Allow me to direct your attention to a fine article on discrimination and assimilation by one Kenji Yoshino. The argument, in a nutshell, is that while overt group-based discrimination has become quite rare, pressure on people to assimilate, often in ways that have little justification, and exact significant personal cost, remains a major and largely unaddressed problem. What's interesting about the presentation is that it acknowledges that combating "covering"--which is the name for when people try to act, if not be, "mainstream"--will largely be a task for citizens acting individually, and not a primarily legal battle. Even better, the author acknowledges that what's "mainstream" isn't always clear or fixed, and that any of us, including straight white males, can find ourselves "covering."
Lots of good examples and details, so check it out if it sounds interesting.
If you haven't seen PostSecret yet you might like it. Some of them, well, not so secret.
Truly awesome GOP spin on the Jack Abramoff story.
"Look, this is going to come out. Nobody is going to keep it a secret. Jack Abramoff is so radioactive—I've got Jack Abramoff fatigue already. I mean, good grief, he didn't kill anybody. Maybe that one guy in Florida."
I've had some sporadic abdominal pain throughout the last year. My efforts at dealing with it have gone like this. Spring 2005: my doctor says to come back if it persists. It persists. August 2005: my doctor wants a CT. The insurance company says no, offers an ultrasound instead. My doctor and the hospital technician both think this is a waste of time, since the problems they're trying to rule out won't be detected by this test. But we go ahead so that we can get an inconclusive result in order to justify the test we wanted in the first place. The ultrasound is completely useless, as predicted. At that point I'm not sure what should happen next, and I'm really busy, so I don't do anything. I see my doctor for other reasons and ask about the pain. He still wants a CT, possibly followed by a specialist. The insurance company says no to the CT again-- because I waited so long, it can't possibly be serious. So now I'm going directly to the specialist, then, most likely, the CT.
The insurance company will end up paying a lot more for all the run-around, since they're stuck with some of the bill for the ultrasound and the specialist visit. I'm delayed for six months, even though I'm a guy with a good job and good benefits allegedly enjoying the best health care the world has to offer. I know it's not in the same league with serious HMO horror stories, but this shit is insane.
Everyone thinks this is probably nothing. If it's something, it's something bad. Promise me, on the off chance that it is, that you'll take turns throwing bits of my tumor at the guilty parties.
Someone in CT comments mentioned the "breathtaking final paragraph" of James Joyce's The Dead, and it is breathtaking, and one more piece of evidence that any style works, as long as you can write like Joyce.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
1. If possible, engross the whole Discourse; and when other matter fails, talk much of yourself, your Education, your Knowledge, your Victories in Disputes, your own wise Sayings and Observations on particular occasions, &c.
2. If when you are out of Breath, one of the Company should seize the opportunity of saying something, watch his words, and, if possible, find somewhat either in his Sentiment or Expression, immediately to contradict and raise a dispute upon. Rather than fail, criticise even his Grammar.
--Benjamin Franklin, "Rules for making oneself a disagreeable companion"
I'm relieved that we've eased out of the political conversation. If we hadn't, we'd discuss how Glenn Reynolds doesn't seem to know what "contrary" means:
BILL ROGGIO notes that contrary to claims it killed innocent civilians, the U.S. airstrike in Pakistan took down some major terrorists.
Hey, both claims might be true! What a thought. As Kevin Drum points out, it appears that both some major terrorists and some civilians (? non-terrorists? innocent people?) were killed; he goes on to ask the halfway-interesting question of what terrorist/nonterrorist ratio among those killed is sufficiently high to justify the action.
Tigerhawk thinks the answer is simple:
Our friends on the left have been waxing sanctimonious about the civilians killed in Friday's attempted takedown of al Qaeda chief operating officer Ayman al-Zawahiri. See this post at AMERICABlog and the attending comments for a taste ("Bush kills 24 innocent family members in Pakistan"). My advice: Find something else to complain about. That strike was both lawful and moral.
Pakistani intelligence officials have said the target of the attack was al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, who they said was invited to a dinner celebrating an Islamic holiday in the village but sent aides instead.
Unless in a church, mosque or hospital, if you harbor a combatant you are a combatant. If you invite the commander of an army that is at war with the United States to dinner with your wife and children, be neither surprised nor outraged if we destroy your house in our attempt to kill our enemy. If innocent people die in that attack, it is your fault for having sheltered the combatant in their midst.
What a fortunate coincidence that I just ran into this Jim Henley post this morning:
Don't talk to me about the suffering you'd bravely inflict on someone else. Tell me the cost you yourself would pay.
Lest I end up on SoCalPundit again, this is not a post full of liberal perfidy. It's a post about how some formerly interesting conversations have become tiresome.
Is there any such thing as an elegantly simple for-profit website? Here's ESPN's perfectly pleasant front page circa 1996, and here's the information assault that is their web page today. Who wants this?
Everyone who thought the "Seasons" post was serious owes me a fucking apology. Don't try to pretend; I have records.
Jim Henley has a super-helpful list of free software to handle most basic tasks on a PC. All the programs on that list that I've used have been good.
The concept of romantic love between a man and a woman was "invented" at the same time as, and in response to, advances in hygiene and medicine that allowed the average person to live past the age at which asses and tummies sag.
On a related note, Rachel Wacholder's world doesn't need love.
Sometimes winter makes me think of spring, and instead of snow, I imagine pretty green leaves, and the nice smell of colorful flowers. Instead of the drip drip of icicles, there would be the laughter of squirrels, running and rassling on the grass. Kids would play their happy games, and the fresh spring breeze would be like a big hug, around the whole world.
My favorite thing to do when swimming is the backstroke dolphin kick. You can see the water flowing over your goggles, and the sky just beyond that, and you can get a smooth, steady rhythm going that makes it feel like flying. This is a sweet picture of the awesome Aaron Piersol kicking with perfect form.
And you might be interested in this video of the young Russian Igor Plotnikov racing in the 50m butterfly, even though he has no arms.
Update: Email working again.
By the way, my email is hinky, thanks to some bizarre zombie message that Labs sent me that *cannot be deleted* and seems to have corrupted my inbox, so that everything sent after it is redelivered every time I log in. So if you really need to reach me, until further notice, I'm at unfogged -at- gmail -dot- com.
Let's see a dog do this.
A computer programmer found out his girlfriend was having an affair when his pet parrot kept repeating her lover's name...
The African grey parrot kept squawking "I love you, Gary" as his owner, Chris Taylor, sat with girlfriend Suzy Collins on the sofa of their shared flat in Leeds, northern England.
But when Taylor saw Collins's embarrassed reaction, he realized she had been having an affair -- meeting her lover in the flat whilst Ziggy looked on....
The story, alas, doesn't have a happy ending.
Taylor said he had also been forced to part with Ziggy after the bird continued to call out Gary's name and refused to stop squawking the phrases in his ex-girlfriend's voice, media reports said.
"I wasn't sorry to see the back of Suzy after what she did, but it really broke my heart to let Ziggy go," he said.
"I love him to bits and I really miss having him around, but it was torture hearing him repeat that name over and over again.
"I still can't believe he's gone. I know I'll get over Suzy, but I don't think I'll ever get over Ziggy."
It turns out that Brokeback Mountain is really good. I'm sure pretty much everything has been said about it, but I'll just ditto that Heath Ledger is excellent: it could have been a sappy movie, but his performance gives the whole thing emotional weight, and it was impossible not to watch him any time he was on the screen. This was quite something, as the only other thing I'd ever seen him in was A Knight's Tale.
And of course there's the look and feel of the movie. Did you notice that you could hear almost every footstep? Given the dozens of years that pass, it might have been the footsteps that kept it from feeling rushed. But be warned, I think it turned me gay, because mainly what I was thinking was, "damn, their jackets look so good and so warm."
I finished The Year of Yes, and it's quite good. She is, after all, a writer, so the writing, though a bit precious, is vivid and engaging, and the stories that result from saying yes to anyone who asks you out are, of course, awesome. The homeless dude who thinks he's Jimi Hendrix? Awesome. The French guy who claims he's rich and asks for a blowjob before they even get into his apartment? Awesome. And she does a good job with her own emotional fragility, both in describing it and describing what someone who does things that seem whacked out might be thinking. So, recommended.