Happy New Year, everyone. It's been quite a year in our corner of blogdom, with all the real-life meetings, big fights, sappy reconciliations, threatened outings and lawsuits, and, of course, another demonstration of Unfogged's power to silence yet another blogger, simply by adding a name to the sidebar. Should we even wish for the new year to be as eventful? And thanks again to everyone who reads and, especially, comments here--it would be a much better site if you'd all shut up, but we'd probably have less traffic.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, despite the horror of the response to Katrina, and the ongoing war, there are little slivers of hope that some people might be held to account, that the truth can't be hidden forever, that Iraqis might someday live normal lives, and that basic decency still has a chance. Tonight, at least, we can be happy for what hope we've got.
If you liked the Drunk Christmas link, check out the whole blog. Long, infrequent posts, usually funny, often incredibly hilarious. Sort of like a more introspective, more self-loathing Fresh Pepper.
I'm back from the APA, and I'm glad to see you've all been enjoying another installment of Gary Farber's Tales of Ribaldry.
Nothing much to report from the convention. Does Cornel West bother to get a room, or does he just camp out in the lobby? Hard to say. Anthony Kenny was there (!) but I didn't ask him about God. It was great seeing some old friends; it was harder seeing old friends who are on the market.
Of all the holidays, the only one that I don't like spending alone is New Year's Day. So if you're a woman who's so hot that even dumb guys find you fascinating, don't require any entertaining, don't ask hard questions, and can laugh convincingly at jokes you don't find funny, drop me a line; I have a good feeling about us.
A push-up, as I learned it, requires your back to be straight, and your chest to touch (or almost touch) the ground for each repetition. So I was prepared to be mightily impressed by the MSNBC video of a man doing 114 fingertip push-ups in one minute. If the Buddha's enlightenment was anything like this guy's push-ups, there are going to be a lot of unhappy buddhists, is what I'm saying.
Coming up: three days off, then jury duty on the 3rd. My New Year's resolution: guilty, maximum sentence. Sorry, likely poor and disadvantaged person!
Can it be true that we haven't discussed this? Dave Weman's recounting in the comments of an Yglesias story reminds me of the old question: how many prior partners is too many? At what point do you say, "You've slept with how many people? I'm outta here."
Much as I like berating people for their tastes, this seems like a question that's happily left up to each person to answer: some people are genuinely bothered that anyone else has planted a conquering flag on the flesh of their beloved, and some people think "but I'm getting it now." There's very little one can say to change one type into another. Much to my own surprise, and against the weight of thousands of years of middle-eastern culture, I'm much more of the second type than the first. I've been shocked a couple of times (not by my exes, O those who know me in real life), but not put off. (What shocked me: having slept with more than forty guys before the age of twenty-five; having slept with over fifty guys before the age of forty.)
For the purposes of this discussion, "sexual partner" is defined non-Clintonianly, to include people with whom one has participated in blow jobs, hand jobs, butt sex, tittyfucking, regular old-fashioned vaginal sex, penetration with dildos, stimulation with vibrators, and etc. (That's a disjunctive list, you pedantic bastards.) Phone and video sex don't count.
Not going to get the Powerbook. I know, having played around with a few, that they're great computers, but they don't seem twice-the-price great, and I'm already so familiar with Windows. But I don't think I'm even going to get a Windows laptop. I remembered that I have one of these around, and it's still really pretty nice, and since what I need is something to help me keep in touch when I travel, the handheld actually seems like a better choice than a laptop. So much for new toys.
Catherine, god bless her, makes a list of people she won't date. Funny, Tom didn't seem to be 6'1". What else has he lied to her about?
I've been a PC guy all my life, and I have a company-issued Dell laptop that I like a lot. But when I go away, I leave the laptop behind, in case there's a disaster and they need extra mobile computers. So I've been thinking, just dreamily, about getting myself a laptop, and thinking, even more dreamily, that maybe I should get a Powerbook. I've managed to resist Mac-ism, but on the plane recently, a guy was watching a DVD in a window on his Powerbook, and also scrolling through thumbnails of some of his digital photos, and the scrolling was instantaneous--no pause, no redraw, just a new page of thirty thumbnails, as soon as he clicked. There's just no way you could get any reasonably priced PC to do that. On the other hand, I could get a quite nice new Dell for about $1000, and the 15" Powerbook will be at least $2000. Anyone have a knockdown argument, either way?
I was reading something or other about FDR's court-packing scheme, and it doesn't take much imagination to see that it was at least as bad, in its way, as the stuff we complain that George Bush is doing in the service of an "imperial" presidency. On the one hand, a little perspective is nice, on the other hand, it's not clear to me that if we don't treat each overreach as a portent of the fall of the Republic, that's not precisely what it will be.
Hey, y'all have been nominated.
In this week's Economist, there's a really good survey of the state of knowledge of human evolution. It's worth picking up in you're not a subscriber--my favorite fact: homo sapiens co-existed for a time with neanderthals--who were much more thickly built than humans--and another humanoid species that was barely three feet tall. The article explicitly makes the point (and it's great fun to think about) that those species could be the basis of stories about trolls and pixies. And it must be the case that Labs' ancestors were the inspiration for the land of Brobdingnag.
I had a string of interesting cabbies this trip. In addition to the guy who had played with Connie Hawkins, on the way from O'Hare, I had the depressive twenty-something Bulgarian: "Some days I hate the whole world. Sometimes, I ask myself, 'what am I doing here?'" He went on in this vein. I wound up consoling him; I almost invited him in, he seemed to be in such a fragile state. Then, on the way to O'Hare, I had the dissipated Parisian cafe intellectual as Ukranian cabbie: fifties, black sweater, scarf around his neck, goatee, reading a book when I walked ouf the house, and full of interesting tidbits of information, eg, in czarist Russia, there were lots of Jews in small towns around Kiev, for example, because Jews weren't allowed into the city unless they were very talented or very rich. True? No idea. Then he told me about taking his twenty year-old son to Brazil for Carnival. Quite the enjoyable ride, except for his tendency to repeatedly almost drive off the right side of the road.
My brother got this for my charming nephew, which led to both of us staying up until about four on Christmas morning bolting the damn thing together. Boy, was it fun to arrive at the last step only to learn that the hardware kit's apparently-identical washers are of subtly different sizes. "So I think we have to revisit step one..."
My charming nephew has a toy bus that plays something much like this song-- fun to hear several million times in a row!-- but with a verse about how the girl on the bus goes giggle giggle giggle. Sad fact: my initial response to this is to think that it would annoy Bitch PhD; my follow-up thought is that I'll probably write a post much like this one.* It's not family time; it's a blog-driven anthropological mission.
Has anyone else noticed that the O'Reilly Defense of Christmas has changed the phenomenology of the holidays? I used to hear "merry Christmas" as a jovial greeting; now I hear it as a gauntlet-throwing. Thanks, you jerk.
*I note for the record that it annoyed me, but I didn't bring it up, not wanting to push my vagenda at a bad time.
The almost post-holiday period seems like a good time for some expiation and confession. I'm used to thinking of Ogden Nash as the happy author of charming lines of the "Candy is dandy / But liquor is quicker" variety, so imagine my surprise when I read this Nash poem.
How courteous is the Japanese;
He always says, "Excuse it, please."
He climbs into his neighbor's garden,
And smiles, and says, "I beg your pardon";
He bows, and grins a friendly grin,
And calls his hungry family in;
He grins, and bows a friendly bow;
"So sorry, this my garden now."
I was eagerly contemplating the perfidy of Ogden Nash, but as I was waiting for some friends at a restaurant today, several Indian (or Pakistani, or some such) families came in in succesion, and damn if I didn't think, "there goes the neighborhood." It's something I joke about, but I realize that it's also true: in the abstract, I'm totally bigoted against anyone who looks to be from the Indian subcontinent; I expect them to be cheap, traitorous, and dirty. It's really pretty bad. And it wouldn't even be notably interesting except that the "but some of my best friends..." response is so natural, and also true: one of my best friends is (half) Indian, and I know lots of Indians, and I like them and am more at ease with them than with most folks. And yet, at the level of nameless social interaction, my first thought is "fucking Indians." I'm not sure if there's a conclusion to be drawn, but my own reaction does make me both more and less hopeful about race/ethnic relations: it seems pretty clear that the notion that "ignorance" and "fear" account for racism and ethnic hatred is bunk--I know plenty of Indians plenty well, and like them, and it hasn't helped. But then again, my bigotry doesn't seem to much matter--I can't tell that it has any real-world effects, in fact. Best then, I suppose, to keep hammering the notion that racial hatred is unacceptable in a civilized society, so that even if people do have these unpleasant reactions, they know to stuff them, and carry on with decency.