Thinking of seeing a movie tonight, any hot tips? (Warning: I still haven't forgiven the people who recommended Million Dollar Baby.) I wanted to see The Interpreter, but reviews have been uniformly bad. What else?
Ah well: I didn't go to a movie after all. I went to Whole Foods instead, where there are usually more cute women anyway, but not, surprisingly, on a Friday night. They did, however, have Malt Nut Powerbars, which no one else around here seems to carry anymore.
In case you're curious about what Profgrrrrl sounds like, she has an audio post up.
I learned stuff: an explanation of how PR firms manipulate the news.
When Matt Taibbi is funny, he's very funny. He reviews Tom Friedman's latest book.
Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.
God strike me dead if I'm joking about this.
Read it all, you'll enjoy it.
Berube's piece is clever enough as far as it goes, but Brooks' column has an interesting insight, one which deserves more than just a putdown.
The argument, as I read it, is that because Roe has made abortion off limits for the legislative process, our judicial politics (the process of, and standards for, confirming federal judges) is now totally f'ed up. If Roe were to be overturned, our judicial politics would cease being so f'ed up. Which is a good thing. And (and this is the point that saves the piece from easy derision) abortion would not thereby become illegal throughout the country. Rather, different states would have different abortion laws - ranging from permissive (MA, NY, perhaps CA) to forbidden (TX, LA, etc.) to somewhere in between (not sure what states fit here).
Brooks fails to note that in some states (where public opinion is not decisive one way or the other) abortion would remain a very controversial issue. And I'm not so sure that, Roe having been the law of the land for more than 30 years, this particular genie can be put back in the bottle. Our judicial politics, having been poisoned by Roe, may remain poisoned even if Roe were overturned.
Still, Brooks' column suggests that its not always best for the Supreme Court to declare issues beyond the reach of politics. This is an important argument, and one worthy of discussion. Indeed, its often made by those on the lefty side of the aisle, and has even been made about Roe from time to time by just those folks.
One could very well argue that a United States where abortion is legal in some states but not others is just as unjust as a United States where segregation is legal in some states but not others. However, I can't think, off the top of my head, how this argument would convince me.
Eat your way to the bottom of almost any bag of popcorn and there they are: the rock-hard, jaw-rattling unpopped kernels known as old maids."Old maids?" Really? Never heard that. And surprised it's still in use.
I propose that the "Tim" in SomeCallMeTim is not, as one might presume, short for "Timothy," but an acronym for his deliciously ambiguous Mineshaft nickname: The Impaled Member.
Now here's an observation I've forgotten to blog about several times. Manan writes,
I stood in the International Student Registeration Line a long time ago. Barely two days in the States, I was expected to know which classes to take and how to take them. A california sky-kissed beauty welcomed me with a radiant smile, "How can I help you?". My first reaction, I remember vividly, was the thrill that she TOTALLY wanted to marry me. She was smiling so warmly. My second reaction, after some thought [and the lack of any marriage proposals], was how insincere Americans are; throwing their precious smiles at strangers. It took a long time for the second reaction to wear off. It took even longer for me to learn to smile at strangers.
People in Iran can tell which Iranians live in the States based on how much they smile; and when Iranians move here, they all remark on the "fake" American smiles. Out hiking with an Indian/Chinese (but American-raised friend), I exchanged greetings with some of the folks we passed. "What was the point of that?" asked my friend.
I'm a big fan of the social smile. Places where people smile are places I want to be. I don't care if they "really" mean it, or if they like me, or think I'm going to rob them; I'm grateful for the social nicety.
On the other hand, I find it disorienting when exchanging proper Middle-Eastern greetings that one has to rehearse a whole litany of self-abnegation and asking-after that can't *possibly* be sincere; it's all ritual. And yet, these same people object to the "fake smile."
Here's the promised picture:
The wrinkles are still there because I never actually sit on the thing.
I do not enjoy playing basketball. If you like it, I don't hold this against you, and I hope that you will not hold my complete hatred for this game against me. Together, we can live in harmony-- as long as you never try to get me to play basketball. That is all.
So Labs, whadjya get?
What else is a blog for? Ben W-lfs-n asks Metafilter a question.
Where should I live in Palo Alto or environs? I'll be going to grad school at stanford starting in the fall and want to live off-campus but am not that familiar with the options, especially in areas not actually in Palo Alto. I'll have a car.
I recall from our poll of way back that we have a bunch of Bay Area readers, so if you have advice, or even better, leads, on where to live, comment away.
Maybe Ben will promise never to correct the grammar of whoever helps him score a place.
This will be of interest to about three of you, but props to Jonathan Goodwin for drawing a bit of attention to Johann Hamann, who was, like several other German philosophers of his day, a genius, but unlike the others, funny, in his own wacky way. Ex-before-last wanted to name one of our potential children Hamann, and I have some of his articles in translation somewhere; I'll try to scan and post.
Ah: You can read the first few pages of his "Metacritique" (and the rest, if you cheat) here.
And: Here's something from the article Jonathan links.
For instance, one of Hamann's works composed in French is a sardonically fawning open letter to Frederick the Great (whose superstitious servility to the mythology of Enlightenment reason Hamann particularly detested) called To the Solomon of Prussia, a text so savage and unrestrained in its mockery that no one would publish it when it was first written for fear of the state censor. Hamann's last attempt to get it printed was through C. F. Nicolai in Berlin; and when Nicolai failed to respond to his request, Hamann published an exquisitely deranged feuilleton called Monologue of an Author under the ridiculous "Chinese" pseudonym Mien-Man-Hoam. This at least prompted Nicolai to send Hamann an official rejection. But this rejection, in turn, prompted Hamann to compose and publish a piece called To the Witch at Kadmanbor, a "letter" supposedly written by Nicolai to an old sorceress, asking her to translate Hamann's Monologue from the Chinese of the "Mandarin" who wrote it—a letter that, midway through its course, suddenly becomes a delirious monologue of its own (in which the witch now appears as the Fury Alecto, but with two faces, "a calf's eye like Juno's, and the watery eye of an owl") before concluding with the recommendation that Hamann be forced like his illustrious ancestor Haman—from the book of Esther—to mount the scaffold.
So: Having now read the linked article, which I hadn't done when I posted originally, it turns out that it's all about how funny Hamann is. That's two votes. Worth clicking through then, for the three of you.
Oh no! The Powerline guys have stopped using their funny names. Hindrocket is now...John. Is there any reason to read them now? And I know theories will abound, but I have to think that Atrios calling him Assrocket had something to do with this.
I think I speak for all of us here at unfogged when I offer a warm internet welcome to the new pope. Boy, I thought The Red Skull was a non-starter in this whole conclave thing. Wrong! So, big ups to former Cardinal The Red Skull, now known as Pope Maleficus XI. There hasn't been a pope of this name since the last time a bastard child of a Medici pope and a mysterious Roman street lass ascended to the Throne of St. Peter in 1526. Does this give us any insight into Pope Maleficus' views? Discuss.
The new pope is important and all, but here in Chicago we have bigger news. The Virgin Mary (do you capitalize Virgin?) has been spotted on the wall of an underpass under the Kennedy expressway. See Eric Zorn's blog for a picture of the image/skeptical commentary on the image's divinity. Zorn writes:
The only thing vaguely humanoid about the conical stain is that it's taller than it is wide. It has no recognizable face, no arms, no legs, no feet, no neck.
Of course, there is something else vaguely humanoid about the stain. Perhaps Mr. Zorn needs to be more, um, generous with Mrs. Zorn.
In other pope-alicious news, Maria Farrell coins an excellent new name for the pope.
I'm signing off, to go get struck by lightning.
Jesse of Pandagon has a rather dismissive note on pharmicists refusing to dispense what the New York Times calls the "after-sex pill," which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Or, as Jesse helpfully explains,
Does anybody here know why the morning-after pill has a 72-hour window? Anyone? Well, you see, when the mommy half and the daddy half get together, it's a process called "fertilization". The problem is, however, that unless that fertilized mommy-and-daddy bit is implanted in the mommy's tummy, it can't ever become a baby nine months later. Unless it's implanted, it's a combined bit of regularly produced bodily secretions that in its then-current state cannot develop any further.
By any real standard of pregnancy, you aren't pregnant until you have an embryo in a womb...It's not just that [the pharmacists are] fighting for the right to deny women legal medical treatment - I could understand that from a moral perspective. It's that they're denying women treatment based on ignorance of how the drugs they dispense work. They don't want to do their jobs because they're bad at them.
While some pharmacists might be confused, it seems to me that a coherent position could be staked out according to which (a) the fertilized egg has a certain moral significance and thus, plausibly, (b) acting to deny this morally significant entity the resources it requires to continue existing is morally impermissible. None of this involves actual pregnancy, nor does it require misunderstanding of the way these drugs work. I find (a) completely unappealing, but some smart people-- Don Marquis comes to mind-- seem to be committed to it. (Of course, we're owed a story about why fertilized-but-nonimplanted eggs aren't mourned over, etc., but, with the judicious application of doing/allowing and some fancy footwork we might be able to get over this hurdle.)
I'm not really excercised about this, but the Pandagon post combines two of my pet peeves: it's very quick to take on an uncharitable interpretation, and it suggests that some interesting normative issue could be settled by just knowing the nonmoral facts or by conceptual analysis alone or something like that. All the work is done by the quick "any real standard of pregnancy" line and the assumption that the moral wrong here has to be captured in terms of ending a pregnancy. Proud to be a Humean, yo. Oughts and izzs.
Swimming with the Swede last night, I was thinking something along these lines: the very sexiest thing is doing something really well. Olympic swimmer, hot. Concert violinist, hot. Math whiz, hot. Great poet, hot. Etc. (Ok, Greatest Doom Player, not so hot--but you get the idea.) This just seemed obvious--this is a huge part of any attraction I have, but then I thought that it might not be a shared predilection. I mean, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to find excellence hot. What good does it do you, the admirer? "Did she put on his power...?" It would make a lot more sense to say that what you find really attractive is someone reasonably competent but exceptionally good and true.
The sentiment of justice, in that one of its elements which consists of the desire to punish, is thus, I conceive, the natural feeling of retaliation or vengeance, rendered by inellect and sympathy applicable to those injuries, that is, to those hurts, which wound us through, or in common with, society at large. This sentiment, in itself, has nothing moral in it; what is moral is the exclusive subordination of it to the social sympathies, so as to wait on and obey their call. For the natural feeling would make us resent indiscriminately whatever anyone does that is disagreeable to us; but, when moralized by the social feeling, it only acts in the directions conformable to the general good: just persons resenting a hurt to society, though not otherwise a hurt to themselves, and not resenting a hurt to themselves, however painful, unless it be of the kind which society has a common interest with them in the repression of.
(Utilitarianism, Chapter V)
I hope I'm not too late.
Go here to vote.
For many millennia, man has tried to create ways to measure time. Why? And that's an oxymoron, because how can we know how long man has tried if we can't measure how long? This is a very important regression, but it is just that, a regression.. So I will come back to it at the end. Why? That's the big question. Because we need to know time. When we talk, even in normal talk, we say ‘guess it is time to wake up" (this is another oxymoron, because how can you say that it is time to wake up unless you are up? And then it is past time to wake up!!) and "what time is it, I'm hungry?" So waking up and eating, which are important, are about time. That is why.
But there is more why. ** I'm sorry, I think that is all the why, but I'm making it enough words :-) ** Because Freud said that everything is about Will To Power (WTP). And that means that ways to measure time are about WTP too. So, on my friend's blog, he measured his penis, and then his friend measured his penis, and they did these posts about penises, and then the girsl were like, wow, your penises are SO SMALL, and measuring their penises gave the girls lots of power. This is like time. Just like time. You have seen a movie where the good guy says, "your time is short, my friend, short indeed!' That is how we know that the good guy has power over the bad guy, because he measures time. Its worth measuring time if it gives us control over bad guys, wouldn't you say?
Man is trying to measure time. The reason is because man is hungry and sleepy, and full of power. Time is about life, and it is about death. Only a poem I wrote is deep enough to make you understand this. PS, you have to know that sometimes bells ring in the church when a hour goes by.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Just got a post reunion call from ex-before-last. She was yammering on about some papers I have to sign and send back (yes, not only do we keep in touch, I'm co-trustee of her potential future childrens' money), but I asked her to cut to the chase: did she find me a wife?
"Have you met Woman X?"
"Yes, in fact I have met Woman X."
"What did you think of her?"
"I think she's great."
"But you don't want to be involved with her?"
"I think she's also not straight."
"That's even better!"
Right. You see what it's like? Even when I send the exes clear across the country to find me a wife, they come up with a lesbian I already know. Does everybody's karma have the same fucked up sense of humor?
Huh? It's a child rental agency. From the FAQ (emphasis mine):
How can I be sure my child is safe?
In most cases it is possible to visit with the clients before any transaction takes place. We also work with local and state governments to cross-check our clients with sex offender and felon lists. Most of the events your child will participate in are supervised and many of our clients are frequent clients who have a history of incident-free business.
Are you kidding me?
I watched Kill Bill I and II a couple of weeks ago, and I've been thinking a bit about Tarantino. First thought: if he had a substantive script, he'd probably make one hell of a movie. Second thought: on second thought, probably not: he'd get all mawkish. Lingering thought: "work" sure is a strange category in Tarantino's world.
One of the sources of comedy in Tarantino's movies is the gap between his character's jobs, which are usually monstrous, dangerous, and exciting, and their dialogue, which is relentlessly, concentratedly, quotidian and normal. Hitmen talking about burgers, crooks talking about Madonna, etc.
Then there's the gap between these monstrous jobs and the character of the characters who have them: what someone does has nothing to do with how sympathetic a character he's meant to be. Another way to say this is that there are almost no characters in his movies who aren't outlaws; all the differentiations between characters happen in the very narrow frame of outlawdom: he's a nice guy (for a cold-blooded killer).
This is made even more pronounced by the fact that all his characters are always at work, whatever that means in outlawdom. They're never just lounging or at a friend's kid's birthday party, or etc. Maybe this is a way to convey that outlaws are never not outlaws; once outside, there are no moments inside. Dunno. Weird though, the work stuff.
I got to thinking about professional athletes that I've run into in everyday life.
Troy Aikman (airport)
Steve Young (Whole Foods)
Isiah Thomas (street)
Scottie Pippen (street)
Wilbur Marshall (Fuddruckers)
Alonzo Mourning &
Dikembe Mutombo (I spent a summer at a debate camp at Georgetown when I was in high school; the basketball team lived in the dorm next door, and we all ate at the same cafeteria. Dikembe Mutombo is Very Tall.)
And I tutored a couple of guys who played briefly in the NBA, and now play in Europe. Also a guy who's still in the NFL, I think.
Come to think of it, two of the most head-swelling and humbling moments of my basketball life happened on the same day during that summer at G'town. I was playing pickup ball on a team with Dwayne Bryant when someone got a breakaway layup; I ran him down and blocked it on the backboard. "Nice block," said Bryant. I was what, fifteen? and I felt like *such* a stud. In a subsequent game, I had to guard Bryant. The less said about that, the better.
From the Washington Post's interview with Rick Santorum:
"Have you seen some of these hate Web sites, Senator? Are you aware of what people say about you?"
The broadcaster is finishing an interview with Santorum at Newsradio 1070, WKOK in Sunbury, Pa.
"Yes," Santorum says, adding that he doesn't look at the Web sites, some of which include details about a sex columnist's campaign to make his name a synonym for something that cannot be printed in this newspaper. "When you stick your head out of the foxhole people shoot at you. I've stuck my head out of a foxhole."
Heh heh. He said foxhole. (Shades of Office Space: "so you'd use your hole as bait...?")
Thousands of previously illegible manuscripts containing work by some of the greats of classical literature are being read for the first time using technology which experts believe will unlock the secrets of the ancient world.
Among treasures already discovered by a team from Oxford University are previously unseen writings by classical giants including Sophocles, Euripides and Hesiod.
The thousands of remaining documents, which will be analysed over the next decade, are expected to include works by Ovid and Aeschylus, plus a series of Christian gospels which have been lost for up to 2,000 years.
This just makes me so damn happy.
Speaking of feeling old, did you grow up watching the Cosby Show? Remember Rudy?
Ok, I've heard from several people now that they are afraid to comment because they're worried that W-lfs-n will correct them. People, the grammar/spelling thing is a joke. Initially, we all made fun of Ben for being a language scold, and now it's just a game--kind of like gay guys deliberately acting all queeny, except that there's nothing wrong with being gay. And anyway, there's always the Michael strategy: just make so many mistakes that B-dub is overwhelmed, and doesn't even bother.
This is pretty cool, because aren't you curious about what kind of English you speak? and because the results, at least for me, are quite accurate. (Unlike pg, where I saw this, I pick up words and phrases wherever I go.)
Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
15% Upper Midwestern
I, and my itchy Tivo finger, were watching TV with a friend, when the friend noted that (particularly when being interviewed), paused white people almost always look ridiculous (half-closed eyes, weird expressions...), while paused black people look fine, they look like themselves. Further experimentation--specifically, me in front of the television last night--confirms the observation. Very strange, no? I mean, why?
(I think the fact that I spent part of my Saturday night doing this says something important about me. I'm not sure what, but the phrase "destined for greatness" keeps sounding in my head.)