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No, Vern

Posted by Ogged
on 06.05.04

I can't imagine that he has any chance to win (Carolinians, tell me if I'm wrong), but the man running for Congress in North Carolina who likes to say of himself, "Jesse Helms is back! And this time he's black," has a radio ad that I've listened to, but still can't quite believe I've heard.


 

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Redux Again

Posted by Ogged
on 06.05.04

IFC has been playing Apocalypse Now Redux all day, and I know that Brando's improvised speech at the end has been adjudged laughably bad, but take another look, in light of recent events, and keeping in mind things you're liable to read or hear if you wander to the dark corners of blogdom.

I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.

 

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Azkaban

Posted by Ogged
on 06.05.04

Yes, I stood in line (with my ex-fiancee and my ex-future-mother-in-law, no less) to see the latest Harry Potter movie. It's by far the best of the three, and the Times review does a good job explaining why. Particularly good:

it is the first one that actually looks and feels like a movie, rather than a staged reading with special effects.

Amen. And it's fun to watch the actors grow up. Ron seems to have lost interest, Harry doesn't so much have to act as...be Harry, but Hermione is the soul of this one. I do miss Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Gambon is fine, but doesn't convey any heart. Maybe next time. I'll spare you any more. It's a good movie, quite apart from being a Harry Potter movie. But if you haven't seen director Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mama Tambien, hell, rent that. It's one of the best movies I've seen in years.


 

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pope

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.04.04

I know everyone's going to blog this, but the story gives good moment:

George W. Bush's European visit got off to an awkward start at the Vatican yesterday when Pope John Paul II expressed his "great concern" about the war in Iraq and torture at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
The Pope, a critic of the war, told Mr Bush the "deplorable events" that had come to light during the past few weeks had "troubled the civic and religious conscience of all".

...

The Pope's remarks were an indication of how the US-led war in Iraq is casting a shadow over a visit intended to mend relationships with European allies and to demonstrate for US voters Mr Bush's abilities as a statesman.

Oh, those abilities as a statesman. The Pope, like Paul O'Neil, is old and rich, and the Catholic Church is not such a fan of the preemptive war. What were they expecting him to say?


 

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What's a Constituent?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.04.04

Jessica Wilson, who has the wackiest post categories I've ever seen, considers the reasons for America's steadfast support for Israel. I've always been stumped by the question. Why, indeed? Some mix of military self-interest, cultural similarity, shared anti-arabism, and even shared democratic ideals would seem to play a role, but the kind of reason Wilson highlights--political, local, tangible--sure seems like the right kind of reason. Very interesting.


 

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kerryopoly

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.04.04

Via Billmon, this from the Washington Post (like the NyTi of Washington) is...well, just read it.

"Most Americans can't afford yachts, private planes, thousand dollar haircuts or homes in Nantucket," Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke said in a news release announcing a new video game on the RNC Web site. The game is called Kerryopoly. It's similar to Monopoly, but the properties belong to the Kerry family.

Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?

"John Kerry is dividing Americans on class and income," Holt said. "Republicans don't do that. Republicans, for example, fight for tax relief that is fair for everyone." Kerry, on the other hand, "supports repealing tax cuts for people who make over $200,000."

I can't type, for fear that my head will explode. This is obviously a DNC ploy to inflame the base, as they say. But do check out the game, which is pretty funny. Make sure your sound is on, though.


 

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And I thought I was angry

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.04.04

The Daily Howler, seriously pissed off.


 

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Shoulda Thought of That

Posted by Ogged
on 06.04.04

It's really too bad about that "John Edwards will win the nomination" prediction, because otherwise I could link to Matt's post at Tapped today, and my post from last September, and pretend to be all astute and prescient.

Incidentally, the odd Yglesias antipathy toward all things Catholic continues to amuse.


 

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'almost beyond parody'

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.04.04

Via apostropher, news that microsoft has patented double-clicking.

"It is almost beyond parody that Microsoft has been able to do this," says Ian Brown of the Foundation for Information Policy Research in London, UK.

Almost.


 

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assisted suicide in Oregon

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.04.04

Article here.

Some interesting findings:

A third lesson is that for most of those who seek assisted suicide, the greatest concern appears not to be fear of pain but fear of losing autonomy, which is cited by 87 percent of the people who have taken their lives with the drugs. Only 22 percent of the patients listed fear of inadequate pain control as an end-of-life concern, perhaps a sign that pain management has improved over the years.
And though opponents of the law argued that patients would feel pressured by families and even insurers to end their lives early out of financial concerns, so far concerns of being a burden to family have been cited by 36 percent of patients, and financial concerns by just 2 percent. The surveys show that the standard version of health care for terminally ill patients might not be what these patients are looking for, Dr. Ganzini said. The standard version of care says, in effect, "we're going to take care of you," she said. But "for them, the real problem is other people taking care of you."

Another one of my longstanding goals is to avoid uttering stupid platitudes when interviewed by the NYT:

Dr. Stevens argues that doctors should not assist in suicides because to do so is incompatible with the doctor's role as healer.
"I went into medicine to help people," he said. "I didn't go into medicine to give people a prescription for them to die."

I'm actually not blithely dismissing arguments against assisted suicide. I am, however, blithely dismissing this sort of argument as idiotic. Sophomoric points: his motivation for going into medicine is not immediately relevant to state law, since the law doesn't, after all, require his participation; more important, though equally obvious, is the thought that aid in dying can be a form of help or benefit. I wonder if there's any way to salvage a thought like 'it's morally permissible to give aid in dying generally, but not if you're a doctor-- because of the special obligations taken on by medical professionals.' On first glance, it looks as though the doctor's obligation would be parasitic on the wrongness that we're denying arguendo. Quick, someone call Francis Kamm for some distinctions I won't be able to understand.


 

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As Opposed To?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.04.04

Here's a cryptic exchange.

Deborah Norville: What's your impression of Paul Wolfowitz?
Tom Clancy: Is he working for our side?

On the one hand, I'm filled with warm fuzzies to see Wolfowitz slammed from the right. But I hope cryptic doesn't shade into anti-semitic; I can just see myself writing the posts now: yes, your criticisms of Wolfowitz are correct, but there's no necessary connection between his religion and his sympathy for Israel and his support for the policies you criticize....


 

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All Fruit is Banned

Posted by Ogged
on 06.04.04

I've held out long enough, Fafblog is outdoing itself lately.


 

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Cracked How, Exactly?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Kevin has the latest on the Chalabi intrigue, but I have a tangentially related question: what's with all the code-breaking? Apparently, not only did the U.S. have current Iranian codes, but had them in 1995 as well. I don't understand. What do they mean by codes? I'm given to understand that if I send an email with 128-bit encryption (and certainly with 256-bit encryption) that not even the NSA can crack it without access to my password. Does the government have capabilities far beyond what mathematicians and computer scientists in private life are aware of? Or are these "codes" something else entirely (in which case, why would the Iranians use them?)? Or did someone just find the password on a piece of paper somewhere? Very strange.


 

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Why This News?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Atrios brings it.

I think he's mostly right, but probably underestimates audience preferences and economic incentives insofar as they influence coverage. People do care about issues, but they'll tune in in greater numbers for personalities and gossip. So news will skew a bit more toward entertainment, and people's appetite for issues will diminish, and news will skew a bit more toward entertainment, etc. This point was part of my big debate with Unf, back in the day. All the while, the people providing news, will, in spite of themselves, find ways to rationalize what they're doing; generally, by overemphasizing the influence of the factors Atrios minimizes.


 

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Hazy On This

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Ted, at Diachronic Agency, parses the following statement from George Bush (click through to Ted's post, or this post won't make any sense--and it's a very good post, you should read it anyway).

Well, my job is to speak clearly and when you say something, mean it. And when you're trying to lead the world in a war that I view as really between the forces of good and the forces of evil, you got to speak clearly. There can't be any doubt. And when you say you're going to do something, you've got to do it. Otherwise, particularly given the position of the United States in the world today, there will be confusion.

Ted's first two points are dead-on. But I'm not sure about the third.

Finally, there's this gem:
There can't be any doubt.... Otherwise... there will be confusion.
Um, confusion is what happens when there is unexplained incompatibility among propositions that you do not doubt. Coming to doubt some of those propositions is a way of making you less confused, not more.

But I don't think Bush means that the people stating propositions are the ones who will be confused. Bush says, "particularly given the position of the United States in the world today;" which indicates that he's concerned about how what he says will be understood by others, particularly by other nations. In that case, what Bush says is pretty reasonable: if the U.S. makes unclear or contradictory statements, there will be confusion on the part of other nations--perhaps of the sort that made Saddam think he could invade Kuwait, for example. And this is a problem by Ted's own definition of confusion, because when government agents speak (and every time the President speaks), unless specifically noted otherwise, they are making official pronouncements: statements that we are not supposed to doubt.

To put it more concisely, I don't think Bush is saying, "If I have any doubt, I'll be confused." He's saying, "If I leave any doubt as to what I intend, other nations won't know how to behave."


 

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Cheerleading Practice?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Now I'm seriously wondering about the pictures of buff guys that Fontana is given to posting. Sneakily, over at Respectful of Otters, he comments,

I want to see someone recommend 90 minutes a day of exercise while keeping a straight face. When I was working out about that much, most people thought I was crazy, and most of those who didn't were in the grips of a body obsession.

Am I blogging with He-Man, or emaciated runner-man? Or is Fontana actually in high-school, which is the last time I could even contemplate exercising 90 minutes a day?

I know, I know, the comment puts the exercise in the past, but it's new to me, which is all that matters in blogworld. Let's hear it, Labs.


 

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You Again

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Nick Confessore at Tapped anticipates attempts to disenfranchise Native Americans in the upcoming South Dakota congressional election.

Something similarly offensive is going on when Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.), the former National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman, says of Stephanie Herseth's narrow win in South Dakota, "If you take out the Indian reservation, we would have won."
One can't help but wonder if this is exactly what the GOP intends to do for November's rematch. After all, it was just two years ago that Republican operatives --- abetted by their media shills -- tried to suppress the reservation vote with scurrilous and malicious charges of widespread voter fraud. (For background, see here, here, here, and here.) Somehow, I think we'll be seeing more of that this fall.

I think that's right. Nevermind that a seat is at stake, the fact that attempts to disqualify minority voters is now a standard dirty trick is pretty appalling. I'll try to keep an eye on this, and please send in anything you run across along these lines.


 

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teach for america

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.03.04

Stories from classroom trenches, brought to you by Mother Jones, via Critical Mass.

When I would cut lawns, the kids would come out and say, "Mr. Beutner's here!" It was a big exciting thing. And I just said, "Hey, how's it going?" and I figured I'm showing them a good work ethic. At one point, I was working three jobs. I was working as a teacher, I had my own landscaping company, and I would deliver newspapers. I would get up at 3 a.m. and get in my car and go down to the high school where the newspaper truck would be. If the truck was late, I would sit there in the parking lot and grade papers while I was waiting.

The comments on Erin's post are interesting: Chun wonders, with some warrant, if she thinks of Fantasia when reading them.

An alternative view is here:

Also, kids seeing their teachers hawking stereos at Circuit City in the summer would be a real boon to society. It would keep those kids from following in their teachers footsteps. Less teachers would also raise teacher pay - which is exactly what this idiot wants anyway.

Yes, that should solve the problem.


 

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Thanks, but no

Posted by Bob
on 06.03.04

Any Catholics out there have the Pope's metaphoric ear? Bush plans to award Pope John Paul the Presidential Medal of Freedom for "years of fighting for freedom and for his important moral voice." JP could strike an enormous rhetorical blow by refusing the award. He is against the Iraq war and has recently publicly condemned torture. GWB's version of freedom is clearly not what JP fights for. And anyway, is JP really vain enough to be into a worldly honor bestowed by Caesar?


 

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Mean and Lowdown

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

I hate to say it, but it serves Vanessa Williams right for marrying a little bitch like Rick Fox. So, whodya think it is, Halle Berry? via gawker

Incidentally, between Rick Fox and Karl Malone, does any team have more pure bitch than the Lakers? I'm not even within sight of 200 lbs., but I feel absolutely certain that I would kick Karl Malone's ass in a fight.


 

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Answer

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

In the comments to the post on casual teen sex, raj asks,

To those who believe that the sky is falling, what do you believe should be done about it? More to the point, what do YOU intend to do about it?

Good question. A lot depends on what "it" is. If "it" is part of a steady cultural shift, I'm not sure that we can do anything about it (except kvetch; there's always kvetching). But, insofar as there's hope, I'll return to something I've posted a bit about before: people do (or don't undo) things that are bad for them when they aren't able to adequately articulate their own situations. They get stuck, feeling nasty feelings without a way to get a handle on them, or dissipate them, or move past or around them. We've all had issues or times in our lives where we've felt ourselves to be at the mercy of something destructive. Procrastination is one minor example, ennui is another, dating someone horribly wrong is tried and true. When it gets more serious, people become addicted to whatever, or they marry someone horribly wrong, etc.

This isn't a radical notion. One of the reasons there's something like friendship is this need to talk. And it's the bedrock of much psychotherapy. But what's often missed is that being able to talk in this way is a skill, which requires its own tools and practice. Another blindingly obvious fact that's laughed off is that the cultivation of this skill has a name and a long history: it's the study of the humanities.

Am I really suggesting that the answer to casual sex is more humanities education? Yes, exactly. One of the startling social successes in recent years has been the Clemente Course in the Humanities, which grew out of Earl Shorris's insight that what the desperately poor need aren't vocational skills, but ways to understand their situation such that they can leave it behind. He started a tuition-free humanities program, the story and theory of which he explains in the wonderful book, New American Blues. (This interview with Shorris gives you a taste--very much worth reading.) The program has been a great success, and is spreading.

But here's the problem: the humanities aren't being taught in most non-poor schools either. By "humanities" I don't mean subjects like English and History, but a way of approaching texts and questions that's open-ended and encourages discussion and reflection. What was the ratio of lecture to discussion in your high school? Junior high? The fact is that it's too controversial to teach the humanities in many communities. Parents wouldn't stand for it. You talked about why we should follow the law? They asked you if love is real? (Not to mention that most people think it's a waste of time.) The result is that kids are frighteningly ill-equipped to think and talk about their very complex world.

So, what should we do? As a group of citizens, we should try to have the humanities restored as a necessary and legitimate course of study (my own view on this: fat fucking chance). Individually, we should make sure our kids can talk about their feelings and their lives. What else can we do?


 

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things fall apart

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.03.04

Polygraphs start in Chalabi inquiry.

Bush hires a lawyer-- and he might need one (via the poor man).

Bush campaign crosses lines in reaching out to congregations.

One newspaper's front page. And it's the first week of June.


 

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Padilla and the Constitution

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Dahlia Lithwick is truly and wonderfully pissed off lately.


 

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Omerta

Posted by Ogged
on 06.03.04

Tenet has resigned. First impression is that he's not going to tell all...


 

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kings of comedy

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.02.04

If you wonder why I hate standup comedy, try this. Shows include:

* Physical Comedy
* Goofy Dancing
* Crazy Impressions
* Audience Participation
* Wild Music
* Wacky Props

Wacky props. Please, kill me, I beg you. I started this post looking for a cheap laugh at Adam Ace's expense, and now I find myself staring into the darkness of the human condition: he's living the dream, but it's a dream that involves dressing up in a stupid outfit and sticking his head through a toilet seat. And he lives in his parents' basement. What if, from the standpoint of the universe, we all look like Adam Ace? If all our hopes and dreams are the zany comedy of the gods? We are all prop comics now.

Via Christian Finnegan's Tower of Hubris. I'm mostly kidding, you know. Mostly.


 

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feith-based initiatives

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.02.04

Act surprised:

But TIME has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official—whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon—that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the "authority to execute RIO," or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year.

Via apostropher. Really, I just wanted to slip that pun in before someone else did.


 

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And the Gentleman Will Have...?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.02.04

Ok, I won't even pretend that every other post hasn't been about sex lately. I won't pretend to stop, either. I've been searching for an old Salon article about teens and casual sex, but instead, I found this.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please just spit it out anywhere, on me or the blankets; I'll clean it up and I'll bring you a big glass of cold water." Blow jobs bestowed on my happy organ invariably end with me mumbling ashamedly, as if I had just splattered eggnog all over the Christmas table. I view my gobs as disgusting dollops.

And rightly so. He spends the rest of the article asking people how to make his semen taste better, and reveals that he eats tons of asparagus. Holy pete, who doesn't know about asparagus? I love his research.

I began my research by telephoning the busiest cocksucker I know: Trebor Healy, a gay poet who has praised slurping in paeans such as "Dick Prayer," "The Big Cock Candy Mountain" and "The Star-Spangled Boner." Trebor informed me that "organic vegetarians taste the best, and those who drink plenty of liquids put out a better consistency; the dehydrated lad can get a bit thick.

...

Sex writer Katy Bell -- who says she has "slurped the milky way from California to New York to Mexico" -- ticked off three nutritional tips for a mellow ejaculate: hard candies, gallons of apple juice and fruit.

No Jolly Rancher jokes, ok?

Then comes (no, not really) the guy who immediately and magically banishes the regret of anyone who's given up on academia.

Urologists, I decided. I dialed some dick doctors. Dr. Lawrence Ross of the University of Illinois in Chicago shocked me by totally dismissing the entire notion that disparity in taste even exists! "In all healthy men," he contended, "seminal fluids are constant and similar because they all include precise components -- potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc. -- that maintain the very stable pH acidity that is needed to support the spermatozoa."

Oy fucking vey.

But what intrigues me is this practice of women asking guys to taste their own semen. Is this common?

I lied too, 25 years ago, when I gobbled through the same horrible gastronomic gantlet. My lover Robyn perceived my bluff; she forced me to admit that I loathed the salty, viscous wad. Ever since then, my glee at getting my lollipop licked has been tainted with advance remorse: My receiver is about to be nauseous.

Now, I've never been asked to do this, but let's be honest: even men and women who really love performing oral sex need to be in the moment, hormones flowing, to really enjoy it. No one wants essence de genitals as a side with lunch, right? So you've just gotten off, you're enjoying your afterglow...and someone tries to feed you the stuff...of course it's going to be gross.

If experience is any guide--and this goes for pleasuring both sexes--some people love it, some people think it's lethal poison, and you should never, ever eat asparagus.


 

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Fraternity

Posted by Ogged
on 06.02.04

Chun considers the political landscape.

Long-time readers will know that I am a committed egalitarian. Folks who'd be at a loss to discuss even the barest outlines of the organismal selection debate or Ricoeur's reading of Augustine can vote, marry, and even procreate here in America, and I see no compelling reason to change this right away.

Read the whole thing.


 

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smoking gun

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.02.04

One of my main ambitions is to avoid incriminating myself on tape. Snidely Whiplash joins the energy industry:

"They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"
"Yeah, grandma Millie, man"
"Yeah, now she wants her f------g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a------ for f------g $250 a megawatt hour."

I thought the only people who talked this way were on reality tv. Via Drum.


 

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Impressive

Posted by Ogged
on 06.02.04

The facts themselves are unremarkable (many more on the page).

Number of people I've slept with: 36
Number of one-night stands: 11
Number of guys I slept with who were musicians: 9
Number of lead singers: 3
Number of times a camera was involved: 1
Number of times I was confronted with a cock piercing: 2
Number of times I slept with someone who had a girlfriend: 3
Number of times I knew that I was sleeping with someone who had a girlfriend: 2
Number of times I slept with someone who had a girlfriend in a coma: 1

What I want to know is, Who the hell can remember all that?

via gawker


 

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Found

Posted by Ogged
on 06.02.04

It turns out that all the pictures on Wonkette have snarky names. Check it out.


 

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Just follow-ing ancient his-story

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.02.04

If your career moves resemble the video for "Welcome to the Jungle," you might want to rethink:

Dancers like Trixie, who grew up in a small cornfield of a town with no stoplights in Illinois and moved here from Naples, Fla., three years ago, are flocking to Las Vegas from all corners of the country. In the last 10 years, dozens of new clubs have opened here, and experienced or first-time strippers can usually get a job instantly at one of the 40 clubs in town, although many dancers say the competition is getting fiercer.

The whole story here. For more on the stripping life, I refer you once again to Diablo Cody, who, apparently, has quit stripping.


 

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Psycho, Not Always Good

Posted by Ogged
on 06.01.04

If you're a Pistons fan, aren't you glad Ron Artest is completely fucking nuts? Props to Sam Smith, who wrote, way back when the Bulls traded Artest, that Indiana would find out why he was available: eventually, he loses it, and hurts his own team.


 

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oldest living civil war widow

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.01.04

Alberta Martin, dead at 97. This is a sweet story turned a bit creepy by the confederacy history cult:

Alberta, 21, needed a husband to help raise her little boy; William didn't wish to spend his remaining years alone. So, for mutual companionship and support, they married in 1927. Despite the six-decade age difference, Alberta and her husband welcomed a son less than a year after exchanging their vows. William died on July 8, 1931, and two months later, Alberta wed Charlie Martin, her late husband's grandson. They were married for over 50 years, until his death in 1983.
After living in obscurity for most of her life, Alberta's final years were spent in the company of history buffs. The Sons of Confederate Veterans feted her at conventions and reenactments. In 1996, the group helped to persuade the state of Alabama to give Alberta a Confederate widow's pension of $2,500/mo.
Alberta will lie in state in the parlor of the first White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Ala. Nineteenth-century period music will be played at her funeral by the 52nd Regimental String Band of Memphis, Tenn., and the Olde Towne Brass Band of Huntsville, Ala. A Confederate reenactor heritage funeral march and graveside service will be held at the New Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery in Curtis, Ala.

 

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Burning

Posted by Ogged
on 06.01.04

Have I said thank god for Dana Milbank yet?

In a speech on May 21 mentioning the importance of integrity in government, business and the military, Bush veered into a challenge to unidentified "people" who practice moral relativism. "It may seem generous and open-minded to say that everybody, on every moral issue, is equally right," Bush said, at Louisiana State University. "But that attitude can also be an excuse for sidestepping life's most important questions."
No doubt. But who's made such arguments? Hannibal Lecter? The White House declined to name names.

A nice catalog of Bush's strawman arguments. (via Matt Yglesias).

p.s. That "Quotable Bush" line at the bottom of Milbank's article has been fully explained. Milbank should post an explanation.


 

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Distractions

Posted by Ogged
on 06.01.04

I can see how this might be a problem.

Is anyone less careful about closing blinds than hot young women? For one year in college, on any given day, I could count on some combination of three attractive women living in various apartments across the way to make an appearance. I was grateful, of course, but really, give a guy a break.


 

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Baseless?

Posted by Ogged
on 06.01.04
I keep seeing people referring to the construction of "permanent" American military bases in Iraq, and speculation that the invasion "was always about the bases." I managed to find what seems to be the source article (originally in the 3/23/04 Chicago Tribune) for the talk about bases, and it is pretty suggestive.
"Is this a swap for the Saudi bases?" asked Army Brig. Gen. Robert Pollman, chief engineer for base construction in Iraq. "I don't know. ... When we talk about enduring bases here, we're talking about the present operation, not in terms of America's global strategic base. But this makes sense. It makes a lot of logical sense."
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations for the coalition in Iraq, said the military engineers are trying to prepare for any eventuality.
"This is a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East," Kimmitt said. "[But] the engineering vision is well ahead of the policy vision. What the engineers are saying now is: Let's not be behind the policy decision. Let's make this place ready so we can address policy options."
But is there something to indicate that the bases were the primary, or even a major factor in the invasion? It's a genuine question; does anyone know?

 

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It'll Hurt, I Promise

Posted by Ogged
on 06.01.04

When people wonder how fat you'd have to be to be bulletproof, you can be sure that they've never been shot. But haven't they ever seen a decent violent movie either?

via Gary Farber


 

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Post

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.04

One of the wonderful things about David Markson's last three books is how the fragments group into meaning, but, of course, a lot of the fragments are just interesting.

I have wasted my hours.
Said Leonardo at the end of his life.
Leonardo.

...

Plutarch's report of an epidemic of women's suicides in Miletus.
And of a law enacted that all suicides must thenceforth be carried naked through the city before burial.
At which the suicides cease.

...

Superb administrative talent, Kafka's superiors at the insurance company said he possessed.

 

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Magnet

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.04

I suppose I'm weak, but the latest Lance Armstrong Nike ad damn near makes me cry every time (make sure the sound's on).


 

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Casual

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.04

Maybe I'm old-fashioned; maybe it's just that I've really never understood casual sex, but, I just feel sorry for these kids.

It's not that teenagers have given up on love altogether. Most of the high-school students I spent time with said they expected to meet the right person, fall in love and marry -- eventually. It's just that high school, many insist, isn't the place to worry about that. High school is about keeping your options open. Relationships are about closing them. As these teenagers see it, marriage and monogamy will seamlessly replace their youthful hookup careers sometime in their mid- to late 20's -- or, as one high-school boy from Rhode Island told me online, when ''we turn 30 and no one hot wants us anymore.''
Brian, a 16-year-old friend of Jesse's, put it this way: ''Being in a real relationship just complicates everything. You feel obligated to be all, like, couply. And that gets really boring after a while. When you're friends with benefits, you go over, hook up, then play video games or something. It rocks.''

It's a good article, which even takes a look back without romanticizing. Certainly, it's accurate about what dating was like when I was of age.

Many teenagers settled down into a mix of serial dating and going steady -- being ''popular'' often meant having a highly coveted boyfriend or girlfriend. And while parents may have felt, as they typically do, that they didn't always understand teenage culture, most still thought they had a pretty good idea of whom their kids were talking to regularly. ''Teens still had to call the home to reach the person they were interested in,'' Bailey says. ''But then came cellphones and the Internet.''

I don't remember many of my conversations with girls at that age, but I have pretty vivid memories of talking to some dads when I called their daughters. The main difference though, is that it was all a much bigger deal than it seems to be for these kids.

Now I'll sound like a real prude, but, just as when I was growing up and the fear was that we would all become cokeheads, it seems pretty clear that the kids who get attention from their parents generally aren't reckless--with drugs or sex--and the kids who don't, are.


 

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Not For Me

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.04

I haven't catalogued my experiences so thoroughly, but I've had the same rule for about ten years: never buy a Sony product. They're so shiny and tempting; but they break.


 

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Even True

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.04

God bless Dana Milbank.

It was a typical week in the life of the Bush reelection machine.
Last Monday in Little Rock, Vice President Cheney said Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry "has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all" and said the senator from Massachusetts "promised to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts within his first 100 days in office."
On Tuesday, President Bush's campaign began airing an ad saying Kerry would scrap wiretaps that are needed to hunt terrorists.
The same day, the Bush campaign charged in a memo sent to reporters and through surrogates that Kerry wants to raise the gasoline tax by 50 cents.
On Wednesday and Thursday, as Kerry campaigned in Seattle, he was greeted by another Bush ad alleging that Kerry now opposes education changes that he supported in 2001.
The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.

It's a fair article--Kerry doesn't get a pass--but it's also quite clear about who's being more negative, and who's more guilty of distortions. Good stuff.


 

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Markson

Posted by Ogged
on 05.30.04

The one author whose books I can not only finish, but reread, is David Markson. I'm so out of sorts that I didn't even know he's written a new one. The first three pages are transcribed below.

Author has finally started to put his notes into manuscript form.

...

A seascape by Henri Matisse was once hung upside down in the Museum of Modern Art in New York--and left that way for month and a half.

...

The speedometer needle after the crash that killed Albert Camus was frozen at 145, in kilometers--meaning roughly ninety miles per hour.

...

The driver of another vehicle said the car had passed him going faster than that.

...

Leonardo da Vinci's father had four wives.

...

Not one of whom was Leonardo's mother.

...

An early intention was that Hector Berlioz would become a physician.

...

Until he went headlong out a hospital window during his first dissection.

...

Author had been scribbling the notes on three-by-five-inch index cards. They now come close to filling two shoebox tops taped together end to end.

...

Bertrand Russell was twenty-one years older than Wilfred Owen.

...

And would still be alive fifty-two years after Owen was machine-gunned in France in World War I.

...

Orchestra play like pig.

...

Being an Arturo Toscanini explanation of why he would not apologize to his Metropolitan Opera musicians after cursing at them in Italian.

...

Twenty-five years after she broke off their relationship, Charles Dickens had a tryst with Maria Beadnell, his still-remembered first love.

...

And found her fat and foolishly affected and wholly witless.

...

From the earliest biographical note on Rembrandt:

...

He could read only the simplest Dutch. And that haltingly.

...

Rembrandt.

...

Werner Heisenberg as thirty-one when he won the Nobel Prize.

...

And nine years earlier had been given a grade of C on his doctoral examinations.

...

By his own admission, William Butler Yeats, at twenty-seven, had not yet ever kissed a woman.

...

The Bodleian Library at Oxford, in the mid-seventeenth century, exchanged its First Folio Shakespeare for a Third--on the premise that the latter was more complete.

...

Actually, Author could have begun to type some weeks ago. For whatever reason, he's been procrastinating.

...

Karl Marx never in his life saw the inside of a factory.

...

Visiting Maecenas at Rome, in the decades before the beginning of the common era, Virgil and Horace were able to use his heated swimming pool.

...

At thirty-seven, in Key West, Ernest Hemingway badly marked up Wallace Stevens' face in a never fully explained fistfight.

...

Stevens was fifty-seven when it happened.

...

One hundred and sixteen thousand viewers had strolled past Le Bateau, the upside-down Matisse, without comment, before it was rehung correctly.

...

At the age of seven or eight, Sigmund Freud once deliberately urinated on the floor of his parents' bedroom.

...

Aaron Copland, on listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fifth Symphony:

...

Like staring at a cow for forty-five minutes.

...

Mark Twain forgot Becky Thatcher's name in the eight years between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. And called her Bessie Thatcher in the later book.

...

Thomas Hardy's anecdote about lookup up a word in the dictionary because he wasn't certain it existed--and finding that he himself was the only authority cited for its usage.


 

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The CONCEPT

Posted by Ogged
on 05.30.04

God, I love Christoper Walken. And this article, which I promise you will read in its entirety, is written by a fan.

His bizarro word rhythm and gleeful disregard for punctuation makes even his most banal utterances sound dramatic. At the grocery store, he stared at a plump tomato and then put it back. ''I DON'T. Buy the tomatoes with. The stems. On them. They don't. Degrade. They go. Down the sink. And into the WATER. Then. They get lodged in the throats of little. OTTERS.''

 

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