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A Not Quite Philosophical Question

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.05

Is George Bush a bad enough guy that it was right and proper that he become president so that his failures might be noted forevermore by future generations, or is he an average bad guy whom we loathe with heat because he's president? Or is it neither of those, but that we become angry when sycophants (a word derived from the Greek for "fig", btw) pretend that he's a Great Leader?


 

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Hydration

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.05

Though clearly still too expensive to make it a feasible solution, technology does exist that would have let the people stranded in NO safely drink the horribly dirty water that had trapped them.


 

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Humanity

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.05

Holy shit. You really need to watch this video of two of Fox's own reporters in effect telling the spinmen back in the studio to shove it. I know it's a slow download, and a long clip, but watch it.

One of the most disorienting things about all the spin we live with is that we actually believe that reporters and spinmeisters are human, and we can't understand how they can maintain their facades. Something about the situation in New Orleans has pushed people's "this is not who we are" button, and that, finally, is more important to them than anything else.

If you missed it, Anderson Cooper had his moment earlier.

And Kanye West (who is what? a tough rapper guy?) became a very nervous, very upset young man who couldn't keep quiet or stick to the script.

I've never seen anything like this.

And: Not quite the same category, but Koppel does a relentless interview with the head of FEMA.


 

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Listen

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.05

Has Farber already linked to this too? Via Kaus, check out Brendan Loy's posts in the days leading up to landfall. (Start there and scroll up.)


 

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I Think This Is "Getting It"

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

This is a great idea.

Pearl Jam will on Sept. 1 launch its own digital download store via its official Web site.
Hours after their completion, full concerts from the group's fall tour will be available for $9.99 as 192K MP3s

...

the files will be encoded without DRM restrictions, allowing them to be burned to CD and transferred to portable MP3 players

What more to say? Every band who can should do this.

Dude: I had no idea.


 

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Not That Much Attention

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

You know who's happy about Katrina? Dan Hoyt.


 

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Damn Rabbits

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

You might recall that last year I had to attend four weddings in the latter half of the year. This year, we have four pregnancies. (One pregnancy is from a couple married a few years ago, with one of the married couples holding out). Congratulations and good grief. I'm an only child. I floated a trial balloon with my mom a few weeks ago:

Me: Maybe I don't want to have kids.

Mom [who doesn't do irony or sarcasm]: What? Why would you say something like that? Have you lost your mind?

Me: I just might not want kids.

Mom: Stop it. I know you're not serious. You're just trying to upset me.

I (honestly) can't remember if she also said, "Then I should just kill myself now," but it would have been very much in character. As a bonus, the mother of two of the dads-to-be has become buddies with my mom, and they go for regular walks together. This does not please me.


 

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The matter with Kansas

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.02.05

I had assumed that Frank's book could have used any solidly red state in its title, but, driving through Kansas, I was struck by the state's very visible cultural identifications. You can't spend a lot of time wondering how Kansas feels about abortion, for example; signs like these are everywhere:

abortionmurder.jpg

This one is a favorite for the way it combines a hectoring tone ("you hear that, America? We were right about abortion!") with a terrible argument (the parenthetical aside seems to be intended as evidence). You won't get racier pictures from Vegas until you come up with five counterexamples.


 

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R.L. Burnside

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

Aw, crap. Here's something not related to Katrina, but sad all by itself; R.L. Burnside has died. I wonder if TomF is still reading, and has anything to say.


 

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Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.02.05

Indeed I did promise pictures of Vegas. Nothing risque; this is a family-oriented blog.

In recent days it's been interesting to observe how easily order gives way to anarchy: with W-lfs-n gone, I feel free to ignore the missing accent.

If you look closely, I'm reflected in the glorious light of these bronze thighs:

magicthighs.jpg

Here's one of the odd statues at the Hoover Dam. To paraphrase Ed Kemper, I think two things when I stand on the dam: what a breathtaking work of engineering, and please, don't let the bomb go off when I'm standing here. The 30s decorations are striking.

hooverand.jpg

More from time to time.


 

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This And That

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

Ok, I shouldn't feel guilty about posting about other things, right? I mean, Unfogged isn't going to save anyone's life. And didn't Labs promise us pictures from Vegas?


 

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Today's Katrina Thread

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.05

I thought it worked pretty well yesterday, with lots of good information being shared (thanks, Gary). Here's one to start us off.

— The mayor of NO says, "They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying ... Get off your asses and let's do something." Bush says the efforts so far are "not acceptable."

— Farber again has a bunch of links.

via Amy Sullivan, another reminder that when you're poor and black, the shape of the social structure is very different for you, and you make decisions accordingly.

When the hurricane hit, Thomas, a truck driver, said he came home from work, looked at every one of the people he loves, and stood in the middle of the living room. Thinking. He's the Socrates in the family -- but time was running out.
"I only got a five-passenger car," he said.
"Chevy Cavalier," said his wife.
"And," Thomas continued, "I stood there, thinking. I said, 'Okay, it's 50-50 if the water will get through.' "
Within hours the water rose, and it kept rising.
"But then I said, 'If we do take the car, some of us would be sitting on one another's laps.' And the state troopers were talking about making arrests."
Instead, he pushed the kids out a window. They scooted to the roof, some pulling themselves up with an extension cord.

— A helpfully annotated screencap.

— via moira, a very helpful graphic presentation of the disaster from the Times.


 

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Ugly

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.05

Just for the record, I'm going to have nothing to say about Katrina for a while. (But feel free to use this thread to post links or discuss.)

— Michael has an update.

— Ok, this much I'll say: the "they could have left / no they couldn't" debate is something of a red herring. Even if every last person had evacuated, they wouldn't have been able to return for at least a few weeks, and now we know that it might be months. What plans were in place to deal with the evacuees? Also, please note that the fact that there are shootings and snipers makes the situation for the people in NO worse; it does not mean that they can be written off as savages.

— I was hoping not to be purely partisan for a while, but boy, it's just too damn delicious, given our incompetent, swaggering President, who loves to give people infantilizing nicknames, that people have started calling New Orleans Lake George.

— The first bus of refugees arrives in Houston. More good photos in that set.

— Joan Walsh has up a good piece in Salon.

— Maybe I'm wrong that the focus on "anarchy" is just racism. This guy (via Farber again, he's got a lot of stuff up today) is blogging from NO, and writes,

Jesse Jackson

Dear Sir:

Respectfully, I submit that you should shut the hell up. Looting and lawlessness IS the problem. The National Guard choppers are BEING SHOT AT. The NOPD are BEING SHOT AT. You want to focus on the levee? So do they, but check this out: THEY CAN'T UNTIL THE MOB STOPS ATTACKING THE RESCUE OPERATION.
I know you're looking at this situation with concern for the racial implications of the deterioration of civilization out here, but this is bigger than whether people are going to be racists after this is over. This is about rescuing the masses i.e. life and death.

Farber has great excerpts. The guy's whole blog is worth a look.

— Holy crap, FUBAR. The Astrodome was supposed to accomodate 24,000 people, but they just reported on CNN that they have about 5,000 people there and have decided that they can't accomodate anymore and are turning busses away as they arrive.

— There's a professor on MSNBC saying best case is a few people moving back to NO in about six months, worst case is that the city is uninhabitable for 3-5 years.


 

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Piña Colada

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.05

It seems like a lot of work and stress, being a squirrel.


 

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A Factoid

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

Movable Type counts 47,150 comments over the life of the blog. Since it's been installed, for about half that time, MT-Blacklist reports blocking 255,746 spam comments.


 

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Comic Book Fairies, Activate!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

It really shouldn't fall to me to let you know about Gay Batman.

Best comment: "Batman was dating Katie Holmes in the last movie ..."


 

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Something you knew already

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.31.05

Jonah Goldberg:

Several readers complain that it's in fact true that the hurricane will disproportionately affect poor people. I don't really dispute that in the sense most mean it. Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment? What's the metric for measuring this sort of suffering? What about the small businessman who worked his entire life to build something he's proud of? What about the families who lost loved ones, but had the poor taste to make more money than the poverty line?

Then he takes it to the next level:

Whatever happened to the idea that unity in the face of a calamity is an important value? We're all in it together, I guess, except for the poor who are extra-special.

Those lucky duckies! I mean, I'm not the richest guy here, but if my job and house vanished tomorrow I could live comfortably for several months without getting into any serious financial trouble. I have options. If, on the other hand, you can't afford a Greyhound ticket or a hotel room, you're not going to have an easy time doing much of anything: you are seriously [in trouble]. The loss of a home is only the tip of the iceberg. I cannot imagine that this point is hard to see, but Goldberg frequently charts new territory in the land of the clueless.


 

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Witches, I Tell You!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

Instapundit wrote,

I think that demonizing the ACLU is a bit silly. I do feel that they've become overly partisan in recent years, but they still do good work

And 30-some conservative sites de-linked him. Wow.


 

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Glorious

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

I asked a friend in DC how he was doing. He wrote back,

All is well here in the capital of the free world / birthplace of the iraqi shia theocracy

 

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At least someone's keeping score

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.31.05

The ever-popular Mr Simmins is tracking charity. No word yet on Soros' contributions. (We do, however, learn that "[n]ot every young woman is a tart.") In other news, Glenn Reynolds thinks that looters going after nonessentials should be shot. Hurricanes: they bring out our very best.

Half-assed second thought: I'm guessing that if I were a storeowner, looting would be sort of low on my list of worries, at least lower than staying alive, the other sorts of damage to my store, and the fact that many of the people who might otherwise be buying things from my store are now homeless and jobless. On the other hand, people stealing guns is sort of a problem. Louisiana: it's the state...of nature!


 

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Ultrapeople

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

It's possible I'm just imagining this, but does every thirty-something suddenly decide that he/she is an endurance athlete? It seems that a whole slew of people are training for marathons or triathlons. One of the personals I read recently said that the woman was over "the whole traithlon craze." Is this really some kind of fad, or am I just noticing because I'm at that age? Hell, I was thinking of doing a triathlon, when running reminded me that I hate to run, and have no endurance (step right up, ladies).

And if a lot of people are doing this, why? To fight off those first signs that the body is breaking down? Or is it just a fad among childless thirty-somethings, who need to throw themselves into something? Thoughts?


 

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A Good Deal

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

Ted Barlow will make you a mix CD if you contribute to the Red Cross. Details here.


 

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This Blog Will Henceforth Be Solely Devoted To Discussion of Husbands In The Delivery Room

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.05

You know who I'm tired of? B-lle W-ring! Our BwO, Alameida, can kick your ass, B-lle W-ring!

Actually, Belle's latest post on men in the delivery room is good. It's a good rule of thumb that in discussions among friends, the perception that the person on the other side of the debate is a stupid fucking fucker is a good sign that you're not talking about the same things. This discussion has been particularly heated because there are about twenty different claims at issue, most of them emotionally charged. I think the state of play is something like this.

1. Should men be able to opt out of accompanying their wives in the delivery room? I think there's a consensus that the answer is "Not unless the wife agrees willingly and if there's a very very good reason." Anticipating being grossed out is not, by consensus, a good reason, not least because you don't have to look at all the icky stuff.

2. Is the shrink who wrote the Times article a wanker? Consensus: absolutely.

3. Should women have to give any thought, while they're pregnant and when they're delivering, to how they appear sexually? Consensus: no.

4. Are the men quoted in the Times article "big pussies?" I think the consensus breaks down a bit here. Daniel Davies (who, it should be noted, by his own admission, can't even beat up the modestly endowed Jude Law) seems committed to the claim that they are. Others note that the men did accompany their wives to the delivery room, and are reporting an effect after the fact, and doing so with a fair bit of shame and embarrassment. This leads us to:

5. Should we, as a society, call these men "big pussies" in order to discourage this kind of sensitivity more generally? Opinion is once again divided, though not so deeply. Most answer "yes," because birth is so important and traumatic for the wife, men should be trained and socialized to suck it up and not let the situation affect them as it affected the men in the article. Others think that men should be encouraged to support their wives, but that their reactions should be dealt with respectfully, as legitimate objects of therapy. This discussion led us to:

6. How much is what we find sexy, arousing, or gross affected by socialization and social pressure, and to what extent are our reactions beyond control? This question itself resolves to two more basic questions:

6a. How much does socialization affect what we, as a society, find arousing or gross?

6b. How much can social pressure change the behavior of individuals when they're "post-socialized" adults?

The consensus on 6a is, I think, "quite a bit." 6b has been the subject of a lot of heat and anger. Some have argued that the ability to affect post-socialization arousal patterns is virtually nil, others think that "suck it up" can be effective.

7. How appropriate is it to make moral claims and judgements about people's desires and emotional reactions? Opinion is divided, basically along the same lines as 6a and 6b. Some people think that emotions aren't things we control, and ought not be condemned (for the most part), others say that it's quite normal for us to judge other people's emotions and desires.

Surely I'm leaving some out, but I think those are the main claims that have been at issue. So maybe if we want to keep talking about this, we can specify which claim, precisely, we're debating.


 

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Why can't I be the one?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.31.05

I just saw my first episode of Tommy Lee Goes to College-- awesome. It's tragic that I'm not one of his teachers.


 

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Katrina

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.05

Katrina's last-minute swerve seems to have offered only false hope: levees have been breached and New Orleans is flooding. I just made an online donation to the Red Cross, and you can too.

And: A while back I endorsed a Wolcott post about "rooting" for hurricanes. Maybe we can discuss that some other time, but no one was rooting for this one.


 

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Perspective

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.05

Ah, I had somehow missed this. Slate's Meghan O'Rourke picks up the "fathers in the delivery room" discussion, complete with links to Crooked Timber and Belle's post, and says everything that needs to be said. Read the whole thing.


 

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Crowd Control

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.05

I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing that this was little noted.

The Air Force issued new religion guidelines to its commanders today that caution against promoting any particular faith - or even "the idea of religion over nonreligion" - in official communications or during meetings, sports events or ceremonies.

It's bad insofar as the Air Force is, in fact, dominated by evangelicals. In most countries, having a branch of the armed forces under the influence of a particular sect (and a sect that's hostile to a chunk of the regular population) would be cause for real concern. But probably the population in this country is so far from restive that it doesn't much matter who the armed forces would side with in an uprising.


 

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Oh, That's Gross

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.05

It may be that the subway flasher has been caught. This would be funny if it weren't nauseating: people have told the police that they think the flasher is

Dan Hoyt, co-owner of raw-food eateries called Quintessence

I have nothing to add but retching.

(small thanks to joe o for the tip)

And:: Here's Hoyt's bio on the restaurant's site. Hmm. Not a perfect match, but pretty damn close.

Not looking good: For Hoyt.


 

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Play Anywhere

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.05

I don't know if you all saw Tom's "I am utility's bitch" belt a while back, but surely now we know what to get him for Christmas.

Uh...: And take a look at the picture on Salon's cover story today. "Teledildonics?" Oy vey.


 

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Skylab

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.05

This is part public service announcement, part attempt to stop something that annoys me. Whenever you try to leave a voicemail for someone on Cingular's network (and maybe other networks, I'm not sure), in addition to the person's greeting, you get some long, automated "If you'd like to leave a callback number...if you'd like to leave a voice message..." spiel from a woman who's very nice, I'm sure. People of Earth, you can turn that crap OFF. Go into your voicemail settings and set your "prompt level" to "rapid" and turn "cut through paging" off. Thanks. Now get a landline, I can't understand a goddamned word you're saying.


 

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Let's Make Some Corn

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.05

Tyler Cowen excerpts something that's just too cool not to swipe in full.

At the DNA level, all the major cereals -- wheat, rice, maize, millet, barley, and so on -- are surprisingly alike. But despite their genetic similarity, maize looks and acts different from the rest. It is like the one redheaded early riser in a family of dark-haired night owls. Left untended, other cereals are capable of propagating themselves. Because maize kernels are wrapped inside a tough husk, human beings must sow the species -- it cannot reproduce on its own...no wild maize ancestor has ever been found, despite decades of search. Maize's closest relative is a mountain grass called teosinte that looks nothing like it...And teosinte, unlike wild wheat and rice, is not a practical food source; its "ears" are scarcely an inch long and consist of seven to twelve hard, woody seeds. An entire ear of teosinte has less nutritional value than a single kernel of modern maize...
...the modern species [of maize] had to have been consciously developed by a small group of breeders who hunted through teosinte strands for plants with desired traits. Geneticists from Rutgers University...estimated in 1998 that determined, aggressive, plan breeders -- which Indians certainly were -- might have been able to breed maize in as little as a decade...modern maize was the outcome of a bold act of conscious biological manipulation -- "arguably man's first, and perhaps his greatest, feat of genetic engineering," [Nina Federoff]..."To get corn out of teosinte is so -- you couldn't get a grant to do that now, because it would sound so crazy...Somebody who did that today would get a Nobel Prize! If their lab didn't get shut down by Greenpeace, I mean."

 

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Not Tonight

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.05

Went out to eat at a little Mediterranean place, and there was just one couple in the restaurant. He pulled a ring box out of a bag, opened it, and set it in front of her. I heard her say "not ready." She closed up the box and put it back in the bag. They talked and sulked. Their food came, they asked to have it wrapped up, and sulked some more before they left, she walking ten feet in front of him. Ouch.


 

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