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Instructions

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

Sometimes, even I wonder if I'm making this stuff up. At the store tonight, trying to check out by swiping my card, with an Asian lady, about 60, behind the counter.

[swipe] (Unable to read card)
Asian lady: Slow.
[swipe]
Slow.
[swipe]
Slower.
[swipe]
Slow and straight.
[swipe]
Slow and straight and deep.
[I burst out laughing]

 

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But It's Not Torture!

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

Sherry just went speed-dating. I so don't want to be summed up like that. Has anyone done this?


 

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A Nation of Laws

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

Walking my frigid butt back inside from the outdoor pool today, I just wanted to sit in the jacuzzi for a couple of minutes to warm up. There was one older lady in there, but the maintenance guy kept me out, saying he wanted to get on with the cleaning after she got out. Then he saw the long, lean blonde behind me, who also wanted to use the hot tub.

"You guys have ten minutes!"


 

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Abandoned and Alone

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

Where the hell are my co-bloggers?


 

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My Cell

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

I've been using a cell phone as my only phone for about a year, and thought I'd pass along my impressions.

First, I love it. The sound quality is fine, people always know where to reach me (even when I travel), I don't have to worry about missing a call, and telemarketers don't call me. One thing I didn't anticipate, but much appreciate, is that I can use otherwise dead time to make calls: walking to the grocery store, driving somewhere, etc. (Sometimes the dead time is great quiet time, sometimes it's better to use it.)

As for the problem of always being available, I just don't always answer the phone. Depending on who called, and whether they're forward enough to ask where I was when they called, I either lie, or say that I didn't feel like answering. When I don't want to be bothered at all, I turn the phone off.

A couple of caveats: My phone is bit funky. It's what's known as a GAIT phone, which means that it works on the GSM network, but also on the older TDMA network and on the really old analog network. I have coverage just about everywhere in the U.S. Unless you get a GAIT phone (and you have to ask, because they're usually not listed on a carrier's site), your coverage will be much more limited--and GAIT phones don't have nifty features like Bluetooth and cameras. (And, even with the GAIT phone, I had to surf around a bit to find some codes that let me decide which network to be on, rather than have the phone try to figure it out. Again, if you're not comfortable mucking around, the limitation is something to keep in mind.)

I haven't missed a landline except for one thing: TiVo really wants to call home. For the most part, that's not a problem, but when I make a change to my programming package, sometimes it decides that I'm out of compliance, and I have to call to get my service turned back on. It's been a very minor hassle, but it could be that I've just had compliant tech support folks. I think their official policy is that you have to have a phone hooked up.

My major concern, paranoid though it may be, is radiation. I really hate having the phone on me. I use a headset, but I still have to carry the phone around. Don't see a solution for this one.


 

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No Giftie Here

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

I'm guessing H8ME NOW was taken. Vanity plates seen yesterday:

ON D FON (Which she was.)

HND2MTH (On a Mercedes.)

UPDATE: Thanks to aj in the comments, we have this awesome link.


 

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Behind the Box of Silverware, Maybe

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.05

Hard not to smile thinking about this.

More of the sort.


 

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At Last

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.05

Profgrrrrl's on a trip to meet a secret boy, Fontana isn't blogging. Last one there's a rotten peanut butter and banana sandwich.


 

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Temptation

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.05

Tom Friedman is getting guff over at Crooked Timber for his credulity.

Funnily enough, the one country on this side of the ocean that would have elected Mr. Bush is not in Europe, but the Middle East: it's Iran, where many young people apparently hunger for Mr. Bush to remove their despotic leaders, the way he did in Iraq.
An Oxford student who had just returned from research in Iran told me that young Iranians were "loving anything their government hates," such as Mr. Bush, "and hating anything their government loves." Tehran is festooned in "Down With America" graffiti, the student said, but when he tried to take pictures of it, the Iranian students he was with urged him not to. They said it was just put there by their government and was not how most Iranians felt.
Iran, he said, is the ultimate "red state." Go figure.

Someday, we'll have to talk to the Timberites about examples adduced as proof, and those adduced as illustration. For now, let's do substance.

As I've said many times, one of the reasons I supported the fool invasion of Iraq was that I'd recently been in Iran, where people really did tell me repeatedly that they wanted the U.S. to invade. The "greeted as liberators" line didn't sound like crazy talk to me. Even post-Iraq, people's ardor hasn't cooled, and I think I've passed along what one cousin says: we're not dumb like the Arabs, we won't fight back.

But the lesson of Iraq should be clear: it takes just a small fraction of the population to set the dynamic of insurgency/counter-insurgency in motion. And once that begins, people who were otherwise neutral or even sympathetic to the invaders become silent or active resisters. It's a vicious circle. Khatami won 70% of the vote the two times he ran, but while that's an electoral landslide, it's nowhere near the percentage you need to be sanguine about an invasion.

So, Friedman's right, there is a clamor for an invasion, but the lesson of Iraq is that no one will hear those voices once the shooting starts.

UPDATE: Ted makes more good points.


 

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Outrage! Guffaw? Time For Bed.

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.05
Now I understand why Insty voted for Bush. Kos wrote:
A Kerry presidency would've been an unmitigated disaster, with a hostile congress, budget woes, the mess in Iraq, etc. Not a good time to be in charge.
Insty linked, writing:
I agree with Kos: He would have been an "unmitigated disaster" as President.
Insty updated:
Reader MacDef emails: "I'm no fan of Kos, but the above is not only taken out of context, it's also misquoted to the point of being dishonest."
No, it's tongue-in-cheek, as should have been obvious from the link. Er, and probably from the words "I agree with Kos . . . "
This reminds me of when Karen Hughes argued that although Bush had answered "no" to a question, he did so in a way such that the reporter was "left with the impression" that the answer was yes. I'm sure the analytic philosophers can help me out here, but the form of Glenn's argument seems to be, "This wasn't a misrepresentation, because if it had been a misrepresentation, it would have been egregious." Note, however, that I'm fool enough to believe Glenn. I think he meant it as a joke, but the execution shows such a combination of bad judgement and tin ear that I have to shake my head. I assume he thinks of this as dry humor that people don't catch, but there's dry humor and there's petrified wood.

 

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The Frisson of Speculative Evolutionary Theory

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.05

I'm not a scientist, but I think Carl Zimmer is saying that global warming will make your shlong longer, or make it fall off. It's hard to say. But I've got the SUV this week and I feel like experimenting.


 

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Pardner

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

The Incompetent Attorney has returned.


 

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Shmustice

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

If you play a lot of pick-up basketball, or tennis, no one says, "Are you a basketball/tennis player?" But if you tell people that you swim, just about everyone immediately asks, "Are you a swimmer?" What does this mean? I generally take it to mean, "Have you been a swimmer all your life?" or "Do you swim competitively?" But, having swum just about every day for the past four months, soon I'm going to feel pretty silly answering "no."

And, on a completely different topic, now that Matt "Use/Mention" Yglesias is popping in here occasionally, I'm even more conscious than usual of putting appropriate quotes around things, but, upon reflection, it really burns my butt that I should worry about that when Matt "Proofreading is for Sissies" Y. can leave a post up all day that begins "Mark Schmitt loots at recent articles...."


 

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Kinky Illiteralism

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

A truly strange search that brought someone to the site:

the interesting positions to exchange the sexual positions between you and your wife and your freind and her wife

From somewhere in Kuwait...


 

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Odd

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

The site is under the mother of all spam attacks at the moment; you don't see it because of the miracle of the MT Blacklist, but I just checked one of the IP addresses the spam is coming from, and the very same address has been used by...abc123.


 

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Take A Minute

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

Think you don't know anyone without health insurance? Not sure how hellish it can be? Pay a visit to Gary Farber. Jesus.


 

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Look Out Below

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

Do you remember the moment that made Robert Fisk such an icon to the wingnuts, because they just couldn't grasp the whole "empathy" thing? He was in Afghanistan, and was roughed up, basically because he was a Westerner, and he had the great graciousness to say that he probably would have done the same thing, were he in the place of the people who beat him.

Well, now I'm the Robert Fisk of my local roads. For the next little while, I'll be driving an SUV. The ex went ice-skating and broke her wrist. (Here's a good rule: If you can't ice-skate by the time you're ten, then don't. Especially if you're going to go with the crazy Austrian cosmologist who is so obviously in love with you, I did not add.) So we've swapped my sensible, easy-to-drive automatic transmission sedan and her manual shift SUV (she's off the evilness hook, by the way, because her grad school field work was in lots of backcountry middles-of-nowhere, and now that she's done, she's selling the thing).

Not only do I hate driving an SUV because I'm scared to go fast and worried that the thing will tip over, but I'm constantly thinking something like: if I were in that coupe right now, I'd totally be hating my insecure ass. What's worse, I'm worried that even in the short while I'll be driving the thing, I'll take on the gross defensive-but-smug visage that youngish SUV driving men have. You see how it goes? The ex goes on an ill-advised date and I wind up the unlovable one. Fucking Westerners.


 

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Let's Not Motivate the Idiots

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

Give Mickey Kaus points for originality. He argues that the L.A. Times should print more gossip, particularly about politicians, because that makes people interested in politics, and fights apathy. But isn't the short, Mickey-ish response that voters engaged at the level of personal gossip don't help themselves or the system; that in fact they are just as easily "bamboozled," as Mickey says of the apathetic, but in a different way?


 

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The Game

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

Yesterday, Kevin Drum asked:

...after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth on both sides is over, Bush's privatization plan will go down in flames. Democrats are going to keep a pretty united front on this, and that united front is going to scare at least 40 or 50 Republicans away from supporting it. The votes just aren't there.
But here's the funny thing: surely Karl Rove knows this? Unless I'm missing something, it seems like a no brainer. So what's the point?

Today, Mark Schmitt offers an answer.

...the Bush/DeLay goal is not primarily to privatize Social Security, although they would be happy to do that if they can. Rather, the goal is to create a political dynamic over the next one to two years in which the Republicans appear the party of opportunity, ownership, dynamism, and forward thinking, while the Democrats appear to be the defenders of old, boring, inadequate safety net programs ... failing to recognize that game -- or at least the strong possibility that it is a game -- is a fatal mistake. Liberals might "win" on Social Security by defeating privatization, but we might easily lose the very different war of ideas.

 

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Neologism

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

The Poor Man says: "He is mandatious." You just have to read it.

And I'm with Chad Robinson.

At this point I am mostly praying that we get invaded by a superior alien species and turned into pets.

 

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Lessons

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.05

Billmon is back.


 

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Values

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.05

And god bless Hendrik Hertzberg; here, on social security privitization.

The values behind Social Security privatization are not terrible. It is good to save. It is good to be self-reliant. It is good to plan ahead. It is good to be the little pig who builds his house of brick rather than straw.
But it's not as if these values were not being taught in hundreds of other ways in our lives. And there are other values, too—values that are suggested by the words "social" and "security." Yes, self-reliance is good; but solidarity is good, too. Looking after yourself is good, but making a firm social decision to banish indigence among the old is also good. Market discipline is good, but it is also good for there to be places where the tyranny of winning and losing does not dominate. Individual choice is good. But making the well-being of the old dependent on the luck or skill of their stock picks or mutual-fund choices is not so good. The idea behind Social Security is not just that old folks should be entitled to comfort regardless of their personal merits. It is that none of us, of any age, should be obliged to live in a society where minimal dignity and the minimal decencies are denied to any of our fellow-citizens at the end of life. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house"—that's a good admonition to keep in mind when making social policy. But so is "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

 

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What Hersh Heard

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.05

I finally got around to reading the Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker. The most common reading highlights the presence of Special Forces in Iran; Matt points out that that's just a bit of the article, most of which is concerned with "efforts to step up covert operations around the world and shift the locus of such activities out of the CIA and toward the Pentagon." That's right, and the most disturbing paragraph is this.

The legal questions about the Pentagon's right to conduct covert operations without informing Congress have not been resolved. "It's a very, very gray area," said Jeffrey H. Smith, a West Point graduate who served as the C.I.A.'s general counsel in the mid-nineteen-nineties. "Congress believes it voted to include all such covert activities carried out by the armed forces. The military says, ‘No, the things we're doing are not intelligence actions under the statute but necessary military steps authorized by the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to "prepare the battlefield."'" Referring to his days at the C.I.A., Smith added, "We were always careful not to use the armed forces in a covert action without a Presidential finding. The Bush Administration has taken a much more aggressive stance."

Set aside the details of which person is in charge of what; the consequence of this "aggressive" reading of the law is that power to conduct covert operations is now concentrated almost wholly in the hands of the president, and those operations will be conducted without congressional oversight. It's the doctrine of the "unitary executive" once again. Is that too abstract? Then this: in foreign affairs, the president has dictatorial power.

And does this say what I think it says?

Under Rumsfeld's new approach, I was told, U.S. military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially involve organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even terrorist activities.

Covert operatives will carry out terrorist activities? Am I reading that correctly?


 

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Wanted: One Funny Broad

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.05

Ok, I give. This blog really does need a blogger with ovaries, but I haven't had any luck finding one. So, I'm taking nominations, with the following caveats: 1) I can't promise that we'll actually get a BWO 2) email me the nominations (ogged {at} unfogged {dot} com), rather than putting them in the comments 3) I won't respond to each email 4) try to keep unfogged's tone--you know, liberal, unhip, sex-obsessed--in mind.


 

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Twenty Minutes, Tops

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.05
When I read the headline: Sex Advice from Performance Artists, my heart swelled with anticipation of hilarity. But Jesus H., I don't think they could have found a more earnest bunch at Amnesty International. I'm not even recommending that you click through, because, really, they're so boring.

 

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Good Lane Lines Make Good Muslims

Posted by Ogged
on 01.17.05

The single-life gods giveth, and the single-life gods teaseth too. I just switched to a tonier health club with a bigger, much nicer pool. Each of the past two days, in a happy ancillary benefit, in the adjacent lane, there's been a different, very attractive young lady. This never happened at the old pool, which seemed to be frequented by a) fat old guys b) mean old women or c) the occasional nutcase who showed up with a snorkel and flippers (maximum depth of pool: 4 feet).

This is great, I think, except that it turns out that it's really hard to guess a woman's age when she's submerged and wearing goggles. Shorter Ogged's quandary: jailbait. If these women turned out to be twenty-five or twenty-six, I wouldn't be surprised, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they were sixteen.

There's another problem. I'm Muslim. Generally, this is fine, but the new club is the local Jewish community center, and I'll be damned if I'm going to be the poster boy for "Ever since we started letting in the Muslims..." stories.

So, it's eyes straight ahead, don't smile unless you're smiled at, and best not to ask questions when they order everyone out of the pool, like they did today. "Is there a class of some sort beginning?" "No, one of the kids threw up in the pool."


 

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Fiction

Posted by Ogged
on 01.17.05

We've talked about losing interest in fiction, but this time I'm happy to recommend some terrific reading. I picked up the Best American Short Stories of 2004, fully expecting it to be full of twee experimental crap that would impress five people in the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Turns out, these stories are really good, particularly (so far) one by Charles D'Ambrosio that gives Liar's Club a run for the title of most depressing story to make you repeatedly laugh out loud. The story's told by a man in a psych ward. Here's a paragraph.

A young woman known on the ward as the ballerina was dancing across the patio. By the way she kept her hair twisted in a prim, tight bun, and by her body, which seemed to a have a memory separate from her mind, a strict memory of its own, you immediately guessed she was a dancer. Her grandparents were with her, two hunched up people in colossal overcoats and tiny black shoes, people I assumed were immigrants or refugees, because their clothes were so out-of-date, like from the nineteenth century, and because, all bent over, they looked vary and vigilant, as though they were ducking. Lumpen, I kept thinking, or lumpenproletariat -- when I probably meant just plain lumpy. Every evening they came to visit their granddaughter, and now they sat on a bench and watched as she swooped like a bird through the lengthening shadows. The old man smoked an unfiltered cigarette, working his tongue in a lizardy fashion to free the flecks of tobacco lodged in his teeth. The old lady sat with her knucklelike face rapt, a Kleenex balled in her fist. She was crying for the beauty of her granddaughter, and in motion the girl was beautiful, she was ecstatic. She wore a sacklike standard-issue paper gown the same as me and she was barefoot. Her arms floated away from her body as though she were trying to balance a feather on the tip of each finger. Then she jumped around, modern and spasmodic, as if the whole point of dance were to leap free of your skin. She raced from one end of the patio to the other, flew up, twirling and soaring, clawing the fence with her fingers and setting the links to shiver. But as soon as her granddparents left, blam, the dance in her died. She went cataleptic.

That's good stuff. Though this kills me.


 

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Thanks, Friend

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.05

I won't recap or explain, so if this makes no sense to you, count your blessings. So, just for the record...

Zephyr Teachout is either a very nasty piece of work, or an unbelievably naive politico.


 

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