And a doll shall lead them

This is a human:

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This is a plastic doll:

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The human, a Ukrainian woman named Valeria Lukyanova, has surgically altered herself to look like a doll. Weird, right?

No. This is the weird part (from GQ):

Valeria grows pensive, which in her case means rolling her eyes slightly upward without changing anything else about her face. “I wouldn’t say so. Everyone wants a slim figure. Everyone gets breasts done. Everyone fixes up their face if it’s not ideal, you know? Everyone strives for the golden mean. It’s global now.”

“But that’s a relatively new thing,” I reply. “The ideal of beauty used to be different.”

“That’s because of the race-mixing.”

If I had a glass of multi-chutney carrot-juice mix before me, I’d do a bright orange spit take.

“For example, a Russian marries an Armenian,” Valeria elaborates helpfully. “They have a kid, a cute girl, but she has her dad’s nose. She goes and files it down a little, and it’s all good. Ethnicities are mixing now, so there’s degeneration, and it didn’t used to be like that. Remember how many beautiful women there were in the 1950s and 1960s, without any surgery? And now, thanks to degeneration, we have this. I love the Nordic image myself. I have white skin; I am a Nordic type—perhaps a little Eastern Baltic, but closer to Nordic.”

I feel like checking my watch. We’ve gone from nails to eugenics in about two minutes flat.

I realize that just like everyone reading about Human Barbie, I had had a simple narrative prepared in my head: A small-town girl grows up obsessed with dolls, etc. Instead, I get a racist space alien.

Just let that sink in. The human is real. But the doll has better values.

Here’s a video of the human:

And here’s a video of the doll:

Is it time to give up on humanity?

Get out the dog whistles: Paul Ryan and Ronald Reagan

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That’s interesting. I never had any doubt about what the reference meant. We can file it away with Ronald Reagan talking about the “strapping young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with food stamps and the Cadillac-driving “Chicago welfare queen.” The right has certain “dog whistles” where they think only their constituents hear what the mean. But it isn’t just the Fox News viewer who gets the message anymore.

Black History Month: A congressional lesson

Since today is the last day of Black History Month, let’s have a black history quiz:

What do the following people have in common? (Chart from the Washington Post)

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Yes, they are black. (Why else would they be in this quiz?) But they also represent a significant minority.

Of the 1,950 people who have served in the U.S. Senate, these nine are the only African Americans to hold a seat in the upper chamber of Congress.

Hyram Revels and Blanche Bruce were both senators from Mississippi who served during the post Civil War Reconstruction of the South from 1870-71 and 1875-1881, respectively. Both were appointed by the Mississippi State Legislature, but Bruce was the first black person for serve a full Senate term.

Edward Brooke (1967-1979) of Massachusetts was the first African American to win a Senate seat in a popular vote. The Bay State also was represented by Mo Cowan, who was appointed to the seat in 2013 to fill out the vacancy created by the appointment of John F. Kerry to the post of Secretary of State. Ed Markey now holds that seat.

Illinois has had three black senators, Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1999)), Barack Obama (2005-2008) and Roland Burris (2009-2010). Moseley Braun is the only African American to serve a full term as an Illinois senator. Obama … well, you know what happened to him. Burris was appointed to finish Obama’s term.

Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed to the Senate in 2013 when Jim DeMint decided he was going to go to the Heritage Foundation to make a lot of money. It will be interesting to see what happens this year, when Scott faces a special election to complete the term. He’s only the third black person to represent a Southern state.

And Cory Booker of New Jersey was elected last year in a special election, but he runs again this year for a full term.

So, by the numbers, There have been five black Democrats and four black Republicans in the Senate. Three have been appointed. Two are up for re-election this year. And one became president.

An interesting countdown for such a tiny group.

Cheerios are good for your heart: The baby and the puppy

Less than nine months ago, Cheerios ran an ad in which a little girl asked her mother “Are Cheerios good for your heart.” Mom said yes, and the girl dumped a box of cereal on her sleeping father’s chest (see that ad here). Pretty innocuous, but Cheerios had to disable comments when the ad showed up on YouTube, because a bunch of people went apoplectic because the ad featured a mixed race family.

So that was it, right? Cheerios runs an ad, racists respond, but Cheerios kept running the ad. And now it’s got this one.

This one’s called “Cheerios 2014 Game Day Ad.” Sounds like it’s going to run during the Super Bowl, the biggest advertising day of the year. Right now, it has almost a million hits on YouTube, and the comments are on. Let’s see how long that lasts.

The ad, though is still pretty innocuous. I’m totally with mom’s “Are you nuts?!?!!” reaction to the puppy deal.

But given the time between the first ad and the presentation of this one, the underlying message is: “See! Cheerios were REALLY good for dad’s heart.”

Family stories from StoryCorp

StoryCorp is an audio-history project that’s been around for a decade in which people talk about their lives and the lives of others. Here are three stories of American diversity.

A working black family:

A working Hispanic family:

A working white family:

You can see these on YouTube, or order a DVD from PBS here.

 

Christmas on the other side of the ocean: From David Sedaris

I remember when I first saw Santa’s Helpers in Brussels: white guys in black face.

I thought: That’s weird.

This is what they looked like:

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I guess I should have been insulted, like everyone else appears to be all of a sudden. Which I find odd. I’ve known this European Christmas story for close to 10 years. Found it more entertaining than hearing about a obese guy living with his wife in a really cold place and commanding an army of pointy-eared little people dressed in green.

That seems pretty offensive, right?

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Like if you had a choice between being accosted by this or by the black guys up higher, which one would freak you out the most?

And as a parent, I really wish I could have told my kid when he was little: “Look. You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town with a bunch of black guys, and they’re gonna kick your ass if don’t get your act together.”

But, really, I never saw Santa’s helpers beat up kids in Belgium. They never even looked funny at kids. All they did was smile.

And not just on the street. I was at a fancy restaurant in Brussels called La Quincallerie with my boss, who came from the states around the holiday. So we’re having a nice dinner, and a couple of Santa’s Helpers come in, raising money for charity. My boss looks at me, wondering how he should react, and I tell him the story of the Spanish Santa.

Probably didn’t resolve anything. But there was an internal logic to the story.

Unlike the fat guy with a bunch of flying caribou.

But if you want to see a really disturbing Christmas story (Really, don’t watch this if you don’t want to be offended. This is really vile. You have been warned):

I told you not to watch it. Makes the black guys look tame, right?

Who was that woman in the Obama selfie?

Does it matter? I don’t want to bother with “selfie gate.”

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Because this is who the woman was:

It’s a world leader. They’re sitting at a memorial service that took about four hours in which people were dancing and singing and had a good time.

So are they supposed to put on a “serious face” when everybody else was having a good time.

Well, except for Michelle. (She kind of did look pissed in all the photos I saw during this sequence. And hubby and wife did swap seats, eventually.)