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A request

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.01.05

Dear Colleagues,

...

Thanks,

F. Labs

ps what Ogged said. Here's to an upward-trending 05.


 

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Getting Through the Oughts

Posted by Ogged
on 12.31.04

Happy New Year, everyone. Frankly, it's been a long and dispiriting year, not least because of its hopeful moments. But here, at least, there's always someone to say something smart, or funny, and make the rest of us feel a bit better. So, to everyone who reads, comments, and blogs here, thanks, and here's to better days.


 

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Eastern APA

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.31.04

I couldn't liveblog it, sadly, but here's what it would have been like if I did:

Tuesday night: arrive in Boston, find the hotel, run into some old friends, have dinner. I see Cornel West back in the lobby, but I resist the temptation to ask him if he lists his CD on his CV. I stop by the reception ("the smoker" if you're old-school) and run into at least three people who are demonstrably smarter than me and have either no jobs at all or really bad jobs. I resolve to be a less terrible person in the new year. I drink several cups of the bad (but free) beer the APA hands out at this thing while resenting that I'm one of the only people tipping the bartenders.

I make this solemn vow: I will never have extravagant academic hair, the kind of hair that makes you look like you're trying too hard to look eccentric and brilliant, the kind of hair that everyone who knows better laughs at.

Later Tuesday night: hit a nearby bar with the old grad school cronies. Some of these guys are as-yet unemployed, so I put everyone on my tab. Suddenly my friends start drinking Chivas.

Wednesday morning: I wake up around 10 hating myself for having too much to drink.

Wednesday afternoon: I make it to the gay marriage session. I'm a little scared by Cheshire Calhoun's hair, but her paper is mildly interesting, if not really philosophical. Claudia Card: still hatin' on marriage. I notice that Richard Mohr, professional homosexual, is wearing a leather tie. I resist the temptation to ask if he's still getting royalties for "My Sharona." Ralph (say "Rafe") Wedgwood is there, and, as usual, looks resplendent and contemptuous at the same time. I admire his pants in a heterosexual sort of way.

Overheard in an elevator. Civilian: "is there some kind of convention here?" APA guy: "it's the American Philosophical Association-- mostly philosophy professors." Civilian: "Oh, that explains all the beards."

Wednesday night: a nice dinner with friends, then another round at the reception. I make some attempts to schmooze, but my heart's not in it....We head to a bar, have trouble finding one, and make it just before last call. Fortunate: this lets me catch my train the next morning without any problem.


 

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Slooow

Posted by Ogged
on 12.31.04

I'm around today, but since it seems like not many people are reading, I'm more likely to tinker with the site than post new stuff. Feel free to drop into the comments if you have something to say, or think there's something I should post about.

Like...: I'm about to start messing with the Recent Comments sidebar. Don't panic, I'll put it back the way it was.


 

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John Yoo, Whore

Posted by Ogged
on 12.31.04

Is there any malfeasance by conservatives that John Yoo won't jump to become an apologist for?

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the Supreme Court, from $1,200 worth of tires to valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses.
The gifts included a Bible once owned by the 19th century author and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, which Thomas valued at $19,000, and a bust of President Lincoln valued at $15,000.
He also took a free trip aboard a private jet to the exclusive Bohemian Grove club in northern California -- arranged by a wealthy Texas real estate investor who has helped run an advocacy group that filed briefs with the Supreme Court.

...

"I don't see anything wrong in this. I don't see why it is inappropriate to get gifts from friends," said John C. Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "This reflects a bizarre effort to over-ethicize everyday life. If one of these people were to appear before the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas would recuse himself. So I don't see the problem."
Despite the open-ended rules, most of the other Supreme Court justices reported accepting only items of lesser value, or token gifts for speaking at formal events, or nothing at all.

But, given the zeal with which Yoo defended torture, he probably didn't even break a sweat defending Thomas.

Good Lord: Reading one last article before bed. The article's gist:

The Justice Department published a revised and expansive definition late yesterday of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most criticized policy memorandums drafted during President Bush's first term.

And I got to the last paragraph:

But John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who helped draft the first memo while working in the legal counsel's office, said the new version "makes it harder to figure out how the torture statute applies to specific interrogation methods. It muddies the water. Our effort . . . was to interpret the statute clearly."

He's right, you know: that first memo was very clear indeed. Remember "serious physical injury such as death or organ failure"?

Banality of evil? Willing executioner? John Yoo.


 

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BitTorrent

Posted by Ogged
on 12.30.04
Here's a characteristically excellent Wired article about Bram Cohen, and the software he's created, called BitTorrent. File sharing suffers from two limitations: sending is much slower than receiving, and receiving depends on a particular sender. But if what you're receiving is broken into bits, and available from many senders at once, you can receive quickly, and just need to put the bits together on your end. No one sender even needs to have the whole file, which also means that more people can be senders, just as soon as they have a bit. That's not just a fast system, it's also almost impossible to shut down, because it doesn't depend on any particular sites. The article does a nice job of sketching what's already being done with BitTorrent, and the implications for TV and movies. There were a few lines that I loved. True love:
"Bram will just pace around the house all day long, back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. Then he'll suddenly go to his computer and the code just comes pouring out. And you can see by the lines on the screen that it's clean," Jenna says. "It's clean code." She pats her husband affectionately on the head: "My sweet little autistic nerd boy."
Ethical dilemma:
There's upholding the principle. And there's being the only knucklehead left who's upholding the principle.
And a time frame that seems very very wrong to me:
The executive vice president for research and planning at CBS, David Poltrack, elaborates: "In our research with consumers, content-on-demand is the killer app. They like the idea of paying only for what they watch." The trick, he figures, is to work out a solution before the audience for illegal downloading becomes truly huge. He figures the networks have 10 years.
I'd give them two. It's not going to take very long for people to realize that if they download a little program and just click some links on a webpage, they can download movies and TV shows (and lots of other things) for free. Napster days are here again.

 

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The Dutch

Posted by Ogged
on 12.30.04

I don't know if you've been following the news from Holland in the wake of the Theo Van Gogh killing, but these two articles are well done and informative. Ian Buruma. Chris Caldwell. Come to think of it, I have a cousin in Holland. I should call her.

AND: Come to think of something else: Van Gogh sure isn't pronounced "Van Gogh" in Holland. It's more like "Fon Khokh," with the "kh" sounding like the "ch" in "loch" (Ness Monster). It took a few minutes for my cousin's kids to figure out which museum I wanted to go to.


 

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Lennie, And Friends

Posted by Ogged
on 12.30.04

There's another nice article about Jerry Orbach in Slate, with lots of good links. And there's a fun exercise:

everyone has their favorite L & O cast; my ultimate lineup would include Chris Noth and Orbach in the cop roles, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Sam Waterston and Steven Hill in the "Law" section. To me, the female assistant DAs were pretty much interchangeable.

Agreed, mostly. I'm torn between Noth and Jesse Martin as Lennie's partner. Martin is smart and slick, and it's fun to watch him think, but then, I have that sentimental attachment to Noth, since people are always telling me I look like him (though I'd like to make clear that I look nothing like this).

I don't know how anyone can be indifferent to the Assistant District Attorneys. Carey Lowell is the rockingest ADA of all (though Jill Hennessy--who actually looks and sounds a lot like my ex; did Noth and Hennessy ever hook up? It didn't work out, did it?--is also good.) Angie Harmon shouldn't be allowed on a set (IMDB: ""Discovered" by David Hasselhoff on an airline flight." Case closed.) and Elizabeth Rohm is no great shakes either, but at least she seems like a nice gal.

And did you know that Michael Moriarty went back to Canada and became a right-wing nutjob?


 

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Search Tip

Posted by Ogged
on 12.29.04

The best way to search the site isn't with that useless "Search Blog" box in the left column. It's with a Google Site Search. In a regular Google search box, type site:unfogged.com your search terms

That'll search comments too, which the regular search won't. And you can be clever to search only comments, or to exclude them. To only search comments, you can type site:unfogged.com your search terms "remember info?" and to exclude comments, you can type site:unfogged.com your search terms -"remember info?"

Of course, you can do this kind of search on other sites too. Google is usually at most only one day behind reasonably well-trafficked blogs.


 

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Comment Feed Question

Posted by Ogged
on 12.29.04

I'm considering adding an RSS feed for comments, but I'm not sure what's best to include. Full post with comments? Separate comment feed? Will that make a new entry in your reader every time there's a new comment? I think it will in mine. Have you seen this done well anywhere?


 

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Forget Wordsmith

Posted by Ogged
on 12.29.04

Like most of Jack O'Toole's posts, this one on the deteriorating situation in Iraq is well worth reading, but mainly, I'd like announce that the word "clusterschtup" has now become part of my vocabulary.


 

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What An End To A Year

Posted by Ogged
on 12.29.04

Susan Sontag, though her true prominence was before my time, and Jerry Orbach, who I watch just about every day in Law & Order reruns while I have dinner--these are people I liked. Damn.

Update: NYT Obit for Orbach.


 

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Neither, One Hopes

Posted by Ogged
on 12.29.04

Do I become part of the War on Iran Machine, or do I not mention that they're torturing bloggers in Iran?

What a shitty world.


 

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Schism?

Posted by Ogged
on 12.28.04

Tim Roemer is trying to become head of the Democratic National Committee (via bitchphd), and he has the support of the Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate. And he, like the Democratic leader in the Senate, is anti-abortion.

I have no faith in my ability to anticipate electoral results, but, doesn't it seem to you that the sense among Democratic voters is that we have little left to lose electorally, and that our principles are what we should be clinging to? And, taking a longer view, doesn't it also seem likely that, if Roemer does become DNC chair, the ultimate fate of the Democratic party will be its replacement by a new party which will be an amalgam of real social liberalism (think Greens, libertarians, and regular old lefties), fiscal conservatism, and a progressivism rooted in an attachment to the technology of the net, and the local activism it supports?

MORE: I see that in bitchphd's comments, they're talking about this move leading to a "third party." But that's not really what I mean; I don't have a mechanism or process envisioned, which is why the post is made of questions, but I'm imagining a party that takes the place of the current democratic party, leaving us, again, with two parties. One thing to keep in mind is that the "party" isn't just a set of principles. It's a bunch of people entrenched in a bunch of coordinated or affiliated institutions. They can be subverted, avoided, or replaced.


 

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Dead

Posted by Ogged
on 12.28.04

Oh God. Just saw the latest tsunami figures. Go here to help.


 

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Home At Last

Posted by Ogged
on 12.28.04

A fine flight, with a chatty neighbor; a not unattractive young lady--a massage therapist and a nanny--who pulled out a card a couple of hours into the flight, wrote her email address on it, and handed it to me. More women should do this.


 

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And They Danced The Night Away

Posted by Ogged
on 12.27.04

And so ends the first ever Unfogged Real Reality Meetdown. W-lfs-n, here:

Unf, Ogged & Adam are gentlemen and scholars all. No threesomes or n-somes of any sort were perpetrated, but there was such wit and refined conversation as to make you think that Hopleaf served not beer, but rather the very mead of poetry itself.

Is full of shit. Unf and I did a horrible job putting Adam and Ben at ease, and got sucked into what's become the black hole of my conversational life lately: furniture. Then Unf busted out with a massive tease about how he just ate at Masa's in New York (Yes, it says dinner "from $500.")

Adam is the quiet scholar, but he did let slip that theology blogging is an awesome way to get laid. And W-lfs-n, believe it or not, was gracious throughout, right until he told me the light was green precisely .1 of a second after it had turned green, and while there were still cars coming while I waited to turn left.

Oh, and W-lfs-n is much better looking than he realizes, and doesn't know that he's this close to being a hipster. But I won't embarrass him more than that. And he told me that, despite knowing my height, weight, ethnicity, and precisely what I'd be wearing, I didn't look like what he expected. You might want to ask him about that.

MORE: Kotsko's version. I rate a "very nice," and remind him of someone with a very Teutonic name. Unf somehow eeks out an equivalent "really nice," which I'll attribute to poor lighting.

(The bar, by the way, is called the Hopleaf, and is excellent.)


 

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Why, you mean person, you

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.27.04

Feeling tired of Invisible Man-- a novel that would be more enjoyable and perhaps greater if it didn't have "I appear on a million syllabi" written between every line--I picked up the Man of the Year issue of Time Magazine (shush, you) to kill the time. In it, I came across a gem of an interview (subscription only) with GHW and Barbara Bush in which our former President asserts these things without a trace of irony:

You know, the idea that George wanted to redeem me after my loss, all this crazy stuff like that, it has nothing to do with that.

And a moment later:

Remember when Ann Richards said George Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth? And then George beat her in his first run for Governor-- I must say I felt a certain sense of joy that he finally had kind of taken her down. I could go around saying, "We showed her what she could do with that silver foot, where she could stick that now."
Kitty Kelley [was dropped from Washingtonian's masthead]...I loved that.
Michael Moore's got to be the worst for me. I mean, he's such a slimeball and so atrocious. But I love the fact now that the Democrats are not embracing them as theirs anymore...I wanted to get up my nerve to ask Jimmy Carter..."how did it feel being there with that marvelous friend of yours, Michael Moore?" and I didn't dare do it....Michael Moore just slandered our family and me.

This would all be easier to take if he'd governed as a class act. That sense of entitlement just oozes through, doesn't it?


 

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Travel: the wrap-up

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.27.04

The revised itinerary worked out fairly well, apart from the absurd time (leaving at 5am) and a long (seven hours) layover in Atlanta, which I actually half-enjoyed, because I found it intriguing to spend a fairly long time in a space designed for short times.

Ok, fine, I was just checking people out the whole time. And getting caught up on my reading: over the course of the trip, I read The Magnificent Ambersons and most of Invisible Man (don't tell me how it ends) as the start of my stupid inane quest to read the Random House 100 greatest novels of the last century. (Tell me if there are any there not worth reading; I thought the Tarkington was amusing but not really so fantastic. I'd say why, but I'd then become cut-rate Holbo, and no one wants that.) (Oh, J&B, I'm very glad you're alive.)


 

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Being Social

Posted by Ogged
on 12.27.04

I walked in the door and my mom was on the phone with her boss, with whom we're quite friendly. She passed me the phone and I figured Boss just wanted to exchange holiday greetings, but she was about halfway through "Hello" when she asked me if I wanted to date her daughter. "Just what I need Boss, you as a mother-in-law." She protested that she was just talking about one date, and that I had jumped to marriage. (My mom later informed me that Boss had been going on about how great it would be if Ogged and Daughter got married.)

We chatted, and she told me about what Daughter's been up to since she moved to L.A., where she's trying to make it as an actress. She just played a witch in a stage production, and a hooker in some movie. "Your daugher, the prostitute," says I, which segued, naturally, again, to "wanna go on a date?" Clearly, she was serious, so I started to stammer, but stammering wasn't going to help, so finally I decided on "Nope." Insufficient: she didn't mean dating her daughter, just going to a movie or something. Holy moly. "Nope."

Lesson learned: one direct insult, some stammering, and two "nopes," will get me off the hook with Boss. I don't know if this rule has wider applicability.

(Can I head off some "why the fuck not?" questions? First, not dating the mom's boss's daughter seems prudent. Second, Not My Type. Third, I'm leaving tomorrow and tonight Unf and I are double-dating Kotsko and W-lfs-n. Priorities, baby!)


 

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A Question For Chicagoans

Posted by Ogged
on 12.26.04

Is anybody in this town not Russian?

When did this happen? It's astounding.


 

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Family, And Other Standards

Posted by Ogged
on 12.26.04

How was Christmas dinner? Well, it's nice when the dinner is hosted by an Iranian and his very nice, good-cooking American wife. But moments like one's cousin following up the wife's mother's long, sad story about her elderly father's last days with the remark that, as a child, he believed that in Russia the elderly were ground into sausage, tend to color one's perception of the entire evening.

I mean, my cousin's unbelievably kind and generous, and takes care of my mother far better than I do, but great bejiminy, you know?

I tried a little game though, with interesting results. I realize lately that, as nutty and critical as my mother is, I'm pretty uncompromising and rough with her too, so whenever someone said something, I did a "What if my mom had said that?" test. As it happened, just about everyone there said something that would have made me cringe and scowl if my mother had said it. Either I'm way too hard on my mother, or I'm letting far too much slide from everyone else.


 

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Invisible War

Posted by Ogged
on 12.26.04
Is Christmas over yet? Can I post a total downer? You might have seen a story blip across the wires about some kids killed in Vietnam by a hitherto unexploded shell left over from the war. If you'd read the story, you'd still be gaping in disbelief at this:
Since the U.S.-led Vietnam War ended, nearly 40,000 Vietnamese have been killed by leftover ordnance.
There's not much to be done or said about that; it's just incomprehensibly sad. But it is something to keep in mind when the next war rolls around, and people are talking about its costs.

 

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