Time for the mid-weekend update, while the ex naps. (Yes I'm visiting the ex, no we're not having sex.) I'll make this quick, so it will be just like sex.
Even before I arrived, I turned down an opportunity to party with the stars. Ex was out with a college friend who's an attorney for one of the studios. He was surprised to find himself on the guest list at some swanky club / celebrity hangout, so they called me and asked if I'd like to meet them there. I was tired, I said no (they wound up not going).
Breakfast at home yesterday, then swimming at the very great Santa Monica Swim Center. A nicer public pool is hard to imagine, and hotties of both sexes abound (more on this later).
Lunch at The Counter. Not exactly a traditional burger, but totally awesome. Choose a 1/3, 2/3, or 1 pound patty, choose toppings from a very long list, get a burger that's too big to eat with your hands. Very delicious.
Then it was off to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Otherwise known as What A Museum Would Be if Ben W-lfs-n Made a Museum. It might be, but I'm not sure, the museum as shaggy dog story. At least some of the exhibits are jokes, but there's nothing to say which ones. I very much recommend it, even though you might not enjoy it.
Dinner at the commenter recommended Versailles. Don't go for the ambiance, and don't go for a leisurely meal: assembly line Cuban food that is, nevertheless, kinda fun and yummy. Garlic chicken: yes, very good. Roast pork: better than the chicken. Beef stew: not so good. Ropa Vieja (shredded beef): best of the bunch. A good place to go for a quick and interesting bite before venturing out for the evening. We, of course, came back and hung out with ex's parents.
Swimming again today, and we shared a lane with a *very* attractive woman. Just a perfect body, and pretty cute...yummy. I said to ex afterwards, "So, the woman in our lane was cute."
"Yes she was. I swam extra slow so you could chat her up."
"Hey thanks! I did chat her up."
"What do you chat about?"
"I think I disagreed with her in the first five seconds."
The word, I believe, is smoove. Anyway, go to the Santa Monica Swim Center, it's full of hotties, and a great pool.
Lunch (sandwiches) at the excellent Amelia's.
Now we have to decide where to go for dinner, etc. More considered reflections on the wonder that is L.A. when I return...
David Gelernter, who appears to be far dumber than anyone on Yale's faculty has any right to be, offers up a very odd piece in the LA Times. (Yglesias has a bit on this, if you want it and if you like biscuit conditionals.)
Anyway, I was intrigued by Gelernter's mighty struggles to make good sense of the opposition:
How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? ... How could anyone be opposed to school vouchers?
If you find yourself asking these questions, maybe it's best to consider the possibility that you haven't understood the opposition correctly. "What? Demonstrably smart people disagree? Stop the presses!" But Gelernter goes a different way-- he offers an explanation of why Democrats are so crazy:
Advanced Democrats are now revving up to make sure you eat your vegetables and steer clear of those nasty French fries. Why is it their business? Because Democrats are professors in disguise. Scratch a Democrat, find a professor.
It all goes back to central planning, socialism, Marxism — let the experts run the economy; free markets are too democratic and messy. Many professors believed in Marxism right up to the point where Communist China itself bailed out in disgust.
Professors see the world in terms of experts and students: "We are smart; you are dumb." That's the Infantile American Principle in a nutshell. Now go play with your toys and don't bother me.
What's moderately awesome about this is that, of course, Gelernter's a Yale professor, a fact that's pointed out at the top of the column. (Can't wait to see the minutes from the next departmental meeting-- "So, Dave, you think we're all Marxist jerks who look down on our students, eh?" "No, I didn't mean you guys, I meant those professors, the bad ones, I think mostly in English-- you know, the ones Reynolds is on about.") But what's completely and totally awesome about this is that right after a display of massive intellectual arrogance ("You must be crazy to disagree!") he accuses the other side of massive intellectual arrogance.
I'm off and away, good people. With any luck, I won't so much as look at a computer screen for the next few days, but I'll return with a review of your much appreciated recommendations.
I found a fantastic (and, I'm sure, completely legal) CD sitting in my mailbox this morning. What a happy surprise! And the tunes sound so much better when I think of Gary Farber. Thanks, coblogger!
Sure, the comment might be by his neighbor's dog, but why should that stop us?
Does anyone else hear John McEnroe's voice (mp3) in their head (like, constantly) when reading things online?
Via begging to differ, this depiction of sexual harassment at a law firm is both appalling and hilarious. There's something about the cluelessness of the worst offender's response that makes me laugh:
... Regarding Female Accuser #1, I recall that she had an outfit that reminded me of a hostess in a Chinese restaurant, but I cannot recall an incident in which I told her so ...
... I never asked (the roommate), "Are you banging (her) yet?" I do not use the term "bang."
... It is possible that I touched her suit skirt in the Fall of 2003, but it would not have been sexual touching. I sometimes touch men's clothing.
... I do, however, ask people to feel my pipes. I do not have a typical physique, and a client once introduced me by telling someone to feel my pipes. I adopted it as sort of an icebreaker with new people. ... If a person declined to do so, sometimes I'd back off and sometimes I would ask again ...
On another blog (I'm not linking to the post because it's a bit personal), the blogger is kinda-sorta involved in a long-distance relationship. Then it was revealed that the "long distance" is a three-hour drive. Dude! That's not a long-distance relationship, is it? More an "uncomfortably long commuter" relationship, or even a "just right for loners" relationship. I propose a rule of thumb: If you can see your beloved for the weekend without getting on a plane, and without the travel taking an unacceptable* amount of time/energy, it's not a long-distance relationship.
(I don't, however, want to deprive people of appropriate sympathy, so maybe we need finer categories.)
* To the people involved; deliberately fuzzy.
These comments bring up an interesting question about choosing colleges: go with a moderate name and a big loan, or Big Ten for free? This is something I think about a bit, since I spent time at Big State as a student and I teach at a moderately tony private college.
The case for a smaller private institution: interesting opportunities are easier to find, and faculty are there for you-- something that's not true at a large university, where faculty are there primarily for research and grad student training. Our undergraduates have tremendous access to faculty ...My colleagues think a lot about teaching, and people can get fired for doing it badly. This ramifies in the classroom.
The case for Big Ten: a larger, more diverse faculty means that you can find someone who's an expert in whatever you're interested in studying. You can work with profs with more active research profiles. If you're dedicated to finding good teachers and mentors, you can take advantage of these tremendous resources and put together a great education (and you can get letters from people who are pretty well-known, though they won't know you as well as their counterparts at College). Plus, it's cheap, or, in L's case, free.
Verdict: I'd have to go with the Big Ten in this case. Disclaimers: a lot of this depends on what the student is like. Some people get lost in a sea of 30,000 undergraduates. If you're not savvy about course selection, researching your profs, and so on, you can end up with mediocre product. You have to BE! AGGRESSIVE! BE BE AGGRESSIVE! about quality control. On the other hand, there's more spring in your step when you're not $100k in debt. (The numbers by themselves are hard to grasp. It's more useful to think "how will this affect my choices down the road?" You might learn, during college, that you want to write, study art, slum, work on Simandl's etudes until your fingers bleed, or whatever. These experiences can be life-shaping, but they're just not happening if you're making big payments.)
And Zach finally weighs in on the Eugene Mazo affair.
"He talked about a mentor who said if you don't meet your wife in law school, you are doomed to marry a secretary,"...
Who the fuck was his mentor, Andrew Dice Clay?
Actually, Zach also has a bit of ambivalence about Mazo. But not too much.
Am I wrong to find this rather charming?
In court Tuesday, prosecutors produced the airline reservations to Brazil that Schaffel had ordered. Montgomery also testified that she routinely booked private jets for Jackson and his entourage and that part of his passenger profile included wanting white wine served to him in Diet Coke cans on flights.
That seems freaky in a kinda classy way. Also, these Tic Tacs? Actually quaaludes.
Feet outside the knees in a proper breaststroke kick. Also, freakishly flexible ankles. Third, cool picture.
People in/around/from Los Angeles, I'll be there this weekend, so tell me: what local something (preferably a food thing) is worth seeking out? I'm thinking along the lines of "best tamales outside of Mexico," or "a burger so good you won't believe you're in California," etc. I guess fancy is ok too, if it's really special.
Almost forgot: Pupusa recommendations particularly appreciated.
Office life turns everybody into an idiot in at least some small way. So many interactions with people we don't choose, so many visible and invisible regulations on behavior, such a bundle of coping mechanisms. Anyway, each morning I greet one of my co-workers with a "Yo yo yo," to which he responds, "Yo yo yo." He's Japanese, I'm Iranian, this is America.
Today, however, I didn't see anyone else around, so I greeted him with a deeper, slower, altogether more magisterial "yo yo yo." Not only that, but a closet was left open, so I punctuated the last two "yos" with the authoritative "CLUNK" of a door being shut. Then I turned the corner and of course the boss is standing there. Eyebrow raised.
Me: Well good morning!
Boss: That was quite a performance.
Co-worker: That was just for you, Boss.
Boss: No, I'm pretty sure it was for you.
Me: I don't need an audience.
Boss: Performances like that, you're not going to get one.
Dear Eugene Mazo,
I'm on the verge of feeling sorry for calling you a tool in public. I'm not there yet, though I do feel bad if your mom or another relative wandered over here and saw that I was calling you a tool. If you're a genuinely nice, fun person-- that is, if you're not a tool-- you'll be able to admit that the Times write-up of your wedding made you sound completely toolriffic. Here's why. An attractive woman asks you out, and you take her to a memorial service/con law discussion. (If you're saying to yourself, or to the cold unfeeling computer screen, "Wait! She wanted to go! We talked about it!" then you're saying, essentially, that there are non-toolmaking features of the story that got left out, and you should admit that without those facts, well, you look like a tool.) You played the same song over and over again in the car. (That makes me think "completely insane" rather than "tool," but close enough.) You asked your future wife out after making some horrid "it's you or some secretary to be named later" crack. You were dating four women at the same time; surely you can understand that envy sometimes manifests itself with repeated cries of "tool!". And you decided to settle on her after talking over the candidates with your friend. These features of your story suggest that you are a tool. It is, of course, quite likely that there are exculpatory facts awaiting our discovery, and we of course reserve the right to withdraw our tool-ascription on closer inspection. But the prima facie case is there, and if you're not a tool you'll admit this and we can all laugh at the evil New York Times.
PS: Saheli has been a good sport, and this is appreciated. Please don't sue me.
I have no interest in this, and neither should you, but Unf has a big ol' crush on Sarah Vowell, and I would hate for him to miss this interview with her (including audio!).
Nobody tell LizardBreath that GM just recalled 2 million cars and it's all because those four sweaty dudes were drunk at lunch.
Good lord, the New York Times' other new conservative, John Tierney, also wrote about the fat study. And he also misconstrues it. Look, you don't have to care so much about this or that example, but here's why this bothers me. The Times' news section did a basically good job of covering the study. Even so, the topic is sufficiently complicated that there was bound to be some confusion and misreading. In a world of decent newspapers, this is just the kind of situation that would be addressed by a columnist: take a complicated news story, note how it's being misconstrued, and set the record straight. To use one of Brad DeLong's conceptual schemes, people who read the news summary would be better informed than they were before reading it, and people who also read the columnist would be better informed still. But, in this case, people who read the columnists with any kind of trust are worse off. That's exactly wrong.
A good post from Body and Soul on the past and present of our new Pope.
Hey, an Instalink, and I didn't even ask for it.
In a show of blog solidarity, I want to buy one of Ogged's shirts. But the sizing chart leaves me in a tough spot: I wear a 17 1/2, 36/37 shirt, with a 36" waist. I don't know my chest measurement offhand (I know, that's shocking). I worry that anything shy of the XXL will leave me with sleeves that are too short, which I really can't stand, but at the same time I was hoping the shirt would be not too loose. I could just go to a store and try one on, but it's better, on reflection, to waste everyone's time wondering about this in public.
Arianna Huffington is starting a massive collective blog featuring lots of famous people--Cronkite, Mamet, Fallows, etc. If other famous-before-they-start blogs are any guide, this one will suck, because blogging takes practice, and the famous folks don't get a chance to find an appropriate blog voice. Who knows though, enough of those people are writers that they might figure it out quickly. Anyway, I don't care. What I want to know is whether she's going to use the blogroll from her current blog, which, through some mysterious cosmic happenings, includes Unfogged. How awesome would it be if this site were blogrolled by Walter Cronkite?
The only important question that remains in the case of David Brooks is whether he could be any dumber. Outdoing himself doesn't count.
The new study on weight and longevity is pretty interesting. This NY Times graphic is the quickest way to understand it: very thin people don't live as long as people of "normal" weight, and slightly overweight people live longer, on average, than both groups. Brooks writes,
Nature has built a little Laffer curve into the fabric of reality: health-conscious people can hit a point of negative returns, so the more fit they are, the quicker they kick the bucket. People who work out, eat responsibly and deserve to live are more likely to be culled by the Thin Reaper.
Nope. You start getting negative returns at a BMI of 18.4. The BMI itself is mostly crap, because it doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat; so Terrell Owens, for example, is overweight, bordering on obese. (Which makes another Brooks sentence, "[Mother Nature] doesn't like those body-worshiping, multi-abbed marvels who've spent so much time at the bench press machine they look as if they have thighs growing out of either side of their necks" extra special dumb, because most of those people are in the category he wants to celebrate.) But, at the extremes, the BMI is a pretty good guide. I am, as we've noted before, 6 feet tall and weigh 150 pounds. To a lot of folks, that's alarmingly skinny. But I would have to lose 14 pounds to get into undesirably low BMI territory. Is it really news to anyone that 6 feet, 135 pounds is unhealthy?
And Brooks doesn't even try to deal with a complicating factor: living longer doesn't necessarily mean feeling better, and it's likely that overweight people are living longer because their diabetes and high-blood pressure are being managed by medication. But if you have, or know someone who has, diabetes or high blood pressure, you know that those ailments are no fun, and the medication used to treat them isn't either.
Finally, and this is what bugged me enough to get me to post:
Darwin was wrong when he talked about the survival of the fittest: it's really the survival of the healthy enough to get by.
Is this a joke? Does he really think Darwin was talking about "fitness" in terms of gym-going? Let's assume that this study is correct and that, furthermore, the longer-lived heavy people are more successful in passing on their genes; in that case, they are the fittest David, you stupid little paunchy man.
And can I get a show of hands of those who think that the words "Darwin was wrong" show up in his column by, like, accident?
More: Just a reminder, as long as we're taking this seriously, that most recent indications are that, within a fairly wide range of weight/height, it's level of activity, and not weight by itself, is what's important to fitness. And dsquared notes (in comments here) something important about the limitations of the study.
The real trouble here (and this is not a criticism of the study; just an observation that computing actuarial tables is *difficult*!) is that the death rates in this dataset are being driven by people who are old. People who are old and overweight are not likely to have been overweight their whole life. People who are, today, young and overweight, are likely to be overweight for their whole life. So the study leaves us slightly better informed, but perhaps not as much as we'd like, about what we might be doing to ourselves by being so fat.
And: Tom Maguire makes another important point.
income and obesity are inversely correlated in the US? One can think of many reasons for such a relationship, but my point would be this - it will be one more confounding variable, since (I suspect) high earners are less likely to die (within, e.g, a one year time horizon) than others in the same age cohort