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Coming off the bench

Posted by Unf
on 08.19.05

As usual, the heavy burden of maintaining Unfogged falls on my shoulders.

There's a really interesting piece in The New Republic by Jerry Coyne about evolution and intelligent design.

I'm not all that interested in this particular debate, but the article did kind of get me curious about evolutionary theory/science. Any recommendations for a good, well-written introduction to evolution? Something entertaining and brisk, but also reasonably comprehensive. And comprehensible to someone who last studied biology in the summer after their freshman year of high school. I'd buy something by Stephen J. Gould and/or Richard Dawkins, but each seems to have written about 50,000 books and its hard to pick just one.

Belated thanks to all of you who sent good wishes/congratulations/general happy thoughts on my recent engagement. I'm counting the days until we become Mr. and Mrs. Unf.


 

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No Joy

Posted by Ogged
on 08.19.05

Out of the loop again today, but please note, as discussed in the comments below, that the three names Google associates with the search "hedgehog impersonator" are:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad

Ron Jeremy

Brad DeLong

I guess this question has been answered.


 

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Re-Crisis

Posted by Ogged
on 08.18.05

You probably won't hear from me at all today.


 

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Branches

Posted by Ogged
on 08.17.05

Howcome no one responded to Weiner?

And I'm linking to AOTW just to see if we can bump up the ranking.


 

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The Long Arm Of The Law

Posted by Ogged
on 08.17.05

I sent it to Alameida, but who knows when she'll get to post it. I know all the ladies love their Jude, and now they can ogle his willy. Not safe for work, obviously, and not photoshopped, far as I know.

And: Much bigger version (of the picture) here. Damn, every last detail in that one. Actually, to be honest, it looks like a pretty normal-sized willy to me. Too bad, was fun.


 

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Reading list

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.17.05

In case you're wondering, I ended up going with:

The Straight Man

Disgrace

Ask the Dust

Guns, Germs, and Steel

I admit to feeling like a tool buying that last one, but it should be a fun read. I tried for A History of War but it was out of stock. Same for The Man Who Wrote the Book, which I'm looking forward to ordering. (I also got a copy of NCAA Football 2005-- thanks, minimall!)

Also, did you know about the provocative fiction of Brad Thor? Even though his latest novel is called Blowback, he doesn't write gay porn. Wonders never cease.

On that note, I'm out of here. Light posting, if any, from the road, but I hope to have fun stories on my return.


 

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Me Neither

Posted by Ogged
on 08.17.05

Bit of a crisis here at work, back later...


 

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I Want That One

Posted by Ogged
on 08.16.05

Just a couple of quick comments on "Designer Vaginas," the latest in plastic surgery. (via bandarlog)

1. Truly, we've lost the ability to find things beautiful, as opposed to making them right.

2. It's absurd that it would be scandalous to include illustrative pictures in the news article, when the story itself is so graphic, and yet it's so hard to understand what the surgery is for, or why people have it done.


 

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Better Than Cats

Posted by Ogged
on 08.16.05

I'm not a reader of his site, but it's still interesting that the Rude Pundit has taken his schtick to the stage. The Times has a review.


 

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Reading

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.16.05

My efforts to conquer the west begin Wednesday evening. (Light posting, but I'll make up for it with pictures later, I hope.) I'm making a bookstore run tonight-- make some recommendations about fun things to bring on planes. ("Literary fiction" is fine, but so is nonfiction; no, I won't be reading Being and Time.)


 

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The life of the mind

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.15.05

All this talk of Ogged's mom brings me back to the good old days of graduate school. For a while our TA room discourse was sort of dominated by "your mom" retorts of the sort I invoked in that comment. At one point a rather rough-edged graduate student tried to explain the (alleged) fun to one of our esteemed faculty. Limning the obvious, he said "the thing to understand about 'your mom' comments is that they're really crass and lowbrow." Distinguished academic: "Sort of like...your mom?" And walked away. Brilliant.


 

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Self Serve

Posted by Ogged
on 08.15.05

I was just reading about the Vodafone Simply, a cell phone made for old fogies who can't figure out a regular cell phone. Not a bad idea, actually. But it put me in mind of something else, namely, the unbelievably bad service from cell phone providers. I get TV through DirecTV, and the service has been excellent. Internet is through my cable company, and the service has been quite good. But cell phone service is a joke. I have to find out exactly what I need, what the plan is called, what all the options are and then call several times until I get a rep who either knows what I'm talking about, or is able, with my help, to navigate whatever menus they have to give me what I want. If you spend any time at mobile phone forums (as some big losers might), calling back until you get a rep with a clue is just standard advice.

I suppose that when any company has several million customers, service is going to be dodgy, and I don't blame the reps too much; it's a crap job they probably don't plan to keep for long. It seems more like a failure of design, in whatever systems they have for guiding the reps. Surely there's some way to set up what the rep sees when a customer calls so that just a few questions can reveal all the relevant options and details?

That said, I love my new phone. I can even watch television on it (not that I'm going to pay $10/month for the privilege).


 

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Oh look, another post about Cindy Sheehan

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.15.05

Surely the Sheehan campsite protest is political theater, as opposed to, say, an earnest attempt to rearrange the president's dayplanner. Yes, it's the same annoying schtick that Michael Moore used in Roger and Me and on his TV show; its effectiveness depends on your view of the obligations of people with a lot of responsibility to drop what they're doing to meet with some disgruntled person waiting to grind an axe. ("Answer me this fairminded question: why'dya murder my son?") And the idea that people who have lost kin have a special kind of authority is as loathsome as giving victims' families an extra say in capital punishment debates, which is to say: very. Finally, it is, in some ways that matter, a stretch to say that Sheehan is the new Rosa Parks. (The power of that story is in the simple and dignified assertion of a moral right, let the chips fall where they may. Not straightfowardly true in the Sheehan case-- though see below.)

But. Friends of swift boats, flight suits, and purple-heart band-aids cannot protest in good faith against political theater. We play the hands we're dealt, and no one cares about an angry Cindy Sheehan unless she's camped out in Crawford. She strikes a nerve because a lot of people are wondering more or less what she claims to be wondering, namely, what exactly is going on, and why. No, she doesn't have a right to a personal audience-- but we, collectively, have a right to a fuller accounting, and she might as well make a show of demanding what's due.

So my view about this is sort of like my view about canvassing. That it works says something bad about us-- but what else are you going to do?


 

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Our jig is up

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.15.05

Looks like I'll be needing a new career. This devastating email showed up in the inbox this morning:

Dear Sir,
As a teacher of philosophy can you please refute or acknowledge that as :
1. Truth is, or is founded upon, a belief or set of beliefs.
2. Philosophy has no beliefs.
3. Hence Philosophy cannot reveal truth.

The purpose of my challenge is to demonstrate that philosophy is now unhelpful, but advise you that this can be repaired by adopting a simple set of beliefs ( see http://www.ourcivilisation.com/phlsphy.htm). And as proof of this claim, by using the proposed set of beliefs I recommend, I can explain the nature of civilization: a phenomenon that has defied all previous attempts at explanation. (see http://www.ourcivilisation.com).
Kind regards,
Mr R. P. Atkinson

Next up: Mr RP Atkinson refutes all of contemporary physics using only a vacuum cleaner and a microwave.


 

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Variations

Posted by Ogged
on 08.14.05

I just saw the Aristocrats, which you can read more about here, as I don't want to give away too much. I'd say you should definitely see it, but I'm through recommending funny to this crowd.

Most interesting was how constant repetition of the same joke, by different performers, each with their own interpretation, highlights what makes things funny and what makes things shocking. Most of the performances didn't work for me at all; Jason Alexander, Howie Mandel, and Paul Reiser were three people I recognized whose tellings were totally unfunny. They tried to let dirty do the work of funny, and made it clear that dirty by itself isn't funny at all. But Gilbert Gottfried, just by adding "he's a longshoreman," nearly killed me.

And, as the comedians themselves discussed, a lot of what we presume to be shocking isn't really anymore. Howie Mandel must have said "cunt" 10 times, and it was distasteful, but not shocking, and certainly not funny. I'll let you discover the shocking bits for yourself.

Finally, the best tellings: Sarah Silverman's was probably the best of all. Gottfried's first telling, with the "longshoreman" bit was brilliant. Kevin Pollack telling it in the voice of Christopher Walken had me doubled over. I also really liked the card dealer, but maybe that was too gimmicky.

You know you have to see it now (but it really is vile, so if you're squeamish or easily offended....)


 

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Knowledge Is Power

Posted by Ogged
on 08.14.05

We should have known that we were fucked when the most common google search in September 2001 was for "nostradamus."


 

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