I had a funny interaction with a homeless man today. He stopped me on the street and asked if I had any food. I did, in fact, have an extra sandwich that I'd been intending to eat later, so I gave it to him. He looked at it.
"What kind of sandwich is this?" he asked.
"It's a vegetarian protein sandwich," I told him.
"Oh, you're a vegetarian?" he asked. "You don't eat any meat?"
"Nope," I said.
"Hmm," he said, "maybe I'll go that way."
This struck me as pretty sweet. Obviously he's not going to be in a position to be choosy about his meals any time soon, but I guess he was either fantasizing about the ability to, or extending me a courtesy by saying he'd consider my way of doing things.
Check out this high-tech underground marijuana farm. Not pictured: vault full of hos.
Via Instapundit, who would be a lot more tolerable if we were both really high.
(Dear Provost: I do not endorse either the use of illegal drugs or the keeping of women in bank vaults as per LLCoolJ's "I'm the type of guy" video.)
I know sports is supposed to be the Forbidden Zone 'round here, but if you can get to the end of this clip without at least a little lump in your throat, you probably don't have a soul.
(via Dean Esmay)
Look, everybody! It's Keith Rowe!
Or or, what's a little intranecine conflict?
In the deleted version of the drowned man thread, I opined that I don't like such games. I believe I said that I "hate" them. The question-asking nature of them deludes the players into thinking that they're trying to come up with something that might make some sort of logical sense, whereas in fact they have to hit upon, by chance if nothing else, a highly arbitrary predetermined story. It reminds me of puzzles in which you get a list of numbers (say, 2, 4, 6 and 8) and have to pick out the one that doesn't fit. Here, the answer is 8, because it's the only one with vertical symmetry. But of course 2 is the only prime number, 4 the only perfect square, and 6 the only perfect number (8 is also the only perfect cube)—this example and the solution, though not the particular set of numbers, is taken from life, btw. It isn't an exercise in logic, it's an exercise in trying to guess what the person posing the puzzle might possibly have been thinking of, with no guarantees as to how much sense that might make. Proponents of such games might trumpet "lateral thinking", but remember what else has a strong "lateral" component—straitjackets.
These scenarios all admit of multiple explanations, and it's not as if the "correct" ones are the most satisfying. Consider the one in which the dude eats a bird (in the version I first heard, it was a seagull). In addition to the objections raised by the author of that admirable excerpt: there are plenty of other plausible explanations for why he might have done what he did—or anyway, explanations at least as plausible as the officially endorsed explanation. What makes the right answer right, other than being the one the poser of the riddle (not really a riddle, since you can't figure out the answer) was thinking of? Nothing at all!
Perhaps in the end my antipathy comes from recalling this sentence from the Granta story:
It's controversies of this kind that show why we were downstairs while other people were upstairs.
However, I've come up with my own game! A man goes into work one day, to all appearances just as he does every day, works, takes his lunch break, returns from lunch, works some more, and goes home. What went wrong? Give an accurate and complete account.
Update: Basically, it's like this: Gollum is right; "what have I got in my pocket" isn't a riddle. One is tempted to ask the tyrant running the show: but how do you know? Of course there's no answer to this. Making up absurd explanations for all manner of things: fun! I do this with friends frequently. Making up one in advance and then engineering the agreement of others: autocratic!
Jeremy, aka The Modesto Kid, says he has an alternate scenario that fits the facts of my previous, now deleted post.
The facts were: a drowned man is found hanging in a tree in the forest. What happened?
Jeremy has said he'll field questions on his alternate scenario, so come play with Jeremy, guys!
I mentioned in passing to my psychiatrist today that I had an extra, s33krit blog to post things on that I didn't think would make muster at my shared personal site, for various reasons. (There was kind of a tiff here in the alameida household when I posted about Ron Jeremy's thoughts on first seeing the goatse picture. Husband x thought that students clicking through the link on the class blogs to our personal blog might be...non-plussed. Fine, I said! I'll start a craaaazy blog! Or, join a crazy blog, or something.) Anyway, the discussion of what different things I generally posted at the different blogs (along with some genuine mental problems, granted) lead my doc to be like, let's just add some clonazepam back into the mix, ok? Fine, fine. Things that end in -pam always rock, so... Relatedly, if you have a choice between x and xset, choose the former. The latter has a dose of tylenol to feebly boost its pain-killing abilities, which means that if, say, you were to become habituated to ever-higher doses, you might end up giving yourself liver failure. Thus, percodan is better than percoset; demerol is better than darvocet...shit, what am I saying?! Demerol is basically better than anything. None of you is likely to try it until you're already dying of cancer, but still, keep an eye out. Also, you can scrape the goo out of those fentanyl time-release patches and smear it, um, let's say over any mucous membranes that strike your fancy, and get really high. Unfogged: we keep you informed. I'm like bizzaro Kelly Ripa or something, right?
Via BitchPhD I read this interesting post about who, exactly, is consuming the services of sex slaves in Asia (or eastern Europe.) In the case of SE Asia, though there are plenty of American/Aussie etc. clients, it is my impression that Japanese business men, Chinese travellers and local elites make up the bulk of the clientele. In her post, Alley Rat tells a thought-provoking tale:
I know one man who I strongly suspect has travelled to Cambodia to visit young prostitutes. This is just a strong suspicion, but one I share with others who know him. Let's call him "D". D was someone I worked with at the U. He was in his late thirties and had a reputation for dating young women, including his own students. He was white. He liked Asian girls. He took a mysterious trip to what he said was Thailand, but no one at work knew about this trip until the 2004 tsunami screwed up D's return travel plans and he had to explain to our boss why he wasn't going to be back when he was needed. When I heard "Thailand", my mind immediately translated it into "Cambodian brothel full of child prostitutes". And then I felt sick. Why was I thinking such horrible thoughts about this guy? Yes, he's a major skeeve. He has sex with his students. He likes young Asian women in a creepy way. He took a trip by himself to Thailand, which is where many men who go to Cambodia for sex say they are going and often actually fly into. But...?
I confessed my suspicion to a close friend who also knows D. He told me that he had the exact same thought, and that someone else we worked with shared our suspicion. But could we be right? Could D really be that disgusting and depraved?
Some commenters angrily pointed out that there are penty of good reasons to go to Thailand or Cambodia, and it's not fair to assume every single man doing so is a creepy pedophile. She responded, hey, three different people think this guy is a pedophile--not exactly conclusive, but pretty damning.
This made me think of a strange couple I knew in Cambodia in 1994. He was a British guy in his late 20s with a job in Cambodia; she was a Cambodian girl of about 17 or 18. She had been a "taxi girl", i.e. one of the girls who dances at the big clubs and offers her services as a prostitute there in exchange for giving the club a cut. Not a brothel, exactly. After falling in love with her, the guy relieved her of the need to have this job. He began supporting her whole immediate family (including a younger sister who was finishing school and on track for a decent life; I wondered about how the sisters got along.) The girl spent her days shopping, getting manicures, hanging out with her girlfriends. This tai-tai-like lifestyle probably only cost about 8 USD per day.
The thing was, this guy was really in love with her, just head-over-heels, and she really didn't give two shits about him. No, I would say she actually despised him. She and I talked a bunch about her life, and she confided that she was just sticking with this guy till she could get an American boyfriend. She was also supplementing her stipend by having sex with other guys. The guy was planning to marry her and get her British citizenship, but was holding back out of a fear she would instantly leave him; he wanted to retain control. He thought she didn't know about this secret plan, but of course she did. The thing was, even though I thought this guy was a sleazebag, it also seemed to me that there were some ways in which she had the power in their relationship. At some level he knew she was cheating on him, I think. I almost think that if she has said, yeah I'm cheating on you, what are you going to do about it, he might have stuck with her anyway. For whatever reason, and with whatever bad motives as a starting point, he was nuts about her. And, though this may seem a cruel comment, it's not that she was even very pretty. She was interesting and funny. It was strange all around; I don't know what ever happened to either of them.
I had to go out to my psychiatrist just now but I have a few more thoughts. When I say she wasn't that pretty, it's to say that he was interested in this person, or who he percieved her to be. Because if what he wanted was a docile 16-year-old of unparalleled beauty, he could have had that instead. The thing that was funny about him was that rather than thinking he was a pervert, I more thought he was a schmuck. We can assume, I think, that he was unable to deal with grown women in his own culture, women who were his peers. So here he had gotten himself into a situation where he could have had god-like power. But somehow he managed to schmuck that up too. I almost think she hated him not just because of the position he put her in, but also because, having put her there, he was still totally unable to keep the upper hand. But then, maybe we should regard that as kindness on his part? Like, he was allowing her to have some autonomy? It's not as though I thought he should be worse to her. It was just that he was a schmuck.
Craigslist is being sued for violating the Fair Housing Act because some of the ads on its site mention race, gender, age, marital status, religion, etc. Now, discrimination is A Bad Thing and all but doesn't everyone take at least some of those factors into consideration when looking for a new roommate? It's one thing to make sure a superintendent renting out an apartment he's not living in doesn't reject someone because they're too old or divorced or whatever but I think someone looking for a roommate should be held to a somewhat lower standard. I know I'm far choosier about roommates than I am about guys I date because it a hell of a lot easier to dump a bad boyfriend than a bad roommate. As a roommate, I know I want someone who is either a woman or a gay man, nonsmoking, my age +/- 5 years, single (preferably not divorced), politically moderate to liberal, with a job that doesn't make them travel, and with no kids. To compare, recall that my list of dating dealbreakers was simply "believes in Creationism or Scientology" (which would definitely apply to potential roommates, too).
Sure it's wrong for a person to say they don't want to live with someone just because they're a woman or Catholic or in their 20s or whatever but you know what? If they really feel that way, I'd rather know that up front so I can move on to another ad than waste my time calling that person when we're probably not going to be compatible roommates. Yet, at the same time, I can't help but think the examples listed in the article ("African-Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me", "no minorities", etc.) are pretty ick. But if allowing racist comments helps flag someone as a douchebag I wouldn't want to live with, isn't that kind of a good thing?
Remember the old "last throes" routine? At first infuriating, then sad, then funny. After that, silence. But now it's back! Check this updated classic from a guy in a hat:
The bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra has all the looks of a desperation move on the part of its presumably Sunni perpetrators. You have to be in an extremely weak position to resort to something that will get you as much bad press as this action did among your own people.
Man, that's some sweet old-school blogging, isn't it?
Poor Noam Chomsky! A lifetime of America-hating and he's getting his ass kicked by some guy with a blog. Leonard Jeffries can't even break into double digits. Shameful.
While the initial "OMG, they're letting Ay-rabs run our ports" reaction from many bloggers (at least one of whom was posting under my handle. Sorry.) to this deal was misplaced, the more I read about the deal the more it still seems to reflect a lax attitude to port security. The Guardian (Via TPM), notes that the deal requires Dubai Ports to take all reasonable steps to cooperate with Homeland Security and to continue participating in security programs, indicating that yes, this is a deal that impacts port security. It further notes that:
The administration required Dubai Ports to designate an executive to handle requests from the U.S. government, but it did not specify this person's citizenship.
It said Dubai Ports must retain paperwork ``in the normal course of business'' but did not specify a time period or require corporate records to be housed in the United States. Outside experts familiar with such agreements said such provisions are routine in other cases.
This is an area where I have some direct expertise: getting discovery from a company based overseas is brutally slow and annoying, and the annoyingness is directly related to the nature of the government involved (i.e., discovery from Great Britain? Still more difficult than doing it domestically, but doable. Discovery from Thailand, particularly of a company with strong government connections? Will break your heart; in the case I'm thinking of, we eventually gave up on getting the documents we needed. I should expect, without direct experience, that UAE is closer to Thailand than to Great Britain on this scale.) This deal patently does have national security implications, and has been set up in a way that will make US government oversight of DPW's operations more difficult than necessary.
While the fact, alone, that we're letting an company owned by an Arab government participate in port operations doesn't make this deal a problem, the fact that we're letting any company participate in port operations without the capacity for full and transparent oversight of their business does. The Bush administrations record of placing the convenience of corporations above national security remains unbesmirched.
Update: To make it clear why business records of a port operator can have national security implications, check out this story, relating how a van used in the assassination of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was traced to the UAE port of Dubai, but as of December 10, 2005 could not be traced beyond that port. Investigators are looking at shipping documents to that end. (Via digby, who I can't say enough admiring things about.)
OMG TAYLOR HICKS IS SO SEXXY!!!!1!!!!
Okay, I'm done now.
(Paris Bennett is also great.)
By popular request.
Upon further reading and reflection, the deal by which Dubai Ports World will be running some operations in US ports looks like no big deal. This article in the Christian Science Monitor (thanks to Brad DeLong) corrects a misapprehension I was under. I thought, from the articles I had read yesterday that the leases in question provided for management of all traffic moving through the relevant ports. Apparently this is not the case -- we're talking about simply the operation of cargo terminals, etc., within those ports, controlling a portion but not all of the cargo shipped through them.
I still worry about port security, but not on the basis of this story. (Although, while it is wrong, I'm going to enjoy watching Bush suffer under the impact of his own style of demagoguery. But it is wrong. But I am going to enjoy it.)
I'm still a little diffident in the free-weight room, so I'd like some feedback on whether I was just dealing with someone being annoying, or my expectations are off.
I like going back and forth between two exercises (a set of squats, a set of bench presses, back to the squats, etc.) because I hate sitting around waiting for a minute or so between sets. Obviously, I don't mind if someone works in on the bar or bench I'm using while I'm doing the other exercise, but I expect to be able to work in between their sets in return.
Today, while I was doing a set of bench presses, someone started using the squat rack I was also working on. I waited for him to finish, and then walked over and asked if I could work in. The guy said "No, I've just got three more sets," and proceeded to stand, holding onto the bar on the rack, through a 90 second rest break, did a set, stood for another 90 seconds, etc.
Now, my grasp of the etiquette here is weak, but aren't you supposed to let people work in between your sets? Or was something about what I was doing (moving back and forth from one piece of equipment to another) obnoxious in itself? Or am I just being overly touchy?
But luckily, Bob Jones University isn't going to take it lying down.
As of Tuesday, Starbucks coffee will no longer be served as wake-up juice at Greenville's Bob Jones University. BJU spokesman Jonathan Pait said the school's constituency began to object to Starbucks' stance on gays several months ago. More objections came lately, he said.
"They were supportive of homosexual events and causes," he said. "That would be a problem for our constituency." The issue surfaced from quotes on a coffee cup Starbucks sells from a man who supports a gay lifestyle.
Fun toy: find out Billboard #1s for the date of your choice. I am proud to note Chic's "Le Freak" was at the top of the charts on one of my birthdays.
Via Hugh Hewitt.
Believe it or not, we get emails like this all the time:
I must say that I have come to recognize your individual styles. It comes of logging on to your page several times a day. John I recognize by his humor and a certain lightness of touch. Paul is magisterial, except when he writes about soccer. And you, I feel, are the one who most often hears that still sad music of humanity. Poetry reveals itself to you, and so does music.
Drum points out this NYT article about irritating student emails. I had expected to respond in curmudgeonly fashion, but the examples discussed are pretty disappointing in their (not-so) outrageousness. I mean, if this is as bad as it gets...
"Should I buy a binder or a subject notebook? Since I'm a freshman, I'm not sure how to shop for school supplies. Would you let me know your recommendations? Thank you!"
Fine, a dumb question. But it's sweet that someone would care. "I'll be handing out a lot of material, so you might want a binder" or "whatever suits you" is easy enough to type. Imagine, a student intimidated by college.
Professor Ewick said 10 students in one class e-mailed her drafts of their papers days before they were due, seeking comments. "It's all different levels of presumption," she said. "One is that I'll be able to drop everything and read 250 pages two days before I'm going to get 50 of these."
You can say this, you know, and you can even do it nicely. A polite "no" and an explanation often works better than the passive-aggressive approach-- a great truth I learned in college, actually.
Kathleen E. Jenkins, a sociology professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, said she had even received e-mail requests from students who missed class and wanted copies of her teaching notes.
It's the even that kills me. What a crazy thing! Someone misses class and wants to catch up. I keep all my notes online, which neatly gets me out of most of these problems. If you have electronic notes (also easier to update!) you can simply attach a file to the reponse. It's easier than getting annoyed.
But student e-mail can go too far, said Robert B. Ahdieh, an associate professor at Emory Law School in Atlanta. He paraphrased some of the comments he had received: "I think you're covering the material too fast, or I don't think we're using the reading as much as we could in class, or I think it would be helpful if you would summarize what we've covered at the end of class in case we missed anything."
How much would I love email like this? It's so hard to know what students need, and they aren't always good about telling me. Better to read this criticism in an email than on an evaluation, and just think of tenure committee's collective orgasm when they read a comment like "at first he went too fast, but after I talked to him about it he fixed the problem." (Keep it clean, Apostropher!)
Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he once received an e-mail message late one evening from a student who had recently come to the realization that he was gay and was struggling to cope.
Fontana Labs stars in...You've Got Male!
Dear Inside Higher Ed.,
I never thought this would happen to me, but then, late one night, as I was preparing my Symposium lecture...
Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) are cosponsoring
litig [Thanks, Tia!] legislation to block a deal turning over management of ports in New York and New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami to a UAE government-owned company based in Dubai. Now, I'm presuming that the level of horror nationwide is high enough that the deal won't be able to go through now, but who on earth could possibly have thought that turning over control of our ports to a foreign government, was a good, or even an acceptable, idea? I'm not even talking about ‘in the post 9-11 world'; these are our ports. They control our shipping. Which includes the shipping that supports our military overseas. Turning control of them over to a foreign government (I'm actually moderately disturbed that they are now managed by a foreign-owned, albeit not foreign government owned, company) seems like something that should be on the big list of Things Not To Do.
If there's an argument for why this isn't self-evidently insane, I'm all ears. Anyone?
When a guy and a girl go out for dinner on a first date and it's pretty obvious the guy will ultimately be paying, should the girl make the offer to split the check that she knows will be turned down? I used to make "the offer" but some of my friends told me to stop because it was insulting. I always thought it was polite to at least make the offer and sitting there with the expectation that he would pick up the check was presumptuous (even though you both knew it was going to happen). I guess this could be a regional thing – perhaps I picked up that behavior because that's what was what girls did in the Midwest and New Orleans but it's something that's considered gauche in New York. I don't know. The last few dinner dates I've been on, I haven't made "the offer" and, even though the guy quickly scooped up the check, it felt weird not to. This is probably just part of the bigger issue, which is that the whole "the guy pays" thing on dates just makes me feel awkward in general.
Have you ever daydreamed about driving from London to Ulan Bataar? In a really lousy car? By way of Latvia? On behalf of a charity called "Send A Cow"? If not, what are you, dead inside or something?
In any case, a good friend of mine is doing exactly that. The 2006 Mongol Rally is organizing teams to race from England to Mongolia this summer, requiring (1) that each team raise £1000 for charity before they can enter, and (2) that they drive a car with an engine displacement of 1 liter or less. (Those who take the motorbike option have .125 liters to work with.) The rules do not require that you finish with the car you started with, or indeed with any car at all: bicycles and camels are both acceptable means of transport if the car decides it likes Uzbekistan and wants to stay.
So visit Team NewYorkistan, and give some money to Send A Cow on their behalf. Or sponsor their team by emailing them at Mongolrally06@gmail.com, or calling Audrey Roofeh directly at (516) 984-7019. They are totally willing to plaster giant decals all over their car, or to wear funny hats on behalf of your company or organization. (I actually haven't checked the ‘funny hats' bit with Audrey, but I'm sure she's fine with it. Really.) Do it, or at least check out the site – this is perhaps the coolest thing I've ever heard of.
"We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!" said Sandy "No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!"
Here's the funniest one so far. I have an idea for one; maybe I should try to draw it. It would have the caption "The First Jew is Admitted to the Country Club," and a picture of a hooknosed caricature of a Jew, elegantly attired, ascot and all, looking at his drink with a supercilious expression saying, "I believe they've diluted this Bloody Mary with tomato juice."
Quote from Gloria Steinem in this month's Glamour: "I wish our future selves could meet our past selves and say, 'it's OK. Do what you want to do. That's the important thing.'" Really? I wish my future selves could meet my past selves and say things like, "he's obviously fucking psycho, dumbass! And his dick isn't even all that big!" Or, "what the fuck are you thinking? Does that really sound like a good idea?"
Arizona State J-school student Nicole Williams recently won the 2005 Hearst Award for feature writing, the college journalism equivalent of a Pulitzer, for this piece that was published on ASU's online paper last October.
I haven't seen Dad in nearly two years. I know I have to go through with this visit, but it bothers me that I am going to visit him at all. Why should I give him the privilege of seeing me? It's like saying, "Hey, you haven't been there for me in the past 21 years of my life, but I'm going to visit you in prison."
I want the plane to turn around.
I'm going to ask my father if he molested my 9-year-old stepsister.
Worth the read. Not that you really need my word to confirm the award. All the more wrenching because, as is often the case in such situations, it seems the question she really wants to ask is not "did you molest my step-sister" (he is in jail for that, after all), but "why did you molest her and not me?" Via Obscure Store.
Via Twisty, the Spotsylvania, Virginia (yes, really) police department was employing police officers to have sex with prostitutes in order to make the case against them extra hard--I mean strong, until it wilted in response to public disapproval.
It might seem superficially ironic to be arresting women for having sex as a profession by employing men to…have sex with them. But see, the cops are using their bodies to uphold decency, and the women their bodies to undermine it. So when is Spotsylvania going to start paying gay cops to fuck male prostitutes? What, never? Why ever not?
Women using the increasingly popular birth control patch may face double the risk of blood clots than women taking the pill, but more investigation is needed to see if the preliminary findings are valid, federal regulators said today.
The legislation there would require public colleges to provide students with "alternative coursework" if a student finds the assigned material "personally offensive," which is defined as something that "conflicts with the student's beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion." On Wednesday, the bill starting moving, with the Senate Committee on Higher Education approving the measure — much to the dismay of professors in the state.
The sponsors of the bill did not respond to messages seeking comment. But local news coverage of the session at which the bill won committee approval quoted Sen. Thayer Verschoor as citing complaints he had received about The Ice Storm, a novel by Rick Moody that was turned into a film directed by Ang Lee. "There's no defense of this book. I can't believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material," Verschoor said at the hearing, according to The Arizona Star. Other senators spoke at the hearing, the newspaper reported, against colleges teaching "pornography and smut."
(It's awful and hilarious that the offending work in this case is The Ice Storm, which originally bore the subtitle Reasons why wife-swapping is completely awesome and devoid of any harmful consequences. Portray and commend: different concepts!)
Bill to students: please game me! "Sorry, I can't read Hobbes. As a tall person, I'm offended by his view that people are nasty, brutish, and short." The complete subjectivity of the standard allows the weirdest and least sensible among us to call the shots. Now there's an incentive structure. Let us all be squeaky wheels.