Oh, Tennessee


Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

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100 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    There is a certain sort of beauty in the craziness of it all. It reads like something from the Confederacy of Dunces or a similar comic novel in real life. Mark Gregory is a person that most people only meet in fiction.Report

  2. Mad Rocket Scientist says:


    I don’t know that I would call that an invention, per se, since all it does is repackage an existing technology in a unique & completely offensive way.Report

    • Is it “completely offensive” (or, per the OP, “unbelievably sexist”)?

      I mean, yeah, it’s crass and silly and I wouldn’t particularly want to own one or use one, but is it really that different from Truck Nutz, or this horrifyingly-realistic NSFW backpack, or a hypothetical similar bottle opener shaped like a man’s rear end, that the bar puts out on Ladies’ Night (or on Bear Night) for their patrons’ use?

      One of my most prized knick-knacks for a long time was a set of salt-and-pepper shakers that I found while cleaning out my great-aunt’s possessions after she died. The shakers were housed in a small ceramic reclining bikini-clad woman; the removable shakers themselves were the woman’s ta-ta’s.

      The fact that this ridiculous, slightly-naughty product A.) existed at all, and B.) was owned, and kept, by my prim and very religious great-aunt tickled me no end.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I’ve seen similar salt and pepper shakers.

        I think the ButtleOpener is pretty damn sexist, but I probably would just roll my eyes at it if the person who not only conceived it but thought it would be a good idea to produce them and sell them to bars (and NASCAR, though that didn’t work out) wasn’t the head of the friggin’ school board in my hometown.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Well, if he made a lot of money off of it, he’s smarter than me.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Looks like they haven’t made a ton of money yet. Just sold a few around Nashville, because it’s Nashvegas.

        I imagine if he’d been able to pull of NASCAR sponsorship, he’d have been a wealthy man. (He lives in Williamson County, which is one of the top 20 wealthiest counties in the country, so he’s probably not hurtin’ as it is.)Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Glyph says:

        Point, it’s crass & juvenile.Report

  3. morat20 says:

    The head — he might have lost last election though — of the Texas State School board for the past two decades has been a Creationist Dentist from Bryan, Texas.

    He’s responsible for determining the school books used in Texas, and because Texas is such a big state, and makes monolithic purchases for it’s schools, what goes in Texas pretty much is what’s available for the other 49 states.

    Things I’ve recently seen the State School board do: Try to remove critical thinking from the curriculum because “It’s already taught in second grade, why are you wasting time on it over and over?”. Seriously, that’s a thing that happened. (Critical thinking, for those who aren’t up on education parlance, is the skill of ‘taking what you’ve read or learned, and figuring out how it applies’. Or, more commonly, ‘a basic skill required for adulthood’).

    I’m glad I’m not in education, because reading about the idiocy that goes on in there would drive me out of the profession. Why bother? It’s like having your hospital medical board half made-up of anti-vaxxers and Christian Scientists.Report

    • Chris in reply to morat20 says:

      Yeah, I used to pal around with one of the guys who’s dedicated much of his life to fighting the creationists in the Texas State School Board. That is where Perry has likely done more damage than anywhere else (except maybe the environment) during his tenure.Report

      • morat20 in reply to Chris says:

        We had a similar issue with the local school board for a period of about 10 years. A local evangelical church basically tried to take it over, and managed to just under half the seats and hold them for a number of years. Since they never actually accomplished anything, other than make school board meetings ridiculously long and unpleasant, they hung around.

        The church finally gave up after getting some REALLY nasty local press about the election they ran against the Chair of the schoolboard, complete with claims he wanted to teach 7 year olds masturbation. The church distributed flyers full of “literature” against the guy — flyers that were copied from some anti-Clinton (or anti-Clinton appointee) stuff that was making the fever swamp rounds in the mid-90s.

        None of them had kids in the district (the ones that had school age kids sent them to a church school). It was just…ugly, and has left a really lasting impression about religion meddling in public education…and politics.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        To rekindle an old fight, many other countries seek to protect the school system from politics by bureaucraticizing its’ operation as much as possible to give education an immunity from people trying to push an agenda.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        Bureaucrats/technocrats are not agenda-less. It’s just that some folks agree with their agenda.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        I am going to agree with the good(ish) professor here. A lot of liberal blow back against people like Matt Y and Ezra Klein is explicitly because of their technocracy.

        There are also plenty of liberals who dislike the Common Core, dislike Michelle Rhee and other alleged reformers for sending liberal ideals and goals down the river for a corporatist agenda and I am one of them.Report

    • Hoosegow Flask in reply to morat20 says:

      I surprised some non-profit group or philanthropist (Bill Gates) hasn’t killed the K-12 textbook industry yet. Certainly history is a bit of a moving target and can have regional interests, but the rest of the material shouldn’t change much from year to year. It seems some sort of “open-source” textbooks could be developed. I would think it would have world-wide application. You could even make them modular, based on discrete subject areas instead of hefty tomes put together by some arbitrary grade level standards.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

        According to the NYT, Bill Gates is deeply involved in an attempt to change the way American schools teach history based on the ideas of an Australian professor. I suspect you already knew that. Money helps a lot in politics but it isn’t anything. A good amount of passion, and education and what is taught in schools is an area wherep passions run deep. During the run-up to Prohibition, the Wets always had deeper pockets than the Drys because they had some the richest industrialists in the world behid them. After Prohibition was inacted, many rich Americans immediately began to financially back the repeal of it. The passionate side won in implementing Prohibition and only lost when the majority of emotions ran the otherway.Report

      • Hoosegow Flask in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

        I did know Gates was involved in some sort of education reform (and drawing the ire of people like Diane Ravitch), which is why I mentioned his name, but didn’t know the exact context. I haven’t followed Common Core too closely, as Virginia has opted out. It just seemed to me that people interested in improving education might see the value in reducing the costs of texts (as well as getting control out of the hands of the Texas School Board and publishers.)Report

  4. zic says:

    The can opener in the form of lady parts, used for opening the bottles best-known for opening lady parts.

    How could you not vote for someone so clever?Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    And this is the party of family values?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It’s also the party that supports Israel more than the other. Makes you think, doesn’t it?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:


        I just the Democratic Party on Israel more than the Republican Party. The GOP is filled with people who like Israel because they think Israel needs to exist for Jesus to return and Revelations to happen. The Democratic Party ideas are more likely to save Israel than destroy it. The GOP is likely to hasten the demise by encouraging the worst elements of the Israeli right.

        Short version, I think the alliance between Jewish neo-cons and Christian fundamentalists is one of the most dangerous and cynical in politics.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        Saul, I really think that you are selling Christian Zionists short. Many of them are legitimate supporters of Israel and their thoughts on the subject are more nuanced than that.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        As nuanced as a buttle opener.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        If I recall, there was polling a little while ago that demonstrated that Evangelicals have favorable views of the Jewish in general.Report

  6. James Hanley says:

    Have you ever thought about moving north and denying you ever had any connection with either Texas or Tennessee.Report

  7. Road Scholar says:

    You know how I can always tell when I’m in the bible belt? Enormous porn emporia outside of towns out on the interstate as well as billboards for strip clubs like Southern Xposure.

    I haven’t figured out yet whether it’s a response to religious repression, entrenched misogyny, or they haven’t figured out that new-fangled internet thing. Probably some combination of all-of-the-above.

    I imagine many folks there consider this a great advance. “I used to ask my old lady to open my bottles. But thanks to the Buttleopener my beer no longer tastes like ass and the wife’s hemorrhoids are clearing up!”Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Denver is currently going through an issue where one of the people on the JEfferson school board wants to teach an expurgated version of history, specifically, one where civil disobedience is not celebrated.

    It’s mind-boggling.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Its not the right type of civil disobedience thats being celebrated to the good people of the Jefferson School Board.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Therefore: Censorship.

        If nothing else, I’m pleased that the suggestion has resulted in a lot of civil disobedience. If we teach our children anything, we should teach them to look at authority with a jaundiced eye.Report

      • Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Hold on, just because they want to attach a different value to civil disobedience it does not follow that they want to censor. In fact censorship is even the wrong word to use for this.

        It is historical revisionism. And it is historical revisionism only if the book omits or denies that civil rights activity took place. Speculating about the value of civil disobedience is not a matter about history one way or anotherReport

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      He’s obviously not a Tea-Party-er.Report

  9. Kolohe says:

    1) I’m not getting why the ButtleOpener is unbelievably sexist and not just unbelievably tacky. If a school board member – male or female – had a prior business relationship with the Hooters restaurant chain, would that make their board membership equally untenable?

    2) I’m not getting why a prior business relationship with no bearing on the ongoing nationwide curricula fights in public education brings up so much discussion of those ongoing nationwide curricula fights. I could understand if Gregory’s business had something to do with the charter school movement, the home school movement, or just conservative or neo-liberal politics in general, but this particular business does not seem to have an interest in nor is trying to influence the magnitude and direction of public education.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:

      I certainly see it as a product meant to troll and shock upper-middle class polite liberals like me. The same goes for things like TruckNutz. It is about tribal identification. Also a sign to stay away from people if they like such a product in an not ironic manner. I’d also describe it as vulgar

      That being said, I think there is some cognitive dissonance going on. At least in my mind. A buttleopener does not seem like a socially conservative product and the Tea Party is still pretty socially conservative.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Considering the story about Glyph’s aunt, my comment is a bit harsh.

        Though I have a theory that the Confederate flag is now the universal sign of rural, white, working class rebellion against bourgeoise values because they know it offends liberals. My proof of this is that my Canadian friends tell me it is not uncommon to see the Stars and Bars in rural Canada.Report

      • zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I can easily imagine something like this being a hit at a party the Palins might attend. Just sayin’

        /is there a Goodwin’s Law for Palin mentions?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Are bourgeoise values family values?Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw – Eh, she’s dead, you can’t hurt her feelings. 😉Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @zic the Palins are, gratefully, receding to their deserved place in which their relevancy is limited to the answers to assorted trivia questions. Leave them be.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Not necessarily.

        That being said, statistics show that there is far less divorce and teenage pregnancy and pregnancy outside of marriage in blue states over red states and perhaps this is something Social Conservatives could learn from.

        My general observational experience is that upper-middle class liberals generally do have the conservative and stable family structures that the Social Conservatives hold up as ideals and blame liberals for destroying.


      • Doctor Jay in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I tend to agree with you Conservatives signal their membership in the tribe by insulting or trolling liberals.

        I recently read a piece supporting network neutrality written by someone who identifies conservative. Every other paragraph contains an insult to liberals. If you edit all those out, he makes pretty much the exact same argument in favor of net neutrality that I would make.

        And yeah, the thought that this would offend liberals is very definitely a plus for stuff like the Buttle Opener. They are getting their Rebel on.Report

    • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

      If you can convince me that objectifying women in this way is not extremely sexist, I’ll update the post. As it is, I’m pretty sure that using women’s asses as bottle openers, and displaying them at bars or in your kitchen or wherever, is almost cartoonishly sexist.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        How much of the appeal of such products do you think exists in the trolling liberals category?Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Saul, honestly? Not very much. I don’t think the vast majority of conservative folks are sitting around thinking how they can freak out liberals. That’s not necessarily true of the ones who spend a lot of time on the internet, but your average, everyday conservative? Doesn’t care at all what you think, so long as your candidates don’t win elections.

        I think this was a couple of guys sitting around joking about opening bottles with a woman’s ass cheeks, and then thinking, “Hey, I bet people’d pay money for that.”

        Also, I don’t take the lesson of this case to be that conservatives are bad. I take it to be something more like, if you put a premium on ideological purity, or at least toeing the party line, you’re going to have to care less about things like character and integrity, or sleaziness.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        If you can convince me that objectifying women in this way is not extremely sexist,

        Maybe we need some commonly-agreed-upon definitions of ‘objectifying’ and ‘sexist’. Let me ask some questions and see if we get there.

        Is a penis bong sexist too? (It’s easy to google image search).

        Why, or why not?

        Does it depend on who originally blew (heh) the glass, and/or who the bong was marketed to, and/or who bought it/used it/displayed it?

        using women’s asses as bottle openers

        They are “crude representations of women’s asses”, not “women’s asses”. There is a difference, and it’s the crucial difference at the heart of all representational art (and, per some recent threads, jokes too), no matter how crude or silly.

        (Also: Sir Mix-A-Lot and Nicki Minaj are preparing lawsuits, demanding a cut of this product’s revenue, even as we speak.)

        Anyway, I think it’s possible to point out the absurdity and silliness of the overall situation (and it is deeply silly) without making it into any more than that. Butts are kinda silly, across many cultures. It would be equally ridiculous if the guy had made his fortune in Whoopee cushions, and farts are equal-opportunity lowbrow humor.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Is a penis bong sexist too?

        If there were a history of objectification and sexualization that results in treating men as less than women, it would be. In our culture? No, not really. The ass is sexist in a way that the penis isn’t because it exists, and was created by, a sexist culture.

        They are “crude representations of women’s asses”, not “women’s asses”. There is a difference, and it’s the crucial difference at the heart of all representational art (and, per some recent threads, jokes too), no matter how crude or silly.

        Granted. I was mostly talking about how I imagine the conversation went (according to one of the articles, they came up with this idea on a bar napkin).

        Sir Mix-A-Lot’s song has been criticized as sexist pretty much from the day it was released, and to be fair, it was pretty sexist. I admit I like the song. I admit that when it comes to hip hop, I like a lot of older songs that are pretty sexist. This often makes me uncomfortable, and I’m still working out how to think about it.

        Minaj’s song, and more, her video, has sparked a great deal of discussion about race and gender that I’ve found really interesting. Things definitely get complicated when you have women celebrating their bodies, and celebrating features of them that not too long ago most people wanted to change (“Does my ass look fat in this?” is now a question seeking a “yes” answer rather than a “no”). I’m sure plenty of men have watched it and seen the women as sexual objects and nothing more, though.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I preferred Sir Mix A Lot’s song to Wreck N Effect’s.

        “Baby Got Back” had a sense of its own absurdity.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        @jaybird – weirdly enough I was looking up
        Wrexx-n-Effect lyrics the other day (I wasn’t sure if I was zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zooming in the boom-boom, or the poom-poom. Turns out it was both).

        Man, that song was even dirtier than I thought it was.Report

      • j r in reply to Chris says:

        I will never be able to figure this out from my phone, but someone should really post the Booty Juice scene from Fear of a Black Hat.Report

  10. Burt Likko says:

    If Mr. Gregory had been the owner, or part-owner, of a Hooters franchise, would our reaction be the same? Or is there some sort of qualitative difference between the Buttle Opener and Hooters?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


      I think it would raise eyebrows but not as much.

      This is one of those times when it seems worse but I can’t vocalize exactly why. I probably would feel a bit of cognitive dissonance about a Hooters owner being a conservative Republican as well. Libertarian I can understand but not a GOP member. Then again perhaps I am looking for too much consistency in the world.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Lots of conservatives have complained that liberals do not know how to have a good time since at least the early 1990s. Many of them are rather libertine or hedonistic in their personal lives and do not see any contradiction between their lifestyle and conservatism.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Theocons are not the only kind of conservatives. The greatest trick they ever pulled off was to get people to think that the only legitimate conservativism is Theoconservativism.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Jaybird, the theocons do hold many prominent positions in the GOP and the Republicans have spent several decades catering to them so I’m not really sure why you think there is much confusion about this. American conservatives decided that their public face and rank and file will be the theocons.

        Its also possible to live a libertine life and be a theocon because hypocriscy is popular.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        “American conservatives decided that their public face and rank and file will be the theocons.”

        The rank and file for the conservative movement are the theocons, but the public face of the conservative movement are the talkers on radio and the internet, and selected politicians that pass a litmus test and say the right things. Actual theocons, like Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, and Mike Huckabee, always have their national ambitions held in check by the money wing of the conservative movement.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’m not really sure why you think there is much confusion about this.

        There isn’t enough confusion, is what I’m complaining about. Theocons are not the only kind of conservatives. When they push to argue that their Scotsman is the Only True Scotsman, they’re committing a fallacy that I wish fewer people would commit with them.

        And I say this as a conservative libertine.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I think a lot of conservatives have a libertine stuff for me but not for thee attitude.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Not the ones who like to watch…Report

    • Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

      If he’d been the owner of a Hooter’s Franchise, I would question whether his views on women and girls are problematic for someone who has to oversee the education of thousands of them (particularly given the persistence of sexism within the education system).

      Creating a product like this, or creating the Hooter’s corporation, pretty much leaves me no doubt me his views of women and girls are unacceptable for someone in that position.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

        If I may ask another boundary condition question:

        If a woman previously owned a hooter’s franchise, would she be equally unacceptable? Would the answer be different if she were just an employee? Would the answer be different if she had worked at a gentlemen’s club? Or worked as a model?Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Owned a Hooter’s Franchise? Yeah, I’d think she might have views on gender that were problematic as well.

        Worked as a dancer or model? Nah. Different issues at play.Report

  11. Tod Kelly says:

    “I often get the sense that Tennessee, Texas, and Florida are locked in a never-ending war to decide which of the three is the craziest state in the union.”

    You say that like Arizona doesn’t even exist.Report

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    This is more of an aside, but I’m not sure I think that the best label for the guy who invented this is “inventor.”

    I mean, I’m sure that he says “Hey, I invented this!,” and everyone else says, “Hey, that guy invented this!” So I get that it’s the right word technically. But still…

    It’s like calling the guy who decided to put an unnaturally busty and thin waisted silhouette on a mud flap an inventor.Report

  13. morat20 says:

    To quote Stephen Lynch:
    “I’ve seen rocky mountains and great lakes
    Stood beneath a redwood tree
    But wherever I go my heart aches
    For a place called Tennessee

    Oh it’s a place where dueling banjos play
    And the mountain folk run free
    Where all the children can spell KKK
    But cannot spell Tennessee

    Oh come with me
    Where every cheek is filled with chew
    And no one’s ever seen a Jew
    Oh I wanna be
    Where the hotdogs are deep fried
    That’s the reason Elvis died
    In Tennessee”Report

  14. aaron david says:

    Wow, and all we have in Cali is state senators running guns…Report