Apropos of this Hit and Run entry, don't you all think that much good in the world could be acheived if Steve Martin fired whoever the fuck he has for an agent and hired Bill Murray's agent? Does Martin really need the money that bad? I mean, let's say he has a hellacious coke habit (I'm just casting about for expensive hobbies). Isn't there a limit to how much coke one person could do? He made Cheaper By The Dozen for the $$, right? What is he, Gary Busey or something?
What is the greatest obscenity, dear readers? We've pondered this question at length, and at depth, here at The Mineshaft. But you will be delighted to know that I believe I have found it, our grail: this article would bring a rosy tint to the grizzled cheek of Larry Flynt, for it achieves the special obscenity that constumes itself as senstitive and highbrow, alive to the tragic ironies of the human condition, and in so doing, makes the reader want to vomit all the more copiously.
Consider young Nia, "willowy and dark-eyed," "too beautiful to be in a psychiatric ward." Nia is a schizophrenic who receives messages from all quarters that insult and torment her. But there are glad tidings, friends! After meeting "a man of compromise with a small chin," it is discovered that there is a drug, Olanzapine, that makes all her symptoms vanish. But there's bad news yet again--it makes her fat! But there is good news--her doctors immediately took her off the drug and put her on one that didn't cause weight gain, Quetiapine. But there is bad news--it didn't treat her symptoms. Tragically, they were forced to put her back on Olanzapine, but were there signs she was still ill? Why there were: "Nia's apparent indifference to her predicament [the weight gain]. Was she really as well as her family suggested?" Even if accepting a heavier body weight isn't technically a symptom of mental illness, can it really be called health? "The young psychiatrist wasn't sure. The treatment had reversed a Faustian pact in which Nia had been beautiful and mad, and replaced it with another—in which she was fat and sane. But was it really a blessing that Nia seemed to have no conception of what she had lost?"
If there were ever a quease-inducing cocktail, it is this article: the soft-focus, gooey treatment of mental illness, the elevation of a woman's appearance to near-paramount importance--just barely behind her sanity; no drug, no matter how potent, can stop the gastrointestical process now. Excuse me while I expel my dinner. But perhaps that will be a hidden blessing, for it might, in the final calculus, reduce my size by as much as a quarter of a pound. And if the world were persistently so offensive, I could attain my life's end: to become a size six. Help me achieve my dream Unfogged commenters--offend me! Abuse my sense of decency! I lay myself down before the lash of your tongues. And then note the incongruity of fate that such physical beauty was bought at the cost of such psychic distress--though I'd remind you, it was hardly too great a price to pay for loveliness.
via Ampersand's Big Fat Blog Carnival
I love bad 80s television. And the best part of bad 80s television? The "Very Special Episode", where the characters we have come to know and love are confronted by the evils of alcohol, drugs, or teh sex and learn a Very Valuable Lesson. Wikipedia has a nice long list of Very Special Episode plots from the 80s that sure brought back some memories.
The most over the top VSE series had to be Diff'rent Strokes, what with Kimberly's bulimia, Arnold getting molested by a creepy neighbor, and (of course) Nancy Fucking Reagan telling us to Just Say No but I still say that the best VSE had to be when Punky Brewster's friend hid in the refrigerator during a game of hide-and-seek and had to be revived using CPR. (Revived by someone else because Punky had been goofing off during the lesson and hadn't paid attention. Nooooooo!)
[Hat tip to Hit and Run]
Andrew Sullivan passes along a reader's insight into the riot situation:
"I'm honestly starting to suspect that, before this is over, European nations are going to have exactly four choices in dealing with their entire Moslem populations -- for elementary safety's sake:
(1) Capitulate totally to them and become a Moslem continent.
(2) Intern all of them.
(3) Deport all of them
(4) Throw all of them into the sea.
This sounds a bit shrill even to me -- but what the hell else can you do with several tens of millions of potential Branch Davidians?
Just a bit. You might not believe this, but my high-level, super-secret contacts in the Muslim world have intimated that there's actually a trace element of dissent in the Umma about this: apparently some Muslims are not actually in favor of rioting over cartoons. It's very hard to spot, because in other ways Muslims are completely homogenous-- but there might be one or two we could spare from either internment or deportation.
For fuck's sake, Sullivan. If I sent you an email saying that we who are pro-choice must either deport, imprison, or kill all Christians, would you pass it along as though it contained some glittering jewel of wisdom?
Matthew Yglesias gives the right response to the rest of Sullivan's post.
Mr. HOYER (for himself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SABO, and Mr. PALLONE) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
'The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.'.
In case you don't know your amendments off the top of your head, that's the one that limits presidents to two terms. The sponsors are four Democrats and a Republican. I can't find anything on Google News about it. Did I just totally miss some earlier discussions somewhere about this?
So the Olympics starts tonight and...I really don't care. Unlike my not caring about the Superbowl or March Madness, this actually makes me a little sad. Wistful, at least. I'm not a big sports fan and even less enthralled with watching televised sports but the Olympics used to be the exception because it really felt like a "love of the game" competition and appealed to my let's-all-hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya-for-world-peace idealism. I was completely obsessed with the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and so was the whole town – all of the Main Street shops had Olympics-themed decorations and people threw parties each night to watch the events. Now, even with the ability to TiVo past the commercials, I just can't muster up any enthusiasm.
Most people I know feel the same way and I can't figure out what changed. Was it the fall of the Soviet Union? Did that take away the us-vs.-them drama? Did the move to staggering the winter and summer games instead of holding them in the same year make it seem less special? Is it because of those stupid tug-at-your-heartstrings athlete profiles that now litter the broadcast? Are we lured by all of the other options on cable? Or did we just all turn into heartless cynics?
I've heard rumors that some people actually leave comments at other blogs, too. I'm not sure how that works exactly. Perhaps if I didn't spend all night hitting refresh here, I'd have some time left over to try it. Anyhow, if you're one of those folks trying to keep track of conversations all over these here internets, you may want to check out CoComment. Looks pretty nifty.
Update: Hmm, it's in beta and you need to have somebody in the know invite you to test it. Still, looks nifty, if only in a potentially in the future sort of way.
Update 2: Okay, if you sign up to be informed when it goes public, they will send you a registration code within a few hours. However, it doesn't yet work for Movable Type blogs ("more to come soon"). All the same, nifty.
As some of you have noted, the sidebar is feeling a little incomplete. It's missing an About Ben W-lfs-n page. Perhaps the Unfoggetariat could help him write one in the comments.
I'm going to try out a Becks-style (hold your horses!) post, and solicit opinions about social mores. Really this is Ogged-style too; I think Becks is Ogged's true heir.
In a conversation I had yesterday inspired by my story about the HIV counselor, I said that even though I knew one could never be one hundred percent certain about the fidelity of one's significant other, I was pretty sure if mine cheated he'd just tell me about it. To make sure that was the operative understanding between us, I asked him last night if he would tell me. He said yeah, and also said that the only way he ever would cheat on me is if the relationship had been bad enough for long enough that he would have already said something about that long before. Some people cheat for excitement, he said, but he would only cheat if there was something very wrong in the relationship. That got me thinking--what could possibly make me cheat?
I've never cheated--that is, I've never had sex outside a relationship that has been established as exclusive--but I can't say I'm sure I'm incapable of it. I think I could even be capable of cheating if my relationship were going well, but it would take a particular set of circumstances. I wouldn't seek it out, so I would have had to have happened to meet someone, perhaps at a party, with whom I had immediate and striking physical and interpersonal chemistry, it would have to be easy to transition to a private space without too much time for reflection involved, and he would have to be aggressive (yet not ickily so) enough to allow me to slide effortlessly into the cheat. Being drunk would probably help get this hypothetical cheating ball rolling. Given those circumstances, I can't swear I wouldn't do it; I know that I'm a sucker for certain kinds of attention, and I can be impulsive. Also, there are certain people who've historically rejected me who thus have symbolic importance; the temptation to claim their affections would be awfully great even if I were satisfied in my current relationship. On the other hand, when I've attempted non-monogamy, my internal narrative when I hooked up with someone other than my primary S.O. was something like "You! Should! Not! Be! Here!" Maybe if I were starting a cheat, that undercurrent would be even stronger, and it would derail the cheat.
My uncertainty about whether I could ever cheat is one reason why I wouldn't marry someone who said, "If you ever cheated on me, I'd end the marriage." Though even if I though I were incapable of it, on an intellectual level it doesn't make sense to me to treat sexual infidelity as inherently more catastrophic, or more of a betrayal, than all the other bad things you're supposed to transcend in a marriage.
Let us turn to TV for an illustrative example: Six Feet Under fans will remember that Rico kicked off a very rocky stage in his marriage by receiving, while drunk, a blow job from a stripper. They might also remember that said blow job was preceded by a period of months in which his wife Vanessa's sister was living with them, at his wife's invitation, because she was having financial problems, but she (the sister) never looked for work and had a consistently nasty and undermining attitude towards Rico, and Vanessa never stuck up for him (until, ironically, she finally did right after he had gotten the blow job). I'm not sure I don't think those sins are roughly equivalent. Of course, the blow job was followed by a bizarre period in which Rico proceeded to spend time with the stripper and her son and spend thousands of dollars on them, although they had no sexual contact, and that was the worst thing of all. I don't see that sexual infidelity was really on the top of the ladder of things that had gone wrong in their marriage.
So I'm curious about a couple of things. The first is under what circumstances, if any, can you imagine yourself cheating? I'm not asking about what you would do, but what it's conceivable that you'd do. I'm aware that many of you just won't want to answer this question, though if you do, feel free to turn anonymous if you are usually nymous or pseudonymous. Also, do you think sexual infidelity is the worst thing your partner could do to you, or are there other things on a similar level, or even worse things, that you think a relationship could survive? [edited per W-lfs-n's suggestion, and my own consideration that of course there is a large set of things that are worse, but that should definitely end the relationship.]
(I should note that I think everyone has an obligation to tell their partner when they cheat, if for no other reason than that it constitutes a disease risk that their partner has a right to know about.)
My roommate recently had LASIK and paid for it using money set aside in one of those pre-tax medical savings plans where the contributions are "use it or lose it". She ended up not needing the more expensive type of procedure so now she's stuck with about $1000 in her plan that she has to spend by October but can only use on something medically-related.
I made an offhand mention of this to a coworker who asked how my roommate's procedure went to see if she had any suggestions on how to spend the money. Her reply: "If she's your age and still single, she should freeze her eggs." It doesn't happen often but I was literally stunned speechless. I stood there for the longest minute ever trying to figure out what the hell one says in response to that when, fortunately, my phone rang.
I don't think the co-worker meant to be malicious and, if anything, probably there was regret in her answer. She is, after all, in her 40s and without children. Still, it felt like a huge slap across the face.
It's like "I'm glad you're successful and have a fun, happy life that you enjoy but don't forget that you have an expiration date."
You may remember when Ogged linked to Becks linking to this New York Times story about how taking birth control pills [Fixed. Thanks, Gary] may diminish your sex drive. I read that article and thought, "Hey wait a minute. I've been having trouble with my sex drive." I'd never heard of anyone having such a problem; none of my female friends have complained about it. And then I thought back to when this trouble began (I could name the month it started because I'd already had about three "Why isn't Tia hornier?" conversations with Graham, and we'd figured out the month and concluded that, at least initially, his withdrawal due to job stress was the culprit). I realized that the precipitous drop in my horniness levels came a month after I started using birth control. I decided I'd stay on the patch until my health insurance kicked in (this Saturday! woot!), when I'd take LizardBreath's advice and talk to my doctor about IUD's, but when I couldn't get my prescription filled due to one of the innumerable incidents that testify to the incompetence of just about every New York pharmacy, I decided to junk the patch and go back to condoms and non vaginally penetrative sex for a while until I could get to a doctor. I'd been telling myself not to expect too much since the Times said the chemical responsible for the diminishment in horniness stayed in the blood for months, but I needn't have reigned in my hopes; in less than a month, across a variety of indicators, the effect is clear: the slumbering beast has awakened, and I'm a sex fiend again!
Thanks Becks! Thanks Ogged! Unfogged changed my life--how will it change yours?
I had a college professor who used to say that love is undifferentiated arousal in the presence of an appropriate other, that is, our "emotions" are formed by our cognitive explanations for chemical states that in fact are fundamentally pretty similar; when you feel "love" and feel "fear" it's actually the same chemical condition, but you interpret it as "fear" when you're hanging over a cliff, "love" when you're with your honey. It's funny to see that weird interaction between cognition and biology in action; I invented a cognitive and emotional explanation for a phenomenon whose first cause was chemical. Of course, biological and cognitive-affective processes often form feedback loops (it even did in my case, since my diminished sex drive affected the relationship and fed into the enervation that we thought was the first cause of the problem). In most cases it's hard to see whether the chicken or the egg came first, and since both the chicken (biology) and egg (cognition and affect) are intrinsic to the person, it doesn't even necessarily make sense to treat one as the "true" cause. But this was an odd case where the introduction of a foreign chemical element intruded on the process and gave me an almost unsettling view into the way my body chemistry and my conscious mind are communicating.
In Alberto Gonzales' confirmation hearings as Attorney General last year, Senator Feingold asked Gonzales whether, in his view, the President had the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps in violation of the criminal law. Gonzales responded that "it's not the policy or the agenda of this President to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes." Now, it turns out that he meant that of course the President has the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps because the President isn't bound by the criminal law in question, so it's not in contravention of our criminal statutes. What the hell do checks and balances mean any more when officers of the executive branch will just stand up and say that they don't owe Congress a straight answer on anything? (Obviously, everyone should be following along at Amygdala, where Gary has, for a change, been on top of this for months now.)
In a perfect world, this ad would be running every commercial break.
(via The Stinging Nettle)
As a few of you have noted in the comments, something appears to be going on with the server. It's going up and down and experiencing some slowness. One of the reboots was scheduled but I don't know what else is going on yet. We'll keep you posted here as we get more information.
This is threatening to make me crazy. The emerging Instapundit gloss on the Mirengoff interview: Durbin couldn't answer the questions, fled in horror after making a little ad hominem dig at Pajamaline.
My reading of the exchange: Mirengoff repeats the administration argument, prompting Durbin to realize he's arguing with the very concept of a talking point. Durbin gives what seems to be a legitimate answer, then goes off to do something else. Seriously, watch the clip. But none of this matters, because the mutual admiration society is already at work.
I don't know why this irritates me so much. Probably a lot of it is the little-kid glee with which Reynolds and Mirengoff seem to view the asininosphere.
I'm not blowing his cover or anything, since I know my brother would freely cop to this, but he has a man-crush on Christian Bale. I find this a more interesting question than who chicks have a crush on, since it's much more socially acceptable for women and girls to have a crush on some other girl. I remember very well when (shit, how shall I describe this person? her mother was in a long-term relationship with my grandfather, and she is maybe 6 years younger than me?) ok, stipulated person x, told me in the morning as we were vying for toaster space that she couldn't stop thinking about the girl in that Aerosmith video (that would be Alicia Silverstone). "Because she's sooo hot!" So, c'mon, male unfogged commenters. Who's your man-crush? We all know you have one.
UPDATE: the man-crush very much implies that you don't want to have teh ghey sex with the person, otherwise this would be a plain old crush. this is more like: that guy conforms to my standards of guy hottness to a great degree, and moreover seems cool, and like someone I would like to hang out with. thus, he is my man-crush.
Why, listening to two aging partners discuss how unattractively flappy Mick Jagger's underarms were at the SuperBowl halftime show, and how he should really have worn a brightly colored puffy shirt rather than going shirtless. This inevitably led to a half-hour discussion of how great The Band were.
I knew, when I took this job, that I would be doing some unseemly and degrading things to earn my exorbitant salary. I have to admit that being forced to think about Mick Jagger's underarms at length was not one of the things I expected.
Weird video of Dick Durbin being questioned by Paul from Powerline. On one hand, it's creepy that Paul (was he Deacon or the Big Trunk? I can never remember) does this sort of thing (Tom Swift, citizen journalist!) but on the other he comes across like a whiny fool, especially in his parting shot, "well, Dan Rather knows about us!"
One great thing about pseudonymity is that I don't have to admit that I have such a lame hobby. This is totally the civil war reenactment of the electronic age, isn't it?
Tigerhawk has one of those tiresome "where is the left?" posts up, this time about the cartoon riots.* Lest anyone mistake my silence as endorsement, I assert these claims:
(i) rioting over cartoons is stupid;
(ii) part of the price of admission to liberal democracy is having one's dearest beliefs ridiculed and treated unfairly, without responding with violence;
(iii) living up to stereotypes is tacky, especially when it's mockery of that stereotype you find so offensive; and finally
(iv) as someone without religious views, I have little sympathy for people who can't handle some public chiding-- somehow I get through my day without throwing bricks, despite all the mean things that are said.
At the same time, it is funny that there's a not-so-cottage industry of manufacturing culture-based outrage in the US, and I would take this all a bit more seriously if the people involved in yelling about culture war were better, in other contexts, about understanding that their own core commitments are not sacrosanct.
I take all of this to be fairly obvious and boring. If you've got a more interesting take, have at it. I just didn't want to be part of the problem, you see.
*Marginally more amusing to sing it in your head to the tune of Nitzer Ebb's "Where is the youth?"
To get uncharacteristically earnest on you, I highly recommend that you go check out Bono's speech from the National Prayer Breakfast. Seriously, read the whole thing (you may have to scroll down). I'm more of a cultural than observant Catholic but I thought it was very effective and moving. And, even more impressive, it seemed like a genuine expression of faith, not just someone on the Left trying to copy the way the GOP appropriates religious rhetoric for their cause.
I'm torn about the role of religious language in political debates. My rational side wants to see all issues argued purely on logic and a sharp line between church and state but it's so hard not to feel the moral weight behind something like fighting global poverty or the situation in Darfur. But how can I let "my side" claim to be doing God's work when addressing an issue like the AIDS crisis in Africa while I refuse to acknowledge other people's claim to be doing God's work in trying to ban stem cell research or abortion?
Clearly Bush and his administration have gone way over the line with hiding behind the Bible and using religion to divide the country to further their agenda. But is there another way – a productive place for religion in political debate? From our previous discussions of religion, I imagine many of you will say no but, without religion, how do you convince people of the need for justice and civil rights? I suppose the philosophers would draw a distinction between religious and non-religious ethics (which I would get behind) but is that distinction really possible when presenting issues to mainstream America?
I'll leave you with an excerpt from Bono's speech:
[You're] good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.
But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.
Sixty-five hundred Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality.
Because there's no way we can look at what's happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn't accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, "mother nature." In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it's a completely avoidable catastrophe.
It's annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren't they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.
Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market...that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents...that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents...that's a justice issue.
And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject.
That's why I say there's the law of the land…. And then there is a higher standard. There's the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it's OK to protect our agriculture but it's not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?
As the laws of man are written, that's what they say.
God will not accept that.
Mine won't, at least. Will yours?
On a conference call this morning:
Counsel for co-defendant #1: What witnesses are you producing for deposition?
Counsel for co-defendant #2: We're producing Cox.
Counsel for co-defendant #3: Aren't we all doing that?
Francine Reed is appropriately named, because she sounds like a baritone sax.
Everyone can agree that US immigration policy is a mess, regardless of how they think it should change. I'm going to throw out some premises I'm working from, and then go out on a limb with a moderately weird policy proposal I've been kicking around for a couple of years.
(1) Illegal Immigration Into The US Is A Bad Thing: As a result of illegal immigration, we have an underclass of people in the US who are unable to avail themselves of the protection of law. Many, probably most, of them end up working and living under unsafe or exploitative conditions. Furthermore, their presence and willingness to work for less than market wages for legal residents tends to drive wages down at the low end of the market. All of these things are bad -- the ideal rate of illegal immigration into the US is zero.
(2) On The Other Hand, Illegal Immigrants Are Not The Problem: As a class, we're talking about decent, law abiding people doing jobs and paying taxes. And while my knowledge of the economics of the labor market is certainly not strong enough to confirm or deny this, whenever tightening immigration policy is discussed, someone pipes up to say that the labor supply provided by illegal immigration is absolutely necessary to the economy. It seems pretty clear that a fairly large portion of the undocumented population is made up of people who we should actively want to be here. (In any case, to the extent that illegal immigrants were the problem, it is entirely unclear how we would slow the rate of illegal immigration. Building walls, etc., is obviously impractical.)
(3) The Problem Is The Employers: People immigrate to the US illegally because they want to work here, and they know they'll be able to work here because there's a class of employers who at least tolerate, and in many cases seek out, undocumented employees. A class of employees who can't enforce labor laws, will work for less than minimum wage, and can be threatened with deportation for displeasing their employers is terribly desirable, if exploiting your workforce is what you want. And while immigration laws are enforced against undocumented workers, as far as I'm aware, very little, comparatively, happens to the employers. And the interests of the undocumented workers are aligned with their employers, in that both want to evade the immigration laws.
Solution: Any undocumented worker who can demonstrate that they've been employed for, say, a month? Gets a green card. And the employer is hit with a heavy fine and is on the hook for any social services consumed by the worker for the rest of their lives.
It sounds odd, but it does a couple of things. First, it destroys the alliance between the undocumented workers and their employers. Where before, the workers and the employers were both conspiring to hide their undocumented status, workers would now be rushing to turn themselves in. After a month's employment, they would be here legally. Second, it destroys the incentive to hire undocumented workers. Their value to exploitative employers, as a class, is their outlaw status -- that they can't enforce wage laws, etc. Under this system, there are no outlaws. Finally, there is a huge disincentive for hiring undocumented workers. An employer who hires an undocumented worker is essentially guaranteed to be caught -- the worker is certain to turn them in, after a month's work -- and is going get hit with fines and with lifelong responsibility for services consumed by that worker.
A system like this would shut down demand for undocumented labor, which is the driving force behind illegal immigration. If the labor market got too tight, we could allow more legal immigration, letting in the same people who would have been here illegally, but keeping them within the protection of the law. So, all of you bright people out there -- why wouldn't something like this work?
I was at a coffee shop earlier today, and a woman asked the guy who gave her his [whoops! he gave her her coffee] coffee who would win the Superbowl. He said, "I will". Isn't that interesting? Has the game even started yet?
While there, watching a pre-game interview with QB Richard Rorty, I wondered: why is Rorty so notorious, even among people who don't follow football, as some sort of bad dude (or, if you're a certain kind of neglecter of the sport, good dude)? I vaguely recall being a fresh-faced 16-year-old and reading fulminatory, or at least minatory, references to him in The New Criterion. But if even half the stuff he says about Davidson is right, Davidson was about as worthy of such singling out. Hell, Rorty refers to multiple articles drawing connections between Davidson and the rugby players Derrida & Heidegger! Furthermore, in that article at least, he seems pretty engaged with analytic football generally.
So why Rorty? Would I need greater/any acquaintance with the rest of his work and the main currents of modern analytic gridirony to understand why he gets to be the bogeyman? Perhaps one of the seventy trillion football players here can shed light on this important football-related subject.