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Observations from San Francisco

Posted by Becks
on 04.29.06

1. The San Francisco police uniforms are sooo gay. The police officers all look like they are pretend stripper-cops on their way to a bachelorette party. SFPD officers are way hotter than NYPD officers, though.

2. There seems to be a big disconnect about what's going down on May 1 between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic parts of the city. My (Indian) cabdriver and (Chinese) hotel desk clerk both claim that the May 1 rally is all hype and nobody is going to show up. When I was in the Mission today, though, there were signs everywhere, guys handing out flyers, and people giving speeches through bullhorns urging people to come. It will be interesting to see what happens. If it is big, I think that's going to suck a lot more for a city like San Francisco (which as much of its public transportation at street level) than a city with underground or elevated transit.

3. People don't jaywalk here. That's unnatural.

4. I used to think Evolution in NYC was my favorite taxidermy store but that was only because I had not yet been to Paxton Gate. I'm not one to get all gushy about planning my future wedding but, if I were, those plans would surely involve this taxidermied mouse cake topper.


 

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Did everyone else know this?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 04.29.06

Is April 29th the new April 1st?

fighting101s.jpg

No one told me. Via Long Story, Short Pier.


 

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Chicagoland Meetup 4/28

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.28.06

This is to confirm plans for Friday's meetup. From the prior thread, I've got Armsmasher, Silvana, IDP, Catherine, Kotsko, and Tom, at the Red Lion, say at 7:00? Anyone with problems with the venue or otherwise should comment, and anyone who hasn't spoken up from the Chicago area should feel free to show up.

Update: Any last minute changes of plan should go in comments -- I'm out of touch all day, but I'll check back in around 6.


 

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Can she tell me what I did this morning?

Posted by Tia
on 04.28.06

I don't care how old the article is, I'm blogging it anyway.

A.J. has a detailed memory for every day of her life. If you give her a date, she can tell you the day of the week, usually about the weather, and say what she was doing that day. She

remembers trivial details as clearly as major events. Asked what happened on Aug 16, 1977, she knew that Elvis Presley had died, but she also knew that a California tax initiative passed on June 6 of the following year, and a plane crashed in Chicago on May 25 of the next year, and so forth. Some may have had a personal meaning for her, but some did not.


 

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How To Pack A Suitcase

Posted by Becks
on 04.28.06

After years of traveling, I have packing a suitcase down to an art: you fill half of it with stuff you think you need but won't and the other half with clothes that you will realize are wrong for the weather conditions or don't match each other. Realize once you get to your destination that you will probably end up wearing the same two outfits over and over because they are the only ones appropriate for the climate and you could have probably fit all you needed into a backpack.


 

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Appalling

Posted by Tia
on 04.28.06

This horrific story Weiner linked to in comments deserves a post. Martin Lee Anderson, newly arrived at a teen bootcamp in Panama City Florida, was apparently beaten and suffocated to death by the guards while the nurse looked on. The video will make you retch, I warn you, and if you're like me for a second you'll marvel, looking at a bunch of burly southern white law enforcement officers drag around the limp body of a 14-year-old black boy, that it isn't from the 1950's, but this year. I hadn't heard about it, and was oblivious to the entire issue of juvenile boot camps until I started poking around more on that site. Apparently, in the name of "tough love," the state has arrogated to itself the power to subject kids to a level of force that would be clearly illegal if parents did the same. Martin Anderson isn't the first kid to die. He's not the first kid to die in Florida. Mikey Wiltsie died at age nine at a wilderness camp for troubled children when a 300 pound man sat on him and didn't believe him when he said he couldn't breathe. Gina Score died of heat exhaustion after forced exercise. Aaron Bacon died of an untreated ulcer.

Thankfully, the Florida legislature is finally shutting them down, and Jeb Bush has agreed, but it seems insane that it took multiple deaths before someone figured out it might not be a good idea to beat or sit on a child.

This quote from the original medical examiner, who determined that Martin Anderson died of sickle cell anemia, was also of interest:

Siebert also said it's not unheard of for medical experts to come to different conclusions after reviewing the same case. He complained he has been subject to "baseless and mean-spirited accusations from special interest groups" calling for everything from revoking his license to criminal charges.

And what special interests would those be?


 

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But my birthday isn't until November.

Posted by Apostropher
on 04.27.06

Can I just take a moment to say how much I love TPM Muckraker?

Ken Silverstein reports at Harper's blog on the spreading Cunningham-Wade-Wilkes prostitute scandal. He says more lawmakers, past and present, are being investigated. Sounds like he thinks House Intel Chair-turned-CIA Director Porter Goss is one of them:

I've learned from a highly-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees -- including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. [emphasis added]

Yowzah.

My goodness. The Silverstein piece suggests that prosecutors are in the process of procuring photographs of the parties. Oh God, please please please let this be true. Also from the Department of Hmmm, the limo company used to ferry folks to and from the parties at the Watergate (I know! It just keeps getting better!) is also a Homeland Security contractor, owned by a guy with a 62-page rap sheet. And Karl Rove appears headed for Indictment Beach.

And a pony.

Update: Billmon weighs in.


 

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Y yo, quiero follar a Laura

Posted by Tia
on 04.27.06

Chris Clarke, guest blogging over at B's, links to this video as if it's seriously abstinence propaganda, but I feel pretty sure it's a joke. Your multiservice blog will translate for you. AWB or someone can tell me if I've got something wrong:

We'll do this crossword together
And put off "the other" until tomorrow
I'll sing with you, it fills me with joy
Shalalala

We'll leave the rest for another day
I'd like to kiss you, but without dirtying you
I'd like to hug you without disrespecting you
Love is knowing how to wait, knowing how to wait, knowing how to wait.

I love Laura, but I'm waiting till marriage (x2)

I'm not going to pick that flower to destroy it
[perhaps evidence that it's not a joke, there was an obvious pun available here: there's a Spanish word that means "pick" and "fuck" but they didn't use it. On the other hand, these kids are Spanish, and that's only funny in Latin America.]
That won't be me.

[Spoken] Young man, remember that love is born from respect. There is nothing more beatiful than a couple that knows how to wait together for the marvelous moment of the consummation of love. Your patience will be rewarded.

I love Laura, but I'm waiting till marriage (x2)

I'm not going to pick that flower to destroy it
That won't be me.


 

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Creating monsters.

Posted by Apostropher
on 04.27.06

I long ago stopped even flipping past MTV, so when Michael emailed me this NYT story on MTV's "Super Sweet 16", it was the first I'd heard of it despite this being its third season. The short version is that each episode is dedicated to some horrible spawn of the super-rich who insists upon a 6-figure party for their sixteenth birthday. I should add that nothing has ever made me long for violent revolution and a neo-Jacobin reign of terror quite so quickly or profoundly.

Dr. Srinivasa Rao Kothapalli, a prominent cardiologist in Beaumont, Tex., is more than willing to relinquish his checkbook. His daughter Priya turned 16 earlier this month, and she is in the throes of planning a joint birthday-graduation party with her elder sister, Divya, 18. [...] Their Bollywood-themed party for 500 guests will be held in the family's backyard — all 4 acres, behind the 10,000-square-foot house. The Format, their favorite band, will perform. And they will make their grand entrance on litters, during an elaborate procession led by elephants. The sisters, who plan to perform a choreographed routine at their to-do next month, are also taking dance lessons, and they've enlisted the help of a trainer.

"We both want to lose three pounds," said Priya, who received a Mercedes convertible and an assortment of diamond jewelry for her birthday. Her sister's graduation gift package included a Bentley, diamonds and two homes in India.

"I was really surprised," Divya said, "because I was only expecting a Bentley and one house."

Hiring a trainer to lose three pounds? Three? Jeez, just throw up for a few days like everybody else, you incompetents. Anyhow, you get the picture. I'm finding it difficult to imagine just how insufferable these kids are going to be throughout their lives, given this running start. I've always considered Pol Pot one of the 20th century's most evil figures, but now I'm starting to see the appeal.

The best quote in the article comes at the very end, when one girl reflects upon her own $180K party: "Unless they were crazy or hated their child, any parent who was financially able would do it." Luckily, since I'm utterly unable to do that financially, I don't have to choose between hating my kids or psychosis. And good thing too, because not in a million years, no matter how much money I had. Oh, gods of bankruptcy, I call upon you now to bring down your swift and terrible wrath upon these parents. Preferably from lawsuits brought by party guests injured by rampaging elephants.

Update: Crap. Pwned by Becks.


 

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Comments On Trial Training

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.26.06

So here I am in Chicago with 23 other youngish lawyers, spending four days being trained in conducting trials. Some thoughts, disconnected due to the amount of wine served at dinner:

(1) Generally I like lawyers, but God these people are tools.

(2) Particularly the twerp who took the documents we were given as part of the pretend case we're working on, and had a litigation support firm blow them up into 2'x3' posterboards and ship them from Phoenix to Chicago because he can't possibly deliver an opening statement without demonstrative exhibits. Oddly, the people running the training took this as a sign of commitment and inventiveness, rather than giving him the severe wedgie he deserves.

(3) Rumor apparently hath it that an associate in the NJ office was recently discovered by a partner in flagrante with two paralegals. Impressed by the associate's initiative, the partner recommended him for partnership, and he is now a partner.

(4) When conversations like the above are going on, why do I always get stuck in a corner arguing religion with a Mormon? Besides which, Mormons have an unfair argumentative advantage as the evening wears on and I continue drinking.


 

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In praise of loopholes.

Posted by Apostropher
on 04.26.06

An entertaining read from Matthew Baldwin, and who wouldn't love to argue a legal brief titled The Anus Motion?

Nobody likes a cheater. But figure out a clever method for exploiting a loophole, and you’ll become the stuff of legend. Even when the perpetrator is doing something reprehensible (like trying to dodge a DUI charge), you can’t help but marvel at a loophole-monger’s ability to think both inside and outside the box, to adhere to the rules while simultaneously sidestepping them. My prosecutor friend was clearly annoyed with the defense attorney, but there was a twinge of admiration in her voice as she described his machinations.

We all recognize that feeling, don't we? Just as I'm sure the bank officers had to feel a certain admiration for the guy who successfully cashed the $95K sample check. What with all the lawyers in this joint, y'all should have enough good examples to bloat a comment thread, right?


 

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The painful realities of hyena sex.

Posted by Apostropher
on 04.26.06

LiveScience: "Imagine giving birth through a penis," said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University. "It's really weird genitalia, but it seems to work. Although giving birth through a 'penis' isn't a trivial problem."


 

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The Little Meetup That Could. Maybe. Well, We'll See.

Posted by Becks
on 04.26.06

So...San Francisco meetup on Monday, May 1. Anyone coming besides Ben and me? If so, we should figure out when/where.


 

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I Suppose This Is Good News

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.26.06

We're releasing 141 of the prisoners at Guantanamo. Of those remaining, only a couple of dozen, apparently, are still in the process of being charged with anything. From the story, it looks as though the bottleneck keeping the remainder from being released is figuring out where to send them, as with the Chinese Uighur group of prisoners who have been known to be innocent of any wrongdoing for awhile now.

We've had these men imprisoned without trial for four years. And we're only now admitting that, for the vast majority of them, we never really had much of a reason to think they'd done anything wrong at all. I wish I could believe that the last four years were explained by anything other than a desire to avoid the political embarrassment of saying, "Whoops -- I guess handing out bribes for the handover of anyone who the arrester claims is a terrorist wasn't a terribly effective way of going about this."

Is anyone talking about reparations to these men? An apology, at least? Probably not -- they should be grateful we didn't hurt them worse. (Via Avedon Carol.)


 

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Mother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.25.06

The NY Times has an article on a growing tendency for upper-middle-class parents to support their adult children financially, as a norm rather than a response to some particular emergency. While it's a 'Styles' article, so I'm not relying on the data, it certainly accords with my experience -- many, if not most, twenty-somethings of my acquaintance with interesting jobs are getting significant help from their parents.

The Times treats this as a story about how making ends meet is getting harder for young people, and so parents are stepping in to help out. But it's also a story about how it's getting harder for someone who doesn't come from money to break into the professional class. Over the last twenty years or so, entry-level professional jobs have demanded more internship-heavy resumes, the kind of thing that kids who can afford not to work in the summers can build up easily, but that are much more of an obstacle if you need to spend your summers waitressing to pay your tuition. And of course, entry-level professional jobs tend to be located in expensive cities, where the entry-level salaries won't pay your expenses these days without Mom and Dad sending checks. God forbid you should come from a family that needs your financial support, rather than the reverse.

I know it's never been easy for someone who doesn't come from a family with money to move up the class ladder; reading stories like this makes it clear that it isn't getting any easier at all.


 

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Neo-Secessionists

Posted by Tia
on 04.25.06

Can we convince them to desert the capitol altogether? They can just leave enough for a quorum.

Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.
This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.
During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.
The league "is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong," the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.

Via digby


 

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Anyone Know Anything About Pianos?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 04.24.06

So we've hit that age in child-rearing where piano lessons rear their ugly head (Sally's asking for them -- a friend already plays and she's fascinated. I'm not musical, but Dr. Oops is, and Buck's dad was a semi-pro country musician, with semi-pro meaning 'in pretty good bar-bands, but never quite made enough of a living at it to quit the factory work.'). And it turns out pianos are quite expensive and all complicated to purchase.

Hard limitation: Upright -- this is an NYC apartment we're talking about. Soft limitation: As cheap as possible, so long as we're not buying something that will sound like crap, or require onerous or expensive maintenance (that is, I'd rather pay an extra grand up front if it's going to save me four tunings at $300 each, if you see what I mean.) Does anyone know about buying pianos, or have a good sense of a resource? Are used pianos a good idea, or will we just end up getting taken? Any other advice?


 

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A Discussion Question

Posted by Tia
on 04.24.06

If you were a beverage, what kind of beverage would you be?

Update: If you prefer, you can also answer the question, "What's your least favorite word?"


 

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Help me help a dude from high school

Posted by Ben
on 04.23.06

I ran into a dude from my high school unexpectedly the other day, and what did I find in my email the next day but an email from, not him, but a different dude also from my high school! (Dude!) It contained four extremely tendentious questions, and he wondered if I knew of any resources which address them. I don't, but maybe you do! Questions reproduced without permission below. I think the third one is especially crazy.

1. a firm has a smart business model which brings it from nothing to near monopoly. is it moral for the state to limit it (e.g. microsoft)?

2. in a transaction of prostitution, who gains/loses more? the customer's money is universally valued, whereas the prostitute's services are of an unguaranteed quality and are not in universal demand. the customer may be an upright citizen who loses some dignity in the exchange. on the other hand, may one argue that the prostitute
is excluded from society and is being exploited? only a philosopher can answer this.

3. a lawyer who makes $1000 an hour enters a taxi. the driver, either through malice or incompetence, takes a nonoptimal route and extends the journey by six minutes. at the end of the trip, the meter reads $5. who owes who how much? i.e. the lawyer owes the cab 5, the lawyer owes the cab $-95, etc.

4. does the pursuit of achievement lead to greater happiness than the pursuit of happiness?


 

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Plane Reading

Posted by Becks
on 04.23.06

A while back, you all gave LizardBreath some good recommendations for books to read, with your suggestions leaning towards actual literature. I'd like to hit you up for some book advice but I ask that you take it down a notch. I'm looking for books for the airplane. Essentially, a step up from trash. Or even trash, if it's decently done. Something slightly better than chick lit or The DaVinci Code but nothing that requires actual thinking or has a plot that's too hard to follow. Something that can be easily digested without your full attention because you're only half reading and half listening for your boarding announcement.

Books that would normally be unreadable in other circumstances can make great plane reading -- see my recent defense of Bringing Down The House. To give you an idea of what I'm looking for, authors/books that have been adequate plane reading in the past include books of essays by Sarah Vowell and David Rakoff, trashy mysteries like Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen or Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia, light non-fiction like A Year At The Movies or our previously-discussed Year of Yes, and even some good kid books like Holes by Louis Sachar.

Suggestions?


 

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