One of the primary reasons I blog pseudonymously is because my parents are pretty conservative. We get along well and this normally isn't an issue with us – they don't pry into my life and, in return, I do my part to let them preserve their fantasy that I'm their Perfect Little Daughter.
The only time this charade becomes stressful is when they come to visit, like my mother is next week. (She's staying with me in my little NYC apartment for 7 days. Hilarity is sure to ensue! It will be blogging gold!)
Now, my father is pretty oblivious but my mother is a total snoop – she'll find convenient excuses to go through my dressers and cabinets even when I'm home and god only knows what she's doing when I'm at work all day. Because of this, I feel compelled to do a pre-visit sweep of my apartment to hide anything incriminating. We're not just talking "throw the condoms in the very back of the nightstand under some books". We're talking "get them out of the house". I even feel the need to hide clothing that might raise the question "who are you wearing that for?" like non-utilitarian sleepwear and undergarments. (Cute underwear or nightgowns = someone else must be seeing it = moral depravity!)
So I was going through the usual pre-visit purge the other night and it hit me: This is pathetic. I'm 28 years old. To still be doing this is insane. If my mother is going to go through my stuff, she deserves whatever she finds. And yet, I couldn't not do it.
Here's a pretty funny email exchange between Dennett and Michael Ruse.
I am a full professor with tenure at a university known chiefly for its prowess on the football field, living out my retirement years in the sunshine – I have no reputation to preserve, and frankly can say and do whatever the f**k I want to without sinking further.
I haven't read much of Ruse's work, though I think he can be pretty weird in person.
Dumb question for mac users: how do I get the .wav to save onto my desktop?
From the Assimilated Negro:
The other day I realized I had a "I don't give a fuck" shirt. I was going out to this bar/lounge to meet a friend. We were going to get a couple drinks, but we acknowledged that it was very possible nothing would come of the evening. Sometimes you go out saying, "I am going out and getting drunk/dancing/partying tonight" in which case you know you're going to bounce around no matter what happens. But sometimes you have a couple options, but if something happens and those plans fall through, or become cumbersome, you're willing to bag the evening and go home.
It's very similar to "laundry day" clothes. On laundry day you might find me in the laundromat wearing some burlap sweater I got in 89 and tighty-whities. Another "I don't give a fuck" ensemble. But the laundry day outfit is different because you're not expecting to see anyone other than fellow laundromat patrons. The "I don't give a fuck" shirt is a choice. There's something empowering about its position. That there's a bottom [to your wardrobe], and you control it. You can choose to give less than your best effort and people have to just accept it.
I totally have "I don't give a fuck" clothes and am not afraid to use them. They announce "I agreed to go out tonight but am now regretting that decision because our plans sound less exciting than initially promised so I will at least ensure that I am comfortable."
Once again, stuffy administrators punish an educator for using creative teaching methods.
A criminal justice professor at Grand Rapids Community College has resigned after showing a video in class of a man having sex with a pig, students and a faculty representative said. A school administrator confirmed that Samuel Naves, 47, resigned Feb. 17, but would not comment on why he left. However, students and a faculty leader said the resignation had to do with the video. They said Naves was teaching an introductory criminal justice class earlier this year when he was going through video files on his computer. The video appeared on a projection screen and students begged Naves to show the 10-second footage, according to the accounts.
Faculty association president Fred vanHartesveldt said the incident occurred this year. He said Naves was known for a blunt teaching style. "His pedagogy was to teach real life," vanHartesveldt told The Grand Rapids Press. "His classes were very earthy. Some students took to that very well, and some students didn't."
I see an Unfogged guest-blogging spot in his future.
You want itunes info? I'll cough it up. Top plays:
Charlene, "I've never been to me"
Fontana Labs, "Irreducible Jessence"
Dr Dre, "Forgot about Dre"
The Four Tops, "Bernadette"
Serge Koussevitsky, "Valse Miniature" (Jorma Katrama, contrabass)
Disco Tex and his Sex-o-lettes, "Get Dancin'"
LA Style, "James Brown is Dead"
Gladys Knight, "Midnight Train to Georgia"
Jay-Z & Notorious BIG, "Brooklyn's Finest"
The Misfits, "Bullet"
Yuki, "Where are my panties?"
Gillian Welch, "Elvis Presley Blues"
Leonard Cohen, "Bird on the wire"
Leonard Cohen, "Everybody knows"
Liz Phair, "Chopsticks"
A Rate my students email lets the mask slip:
Let's get one thing straight: I hate teaching, and I could not care less at becoming better at it. Yes, I should be doing something else. Yes, I tried. But economic conditions, a poor choice of majors—and no real skills (liberal arts type, y'know)—conspired to force me into the position, and now it's a gravy train to retirement that can't be matched elsewhere. But I don't have to like it. And I don't, not even a little.
I did try. I gave it a shot. But this soul-sucking community college where the entrance competencies are fulfilled by fogging a mirror makes me miserable. It's driven me to the brink of suicide at least once, and as I vowed not to let that happen again, I had an epiphany: It's okay to hate your job! While 53 percent in a recent poll liked their jobs, that clearly suggests that 47 percent don't. I'm not alone. I've got 4 months a year to forget about it, which I do by working with my hands instead of my head.
Still, the semesters are long and cold here. And living a lie, smiling at students and pretending to give a shit while suckling at the golden teat of government-funded higher education, is still trying, especially at this time of the year. RYS offered a humorous respite, a wry look at others who sometimes wanted to yell, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
My life's not like this (I say partly because it's true, partly in case the admin is reading) but the email is still funny.
The next in my series of posts on various medical tests. This morning's CT scan adventure started about 6:30, when I woke up to drink a bottle of some kind of barium solution. (This allows imaging of the intestines.) As you'd expect, it's nasty: a chalky white drink with a taste that says "I'm a chemist's attempt at palatability!" I pay some bills, balance my checkbook, then drink a second bottle. This is harder to keep down, but superhuman control of my gag reflex* gets me through.
I wait around the hospital reading Redbook's Helen Hunt interview and learning how couples should handle stressing over money. Eventually I'm brought back to the exam room. The first few zooms through the Ring of Fire are completely fine, though the computerized voice telling me when to hold my breath reminds me a little too much of "2001." When the imaging dye is injected into my IV, I have the alarming sensation of my face melting off and I wonder if I'll come out looking like Jocelyn Wildenstein. (I don't.) We do a few more images and then I stagger home feeling a little queasy from the fasting and the barium. On the walk home, a strange man with an uncanny resemblance to Bobby Peru ("just like the country") asks for directions; I'm stumped but somehow I avoid getting abducted.
All in all, not bad. A B+ of a test, really.
*In the new outer-than-Barney-Frank era, we'll just let that one pass, eh?
I was just thinking about a comment I once left o'er at Apostropher's:
I never understood the attraction of the Friday Random N. Ostensibly, it's so we can learn more about people through their taste in music and/or point and laugh if they admit to owning crap but the randomness blunts the effectiveness of both. Just because someone owns a lot of good music doesn't mean they aren't really listening to a lame subset of their collection. And if an embarrassing song does come up, it can be easily dismissed as a track that somehow got into your iTunes that you don't listen to.
Making people publish their Top 25 Most Played -- now that would hold people accountable.
So, Unfogged, what are you really listening to? Here's my Top 15:
1. Deceptacon – Le Tigre
2. TKO (Live at Vancouver 2004-11-23) – Le Tigre
3. Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney
4. Entertain – Sleater-Kinney
5. After Dark (Live at Vancouver 2004-11-23) – Le Tigre
6. Jumpers (Live at Vancouver 2005-02-26) – Sleater-Kinney
7. Holiday – Green Day
8. Catch The Wind – Donovan
9. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone – Sleater-Kinney
10. Rollercoaster (Live at Vancouver 2005-02-26) – Sleater-Kinney
11. Black Mask – The (International) Noise Conspiracy
12. Mr. Brightside – The Killers
13. Milkshake 'n Honey – Sleater-Kinney
14. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
15. Tommy Gun (Live at San Francisco 2003-02-03) – Sleater-Kinney
Trends: mostly S-K and Le Tig (which shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention), many live bootlegs, and a strong showing by songs from my gym mix.
Oh, and I guess another interesting piece of information to put people's lists in perspective is how much music they have. (In other words, do I even own a CD other than The Woods?) Yes, I do: 8003 songs, 48.22 GB.
I picked up the March Harpers the other day: it has a lengthy article claiming that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, and that the medical establishment is going to admit it and stop persecuting Peter Duesberg (an otherwise reputable biologist who believes that AIDS is caused by drug abuse, rather than an infectious agent, and AIDS treatment is harmful rather than helpful) any day now. Now, as I find myself saying more and more often, I'm not an expert here, but to the best of my knowledge, this is unambiguously crap. HIV positive people die in great numbers of AIDS-related diseases, and HIV negative people simply don't; Americans abused drugs throughout the 60's and 70's (and before!) and yet AIDS was unknown; and there is no substantial group of working biologists that agrees with Duesberg.
So the article (sorry, it's not online) is nonsense, and pernicious nonsense -- it discourages HIV testing, precautions against the spread of HIV, and treatment for infected people. Why is Harpers publishing it? Is there something I don't know (very possible, always), that makes this a subject of reasonable disagreement? Or has whoever decided to publish this simply lost their mind? (Also blogged here, in the Notion, the Nation's new blog. It's not bad -- a little dry, but professional blogs tend to be.)
Drum has a note about "Crash" in which he partly endorses this criticism:
Of the five nominees for Best Picture, my favorite is Crash. A friend of mine thinks this is crazy, because (and I'm paraphrasing here), Crash is one of those irritatingly pseudo-profound movies that thinks it's saying something deep and thoughful when in reality it's just saying something banal and clichéd. Racism is everywhere, we're all racists, even blacks can be racists, yada yada yada. Got it.
That was more or less my response. We get a fairly ordinary reiteration of familiar themes capped with some moments that strain credulity, e.g., "surprise, it's the very same cop!" and "a black hitchhiker from the hood somehow forgets that a middle-class white guy might see his cryptic behavior as threatening." The latter moment really bothered me because the film, at other times, comes down heavy on the idea that these divisions are so deeply ingrained that they can't be set aside easily, if at all; they inform who we are at such a deep level that the hitchhiker's mistake is unbelievable-- as if it were needed to set up a climactic moment, say.
Also, the Persian dude totally needed to get all cheese-grater on his enemy.
Sorry if we talked about this already. I have a vague recollection, but I couldn't find the thread. Also, would you believe that I-- of all people!-- haven't seen "Brokeback Mountain" yet?
UPDATE: Old thread here. I didn't find the Denby review convincing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon picks up something I should have noticed, but didn't.
Haggis gives away his own LA-myopia in one telling detail of Crash. Much of the plot revolves around an Iranian family being mistaken for Arab because there are no Iranians hereabouts. Wrong way around, fella. This is Tehrangeles with the second greatest Iranian population on Earth (after the capital city of Iran). There are over a half million Persians in LA county. The Arab population is miniscule by comparison. But from Brentwood, I guess it's all the same.
The Iranian/Arab mistake could still happen, of course, but it's less likely in Los Irangeles than anywhere else. (I have absolute and total persian authority on this, having lived in LA briefly with an Iranian roommate. Hence the only person who could credibly contradict anything I say would have to be Iranian himself, and where would we ever find such a person?)
From comments at Protein Wisdom (oog):
Buckley is senile at this point. He simply refuses to face the fact that civil war might be the best thing that could happen to Iraq right now. It could change the political dynamic and that can only be good. But that senile Thurston B. Howell wannabe wants us to cut and run. What a loser.
Posted by marianna
Invent modern conservatism and that's all you get? Blatant mockery of your neck wattles? Just because you can't comprehend a simple, self-evident truth such as that civil war might be the best thing to happen to Iraq? Suck Jeff Goldstein's dick, Thurston.
Never say Unfogged isn't responsive to its readers: The Modesto Kid writes in to say he has found a story that must be blogged, so blog it I shall. Amanda at Pandagon reports that some Claymates are suing Clay Aiken's record label because their sex symbol just might be gay. When they saw this, shouldn't they have known?
Yes, Clay Aiken fans are a little bit detached from reality. (Sisters, do you think when you fantasize about someone who's carefully packaged for television that you know a thing about who he is? You don't, but that's the good news; celebrities exist for you to make up any ole thing you want about. You can still imagine his penis in you even if another penis has been in him. I've done it! It works.)
Taylor Hicks fans, on the other hand, are the height of sobriety, because we can see straight into his SEX GOD soul. I haven't crushed this hard since Ken Jennings finally lost on Jeopardy. Heck, it was only Taylor who got me to stop fantasizing about Ken taking me as one of his wives. As a present to you all, I give you Taylor Hicks singing "Georgia On My Mind."
Is it slagging off on evolutionary psychology day at Unfogged? If it isn't yet, I hereby decree it. Yesterday I was reading this oh-so-cute Discovery Channel article about how marmoset and tamarind expectant fathers gain weight and undergo other hormonal changes to prepare them for their new role as monagamous baby daddy. And that led me to an observation, which I'm sure has been made a million times before, though perhaps not on this blog. All these ev psych just so stories say the only outcome a theory of sexual selection could possibly predict is (this is a shocker, folks) just the way things are right now. But this must be malarkey, because other primates respond to the same pressures in, broadly, four different ways. (If someone smarter than me has a reason why the pressures are not the same, do say so.)
So from whence comes this certainty that polygyny is the most, or the only, adaptive strategy for males to pass along their genes? How do we know that we don't have a genetic predisposition to monagamy that's been interfered with by the work of culture? Back on the veldt, did women fall to their knees and offer themselves for ravishment to men who informed them that biology was always the best possible explanation for observed cultural phenomona? Could be. As I said, I don't know much about biology or anthropology, so I'd appreciate any perspective the learned have to share.
In closing, I'd like to share with you what a little pest I was in college. At the close of an ev psych lecture in a hundred person class, I raised my hand and asked the professor, "By that theory, shouldn't you be less upset if your brother sleeps with your wife than if a stranger does?"
Blogging during American Idol commercials: Also see this post by Chris, who takes on pop ev psych, with a point more interesting than any I made: that even if a certain behavior is evolutionarily adaptive, it says little about the psychological mechanism that motivates it, because lots of different mechanisms can produce the same behavior
As I'm sure you've noticed, we're having some server issues. Last night we had to take the site offline for a while to sort out some performance problems and some of you may have received 403 errors when you tried to access it. If the problems reoccur today, we might have to take it offline again so if you see a 403 error that's what's up. Please feel free to use this thread to let us know if you notice anything weird – performance slowing down a lot, the sidebar not refreshing, etc.
I hadn't heard much about this book The Game until I read this article in the Village Voice. Supposedly it teaches guys how to become players but the advice sounds ridiculous:
Rob approached a set of two hard-looking blondes, ignored his prettier "target," then addressed her friend with a canned line he learned early in the book:
"Hey, I need your opinion on something. My friend over there, he wants to buy a wallaby."
The two women were confused but intrigued, and that was enough of an in. They asked what and why and how, and the absurdity of the question overshadowed the discomfort of someone randomly coming up and asking it. The target, presumably used to men approaching her first and certainly not used to men who pretend she's not even there, finally gave Rob some shit, revealing her thick Boston accent: "What are you, friends with weirdos or something?" A perfect setup for Rob's [backhanded compliment]. Without looking at the girl, he said to her friend, "Is she always this irritable?"
While Popcorn Dog flew in to occupy the target's friend, Rob now focused on the target, armed with a dizzying mix of straight fluff, playground teases, jokes about people in the bar, and then, finally, a question: "Do you wanna kiss me?"
OK, I'll concede that playground teases and making fun of other people in the bar probably works but the "lines" are terrible. And the advice to carry around plastic snakes and leave them on bar counters? Do magic tricks? Have a fake camera crew follow you around? Gag me. Don't tell me that crap actually works, does it?
And in another, very different dating article (Newsweek's "Sex and the Single Boomer"), I discovered this gem of a sentence:
Vic/tor/ia Lau/tma/n, a single mother in Chicago, thinks of herself as the poster girl for the fortysomething divorced woman. "That's not because I've got men coming up the wazoo," she says.
WHEREAS: Dadaism is an international tendency in art that seeks to change conventional attitudes and practices in aesthetics, society, and morality; and
WHEREAS: Dadaism may or may not have come into being in the summer of 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire at 1 Spiegelgasse in Zürich, Switzerland, with the participation of Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Emmy Hennings, Marcel and Georges Janco, Jean Arp, and Richard Heulsenbeck; and
WHEREAS: The central message of Dada is the realization that reason and anti-reason, sense and nonsense, design and chance, consciousness and unconsciousness, belong together as necessary parts of a whole; and
WHEREAS: Dada is a virgin microbe which penetrates with the insistence of air into all those spaces that reason has failed to fill with words and conventions; and
WHEREAS: zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Dennis "Boog" Highberger, Mayor of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, do hereby proclaim the days of February 4, April 1, March 28, July 15, August 2, August 7, August 16, August 26, September 18, September 22, October 1, October 17, and October 26, 2006 as "INTERNATIONAL DADAISM MONTH"
and I encourage all citizens
December 27, 2005
Reading Sadly, No reminded me that I'd missed out on the heyday of Stephen den Beste, author of such deeply weird documents as this guide to understanding the War on Terror. Fortunately, I discovered that he's got an anime blog:
After I had watched the first DVD, I felt a bit soiled. There are three sisters living in that house along with a maid, and the show takes every opportunity (and creates a few) to show us any or all of them nude, including Mii, who seems to be in grade school. Every time it happens it bothers me, and I avert my eyes.
It's blogging's own unreliable narrator!
Check out this little article in the New Yorker on a movement to abandon the Electoral College without that irritating process of actually amending the Constitution. Here's how it works:
Instead of trying to change the Constitution, they propose to apply it, one bit in particular: Article II, Section 1, which instructs each state to "appoint" its Presidential electors "in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." Here's how the plan would work. One by one, legislature by legislature, state law by state law, individual states would pledge themselves to an interstate compact under which they would agree to award their electoral votes to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. The compact would take effect only when enough states had joined it to elect a President—that is, enough to cast a majority of the five hundred and thirty-eight electoral votes. (Theoretically, as few as eleven states could do the trick.) And then, presto! All of a sudden, the people of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia are empowered to elect their President the same way they elect their governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen.
It sounds like a great idea – suddenly all of us who don't live in ‘battleground states' actually get our votes for President counted. The first such bill has been brought forward in the Illinois legislature – let's see if this goes anywhere.
So saith WCBM's Maggie Pascal**. The part of the quote left unspoken is "if Bob Dylan wrote really shitty music and this generation grew up on a diet of lead paint chips." You could buy Perloff's books on the New World Order (it's everywhere) or Darwinism (wrong wrong wrong); however, knowing the crowd here, you've already given it all away to NARAL and NAMBLA. Liberals. But the music? She yearns to be free.
For me personally, pop music's best era was 1964-1970. And music was more than music then: it addressed social issues and led a powerful cultural transformation for Americans — including me. In 1970, I was an atheist hippie. Today, however, I'm a Christian who, like many, yearns to see our nation recover its lost values. But while people with traditional values passionately talk about issues, they rarely seem to sing about them. So I'm taking a cue from the sixties. The Freedom Shall Return album aims to express, musically, some of these principled beliefs and aspirations.
Okay, not so much free as $16.99. But! You can hear clips from a few of the songs here. I especially recommend "Home School Children," "Network News," and "Say 'No' to the New World Order." It's like Peter, Paul, and Mary, but without the nasty grooves and drum solos. And no smelly hippie crap either. Make my funk the Perloff-funk.
Also, totally free lyrics! About freedom!
We'll educate our kids at home
Until the day they're fully grown
When someone asks our reasons why
We're always glad to clarify
We want them sharin' our own faith
And in a place we know they're safe
Instead of violence and drugs
They'll get high on prayer and hugs
Home School! It's totally cool!
Home School! Where families rule!
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Via World O'Crap, where SZ has some fine alternate lyrics.
**Update: Maggie Pascal shows up in the comments and says that Perloff is misquoting her.
Am I a bad person because every time I get on the phone with someone in the US I start saying "osama osama osama jihad jihad" and stuff like "operation destroy Cleveland is a go. Repeat, a go!" My dad just about shit, because he's already paranoid. I guess I won't be laughing when I'm being held incommunicado in a Navy brig on Diego Garcia.
Here are some things to love about this song:
(1) The beats. First, check out the intro, with its shades of Tone Loc. The syncopated breath sounds emphasize the third beat of the measure, as will some of the later vocal rhythms. Next, note the awesomely tacky yet funky conga sounds later in the song. Have the courage to admit that lo-
fo fi Casio beats have a special place in your heart.
(2) The vocal rhythms. The initial female vocal really slides into the third beat: I drive these brothers craaa-zy/I do it on the daaayy-ly. Then the later rap shows up to further destabilize things: I met a girl down at the disco. Dr Dre this isn't.
(3) The cheesy sounds. For instance, the synthy drone behind the great ominous she's got me spennnd-in. It's like if Kraftwerk got the funk. The line itself is so straight and plodding, which fits both the sound and the lyric: he's the dimwitted foil to his more sly would-be lover.
And once you get my hump my hump my hump in your head, you're done. There's no escape.
Verdict: sly but funky. At least a B+ pop song.
Update: baa gets it complete wrong.
One can defend the Black Eyed Peas' brand of innocuous "where's the love"-style hitmaking. "My humps," by contrast, is an absolute abomination. B+? If B- is being eaten alive by army ants, then sure.
"Where is the love" is a horrible song: vapid and inane. "My humps" is far superior in part because of its cruder sound. It's got the same kind of garage-band appeal as "Tipsy," which is infectious because of its amateur feel. ("Milkshake" is in the same category, I think.)
I was reading this Kevin Drum post on the terrifyingly insecure Diebold voting machines (click through! it's even got the passwords for changing results!) that have just been approved for use in California, and had two reactions.
First, not that everyone else reading these stories doesn't have exactly the same reaction, who could possibly think this is a good idea? The advantages of having a human-verifiable paper trail are so obvious, and have been discussed in such detail over the last few years, that anyone who is still trying to put in systems without such a trail is either an idiot or is trying to pull something. I'm perfectly willing to believe that they're all idiots, but can't we make them stop it somehow?
Second, and slightly less hackneyed (although I've certainly heard people suggest this before), I'm really starting to believe that a little civilly disobedient hacking is the only way to fix this. I have approximately zero technical chops, so I'm not doing anything of the sort, but if these machines are as insecure as we're being told (which, again, zero technical chops, I'm taking on the word of techier people), can't we find some adventurous and civic-minded young IT type to make a plan and actually change the results of some election (I realize this is a non-trivial undertaking, than aside from the technical difficulties there are access difficulties, etc. I'm looking for people smarter and more devious than I am). Swing all the votes to the Libertarians, or the Socialist Workers party, and two days later turn the real vote totals and an account of how you did it over to the media.
Now, anyone who did such a thing would be committing a felony, and would be putting themselves in serious legal jeopardy. On the other hand, they'd be doing it in a very, very important cause, and I swear we'd have no trouble at all raising money to get them the very best of legal representation. So I'm not asking anyone to volunteer publically, but if you live in a jurisdiction that uses Diebold, or any other similarly vulnerable type of voting machines, and you have the requisite skills, think about it. I promise I'll do my flat-out best to get you a good lawyer.