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Where None is the Number

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.03
Convicted child molester and former priest John Geoghan was killed in prison today. There's no defending child molestation (though I think there would be a lot less of it if we didn't pretend that children can't be sexual objects and focused on the the problems with having sex with them), but, given our high incarceration rates, it's revolting that there will be very little outcry over his death. He wasn't sentenced to death and people don't become expendable once they go to prison. UPDATE: Details of Geoghan's murder.

 

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Dawn

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.03

I was about to post a link to a great photo blog from Chicago. Then I remembered that I'd seen another really good Chicago photo blog several months ago. Well, it turns out they're both by the same person.

Good.

Good.


 

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Clueing Me In

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.03

I'm at a loss to explain this. Last night I had a dream in which someone said something to me that I realized was a joke only after I woke up. Wait a minute, I thought, that part where she said the operation involved taking a bit of my liver and sautéing it, she was fucking with me! But in the dream, I just nodded earnestly. Who writes my dreams anyway?


 

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Bush sucks!!!

Posted by Bob
on 08.22.03

Political commentary in the blogosphere -- especially among the big pundits -- is usually very measured and reasonable. No one wants to break the obvious, and so strong opinions are generally reserved until when they can be linked to clever logical turns or brilliant textual dissections. The thing is, George W. Bush really does just suck. (I know, using that word there is misogynistic and homophobic. We desperately need a new sucks.) I thank Slate Frayster Geoff for reminding me.

An excerpt:

There aren't words to describe the horror I feel when I see Bush look into the nation's television cameras with that sadistic little smirk and tell us euphemistically, as if half-choking on a stifled snort that our enemies… "let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies." The barely-suppressed, no not really suppressed at all, look of GLEE at the thought of the death America has inflicted upon it's enemies. I recognize that it is necessary to kill human beings. I recognize that our security demands it. That every president must hold the lives and deaths of strangers in his hands. But the fact that we MUST kill NEVER excuses taking delight THAT we kill. You probably don't believe me. I don't know if you believe Tucker Carlson when he describes Bush's mockery of Karla Faye Tucker: "Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."



...When I look at George W. Bush, I don't see a patriot. I see a lying, psychopathic narcissist. And it pains me, it grieves me, it WOUNDS me to realize that this puts me not only in the minority… but in the "whacko fringe."

My question: is it true? How fringe are the Bush-haters? I mean, we do have Woody Harrelson on our side.


 

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Today I'm a Pink Construction Worker

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.03

Cool find by Bob. The Gender Genie is, of course, irresistible. Feeding a bunch of my posts into it reveals me to be about 75% female. After about five posts, I could pretty much predict when I'd be male (here and here, for example). I also tried a couple of female bloggers: the Invisible Adjunct is mostly female; Heather Havrilevsky doesn't have an ounce of boy in her. Then I tried some of Kevin Drum's posts, since I think of Kevin as right-down-the-middle "guy." Out of four posts, three must have been written by his wife.

I'm not impressed (but I'm sympathetic to the programmers, who did their best, I'm sure!). I suppose it doesn't help that the premise, that "gendered" writing exists, is stupid (but interesting!).


 

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Hurl for the Tide!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.03

The University of Colorado at Boulder has been ranked the nation's top party school and boy are the folks at Alabama not taking that too well.


 

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Brush with the Law

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.03
Things aren't looking good for El Cepillo.
A Mexican actor has been arrested after a gun he fired during the filming of an action scene killed his co-star. Flavio Peniche said that the prop handed to him must have contained a "bad blank" cartridge, but prosecutors allege that it was a real bullet that killed Antonio Velasco.
...
Police said they were still seeking the film's producer Eduardo Martinez Sanchez and props manager - known only as El Cepillo - who had not been seen since the incident...
Shades of Brandon Lee, of course. But doesn't anyone remember Jon-Erik Hexum anymore? I loved Voyagers!

 

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Chromosomes can lie

Posted by Bob
on 08.22.03

Yesterday Ogged admitted to being a woman. It's now official: according to the Gender Genie's analysis of that very post (minus the quotes), he's female. (Thanks to jill/txt for the pointer to the Genie, which resides at Bookblog.)


 

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Homophony

Posted by Bob
on 08.22.03

As someone who is slightly obsessed both with SUVs and with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I find myself disparaging Hummers occasionally. Is it clear that I'm referring to the car? I would never badmouth the other kind of hummer.


 

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All in the family

Posted by Bob
on 08.22.03

So now that Tom Hanks, Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, Ad Asner, Susan Sarandon, and Warren Beatty are revving to campaign against Mr. Olympia, will there be the same vituperous backlash against Hollywood celebs shooting their mouths off about politics as we saw before the Iraq war? And why has Mr. Olympia been immune from that criticism so far? And when will The Affleck step forward to tell us whom to elect?


 

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Hey, What's Up?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.21.03

Nerve had a pick-up line contest. My favorite:

Hey baby, wanna go halfsies on a bastard child?

Frankly, I think saying "wanna go halfsies" is so much fun that it should be a pick-up line all by itself, but the "bastard child" bit is good too. Maybe I can convince my fiancee to accompany me on a night on the town where I try it out. Wait, Nerve thought of that.

It begins with a too-true observation.

I can be quite the charming fellow once I've been introduced to a girl through mutual friends. Using our friend-in-common as a neat segue into polite conversation, I make a few observational quips, throw out a couple of compliments, find out about what she does for a living, make a sly mention of my unorthodox day job, lube it all up with a few drinks and let my outrageous accent do the rest. It never fails. Well, it succeeds more than it fails, I guess.
But I always fail — quite miserably, I might add — at going in cold. Striking up a conversation from zero is daunting.

Indeed. (An aside: this has reminded me of a very funny evening several years ago when I went to a hopping bar alone because I didn't have a television and wanted to watch a basketball game. Two very attractive ladies, a blonde and brunette--of course--wound up next to me at the bar and I got to listen as the men came in waves, said stupid things, and limped away. For those looking for winning strategies, sitting alone and staring at the television just may be a good one: by the end of the night, the brunette, probably out of pity at what she took to be my pathetic situation, was laughing it up with me about what the guys were saying to them. Of course, once the game was over I just said goodbye and went home, but I'm stupid that way.)

Then, a little meta wondering about why we use pickup lines at all.

it's a cruel world, and sauntering up to someone and saying, "Hello, I think you are very pretty, and based on that drunken appraisal, I'd like to buy you more alcohol and engage in some open-mouthed kissing before the bar staff turns on the lights and we realize we're woefully different leagues" . . . well, it's just too much information. The line is a quick, efficient, combination offense/defense mechanism.

But we must also account the fabled "wanna fuck?" method.

I once met a wily old Noo Yawk music executive who would hang out on a streetcorner in the '50s and ask any woman who walked past, "D'ya wanna fuck?" He said that for every fifty women he propositioned, one would take him up on his crude offer. That, he said, was worth all the slaps.

Maybe that happened. It must be illegal now. In any case, our intrepid reporter decides to go to a Ford modeling agency party to try out Nerve's top-ten lines. You can read the rest...


 

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War Money

Posted by Ogged
on 08.21.03

Talkleft points to this helpful article about firms awarded contracts in Iraq. One note though: making profits during a war isn't necessarily "war profiteering," which is a serious charge.


 

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That's a Good One

Posted by Ogged
on 08.21.03
I think it's time to become an ice-cream truck driver.



 

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Ok, 60/40

Posted by Ogged
on 08.21.03

No doubt there's some truth to this.

Not only do women shun negotiations, the authors also point to evidence that women ask for less when they make the all-important opening offer, and then concede too quickly.

I understand gender differences are supposed to be the point of the study, but let's leave that aside since I am male and can fairly lay claim to the title of The Worst Negotiator in the World™. (My fiancee, an actual woman, negotiated a considerable reduction in our rent. I, a male, though, for present purposes clearly a "woman," managed subsequently to negotiate a slight increase.) From my exalted position, I have to say I found the speculation about why "women" are bad negotiators pretty silly.

Men see situations as adaptable; women see them as unchangeable. Men use metaphors like "winning a ballgame" to describe negotiating; women use metaphors like "going to the dentist." Women are "more likely than men to think that simply working hard and doing a good job will earn them success and advancement."
According to the authors, women are expected to be selfless and nurturing, men selfish and competitive. Women often have lower expectations when it comes to pay. As a result, the authors say women have an "impaired sense of entitlement."

Speaking as a negotiating "woman" and a biological "male," (from a haggling culture, no less), I can attest that expectations are not holding me back. Nor do I see situations as unchangeable. I'm perfectly aware that I could act differently with significantly different outcomes. I'm also fully aware that hard work alone is no match for hard work and self-promotion. Etc. unending.

It's amusing that a culture that laments the lack of empathy in its males also laments the lack of negotiating acumen in its females. When I'm negotiating, money is something I'm taking from another person. I also don't want to seem miserly or greedy and I'm willing to pay more or make less in exchange for that. Isn't this concern for another person and concern with how another person sees me just plain old empathy? And isn't that what we value in "women?"

Of course "we" want "women" to make as much money as they deserve and to hold their own in negotiations, but would we still want those things if the price were empathy? And perhaps it seems unfair to "women" to make them, in a sense, the bearers of empathy, but it's not as if men don't suffer from their own mute and muffled emotions.


 

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Impunity

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.03
Whenever I start thinking that politics is meaner and uglier than it used to be, I recall the beating of Charles Sumner by Preston Brooks. That said, in the good old days, grabbing women's breasts and unapologetically cheating on your wife would have cost you at least a few points in the polls. Californians aren't really going to elect Schwarzenegger, are they?

 

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Moral Thinking

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.03

Yes, by all means, let's control their land and their lives and then wonder at their depravity while we call for genocide (with the appropriate moral qualifiers, of course).


 

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Lawdy, That's Bawdy

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.03

The Bandarlog is talking about racy lyrics in old songs. They've confined themselves to the past fifty or so years, but it's worth keeping in mind that one of the reasons we don't hear the word "bawdy" so much anymore is that we just don't do bawdy the way they used to do bawdy. Around 1930, the magnificent Clarence Ashley was performing "My Sweet Farm Girl," the lyrics to which go about like this.

My sweet farm girl
She's jolly of my pride
She knows I know
How to keep her satisfied
So early in the morning
I cut her grass you bet
Pull up the hose
I keep her lawn all wet
I close her fire
I shake her ashes down
I close her fire
I shake her ashes down
We eat our breakfast
Then we ride on back to town
I keep her garden
All free from bugs and weeds
I keep her garden
All free from bugs and weeds
I plow her land
And then I sow my seeds
I trim her hedges
I clean out her back yard
I trim her hedges
I clean out her back yard
She loves her daddy
Because I'm long and hard.

Yes, well, QED. I can't even speculate about what corresponds to "shaking ashes down."


 

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Dude, Where's My Hair?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.19.03
Bob wonders about nudity and naturalness below. But is (relatively) hairless nudity even "natural" anymore? Maybe.
The new work -- based on subtle genetic differences between human body lice, which depend on clothing for their survival, and human head lice, which do not -- suggests that early humans may have lived in Europe for tens of thousands of years after leaving Africa before availing themselves of clothes.
Maybe not.
The estimate is rough. Because of the relatively small number of louse samples used and other complications, the team concedes, clothing may have arisen as recently as 30,000 years ago or as long as 114,000 years ago -- a big window that leans toward the recent but encompasses other leading theories based on actual artifacts.
Kevin Johnson, an evolutionary biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, was one of several experts who said he admired Stoneking's approach but was uncertain about its statistical validity. He said his best reading of the data is that clothing appeared sometime between "170,000 years ago and yesterday."
David Reed, a molecular evolutionary biologist at the University of Utah, said some scientists believe that head and body lice stopped interbreeding and became genetically distinct only recently. If true, that would confound the new findings even more.
It's a fun article and the last line should be inscribed, well, everywhere: "It's always a combination of sex and politics."

 

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A worthy mission

Posted by Bob
on 08.19.03

NYT piece (with photos) about Steve Gough, who is hiking the length of Britain, naked, "to convince Britons that nudity is natural."

I love it. But: (a) no one (except Mormons?) doubts that nudity is natural -- it's just that we don't necessarily want everything that's natural, and (b) skin cancer is natural, too.


 

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Bush and the postmodern

Posted by Bob
on 08.19.03

<irony>

For the Bush Administration, science doesn't reflect any objective reality: what would that mean, anyway?? Scientific statements can't avoid being tools of ideology, like how (according to Luce Irigaray) e=mc2 is "a sexed equation" because it's based on the privileging of speed.

It's Rep. Henry Waxman (a Democrat, of course!) who seems to think that science can transcend the tangles of signification and power. Waxman's the driving force behind the House Committee on Government Reform's recent report on the Administration's politicization and manipulation of science, and Waxman's the guy who put it on a web site for all of us to see.

Doesn't he get it? Science is just a bunch of words, numbers, and Greek letters, so why not use it (a) to make a few energy barons rich(er) and (b) to keep teenagers and poor people from using condoms? At least the Bushies know that all arguments are just political anyway: White House spokesguy Adam Levine says, "I'm hard-pressed to believe anyone would consider Congressman Waxman an objective arbiter of scientific fact." Well put, Adam! That report is a text and is therefore subject to political analysis. No need to respond to particular charges.

Jeesh, that Waxman guy probably thinks the world really is getting hotter, too!

</irony>


 

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What lies beneath

Posted by Bob
on 08.19.03

Pornography isn't the only amusement accelerated by technology. There's also searching for buried treasure.


 

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Skylab

Posted by Ogged
on 08.19.03

I know we're all very proud of New Yorkers for not becoming a rampaging mob during the blackout. But we shouldn't let the effects of 9/11 distract us from something more basic. Blackouts kill machines and we crave that. The Matrix wasn't popular just because Joe Pantoliano was in it. Feeling unwittingly plugged in, life sucked away and replaced with a simulacrum, is a pervasive and powerful force. I'm sure the sense of community and comisery 9/11 caused were a factor in the calm after the blackout, but if something else happens in the city that isn't terrorism and isn't related to electricity, we shouldn't be surprised if comity doesn't last.


 

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50 Years

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.03

More on 1953 in Iran. An excellent (audio) overview of what happened and the resentments and mistrust it engendered.

There is a corrective dissent here (ultimately unpersuasive, in my opinion).

It occurs to me I haven't said enough about this. For Iranians fifty years old and older, the CIA's ousting of Mossadegh was the defining moment in their lives. I don't think that's an exaggeration. What seems like ancient history to Americans, who may not even know what their government did, is the most vivid memory of millions of Iranians. One day, they owned their country and had a leader they truly loved; the very next day, he was gone and a young puppet tyrant in his place.


 

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Biology!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.03

Amity Wilczek's Nature is Profligate is one of the best blogs around.


 

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Evil Spirits

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.03
Sometimes it's easy to think "feminism" is about keeping weak women safe from leering men. It's not.
Akacha has a surprisingly desirable job: He's paid to have sexual relations with the widows and unmarried women of this village. He's known as "the cleanser," one of hundreds of thousands of men in rural villages across Africa who sleep with women after their husbands die to dispel what villagers believe are evil spirits.
As tradition holds, they must sleep with the cleanser to be allowed to attend their husbands' funerals or be inherited by their husbands' brother or relative
...
The custom has always been unpopular among women. But in midst of an AIDS pandemic, which has led to the deaths of 19.6 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, having relations with the cleanser has become more than just a painful ritual that women must endure. Cleansers are now spreading HIV at explosive rates in such villages as Gangre, where one in every three people is infected.
But there are always brave people who change the world for the rest of us.
"We don't want it and we won't accept it anymore," chanted Margaret Auma Odhiambo, as women ululated in agreement in her village, a lush rural farming community about a nine-hour drive northwest of the capital, Nairobi. "I refused it once and I will keep refusing it."
For more details and some history, by all means, read the rest.

 

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Vigilante Justice

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.03
Why don't we see more of this?
A new Internet worm emerged today that is designed to seek out and fix any computer that remains vulnerable to "Blaster," the worm that attacked more than 500,000 computers worldwide last week.
The new worm scours the Internet for computers already infected with Blaster and deletes the "bad" worm....
Of course it's still a virus and there's the risk of bad coding having bad effects, but you'd think that more hackers would be motivated to have virus battles. Maybe this will be the first of many. UPDATE: Apparently, the vigilante worm does cause problems.

 

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I Don't Like Six Anyway

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.03

Maybe all the blog readers in the world can look ridiculous at once.

While sitting at your desk make clockwise circles with your right foot.
While doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

 

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It's good to have career options

Posted by Bob
on 08.18.03

Anna Kournikova, whom Ogged would never (during AK's teenage years) take advantage of, is being paid 10 million baht (about $150,000) to be the tourism ambassador for Pattaya, "a beach near Bangkok known mostly for its thriving porn industry and child prostitution." (This from the NY Post's Page Six column.)


 

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Surrealisme sur la plage

Posted by Bob
on 08.18.03

Human Guinea Pig Emily Yoffe has this funny piece on metal-detecting at Slate today. I used a metal detector once. An ecology group I was working for was doing a research project on a beach, and they used buried iron rebar to mark sites without posting unsightly signs or stringing bright-orange tape over all the dune shrubs. They used a metal detector to detect site boundaries, and one day during lunch I turned myself into one of those mumbly beach detector guys for a half hour. Yoffe's right: it's boring but embarrassingly compelling.

The thing is, the TV commercial for whatever-brand metal detector has got the pleasures of metal-detecting all wrong. Surprisingly, it's not about finding valuable jewelry (which the (thoroughly convincing) TV guy says he gave to his wife for their anniversary) or about getting exercise and losing weight. It's about the juxtaposition of unrelated people's unrelated objects. It's Lautreamont's sewing machine and umbrella on a dissection table. Yoffe digs up nails, shards of scrap, old kettle handle, a toy soldier, and some old bottles. Also (echoing Duchamp's third most famous readymade) a bike wheel. Me, I found several pennies, a nail, a (newish) key, and (I think) a dime!


 

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Colorful Colorado

Posted by Bob
on 08.18.03

While Ogged was at the beach working on his tan, I was in Colorado increasing my erythrocyte volume. Quite a shock to be back in Philly, where the air is wet, the highways are jammed, people are rude and angry, and my inbox at work is bursting with urgent messages. A nice thing, though: I'm no longer usually the only non-white person in restaurants, buses, etc. I know Denver's somewhat diverse, but Colorado in general isn't. I flew back from Denver via Atlanta, and my layover felt almost exactly like my layover at Heathrow when I flew back to the States from Copenhagen (also my layover in Paris when I flew back from Vienna): the sudden visual rush of skin colors, accents, and clothing styles brought home how powerful a force the air-travel industry is in mixing worlds together into new worlds. (For the opposite effect, fly from San Francisco through Salt Lake to Chicago.)

My question: why are camping and hiking such white-person activities? At visitor centers and short, paved trails, I saw many people of color. Not so on the longer or rougher trails. And I'd bet money I was the only nonwhite person in our large campground.


 

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The Ocean(s)

Posted by Ogged
on 08.17.03

Last weekend on the Atlantic coast, this weekend on the Pacific. But last weekend was at a place with nary a phone, let alone an Internet connection. It's striking being on the coasts (in fact, right at the ocean's edge, in both cases) in such a short time. I wonder how much I'm reading into the established stories of the places, but the flat gray Atlantic is such a situating presence: it's the border, the forbidding sublime thing that keeps you rooted in place. The blue rolling Pacific on the other hand, is like an invitation to go exploring, to leave the place you are for something new. I didn't grow up on either coast, so I wonder if that explains why seeing the Atlantic always makes me think "home." Home, not as in the familiar, but as in the settled place. Well, I'm off before people wake up and find me out as Ogged...


 

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