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Blogging break

Posted by Bob
on 08.27.04

Work is about to get very hectic, and on top of that I've decided to donate my spare time to MoveOn PAC's big Leave No Voter Behind campaign. I'll be knocking on doors, interrupting dinners, and generally pestering undecided voters -- which I figure is more useful than pestering the probably very decided voters who read Unfogged.

(At this point I'd usually call on my fellow bloggers to pick up my slack, but I sort of hope they'll join the on-the-ground campaign as well.)

And here's an Olympic photo.


 

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Ten bucks should do ya

Posted by Bob
on 08.27.04

Another of those death-by-a-thousand-papercuts metonymies of Bushco's scorn for ordinary Americans, via Daily Kos's Trapper John:

On Wednesday Dick Cheney stopped by a farm stand while on campaign tour. He picked up nine apples, five tomatoes, three bell peppers, and a dozen corn ears. He gave the farmer $10 and walked away. Did $10 really cover it? No, but it was an honor to sell produce to the Vice President.

1. Dick Cheney doesn't understand how much food costs to ordinary Americans. Dick Cheney doesn't understand the economic realities of the family farm.

2. Trapper John said it well (his italics):

...the way that Cheney handed the guy a $10 without asking him what the cost of the goods were. It's as if he sized the tomatoes and corn up, sized the farmer up, decided that $10 was appropriate, and that was that. No need to say, "what's the damage?" No need to wait for the farmer to total the cost. Nope -- Dick saw the entire transaction as he might an interaction with a bellhop at the Plaza. He took a commonplace commercial transaction between vendor and consumer, and turned it into a master-servant relationship. In essence, Dick took his veggies, and tipped the guy $10....


 

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Fees make the lawyer

Posted by Bob
on 08.27.04

It's not so much that Benjamin L. Ginsberg may have violated the DC Bar's ethics guidelines. It's more that the ethics guidelines spell out what it means to actually be someone's lawyer. You establish the fees up front, and it's pro bono if the client can't pay. When Ginsberg says that he's been providing legal advice to the Shifty Boat Veterans but that the payment details haven't been worked out yet and maybe it'll be gratis, what he's really saying is that he's not working for them in what his bar association considers to be a professional capacity. It's something more informal, something undefined. Like maybe he's an adviser, a strategist, a consigliere -- whatever it is, it's not the disinterested, detached thing implied by his claim to just be giving them campaign-finance-rules advice.

Update: this.


 

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Travels

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.04

My Tour de Matrimonials begins tomorrow, so I'm outta here until Monday. Here are a couple of Olympic pics to tide you over.

I'm still not sure I understand which parts belong to which guy.

Hooray, an Iranian wins gold! My cousin is a heavyweight weightlifter (and is built much like the guy in the picture). He came in third several years ago in Iran's collegiate or national lifting competition (I'm not sure which). When I was there a couple of years ago, we needed to move something and his brother and I grunted and groaned and strained and literally could not budge the thing we needed to lift. He showed up about ten minutes later and lifted it by himself.


 

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Readings

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.04

A head's up on a couple of books you might find of interest.

Bob Dylan's autobiography.

And Aron Ralston's account of cutting off his arm to save his life (remember that story?). Including this, which I didn't know (my emphasis).

Ralston candidly renders the details of six days of entrapment, using transcribed monologues from videotapes he made while trapped, including his increasingly exhausted thoughts as well as poignant farewells to his family.

 

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Exhale soon

Posted by Bob
on 08.26.04

The Bush administration seems to be coming around to accepting everyone else's explanation for climate change. Finally.

What we can expect to hear next from the White House:

1. A push to ratify Kyoto.

2. Improved efficiency standards for trucks and SUVs.

3. Subsidies to energy providers to increase wind and solar power generation.

4. Nuclear!

5. A green-buildings initiative, starting with federal-government buildings.

6. Large-scale purchase and protection of tropical forest land.

7. A nationwide network of bike trails with bike-hotels and mountain escalators.

8. Secretary of Transportation Lance Armstrong.


 

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Stepping stone

Posted by Bob
on 08.26.04

I know no one cares, but it turns out being provost at Yale is a great way to become the first woman to run some major university. First Alison Richard becomes the first woman to run the University of Cambridge (don't be fooled by the "Vice" in her title -- the actual Chancellor is the Duke of Edinburgh), then Susan Hockfield becomes the first woman to run MIT. Meanwhile, if you're provost at Stanford, you can expect someday to say before an investigative commission, "I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'"


 

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Dig It

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.04

Are people really wondering if beach volleyball is a sport? Have these people ever tried to run in the sand, or to spike a volleyball? Oy.

And, my apologies, but complaining about the women's bikinis is about as humorless as can be.

Folks, the men wear shorts because they're wearing really unattractive jock straps underneath them. They wear tops because they need somewhere to stick their number and their name. The women don't wear full tops because they'd have to wear a bra anyway, and don't want to wear two layers in 110 degree heat. They don't wear shorts because they'd have to wear undies anyway, and don't want to wear (and shake sand out of) two layers in 110 degree heat. It ain't so complicated. And yeah, they look great, and I probably wouldn't be watching if they weren't wearing bikinis, but the Olympics are at least half about ogling beautiful bodies.

During the swimming competition, I was on the phone with a young lady who was telling me about her Ian Thorpe porn, and my ex, who was over watching the Olympics with me, called out, "Ogged, come here, you have to see this!" Well, there was Ian Thorpe, getting out of the pool. Ogling. Olympics. Fun for everyone.

MORE: Over at Echidne's, where humor goes to die, Jake Squid (don't miss him with Jenna Jameson) reads,

Yes Ogged makes a lot of sense. See, men aren't attracted to men, so men must cover up. Women, on the other hand, are hot therefore they must bare a lot of skin. How could you have missed that?

You'd think I'd asked for the male swimmers to compete in denim. If you think guys competing in jock straps are attractive, I'll give you directions to the sumo ring, and you're welcome to try to convince Ricardo et al. to doff their shorts; it's not as if I'll complain, but I will snicker.


 

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Another Eye

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.04

I think Bob decided posts like this were stupid. But no one's picking it up, dammit. Bush lied about being in the Air Force.


 

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Look, eye!

Posted by Bob
on 08.25.04

Of course Bush doesn't condemn the attacks on Kerry's military service. The entire controversy -- Bush's duplicity and his own military record included -- are a huge, bright, juicy-looking eyespot.

What's an eyespot? It's that eye-like set of two or three concentric circles (also called an ocellus) near the tips of many butterflies' wings. One of its adaptive functions (it's believed) is to draw a predator's attack away from the more important parts of the butterfly's body, like the thorax. If a bird nips off the part of the wing near the eyespot, the butterfly can get along nearly as well as before.

The SBVFT attacks are infuriating, and they've drawn the entire mainstream-media coverage of the campaigns away from the new overtime rules, the Abu Ghraib report, Osama bin Laden, California's heatwave-riddled future, and the several Florida election scandals. (And I'm not even mentioning Whizgate, Didn't-raingate, or Flipgate.) Most of the prominent lefty bloggers have decried the distraction -- and then gone on just to take bigger and bigger chomps out of the eyespot.

Bush knows that the attack is outrageous, and he knows that every new day reveals tighter and tighter connections between his campaign and the attackers. But the repeated renewal of the story in the headlines -- whether the headlines seem positive or embarrassing to Bush -- continuously draws our attention away from the thorax. So: stop looking at that thing -- it's not really an eye!


 

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Saaad

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.04

Terrorism, GW, misery, etc. etc., but this is the saddest story I've read in a long time.

[Sheep were placed in a darkened barn and shown] various faces. Stress was monitored noting "the number of times each sheep bleated, its movement within the barn and its heart rate". This being real science, the sheeps' levels of cortisol and adrenaline were also recorded.
The results of the experiment were apparently significant: "When the sheep were shown faces of sheep familiar to them, they became less stressed and showed fewer signs of agitation than when they were shown goat faces or triangles. The areas of the brain which control fear and the stress response also showed reduced activation," the paper reports.

Christ, I'm going to be thinking all day about all the damn sad lonely sheep. I just thank my socialization that I'm not tempted to join PETA so much as I'm tempted to hurry and eat up all the sheep.


 

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Motives

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.04

I'm generally a tech-friendly guy, but this comment at slashdot was a good reminder that some people relate to computers in far different ways.

Your GUI is a subtle lie about what your system is truly up to. Even the author of TFA expresses a distrust about what the dialogs presented him are hiding:

...

If I am presented with a choice of spending a few minutes learning a command syntax and being in control of my system or an eternity being presented with deceptive (yes, deceptive - what's the last Windows dialog you saw which told you exactly what was happening?), frustrating dialogs I think you'll find me at the bash shell.

I might think that some programmers weren't quite thorough and wrote unhelpful text for system messages, but I don't generally think that the machine is trying to trick me.


 

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If Thine Palm Offend Thee

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.04

Far too good to excerpt. Ways to keep from masturbating, from our Mormon brethren.

via the black table


 

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But Not Really Snarky

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.04

I think y'all will like this blog.


 

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How everyone else decides

Posted by Bob
on 08.24.04

Thanks, Ben, for pointing to this Louis Menand New Yorker piece, which summarizes political scientists' answers to one of the bigger questions that's been occupying me this campaign season: given that only a tiny fraction of voting America reads blogs or has even heard of Daily Kos, how does everyone else decide whom to vote for? That is, how do my mom, the record-store guy, and my gum-popping haircutter figure out which boxes to check?

Though it's short, I don't have the attention span right now to comment on or summarize it. So just go ahead and read it and say your usual smart things in the comments.


 

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Yes: flog Whizgate

Posted by Bob
on 08.24.04

Matthew Yglesias has been flogging Whizgate -- to the consternation of some of his readers, who think WMDs, for example, are more compelling Bush lies.

The thing is, it's rididiculously trivial things like haircuts and primal screams that ultimately define candidates' characters for a huge chunk of the voting public. Americans like to think that they're thinking for themselves, and seemingly unscripted moments -- like Kerry calling a Secret Service agent a sonofabitch and Bush flipping off a couple of teenagers -- can be expertly interpreted even by people who don't think of themselves as experts in tax policy or nuclear proliferation. "I don't know or care about that global-warming crap, but all that sighing and eye-rolling -- Al Gore just seems like a smartier-than-thou jerk!"

"Whiz-with" is a lie whose only purpose was blue-collar, regular-guy posturing. "I wiped out because the rain destabilized the soil" is a lie whose only purpose was to keep America thinking that the Commander-in-Chief knows how to stay on a mountain bike. They're stupid lies that contribute almost nothing to the political discourse, but they encapsulate exactly the smug, reflexive cowboy-hat swagger which itself represents everything we hate about Bush's politics. It's all about metonymies with Bush -- he speaks in metonymies, and presumably his supporters respond to metonymies -- so we should do our best to broadcast below-the-radar metonymies like Whizgate.


 

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Hamm

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.24.04

Bad puns optional. This seems fairly clear-cut to me, since there's an acknowledged scoring error which didn't affect subsequent performance.

The federation added, however, that Hamm could offer to give up his gold medal, a situation it has seen before. In 2001, during the trampoline world championships, Irina Karavaeva learned that she had won the gold because of a judging error, and the F.I.G. changed the result at her request.

In other news, Gary Farber's vocabulary result will stand despite protests from Team Waring.


 

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Peculate?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.04

This (via b&s) is silly, but it does link to a good vocabulary quiz, and can the people of blogdom resist vocabulary quizzes?

I got a 176; I don't expect it to hold up for gold.


 

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Will You Muslims Stop Screwing Up the Funny Stories, Please?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.04

I can't believe there's an Iranian porn scandal that I haven't been following. A half-Norwegian, half-Iranian woman was kicked out of the Miss Norway contest because, according to the original reports, she had starred in two porn movies.

I clicked around and found some pictures. Dude, there are more than two of her movies on my hard drive. Demonstrating the charming naivete that draws women to porn rather than, say, business school, she claimed that she hadn't been in any movies, it must have been her twin sister. As the Norwegian news site puts it,

However, investigations revealed that she does not have a twin sister.

Of course, you throw some crazy Scandanavian Muslims into the mix, and even a little porn scandal can become overwrought. She's had to flee the country because she's getting death threats. Though I do think she'll enjoy Barcelona.


 

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No Pax Here

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.04

Salam Pax is blogging from inside Sadr City.

via eve tushnet


 

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Bush won't run

Posted by Bob
on 08.23.04

3:44 marathoner George Bush's knees are shot, and he's going to have to give up on running.

In other news, stem cells will probably someday be used to regenerate cartilage. Thanks for your work, stem-cell researchers!

(Cheap-shot acknowledgment: the stem cells used in the linked study weren't embryonic stem cells.)


 

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Get at the roots

Posted by Bob
on 08.23.04

Kerry-supporters' response to Bush's no-527 diversion could be framed in terms of free speech, but I'd be concerned that free speech is a bit abstract for many voters. So many Americans are ready to sign their speech rights over to John Ashcroft -- are they likely to care about some wild-eyed hippie organization's ability to get ads on the air?

The Kerry-supporter response should frame 527s as grassroots. Bush opposes the power of grassroots organizations because more of them are against him than for him and because he prefers government run by gigantic corporations to that run by MoveOn's two million small donors. Bush's opposition to 527s is opposition to the Little Guy, and that's of course opposition to the voters.


 

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Pretty Swift

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.04

Clever little bastards. Bush has called for an end to the Swift Vet ads.

"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" should be halted, Bush said: "All of them. That means that ad, every other ad. Absolutely."

The twist.

"I can't be more plain about it," Bush said. "I hope my opponent joins me in condemning these activities of the 527s. I think they're bad for the system."

The Democrats, of course, have a huge advantage in 527 funding. Bush is trying to make this an issue of independent expenditures, when the real issue is the dishonesty of the Swift ads. This seems like a very smart move to me, and the Kerry folks had better have a very fast and clever response about free speech and honesty, or every MoveOn (and etc.) ad could well hurt Kerry.

(It's also worth noting that Bush is calling for an end to the ads when they've already done their damage and after several debunkings are making the Republicans look bad. Well-played, I have to admit.)

UPDATE: Atrios suggests that Bush believes free speech is bad for the system.

Can he really be saying that all outside ads should stop because "they're bad for the system." Should political parties be the only ones who are allowed to engage in political speech? Or, is his objection to disclosure requirements? If so, the media should start learning just what disclosure laws are, which groups are complying with them, how, and whether they're doing it in a timely fashion.

This is correct, but I doubt its effectiveness. The money=speech equation, after all, isn't quite intuitive, and Bush can respond that people can say whatever they like, but he sure does wish that the elites wouldn't use all their money to corrupt the system...after all, Kerry and Edwards both wanted the Swift ads to stop.

I'm more inclined toward a "I'm not afraid of free speech, I object to lies" response for Kerry, but even that will be tough to swing.

MORE: Mark Kleiman's shorter GW is good.

I'll ask my friends to stop lying about John Kerry, if he will ask his friends to stop telling the truth about me.

 

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Poverty of Imagination

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.04

Great stuff from the Poor Man.

So, I have a question: are we really talking about this? I'm not dreaming? Because I have dreams this weird sometimes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, really, when you think about who made this ad, and who they made it for. People who believe that dinosaur bones were planted by Satan to trick unsuspecting archaeologists into atheism. People who think that the National Academy of Sciences is a front organization for radical leftists who want to take away your freedom by saying that climate science is real. People who think that Jesus talks to George Bush. (Jesus hasn't suffered enough for you, now he has to spend his free time with that smirking pussy? Give Jesus a break already.) People who think that FOX News is, actually, fair and balanced. Basically, people who think that if the facts don't support what you want to believe, you probably aren't believing hard enough. Oh, and they run the country. Yeah, this one. Nice.

Read the whole thing.


 

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Olympian Questions

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.04

First, I'd like to thank the Creator for granting me the luxury to worry about these things.

When I was a younger man, I took it as an article of faith that the winner of the 100 meter dash was the world's fastest man. I thought the turn in the 200 meters was a perversion of sprinting. Now, I'm not so sure. In fact, the 100 meters now looks like a race that ends before anyone's had a chance to sprint full out, and a turn seems like a nice challenge.

Second, much as I've been loving the beach volleyball (even the men's!), is it really necessary to celebrate after every single point? It seems like a tic.

There must be other Olympic annoyances. By all means, feel free...


 

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Precision

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.04

How precise are measurements in physics? Scientists are trying to explain why some pendulums seem to behave oddly during a solar eclipse. One possible explanation is that

the anomaly is caused by the seismic disturbance induced as crowds of sightseers move into and out of a place where an eclipse is visible.

I had to laugh, because it reminded me of this old Cecil Adams column.

Dear Cecil:
I hope that you can answer a question that has plagued me since childhood. If every man, woman, and child in China each stood on a chair, and everyone jumped off their chair at exactly the same time, would the earth be thrown off its axis? Also, if prior to jumping, they all yelled at the top of their lungs, would we hear it here in the United States, and how much of a time delay would there be?
Amazing as it may seem, I am actually going to answer this incredibly retarded question.

Not so retarded...


 

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Old News

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.04

I'm sure you've all heard about Bush's smears of McCain in the 2000 primary, but if you scroll down this page on John Kerry's site, you'll get the most comprehensive recounting of the smears that I've seen. It's still flabbergasting that Bush never paid a price for this.

And when did Business Week become The Nation? A powerhouse commentary condemning the Swift Boat ads.


 

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One Gold Filling

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.04

Three things that don't generally interest me: animation, reality tv, lesbian scenes...more than the sum of its parts.

via attu


 

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