Am I an Omega Male?

When your life is in transition, major transition in my case, it only stands to reason that you’d engage in some serious self-examination and self-reflection, asking yourself some hard questions.

So today I’m asking myself the question: Am I an Omega Male?

What is an Omega Male, you ask? A most appropriate and excellent question. For an answer let us turn our attention to slate.com, which has an entire article on the subject.

The short definition is that an Omega man “is having trouble being a man,” like the Ben Still character in the Noah Baumbach film Greenberg.

The Omega male ranks below the Alpha male who wants to dominate and the Beta male who just wants to get by. Omega man has opted out or given up.

This idea is not a new one. Susan Faludi addressed it in her book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male in 1999, which the slate.com article references. But with the recession it is apparently this trend is becoming even more, well, trendy…

The article holds up Don Draper and character from Tom Hanks war films as examples of the Masculine Ideal.

The article goes on to define subcategories of the Omega male. If I am one of these types, it is most likely the Liberal Arts Layabout, whom “…are usually failed artists of some sort, often surrounded by more successful friends and relatives.”  With my MFA in Creative Writing and not a damn thing to show for it plus the fact that I’m underemployed and underpaid, working a library job that one only needs a  high school education to do, it’s difficult to refute the comparison.

I’m  not really refuting the comparison.In fact, I pretty much accept it, not with any pride but hopefully not with complete resignation either. The question now is can I do anything to change my status. I know I’ll never be an Alpha male, I just don’t have it in me, unless I’m playing dodge ball then I’ll kill your ass, make you eat gymnasium floor buddy. But I could at least bump up to Beta male, that would be something. Don’t you think?

Of course, one has to wonder: is an Omega male up to such a change? Or is he, by his very nature, incapable of this sort of positive change?

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Global warming: a reason to stay in Michigan

According to this slate.com article, part of week-long series that wonders how the United States might finally come to an end, if global warming does in fact inflict the damage that some predict it will Detroit is one of the places you’re gonna want to be. Along with Buffalo and Cleveland.

There’s a reason these cities were settled early on in the country’s history — there’s an abundant source of water, and for Buffalo there’s Niagara Falls nearby (i think; i’m not looking at a map and have no memory for geography and believe that i’m recalling the article correctly) to provide power. Makes sense to me.

Which is why I’ve actually considered this a factor in whether or not we should move, believe it or not. As appealing as California sounds right now, if water becomes scarce, which it already is out there, then it is not the place you’re going to want to be. Also, worst case global warm scenarios expect that both coasts will be pretty much devastated, driving people inward. The slate article assumes that cities like New York and Boston will be entirely abandoned.  Yikes! Just imagine. If you can, let me know, because honestly I can’t even begin to.

As for Texas, well, it, along with other gulf coast states/cities, will be pummeled again and again by increasingly powerful hurricanes and storms.

The Great Plains will turn to dessert. Southwest will become almost unlivable. And all the people there will have to migrate somewhere — inland and northward.

In such a scenario some think that we could head towards a conflict, ie war, with Canada.

Of course, the aticle concedes that this isn’t going to happen suddenly, like a James Cameron action flick. But rather it will unfold more slowly, like, say, a Terrence Malick or Stanely Kubrick film, over the course of years, perhaps almost a century. But still.

Obama’s to do list

Now that Obama has one what does he do next? I mean, after relaxing a little, and catching up on some much  needed sleep. Well, John Dickerson has a good article detailing some good suggestions. Of those, one of the most important ones, I think is:

Appoint Republicans. Obama and his top strategist, David Axelrod, have repeatedly talked about getting past the red-state/blue-state paradigm, and the senator has reflected more than once on Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, famously described as a “Team of Rivals.” He should turn his admiration into practice. There are several possible options. He could appoint Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana as secretary of state. He could appoint Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska ambassador to the United Nations. (Hagel, who wants out of the Senate, is a foreign-policy expert and wants to someday make money in the private sector.) Obama could also appoint Colin Powell to head his national service initiative or some other high-profile, nonmilitary project.

This was actually number two on Dickerson’s list, after suggesting that Obama “embrace” McCain, which I also agree with. But I think it is very important that Obama make good on his promise to reach across the isle in a real and significant way. Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean appointing the likes of Tom Delay or Rick Santorum. God, no! But there could be little argument in finding a place for Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar, as well as Colin Powell. Although, I get the feeling that Bill Richardson is in the running for the Sec of State job, and not just because he helped deliver New Mexico for Obama, flipping a red state to blue, but also because he has good foreign diplomacy credentials and is considered to be an exper negotiator. We’ll, see, though. Certainly Obama’s first priority will be Treasurey Sec.

The other suggestion that I really like, although I agree with them all for the most part, is:

Work without pay. Obama has talked about a new era of sacrifice and has also promised to go through the budget “line by line,” cutting out unnecessary programs. If he were to work without pay, he would show that he was doing his part. He can afford it: Obama’s books have made him a wealthy man. And his next books will make him even wealthier.

Obama is a wealthy many and this is a fine gesture to make, although it could piss of some in the congress as they perhaps feel the pressure to do something similiar if not exactly the same thing.

Yesterday on the campaign trail….

Frome a slate.com article:

I am here today to tell you that there are better days ahead,” he said. “This is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and Depression; great challenges and great threats. … Here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now.”

                      — Barack Obama

              

“Certainly Barack Obama can learn a thing or two from John McCain about what it means to be a patriot. Think about how you’ll feel on Nov. 5 if you see the news that Barack Obama—Barack Hussein Obama—is president of the United States.” (The McCain campaign later distanced itself from Platt’s remarks.)

            — Bill Platt, Lehigh County GOP Chairman, introducing John McCain

Of course, later McCain distanced himself from Platt’s remarks. Nice. Hey, John. How about telling these jerk offs to not say this crap in the first place? How about that?

And as for the straight-talker’s speech, well…

McCain moved quickly through the changes he would make, as if reading from a series of bullet points, then spent the bulk of his remarks going after Obama. He wasn’t calling the audience to his vision of the future. He was poking holes in Obama’s record.

And lest you suspect that Obama was gloss and glitter, all Regan-esque schmaltz, consider these words:

“I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost,” he said. “We will all need to sacrifice, and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we’re traveling on as Americans—and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation, as one people.”

So while McCain is trying to poke holes in Obama’s rep with this craggy, creepy little fingers, Obama is urging Americans to join him in making America better. And how did the crowd of more than 20,000 respond to this call? In true American can-do fashion: “with predictable ferocity.”

Obama’s words are awakening a pride of American lions ready to devour the problems set before us. And we aren’t just hungry, we’re ravenous. Bring it on!

And in the end:

Obama’s mere presence in Indianapolis, in fact, was a powerful message in itself. A Democratic candidate has not won the state since 1964. Obama, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary here, is now in a statistical dead heat with McCain. As Obama heads into the final weeks of the campaign, everything seems to be going his way—even the weather in Indianapolis. By the time Obama left the state fairgrounds, the rain had stopped, the clouds had parted, and the sun had come out.

It may rain for a time, the clouds may gather, the wind may blow cold and harsh, but the sun will shine again.

Obama knows this. He wants to take us toward the sunrise. Meanwhile all McCain can do is lurk in the shadows, and plot under the cover of darkness. And if McCain wants to saddle off toward the sunset that’s fine, just don’t rustle the rest of us along with you, okay.

Is the GOP dead?

Timothy Noah explores the possibility in an article on slate.com this morning that runs with the headline GOP, RIP?

It begins:

The Republican-led defeat of President Bush’s Wall Street bailout plan caused an immediate financial catastrophe: The stock market fell an unprecedented 777.68 points, wiping out, by one estimate, $1.2 trillion in wealth. But the greater and more lasting damage may be to the Republican Party itself.

One can only hope, Virginia. One can only hope.

Obama, the Hawk

 

Even Christopher Hitchens on slate.com thinks Obama out-hawked McCain in the debate on Friday night. Although he did object to both candidates kowtowing to the likes of Kissinger, which is hard to argue with, so I won’t.

Some editors and writers remember David Foster Wallace.

Slate.com has collected some remeberances of David Foster Wallace by various editors and writers who either worked with him or met him or knew him in some way.

Interesting stuff. Except I found the one by Joyce Carol Oates to be annoyingly stock for some reason. I don’t know. JCO just kind of annoys me in general.

My progress on Infinite Jest creeps along. I am on page 37 at present. I’m hoping my progress will pick up not that I feel a bit more acclimated to the territory of this novel. It’s a lot to take in as you first begin to read, at least it is for me. But I have to say that I’m quite enjoying it. There is an exuberance to the prose that is both compelling and a little unnerving. It’s like a curious vibrating thing that I’m a little nervous to touch, and yet want to very much.

There’s an excellent verbal exchange between the main character, Hal Incandenza, at age 10 or 11, with a professional conversationalist that his father has sent him to see based on claims of the father that Hal never speaks. Hal refutes these claims by  Himself, the nickname that he, Hal, and his mother and brother have given to the father/husband. By the end of this chapter, it would seem that the conversationalist is really Himself, i.e. the father, in disguise. A hilarous and heartbreaking scene.

Slate.com obit for David Foster Wallace

I thought this was a really good obit/essay on DFW. It praises without being fawning, which I think probably happens too often with Wallace.

David Foster Wallace began his review of John Updike’s Toward the End of Time by classing Updike, along with Philip Roth and Norman Mailer, as “the Great Male Narcissists who’ve dominated postwar American fiction.” The word narcissist isn’t strictly disapproving there. One reason that the piece, 10 years after its publication, remains more memorable than its ostensible object is that Wallace offhandedly engaged the “radical self-absorption” of this Greatest Generation of Quality Lit—”probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV”—in a complicated way. He saw that narcissism as the force both animating moving prose and repelling younger readers in its involute explorations. He imagined—in a gorgeous little gesture of telescoped perspective—how things might appear to the GMNs, “in their senescence”: “It must seem to them no coincidence that the prospect of their own deaths appears backlit by the approaching millennium and online predictions of the death of the novel as we know it. When a solipsist dies, after all, everything goes with him.”

Read full article.

I just love Dahlia Lithwick

But I think I may be jealous of her more than anything else. Because she writes so damn well it makes me want to weep. Okay, maybe not literally, but you know what I mean. Damn, she’s good.

Lithwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate.com, and here is another excellent article from her on slate.com. This one is about one my favorite subjects, those adorable Hillary Holdouts. You know, those just can’t let it got Hillary supporters who seem to have problem with the democratic process when it does not serve their agenda to nominate a candidate that somehow serves to validate thier unrealized ambitions, or some such gobbldygook. blah blah blah.

What I really love, and very much appreciate, about this article is Lithwick’s argument that there is a large enough constiuency of PUMAs (Part Unity My Ass), which is a PAC for these people who still refuse to accept Obama as the Democratic Nominee and will stop and nothing less that overthrowing his nomination and installing thier very beloved Hillary, to scuttle Obama nomination.

It’s hardly clear that Team Hillary is as vast or as powerful as it claims. Polls suggest there isn’t a deep pool of Obama-hating women who could derail his election.

Whew! That’s good news. Still, I can only be so optimistic. Because, as Lithwick writes:

These disgruntled women—whether they plan to vote for John McCain, sit out the election, or simply gobble up airtime—are tacitly working toward electing McCain; a candidate who claimed last week at a presidential forum at Saddleback Church that life begins “at the moment of conception” and who voted against legislation ensuring equal pay for women. These women must be well aware that a vote for McCain is a vote to overturn Roe. I assume they don’t care. But my real problem with the Hillary Harridans—and the media’s relentless focus on them—is that they give new life to Paleozoic stereotypes about irrationally destructive older women.

So caught up in their fury as a result of their disappointment, these particular Hillary supports seem entirely oblivious to the damage they could be helping to inflict upon this country by helping, whether directly or indirectly, getting McCain elected.

Saying women have tendency to get hysterical may be a stereotype but it is a difficult one to refute in light of this kind of behavior.

As I’ve said before, I don’t know about other Obama supporters, but as for me, if Obama loses and it is clear that Hillary supports such as those mentioned in this article helped to make it happen, Mrs. Clinton and her clan can kiss my support good-bye. I’m a male and I too possess a serious capacity for hysterics and will exercise my God-given Amerian right to indulge in such idiotic behavior.