although I no longer live in the Syracuse area, I would return in a heartbeat and take up arms in defense of my homeland should the pop-sayers of Western NY ever threaten to shove their loathsome terminology down the throats of their peaceable neighbors to the East.  It’s bad enough that the grating Northern Vowel Shift has infected the speech of my beloved Central NY.  Any further Midwesternization WILL NOT STAND!

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  10:12 AM
  14. So I didn’t click on the Paglia link, which means for me the interview doesn’t exist. Which, like, totally saved my life.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  11:12 AM
  15. Polar bears? Ha! The real danger down here in Texas is Marxist bears!

    Posted by A Concerned Parent in Texas  on  05/21  at  11:31 AM
  16. Don’t you get it?
    If polar bears can swim…
    That means they won’t drown…
    And that means we need not worry youngsters with fears of “global warming”.
    It follows directly.

    Plus, don’t polar bears live in Canada? Where it’s a shallow backwater anyway? So they probably don’t even have to swim (though many people don’t realize that they can!)--they can simply stand on the bottom in the shallow end to catch their seals.

    This is useful information, and I can now re-allocate some of my worrying over to the dangers to academic freedom occasioned by spurious allegations of sexual harassment used to shut down scholarly debate on fruitbat fellatio.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  12:34 PM
  17. But when I was at York University a few years ago, I thought, “Oh my god, they are so shallow. Such a backwater.”

    Well, to be fair, in a relative sense York University is something of a shallow backwater.  (Especially since sea levels haven’t yet risen enough.) If she had said the same thing about the University of Toronto and its environs, she would have been completely off the mark.  Well, unless it were UT-Scarborough.  Or UT-Mississauga.  Look, let’s just call the whole thing off, shall we?  And feed Camille “Harold Bloom’s Greatest Success"* Paglia to polar bears hungry for the calories to sustain their indefinite swimming.

    *Every time Bloom opens his fool mouth to spout about how, e.g., Maya Angelou lacks any merit, I wish someone were able to perform a reverse-McLuhan by standing up and saying ”This is Camille Paglia.  We’re done here.”

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  12:57 PM
  18. I, don’t know, why everyone gives me, such a hard time, you’d think, I was a non sequitor, or something.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  01:37 PM
  19. And finally I realized, people don’t know polar bears can swim!

    I blame the patriarchy.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  01:41 PM
  20. Answer Man:

    When do those pics of the pulchritudinous Miss Paglia go up, along with like some of her bodacious writing on jazz or Frank Zappa, or some Tipper Gore eco-positive recipes, and/or Rorty in the Malebolge posts??

    E. Hound

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/21  at  02:45 PM
  21. I’ve been lurking on this site for years and I still don’t know what the fuck you peckerheads are talking about.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  03:33 PM
  22. Dear Mr. Answer Man:

    Is the curse an old gypsy woman put on Marian Hossa back in Slovakia powerful enough to stop the Blackhawks?

    Is Hossa truly the “Man of Destiny” or can fate be cheated?

    Hawks Fan

    Posted by Peter K.  on  05/21  at  04:08 PM
  23. From the Paglia polar bear interview: I was the first to advocate the Web.

    She’s Al Gore’s evil fraternal twin.

    Also relevant to C-in-C’s query: What worries me about the Web is the total inability of students to assess whether something is solid, dubious, or whether it’s a joke or a scam.

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  08:54 PM
  24. As a member of the secular socialist movement, espresso drinking elitist from the Northwest, i must protest this silly debate regarding soda and pop.  Soda is carbonated water used to excite the palate in certain cocktails (and to imbibe when one has an upset tummy).  Pop is short for popsicle, a frozen confectionery treat that is able to produce incredible brain freezes in children, and fascinating discussion topics for young adults.  We refer to each beverage by its name because, like Faygo, they have them.  Thus we ask questions such as: “Is that Sprite or 7-UP!?” “I didn’t want a diet Pepsi, i wanted Coke Zero?” or some such other nonsense.  I bring all this up because, well, the secular socialist movement.

    Your entire question, from start to finish, presumes that Republicans will use “logic” and “reason” to characterize Obama as a failure.

    Newt has firmly laid down the party policy in his new book that demands the end of logic and rational thinking.  In the same manner as the Paglia, he has ended the reign of reasoned positions in favor of clumping all bad into a mix of name calling and dismissive rhetoric.  We, of the secular socialist movement must demand that our leadership respond in kind, because, well, the other side can’t understand anything else.  It is all about the ‘methods.’ (captcha)

    Posted by  on  05/21  at  09:44 PM
  25. Elephants can swim, too, so I have stopped worrying about them.

    Posted by Hattie  on  05/22  at  12:01 AM
  26. Sorry Hattie, but if elephants can swim how come they were on Noah’s Ark?? It’s this kind of secularist thought terrorism that I can’t stand.

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  12:24 AM
  27. Polar bears, I hear they can *fly*.

    So did Mister Answer Man get his job back?  Or is this a new Mister Answer Man?

    captcha George, as in Curious

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  12:33 AM
  28. Around here, Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper and Nehi and the like used to be soft drinks

    Now ‘soda’ has made real inroads.  ‘Pop’, not, even though the quintessential pop Faygo {shudder} has begun to appear on the grocery shelves here.

    For the man-of-destiny jibe to be fulfilled, it will be necessary for the East team to win.  Nothing and no one can put in my head to wear the orange and white sweater, so I’m praying that the Canadiens can take their comeback all the way…

    Posted by Nell  on  05/22  at  03:09 AM
  29. Well, the Sharks are essentially gone so that puts the Hawks into the Stanley Cup.  Hanging out with a couple of elder Canadian hockey players tonight (both huge fans), they ended up betting against each other over the Flyers and the Habs.  I took the Flyers to break the deadlock. 

    Polar bears only need a little teeny-weeny bit of winter ice to make new bears.  So they will just have to swim to find it, whereever it might be, and share it with all the polar bears (cause they know how to get along).

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  06:26 AM
  30. So did Mister Answer Man get his job back?  Or is this a new Mister Answer Man?

    This is a good question, Colin!  It’s the same good old Mister Answer Man—we’re just not letting him predict the outcomes of any sporting contests.  Nor will he venture any opinion as to whether Hossa is a man of destiny, except to say that Nell gets it right @ 28....

    Posted by Michael  on  05/22  at  07:16 AM
  31. Oh Mister Answer Man, were the Sharks a victim of bad coaching or just fatigue

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  12:09 PM
  32. But she was THE FIRST to advocate THE WEB!1

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  12:26 PM
  33. Per the article in 31, pretty frustrating for the Sharks who played quite well for a playoff team on the road down 2-0. Really could have been their year under different circumstances. very, very sorry not to be able to see a Pens-Hawks final.

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  02:36 PM
  34. Stormcrow, Paglia has elsewhere asserted that she invented blogging and that Nussbaum stole all her ideas.  Also.

    I love the snark that’s been proliferating about the “polar bear” remark (I think it was at Obsidian Wings a week or two back that someone said, “Hey, the sinking of the Titanic didn’t hurt anyone, because human beings can swim!") But I worry more about the less obviously batpoo claims in the Paglia piece.  The denunciation of “critical thinking” as a Marxist plot has shown up before (Luther Blissett valiantly argued against that claim in Erin O’Connor’s comments a few years ago).  And how about the claim that higher ed is much more expensive than it was prior to the Reagan era because . . . poststructuralists, that’s why!  It’s like she’s trying to make a Bauerleinian argument but, having never learned what an argument is, can only kinda string random phrases together.

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  06:39 PM
  35. Well I’ll be—Paglia was right. I just let my kids know that Polar Bears can swim, and their hysterical anxiety just melted away. Worked better than Xanax. The oldest one, who’s quick on the uptake, said “You mean if I can swim I can’t drown?” She just blissed out after the realization set in.

    Posted by  on  05/22  at  06:45 PM
  36. Sorry Hattie, but if elephants can swim how come they were on Noah’s Ark??

    Because they were the ones who brought the vodka. 


    Posted by  on  05/23  at  02:40 AM
  37. I actually don’t worry about the “less obviously batpoo” claims in the Paglia interview, Josh, because they’re the same kinds of things she’s been saying for 20 years now.  And the people who want to hate academe—either because a feminist once hurt their feelings or a poststructuralist said something complex—will continue to love Paglia for it.  But now they know that polar bears can swim.

    Posted by Michael  on  05/23  at  09:43 AM
  38. --Miss Pag.’s rips of the parisian postmods were quite powerfully pungent as well--hardly conservative but quite sound and rational, not so far from the thinking of Sokal and Bricmont (and anyone who thinks Jean Bricmont a rightist Oppressor never bothered reading him--then partial derivatives probably don’t appeal to hipsters used to signs and signifiers...)

    Serio, Doc B, even if you don’t agree with CP (her comments on critical thinking as marxist plot were a bit outre), you would hopefully agree she has a right to dissent to the Demo par-tay line. For that matter questioning Al Gore’s spin on AGW does not equal Foxnews AGW denialism. A number of high-powered scientists have questions about AGW (Freeman Dyson, for one).

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/23  at  10:23 AM
  39. Appealing to Paglia’s “right to dissent” is precisely the kind of liberal-bourgeois claptrap we need to eradicate, Mr. Hound, and it should be beneath you.  Paglia has no “right to dissent.” She must submit, or all our efforts to remake society along poststructuralist lines will come to nothing.

    And let me promise this:  when we achieve that society at last, there will be no conference finals between 7 seeds and 8 seeds.

    Posted by Michael  on  05/23  at  11:04 AM
  40. there will be no conference finals between 7 seeds and 8 seeds.

    Nor 1st and 2nd either, apparently…

    Posted by  on  05/23  at  11:25 AM
  41. RE: JJ @21:

    I’ve been lurking on this site for years and I still don’t know what the fuck you peckerheads are talking about.

    Michael, you absolutely have to make that the Official Blurb of this blog (post it in the right hand column) like, immediately.

    captcha: word...and how!

    Posted by  on  05/23  at  10:16 PM
  42. I must obviously second Ms. Girl’s proposal.  Because I’ve been commenting on this site for years, and I still don’t know what the frak* I am talking about.

    *Sorry, BSG: Farscape frelling got there before you.**

    **Sorry, Farscape: original BSG fracking got there before you.***

    ***Sorry, original BSG: Norman Mailer fugging got there before you.****

    ****Further proof of my initial point via footnote cascade, in a margin large enough to contain it, by Jove.

    Posted by  on  05/23  at  10:38 PM
  43. It’s interesting how an ability to swim is what eases your anxiety when a polar bear is lost at sea and the source of your anxiety when a Camille Paglia is lost at sea.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  01:08 AM
  44. From Wiki on Svalbard, the archipelago north of Norway:

    Polar bears are the iconic symbol of Svalbard, and one of the main tourist attractions.  While protected, anyone outside of settlements is required to carry a rifle to kill polar bears in self defense, as a last resort should they attack.

    I stupidly asked someone how we knew polar bears were drowning. I might have somewhat sarcastically observed that it was unlikely that anyone had actually seen a drowning given the remoteness of PB swimming holes. Well ... no, I was told, they’d only seen PB carcasses washed up on remote Arctic shores.

    Captcha: there. Okay, I’m a peckerhead. ~, I’ve said it.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:15 AM
  45. While a bit of a libertine, Comrade Pag’.s quite more suited to par-tay membership than is Al “occi-boy” Gore, tho’, Doc B.  Put a call into Homie Hugito (as in Chavez)...wager he’d say si. 

    captcha “major"--as in “Tipper Gore majored in Home Economics for Dixiecrats; her man Al majored in drinking”.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  12:28 PM
  46. Word: ICP and entire posse of reckless musicians are parked in the parking lot, and are the most respectable and responsible of guests.  That won’t last, as they prepare to play later, much, tonight.

    Posted by  on  06/03  at  06:35 AM





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