Dan Drezner asks
Why is it that some celebrities under the age of eighteen can be universally acknowledged as sexy, whereas if that adjective is assigned to other underage stars, people start leveling accusations of perversion and lechery? Why was it so shocking for Britney Spears to start flaunting her sexuality, but everyone instantly accepted Anna Kournikova as a sex object?
This invites just the sort of fact-free speculation that we specialize in here at Unfogged. The answer, it seems to me, is pretty simple: it's not about age, but looks.
But Dan's an academic, and I respect that, so let me complicate that answer a bit.
By "looks," I don't mean how old they seem, and I don't mean how physically developed they are, but how sexual they look. An anonymous blogger can say, each man looks at a young woman and makes a quick and unconscious determination: would she blush eighteen shades of red and ask for instructions at the site of a penis, or does she have a disturbingly good idea of how to handle one?
Anna Kournikova, with her intense Russian seriousness, on the one hand, Britney "virgin till I marry (or screw Justin, oops)", on the other.
But that's not the end of it. There's a second determination that's made about a celebrity girl. Suppose she's "sexualized," is it because she's decided it's a good career move, or does she seem to be an irrepressibly sexual person?
Alyssa "I can act opposite Tony Danza and..." Milano on the one hand, Drew "this shirt's coming off if it kills me" Barrymore, on the other.
There is, behind all this, something of a dictum: do not take advantage. Neither of the inexperienced, nor of the cynical girl. It's almost noble, this lusting after teenage girls.
Finally, I'd like to note in passing that in the comments to Dan's post, Jacob Levy, a University of Chicago man through and through, can't even spell sex.
To destroy a dam physically would require "tons of explosives," Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff said a year ago. To breach it from cyberspace is not out of the question. In 1998, a 12-year-old hacker, exploring on a lark, broke into the computer system that runs Arizona's Roosevelt Dam. He did not know or care, but federal authorities said he had complete command of the SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] system controlling the dam's massive floodgates.And it's not just 12 year-olds.
A computer seized at an al Qaeda office contained models of a dam, made with structural architecture and engineering software, that enabled the planners to simulate its catastrophic failure. Bush administration officials, who discussed the find, declined to say whether they had identified a specific dam as a target.
The FBI reported that the computer had been running Microstran, an advanced tool for analyzing steel and concrete structures; Autocad 2000, which manipulates technical drawings in two or three dimensions; and software "used to identify and classify soils," which would assist in predicting the course of a wall of water surging downstream.The whole thing is worth reading.
Not to pick on CNN's Soledad O'Brien, who seems like a fine lady, but as she was speaking from home about her experience in the blackout, she said something like, "we had to send the babysitter home on the train." (Not an exact quote, but close.) I've heard this locution before from upper-middle class (an up) people. You would never say "I had to send my husband home on the train." No, he would go himself. It's a proprietary and superior way of referring to someone that really grates. At least, it grates on me because I take it as a faux aristocratic affectation. Since, judging from the comments, I seem to be rather uncharitable lately, I should ask: is there another way to take this?
Is Google down?
HMMM: No, apparently, but it was for about 15 seconds!
"A real teacup should have an upright, narrow mouth, because a wide mouth lets the heat escape," Payne explained.
She said she learned that when a British man came back to the kitchen after she had served him tea to complain that the cup she gave him was not a proper teacup.Lord knows that if I were a British man, I'd be telling people my preferences were the Rules of Etiquette Eternal. I think I'd rather enjoy that. This story reminds me of a meal I had a couple of years ago at one of our fine local French restaurants. At some point, we were presented with a piece of silverware neither of us had ever seen. I asked the waiter what it was for. He hesitated a bit and said he wasn't really sure. About thirty seconds later, another waiter hurried to our table and told us it was a sauce knife. Then he said, gesturing toward the other waiter, "he's Belgian."
A former top defence official and a former intelligence chief have criticised the Federal Government over its handling of intelligence before the war in Iraq.
Old news, perhaps, but this report is from Australia. Maybe they won't reelect George Bush.
A SARS-like illness is reported in Vancouver. But nevermind that.
"In lay terms, it may smell like a duck, but it sure doesn't look or walk like one," said David Patrick of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control.
Is "smells like a duck" some sort of Canadianism?
For some reason, liberals are supposed to think David Brooks, newly named columnist for the NY Times, is a good choice. But why would anyone think Brooks is a good choice? He takes neat, imaginary categories, tells us tales about the people who fit in them and not a leaf on reality's tree is disturbed. For more on this, over to the magnificently bilious Antic Muse.
It seems to be favorite joke week in the blogosphere and I can't resist.
A priest, a rabbi, and a prostitute walk into a bar.
The bartender says, "What is this, some kind of joke?
I love that one.
Are corny jokes hostile? Do I enjoy it because it makes people groan? (Some people laugh; I like that too.)
UPDATE: The Waste Blog has more on corny jokes and hostility.
I agree it doesn't look very good for Edwards, but I've been watching the candidates in Cspan's invaluable video archive and Edwards is the only Democrat that's at all compelling (even Dean doesn't impress me; he's wooden and strident at once). Maybe that won't be enough, but I do think he's due for a resurgence.
Girl, 14, smiles, bats eyes, acts in bad faith and gets smacked down with extreme justice by our hero, Wells.
I didn't think it needed mentioning: dancing on graves (and prematurely at that) is ill-bred. Just what can someone who interprets texts for a living have done to deserve this kind of consideration? Written inelegant sentences? Please.
It was news to me that evolution is mainly about numbers. Brad DeLong explains to his children so it will be only a little over your head.
New Google tricks! Google has already become my default dictionary/spell-checker as well as my map finder. Now, it's also a calculator (and a very cool one at that). And it has an "approximate" or "synonym" search. Put a ~ in front of your term to have Google search its synonyms. A trick is to put a minus and a tilde in front to see what Google thinks the synonyms are (eg. ~demographics -demographics shows you census, statistics and population).
Unfortunately, it doesn't quite do everything.
Planned Obsolescence links to a quiz for geeks (not the computer kind). Go increase the sample size!
The Burqa Band.
"You give me all your love, you give me all your kisses, and then you touch my burqa, and don't know who it is..." the lead singer moans in halting but determined English.
Several local bars and clubs have been forced to drop their so-called ladies night discount-for-women promotions in response to a series of lawsuits claiming the practice discriminates against men.It sounds like some lawyers found a way to make some easy money.
Enter Steven Surrey and Alfred Rava. Earlier this year, the men spent several nights in the Gaslamp and other San Diego County nightspots, seeking out ladies night promotions and demanding equal treatment.
One of the men is a California Western School of Law classmate of the two lawyers who filed the suits on their behalf. The other is a paralegal.Go to bars, make an ass of yourself, make lots of money.
Lawyers quietly settled all the suits last month. Seven nightspots in the Gaslamp and elsewhere in San Diego County agreed to pay a total of $125,000 to two men who accused them of violating a decades-old California civil-rights law.Fine, you're very clever, but don't say stupid shit like this.
When asked about the social merits of these lawsuits, Erik Jenkins, one of the attorneys who filed the suits, made comparisons between ladies night discounts and the discrimination faced by African-Americans in the South.If you're in the San Diego area and would like to hire such clever attorneys, you'll be glad to know that you can contact Mr. Rava. (via Alas)
Is there dog-in-car etiquette? I nearly soiled myself yesterday when I tried to get in my car in a dark underground garage and the massive dog I hadn't seen in the car parked about 7 inches from mine almost squeezed through a half open window barking and growling and pawing at me. Great Jeebus, the thing was totally silent and shrouded in darkness until I was about to put the key in the lock.
Before you waste too much sympathy on me, I should say that I was first scared, then angry. I had to get in on the other side of my car and when I was safely ensconced, I tormented the stinking beast as best as I could. Yeah yeah, I'm a bad person, but something was going to suffer before I left that spot.
As long as I'm using Maureen Dowd's name as a synonym for columnists that should be term-limited, I should mention when she's right.
It could be amusing if the pols posted unblushing, unedited diaries of what they were really thinking, as real bloggers do. John Kerry would mutter about that hot-dog Dean stealing his New England base, and Dr. Dean would growl about that wimp Kerry aping all his Internet gimmicks. But no such luck.
Instead, we have Travels with Tom, Tom Daschle's new blog recounting his annual August pilgrimage around South Dakota. Trying to sound uninhibited, he says he has "no schedule and no staff" and promises readers "amazing experiences" with "fascinating people."
Not to mention that fact that John Kerry doesn't write his own blog and Gary Hart doesn't read any other blogs. For all the buzz they've generated (maybe it's just blogospheric buzz, but still), politicians' blogs are uniformly dull. Could it be that bloggers, those cynical and sophisticated political junkies, are happy just to have the big boys play with them?
Ah, well, made it back from muggy but pleasant climes and while my houseguests groom themselves, I have some time to check out the news and happenings in blogdom. Apparently, not a damn thing happens across a hot August weekend. The California recall is the drama de month, but no one seems to have a handle on it. Perhaps amidst more grooming I'll be able to dig up more interesting tidbits. Aren't people supposed to act crazy when it's hot?