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Great Moments In Customer Service

Posted by Ogged
on 05.21.05

I was at the barber shop, getting an extra special haircut for my date with Profgrrrrl next Saturday, when a guy popped in and asked one of the barbers how much for a haircut. $18. "Wow," the guy mouthed; too rich for his blood, and started to leave. "You can try the place a few doors down, right next to the bookstore," the barber helpfully told him. The guy left, and the barber turned to the rest of us: "They charge 45."


 

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Speaking of Toilets

Posted by Ogged
on 05.20.05

I'm regretting posting this even before it's written. I was reading this story (via freakgirl), in which our protagonist exits with:

I have to go take care of business now.

Of course, he's talking about going to jail. But it put me in mind of the euphemisms we use for going number two. I'm sure there are long lists on the nets, but I'm curious about the ones people actually use, particularly euphemistically. Ex and I (she's going to kill me) were in the habit of saying "go read Discover," which was even true when the New Yorker was late.


 

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My emotional life: in the toilet

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.20.05

I don't mean this to be a serious post; I'm putting it up mainly because some people make fun of my Jane Galt cybercrush. Even in my smitten state ("You're so rational" "only because I'm so in love" "Only because I'm so in love with you," etc.) I have to admit that this is not so compelling:

But I do think that Mr Isikoff made a pretty big mistake, a la the Dan Rather team, which is that he doesn't seem to have thought very hard about the proletarian details of the story he was reporting. I don't particularly think that this was some case of a partisan who "wanted" the story to be true--I think that Abu Ghraib has unfortunately made these sorts of incidents all too plausible. But nonetheless, he should have done a double take, because as others have pointed out, it is very, very hard to flush a book down a toilet.
Korans are not printed on newsprint (which also clogs the plumbing if you use it often). They are printed on nice paper, as befits their station. They have solid bindings. The Koran runs 77,000 words, plus notes, which is a decent-sized novel.
The Newsweek report nonetheless says, not that the Koran was dunked in the toilet, but that it was flushed down one. Did they have an industrial scale paper chipper on premises? (Shreds would, I'd bet, still be cloggy). Did some maniac stand there for hours, carefully ripping the pages into pieces a few at a time, the better to enjoy the anguished screams of the inmates? What did they do with the covers, which at the very least would be highly-non-dissolving treated cardstock?

I mean, people in prisons make wine from ketchup; surely someone could figure out how to clog a toilet with the Koran. (Isn't the page-by-page interpretation the most obvious one? "Aha, your reporting is false, because the guards flushed only a few pages down the toilet! Gotcha!" Weird.


 

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Summary execution and the Sith

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.20.05

Hey, I'm about to spoil the plot!

Early in III, Anakin offs Count Dooku with the ol' twin-lightsaber scissors of doom, even though Dooku is a defenseless prisoner. Thus we get the subtlest hint that perhaps things are going downhill for Anakin, morally speaking. Later, Anakin interrupts Mace Windu* as Windu is about to kill the ostensibly defeated Darth McDiarmid-- "we have to bring him before the senate" etc. So killing Dooku is bad, but killing Palpatine/Darth Hideous is ok. I know, Sideous is more dangerous, but is that really a judgment we should leave to Windu? (Not because he's black, I mean, but because of the demands of the situation, etc.) I'm so confused by Jedi ethics.

Also, don't say "consult your feelings" if you also say "learn to be detached from everything." And does being a Jedi mean never having to eat or urinate, ever? Ok, I'm done. Until the next complaintfest.

*The second black man in space!


 

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A Simple Phrase

Posted by Ogged
on 05.20.05

I would like this to enter the discourse:

What, so that's it? Wham, bam, Alderaan?

 

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A Hugo!

Posted by Ogged
on 05.20.05

Speaking of movies (and maybe everyone already realizes this), the Matrix films wouldn't have been nearly as good or interesting without Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith: he made Smith both relentlessly menacing and somehow sympathetic--almost human.


 

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I owe Anthony Lane an apology

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.19.05

Well, not exactly. But that's one big clunky movie you've made, Darth Lucas. Spoilers: holy shit, Senator Palpatine is The Emperor! Anakin is Darth Vader! And the dialogue is just as you foresaw, o wise one!

Most unintentionally funny exchange:

Anakin: we must bring [Darth Chin] before the Senate for trial!

Mace Windu: He controls the Senate! And the courts!

Lessons: the root of the problem is really the unmet need for domestic violence prevention and better OB/GYN care. We also need better hologram communication technology.


 

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A Forum

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

Dear SomeCallMeTim,

Please pull up a chair and eat some crow in the comments.

Your buddy,

Ogged

p.s. Ben Wallace with the block!


 

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The Jedi

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

It seems to me that Tyler Cowen has made a decent case that the Jedi and the Senate can't coexist, but not such a great case against the Jedi ruling alone. If the Jedi had more power, it's likely that they *could* ensure our safety, and also police themselves. And if not, that's no worse than a corrupt Jedi master with the power of a Republic behind him. Lesson: Get rid of the Senate.


 

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Fate

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

Are there really people who think that some piece of information about the run-up to the Iraq war can still hurt Bush? The latest hope seems to be a British memo that shows the administration had decided to go to war long before it admitted as much to the public. Look, it doesn't matter. The people who supported the war figure that if Bush had to lie to get the people who didn't support on board, oh well; the people who didn't support it are already convinced. There just aren't enough other people to matter.

It's become pretty clear that people were so rattled by 9-11 that they still think of it as the primary cause of all the major occurances since. Bush's "boldness" isn't taken as the radicalism that it is, because it's being viewed by people who believe the frame itself has shifted radically. In that frame, bringing up evidence that we shouldn't have acted isn't something that occasions second thoughts; it just reinforces the impression that liberals don't get it.

How do we make people understand that things could have been otherwise, and significantly better, even given 9-11? No idea.


 

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Dumb Post Was Here

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

My bad.


 

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Acceptable!

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

I'm reading the script of The Empire Strikes Back. Here's something the likes of which I'll bet you won't find in Sith.

HAN: (with feeling) Well, Your Highness, I guess this is it.
LEIA: That's right.
Leia is angry. Han sees she has no warmth to offer him. He shakes his head and adopts a sarcastic tone.
HAN: (cooly) Well, don't get all mushy on me. So long, Princess.

The question for Star Wars fans is, of course, what the heck happened to the Han character, the rakish guy? The question for everyone is, what the hell happened to Harrison Ford? Was it fifteen years ago or even longer when his entire personality got Botoxed? Now he just mumbles and glowers.


 

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Chart

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.19.05

This graphic is a helpful comparison of judge-confirmation rates, Truman-Bush. If I were much smarter and if I thought about the matter for more than a few seconds, I'm sure I'd see why it's nevertheless necessary to go nuclear.


 

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Self-Criticism

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

I think I'm about ready to declare the Huffington Post a great success. This was posted there today, and keep in mind that all the people mentioned are Huffians.

ONE SENTENCE HUFF BLOG TRANSLATOR
Al Franken: "I get invited to important events and know important people. I secretly think no one likes me."
Norman Mailer: "I'm still relevant. Christ where am I? Do I smell gas?"
Larry Gelbart: "Where the hell did she put my 'Best Book of Puns?'"
Dannielle Crittendon: " I'm going to get a screenplay out of this if it kills me. I need a new kitchen."
Bill Maher: "Blogs are great because chicks don't know how short I am."
Christie Hefner: "Just talk about freedom of expression, and people will forget I'm a pornographer."
Bill Press: "The angrier I get about life, the more I wonder if I'm wrong about my beliefs."
David Corn: "I'm actually pretty cool, not like the others here. I do standup."
Laurie David: "Writing about environmental issues makes me feel less guilty about my immense wealth. I drive a tiny car."
Mark Green: "I choose easy targets like smoking to make me look important. I went to Harvard."
Robert F Kennedy, JR. "Please God …don't write anything stupid. Do hot chicks blog?"
Harry Shearer: "This sure beats trying to be interesting."

Come on, that's pretty brutal.


 

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[Insert "Title" Here]

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05
Ok, now has our political discourse been coarsened?
Blagojevich made the remark Monday in explaining his decision to temporarily close a landfill run by a distant relative of his wife.
"This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that, knowing what's coming you're way?" Blagojevich said then. "I say I do."
Testicular virility? Was that his attempt to avoid saying "have the balls"? So he starts talking about how much semen he can produce? Knowing what's coming your way? For the love of god. Is there something I don't understand about this phrase, "close a landfill"? via physiognomist

 

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Distinctions

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

This is a pretty good article by the Times about a "cross-class" marriage, but I think they miss an opportunity to emphasize that class and wealth aren't really the same. There can be a pretty wide divergence in wealth even among people of roughly the same class. I like baa's way of explaining.

...by class, I don't mean "what your dad does" I mean "this is the way we do things." Most people find it immensely stressful to deal with people whose basic conventions and assumptions are different. I know lots of successful marriages across family background, religion, wealth, and material aspiration. But I know almost none that cross more fundamental behavioral norms. And those norms are just what class is.

There's a bit of that in the article.

Mr. Croteau had another experience of Northfield Mount Hermon as well. He briefly had a job as its communications manager, but could not adjust to its culture.
"There were all these Ivy Leaguers," he said. "I didn't understand their nuances, and I didn't make a single friend there. In working-class life, people tell you things directly, they're not subtle. At N.M.H., I didn't get how they did things. When a vendor didn't meet the deadline, I called and said, 'Where's the job?' When he said, 'We bumped you, we'll have it next week,' I said, 'What do you mean, next week? We have a deadline, you can't do business like that.' It got back to my supervisor, who came and said, 'We don't yell at vendors.' The idea seemed to be that there weren't deadlines in that world, just guidelines."

I would have loved to hear more about this. What's the difference between direct and subtle, for him? What's the reason for his false impression that there are no deadlines in "that world"? This is the fascinating stuff.


 

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Quick, Hide!

Posted by Ogged
on 05.19.05

On her blog, ac is reading love letters. Here's one that she posts, written, as ac says, by "Aline Bernstein to novelist Tom Wolfe, after he abandoned her and ran off to Europe."

I cannot sleep, this is what I think, there is nothing in life that cannot be made beautiful. Years ago I bought a jar on Allen Street, because it had a good shape. I paid 65 cents for it. I scraped and polished it, and found it was made of copper with circles worked all round the bowl. It comes from somewhere in the east. I had it made into a lamp and every night when I put on the lights, its surface gives me back fires. It gives me this because I knew and recognized its beauty under the grime of its wandering.

Now, I don't like this letter at all. I don't like it because the writing calls attention to itself and while that's a fine thing for writing to do in, say, an Anthony Lane movie review, it doesn't have any business doing it in a love letter, which is, presumably, about something more important than the writing and the writer's self-regard. There was an even more egregious example of this shortly after 9-11, perpetrated by Colson Whitehead. It bugged me no end when I read it, and I was gratified when he got ripped for it by the New Republic. Here's part of the Whitehead:

Then the wind shifted for a second, and where the second tower should have been, it wasn't. All that time, I had assumed that the smoke had merely hidden it, but it hadn't been there at all. And then Tower 2 sighed. The top floors buckled out, spraying tiny white shards, and the building sank down into itself, crouching beneath the trees and out of frame. I shouted, "Oh, my God!" It had been a nice shot. And certainly it had been easier to shape the horror into an aesthetic experience and deny the human reality. There was safety in that distance. A man picked up his bike and walked away. My wife and I went home. There had never been any safety at all.

And here's Wyatt Mason writing in (subscriber) The New Republic.

Whitehead's use of the word "sighed" is as clear an instance as I have encountered of a stylistic choice, an aesthetic shaping, that distracts us from the thing described and attracts us instead to the description. ... One might argue, given that readers already understood the weight of the event that Whitehead was describing, that his responsibility was not reportorial. Perhaps Whitehead was merely trying to alleviate our distress by transforming a thing of great ugliness into a thing of some beauty. Yet this verbal image is no less graphically misleading than the photographic image that Whitehead upbraided himself for considering. Death has been aesthetized entirely out of view, horror hidden in the background by a foreground of writerly effects. Whitehead's two sentences provide not an image of what was happening--people dying--but a picture of a man writing.

Note that the objection isn't to craft, per se. It's hard work to get the fuck out of the way. The objection is, like Mason says, to a "choice," a judgement made by the author: either a failure of the aesthetic sense (not realizing that one is in the way) or of character (knowing that one is in the way, but somehow compelled to stay).


 

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Secrets

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

People write their secrets on a postcard and mail them to the blogger, who posts them. Hard to stop reading.

via sue


 

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You Can't Just Walk Away

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

Hey, where's Lizardbreath?


 

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Try "What Happened?"

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

While musing about a possible conspiracy behind the Newsweek/Koran story, Norman Mailer endorses a belief dear to febrile minds the world over.

Lenin did leave us one valuable notion, one, at any rate. It was "Whom?" When you cannot understand a curious matter, ask yourself, "Whom? Whom does this benefit?"

Argh. First, why attribute this to Lenin? But argh because cui bono is used to support the flimsiest conspiracy theorizing. I've sat around dinner with Iranians who used cui bono to tell me that Israel was behind 9-11. We're accustomed to seeing motive used as a first step in narrowing the range of perpetrators of a crime, and that's an acceptable use, but on even a slightly larger scale, it's no longer useful, just pernicious. The agents themselves can't foresee all the consequences of their actions, and we have no way of knowing which were intended (and therefore relevant) and which not. Similarly, in the international sphere, the motivations of the various actors are insufficiently transparent to us. So no, don't ask "Whom does this benefit?" because it so far underdetermines a prudent answer that the only response will be an echo of your own prejudices.

See: This is what I like about the Huffington Post. In response to Mailer we get, first,

Scott and I read Norman's post on the Koran story - the one where he suggests the riots "would have been orchestrated. We do have agents in Pakistan, after all…."
Scott and I thought for a moment, and it dawned on both of us (at the same time!) that this actually WASN'T Norman Mailer on the blog. "It's an agent!" gasped Scott. "Because CLEARLY no one would write something so absolutely retarded, unless it was part of a larger conspiracy that's now encompassed the blog."

And,

Norman:
Great job on The Executioner's Song!
It used to be on my Friendster profile of favorite books, but then due to a glitch in their set-up Friendster erased it :(
Will be back up there soon tho, thanx for a great read.
CUL8R NM!

 

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Adventure

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

Austro's firm is hiring.


 

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Divac Is The Worst

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

King Kaufman is making sense! (Sorry for all the NBA posting, but it's the playoffs, and posts are easy to skip if you don't like them.)

[Reggie] Miller is so worn down he's even all but stopped practicing his greatest art, drawing fouls by bumping lightly into an unsuspecting opponent and then acting like he's been hit by a train, arms flailing as he careers across the court.
Pistons guard Carlos Arroyo put Miller to shame on that score Tuesday night in Game 5, taking a light shoulder brush from Jamaal Tinsley and flying backwards like a man thrown through a saloon window.
Why the NBA puts up with that kind of crap is beyond me. A flop should not only not be rewarded with a foul, it should nullify the foul, even if one has been committed and the flop merely enhanced the effect. Or it should be punished as severely as a foul. The league is 20 years overdue in getting rid of this embarrassing nonsense.

Amen, brother! What the fuck is this, soccer? Are we going to have trainers running out onto the court every three minutes to tend to every flopper? Time was, big strong athletes could be expected to take a certain amount of pride in not being easily knocked down. Now, foul calls are the crack of the NBA: people will debase themselves in an instant to get some.

I'm not sure what's to be done. I think decibels might be the answer: if a guy hits the ground, but you can't hear it at least 15 rows back, he probably flopped.


 

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Pavlovian Linkage

Posted by Ogged
on 05.18.05

Because I link whenever profgrrrrl posts pictures of herself. This time, it's her eyes, which seems kinda risky to me, but hey....


 

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Fact

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

Every now and again, Matt Yglesias surprises with some revelation of his very blue, very Manhattan cocoon.

...she mentioned that she doesn't like to propagate stereotypes, but that it's so typical that an Asian dude would be responsible for a seemingly inexplicable driving mishap (he says he was "trying to park") like that. I didn't want to seem out of it, so I nodded, but I've never been aware of any such stereotype. Have I just been living my life in some kind of bizarre non-racist cocoon? I feel like I'm familiar with all your major stereotypes. Asians are short, unathletic, hard-working, good at math, etc. But bad drivers? Who knew?

Good lord. I know Matt doesn't drive, but what, he doesn't read every comment at Unfogged? Me in italics, apostropher seconding.

Well, except for Asians, who are all bad drivers, every single one. I will not be dissuaded on this point.
I know I'm probably going to lose my liberal membership card with this comment, but why is this so completely, observably true? Is it some cosmic compensation for the enhanced mathematics and gymnastics abilities?

More: Reading Matt's comments moves me to clarify something: I have a pretty particular notion of "bad" in mind: tentative, overcautious, going too slowly, breaking at strange times, quick to panic, etc. In short: unskilled. I *don't* think of driving like a maniac as driving badly: it's usually done by generally skilled, but young, or stupid drivers. And it's why I say that Iran, for instance, has terrible traffic, but not bad drivers, because a bad driver wouldn't last, literally, 60 seconds in Tehran.

And: People like this are really annoying. One of the dumbest things you can do is deny that people are seeing what they think they're seeing, unless you have knockout reasons for doing so. And one certainly isn't going to do anything other than discredit oneself and perpetuate the stereotype of liberals as PC idiots if, in a short conversation with an ex-neighbor, one registers sanctimonious dissent at an ethnic stereotype. (At the other end of the spectrum, when talking to people whom one knows to be liberal and tolerant, qualifiers like "this is just a generalization," are sometimes, in my experience, taken by the listener as an insult: they occasion thoughts like, "Of course I know it's just a generalization, what do you take me for, some kind of neanderthal?" (No one has said that to me, but I have gotten a feeling that they were thinking that.) Liberals do such a bad job dealing with stereotypes (they're stereotypes for a reason) that it can be really embarrassing to be a liberal. So, JonJ, shut the fuck up.


 

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Sympathy?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.17.05

I seem to have caught Ogged's cold. Goddammit. I'm very cranky about this and will whine at length over the next few days unless my health miraculously improves.


 

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Intuit Sucks

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

Don't sue me Intuit, you bastards, I'm just passing along what I heard; I have no idea whether this is all true.

1. Ex filed her taxes with TurboTax, got a confirmation that everything had gone through, and weeks later received a notice from the state that her payment was delinquent: it hadn't gone through.

And from bizarro disturbing world:

2. Ex's stepmom tried to install Quicken, had trouble, and called tech support, which told her about the file she needed, but talked her through going to a third-party website, filling in some personal information, and downloading a similarly named, but different, file. After installing that file, her computer will not boot at all. The twist: the next day, they got a call at home from someone claiming to be calling from the computer manufacturer, who asked for ex's stepmom by name, and also asked if they were having any trouble with the computer. When ex's dad got suspicious, the person hung up.

What it seems like: the third-party site is running a scam where they give people a file that will crash their computer and then call those people offering to sell them a fix. In this case, someone at Intuit tech support seems to be party to the scam.

I don't think I would have posted, but ex's stepmom called Intuit and spoke to a tech support supervisor who dismissed her concerns. Not good.


 

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Bachelor Party

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

Let me pull this one out of the comments: Michael is looking for suggestions on throwing a good bachelor party. The party is for a good Catholic, so Michael wants nothing like the one I attended.


 

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What's With This Game?

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

Aha, that's the other phrase--in addition to "blow" for "rest" and "facial" for dunking on someone--that basketball commentators use that normally has a sexual meaning: getting a player off. Meaning, running the offense in a way designed to help a particular player score. Are there others?


 

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Fuck Me, I'm Not Litigious

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

Eugene Volokh, and the majesty of the law.


 

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Republicans Buy Movie Tickets Too

Posted by Ogged
on 05.17.05

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

While "Star Wars" fans squabble over whether "Revenge of the Sith" contains any anti-Bush messages, one central figure has weighed in on the debate: Hayden Christensen, the actor who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
When the Ottawa Sun asked Christensen if the flick "takes metaphoric shots at the war-mongering politics of U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and the two George Bushes" the star answered: "Absolutely."

Lucas understands that he ought not alienate the fans, but he lives in Marin, and doesn't believe that Republicans are real.

Lucas also said he penned the film long before the U.S. went to war against Iraq.
"When I wrote it, Iraq didn't exist," the filmmaker said with a laugh."We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time." He added that the "parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."

It looks like Lucas is on Tim Burke's Zeitgeit Express anyway. (Tim also has thoughts on his own site about a different part of Star Wars' influence.)


 

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This blog has a look

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.17.05

The official shirt of Unfogged:

f_labs.jpg

In case you wondered, that's an xl, and the sleeves are all right.


 

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Anthony Lane: the final reckoning

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.16.05

In comments PJS brings up one of the great questions of our age: is Anthony Lane just no damned good?

I've joined the dark side on this one. I was smitten with Lane's fey prose style on first encounter (his review of Mario Puzo's The Last Don), but my opinion has steadily gone south ever since. The main problem: the film of the week is just a backdrop for a display of witticisms, barbs, bitchy observations, and the like; the NYer obviously assigns him to the clunkers that are being reviewed simply because they provide the needed springboard for bon mots. Secondary problem: sometimes these are amusing, and sometimes not. At his worst, his reviews bring to mind a third-rate Oscar Wilde or those scenes in "Austin Powers" when Myers runs through the obligatory list of bad puns.


 

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More on Chets

Posted by Ogged
on 05.16.05

Brad responds to Alameida's post below.


 

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Sith

Posted by Ogged
on 05.16.05

You will enjoy the latest Star Wars movie or not, but we can all agree that this paragraph from Anthony Lane is awesome.

The general opinion of "Revenge of the Sith" seems to be that it marks a distinct improvement on the last two episodes, "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones." True, but only in the same way that dying from natural causes is preferable to crucifixion. So much here is guaranteed to cause either offense or pain, starting with the nineteen-twenties leather football helmet that Natalie Portman suddenly dons for no reason, and rising to the continual horror of Ewan McGregor's accent. "Another happy landing"—or, to be precise, "anothah heppy lending"—he remarks, as Anakin parks the front half of a burning starcruiser on a convenient airstrip. The young Obi-Wan Kenobi is not, I hasten to add, the most nauseating figure onscreen; nor is R2-D2 or even C-3PO, although I still fail to understand why I should have been expected to waste twenty-five years of my life following the progress of a beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves.

Actually, the whole review is awesome.


 

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The Old Days

Posted by Ogged
on 05.16.05

Home sick today (note: at first sign of a cold, do *not* go swim outside for an hour), so I'm watching Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals; the rookie-Magic-at-center game. A few observations.

1. Dr. J can be beautiful to watch, but isn't a very good player. No left, mediocre shot.

2. Players today are *so* much bigger and stronger. 1980 was before the days of weight-training, and it shows. (But they don't seem notably less athletic. They're quick and there are plenty of good leapers.)

3. Yes, they really were more fundamentally sound. Granted, it's the finals, so very good teams, but everyone seems to have a clue about passing, and many more of the guys have a decent shooting touch.

4. There's much *much* less complaining to the refs. The players express displeasure, but only for a few seconds, then get on with the game.


 

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The Mysteries of Chet

Posted by Alameida
on 05.16.05

I have here a special, economics-type query which I direct to Brad DeLong, among others. Here's the thing: I have known many investment bankers in my day. Hell, I'm related to plenty of investment bankers, even if only by marriage. Many of these men are stand-up guys, fun to be with, always up for smoking a few bowls and playing golf. Others are asshole blowhards. Mmm, more of the latter, probably. All of them, however, have the same basic character type, which I will call "Chet". Chet is a hail-fellow-well-met sort, cracking jokes all the time (some of most of which may be "politically incorrect", because he doesn't care about things like that). Chet is tall, probably tan, and has big white teeth like a mouthful of chiclets. If Chet does not play golf, it is only because he has ascended into the super-Chetosphere and plays polo. Chet is a member of country clubs, and has a thin wife, and two adorable kids, etc. etc. If you close your eyes and imagine a picture in a silver frame on an end table in an apartment on 84th and Park, then you know what Chet's kids look like (super cute!). Finally, Chet has an incredibly high opinion of himself. He is confident to the point of arrogance, but friendly, outgoing. There is one thing Chet is not, ever, in my experience, and that is particularly bright. Really. Not an intellectual powerhouse, is where I'm going with this. Not, in all likelihood, able to perform complex mathematical operations. Given that this is so, I have a few questions.

1. Is the role of these guys just to schmooze clients for their banks? Because if that's so, it could be perfectly rational and I know Chet is great at that sort of thing. But if this is so, are there wonky types behind the scenes, making the actual money decisions? Strangely enough, I take it that there are not, otherwise there would be all these rich, but wonky, investment bankers. As far as I know, there aren't any.

2. So let us say that my sucessful Chet friends at Lazard Freres and whatnot are actually deciding stuff about money. The question is, why them given that they aren't the brightest bulbs on the chandelier? (But can be perfectly nice!)

3. Is this a market failure caused by suceeding generations of Chets selecting other Chets? (And let me say it's clear what a hard row any woman has to hoe in trying to do this job.) If so, could someone clean up by having a bank with a front office of Chets and a back office of Brad DeLongs? But maybe the colossal failure of LTCM, one of the only times I ever heard of anyone trying to have smart people who knew about economics in charge of a hedge fund, has scared people off Brad DeLongs and back into the welcoming, hearty hug/back-slap combo of Chet?

4. If it's not a market failure, and Chets do just as well as brainiac PhD's in Economics at making decisions about hellishly complex derivatives, then is the whole thing just random? You get some Chets in there, half of them choose the wrong things, and maybe don't do so well; the other half randomly choose something good, and then get rewarded with millions and millions of dollars in bonuses?

5. Why do they all have to be irritating Republicans who are convinced there is some very real sense in which they have earned a multi-million-dollar bonus, when it's so clear to anyone that they cannot possibly, ever, have done enough work to "deserve" all that money (which is not to say that you can't structure a semi-sucessful company on this basis). It's so very tedious of them. Oh well, they're probably less-overpaid than Fortune 500 CEO's, I'll give them that.


 

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Just click it

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 05.15.05

Go.


 

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We Are A Funny People

Posted by Ogged
on 05.15.05

Dave Chappelle is a Muslim? I did not know that. Next, we convert The Editors.


 

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